‘And where will you take me?’

‘Why, then, to Ryan’s Castle, little Sas.’

‘You do not speak the language very correctly,’ said I; ‘it is not Sas you should call me - ‘tis Sassannach,’ and forthwith I accompanied the word with a speech full of flowers of Irish rhetoric.

The man looked upon me for a moment, fixedly, then, bending his head towards his breast, he appeared to be undergoing a kind of convulsion, which was accompanied by a sound something resembling laughter; presently he looked at me, and there was a broad grin on his features.

‘By my shoul, it’s a thing of peace I’m thinking ye.’

But now with a whisking sound came running down the road a hare; it was nearly upon us before it perceived us; suddenly stopping short, however, it sprang into the bog on the right-hand side; after it amain bounded the dog of peace, followed by the man, but not until he had nodded to me a farewell salutation. In a few moments I lost sight of him amidst the snowflakes.

The weather was again clear and fine before I reached the place of detachment. It was a little wooden barrack, surrounded by a wall of the same material; a sentinel stood at the gate, I passed by him, and, entering the building, found myself in a rude kind of guardroom; several soldiers were lying asleep on a wooden couch at one end, others lounged on benches by the side of a turf fire. The tall sergeant stood before the fire, holding a cooking utensil in his left hand; on seeing me, he made the military salutation.

‘Is my brother here?’ said I, rather timidly, dreading to hear that he was out, perhaps for the day.

‘The ensign is in his room, sir,’ said Bagg, ‘I am now preparing his meal, which will presently be ready; you will find the ensign above stairs,’ and he pointed to a broken ladder which led to some place above.

And there I found him - the boy soldier - in a kind of upper loft, so low that I could touch with my hands the sooty rafters; the floor was of rough boards, through the joints of which you could see the gleam of the soldiers’ fire, and occasionally discern their figures as they moved about; in one corner was a camp bedstead, by the side of which hung the child’s sword, gorget, and sash; a deal table stood in the proximity of the rusty grate, where smoked and smouldered a pile of black turf from the bog, - a deal table without a piece of baize to cover it, yet fraught with things not devoid of interest: a Bible, given by a mother; the ODYSSEY, the Greek ODYSSEY; a flute, with broad silver keys; crayons, moreover, and water-colours; and a sketch of a wild prospect near, which, though but half finished, afforded ample proof of the excellence and skill of the boyish hand now occupied upon it.

Ah! he was a sweet being, that boy soldier, a plant of early promise, bidding fair to become in after time all that is great, good, and admirable. I have read of a remarkable Welshman, of whom it was said, when the grave closed over him, that he could frame a harp, and play it; build a ship, and sail it; compose an ode, and set it to music. A brave fellow that son of Wales - but I had once a brother who could do more and better than this, but the grave has closed over him, as over the gallant Welshman of yore; there are now but two that remember him - the one who bore him, and the being who was nurtured at the same breast. He was taken, and I was left! - Truly, the ways of Providence are inscrutable.

‘You seem to be very comfortable, John,’ said I, looking around the room and at the various objects which I have described above: ‘you have a good roof over your head, and have all your things about you.’

‘Yes, I am very comfortable, George, in many respects; I am, moreover, independent, and feel myself a man for the first time in my life - independent did I say? - that’s not the word, I am something much higher than that; here am I, not sixteen yet, a person in authority, like the centurion in the book there,

  By PanEris using Melati.

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