« PreviousContinue »
to it in any of the next few days, "Have you been down the horse lines those new days to Morgan. The arri- this morning?" returned Morgan, val of the mail from home seemed only quizzically, to confirm the newness of those days, “Ah, that's it, is it? Blue-tongue, I for that event no longer took first place suppose," acquiesced the doctor. in his mind. Home-meaning his Morgan nodded. “Any reconnaissance native place, his people, and friends- would have to be done on ammunition now took its proper place as the thing boots.” which abutted on his life instead of As he threw leg over saddle he found enclosing it. It had become the next the doctor had followed and was at estate to his own instead of the one his knee, speaking. “Is it wise to go he walked in. In fine, he found he had out again alone now you have-in now a home of his own; a man's home; the new circumstances?” corrected the heart of the woman he loves. It is he. assuredly not roof and walls that make "No," admitted Morgan. “It's a deal home to the man whose calling, like more unwise than you can guess, too. the soldier's, moves him from place to It's risking something that's a deal place as the years pile on his head. more consequence than my death. Morgan had begun to picture to him You'll see that I won't do it again after self what life would be with the girl to-day. It's all my own fault. I took with the soft gray eyes as the core of it. oath to her the other day that I
Then came the day when it suddenly wouldn't come again, but, like an utter struck him to picture what life would ass, I forgot to get a certain promise be like without the girl with the gray from her in return. I'm just going for eyes. It was after luncheon again, that. Then I'll be good.” when they were sitting smoking, and "Don't you think you might take the the thought no sooner went through promise for granted, in the circumhim than the doctor spoke a little stances?” suggested the doctor, smoothsharply. “What's that white for, ly. young man? Sickening for hospital?" "I'm not hit that way, doctor. It's
Morgan smiled, though the gray was gone a lot deeper than that. I can't not yet all passed from his face. "I'm take anything for granted; but you'll sickening for something a deal more see how good I'll be after this. So needful; and, doctor, I'm going to an long, then.” So he rode away. other doctor for it-a doctor outside He had brought rifle and bandolier. our lines.”
His life had suddenly become precious “Ah,” spoke the doctor, drawing and because he had found a use for it, and dwelling on the sound, "well, and I because it was precious to her. All the think you're lucky!"
way as he went he kept his eyes rov. "Thanks," said Morgan.
ing, and he cast about for a good view Hutchings stirred, stared, and then, of the sluit before riding down into the with one gesture, indicated that he dip of it. It was clear; everything was must now let his comrade come a clear, and presently he was drawing purler in his own way.
rein under the great gum-trees. Morgan rose to go at once, and the This time the faces of the father and doctor spoke up in rather an insisting mother showed only politeness and no tone. "Hadn't you better call it a warmth of welcome. The girl herself reconnaissance and take a gang out did not appear at the moment of his with you? The commandant can look entering. The mother, however, called on it as exercise for men and horses." for coffee. "Thanks; but never mind
that,” spoke Morgan at once. “I your promise, too, that you'll be my haven't come to stay long enough for wife. I'll be good then. Only I can't that, I've only just come to speak to stay away without it.” your daughter for one moment, and “Oh!" she said; "oh!" and a sudden then I'll go back. Ah!"
gush of happy tears, bright as dewdrops The “Ah!" was to greet her appear from a shaken branch, rushed out from ance as she stepped quietly into the under her closing eyelids and leaped room. It was as if she had been listen- off her soft cheeks, that curved in a ing and debating whether she would quick, happy smile. But her hands see him, and then, because of his ex- went out a little, just a little way to planation, had decided to come out. wards him, as if they would catch hold Her eyes met his for the briefest of his, but that they were half afraid. glance in the world, and if there was He saw those hands, and his long love in them there was a great dread arms went round her instantly, all his in them, too. Morgan did not wait to blood in his clasp. "Liefste, liefste!" be chidden. “May I speak to you for cried he, half fiercely, wholly earnestly. just a minute-as last time?" pleaded "But let me have the words, too. Say he, with grave eagerness.
you promise to be my wife." Her slow, gentle gesture of assent She looked up at him. She could not was part of her whole movement as, hold the look steadfastly into his eyes, without a word, she walked to the door but as often as it fell she lifted it again. to acquiesce. Evidently her parents “Are you sure?" she said, at last. "I understood the situation, and left the "don't want you to do anything like that matter in her own hands, and evidently unless you are quite, very, very sure. she took their permission for granted. I know you love me; I know that, and
Morgan held the door for her, and that justifies me. And you know that I then followed. Not till she had reached can never-can never love any other the same spot as before, under the man but you, the first and the last. great eucalyptus did she pause: and not I don't ask you to marry me, dear, till then did he speak. "I know it dear love. I can be true without that seems like not playing the game," be- --you know that I can't help being gan he, with earnest haste; “but there true. But you are a British officer, was one thing I forgot last time. It's and I am only a burgher girl. I know something I can't do without some- what your people think of us, and what thing I must have. It's your promise." they would say to you."
"My promise?" repeated she, with a “I'm a man and you are a woman," catch in the breath, but with no echo was all he said. "Promise, promise, of surprise.
liefste! Speak the words." She knew. He saw she knew; but “Oh!" and she laughed again, soft he saw her face go white with the ten- and low. As soft and sweet as were sion of the crisis of her life. He saw her eyes so was her laugh then. "I that she was hesitating to have her do promise. I promise to be your fortune put to the touch; and he no wife," and she met his kiss half way longer found any pleasure in forcing with a kiss as warm as his own. her to confess. Instead, he felt the Then straightway he, master now beemotion of it for her, and hastened to cause this woman was his possession, supply the words. “You know what she having softly stepped into his soul promise I want. There is only one. to be the centre of his life henceforthYou love me; that I know. And I straightway he began to give orders, love you; that you know. But I want and she, feeling an added glory in submitting as his slave, studied at once to He understood. “Put your arms obey. “You must pack up and come round my neck, liefste," pleaded he. into the town to-morrow, sweetheart,” making a favor to him of what she commanded he. “There I'll get you a could not help longing to do. permit to go down to Cape Town, out "Oh, how you understand me!” cried of the way of the war, and all these she, lifting her arms to where she had fevers and things. You must come. been hungering to place them. To be All this misery and this bad food and understood—that is the heaven of not half enough of that-it's killing every woman in love. you."
“And now we'll go in till I tell your "Must 1?” asked she, not in denial, mother and father. Then I'll get but all for the sheer pleasure of having away and be good," ended Morgan. him reiterate his orders, taking her S he put him back, with a special will out of her own hands and giving caress. "But please leave them to me. her only his own.
It will be all right. I can promise you "You must, liefste. When I started that. Still, they are burgher, and you this afternoon I thought that if I once are a khaki. They will take it better got your promise that was all I wanted from me." But now I find that was only the He assented at once. “Very good, beginning of things. I can't stand it sweetheart; but I want just another now so long as you're anywhere near token; not a flower this time, but some. this horrible war. You're me, now thing nearer-something of you. Your all there is of me that's worth any hair is so very soft and beautiful. Give thing. And I must get you away to me one lock of it to be with me till you a safe place. You must come.”
come in to-morrow." She made a novement to nestle It was manna to hear him say it. It closer in his arms. "But my father and was glory to loosen her hair, and let mother refuse to leave the farm,” she it fall to her waist like a shower of answered.
splendor in the sunlight, and to let “Yes; but you have friends near Cape him choose the lock for himself. He Town-I remember you telling me that took out the folding pair of scissors, So you'll come? Say 'Yes,' sweet which so many officers carried to help heart." He grew more grimly anxious in dressing any wounded man, and with every moment, as his kisses con- lingeringly he cut off the tress he had tinued to meet hers in each pause of singled out. speech and answer.
Slowly he coiled it, and smilingly she "I promise," consented she, her wet watched him unbutton his tunic and eyes swimming in smiles. “My mother slip the coil inside his shirt till it was has been urging me to go ever since over his heart. “Now please pin it fast the war began."
just there,” pleaded he. He was giving "So you'll come in to-morrow. Whom her her full dues of courting. shall I tell to get a room ready for Shyly she pinned it fast, her eyes you? You have a cousin inside the glowing with the wonder and the haptown there, haven't you?"
piness of it all. Shyly obedient to his "Yes; but you needn't warn her. triumphant command she called him She'll be glad to have me as soon as her promised husband at parting. she sees me.”
So at last he swung up into the sadShe looked at him with a pause of dle and turned for camp. manner, her eyes debating, her hands and arms lifting a little.
It was his horse which reached the
out posts, Galloping beadlo
outposts, galloping headlong, bullet-cut himself, and saw to it that most of in three different places, and with her clothing was saved and brought in blood on its saddle and withers. It with her. In time he pulled her was too late to send out men that through to a sort of melancholy state night, and the commandant refused to of joyless health before he was ordered let the doctor go out alone under the to a field hospital further on. When red cross.
he went he gave her the handkerchief They found the body, next morning, she had laid on her lover's face before on the edge of the road, just where her father dragged her from the body, he would disappear from sight of the and every night after that she covered house in dipping down into the sluit. her own face with it when she lay He was shot through the heart, and down to sleep. She never troubled to had two other wounds in the body, but contradict the accusation which went none in the head to disfigure his face from tongue to tongue that she had Yet on his face was a woman's hand- trapped Morgan to his death; and she kerchief, with initials, and his hands remained in the town where she could were crossed on his breast, his limbs see his grave every day. straightened. There was no lock of Later, when the brother was caphair on his breast, however; the doctor tured, he could only be sent to Ceylon. found that an hour afterwards, all To ambush the enemy is perfectly good bloodstained still, twisted tightly in the tactics in war. He had done nothing girl's hand, for she was lying on her contrary to the laws of war. The bed in a state between collapse and murder of his sister's heart was not a crazed brain when they came to burn thing that could come under either law, the house and sweep off everything. martial or civil; and she thanked me She seemed to recognize the doctor as most earnestly because I had not shot a friend. "I heard the shots,” she him out of hand at the moment of capmuttered, in a monotone. “I heard the ture, as so many bad vowed to do. shots, and I ran, but he was dead, and It was I who captured him and his they were going.”
men. The doctor put her into the wagonette
A. 0. Vaughan. Longman's Magazine.
HARA-KIRI: ITS REAL SIGNIFICANCE.
Hara-kiri! The word has been before may not be wholly without interest for us, of late, at every turn. In translat. the reader if I try to explain, though ing it the English equivalent is often with some diffidence from the very given as “disembowelling”-a ghastly nature of the subject, the true signifiterm, and, moreover, inappropriate, cation of the act, and at the same time “Happy despatch” was formerly the endeavor in some degree to account for phrase employed; it is, as it seems to the sensitiveness displayed by my own me, a far better term, though how that country-people at the misapprehensions expression originated no one seems to produced by a wrong translation. know. The matter itself, to the West. Literally, of course, hara-kiri is ern notion, is already not an agreeable "belly-cutting," and this is the expresone to talk about, but the recent trans- sion in common use, but kappuku, or lation of the term makes it worse. It more usually seppuku, is the word employed by persons of refinement, the more hanging, were forms of execution actual meaning, however, being the that might not be employed in cases of same as hara-kiri. Seppuku and kap- offenders of the military classes, whose puku are expressions coined from Chi. position, even to the last of their exist. nese. There are vigorous Anglo-Saxon ence, merited respect; and when, in terms in use in Great Britain which very extreme cases, the crime of which people of taste often prefer to replace a samurai had been convicted was -at afternoon tea, for example-by heinous enough to deserve exemplary something, perhaps equally forcible, de- punishment by condemnation to an rived from the Latin. The instance is ignominious death, the culprit was first similar,
stripped of his rank and privileges as Seppuku was, in the feudal period, an one of the samurai class. No samurai bonorable mode of committing suicide. was ever to be beheaded; still less to It was unknown to the Japanese of an be hanged. cient days, and was a custom which Naturally under such conditions the grew with the age of chivalry. With act of seppuku came to be invested with us, in the Far East, to hang oneself is much formality, and cases in which the looked upon as the most cowardly of most elaborate etiquette had to be all methods of self-destruction, and strictly observed were those when a drowning oneself or taking poison was daimio, i.e. a feudal baron, or samurai deemed to be no better. Even to shoot of particularly high standing, was himself was, in a samurai, regarded as called upon by the proper authorities a base and ignoble way of shuffling off to despatch himself in this way in exthis mortal coil; it was vulgarly spoken piation of some political offence. A of as teppo-bara, [h is changed into b. special commissioner was then sent for euphony], an abbreviation of teppo- from the proper quarters to witness the hara-kiri, in other words hara-kiri by due execution of the sentence, and a means of a gun, though in reality the kai-shaku-nin was chosen to assist the throat, and not the hara, was the usual principal in ridding himself of the burspot assailed in this case.
den of life. This person was selected There was never an instance, so far by the condemned from the circle of as can be traced, of seppuku by a his own immediate relatives, friends, or female, and the honorable equivalent retainers, and the kai-shaku-nin's office thereof for a samurai lady was death was an honorable one, inasmuch as he by a stab in the throat from her own was thereby privileged to render a last dirk, a weapon she generally carried in service to his comrade or chief. her girdle to be used in time of need. There was always a special apartWhere a Roman dame would in an- ment or pavilion prepared in which the cient times have plunged her dagger ceremony had to take place; a particinto her own heart, a Japanese heroine ular dress, designed for use only on preferred to thrust the weapon into these melancholy occasions, had to be her neck, and there is no record of worn; and the dagger, or short sword, either male or female in Japan ending was invariably placed before the seat existence in the fashion that is so of the condemned on a clean white often depicted in Western novels, and tray, raised on legs, termed sambo, less frequently, perhaps, in real life. which in the ordinary way is a kind of
Seppuku was not only a mode of wooden stand used for keeping sacriself-despatch, but was prescribed as a fices offered to the gods, or for some form of capital punishment for all of similar solemn purpose. The actual samurai rank. Beheading, and still cutting open of the body was not es