at the pump, and if you’d seen him sticking them peacock’s feathers into his hat when he’d done washing—ah! I’m sorry he’s such a imperfect character, but the best on us is incomplete in some pint of view or another.’

The subject of this dialogue and of these concluding remarks, which were uttered in a tone of philosophical meditation, was, as the reader will have divined, no other than Barnaby, who, with his flag in hand, stood sentry in the little patch of sunlight at the distant door, or walked to and fro outside, singing softly to himself; and keeping time to the music of some clear church bells. Whether he stood still, leaning with both hands on the flagstaff, or, bearing it upon his shoulder, paced slowly up and down, the careful arrangement of his poor dress, and his erect and lofty bearing, showed how high a sense he had of the great importance of his trust, and how happy and how proud it made him. To Hugh and his companion, who lay in a dark corner of the gloomy shed, he, and the sunlight, and the peaceful Sabbath sound to which he made response, seemed like a bright picture framed by the door, and set off by the stable’s blackness. The whole formed such a contrast to themselves, as they lay wallowing, like some obscene animals, in their squalor and wickedness on the two heaps of straw, that for a few moments they looked on without speaking, and felt almost ashamed.

‘Ah!’said Hugh at length, carrying it off with a laugh: ‘He’s a rare fellow is Barnaby, and can do more, with less rest, or meat, or drink, than any of us. As to his soldiering, I put him on duty there.’

‘Then there was a object in it, and a proper good one too, I’ll be sworn,’ retorted Dennis with a broad grin, and an oath of the same quality. ‘What was it, brother?’

‘Why, you see,’ said Hugh, crawling a little nearer to him, ‘that our noble captain yonder, came in yesterday morning rather the worse for liquor, and was—like you and me—ditto last night.’

Dennis looked to where Simon Tappertit lay coiled upon a truss of hay, snoring profoundly, and nodded.

‘And our noble captain,’ continued Hugh with another laugh, ‘our noble captain and I, have planned for to-morrow a roaring expedition, with good profit in it.’

‘Again the Papists?’ asked Dennis, rubbing his hands.

‘Ay, against the Papists—against one of ’em at least, that some of us, and I for one, owe a good heavy grudge to.’

‘Not Muster Gashford’s friend that he spoke to us about in my house, eh?’ said Dennis, brimful of pleasant expectation.

‘The same man,’ said Hugh.

‘That’s your sort,’ cried Mr Dennis, gaily shaking hands with him, ‘that’s the kind of game. Let’s have revenges and injuries, and all that, and we shall get on twice as fast. Now you talk, indeed!’

‘Ha ha ha! The captain,’ added Hugh, ‘has thoughts of carrying off a woman in the bustle, and—ha ha ha!—and so have I!’

Mr Dennis received this part of the scheme with a wry face, observing that as a general principle he objected to women altogether, as being unsafe and slippery persons on whom there was no calculating with any certainty, and who were never in the same mind for four-and-twenty hours at a stretch. He might have expatiated on this suggestive theme at much greater length, but that it occurred to him to ask what connection existed between the proposed expedition and Barnaby’s being posted at the stable- door as sentry; to which Hugh cautiously replied in these words, ‘Why, the people we mean to visit, were friends of his, once upon a time, and I know that much of him to feel pretty sure that if he thought we were going to do them any harm, he’d be no friend to our side, but would lend a ready hand to the other.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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