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THE DEPARTURE OF A 2ND LIEUTENANT FOR THE FRONT.
BY HIS SISTER.
HE is rather a nice boy, his hair curls, his eyes are blue, and his face twinkles all over when he laughs. For the rest, he was eighteen, and his commission not a month old. Tony had begun to think the War Office had forgotten his important existence-but one day came the long envelope, and Tony thought it was "rather fun,' for he was ordered to join at the front. Then came two days' packing and weighing and struggling to make everything a boy could possibly want (from tins of soup to a Sam Browne belt) fit into one valise and a mysteriouslooking bundle known as a kit-bag.
"What did you say was the maximum weight, Tony?" Forty-five cubic feet. No; bother it! that's wrong." And then a wild search for the Queen's Regulations!
John, the carpenter, thought cubic feet had something to do with measuring timber. Mother didn't know, but she found out, which was more than any one else did!
At last it was done, and Tony was called away to hand breadand-butter to the school children and to shake hands with the old women of the village, who were wishful to say Good-bye to him. Tony stood up by Mother, very red in the face and ill at easewhile the old ladies went by in procession. 'Well, indeed, and
to think of him going to be shot at," said one. And, "Will you ever come back?" said a second: while a third contented herself with clasping his hand in both of hers for a space which seemed an eternity to Tony.
There was a great gathering of the clan that evening, aunts and cousins—and every one who looked at the boy remarked on the trying weather, and how apt one was to catch cold.
Being the two eldest, Jim and I were to go to Liverpool with Mother to see him off." At the last moment Aunt Elisabeth said she must come too. She is very small, but very obstinate, so it was useless to argue. She has a dreamy way of looking as if she were saying her prayers, when any one tries to dissuade her from doing as she pleases.
The rush for an early train in the half-light of a winter's morning, the hurried breakfast, the box which is never ready (pack as you will overnight), how familiar they are! All the shadowy figures gathered at the door seemed unreal and misty, though the handshakes were real enough. Tony's young brother, home from Eton, laughed till it hurt, for just as the carriage was rolling away, the coachman's son put his head in at the window and delivered a veritable oration about "Honour and Glory, Queen and Country," in answer
The Departure of a 2nd Lieutenant for the Front. 819
to which Tony could only stammer that "It was all right"not a very suitable reply. "And the best of it is," said the boy from Eton, "he'll have to invent an answer for the benefit of his friends, for he wouldn't like to tell them you said nothing at all!"
It was a long journey, and Mother held Tony's hand all the way, while Aunt Elisabeth told us stories, to which Mother certainly did not listen. When we changed at the junction, we nearly left the sword behind. An old gentleman ran after me-"Some of your family's luggage, Miss, I think."
At last!—a long last-the train ran into that city of grey roofs and grey river, where the great timber-yards lie along the wharves, and it seems folly to look for any one boat among such a forest of masts and funnels.
In all that dingy greyness, the white head of the general, of V.C. fame, who stood on the platform to greet us, caught the eye, like a late drift of snow on the rocks. He who had been through the Mutiny days and many a hard-fought campaign had come to bid the lad "God speed." He was very cheery, and told us so many times that Tony was a very lucky boy, that the shades and goblins withdrew into the background, and dinner passed merrily in the large room at the hotel, where many khakiclad officers were sitting round the little tables.
"They come and they go," said the hall - porter to me, oracularly, "but I ain't seen
one so young as him," pointing to my brother, whose dark uniform only served to make him look still younger.
Aunt Elisabeth sat up half the night, because she said she could not bear to see the boy off in a black bonnet. She was very tired, but nothing would induce her to go to bed till the pink roses were arranged to her satisfaction. "To wear black would be an evil omen,' said she, with tell-tale glistening eyes. The wind moaning down the chimneys of the great hotel kept Mother awake, but Tony slept like the child he was. The morning broke heavy and grey, not a ray of that sunshine which makes it easy to be light-hearted. The transport lay alongside a tin shed, and though she was to leave at two, she looked far from ready. The scene was one of wildest confusion, men running to and fro, workmen hammering, soldiers everywhere, mixed up with horses and gun-carriages, and a red-faced transport officer shouting orders to every one at once. When Tony reported himself, he found time to smile and inquire, "Does Kruger know you are coming?"
We sat in one of the cabins which had been run up on the hurricane-deck, and the minutes simply flew. A bell rang, and some officious man sang out, "All for the shore!" The general, with the habit of a lifetime of discipline, insisted that we must leave at once. Then "Good-bye" again and again, and at length somehow we were over the gangway. Tony came to the side, the ribbons of his
service cap fluttering, and, as people will, we stood and shouted meaningless questions and answers across the intervening space. Mother was in a fever. "He will catch coldI know he will. Call and tell him to put on his coat."
"He'll be hot enough, ma'am, in six days," said a large and important - looking policeman standing near; "and in six days more he will be hotter than he cares about."
Gradually it dawned upon us that the boat was not leaving at all, nor did she for another hour and twenty minutes, and Tony came and talked to us from the gangway until, indeed, they raised it almost under his feet. There was a huge crowd gathered at the pier-head to see the transport off. This way and that we were pushed and hurried. Inexorable policemen kept moving us from each position we took up, as we struggled to get to a place whence we could see the last of the lad.
"I can't see him! I can't see him!" cried Mother, which was
scarcely surprising, seeing that the tears would gather in the brave eyes.
"Do you mean the boy?" said a man in the crowd with
ready sympathy. "He's over there under the bridge."
And so at last the anchor was lifted, and the vessel began to slide by. The crowd in khaki cheered and sang, answered by the crowd on shore. The soldiers were massed on the deck and in the rigging: they might have been schoolboys off for their holiday, so careless did they seem and full of glee. Then passed the knot of officers, and then Tony, the face we knew so well, graver than its wont, in spite of the confident smiling eyes.
We could see him for a long while, signalling violently with his handkerchief, messages of comfort surely, though not decipherable by the Morse code, -a little black figure outlined against the evening sky. the ship swung down the river the freshening breeze caught the blue ensign, and its swelling folds hid him from our straining eyes.
THE LIFE OF A SAILOR.
this time an appendage of France.
Of course our candid friends on the Continent tell us that it was altogether greed, avarice, and a sordid taste for landgrabbing, that sent so many of our young men roaming and rov
THE life of a sailor appears to have had a special charm for British youths for the last three hundred years or more, and it is no mere figure of speech to say that the present British Empire is founded on this fact. The adventurers of the Elizabethan era started-ing, seizing and planting, all over or at any rate gave the greatest impetus to this roving exploring spirit. "Westward Ho!" was the cry, and westward they went; and not only westward, but southward and eastward too; ay, and northward toward the Pole, to look for a short cut to Tom Tiddler's land, where the sands of the seashore are all of gold, and diamonds and rubies as common as sloes in the Devonshire hedgerows. Some few of these bold spirits made fortunes, or what were called fortunes in those days; but by far the greater number left their bones on the boundary fences of Tom Tiddler's land, or only returned home to die, broken in health and ruined in fortune, but with spirit unsubdued and faith unshaken, and with sufficient energy to send off sons, nephews, and cousins on the same fascinating quest.
What would England have been now but for this spirit of adventure across the salt seas? Why, just a poor insignificant little island in the North Atlantic; probably by
1 Hurrah for the Life of a Sailor! Admiral Sir William Kennedy, K.C.B.
the face of the globe. Well, avarice may have had something to do with it, of course. The desire to improve our position in the world by making a little money is most proper and highly commendable in those of our own household, but it is avarice in our neighbours. Laugh those who win! Many other nations would have gone roving and colonising too, if they had had the energy, and the enterprise, and the grit. The charm attached to the life of a sailor-in spite of all its hardships-is the keynote to our present prosperity and greatness.
The latest story of the life of a sailor we have seen is the autobiography of Admiral Sir William Kennedy;1 a book full of humour, adventure, mirth, fighting, and sport; the story of a sailor's life told in thoroughly cheery "Jack-my-hearty" style: and if recruiting for candidates for the Britannia were dull (which it isn't just at present), Admiral Kennedy's book would do more towards making it brisk than scores of hundreds
Fifty Years in the Royal Navy, by Vice-
of circulars setting forth in detail the advantages of life in the Royal Navy. Hardships are made light of; sport and adventures fondly dwelt upon and fully described; and active service i.e., fighting presented in its most attractive aspect.
It must be admitted that the opening scene of young Kennedy's life as a naval cadet on board the Rodney was not altogether a cheerful one. Cruel and senseless bullying of the newly joined youngsters was common in the navy fifty years ago, and even later; and the present writer can vouch that Admiral Kennedy's description of it is in no way exaggerated, as he (the writer) went through a very similar experience himself, even including the last grand act of retribution, where the chief bully was finally attacked and overpowered by his victims, and soundly thrashed.
“The proceedings” (ie., the bully ing proceedings) were usually brought to a conclusion by prayer! Divested of our coats and shoes, we were made to kneel on the lockers round the stern-ports, which were closed at that time, and at a given signal-a blow on the back with a hammer-we all commenced praying in a loud voice, our prayers being brought to an abrupt conclusion by a blow on the feet from the hammer. These prayers were all directed to the same end-viz., that our persecutors might pass their examinations with credit, and rise to the highest ranks in the service! But as our petitions were not expressed in the same form, the babel of tongues can be more easily imagined than described: nor were they very successful, as having on one occasion prayed for the best part of the evening for two of this precious gang, who were going up for their examinations on the following
day, and were both, unfortunately for us, rejected, the result was we were flogged all round."
After this first initiation into the mysteries of a sea-life, Kennedy's experiences of the life of a sailor seem to have been almost entirely happy. Though not free from what would nowadays be considered hardships, he soon saw active service first in the Crimea, where he served in the trenches before Sebastopol with the naval brigade; and soon afterwards in China during the operations in the Canton river, where he was in charge of a boat, and came in for a good share of fighting.
Young Kennedy first "smelt powder" on the 17th October 1854 at the bombardment of Sebastopol. He was still on board the Rodney, a sailing two-decker without even auxiliary steam - power, so that she was towed into action by the Spiteful, a paddle - wheel six-gun steamer. "Towed" is not quite the right expression, as our sailing line-of-battleships were made mobile (independent of the wind) by having a paddle-wheel steamer lashed alongside on the disengaged side, so that the steamer was more or less protected by having a two- or a three-decker between her and the forts. Yet in spite of this, one of the steamers (the Retribution) had her mainmast shot away, although she was on the offside of the Trafalgar, a three-decker; and the Spiteful lost her maintopmast.
The Rodney got aground under the fire of the forts, and was for some time in a very