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“That’s a nasty little bald-‘eaded little butcher, that is,” he said. “‘E don’t please me. ‘E’s got a colley dog wot do, though. I’m goin’ up to Murree in a week. That dawg’ll bring fifteen rupees anywheres.”

“You had better spend it in Masses,” said Terence, unbuckling his belt, for he had been on the prisoner’s guard, standing helmeted and bolt up right for three long hours.

“Not me,” said Ortheris cheerfully. “Gawd’ll put it down to B Comp’ny’s barrick damages one o’ these days. You look strapped, Terence.”

“Faith, I’m not so young as I was. That guard-mountin’ wears on the sole av the fut, and this” – he sniffed contemptuously at the brick verandah – “is as hard setting as standin’!”

“Wait a minute. I’ll get the cushions out of my cart,” I said.

“Strewth – sofies! We’re going it gay,” said Ortheris, as Terence dropped himself section by section on the leather cushions, saying prettily, “May you niver want a soft place wheriver you go, an’ power to share utt wid a frind. Another for yourself? That’s good. It lets me sit long ways. Stanley, pass me a poipe. Augrrh! An’ that’s another man gone all to pieces bekaze av a woman. I must ha’ been on forty or fifty prisoners’ gyards, first an’ last, an’ I hate ut new ivry time.”

“Let’s see. You were on Losson’s, Lancey’s, Dugard’s, and Stebbins’s, that I can remember,” I said.

“Ay, an’ before that an’ before that – scores av thim,” he answered with a worn smile. “Tis betther to die than to live for thim, though. Whin Raines comes out – he’ll be changin’ his kit at the jail now – he’ll think that too. He shud ha’ shot himself an’ the woman by rights, an’ made a clean bill av all. Now he’s left the woman – she tuk tay wid Dinah Sunday gone last – an’ he’s left himself. Mackie’s the lucky man.” – “He’s probably getting it hot where he is,” I ventured, for I knew something of the dead Corporal’s record.

“Be sure av that,” said Terence, spitting over the edge of the verandah. “But fwhat he’ll get there is light marchin’-ordher to fwhat he’d ha’ got here if he’d lived.”

“Surely not. He’d have gone on and forgotten like the others.”

“Did ye know Mackie well, Sorr?” said Terence.

“He was on the Pattiala guard of honour last winter, and I went out shooting with him in an ekka for the day, and I found him rather an amusing man.”

“Well, he’ll ha’ got shut av amusemints, excipt turnin’ from wan side to the other, these few years come. I knew Mackie, an’ I’ve seen too many to be mistuk in the muster av wan man. He might ha’ gone on an’ forgot, as you say, Sorr, but was a man wid an educashin, an’ he used ut for his schames, an’ the same educashin, an’ talk an’ all that made him able to do fwhat he had a mind to wid a woman, that same wud turn back again in the long run an’ tear him alive. I can’t say fwhat that I mane to say bekaze I don’t know how, but Mackie was the spit an’ livin’ image av a man that I saw march the same march all but; an’ ’twas worse for him that he did not come by Mackie’s ind. Wait while I remimber now. ‘Twas fwhin I was in the Black Tyrone, an’ he was drafted us from Portsmouth; an’ fwhat was his misbegotten name? Larry – Larry Tighe ut was; an’ wan of the draft said he was a gentleman ranker, an’ Larry tuk an’ three parts killed him for saying so. An’ he was a big man, an’ a strong man, an’ a handsome man, an’ that tells heavy in practice wid some women, but, takin’ thim by an’ large, not wid all. Yet ’twas wid all that Larry dealt – all – for he ‘ud put the comether on any woman that trod the green earth av God, an’ he knew ut. Like Mackie that’s roastin’ now, he knew ut; an’ niver did he put the comether on any woman save an’ excipt for the black shame. ‘Tis not me that shud be talkin’, dear knows, dear knows, but the most av my mis – misalli’nces was for pure devilry, an’ mighty sorry I have been whin harm came; an’ time an’ again wid a girl, ay, an’ a woman too, for the matter av that, whin I have seen by the eyes av her that I was makin’ more throuble than I talked, I have hild off an’ let be for the sake av the mother that bore me. But Larry, I’m thinkin’, he was suckled by a she- devil, for he niver let wan go that came nigh to listen to him. ‘Twas his business, as if it might ha’ bin sinthry-go. He was a good soldier too. Now there was the Colonel’s governess – an’ he a privit too! – that was never known in barricks; an’ wan av the Major’s maids, and she was promised to a man; an’ some more outside; an’ fwhat ut was amongst us we’ll never know till Judgment Day! ‘Twas the nature av the baste to put the comether on the best av thim – not the prettiest by any manner av manes – but the like av such woman as you cud lay your band on the Book an’ swear there was niver thought av foolishness in. An’ for that very reason, mark you, he was niver caught. He came close to ut wanst or twice, but caught he niver was, an’ that cost him more at the ind than the beginnin’. He talked to me more than most, bekaze he tould me, barrin’ the accident av my educashin, I’d ha’ been the same kind av divil he was. ‘An’ is ut like,’ he wud say, houldin’ his head high – ‘is ut like that I’d iver be thrapped? For fwhat am I when all’s said an’ done?’ he sez. ‘A damned privit,’ sez he. ‘An’ is ut like, think you, that thim I know wud be connect wid a privit like me? Number tin thousand four hundred an’ sivin,’ he sez, grinnin’. I knew by the turn av his spache whin he was not takin’ care to talk rough that he was a gentleman ranker.