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Round The Red Lamp - A Straggler of '15

1. Behind the Times

2. His First Operation

3. A Straggler of '15

4. The Third Generation

5. A False Start

6. The Curse of Eve

7. Sweethearts

8. A Physiologist's Wife

9. The Case of Lady Sannox

10. A Question of Diplomacy

11. A Medical Document

12. Lot No. 249

13. The Los Amigos Fiasco

14. The Doctors of Hoyland

15. The Surgeon Talks

It was a dull October morning, and heavy, rolling
fog-wreaths lay low over the wet grey roofs of the
Woolwich houses. Down in the long, brick-lined
streets all was sodden and greasy and cheerless.
From the high dark buildings of the arsenal came the
whirr of many wheels, the thudding of weights, and
the buzz and babel of human toil. Beyond, the
dwellings of the workingmen, smoke-stained and
unlovely, radiated away in a lessening perspective of
narrowing road and dwindling wall.

There were few folk in the streets, for the
toilers had all been absorbed since break of day by
the huge smoke-spouting monster, which sucked in the
manhood of the town, to belch it forth weary and
work-stained every night. Little groups of children
straggled to school, or loitered to peep through the
single, front windows at the big, gilt-edged Bibles,
balanced upon small, three-legged tables, which were
their usual adornment. Stout women, with thick, red
arms and dirty aprons, stood upon the whitened
doorsteps, leaning upon their brooms, and shrieking
their morning greetings across the road. One
stouter, redder, and dirtier than the rest, had
gathered a small knot of cronies around her and was
talking energetically, with little shrill titters
from her audience to punctuate her remarks.

"Old enough to know better!" she cried, in answer
to an exclamation from one of the listeners. "If he
hain't no sense now, I 'specs he won't learn much on
this side o'Jordan. Why, 'ow old is he at all?
Blessed if I could ever make out."

"Well, it ain't so hard to reckon," said a sharp-
featured pale-faced woman with watery blue eyes.
"He's been at the battle o' Waterloo, and has the
pension and medal to prove it."

"That were a ter'ble long time agone," remarked a
third. "It were afore I were born."

"It were fifteen year after the beginnin' of the
century," cried a younger woman, who had stood
leaning against the wall, with a smile of superior
knowledge upon her face. "My Bill was a-saying so
last Sabbath, when I spoke to him o' old Daddy
Brewster, here."

"And suppose he spoke truth, Missus Simpson, 'ow
long agone do that make it?"

"It's eighty-one now," said the original speaker,
checking off the years upon her coarse red
fingers, "and that were fifteen. Ten and ten, and
ten, and ten, and ten--why, it's only sixty-and-six
year, so he ain't so old after all."

"But he weren't a newborn babe at the battle,
silly!" cried the young woman with a chuckle.
"S'pose he were only twenty, then he couldn't be less
than six-and-eighty now, at the lowest."

"Aye, he's that--every day of it," cried several.

"I've had 'bout enough of it," remarked the large
woman gloomily. "Unless his young niece, or
grandniece, or whatever she is, come to-day, I'm off,
and he can find some one else to do his work. Your
own 'ome first, says I."

"Ain't he quiet, then, Missus Simpson?" asked the
youngest of the group.

"Listen to him now," she answered, with her hand
half raised and her head turned slantwise towards the
open door. From the upper floor there came a
shuffling, sliding sound with a sharp tapping of a
stick. "There he go back and forrards, doing what he
call his sentry go. 'Arf the night through he's at
that game, the silly old juggins. At six o'clock
this very mornin there he was beatin' with a stick at
my door. `Turn out, guard!' he cried, and a lot more
jargon that I could make nothing of. Then what with
his coughin' and 'awkin' and spittin', there ain't no
gettin' a wink o' sleep. Hark to him now!"

"Missus Simpson, Missus Simpson!" cried a cracked
and querulous voice from above.

"That's him!" she cried, nodding her head with an
air of triumph. "He do go on somethin' scandalous.
Yes, Mr. Brewster, sir."

"I want my morning ration, Missus Simpson."

"It's just ready, Mr. Brewster, sir."

"Blessed if he ain't like a baby cryin' for its
pap," said the young woman.

"I feel as if I could shake his old bones up
sometimes!" cried Mrs. Simpson viciously. "But who's
for a 'arf of fourpenny?"

The whole company were about to shuffle off to
the public house, when a young girl stepped across
the road and touched the housekeeper timidly upon the
arm. "I think that is No. 56 Arsenal View," she
said. "Can you tell me if Mr. Brewster lives here?"

The housekeeper looked critically at the
newcomer. She was a girl of about twenty, broad-
faced and comely, with a turned-up nose and large,
honest grey eyes. Her print dress, her straw hat,
with its bunch of glaring poppies, and the bundle she
carried, had all a smack of the country.

"You're Norah Brewster, I s'pose," said Mrs.
Simpson, eyeing her up and down with no friendly

"Yes, I've come to look after my Granduncle

"And a good job too," cried the housekeeper, with
a toss of her head. "It's about time that some of
his own folk took a turn at it, for I've had enough
of it. There you are, young woman! In you go and
make yourself at home. There's tea in the caddy and
bacon on the dresser, and the old man will be about
you if you don't fetch him his breakfast. I'll send
for my things in the evenin'." With a nod she
strolled off with her attendant gossips in the
direction of the public house.

Thus left to her own devices, the country girl
walked into the front room and took off her hat and
jacket. It was a low-roofed apartment with a
sputtering fire upon which a small brass kettle was
singing cheerily. A stained cloth lay over half the
table, with an empty brown teapot, a loaf of bread,
and some coarse crockery. Norah Brewster looked
rapidly about her, and in an instant took over her
new duties. Ere five minutes had passed the tea was
made, two slices of bacon were frizzling on the pan,
the table was rearranged, the antimacassars
straightened over the sombre brown furniture, and the
whole room had taken a new air of comfort and
neatness. This done she looked round curiously at
the prints upon the walls. Over the fireplace, in a
small, square case, a brown medal caught her eye,
hanging from a strip of purple ribbon. Beneath was a
slip of newspaper cutting. She stood on her
tiptoes, with her fingers on the edge of the
mantelpiece, and craned her neck up to see it,
glancing down from time to time at the bacon which
simmered and hissed beneath her. The cutting was
yellow with age, and ran in this way:

"On Tuesday an interesting ceremony was performed
at the barracks of the Third Regiment of Guards,
when, in the presence of the Prince Regent, Lord
Hill, Lord Saltoun, and an assemblage which comprised
beauty as well as valour, a special medal was
presented to Corporal Gregory Brewster, of Captain
Haldane's flank company, in recognition of his
gallantry in the recent great battle in the Lowlands.
It appears that on the ever-memorable 18th of June
four companies of the Third Guards and of the
Coldstreams, under the command of Colonels Maitland
and Byng, held the important farmhouse of Hougoumont
at the right of the British position. At a critical
point of the action these troops found themselves
short of powder. Seeing that Generals Foy and Jerome
Buonaparte were again massing their infantry for an
attack on the position, Colonel Byng dispatched
Corporal Brewster to the rear to hasten up the
reserve ammunition. Brewster came upon two powder
tumbrils of the Nassau division, and succeeded, after
menacing the drivers with his musket, in inducing
them to convey their powder to Hougoumont. In
his absence, however, the hedges surrounding the
position had been set on fire by a howitzer battery
of the French, and the passage of the carts full of
powder became a most hazardous matter. The first
tumbril exploded, blowing the driver to fragments.
Daunted by the fate of his comrade, the second driver
turned his horses, but Corporal Brewster, springing
upon his seat, hurled the man down, and urging the
powder cart through the flames, succeeded in forcing
his way to his companions. To this gallant deed may
be directly attributed the success of the British
arms, for without powder it would have been
impossible to have held Hougoumont, and the Duke of
Wellington had repeatedly declared that had
Hougoumont fallen, as well as La Haye Sainte, he
would have found it impossible to have held his
ground. Long may the heroic Brewster live to
treasure the medal which he has so bravely won, and
to look back with pride to the day when, in the
presence of his comrades, he received this tribute to
his valour from the august hands of the first
gentleman of the realm."

The reading of this old cutting increased in the
girl's mind the veneration which she had always had
for her warrior kinsman. From her infancy he had
been her hero, and she remembered how her father used
to speak of his courage and his strength, how he
could strike down a bullock with a blow of his fist
and carry a fat sheep under either arm. True, she
had never seen him, but a rude painting at home which
depicted a square-faced, clean shaven, stalwart man
with a great bearskin cap, rose ever before her
memory when she thought of him.

She was still gazing at the brown medal and
wondering what the "Dulce et decorum est" might
mean, which was inscribed upon the edge, when there
came a sudden tapping and shuffling upon the stair,
and there at the door was standing the very man who
had been so often in her thoughts.

But could this indeed be he? Where was the
martial air, the flashing eye, the warrior face which
she had pictured? There, framed in the doorway, was
a huge twisted old man, gaunt and puckered, with
twitching hands and shuffling, purposeless feet. A
cloud of fluffy white hair, a red-veined nose, two
thick tufts of eyebrow and a pair of dimly
questioning, watery blue eyes--these were what met
her gaze. He leaned forward upon a stick, while his
shoulders rose and fell with his crackling, rasping

"I want my morning rations," he crooned, as he
stumped forward to his chair. "The cold nips me
without 'em. See to my fingers!" He held out his
distorted hands, all blue at the tips, wrinkled
and gnarled, with huge, projecting knuckles.

"It's nigh ready," answered the girl, gazing at
him with wonder in her eyes. "Don't you know who I
am, granduncle? I am Norah Brewster from Witham."

"Rum is warm," mumbled the old man, rocking to
and fro in his chair, "and schnapps is warm, and
there's 'eat in soup, but it's a dish o' tea for me.
What did you say your name was?"

"Norah Brewster."

"You can speak out, lass. Seems to me folk's
voices isn't as loud as they used."

"I'm Norah Brewster, uncle. I'm your grandniece
come down from Essex way to live with you."

"You'll be brother Jarge's girl! Lor, to think
o' little Jarge having a girl!" He chuckled hoarsely
to himself, and the long, stringy sinews of his
throat jerked and quivered.

"I am the daughter of your brother George's son,"
said she, as she turned the bacon.

"Lor, but little Jarge was a rare un!" he
continued. "Eh, by Jimini, there was no chousing
Jarge. He's got a bull pup o' mine that I gave him
when I took the bounty. You've heard him speak of
it, likely?"

"Why, grandpa George has been dead this twenty
year," said she, pouring out the tea.

"Well, it was a bootiful pup--aye, a well-bred
un, by Jimini! I'm cold for lack o' my rations. Rum
is good, and so is schnapps, but I'd as lief have tea
as either."

He breathed heavily while he devoured his food.
"It's a middlin' goodish way you've come," said he at
last. "Likely the stage left yesternight."

"The what, uncle?"

"The coach that brought you."

"Nay, I came by the mornin' train."

"Lor, now, think o' that! You ain't afeard o'
those newfangled things! By Jimini, to think of you
comin' by railroad like that! What's the world a-
comin' to!"

There was silence for some minutes while Norah
sat stirring her tea and glancing sideways at the
bluish lips and champing jaws of her companion.

"You must have seen a deal o' life, uncle," said
she. "It must seem a long, long time to you!"

"Not so very long neither. I'm ninety, come
Candlemas; but it don't seem long since I took the
bounty. And that battle, it might have been
yesterday. Eh, but I get a power o' good from my
rations!" He did indeed look less worn and
colourless than when she first saw him. His face was
flushed and his back more erect.

"Have you read that?" he asked, jerking his head
towards the cutting.

"Yes, uncle, and I'm sure you must be proud of

"Ah, it was a great day for me! A great day!
The Regent was there, and a fine body of a man too!
`The ridgment is proud of you,' says he. `And I'm
proud of the ridgment,' say I. `A damned good answer
too!' says he to Lord Hill, and they both bu'st out
a-laughin'. But what be you a-peepin' out o' the
window for?"

"Oh, uncle, here's a regiment of soldiers coming
down the street with the band playing in front of

"A ridgment, eh? Where be my glasses? Lor, but
I can hear the band, as plain as plain! Here's the
pioneers an' the drum-major! What be their number,
lass?" His eyes were shining and his bony yellow
fingers, like the claws of some fierce old bird, dug
into her shoulder.

"They don't seem to have no number, uncle.
They've something wrote on their shoulders.
Oxfordshire, I think it be."

"Ah, yes!" he growled. "I heard as they'd
dropped the numbers and given them newfangled names.
There they go, by Jimini! They're young mostly, but
they hain't forgot how to march. They have the
swing-aye, I'll say that for them. They've got the
swing." He gazed after them until the last files
had turned the corner and the measured tramp of their
marching had died away in the distance.

He had just regained his chair when the door
opened and a gentleman stepped in.

"Ah, Mr. Brewster! Better to-day?" he asked.

"Come in, doctor! Yes, I'm better. But there's
a deal o' bubbling in my chest. It's all them
toobes. If I could but cut the phlegm, I'd be right.
Can't you give me something to cut the phlegm?"

The doctor, a grave-faced young man, put his
fingers to the furrowed, blue-corded wrist.

"You must be careful," he said. "You must take
no liberties." The thin tide of life seemed to
thrill rather than to throb under his finger.

The old man chuckled.

"I've got brother Jarge's girl to look after me
now. She'll see I don't break barracks or do what I
hadn't ought to. Why, darn my skin, I knew something
was amiss!

"With what?"

"Why, with them soldiers. You saw them pass,
doctor--eh? They'd forgot their stocks. Not one on
'em had his stock on." He croaked and chuckled for a
long time over his discovery. "It wouldn't ha' done
for the Dook!" he muttered. "No, by Jimini! the Dook
would ha' had a word there."

The doctor smiled. "Well, you are doing very
well," said he. "I'll look in once a week or so, and
see how you are." As Norah followed him to the door,
he beckoned her outside.

"He is very weak," he whispered. "If you find
him failing you must send for me."

"What ails him, doctor?"

"Ninety years ails him. His arteries are pipes
of lime. His heart is shrunken and flabby. The man
is worn out."

Norah stood watching the brisk figure of the
young doctor, and pondering over these new
responsibilities which had come upon her. When she
turned a tall, brown-faced artilleryman, with the
three gold chevrons of sergeant upon his arm, was
standing, carbine in hand, at her elbow.

"Good-morning, miss," said he, raising one thick
finger to his jaunty, yellow-banded cap. "I b'lieve
there's an old gentleman lives here of the name of
Brewster, who was engaged in the battle o' Waterloo?"

"It's my granduncle, sir," said Norah, casting
down her eyes before the keen, critical gaze of the
young soldier. "He is in the front parlour."

"Could I have a word with him, miss? I'll call
again if it don't chance to be convenient."

"I am sure that he would be very glad to see you,
sir. He's in here, if you'll step in. Uncle, here's
a gentleman who wants to speak with you."

"Proud to see you, sir--proud and glad, sir," cried
the sergeant, taking three steps forward into the
room, and grounding his carbine while he raised his
hand, palm forwards, in a salute. Norah stood by the
door, with her mouth and eyes open, wondering if her
granduncle had ever, in his prime, looked like this
magnificent creature, and whether he, in his turn,
would ever come to resemble her granduncle.

The old man blinked up at his visitor, and shook
his head slowly. "Sit ye down, sergeant," said he,
pointing with his stick to a chair. "You're full
young for the stripes. Lordy, it's easier to get
three now than one in my day. Gunners were old
soldiers then and the grey hairs came quicker than
the three stripes."

"I am eight years' service, sir," cried the
sergeant. "Macdonald is my name--Sergeant Macdonald,
of H Battery, Southern Artillery Division. I have
called as the spokesman of my mates at the gunner's
barracks to say that we are proud to have you in the
town, sir."

Old Brewster chuckled and rubbed his bony hands.
"That were what the Regent said," he cried. "`The
ridgment is proud of ye,' says he. `And I am proud
of the ridgment,' says I. `And a damned good answer
too,' says he, and he and Lord Hill bu'st out a-

"The non-commissioned mess would be proud and
honoured to see you, sir," said Sergeant Macdonald;
"and if you could step as far you'll always find a
pipe o' baccy and a glass o' grog a-waitin' you."

The old man laughed until he coughed. "Like to
see me, would they? The dogs!" said he. "Well,
well, when the warm weather comes again I'll maybe
drop in. Too grand for a canteen, eh? Got your mess
just the same as the orficers. What's the world a-
comin' to at all!"

"You was in the line, sir, was you not?" asked
the sergeant respectfully.

"The line?" cried the old man, with shrill scorn.
"Never wore a shako in my life. I am a guardsman, I
am. Served in the Third Guards--the same they call
now the Scots Guards. Lordy, but they have all
marched away--every man of them--from old Colonel
Byng down to the drummer boys, and here am I a
straggler--that's what I am, sergeant, a straggler!
I'm here when I ought to be there. But it ain't my
fault neither, for I'm ready to fall in when the word

"We've all got to muster there," answered the
sergeant. "Won't you try my baccy, sir?" handing
over a sealskin pouch.

Old Brewster drew a blackened clay pipe from his
pocket, and began to stuff the tobacco into the bowl.
In an instant it slipped through his fingers, and was
broken to pieces on the floor. His lip quivered,
his nose puckered up, and he began crying with the
long, helpless sobs of a child. "I've broke my
pipe," he cried.

"Don't, uncle; oh, don't!" cried Norah, bending
over him, and patting his white head as one soothes a
baby. "It don't matter. We can easy get another."

"Don't you fret yourself, sir," said the
sergeant. "'Ere's a wooden pipe with an amber mouth,
if you'll do me the honour to accept it from me. I'd
be real glad if you will take it."

"Jimini!" cried he, his smiles breaking in an
instant through his tears. "It's a fine pipe. See
to my new pipe, Norah. I lay that Jarge never had a
pipe like that. You've got your firelock there,

"Yes, sir. I was on my way back from the butts
when I looked in."

"Let me have the feel of it. Lordy, but it seems
like old times to have one's hand on a musket.
What's the manual, sergeant, eh? Cock your
firelock--look to your priming--present your
firelock--eh, sergeant? Oh, Jimini, I've broke your
musket in halves!"

"That's all right, sir," cried the gunner
laughing. "You pressed on the lever and opened the
breech-piece. That's where we load 'em, you know."

"Load 'em at the wrong end! Well, well, to
think o' that! And no ramrod neither! I've
heard tell of it, but I never believed it afore. Ah!
it won't come up to brown Bess. When there's work to
be done, you mark my word and see if they don't come
back to brown Bess."

"By the Lord, sir!" cried the sergeant hotly,
"they need some change out in South Africa now. I see
by this mornin's paper that the Government has
knuckled under to these Boers. They're hot about it
at the non-com. mess, I can tell you, sir."

"Eh--eh," croaked old Brewster. "By Jimini! it
wouldn't ha' done for the Dook; the Dook would ha'
had a word to say over that."

"Ah, that he would, sir!" cried the sergeant; and
God send us another like him. But I've wearied you
enough for one sitting. I'll look in again, and I'll
bring a comrade or two with me, if I may, for there
isn't one but would be proud to have speech with

So, with another salute to the veteran and a
gleam of white teeth at Norah, the big gunner
withdrew, leaving a memory of blue cloth and of gold
braid behind him. Many days had not passed, however,
before he was back again, and during all the long
winter he was a frequent visitor at Arsenal View.
There came a time, at last, when it might be doubted
to which of the two occupants his visits were
directed, nor was it hard to say by which he was most
anxiously awaited. He brought others with him;
and soon, through all the lines, a pilgrimage to
Daddy Brewster's came to be looked upon as the proper
thing to do. Gunners and sappers, linesmen and
dragoons, came bowing and bobbing into the little
parlour, with clatter of side arms and clink of
spurs, stretching their long legs across the
patchwork rug, and hunting in the front of their
tunics for the screw of tobacco or paper of snuff
which they had brought as a sign of their esteem.

It was a deadly cold winter, with six weeks on
end of snow on the ground, and Norah had a hard task
to keep the life in that time-worn body. There were
times when his mind would leave him, and when, save
an animal outcry when the hour of his meals came
round, no word would fall from him. He was a white-
haired child, with all a child's troubles and
emotions. As the warm weather came once more,
however, and the green buds peeped forth again upon
the trees, the blood thawed in his veins, and he
would even drag himself as far as the door to bask in
the life-giving sunshine.

"It do hearten me up so," he said one morning, as
he glowed in the hot May sun. "It's a job to keep
back the flies, though. They get owdacious in this
weather, and they do plague me cruel."

"I'll keep them off you, uncle," said Norah.

"Eh, but it's fine! This sunshine makes me think
o' the glory to come. You might read me a bit o' the
Bible, lass. I find it wonderful soothing."

"What part would you like, uncle?"

"Oh, them wars."

"The wars?"

"Aye, keep to the wars! Give me the Old
Testament for choice. There's more taste to it, to
my mind. When parson comes he wants to get off to
something else; but it's Joshua or nothing with me.
Them Israelites was good soldiers--good growed
soldiers, all of 'em."

"But, uncle," pleaded Norah, "it's all peace in
the next world."

"No, it ain't, gal."

"Oh, yes, uncle, surely!"

The old corporal knocked his stick irritably upon
the ground. "I tell ye it ain't, gal. I asked

"Well, what did he say?"

"He said there was to be a last fight. He even
gave it a name, he did. The battle of Arm--Arm----"


"Aye, that's the name parson said. I 'specs the
Third Guards'll be there. And the Dook--the Dook'll
have a word to say."

An elderly, grey-whiskered gentleman had been
walking down the street, glancing up at the
numbers of the houses. Now as his eyes fell upon the
old man, he came straight for him.

"Hullo!" said he; "perhaps you are Gregory

"My name, sir," answered the veteran.

"You are the same Brewster, as I understand, who
is on the roll of the Scots Guards as having been
present at the battle of Waterloo?"

"I am that man, sir, though we called it the
Third Guards in those days. It was a fine ridgment,
and they only need me to make up a full muster."

"Tut, tut! they'll have to wait years for that,"
said the gentleman heartily. "But I am the colonel
of the Scots Guards, and I thought I would like to
have a word with you."

Old Gregory Brewster was up in an instant, with
his hand to his rabbit-skin cap. "God bless me!" he
cried, "to think of it! to think of it!"

"Hadn't the gentleman better come in?" suggested
the practical Norah from behind the door.

"Surely, sir, surely; walk in, sir, if I may be
so bold." In his excitement he had forgotten his
stick, and as he led the way into the parlour his
knees tottered, and he threw out his hands. In an
instant the colonel had caught him on one side and
Norah on the other.

"Easy and steady," said the colonel, as he led
him to his armchair.

"Thank ye, sir; I was near gone that time. But,
Lordy I why, I can scarce believe it. To think of me
the corporal of the flank company and you the colonel
of the battalion! How things come round, to be

"Why, we are very proud of you in London," said
the colonel. "And so you are actually one of the men
who held Hougoumont." He looked at the bony,
trembling hands, with their huge, knotted knuckles,
the stringy throat, and the heaving, rounded
shoulders. Could this, indeed, be the last of that
band of heroes? Then he glanced at the half-filled
phials, the blue liniment bottles, the long-spouted
kettle, and the sordid details of the sick room.
"Better, surely, had he died under the blazing
rafters of the Belgian farmhouse," thought the

"I hope that you are pretty comfortable and
happy," he remarked after a pause.

"Thank ye, sir. I have a good deal o' trouble
with my toobes--a deal o' trouble. You wouldn't
think the job it is to cut the phlegm. And I need my
rations. I gets cold without 'em. And the flies! I
ain't strong enough to fight against them."

"How's the memory?" asked the colonel.

"Oh, there ain't nothing amiss there. Why,
sir, I could give you the name of every man in
Captain Haldane's flank company."

"And the battle--you remember it?"

"Why, I sees it all afore me every time I shuts
my eyes. Lordy, sir, you wouldn't hardly believe how
clear it is to me. There's our line from the
paregoric bottle right along to the snuff box. D'ye
see? Well, then, the pill box is for Hougoumont on
the right--where we was--and Norah's thimble for La
Haye Sainte. There it is, all right, sir; and here
were our guns, and here behind the reserves and the
Belgians. Ach, them Belgians!" He spat furiously
into the fire. "Then here's the French, where my
pipe lies; and over here, where I put my baccy pouch,
was the Proosians a-comin' up on our left flank.
Jimini, but it was a glad sight to see the smoke of
their guns!"

"And what was it that struck you most now in
connection with the whole affair?" asked the colonel.

"I lost three half-crowns over it, I did,"
crooned old Brewster. "I shouldn't wonder if I was
never to get that money now. I lent 'em to Jabez
Smith, my rear rank man, in Brussels. `Only till
pay-day, Grig,' says he. By Gosh! he was stuck by a
lancer at Quatre Bras, and me with not so much as a
slip o' paper to prove the debt! Them three half-
crowns is as good as lost to me."

The colonel rose from his chair laughing. "The
officers of the Guards want you to buy yourself some
little trifle which may add to your comfort," he
said. "It is not from me, so you need not thank me."
He took up the old man's tobacco pouch and slipped a
crisp banknote inside it.

"Thank ye kindly, sir. But there's one favour
that I would like to ask you, colonel."

"Yes, my man."

"If I'm called, colonel, you won't grudge me a
flag and a firing party? I'm not a civilian; I'm a
guardsman--I'm the last of the old Third Guards."

"All right, my man, I'll see to it," said the
colonel. "Good-bye; I hope to have nothing but good
news from you."

"A kind gentleman, Norah," croaked old Brewster,
as they saw him walk past the window; "but, Lordy, he
ain't fit to hold the stirrup o' my Colonel Byng!"

It was on the very next day that the old corporal
took a sudden change for the worse. Even the golden
sunlight streaming through the window seemed unable
to warm that withered frame. The doctor came and
shook his head in silence. All day the man lay with
only his puffing blue lips and the twitching of his
scraggy neck to show that he still held the breath of
life. Norah and Sergeant Macdonald had sat by
him in the afternoon, but he had shown no
consciousness of their presence. He lay peacefully,
his eyes half closed, his hands under his cheek, as
one who is very weary.

They had left him for an instant and were sitting
in the front room, where Norah was preparing tea,
when of a sudden they heard a shout that rang through
the house. Loud and clear and swelling, it pealed in
their ears--a voice full of strength and energy and
fiery passion. "The Guards need powder!" it cried;
and yet again, "The Guards need powder!"

The sergeant sprang from his chair and rushed in,
followed by the trembling Norah. There was the old
man standing up, his blue eyes sparkling, his white
hair bristling, his whole figure towering and
expanding, with eagle head and glance of fire. "The
Guards need powder!" he thundered once again, "and,
by God, they shall have it!" He threw up his long
arms, and sank back with a groan into his chair. The
sergeant stooped over him, and his face darkened.

"Oh, Archie, Archie," sobbed the frightened girl,
"what do you think of him?"

The sergeant turned away. "I think," said he,
"that the Third Guards have a full muster now."

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