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lot of the ex-soldier whose character is "fair," and whose record of sobriety leaves much to be desired, is not a happy one. Snatty was in rags and well-nigh starving. Small wonder, then, that one day the blandishments of an eloquent recruiting sergeant proved too much for his resistance, and that he succumbed to the temptations thrust upon him by the great god Hunger. Manfully he perjured himself when brought before the magistrate. His name was Henry Morgan, his age twenty-three years and five months, and he had never served before, so help him God. All false-but Snatty wished to live.
He asked to be put into the infantry, fearing that his knowledge of the ways of troop stables would betray him if he joined a mounted branch. The penalties attached to a "false answer on attestation" were heavy, as he knew, and he would take no chances. In due course, therefore, he found himself posted to a crack light infantry regiment, and his troubles soon began. To be marched about a barrack-square followed by shouts of objurgation was bad enough: to be pestered with the intricacies of musketry was worse: but what galled him most of all was to have to walk. He loathed the life. This was not the world of soldiering that he had known and loved. His soul hungered for the rattle of logchains and the jingle of harness; the smell of the stable lingered in his nostrils.
Moreover, he was in constant trouble, for desperation made him reckless. Those who had known him in the battery would scarcely have recognized in the sullen ne'er-do-well whom men called Morgan, the cheerful Snatty of a former time. He had just passed his recruit drills (with difficulty be it said) and taken his place in the ranks, when the war which wise men had predicted as inevitable was forced upon the nation with disconcerting sudden
ness. The regiment was ordered out on service, and with it, amongst nine hundred other souls, went Private Henry Morgan, alias Snatty.
A hot sun beating down from a cloudless sky upon a land parched and dusty from a lengthened drought; miles upon miles of rolling downs, which once were green but which the driest summer for many years has baked into a dirty yellow; here and there an oasis consisting of a copse of fir-trees, a farmstead, and a field or two of pasture marking the presence of a kindly stream: a landscape in short so typical of hundreds of square miles of this particular region that ordinarily it would fail to interest. But to-day the peace of the country side is disturbed by the boom of guns and the rattle of musketry. Two mighty armies are at grips at last, and in the space between them hovers Death.
Upon a little rise commanding a good view of the surrounding country there is a long line of khaki figures lying prone behind a scanty earthwork. These are infantry, and shaken infantry at that; shaken because they have marched all night and stormed that hill at dawn with fearful loss, because they are weak from hunger and parched with thirst, and because they feel in their hearts that the end is near. Relief must come, or one determined rush will drive them back to ruin. Shells burst over them with whip-like crack, rifle fire tears through their ranks, and sometimes a harsh scream followed by a deafening report and clouds of acrid smoke marks the advent of a high-explosive shell.
A much harassed brigadier sat behind a rock near the telephone awaiting the answer to his urgent demand for guns. It came sooner than he expected it, and took the tangible shape of a little group of horsemen which ap
peared on the hill some way to his right. There was a quick consultation as glasses swept the front. Then the horses were led away under cover and the range-takers began operations. The brigadier recognized the signs and gained fresh hope as he saw that his prayer was answered. At the far end of the line Private Morgan, busily engaged in excavating a hole for himself by means of an entrenching tool much resembling a short-handled garden hoe, looked up quickly as he heard a well-known voice say
"All right, Biddie, I'll observe from here. Bring 'em in quick."
"Strewth!" muttered Snatty to himself, "it's the major. So the old troop's comin' into action 'ere."
For weeks he had scanned every battery that had been near him, hoping to meet his own. But Horse Artillery act with cavalry and work far ahead of the toiling infantry in rear, so that it was not till now, when a pitched battle was in progress, when the advanced cavalry had come in and every available gun was being utilized, that Fate permitted Snatty to see his old battery once more. Looking over his shoulder he said
"It's all right now, sergeant. There's some guns coming."
"You shut yer mouth and get on with yer work," was the rejoinder, "Wot do you know about guns, I'd like to know?"
"Oh, nothink! But you watch 'em, that's all," said Private Morgan with an ill-suppressed gleam of pride, which made the sergeant wonder.
The line of six guns, each with its wagon behind it, thundered up the rise. There was a shrill whistle, and a hand held up. Then the hoarse voices of the sergeants shouted, "Action front," and the wheelers were thrown into the breeching, almost sitting on their haunches to stop the weight behind them: the gunners leapt from
their horses and sprang to the gun: a second's pause, then "Drive on," and six limbers went rattling away to the rear as six trails were flung round half a circle and dropped with a thud. Hardly were they down before each gun had its wagon up beside it, and the horses unhooked. They too galloped to the rear. In ten seconds there was not a sign of movement. The battery was there, and that was all.
Of the weary infantry who lay and watched there was one at least who could appreciate the merit of the performance.
"Couldn't ha' been better in the old days on Salisbury Plain," was his comment. "But, Gawd! the 'orses 'ave fell away proper. Skeletons, that's wot they are now."
But Private Morgan's soliloquy was again cut short by the remorseless sergeant behind him.
A few curt orders passed rapidly down the battery, then came two sharp reports, followed by the click of the re-opened breech, as the ranging rounds went singing on their journey. A spurt of brown earth showed for a second in front of that thick black line a mile or more away, another showed behind.
"Graze short-graze over," said the major, still staring through his glasses. "Eighteen hundred, one round gun fire."
The order was repeated by a man standing behind him with a megaphone, and followed almost instantaneously by a round from every gun. Some puffs of smoke above the target, the echo of the bursting shell borne back along the breeze, and then for perhaps a minute all Hell might have been let loose, such was the uproar as every gun was worked at lightning speed. A whistle-and in a moment all was still again.
"Target down-stop firing," was the laconic order. "But," added the ma
jor softly, "I think that sickened 'em a bit."
The attacking infantry had dropped down under cover, but not for long. Nearer and nearer pressed the relentless lines, sometimes pausing a while, or even dropping back, but always, like the waves of the incoming tide, gaining fresh ground at every rush. The end was very near now, and the bitterness of defeat entered into the defenders' hearts. For they did not know that the struggle for this particular hill, though of vital importance to themselves, was merely serving the subsidiary purpose of diverting attention while greater issues matured elsewhere. They only knew that ammunition was scarce, that they wanted water, and that now at last the order to retire had come. They got away in driblets, slowly, very slowly, until at last nothing was left upon the hillside but a handful of infantry, the battery, and the dead and wounded. The riflemen crawled closer to the guns, feeling somehow that there was solace in their steady booming. The major looked at his watch, and then at the attacking lines in front of him.
"In ten minutes we'll have to get out of this," he said, “bring the horses up close behind us under cover." The minutes passed and the net around them drew closer.
"Prepare to retire-rear limber up." The few remaining infantry emptied their magazines and crept off down the hill. The guns fired their last few rounds as the teams came jingling up. Their arrival was the signal for a fresh outburst of fire. The few moments required for limbering up seemed a lifetime as men fell fast and horses mad with terror broke loose and dashed away. But years of stern discipline and careful training stood the battery in good stead now. The principle of "Abandon be damned: we never abandon guns" was not forgotten.
Through the shouting, the curses, and the dust, the work went on. Dead horses were cut free and pulled aside, gunners took the place of fallen drivers, and at last five guns were got away. The sixth was in great difficulties. The maddened horses backed in every direction but the right one, and the panting gunners strove in vain to drop the trail upon the limber-hook. Beside the team stood Briddlington, trying to soothe the horses and steadying the men in the calm, cool voice that he habitually used upon parade.
Then suddenly from behind a rock there crawled out a strange figure. Filthy beyond words, hatless, with an inch of scrubby beard, and one foot bound up in blood-stained rag, this apparition limped painfully towards the
"Naow then!" a husky voice exclaimed, "stand still will yer, Dawn." "By Jove! it's Snatty," cried Briddlington, and as he spoke the driver of Snatty's horses gave a little grunt and pitched off on to the ground. Without a word the erstwhile private of infantry stooped and took the whip from the dead man's hand. He patted each horse in turn, then climbed into the saddle.
"Steady now-get back will yer," he growled, and they obeyed him quietly enough. The men behind gave a heave at the gun and a click denoted that the trail was on its hook.
"Drive on," cried Snatty, flourishing his whip, and down the hill they went full gallop.
Safety lay not in the way that they had come, but further to their left, where the ground was bad. At the bottom of the hill there was a low bank with a ditch in front of it, and just before they reached it the centre driver received a bullet in the head and dropped down like a stone. There was no time to pull up. The lead driver took his horses hard by the head
and put them at the bank. They jumped all right, but the pair behind them, deprived of a guiding hand upon the reins, saw the ditch at the last moment and swerved.
"My Gawd!" said Snatty, sitting back for the crash he knew would follow. The traces and the pace had dragged the centre horses over in spite of their swerve, but one of them stumbled as he landed. He staggered forward, and before he could recover Snatty's horses and the gun were upon him in a whirling mass of legs and straps and wheels. Briddlington, who had been riding beside the team, leapt to the ground and ran to the fallen horses.
"Sit on their heads," he cried. "Undo the quick release your side. Now then, together-heave." There was a rattle of hoofs against the footboard as Daylight rolled over kicking wildly to get free. Briddlington, at the risk of his life, leant over and pulled frantically at a strap. The two ends flew apart and the snorting horses struggled to their feet, but Snatty lay very still and deathly white upon the ground.
"Don't stand gaping. Hook in again-quick. We're not clear away yet by a long chalk," said Briddlington. Then he bent down and putting his arms round Snatty's crumpled figure Blackwood's Magazine.
lifted him very tenderly aside. "Lie still now," he said with a catch in his voice as he saw that the case was hopeless, "and you'll be all right." But those flashing hoofs and steel-tyred wheels had done their work. Snatty's last drive was over.
"It warn't their fault. I should 'ave 'eld then up," was all he said before he died.
The gun rejoined the battery safely, and defeat was turned to victory ere nightfall, but Private Henry Morgan was returned as "missing" from his regiment.
To this day, on the anniversary of the battle, in the mess of K3 Battery, R.H.A., it is the custom, when the King's health has been drunk, for the President to say
"Mr. Vice, to the memory of the man who brought away the last gun." And the Vice-president answers: "Gentlemen, to Driver Snatt."
Then the curious visitor is shown a large oil painting of a pair of bright bay horses with a little wizened driver riding one of them.
"That's Snatty," they will say, "a drunken scoundrel if you like, but he loved those horses, and he used to drive like blazes."
Jeffery E. Jeffery.
"MINE EYES TO THE HILLS."
Old David the Psalmist he laid down the cup,
And his eye lighted up as he looked at his hills,
The hills of old triumphs, and high-riding stars,
When he watched by the rush of the snow-watered rills
In the days when he'd hunted and followed his flocks
And his spirit was caught in the magical calm
Of far rugged faces, of scarps and of screes,
That begins with bell-heather and murmur of bees,
So now, when the nights have grown warm with July
Oh, giants we've countered-trout, salmon or stag-
Where, if you've escaped us, you're still to be sought;
Then we fashion-for Fancy plays wonderful freaks-
By leagues of red heather and murderous midge,
And our hearts-like old David's-are fain for "the hill"!
Rest is not the conclusion of labor but the recreation of power. It seems a reward because it fulfils a need: but that need being filled rest is but an extinction and a nothingness. So we do not pray for rest; but, in a just reli
gion, we pray after this life for refreshment, light and peace.
Rest is only for a little while, as also is labor only for a little while: each demanding the other as a supplement; yet is rest in some intervals a necessary