With the Lost Legion in New Zealand
Chapter VIII — "And We Die, and None can Tell them Where We Died."—Kipling
"And We Die, and None can Tell them Where We Died."—Kipling
We reached Patea and formed a standing camp, for as great political changes were on the tapis the campaign for a period marked time. During our absence the forces remaining behind under Colonel Butler had not been idle, having defeated and driven off the ground a large party of Hau Haus at a place called Katotauru, while the Kupapas had also rendered good service.
It was now generally known that the regular troops were to be withdrawn from the country, so that the action at Katotauru was the last engagement in which they took part, though they were still employed for a short time to garrison certain places.
It is not a pleasant thing to say, but it is the truth, that during the past six years their efforts had been futile, although all the colonial fighting men allowed that had Sir Trevor Chute been in command from the start of the war things would have been very different.
It was at this time that Colonel Haultain, the Colonial Defence Minister, determining to carry out a bold policy, gave directions to occupy the confiscated land situated between the Waitotara and Waingangora rivers, and issued orders that all the west coast colonial troops, many of whom were at that time serving on the east coast, should page 131return and rendezvous at Patea. In the meantime things were a bit quiet with us. When I say "quiet I use the word in the sense that we had no fighting at least, with the Hau Haus, for a time, for no one could call the Rangers' camp peaceful nor reposeful, nor was it a place in which a man given to sedentary pursuits would care to linger or dwell.
I was now to experience the great curse of the colony, for I regret to say the majority of our men, rough and uncouth as they were, but who had been quiet and tractable enough in the field, now became a prey to the grog-seller, and the scenes of foul, drunken debauchery were disgusting to the last degree. This was only to be expected from the majority of our crew, as there were many among them who were the flotsam and jetsam of the South Seas and Pacific slope, but what surprised and disgusted me was that many of our worst cases were men whom I knew to have been at one time gentlemen.
Of course I had seen plenty of hard drinking at home (a man in the wild parts of the world, although colonial born, always speaks of the British Isles as "home"), but then the vice was accompanied with music, excitement and fun, when a man carried off his legs by conviviality might be excused for temporarily forgetting himself, and the crime was disguised by its surroundings; but here it was not even vulgar, it was bestial, and for days our camp was a pandemonium, filled with drunken, blaspheming fiends who, without any joviality, wit or humour, scarcely with even an attempt at a sing-song, gulped down vile doctored rum till they collapsed and wallowed in their degradation.page 132
Remember I have not written the above because I was puritanically inclined, or a devotee to an extravagant belief in teetotalism; far from it, for I was myself as wild as a hawk and as reckless a spendthrift as ever Ould Ireland produced, but what I could not stand was the foul, bestial manners and language brought out by the accursed poison sold as rum.
Still there was some excuse for the men, as you must bear in mind these fellows, accustomed to long spells of hardship in the bush, cut off from woman's or any other civilising society, and under-going long periods of enforced abstinence, were, when they did touch the fringe of civilisation, mad for some change, and had but little wherewith to amuse themselves.
Very many of them had never played a game such as cricket or football in their lives; they had no papers, books nor periodicals, even had they cared to read them; and there was not a theatre, music hall or anything of that sort to entertain them; no, not even a woman, whose presence would have quickly shamed them to decency, for there is nothing that sobers up and tames a wild up-country man more than the wholesome presence of a respectable female. No, there was nothing but this infernal rum, and they wallowed in it.
The day we reached Patea I had been looking after Tim, and it was not till evening, when I had seen him snug in hospital, I reached our tent, and the scene there was far from pleasant for a tired, hungry man.
Outside squatted Buck, grilling some meat on the embers of a small fire, while a couple of panni-page 133kins stood in the same, and a loaf of ammunition bread lay on a blanket beside him. So far so good, but where was Pierre and his batterie de cuisine? We were in camp. Sutlers with stores were plentiful, and all morning Pierre had been gassing about the wonderful dinner he was going to give us, and I had looked forward to it.
"Come on, Dick," quoth Buck, "I'm getting some tucker ready for you and me. I guess the others won't sup to-night; shove your swag down here and let's fall to."
"But where are the rest of the boys?" I said. "I've just seen Tim put away all right, and the Surgeon-Major told me he would do well and be fit for duty in next door to no time."
"Oh! I'm glad Tim's O.K.," answered Buck, "but if you want the rest of the boys you'll find them in the tent. I've just humped the last of them up from the damned grog shop, and a ruddy job I've had of it, but it won't do to let one's mates lie aroun' uncared for. Wish to goodness you'd have come along a bit earlier so as to give a hand, darned if I don't."
I looked into the tent and there I saw my comrades lying in a distorted heap, mixed up with loaves of bread, blankets, and all the camping paraphernalia, every one of them putrid drunk.
This for a moment upset me, as I regarded Hutton as more than a passing acquaintance, and I could not understand how he, a gentleman by birth and education, could have sunk his pride so as to have got drunk in such companionship as our mates. Old Jack I also liked, but his was a different case, as nothing better could be expected page 134from him, Pierre or George than a pirates' debauch; and I had but small respect for Smith, who, notwithstanding his culture, had somehow never seemed to ring true.
However, I could do nothing for them, so squatted down and enjoyed the meat and bread Buck had so kindly prepared for me. Fortunately the night was a fine one, so after a yarn by the fire we made down our blankets and slept in the open, leaving the tent to the votaries of Bacchus.
The following day, as the bust was still being kept up, I attended a sale of captured loot, cattle, horses, etc., and bought for ten pounds a very fine horse, getting also a nearly new saddle and bridle of the best Australian make for two pounds. The nag was a very well-bred one and had evidently been bred by some settler looted by the Maoris, and was more than half wild, besides which he was in very poor condition; but he was only four years old, well topped, with splendid quarters, legs and feet, and I made up my mind to set to work to break him in and get him into good condition.
As I was overlooking my purchase Mr Roach strolled up.
"Well, Burke," he said, "so you've started a stable, have you? Well, you've made a deuced good start. I know the breed of that horse, and the man who bred him never bred a wrong 'un," and he pointed at the two tomahawks' brand on the near shoulder. "He is by Cid out of a Duchess mare, and is as near thoroughbred as they make them. You have a cheap lot, but, by George! you may have a job to break him, although once you have done it you'll find he's all right, as there is not a page 135particle of vice in the breed. Come along and let's see you back him. But have you ever tried to back a buckjumper before? What sort of a hand are you in the pigskin?"
I told him I was all right in the hunting-field, having ridden from childhood, but had never broken in a horse, nor ever seen a buckjumper in my life.
"Then," said he, "I advise you to let one of those defence force fellows do it. There are plenty of rough-riding stockmen among them."
"Well, sir," I answered, "I'm determined to tackle him myself, especially as I want to train him afterwards, and if I remain in the colony I must sooner or later come across a buckjumper."
"True," he replied. "I'll give you a hand with the saddle, but bring him into the paddock so that if he pips you we can round him up easily. One thing's in your favour, he is very poor, so that you may have a chance of breaking him before he regains his full strength."
Buck had by this time joined us, and with their assistance I managed to bridle and saddle the horse, a job that gave us some trouble and attracted many idle troopers, so that when I led him into the paddock I had a big gallery.
The English cut of my riding breeches and boots had given me away to the onlookers as a new chum, and there were plenty of men offering odds that the tenderfoot would be pipped in less than a minute.
Patting and talking to him I led him about for a few moments up and down the paddock, which was a field of some ten acres, surrounded with a five-foot post-and-rail fence. Mr Roach now took his head and placed his hand over his near eye, page 136while Buck held the off-stirrup ready to place on my foot.
In a moment I was in the saddle and gave the word to let go when Buck, having placed the stirrup, together with Mr Roach, sprang clear, leaving myself and horse to fight it out. For a few seconds he stood still, then gave himself an angry shake or two, then kicked viciously, rearing between each kick as if he wished to throw himself backwards, when, finding this did not move me, he stood still and snorted as if he remarked to himself: "Well, I am damned." All at once he seemed to have made up his mind, for he made a determined snatch at his bit, and although I was on the lookout for him he dragged the reins through my fingers, and, like a flash of lightning, down went his head, while his back seemed to bend and give under me, but in a moment he shot up into the air, all four feet leaving the ground at once, bending his back up, arched like that of an angry cat, and returning to the ground with a jar that nearly drove my spine through the roof of my head. The same jar seemed to send him aloft again like an india-rubber ball bouncing, when after it has been thrown up into the air it returns to the ground only to bound up again.
This exercise went on for some minutes, and though it was far from pleasant yet I felt I could stick it all right, the worst part being that when in the air it seemed as if I were sitting on the end of an egg, as, bar a tuft of hair in front of the gullet plate of my saddle, devil a bit of the horse could I see at all.
Presently he stopped dead, and cheers rose from page 137the onlookers. "Well sat, new chum!" "Gad! the chap can ride a bit!" and other laudatory remarks, so that I began to think that the game was won, when I heard Mr Roach's voice shout: "Look out, Burke. He is going to side-buck."
What side-bucking meant I had no idea, but I was soon to find out, as without the slightest warning he again started, but this time he did not spring straight ahead but sideways, at the same time making his body wriggle like a snake, while the jumps came so quickly I could not get the chance to regain my grip, which the first side-buck had loosened. More and more I was shifted from my hold, and although I did my best, yet I could not save myself, and I am sure some subtle instinct told the horse he was getting the better of me, for he seemed to redouble his efforts, and with one mighty plunge sent me flying over his near wither. I fell heavily, but was up in a moment, a bit shaken though not hurt, and amid the cheers of the men again mounted.
No sooner was I in my seat and the men helping me sprung clear than he started with the side-bucking, but this time I knew what to expect, and was on the lookout, so was able, albeit with difficulty, to retain my seat, and after some twenty minutes' game tussle forced him to walk and canter round and round the paddock, having fairly conquered him, which I should not have done so easily had it not been for his starved condition.
This I set to work to rectify with good grooming and feeding, riding him twice a day and passing all my spare time talking to him and training him. On two occasions only he again tried bucking, page 138but as he failed to get me off he gave it up, quickly learning to know me and picking up flesh and manners in a wonderful way, so that before a month was over I possessed a really valuable mount, one that in the future was to carry me through some tough jobs and warm corners.
In this way I passed my time till my comrades had finished their bust, which was not concluded till their last shilling had been spent, and I also, with Mr Roach's kindly assistance, began to study the Maori language, which, thanks to my knowledge of French, came very easy to me.
As soon as they had spent all their money my tent mates began to sober up, and it was a pitiful sight watching them taper off. For a day or two they were all mad for more drink and suffered dreadfully, and acting on Buck's advice I began to doctor them.
On the first day I procured and issued to the poor broken-nerved wretches five tots apiece; on the second, four; on the third, three; and so on till, by the time it came to one tot, with the exception of Smith, they were all right and swore off bar rations.
Smith, I regret to say, was not satisfied with this regimen, and for days continued to loaf around the camp trying to cadge drinks, and would go to any mean extreme to procure one.
Pierre and George, when fit, returned to their scouting, and Mr Roach kindly gave me leave to accompany them so as to pick up what I could of the trade.
These two worthies at first were by no means keen to take me, as they did not consider I was page 139hard enough, but I managed to overcome their scruples, and when they found I soon became as hard and untiring as themselves they quickly began to instruct me in their wonderful bush lore.
Yes, and bush lore is a very wonderful science, and to be mastered by no one who does not give himself up heart and soul to its study.
First of all there are so many things a new chum must learn and remember, and it must be impressed on him that the bush is revengeful and if treated with disrespect is apt to exact a mortal punishment. Let me enumerate a very few of the things a man must thoroughly master before he can call himself a scout: He must learn to use his senses to un unnatural degree. His eye must get accustomed to see and note everything, although he is giving his attention to something else. At the same time his senses of smell, hearing and feeling must also always be on deck, while his memory must retain every mortal thing his senses have discovered and noted. He must be able to pass through the bush day or night as noiselessly as a bat and in as straight a line as a bee, although in crossing it he will surely be encountered by many obstacles, which he must be able to get over, get under, or get round and pick up again his straight line. He must be able to approximately tell the time, day or night, and also to steer his course without compas, sun or stars. He must learn the different call and note of every day or night bird and be able to distinguish them so as to be sure that any bird is calling with its natural note at its proper time and in its correct locality.page 140
These are only a few of the things a tyro has to learn and digest, or if he does not do so don't let him go scouting when Hau Haus are hostile.
I am not going to turn this chapter into an article on scouting, but have simply told you a few of the subjects I had to learn, and which I did learn, and digested so carefully that at last I became, and mark you it was after long and weary work, cognisant that I owned another sense or instinct that informed me if I was going right or wrong and eventually became so acute that in some ways it warned me of approaching danger.
All this was not learned in a day or without undergoing great hardship, but I stuck at it, wandering through the rough country with my queer companions, and gradually mastering some of their marvellous skill and bush-craft.
Our duty chiefly consisted in searching for pahs in the most inaccessible parts of the country, for although the fighting had, for a time, ceased, yet we were well aware that the natives were still hostile, and in fact so long as they clung to the Hau Hau or Pai Marire faith they must continue to remain so.
The regular troops were at this time being withdrawn, and Colonel McDonnell, although he had not yet assumed the command of the west coast, was anxious to make a move so as to get the men out of the camp and strike another blow at the Hau Hau. The Kupapas had returned to Wanganui, so he issued orders for three companies of the Forest Rangers to make a night's march up the Waingangora and beat up the enemy, who were in force in that district, and it was on page 141this patrol that death was to be brought home to me.
We left camp at sunset, loaded as usual, but each company had to carry four stretchers as we had no hospital men with us, so that we had to take turn and turn about with the butchers' trays, as the men called them, and we marched all through the night, resting for two hours before daylight. We were moving in three separate bodies, and were destined to get a lesson on how difficult a matter it is for combined movements to be carried out successfully when working in a rough, bushed country, especially when no communication can be held by the various units.
Our company was to make the frontal attack; the other two, making detours, were to try and envelop, or at least outflank, the enemy's position, Mr Roach's orders being to advance to the attack as soon as it was light enough for a man to be able to see his fore sight. This we did, taking every care and precaution in our advance, and found the enemy, far outnumbering us, posted in a very strong position.
We, however, in accordance with orders, gaily began the fight, expecting our flankers to chip in every moment, but they had been delayed on their march and did not do so, and soon the Hau Haus began to outflank us, so that Mr Roach was forced to give the order to retire, an order we carried out as coolly as if on parade, disputing every fathom of ground and daring the enemy to rush us. Still we must fall back or allow the natives to outflank and eventually surround us, which spells being cut to pieces in bush fighting, so we were page 142retiring very steadily by alternate groups of four, my four consisting of myself, Hutton, Jack and Buck.
The bush was an open one—that is, it consisted of the usual huge trees without much undergrowth—so that we could move quickly from cover to cover but were more exposed while doing so.
Hutton and myself were together behind one tree; Jack and Buck behind another, about six yards away, and at the time were in the firing line, not more than a dozen yards away from the advancing Hau Haus, who were yelling like a lot of fiends newly let loose from the pit.
We were firing alternately—that is, I had laid down and fired from the right-hand side of the tree, then had slipped behind it, letting Hutton take my place while I loaded under cover. Hutton had fired and had sprung to his feet as we were about to vacate our cover and run back so as to pass through the groups that had taken up their position some twenty yards to our rear, and were ready to cover our retreat; in fact, I had started to race back, when I heard beside me the thud a bullet makes when it strikes flesh, and Hutton, with a gasping cry, fell against me, nearly knocking me off my feet.
In a moment I had hold of him, dragged him back to the tree, and had grasped my carbine, just in the nick of time, to meet the rush of a big Maori who, tomahawk in hand, had charged in to finish off his victim. He was in fact not more than three yards from me when my bullet crashed into his head, when, throwing up his arms, his knees page 143gave way and he fell dead at my feet, this being the first Hau Hau that I could be positive of having put out of mess up to date.
He had hardly reached the ground before I had seized Hutton's carbine, handing him mine, saying: "Try and load this, old chap," which, although he was coughing up blood, he managed to do.
At the same instant Jack and Buck were alongside of us. "'Ere, what's all this?" howled the former, his blue eyes on fire and his face as hard as a stone.
"Leave me alone," gasped Hutton; "the other fellows have all fallen back and you'll be cut off. I'm done for."
"Leave yer alone," growled Jack; "that be damned for a yarn; white-livered—you must think us 'uns to leave yer alone. 'Ere, Dick, you and Buck cover me. I'll carry our mate out. Bring along all the carbines and give the ruddy scum hell if they try to rush. Come on, now," and exerting his enormous strength the foul-mouthed old pirate lifted Hutton, big man as he was, and bore him tenderly, like a mother carrying a sick infant, to the rear.
Buck and myself now had our hands full, but I think both of our next shots must have been lucky ones, as the Hau Haus hung back for a moment from rushing us, a moment we grasped to race back under heavy fire to a tree some dozen yards away, where we turned at bay.
Again we fired, and I know my shot was a lucky one, as I got a good chance, and saw the fellow I had aimed at crumple up and fall, which gave us the opportunity to again run back to fresh cover. page 144No sooner had we reached it than Buck shouted, "It's all right, Dick, the flankers have come up and are twisting their tails; look out, we'll get a shot at the beggars in front of us as they bolt. Gosh, this beats cock-shooting at home."
Sure enough as he spoke I heard our fellows' volleys, together with their charging shout, and knew we were out of the fire, for at the same moment our own company came back with a rush, which we joined, and in a few minutes we had taken the position, driving the Hau Haus helter-skelter in flight.
The moment I could I made for the stretchers and asked the doctor how Hutton was.
"Dying, poor fellow," was the reply. "It will be all over with him in less than an hour. Go to him, he has asked for you several times. I expect he will remain conscious to the end."
In a moment I was kneeling by my poor pal's side, close to whom squatted old Jack, who was swearing softly and tying a bandage round his own leg.
"How goes it, old chap?" I asked, taking his hand.
"Dick, dear boy," he gasped, "I'm glad you wiped out the beggar who shot me. Those are not Christian sentiments, I know, but very human, still, let him slide. Listen, old chap. Your mother knows Lady—well. I'm her son Eustace. Yes, old chap, I've never told you my yarn, but now you know it, as you must have heard it, although the affair took place years before your time. Dick, on the honour of a dying man, I was innocent. Would to God I could prove it to the page 145old regiment. I knew your mother well. Now promise to write to her and get her to break the news to my mother, and let her tell her that as I lay dying I swore to you I was innocent of that crime, and that if I've lived like a waster I've died like a man; and, Dick, when I'm dead take the locket from my neck and send it to your mother, she'll know whom to give it to; and, Dick, dear boy, get home out of this hell of drink and brutality; there is nothing in it, only a wasted life and a death without honour like mine."
All this had been gasped out in short sentences, and to try and cheer him up I said: "But, Hutton, old pal, you don't die without honour; you got your death-wound fighting bravely for Queen and flag."
He smiled like a child and muttered: "Yes, Dick, Queen and flag, God bless them, Queen and flag."
For some time he lay still, while I wiped away the bloody froth from his lips, administering now and then some weak rum and water, and vainly tried to remember some prayer, if only to counteract the awful oaths rumbled out by old Jack, who had by now taken post on the other side of the dying man.
"Say, Dick," growled the old pirate, as he expectorated a worn-out chew of tobacco, "don't yer think our shipmate's parted his moorings?" And he swore with due solemnity. "Coz I feels inclined to go back to the ruddy bush and see as if I can't do something to square this 'ere blooming account. Yo've done your bit, you have, when yer lifted the hatch off that swine's head, but I guess I feel as if I wants to do a bit myself." And the old page 146fellow made to rise from the ground, but sank back as Hutton again opened his eyes and gasped out:
"Thanks, Jack; good-bye, old ship," and then, after a pause, turning his fading eyes towards mine, he whispered: "Une vie manqué, une vie manqué, but thank God finished like a gentleman, for Queen and flag. God bless them, Queen and flag. So-long, Dick, go home." And as he muttered the last word he closed his eyes, and with a smile on his face his gallant spirit left its clay to answer the eternal roll-call.
There is no time for lamentation, and but little for mourning, in the bush, so that as soon as the doctor had pronounced our poor pal dead old Jack and myself set about his obsequies. I first of all removed from his neck the locket, which was sewn up in leather, and looked through his poor sordid pack in case there might be any letters or papers to take care of; but there were none.
"'Ere, chuck me that blanket, mate," growled my fellow-undertaker. "No, mine's a new one. We'll start him aloft in that, seems more respectful like," and the kind-hearted old filibuster substituted his own brand-new blanket for Hutton's tattered one, at the same time producing a small canvas ditty-bag, out of which he extracted a sailmaker's palm, needle and twine. "Yer see, Dick," he continued, "I always like to give a mate his last chuck, so long as I've got time, respectful like. So that he's no call to feel shame when he toes the line afore Davy Jones. Now you turn to and dig the hole, while I sew him up ship-shape and Bristol fashion, coz t'other mates will be 'ere soon and we may have to hoof it."page 147
This was very true, so leaving Jack to sew up the still warm remains I started in with tomahawk and hands to scoop out a shallow resting-place for my dead pal.
I had not more than half finished when I was joined by Mr Roach and the rest of the company, some of whom helped me to complete the grave, and when it was ready his tent-mates lifted, with rough though revering hands, the shapeless form, and bore it slowly to its last resting-place. There we laid him down, shovelling the soft soil over him with our hands, and concealing the spot so that no wandering Hau Hau could discover and desecrate the remains of our gallant comrade.
Yes, there, alone he lay, without a prayer having been said over him, without a bugle having been blown, or without a parting shot having been fired, and with only a mob of rough, sin-stained men to, for a few minutes, mourn for him, yet I guess that as horny hands wiped away a salt drop or two, and deep voices muttered oaths and threats of revenge, none of his noble ancestors resting under the old abbey roof at home were more sorrowed for or rest better than their hapless kinsman killed in a forgotten, nameless skirmish and buried by his wild and reckless comrades in a hidden grave on a lonely fern ridge among the wilds of the New Zealand bush. R.I.P.
No sooner was poor Hutton planted than we fell in, moving off to continue the patrol, and I told Mr Roach about the locket and message in case I might be rubbed out, for I was new to the game then and my poor pal's death gave me the hump. However, we were to have no more fighting that page 148patrol, and returned to camp after two more days of bush-whacking.
On our return I found Tim had been returned fit for duty, and I was glad of it, as my light-hearted follower always cheered up the tent. The hump was still bearing heavy upon me, and as it was now the beginning of June and my period of service terminated at the end of the month I had to make up my mind whether I would sign on again or return home, as my poor dead pal had begged me to do.
I was tired of camp life, for although I enjoyed my scouting trips, and knew there would be heaps of good fighting to be got through in the near future, still the glamour of the Rangers had worn off. There was another pay-day to be faced on the 5th July, and much as I liked some of my comrades, yet I had no desire to associate again with the foul, drunken, swearing mob that pay-day would turn my companions into. No; I would quit it. There was no middle course that I could see, so I would return to Europe.
Man proposes but Kismet decides, for just as I had come to the above determination Mr Roach called me and told me to go to the Colonel's tent as he wished to see me, and of course I at once reported there, where I found him hard at work, but he at once called me in.
"Burke," said he, "I hear you have worked very hard to pick up a knowledge of bush work, that you are a good horseman and leave the rum-bottle alone. Moreover your company commander informs me he has the greatest confidence in you. Do you know anything of mounted drill?"page 149
I answered in the affirmative and he continued:
"Well, I am in great want of an officer to take over the adjutancy of the Mounted Defence Force. I know of course you are a gentleman, well educated and all that, so I offer you the position. The war will breeze up again shortly and you'll get plenty of fighting."
Naturally I was much gratified by the offer, though I explained to the Colonel that I was at present on the horns of a dilemma as to whether I ought not to return home.
He, however, laughed, and said: "Well, Burke, seeing you travelled fifteen thousand miles to see some fighting it would seem a pity to return all that distance with such a short experience."
My late resolutions all seemed to fade away, so after some more palaver I agreed to sign on as a commissioned officer for three years, or longer, if required.
As the interview terminated he drew out an official document, which he handed to me with a laugh, saying: "I was so sure of you that I sent to Wellington a month ago for your commission, and have much pleasure in now handing it you. You will appear in orders this evening. Come and dine with me to-night."
As I strode away from the H. Q. lines I cogitated over the new aspect of my affairs; but the thing was done, all my determination of returning home had blown to the deuce and I had signed on for another three years. I felt rather mad, but solaced myself with the thought that anyhow there would be plenty of good fighting in the near future. Of course I had mentioned page 150to the Colonel that my promotion would necessitate Egan's transfer, and he had at once directed that the worthy Tim should be transferred in that day's orders, so I wended my way back to my tent to say good-bye to my mates and see to the moving of my kit over to the mounted men's lines, situated about a mile from the Rangers' camp.
My news was received by my comrades in various ways. Tim's wild ebullition of joy at the idea I was to be an officer and that he was going to be my own man once more was tempered by the regrets of the others at my leaving them, while old Jack's pungent remarks, such as "What the hell do yer want to fight aboard a ruddy 'oss for? Ain't yer legs good enough? Course yer ort to be on the ruddy poop, I know that," etc., etc., were rumbled out in the best grumbling style, accompanied with his very choicest selection of bad words. Pierre and George were also sorrowful, declaring that the Rangers were losing their best scout, but their lamentations I cut short by slipping a couple of sovereigns into Pierre's hands, telling him to go to the sutler's and procure materials for the very best repast he could manage to serve up.
This he did, and a wonderful repast it was, so that when it was over, and the farewells said, old Jack himself confessed: "Things did not look so dirty to wind'ard after all," and insisted on helping Tim to carry our kits over to our new camp, while I mounted my horse and rode over to report myself to my new O.C.