All through the winter of 1809-1810, Wellington had remained quietly on th_rontier of Portugal, engaged in disciplining his troops, many of whom wer_aw drafts from the militia, in urging upon the home Government the necessit_f fresh reinforcements, if the war was to be carried on with the smalles_opes of success, and in controversies and disputes with the Portugues_egency. This body of incapables starved their own army, refused supplies an_ransport to the British, and behaved with such arrogance and insolence tha_ellington was several times driven to use the threat that, unless measure_ere taken to keep the Portuguese troops from starving, and to supply food t_he British, he would put his army on board the transports at Lisbon, and giv_p the struggle altogether.
Spring found the army still on the frontier, and when the French advanced i_orce in May to lay siege to the Spanish frontier fortress of Ciudad Rodrigo, Wellington to the intense disappointment of his own troops, and the bitte_nger of the Portuguese and Spaniards, refused to fight a battle to save th_ortress, which, under its gallant old governor, Andrea Hernati, was defendin_tself nobly.
Wellington's position was, however, a very difficult one, and hi_esponsibilities were immense. Allowing for the detachments which were massin_o check three other French columns advancing in different directions, he ha_ut 25,000 men with which to attempt to raise the siege of Ciudad Rodrigo, o_o draw off the besieged garrison. Massena had under him 60,000 Frenc_eterans, and was desiring nothing more than that Wellington should attac_im. The chances of victory then were by no means strong, and in any cas_ictory could only have been purchased by a loss of men which would hav_ompletely crippled the British general, and would have rendered it absolutel_ecessary for him to fall back again at once. A defeat or even a heavy loss o_en, would have so dispirited the faint-hearted Government at home that the_ould undoubtedly have recalled the whole expedition, and resigned Portugal t_ts fate. Thus Wellington decided not to risk the whole fate of the Britis_rmy and of Portugal for merely a temporary advantage, and so stood fir_gainst the murmurs of his own troops, the furious reproaches of th_ortuguese and Spaniards, and the moving entreaties for aid of the gallan_overnor of the besieged town.
At the same time that he refused to risk a general battle, he kept Craufurd'_ivision in advance of the Coa, and within two hours' march of the enemy, thereby encouraging the garrison of Ciudad Rodrigo, and preventing Massen_rom pushing forward a portion of his army while the rest pursued the siege.
Craufurd's front was guarded by the Agueda, a river only passable by two o_hree bridges and fords in wet weather, but fordable in many places in the dr_eason. At the commencement of June the Agueda fell, and the French crossed i_trength at various places. Craufurd, however, still maintained his positio_n front of the Coa with great skill and boldness. He had under his comman_nly 4000 infantry, 1100 cavalry, and six guns, and his maintenance of hi_osition, almost within gun-shot of an enemy's army, 60,000 strong, for thre_onths, is one of the finest feats of military audacity and ability eve_erformed.
Until the 11th of July the boys remained quietly at a cottage occupied b_easants, who believed their story that they were only waiting to proceed whe_he French army advanced. They were freed from molestation or inquiry upon th_art of the French by the pass with which Madame Reynier had supplied them.
Upon that day Ciudad Rodrigo surrendered, and Massena prepared at once t_nter Portugal. Upon the 21st the cavalry advanced in great force, and upo_he following day the boys resolved upon endeavoring to rejoin the Britis_rmy. The Agueda was now easily fordable in many places, but the boy_etermined to swim across, at a distance from the point at which the Frenc_rmy was now pouring forward.
As evening came on they left the cottage, and walked two miles up the stream, and, as soon as night fell, took off the costumes which had proved of suc_ervice to them and left them on the bank; then fastening their peasants'
suits upon two bundles of rushes to keep them dry, entered the little river, and were soon upon the opposite shore. They knew, from what they had heard i_he afternoon, that Craufurd had fallen back upon Almeida, a fortified town, and that it was probable he would at once cross the Coa, as resistance to th_orce now approaching him seemed nothing short of madness.
No good, indeed, could be gained by a fight in such a position, with a dee_iver in the rear, crossed by only a narrow bridge, and commanded by bot_anks, and Wellington's orders had been imperative "that, upon no accoun_hatever was Craufurd to fight beyond the Coa."
Craufurd, however, a rash and obstinate, although a skilful general, wa_etermined upon having a brush with the enemy before he fell back. H_nticipated, no doubt, that only an advanced guard of the enemy would come u_t first, and his intention was to inflict a severe check upon them with th_agnificent little division under his command, and then fall back triumphantl_cross the Coa. Massena, however, was well aware of the fighting powers of th_ight division, and was preparing to hurl suddenly upon him a force more tha_ufficient to crush it.
The Scudamores had but little fear of meeting with any large body of th_nemy, as the main French advance was direct from Ciudad Rodrigo; thei_avalry would, however, be scattered all over the country, and were they t_all into the hands of any of these parties they would have been sho_nstantly, upon suspicion of endeavoring to convey news of the Frenc_ovements to Craufurd.
The point where they crossed the river was between Villar and Naves Frias, and, after an hour's walking, they struck the little rivulet called Dua_asas. This they crossed at once, as they knew that by following its souther_ank until they saw some high ground to their left they would find themselve_ear Almeida, which they hoped to reach before the English retreated.
All night they tramped through the fields of stubble, where the corn had bee_ong since cut for the use of Craufurd's cavalry, but walking at night throug_n unknown country is slow work, and when day began to break they entered _mall wood just beyond the point where the Turones, as the southern arm of th_uas Casas is called, branches off from the main stream. Several times in th_ourse of the day bodies of the enemy's cavalry came near their place o_oncealment, and the Scudamores congratulated themselves that they had no_iven way to their impatience, and tried to push on across the twenty mile_hat alone separated them from their friends.
At nightfall the wind rose, and a heavy rain began to fall. They had no star_y which to steer their course, and were, therefore, forced to follow the ban_f the Turones, although they knew that it would lead them some distance t_he north of Almeida. It was slow work, indeed, for they had to grope thei_ay along in the storm, following every turn and bend of the river, whic_ormed their only guide. After several hours' toil they came into a roa_unning north and south. This they knew was the road leading from Guarda t_lmeida, and it gave them a clue as to the distance they had come. Stil_ollowing the river, they continued their course until they approached Sa_edro, whence they knew that a road ran directly to the British position i_ront of Almeida, that is if the British still maintained their positio_here.
As they approached the village, they heard a deep, hollow sound, and stoppin_o listen, and laying their ears to the ground, could distinguish the rumbl_f heavy carriages.
"The French are advancing in force, Peter; we are just in time; they are goin_o attack us in the morning at daybreak. We know the direction now; let u_urn to the left, and try to get on in advance of them. They probably will no_ush on much farther until there is light enough to permit them to form orde_f battle; they are evidently, by the sound, going to the left, rather tha_traight on."
The Scudamores now hurried on, and presently the rumbling of the artiller_ied away, and they ventured to push to their left, and to get on the road, which they found deserted. Half an hour's run, for they knew that every minut_as of importance, and they heard the welcome challenge, "Who comes there?"
"Two British officers," they answered, and in a few minutes they were taken t_he officer in charge of the picket, and having once convinced him of thei_dentity, were heartily greeted and welcomed.
"The French are advancing in great force to attack," Tom said; "please forwar_s instantly to the general."
The matter was too important for an instant's delay, and a sergeant was a_nce told off to accompany them.
The first faint blush of daylight was in the east when they arrived at th_ottage which served as General Craufurd's quarters, and, upon their speakin_o the sentinel at the door, a window was thrown open, and a deep voic_emanded "What is it?"
"We have just arrived through the French lines," Tom said, "the enemy are a_and in force."
The casement closed, and an instant afterwards the general came out.
"Who are you?"
"We belong to the Norfolk Rangers, general, and have been detached on servic_n the interior; we have only just made our way back."
"How am I to know your story is true?" the general asked sharply.
"You may, perhaps, remember, sir, we landed from the 'Latona,' and you kindl_ent us horses to accompany you."
"Aha! I remember," the general said. "Well, your news?"
"The French have crossed the Turones in force, sir; at least they have a goo_any guns with them."
"Which way were they going?"
"As far as we could judge by the sound, sir, they were taking up a positio_etween Villa Formosa and Fort Conception."
"Good," the general said shortly; then turning to three or four of his staf_ho had followed him from the cottage, "Get the troops under arms at once.
Come in here, gentlemen."
The Scudamores entered, and as they came into the light of a candle whic_tood on the table the general smiled grimly.
"It is lucky you were able to recall yourselves to my memory, for I shoul_ave needed some strong evidence to persuade me you were British officers ha_ seen you before you spoke. You are wet to the skin; there is a brand_ottle, and you will find some bread and cold fowl in that cupboard."
Five minutes later the boys followed General Craufurd from his hut.
Short as was the time which had elapsed since their arrival, the troops wer_lready under arms, for three months of incessant alarm and watchfulness ha_nabled this splendid division to act as one man, and to fall in at any hou_f the day or night in an incredibly short time. Ten minutes later and th_amble of the baggage wagons was heard along the road towards the bridge. Th_orning was clearing fast, the clouds lifted, and the daylight seemed to brea_ith unusual suddenness.
The dark masses of the French became visible forming up before the Turones, and Craufurd hurried forward his cavalry and guns to check their advance.
"Hurry the infantry up, hurry them up," the general said urgently to th_fficers by him. "Let them take post along the ridge, and then fall bac_ighting towards the bridge. Major MacLeod," he said to an officer of the 43d,
"take these gentlemen with you; they are officers of the Norfolk Rangers. The_ill join your regiment for the present. When your regiment falls back, occup_hat stone inclosure a little way down the slope at the left of the road, an_old the enemy in check while the troops file over the bridge."
The officer addressed looked with surprise at the boys, and signing to them t_ollow, hurried off to his regiment, which was on the left of the Britis_ine.
Next to them came a regiment of Portuguese riflemen, with a wing of the 95t_pon either flank, while the 52d formed the right of the line.
Upon reaching the regiment, Major MacLeod briefly introduced the boys to th_olonel, who said, "As you have no arms, gentlemen, I think you had bette_ake for the bridge at once."
"Thank you, sir," Tom replied, "there will be some muskets disposable befor_ong, and directly they are so we will take our place in the ranks."
They had now leisure to look round and examine their position, and a glanc_as sufficient to show how great was the peril in which General Craufurd'_bstinacy had placed his little force. In front of them were 24,000 Frenc_nfantry, 5000 cavalry, and 30 pieces of artillery. An overwhelming forc_ndeed, and one which could scarcely have been withstood by the 4000 Britis_nfantry, even under the most favorable conditions of position. The position, however, was here wholly against the British. They stood at the edge of _lateau, and behind them the ground fell away in a steep hillside to the Coa, a mile distant, and across the Coa there was but a single bridge.
The enemy was approaching fast. Ney's great brigade of cavalry swept th_ritish horse before them, and the infantry were following at a run.
Resistance on the edge of the plateau was hopeless, and Craufurd ordered th_nfantry to fall back at once. The 43d filed into the inclosure, rapidly cu_oopholes in the wall, and as the enemy appeared on the crest above opened _remendous fire, under cover of which the cavalry and artillery trotte_riskly and in good order down the road to the bridge.
The Scudamores, having no duty, stood at the entrance to the inclosure an_atched the fight on their right. As the masses of French infantry appeared o_he edge of the plateau they made no pause, but opening a heavy fire presse_orward on the retiring British troops, who were falling back in open order, contesting every inch of ground. So rapidly and hotly, however, did the Frenc_ress after them that the British were soon pushed back beyond the line of th_nclosure, and as the French followed closely, it was evident that the 43_ould be cut oft and surrounded.
Their colonel saw their danger, and called upon them to fall in and retreat, but the entrance was so narrow that it was clear at a glance that ere on_ompany could pass through it the French would be upon them, and the regimen_aught like rats in a trap.
Officers and men alike saw the danger, and there was a pause of consternation.
Peter was standing next to the colonel, and said suddenly as the idea flashe_cross him, "The wall is not very strong, sir, if the men mass against it an_ush together I think it will go."
The colonel caught at the idea. "Now, lads, steady, form against the rear wal_our deep, close together, shoulder to shoulder, as close as you can pack; no_et ready, one, two, three!" and at the word the heavy mass of men swun_hemselves against the wall; it swayed with the shock, and many stones wer_isplaced; another effort and the wall tottered and fell, and with a gla_hout the 43d burst out, and trotting on at the double soon joined the rifle_nd 95th.
The ground was rough and broken with rocks, vineyards and inclosures, and th_roops, fighting with admirable coolness and judgment, took advantage of ever_bstacle and fell back calmly and in good order before the overwhelming forc_pposed to them.
Fortunately the jealousies of the French generals, which throughout th_ampaign contributed in no slight degree to the success of the British, wa_ow the cause of their safety, for Montbrun, who commanded the French heav_avalry, refused to obey Ney's order to charge straight down to the bridge, i_hich case the whole English infantry would have been cut off; the Frenc_ussars, however, being on the British rear, charged among them whenever th_round permitted them to do so.
Upon the British right the ground was more open than upon the left, and th_2d was therefore obliged to fall back more quickly than the rest of the line, and were the first to arrive at the bridge head, which was still choked wit_rtillery and cavalry. This was the most dangerous moment, the rest of th_nfantry could not retreat until the bridge was clear, and the French wit_xulting shouts pressed hard upon them to drive them back upon the river.
Major MacLeod, seeing the urgent danger, rallied four companies of hi_egiment upon the little hill on the right of the road, while Major Rowa_ollected two companies on another to the left. Here they were joined by man_f the riflemen, and for a while the French advance was checked.
The Scudamores had remained throughout close to Major MacLeod, and had lon_ince armed themselves with the muskets and pouches of fallen men, and wit_3d shakoes on their heads, were fighting among the ranks.
The cloud of French skirmishers pressed hotly forward, and MacLeod, seein_hat the bridge was still blocked, resolved suddenly upon a desperate measure.
Taking off his cap, he pointed to the enemy, and calling upon his men t_ollow him, rode boldly at them. Peter Scudamore caught up a bugle which ha_allen from a dead bugler by his side, blew the charge, and the soldiers, cheering loudly, followed MacLeod against the enemy.
Astounded at this sudden and unexpected attack, the French skirmishers paused, and then fell back before the furious charge of the 43d, who pressed afte_hem with loud and continuous cheering. Looking back, MacLeod saw that th_ridge was now clear, and recalled the troops, who fell back rapidly agai_efore the French infantry had recovered sufficiently from their surprise t_ress them.
The hussars were, however, again forward, and were galloping down the road, which was here sunken between somewhat high banks. Tom and Peter were with th_ast company, which turned and prepared to receive them, when Tom, pointing t_ coil of rope upon a cart which had broken down, shouted, "Quick, tie it t_hese posts across the road." Two or three men sprang to assist him, and in _inute the rope was stretched across the road at a foot from the ground, an_astened round a stone post on either side. They had scarcely seized thei_uskets and leapt on the bank again, when the French cavalry came thunderin_own the road. "Fire, a few of you," Tom said, "so as to call their attentio_p here," and in accordance with his order a dropping fire was opened. Th_rench came along at a gallop; a few of the leading horses saw the rope an_eapt it, but those behind caught it and fell, the mass behind pressed on, an_n an instant the lane was choked with a confused mass of men and horses. "No_ volley," Tom cried, "and then to the bridge."
Every musket was emptied in to the struggling mass, and then with a cheer, th_en ran briskly down to the bridge, and crossed—the last of the British troop_ver the Coa.
The rest of the infantry and artillery had already taken ground on the height_ehind the river, and these opened fire upon the French as they approached th_ead of the bridge in pursuit. The British were now, however, safe in th_osition which they ought to have taken up before the advance of the French, and had General Craufurd obeyed his orders not to fight beyond the Coa, th_ives of 306 of his gallant troops, including the officers, would have bee_aved.
The battle, however, was not yet over. The artillery on both sides playe_cross the ravine, the French skirmishers swarmed down to the river bank, an_etween them and the British infantry a rapid fire was exchanged, while _eavy column marched down to the bridge. With a deep-sounding cheer the_dvanced upon it, while with answering cheers the British opened fire upo_hem. The depth of the ravine at first deceived the British marksmen, and th_olumn pressed on until its head was three-quarters across the bridge. The_he shower smote it, and beneath that terrible fire the head of the colum_elted away. Still it pressed on until across the bridge the corpses lay pile_n a mass as high as the parapet, and beyond this heap, this terrible line, there was no living. Then sullenly and slowly the French fell back, while th_ritish cheers rose exultingly along the hillside.
Twice again did fresh columns pour on to the bridge, but only to melt awa_nder the British fire, neither of them reaching the dreadful line whic_arked the point reached by the head of the first. The artillery and musketr_ire on both sides continued until four in the afternoon, when a heavy rai_et in, and the fire ceased altogether.
As the Coa was fordable at several points lower down, and the French coul_herefore have turned the position next day, the British troops fell bac_uring the night behind the Pinhel river, where Picton's division was als_ncamped.
Next morning the boys exchanged their Spanish suits for the uniform of Britis_fficers, which they obtained from the effects of some of those who had falle_pon the previous day, these being, as is usual in a campaign, at once sold b_uction, the amount realized being received by the paymaster for the benefi_f the dead men's relatives. Major MacLeod had witnessed their ready presenc_f mind in throwing the rope across the road, and so checking the Frenc_harge, and giving time to the rear-guard to cross the bridge, and had made _ery favorable report upon the subject.
Two days later and they joined the Rangers, who were stationed at Guarda, an_ere received with the greatest heartiness by their brother officers, wit_arm but respectful greetings by the men, and with uproarious demonstration_f gladness on the part of Sambo.
"The betting was two to one that you had gone down, boys," Captain Manle_aid, after the first greetings; "but Carruthers and myself have taken up al_ffers, and win I don't know how many dinners and bottles of wine. I had th_trongest faith you would get through somehow. You will take up your quarter_ith me. I have two bedrooms upstairs there, which Sam has taken possession o_n your name. He would have it that you were sure to be back in time for th_irst fight. Dinner will be ready at six, and after that there will be _eneral gathering round the fire in the open to hear your adventures. No doub_ou would be dining with the colonel, but I know he is engaged to th_eneral."
"Yes, he told us so," Tom said, "and we are to dine with him to-morrow."
"All right, then; we'll make a night of it. Carruthers is coming to dine, an_urke and Lethbridge; but the room won't hold more than six. We are going t_ave a feast, for Sam has got hold of a sucking-pig; where he got it from _are not inquire, and Lethbridge said his fellow had, somehow or other, foun_ turkey; as to wine, we shall have it of the best, for Burke is quartered a_he monastery, and the monks are so delighted at finding him a good Catholi_hat they have given him the run of their cellar."
It was a jovial dinner, and no words can express the satisfaction and deligh_hich beamed on Sam's face as he stood behind his master, or the grin of prid_ith which he placed the sucking-pig on the table.
"Sam, Sam!" Captain Manley said reprovingly, "I fear that pig is not honestl_ome by, and that one of these days we shall hear that you have come to a ba_nd."
"No, no, Massa Captain Manley, sar," Sam said, "dat pig come quite honest, da_ig made present to Sam."
"A likely story that, Sam. Come, out with it. I have no doubt it was quite a_onest as Lethbridge's turkey anyhow. Come, tell us how it was."
Thus invoked, Sam's face assumed the pompons air with which he always relate_ story, and he began,—
"Well, sar, de affair happened in dis way. When de massas arribe, two o'clock, and went in for long talk wid de colonel, dis chile said to himself, 'Now wha_m I going to get them for dinner?' De rations sarve out dis morning war al_kin and bone, and war pretty nigh finished at lunch. Sam say to himself,
'Captain Manley's sure to say, 'You dine wid me;' but as Captain Manley hadn'_ot no food himself, de invitation was berry kind, berry kind indeed; bu_assa wasn't likely to get fat on dat invitation."
Sam's narrative was interrupted by a perfect shout of laughter upon the par_f all at table, Captain Manley joining heartily in the laugh against himself.
When they had a little recovered again, Sam went on as gravely as ever. "Di_truck Sam berry serious, not to have nothing for dinner after being awa_eben months; presently idea occur to dis chile, and he stroll permiscuous u_o big farm-house on hill. When Sam got near house, kept out of sight o_indow; at last got quite close, took off shako, and put head suddenly in a_indow. Sure enough, just what Sam expected, dere sat missus of farm, fat ol_oman, wid fat ole servant opposite her. De door was open, and dis little pi_nd several of his broders and sisters was a frisking in and out. De old wome_ook up bofe togeder, and dey give a awful shriek when dey saw dis chile'_ead; dey fought it were de debil, sure enough. Dey drop down on dere knees, and begin to pray as fast as maybe. Den I give a loud 'Yah! yah!' and de_creams out fresh. 'Oh! good massa debil!' says the ole woman, 'what you want?
I been berry, berry bad, but don't take me away.' You see, Massa Tom, I pic_p little Spanish, 'nuff to understand since you been gone. I not say nuffin, and de ole woman den go on, 'If you want one soul Massa Debil, take dis here,'
pointing to her serbant;' she been much more wicked nor me.' Den de serban_he set up awful shriek, and I says, 'Dis time I hab pity on you, next time _ome, if you not good I carry you bofe away. But must take soul away to bi_ebil 'else he neber forgibe me. Dere, I will carry off soul of little pig.
Gib it me.' De serbant she gives cry ob joy, jump up, seize little pig, an_erry much afraid, bring him to window. Before I take him I say to old missus,
'Dis a free gibt on your part?' and she say, 'Oh, yes, oh, yes, good Mass_ebil, you can take dem all if you like.' I say, 'No; only one—and now me gi_ou bit advice. My Massa down below hear you very bad ole women, never gi_oting to de poor, berry hard, berry hard. Me advise you change your conduct, or, as sure as eggs is eggs, he send me up again for you no time.' Den I gav_wo great 'Yah! yah's!' again berry loud, and showed de white ob my eyes, an_ey went down on to knees again, and I go quietly round corner ob house, an_alk home wid de pig which was giben to me. Noting like stealing about dat, Massa Manley, sar!"
Sam's story was received with roars of laughter, and when they had recovere_hemselves a little, Captain Manley said, "It is lucky we march to-morrow, Sam, for if the good woman were to catch a glimpse of you in uniform, and wer_o find she had been tricked, she might lay a complaint against you, an_lthough, as you say, the pig was freely given to you, I imagine the Provos_arshal might consider that it was obtained under false pretences. But her_re the other men outside, we had better adjourn, for every one is longing t_ear your adventures."
It was a lovely evening, and as the officers of the Norfolk Rangers sat or la_ound the fire, which was lit for light and cheerfulness rather than warmth, the boys, after their long wanderings among strangers, felt how pleasant an_right life was among friends and comrades. They had first to relate thei_dventures with the guerillas, after which it was agreed that they had earne_he right to be silent for the rest of the evening, and song, and jest, an_erry story went round the ring.
Sam was installed under the direction of the doctor, a jovial Irishman, a_oncocter of punch, and his office was by no means a sinecure.
"Now, major, give us the song of the regiment," Captain Manley said, and, a_e spoke, there was a general cry round the circle of "The Rangers, th_angers." "I'm agreeable," the major said. "Give me another tumbler of punc_o get my pipes in order. Make it a little sweeter than the last brew, Sam; yes, that's better. Well, here goes—full chorus, and no shirking."
> ##### THE RANGERS.
> "Hurrah for the Rangers, hurrah! hurrah!
> Here's to the corps that we love so well; > Ever the first in the deadly fray, > Steady and firm amid shot and shell.
> Scattered as skirmishers out in the front, > Contesting each foot of the ground we hold, > Nor yielding a step though we bear the brunt > Of the first attack of the foeman bold.
> Hurrah for the Rangers, hurrah! hurrah!
> Here's to the corps that we love so well; > Ever the first in the deadly fray, > Steady and firm amid shot and shell.
> "Steady boys, steady, the foe falls back, > Sullenly back to the beat of the drum, > Hark to the thunder that nears our flank > Rally in square, boys, their cavalry come.
> Squadron on squadron, wave upon wave, > Dashing along with an ocean's force, > But they break into spray on our bayonets' points, > And we mock at the fury of rider and horse.
> Hurrah for the Rangers, &c.
> "The gunner may boast of the death he deals > As he shatters the foe with his iron hail, > And may laugh with pride as he checks the charge, > Or sees the dark column falter and quail.
> But the gunner fights with the foe afar, > In the rear of the line is the battery's place, > The Ranger fights with a sterner joy > For he strives with his foemen face to face.
> Hurrah for the Rangers, &c.
> "The cavalry man is dashing and gay, > His steed is fast, and his blade is fine, > He blithely rides to the fiercest fray, > And cuts his way through the foeman's line, > But the wild, fierce joys of the deadly breach, > Or the patient pluck of the serried square > Are far away from the horseman's reach, > While the Norfolk Rangers are sure to be there.
> Hurrah for the Rangers, &c."
Long, loud, and hearty was the cheering as the last chorus concluded. "Ver_ood song, very well sung, jolly companions every one," shouted the doctor.
"Now, Manley, keep the ball rolling, give us the 'The Bivouac,'" Captai_anley emptied his glass, and, without hesitation, began—
> ##### THE BIVOUAC.
> "The weary march is over, boys, the camp fire's burning bright, > So gather round the blazing logs, we'll keep high feast to-night, > For every heart is full of joy, and every cheek aglow, > That after months of waiting, at last we meet the foe.
> To-morrow's sun will see the fight, and ere that sun goes down, > Our glorious flag another wreath of victory shall crown.
> Hurrah, hurrah for the bivouac, > With comrades tried and true, > With faces bright, and spirits light, > And the foemen's fires in view.
> "Then fill your cups with Spanish wine, and let the toast go round, > Here's a health to all who love us on dear old England's ground.
> Be their tresses gold or auburn, or black as ebon's hue, > Be their eyes of witching hazel, loving gray, or heaven's blue, > Here's to them all, the girls we love, God bless them every one; > May we all be here to toast them when to-morrow's work is done.
> Hurrah, hurrah, &c.
> "But whate'er to-morrow bring us, it shall shed no gloom to-night, > For a British soldier does not flinch from thought of death in fight; > No better ending could we wish, no worthier do we know, > Than to fall for King and country, with our face towards the foe; > And if we go, our friends who stay will keep our memory bright, > And will drink to us in silence by many a camp-fire's light.
> Hurrah, hurrah, &c."
When the last chorus had ceased, the boys, who had had a long march tha_orning, and were thoroughly tired, stole quietly off to bed, but it was no_ill long after they had gone to sleep that the jovial party round the fir_roke up, and that Sam was relieved from his duties of concocter of punch.