Ngamihi; or The Maori Chief's Daughter
Chapter XV. John Fly Turns the Tables
Chapter XV. John Fly Turns the Tables.
Mr. Douglas, please desire the Sergeant to march in the prisoner and witnesses—but stop one moment," he added, "this is going to be dry work, so I'll just fortify myself with one more glass before I commence." And for the third time the services of the mess-waiter were requisitioned. Everything being now ready, the prisoner was brought before the Court, and the order for its assembly having been read, the question was put by the President:—"Private John Fly, have you any objection to the President, or any of the members present, sitting on your Court Martial."
"Me hab no 'jection to any of them officers try me," answered the prisoner looking round the room. "But Captain, me hab 'jection to you. Me try for 'bitual drunk,' because me drink two glasses of white rum, and just before you sat down dere," pointing to the president's chair with his chin, (an African always points with his chin) "me see you drink one, two, tree glass of brandy and water. Me look through the window dere, and after dat me say you no fit for try me. Dat is all my 'jection."
Had a bomb shell exploded on the table before him, the President could not have looked more astonished, while the rest page 66of the officers could scarcely conceal their amusement. Someone suggested that the court should be cleared.
"March the prisoner out," said Gardner, "and move him a little further away this time."
"Well, gentlemen," he continued, after his order had been obeyed, "you have heard what the prisoner has said, allow me to ask if you consider me to be in any way unfit for my present duty."
They were unanimous in assuring him that they believed him quite competent and that what he had imbibed had appeared to do him more good than harm; notwithstanding which they could not help seeing the necessity of recording the prisoner's objection on the face of the proceedings. This having been done, the court was adjourned for the purpose of allowing the President to report to the Colonel how matters stood.
"A pretty mess you have made of it," said the old Colonel, half angry and half amused, when he had heard Gardiner's story. "I know it would require more than you took this morning to have any visible effect on you. In fact, I suppose it was only about enough to steady your nerves after last night. Still the prisoner's objection, although it might be overruled, would not look much to your credit on paper. By jove! I think the only thing for it is to let the fellow off. Very fortunate for you that it happened to be only a Regimental Court Martial, and that I have the matter in my own hands. Send the prisoner back to the guard room, and tell the Adjutant I want to see him."
The same afternoon the following order appeared:—"The Regimental Court Martial, of which Captain Gardner is President, is here hereby dissolved, and the prisoner No 1248, Private John Fly, will return to his duty."page 67
On reading which Captain Gardner was heard to remark, "This will be a lesson to me; I will never again take even one glass of brandy and water before sitting down to a Court Martial, unless it is some place where there's no confounded window that the prisoner can look through."
"That is the end of my story, Miss Munroe, and though it occurred many years ago I have always remembered it for the great amusement it caused when my father was relating it to his friends."
"Well done, my boy; it just shows how careful officers ought to be in their conduct. It is only 'human natur' as Josh Billings says, for uneducated persons to copy their superiors. I cannot help laughing at the fix Captain Gardner was in when John Fly made his objection. But Jessie my dear," continned Mr. Munroe, "unlock the door; Mr. Douglas will be afraid to come here again if you place him under arrest."
"Many thanks for your story, Mr. Douglas, I do hope you will think of some others without my again placing you under restraint," remarked Jessie with a smile.
"Thanks are all very well my dear," remarked the old gentleman, "but I think you ought to reward our storyteller by singing the little love song you were practising this afternoon."
After a slight demur Miss Munroe seated herself at the piano and sang the following with great expression.page 68
‡ The Maiden's Song.
Oh! time thy swift pinions,
For me fly too slow,
And we, earth-born minions.
Must move as you go;
But the soul all undying,
Can laugh at your pow'r,
And the thought, as 'tis flying.
Won't wait for the hour.
Joyous fancy untir'd,
Now wafts me along,
To that day so desir'd
On the bright stream of song;
When the hero from glory,
Returns to his love,
And the eagle all gory,
Will mate with the dove.
I love him—I love him;
This bosom can tell
How wild's the motion—
How deep is the spell;
When his voice strikes mine ear,
When his hand touches mine,
Soul enraptur'd I fear
Neither Peril nor Tine.
Ye waves of the ocean,
Ye spears of the foe,
Be gentle in emotion,
Nor lay my love low;
Oh haste then, fly quicker.
Ye hours! nor delay,
This life does but flicker,
While he is away.
After thanking Miss Munroe for her song, I looked at my watch and rose to retire, when Mr. Munroe, taking a bottle from a sideboard, remarked:
"Talking of brandy and water, it may be very good for those that like it, or the white rum that got John Fly into trouble, but in my opinion old Highland whisky like this is far better. Jessie bullies me for keeping it here, but I like my medicine handy. Nothing like a bottle in the drawing room, and another in the dining room, still I never drink too much. Nothing like moderation. Just you sample it before you go."
We both sampled it, and found it as good as represented.
"Oh you two topers," cried Miss Munroe. "Don't let dad, father I mean—persuade you to take much of that, or I will have to make you a bed on the sofa, and then it will be your turn to get Court Martialled—Hark! what is that?"
‡ By captain Robert Morgan Scott.