|Chapter Title||SURGEANT GUNN.|
|Newspaper Title||Eastern Districts Chronicle (York, WA : 1877 - 1927)|
|Trove Title||Maoriland Ho! Nature's Enchanting Wonder Isle. A Weird and Entrancing Romance|
Nestling aiu:ii some of tile mutt bold and romantic hills to bo found in the whole of New Zealand, Glencourt stood pre-eminent among the few places in the province of Westland as the seat of Major General Ashford. i
The drives around the estate are charm
niiii"; and matchless in their beauty.
From the broad terrace on the south aide of Uie building the landscape had a gradual fall, revealing glimpseB of ex quisite patches of rock, river, and forest, and beyond these the wateri of the South
The house and grounds have cost their owner large sums of money, but General Ashford is wealthy.
For the most part the old officer ii of b retiring disposition. His onlv daughter, Hilda, does tiia honors of Glencourt oc casionally, mid does it with a skill be fitting one of the old Northumberland Ashford breed. i
The morning is gloriously fine, anj es pecially so around Glencourt, the tatter demalion thinks, as he weuds his way to wards tlirt lodge. In the broad glare of day lio looks the most wretched hang<dog thiuf that ever left the precinota pf a prison qate. |
Thu burly, woll-led lodgekeepor, atind ing at hiB gate, notes tho ragged tramp's apprunch. 1
" Now tlien, iny nmn, what is it ?" he cries. " If you've come for money this is tho wrong shop ; but if you, wants a feed, well, 1'vo 110 objections, prowidin' 08 you eatB your wittlos here, and d JOB a job o'
work for it afterwards."
"1 noithor want money nor food > at your hands," answered iho man, gruffly, at tho name timo anrveying the portly
llunkey with contempt. <
"Oh, you don't want money, ^h? l'rny, what, do you want, thou V" cried
thu other. !
" What you don't scorn to posses! common civility," answered the trailp,
Ah, indeed.^ Here's my Lord Duke, of Rag Lane, "going to leeture on eti quette,'' oried the lodgekeepar, in sar castic tones. Then changing to audden passion he said, hoarse)}', " Curse you tor a battered, moulty, gutter-chick; what a your business }"
111 wish to aeo Mr J, Vanborough ?"
" Of course you do-or the man in the moon--or any other improbable person age. Now, who a Mr J. Vanborough ?"
" A gentleman who came to the ball last night in a drab dog cart-came lato, and by the short cut along the ravine yonder.
The lodgekeeper opened his sleepy eyes wide, and looked at the bundle of rags before him more attentively.
. ''M>' Jocelyn drives a dog cart, and is at the hall j hut I know of no J. Van borough who visits here/' said he.
" I may have been mistaken in the
t ''le 6ent'on,ani" replied the man.
ftlr Jocelyn arrived by this road about eleien o'clock ?"
Just about that hour."
. If, as you say, he is at the hall, be good enough to convey a message to him
from mo. '
" What age ?" I
Toll him (he man who opened the gate ror him la*t night wishes to speak to nim on important business."
Tho keepor of the lodgv, placing his
fat thumb to his rubioand nose with a knowing look, said,
" No you don't, old man. That game won't wash with Peter Slowcome. I have no doubt but what: you are one of a gang of bushraDgera come to rob the
The tramp laughed.
" Every thief thinks that his fellow is ® h*gffer rogue than himself," he said.
If you ivon't carry my message, I shall easily find other means of communica tion. Goui day to you.'1
" Stop a minute. What iB your name, friend ??* enquired the lodpekeeper, see ing that the tramp was moving away the
road he had come.
The other reflected a moment*
41 If you are inclined to take my mes sage, no nam© will be required."
*' Yes, but Mr Jocelyn may have for gotten all about your service last night."
'' True ! If he has, I am content to depart without an audience/*
" Very well; stay where you are. I'll
Bend and see if Mr Jocelyn will receive!
He went within tho lodge, and present* ly a youth in buttons came forth and
crossed the lawn. Within five minutes he returned with a request that the tramp be admitted.
" Good luck, my friend ; you're but a poor, Beedy devil at beBt," says the keeper, opening his lodge gate. Take care Mr Jocelyn doesn't pack you off to gaol for your pains."
Without deigning a word in reply, but with a look of withering disdain at the speaker, the man of tatters passed through with his limping gait, and fol lowing his conductor, entered the grand
There are BO many grand rooms and comdors and passages to be parsed tflwiah ere -he*' reach the wing in which
il^Japtain is located that a change of
coM^ctors is necessary. An old grey lieaaWl personage, tall and erect as a bar of iron, and attired in the undress uni fo^nj of a dragoon, comes forward to re
lieve the page.
"Who is this man ?" he asks.
4i A visitor for Mr Jocelyn, sergeant/* answers the boy.
" Guod ! Right-about-face, my lad. March !" cried the sergeant, as if the page had befin a squad on parade drill, and the boy, with a entile, instantly obeyed.
The sergeant watches him pace the long corridor with oven, military step ; theu turning to the new-comer, surveys him from head to foot with unmitigated surprise.
" 1 ouVe been in the wars, comrade," he says, holding his head on one aide and pursing up his mouth.
" Wars ?" echoed the tramp, looking hard in turn at the man before him. " Why, yes ; I reckon I've seen seri ice, Sergeant Gunn."
At the sound of his name the old fel low drew himself up as stiff as a ramrod. " What, you know ine ?" lie cried.
'* I do, certainly," answers the tramp. Tom Gunn, otherwise tho slasher, as his cuiiirades termed him, served twelve I years in tho 7th Dragoon Guards ere he I was solected orderly to Colonel-now
" Swords a.id piBtols! Who nre you ?" criod the veteran when his surprise en abled liiin to speak.
"Only a poor reprobate who fought for his country in the Crimea and in India in the ranks of the old 7th-that's all."
" Hold up your head, and let me have a good look at you," said the old dragoon. "! knew every man in the corps, from Sergeant Major Halsoin to Bates, the
" Can you rcmomber my face."
" No," said the old fellow, after a close scrutiny of the other's features. " I have no recollection of you. Perhaps you joined the regiment after 1 left it."
" Not so." replied the tramp, with a peculiar smile. " 1 was saddle to saddlo with poor Major Denby when ..lie was cut in two by a round shot at Balaclava ; and I remember when the melee was over binding up a certain corporal's hand who had the misfortune to lose part of it, with his two fingers attached. Stretch forth your hand, sergeant, and let me look at it."
The veteran laughed.
" Here it is," quoth he, "or at least what the Russians left of it. You're no fraud, man, if you know these things. Allen Grange, of D. Troop, was the inan who ripped the sleeve lining out of his coat to bind up iny maimed hand."
" 1 em that unfortunate fellow." "You!"
" 1, Sergeant Qunn."
" Why, Grange was but ft boy at that time, and you-you look fifty or more."
" 1 have had eno«gh hardship to make me look twice fifty," returned the tramp. "Do you recollect the 27th o£ August, 1857."
"That was the day of the attack on Dolhi."
" Correct. On the evening or that day Sorgeant Gumi, with a search party, i'ound otic of his regiment amongst a heap of dead Sepoys. The man was bleeding to death from a bullet wound, which had shattered his knto."
" Ah, 1 see you're tho inan," inter rupted the sergeant in a more kindly
tone. " You wero lamed for life."
" For lite," echoed the other. " I was discharged with a small pension and this limp," nud he hobbled thioo paces along the well-oarpeted corridor and back again.
"You still have the pension to fall baok upou. Qcausal"- It Continued. MHV