On Greenhow Hill
Her hand within his rosy fingers lay,
A chilling weight. She would not turn or hear;
But with averted face went on her way.
But when pale Death, all featureless and grim,
Lifted his bony hand, and beckoning
Held out his cypress-wreath, she followed him,
And Love was left forlorn and wondering,
That she who for his bidding would not stay,
At Deaths first whisper rose and went away.
Ohé, Ahmed Din! Shafiz Ullah ahoo! Bahadur Khan, where are you? Come out of the tents, as I have done, and fight against the English. Dont kill your own kin! Come out to me!
The deserter from a native corps was crawling round the outskirts of the camp, firing at intervals, and shouting invitations to his old comrades. Misled by the rain and the darkness, he came to the English wing of the camp, and with his yelping and rifle-practice disturbed the men. They had been making roads all day, and were tired.
Ortheris was sleeping at Learoyds feet. Wots all that? he said thickly. Learoyd snored, and a Snider bullet ripped its way through the tent wall. The men swore. Its that bloomin deserter from the Aurangabadis, said Ortheris. Git up, some one, an tell im es come to the wrong shop.
Go to sleep, little man, said Mulvaney, who was steaming nearest the door. I cant arise an expaytiate with him. Tis rainin entrenchin tools outside.
Taint because you bloomin cant. Its cause you bloomin wont, ye long, limp, lousy, lazy beggar, you. Ark to im owlin!
Wots the good of argifying? Put a bullet into the swine! Es keepin us awake! said another voice.
A subaltern shouted angrily, and a dripping sentry whined from the darkness
Taint no good, sir. I cant see im. Es idin somewhere down ill.
Ortheris tumbled out of his blanket. Shall I try to get im, sir? said he.
No, was the answer. Lie down. I wont have the whole camp shooting all round the clock. Tell him to go and pot his friends.
Ortheris considered for a moment. Then, putting his head under the tent wall, he called, as a bus conductor calls in a block, Igher up, there! Igher up!
The men laughed, and the laughter was carried down wind to the deserter, who, hearing that he had made a mistake, went off to worry his own regiment half a mile away. He was received with shots; the Aurangabadis were very angry with him for disgracing their colours.
An thats all right, said Ortheris, withdrawing his head as he heard the hiccough of the Sniders in the distance. Selp me Gawd, tho, that mans not fit to livemessin with my beauty-sleep this way.
Go out and shoot him in the morning, then, said the subaltern incautiously. Silence in the tents now. Get your rest, men.
Ortheris lay down with a happy little sigh, and in two minutes there was no sound except the rain on the canvas and the all-embracing and elemental snoring of Learoyd.
The camp lay on a bare ridge of the Himalayas, and for a week had been waiting for a flying column to make connection. The nightly rounds of the deserter and his friends had become a nuisance.
In the morning the men dried themselves in hot sunshine and cleaned their grimy accoutrements. The native regiment was to take its turn of road-making that day while the Old Regiment loafed.
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