Chapter V

Juliana Horatia Ewing

Mr. VALIANT summoned. His will. His last words.

Then, said he, “I am going to my Father’s . . . . My Sword I give to him that shall succeed me in my Pilgrimage, and my Courage and Skill to him that can get it.”  . . .  And as he went down deeper, he said, “Grave, where is thy Victory?”

So he passed over, and all the Trumpets sounded for him on the other side.

BUNYAN’S Pilgrim’s, Progress.        

COMING out of a hospital-tent, at headquarters, the surgeon cannonaded against, and rebounded from, another officer; a sallow man, not young, with a face worn more by ungentle experiences than by age; with weary eyes that kept their own counsel, iron gray hair, and a moustache that was as if a raven had laid its wing across his lips and sealed them.


“Beg pardon, Major. Didn’t see you. Oh, compound fracture and bruises, but it’s all right. He’ll pull through.”

“Thank GOD.”

It was probably an involuntary expression, for prayer and praise were not much in the Major’s line, as a jerk of the surgeon’s head would have betrayed to an observer. He was a bright little man, with his feelings showing all over him, but with gallantry and contempt of death enough for both sides of his profession; who took a cool head, a white handkerchief and a case of instruments, where other men went hot-blooded with weapons, and who was the biggest gossip, male or female, of the regiment. Not even the Major’s taciturnity daunted him.

“Didn’t think he’d as much pluck about him as he has. He’ll do all right if he doesn’t fret himself into a fever about poor Jackanapes”

“Whom are you talking about?” asked the Major hoarsely.

“Young Johnson. He—”

“What about Jackanapes?”

“Don’t you know? Sad business. Rode back for Johnson, and brought him in; but, monstrous ill-luck, hit as they rode. Left lung—”

“Will he recover?”

“No. Sad business.”

“What a frame—what limbs—what health—and what good looks? Finest young fellow—”

“Where is he?”

“In his own tent,” said the surgeon sadly.

The Major wheeled and left him.

.     .     .     .     .

“Can I do anything else for you?”

“Nothing, thank you. Except—Major! I wish I could get you to appreciate Johnson.”

“This is not an easy moment, Jackanapes.”

“Let me tell you, sir—he never will—that if he could have driven me from him, he would be lying yonder at this moment, and I should be safe and sound.”

The Major laid his hand over his mouth, as if to keep back a wish he would have been ashamed to utter.

“I’ve known old Tony from a child. He’s a fool on impulse, a good man and a gentleman in principle. And he acts on principle, which it’s not every—some water, please! Thank you, sir. It’s very hot, and yet one’s feet get uncommonly cold. Oh, thank you, thank you. He’s no fire-eater, but he has a trained conscience and a tender heart, and he’ll do his duty when a braver and more selfish man might fail you. But he wants encouragement; and when I’m gone——”

“He shall have encouragement. You have my word for it. Can I do nothing else?”

“Yes, Major. A favor.”

“Thank you, Jackanapes.”

“Be Lollo’s master, and love him as well as you can. He’s used to it.”

“Wouldn’t you rather Johnson had him?”

The blue eyes twinkled in spite of mortal pain.

“Tony rides on principle, Major. His legs are bolsters, and will be to the end of the chapter. I couldn’t insult dear Lollo, but if you don’t care——”

“Whilst I live——which will be longer than I desire or deserve——Lollo shall want nothing, but——you. I have too little tenderness for——my dear boy, you’re faint. Can you spare me for a moment?”

“No, stay—Major!”

“What? What?”

“My head drifts so—if you wouldn’t mind.”

“Yes! Yes!”

“Say a prayer by me. Out loud please, I am getting deaf.”

“My dearest Jackanapes—my dear boy——”

“One of the Church Prayers—Parade Service, you know——”

“I see. But the fact is—GOD forgive me, Jackanapes—I’m a very different sort of fellow to some of you youngsters. Look here, let me fetch—”

But Jackanapes’ hand was in his, and it wouldn’t let go.

There was a brief and bitter silence.

“’Pon my soul I can only remember the little one at the end.”

“Please,” whispered Jackanapes.

Pressed by the conviction that what little he could do it was his duty to do, the Major—kneeling—bared his head, and spoke loudly, clearly, and very reverently—

“The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ—”

Jackanapes moved his left hand to his right one, which still held the Major’s—

“—The love of GOD.”

And with that—Jackanapes died.

Jackanapes - Contents    |     Chapter VI

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