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The Old Sergeant.

COME a little nearer, Doctor,—thank you !-let me take

the cup:

Draw your chair up,—draw it closer,-just another little

sup! May be you may think I 'm better; but I'm pretty well

used up,

Doctor, you 've done all you could do, but I 'm just a

going up!

“Feel my pulse, sir, if you want to, but it ain't much use to

try". “Never say that,” said the Surgeon, as he smothered down

a sigh; “It will never do, old comrade, for a soldier to say die! ” “What you say will make no difference, Doctor, when you

come to die.

“Doctor, what has been the matter ?” “You were very

faint, they say ; You must try to get to sleep now.” “Doctor, have I been

away

y?" "Not that anybody knows of !” “ Doctor-Doctor, please

to stay! There is something I must tell you, and you won't have

long to stay!

“I have got my marching orders, and I 'm ready now to go; Doctor, did you say I fainted ?—but it could n't ha' been

80,For as sure as I'm a Sergeant, and was wounded at Shi

loh, I've this very night been back there, on the old field of Shi

loh!

THE OLD SERGEANT.

235

" This is all that I remember: The last time the Lighter

came, And the lights had all been lowered, and the noises much

the same,

He had not been gone five minutes before something called

my name: ORDERLY SERGEANT-ROBERT BURTON!'—just that way it

called my name.

66

And I wondered who could call me so distinctly and so

slow, Knew it could n't be the Lighter,-he could not have

spoken so; And I tried to answer, 'Here, sir !' but I could n't make

it go ;

For I could n't move a muscle, and I could n't make it go!

“Then I thought: It 's all a nightmare, all a humbug and a

bore;

Just another foolish grape-vine*—and it won't come any

more; But it came, sir, notwithstanding, just the same way as be

fore: 'ORDERLY SERGEANT-ROBERT BURTON!' even plainer than

before.

“That is all that I remember, till a sudden burst of light, And I stood beside the River, where we stood that Sunday

night, Waiting to be ferried over to the dark bluffs opposite, When the river was perdition and all hell was opposite !

“And the same old palpitation came again in all its power, And I heard a Bugle sounding, as from some celestial

Tower;

*Canard.

And the same mysterious voice said: 'IT IS THE ELEVENTH

HOUR! ORDERLY SERGEANTROBERT BURTON-IT IS THE ELEVENTH

HOUR!'

“Doctor Austin |—what day is this?” “It is Wednesday

night, you know." “Yes,—to-morrow will be New Year's, and a right good

time below! What time is it, Doctor Austin ?" "Nearly Twelve." "Then

do n't you go! Can it be that all this happened—all this—not an hour ago!

“There was where the gun-boats opened on the dark, re

bellious host; And where Webster semicircled his last guns upon the

coast; There were still the two log-houses, just the same, or else

their ghost, And the same old transport came and took me over-or its

ghost!

“And the old field lay before me all deserted far and wide; There was where they fell on Prentiss,—there McClernand

met the tide; There was where stern Sherman rallied, and where Hurl

but's heroes died, Lower down, where Wallace charged them, and kept

charging till he died.

" There was where Lew Wallace showed them he was of

the canny kin, There was where old Nelson thundered, and where Rous

seau waded in; There McCook sent 'em to breakfast, and we all began to

winThere was where the grape-shot took me, just as we be

gan to win.

THE OLD SERGEANT.

237

“Now, a shroud of snow and silence over everything was

spread; And but for this old blue mantle and the old hat on my

head, I should not have even doubted, to this moment, I was

dead, For my footsteps were as silent as the snow upon the dead !

“Death and silence !-Death and silence! all around me as

I sped! And behold, a mighty Tower, as if builded to the dead, To the Heaven of the heavens, lifted up its mighty head, Till the Stars and Stripes of Heaven all seemed waving

from its head!

“Round and mighty-based it towered-up into the infiniteAnd I knew no mortal mason could have built a shaft so

bright; For it shone like solid sunshine; and a winding stair of

light, Wound around it and around it till it wound clear out of

sight!

“And; behold, as I approached it with a rapt and dazzled

stare, Thinking that I saw old comrades just ascending the great

Stair,Suddenly the solemn challenge broke of—'Halt, and who

goes there!'

'I'm a friend,' I said, 'if you are.'—'Then advance, sir, to

the Stair!'

“I advanced !—That sentry, Doctor, was Elijah Ballan

tynelFirst of all to fall on Monday, after we had formed the *Welcome, my old Sergeant, welcome! Welcome by that

line:

countersign!' And he pointed to the scar there, under this old cloak of

mine!

"As he grasped my hand, I shuddered, thinking only of the

grave; But he smiled and pointed upward with a bright and

bloodless glaive: "That 's the way, sir, to Head-quarters.'—'What Head

quarters? '--' Of the Brave.' But the great Tower?'—' That,' he answered, 'Is the way,

sir, of the Brave!'

“Then a sudden shame came o'er me at his uniform of light; At my own so old and tattered, and at his so new and

bright; 'Ah!' said he, 'you have forgotten the New Uniform to

night, Hurry back, for you must be here at just twelve o'clock

to-night!'

“And the next thing I remember, you were sitting there,

and IDoctor-did you hear a footstep? Hark!—God bless you

all! Good-by! Doctor, please to give my musket and my knapsack, when

I die,

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To my Son-my Son that 's coming, -he won't get here

till I die!

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“ Tell him his old father blessed him as he never did before, And to carry that old musket”-Hark! a knock is at the

door! Till the Union"-Seel it opens !—"Father! Father! speak

once more!" Bless you !"-gasped the old gray Sergeant, and he lay and said no more.

FORCEYTHE WILLSON.

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