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“Oh, what matters honour, what matters anything in comparison with his precious life ?” moaned Mrs. Arkell, with streaming eyes. “ Tell him, Lucy— perhaps he will understand you—that he shall indeed marry you if he will but try for calmness : he shall never again see Miss Fauntleroy! Lucy! are there no means of calming him ? If this terrible excitement lasts, it will kill him !"
It did kill him. A few more hours, and the handsome, the intelligent, the refined Travice Arkell lay dead on his bed, destroyed by brain fever. Lucy took her last look at him, and walked home with her aunt Mildredto a home, however it might now be well supplied with the world's comforts, could never seem to her but as one of desolation. Lucy Arkell's eyes were dry-dry with that intensity of anguish that admits not of tears, and her brain seemed little less confused than his had done, in the last few days of life.
William Arkell, grey with care, hung over the bed on which lay his son, never more to awake in this life. His previous troubles had been great, but he had ever secretly indulged a hope that in time he should so far surmount them, as that his concluding years might be spent in peace. All of hope had left him now, never to return; and he knew that the effects of this last and greatest blow upon his constitution were such, that he should not be long after the dead. One consolation remained to Mr. Arkell—his conscience was at rest. He felt that he had been faithful in doing his duty by him who now lay before him-had never for one moment failed to act the part of an affectionate and good father.
But Mrs. Arkell ? Many a sentence is poured forth lightly, many an idle threat, many a reckless wish, but the heart's vain folly is not always brought home to the utterers, as it was to Mrs. Arkell.“ I pray God that I may sooner follow you to your grave, Travice, than see you marry Lucy Arkell!” He was past feeling or remembering the words; but they came home to her. She cast herself upon his lifeless body, praying wildly for forgiveness, and clinging to it in all the agony of useless repentance.
Lucy Arkell and her aunt Mildred live on together, in their quiet, monotonous home. The latter's form is drooping with the weight of years ; she is verging upon seventy now; the former's hair has long been grey, and she is approaching middle life. “ The old maids” they are sometimes slightingly termed ; but those who are acquainted with their history, know that the opprobrium of the term (if indeed it can ever carry such) does not attach to them. Lucy—and, indeed, her auntmight have married times upon times: she might marry still. But she never will. Enshrined in those two lonely hearts is the image that respectively filled each in early life; the father and the son, William and Travice Arkell, never, never to be replaced by any other, but holding there their home so long as those hearts shall last.
MORE STRAY LETTERS FROM THE SEAT OF WAR.
BY ENSIGN PEPPER.
Off Sebastopol, October, 1854. . DEAR Gus,- When I last wrote from the camp at Devno, it was all alive with the news that we were to be off to the Crimea and take Sebastopol. It proved to be a false alarm for that time, but, before September came, we were making good speed for the expedition, glad enough to turn our backs on pestilential Varna and its regions. The sickness was so great at last, that we had to send the cases down to Scutari, for Varna hospitals were full. Varna had grown into a second Pandemonium. The narrow streets a scene of filth of all kinds; horses, soldiers, arabas, Bulgarians, and drunken men, hustling each other and quarrelling, every hour of the day and night. The heat was overpowering, the stench unbearable. Fevers, dysentery, ague, and cholera were struggling who should snatch up and secure the most victims. On one side of Varna was the graveyard of the English; on another, that of the French; close by, the burial-place of the Turks; further off, that of the Greeks: in short, the environs of the town were a huge cemetery. Besides that, the place abounded in dead animals; horses, dogs, and cattle lay about, in all stages of decomposition-for the lazy Turks never bestir themselves to bury such-a crowd of birds of prey fighting and screaming over them. The odour infected the air for miles : and the Greeks, by way of contributing more than their quantum of effluvia, bored holes in the coffins of their dead, which they connect with the surface of the earth, by means of hollow pipes. On the top, they place bread and wine, believing that the dead will eat. Myriads of horse-flies, too, buzzed about, spoiling the dead, annoying the living. If I wrote half the names of those left behind in their graves, it would fill more paper than our division has got amongst it. Everybody was sorry for poor Newbury, a paymaster in the Rifle Brigade, for he left a wife and ten children, with nothing but what they stood up in. His brother-officers collected 1001. to send home to them. You may be sure, when we found we were really to leave the place, we didn't ask to stay in it.
Minute orders were issued to us before starting, as to our progress and landing in the Crimea; which were carried out-over the left. It's easy to make rules for such an army as ours, encompassed, as we are, with difficulties, but it's not so easy to obey them. This ship was to be steered straight, that crooked; this fast, that slow; some to the off side, some to the near; and all were to steal up to the Crimea, and land in silence. The directions to the medical officers were even more detailed. The ambulance equipment was ordered to be of the completest nature ever heard of ; waggons were to attend the army, filled with medicines, medical stores, tents, bedding, surgical instruments, and the large fieldhospital ; assistant-surgeons, with dressers and attendants, were to be at the heels of every surgeon, their pockets and haversacks filled with ligatures ready-cut, tourniquets, linen, lint, bandages, tapes, splints, sponges, brandy, and cans of water. Pack-horses were to be at their heels, conveying more of these essentials, and plenty of comforts for the wounded-brandy, cordials, tea, sugar, arrowroot, tins of essence of beef, and all the rest of it: besides spring-waggons for carrying the hospital canteens, canvas-bearers; and to pick up the wounded, and convey them off the field. This is all I recollect, but so complete did the orders look on black and white, that Gill and I thought it would be quite a luxury, if we should happen to get wounded.
There was a row with the women when we were embarking. Orders had come, that they were not to accompany us; for an army, going into the teeth and bayonets of the enemy, does not want women with it ; but the poor creatures raised such an outcry, they were allowed to embark. We sailed on Thursday, the 7th of September. Plenty of confusion before we got on board: but that is inseparable with so large a body of men. You can have no idea of the number and power of our fleet, taking its appearance by the eye, as it slowly neared Baltschik Bay. Beautiful frigates, large three-deckers, powerful steamers, men-of-war, smaller vessels of every size, steam-tugs, coal-ships, all under steam or canvas, moving towards our rendezvous at Baltschik Bay, where we came to anchor. At sunset, we had a monster-concert, as prime as any of old Jullien's, the different bands playing in unison from their quarter-decks. The echoes of “ Partant pour la Syrie" sounded better over the wide waters than they ever did in a close room. The French were transported in nasty little poking vessels, of two or three hundred tons burden, stowed away in them en masse. They envy us our splendid ships and comfortable accommodation. I have no time to say much of our passage. It was very deliberate, and we repeatedly anchored in obedience to orders, or went at quarter speed. Now, we were signalled to sail nor-nor-west, in a few hours would be exhibited orders to steer nor-nor-east, then south, then due north, then ever so many ways at once: rare sport it must have been for those who made the signals, but we were puzzled. At length we came to final anchor in Kalamita Bay, and on Thursday, the 14th, we began our landing on the long-talked-of Crimea shores. "Right in front of us, beyond the shingle-beach, was a brackish, salt-water, stagnant lake, with flocks of wild fowl hovering over it. From the decks of the ships we could see the inland country, which looked full of promise ; plenty of grain, plenty of cattle, and some farmhouses: a chain of mountains, called from their shapes “ The Tents," rose before us. The French were the first to effect a landing: a little boat, manned by a few men, put off from one of her men-of-war, and ran in shore; and in a few minutes the fellows had driven a flag-staff into the strand, run up a tri-color, and were shouting “Vive l’Empereur !" Half a dozen Cossacks and Russians hove in view, taking a sight at us: and Sir George Brown got nearly taken by them. He had pushed on inland, on foot, almost unattended, and the Cossacks saw and dodged him. Sir George had a run for it, the few soldiers with him fired, and the Cossacks bolted away in the direction of Sebastopol. The country people, when their first fright at our invasion was over, came to us, offering cattle and vegetables for sale. They wore lambswool turbans, and sheepskin coats: very good to keep out the cold perhaps, but till they spoke we took them to be muttons, walking on-end. Some of our sick were landed, and many hooked it that day on the beach. While we were making good our footing, half a dozen English and French steamers struck up a fight with a small Russian camp, seven miles up the beach, pitching in a few shot and shell, which did for the camp, and sent the Russians to the right-about.
Didn't we get a ducking, though, that night! We were all landed, all the twenty-seven thousand of us (except the very sick), but we had not been allowed to land our tents. As dark came on, the wind got up, and the rain came down. The whole night long, from dark till morning light, it fell as from so many pumps. There was no lying down, for it was up to our knees in slosh, so we stood it, and got saturated as if we had been in the sea, taking a bath for pleasure. The change of linen in our kits, a shirt and a pair of socks, were of no earthly good to us, for they were as wet as we were. If you get a wetting—but it's not many of you stand the chance of getting such a wetting as this—you can rub yourselves dry when you get home, and put on dry linen, and have a good stiff tumbler of grog, or a jorum of hot coffee, and be consoled. We had to stay, as we were, till the things dried on us, and eat a scrap of cold salt pork and inundated biscuit, which had been stewing twenty-four hours in our naversacks; nothing else, nothing warm to drink. We are not given to complain at trifles, and if you were out here, and saw all we have to put up with, you'd say so, but we could not help casting longing eyes towards the French and Turkish encampments—they had been permitted to land their tents, and were sleeping through the tempestuous night, under their cosy shelter. A fellow, made of iron, might brave such exposure, but hardly human flesh and blood. Scores of us were taken ill next day, some with cholera, which we thought had left us, some with fever, some with shivering and ague, some with rheumatism, and a many with a complication of all.
Signals were made from the admiral, to the ships, to send their sick on board the Kangaroo. She was forthwith beset by shoals of boats, all crowded with invalids. It was said, afterwards, that the flag-ship was not aware of the number on the sick-list, for boat-freight after boatfreight was deposited on the astonished Kangaroo, about fifteen hundred of them, till the vessel was crammed to suffocation. The fellows were lying one upon another, crying out for room and air, and dying from the pressure: the sailors could not move about the deck, the sextant could not be got at, and the captain was at his wits' end with perplexity. The ships could not make out what the deuce was up with the Kangaroo. She was lying, for hours, with her signal hoisted, “Send boats to assistance,” but nobody comprehended what she would be after, and no boats were sent. By-and-by, the admiral ordered her to make sail. Back signalled the Kangaroo, “Can't: too dangerous.” “What d'ye mean?" was run up on the flag-ship. “Ship unmanageable," returns the Kangaroo. “Why ?" re-signals the flag-ship, full of wonder. “Send boats to assistance," persisted the Kangaroo. So it was done. The Dunbar was signalled round, and she went and took off half her living load ; those who had died were thrown into the bay. We heard that one of the sailors of the Dunbar grew ill, when he saw the appalling scene on board the Kangaroo : and sailors are not faint-hearted men. The ships went down to the hospital at Scutari, but lots could not get over the crushing, and died on the way.
At first we thought we should be well off for provisions. Eggs were cheap, fowls sixpence apiece, geese and turkeys fifteen or twentypence, and some sheep were got at a shilling each. The French went sacking and tearing and stealing at the things, as usual : we paid. The worst is, how will the natives distinguish the payers from the robbers ? They sacked one village near us, with the most atrocious cruelty ever invented by man-or soldiers. It was too bad, especially as the natives were inclined to be friendly and peaceable. Orders were given, the second day, to land tents-nobody was slow to obey that. The want of water was disgusting.
At three o'clock on the morning of the 19th we were roused out of sleep by the reveillé, and, striking tents, prepared to march, but it was nine o'clock before we were in readiness. Ali superfluous things (which in war, with actions pending over us, means nearly everything but what we march in) were ordered on board ship. They allow us scarcely any land-transport for our baggage, which proves a great drawback to the health and comfort of the troops, and is a thundering nuisance. It looked an immense army, English, French, and Turks, winding along by the sea-side, and astonishing the natives, who stole out to have a view of us. The fleet kept us company, and moved as we did. Not a shrub or tree was to be seen, on the march; we seemed to be going out of the track of cultivation. Round the villages, the hand of labour was visible, but the open country showed little but wide, barren plains. Lots of hares were running about, and got speedily hunted down. We soon found the enemy were ahead of us, for nearly every village we now came to had been fired, and was in flames; neither had they spared the farm-houses. The burning villages and houses were nothing to us, but think of the eggs and milk we should have got out of 'em, had they been left alone, and we so thirsty! The worst sight, was to meet the great number of litters, bearing to the rear our soldiers, who had fallen ill on the march. When we had gone eight or nine miles from camp, we had the luck to come to a stream of water-you cannot imagine how badly it was wanted. Then we caught sight of some Cossack-lancers, who were evidently waiting for us, and came forth, as bold as brass, to give us battle, holding aloft their steel lances and shaking them in the sun. We made ready for them, nothing loth ; and after a sharp, hot fight, which I've no time to describe, they made themselves scarce, and we bivouacked for the night. We built up what fires we could ; our tired legs, which would fain have been at rest, wandering about after sticks and weeds ; and when we had got them alight, such as they were, we eat our cold salt pork and biscuit, and lay down to rest : the night bitterly cold and damp, and our tents nobody knew where. But I'm sure of one thing, Gus: had we been stronger in cavalry, those Cossack-horse devils would have got annihilated in double-quick time, instead of escaping to annoy us for the future.
We were under arms before daybreak---catch a British army napping, if they can—and, soon after six, began to move. We expected nothing less than an engagement that day, for it was known the Russians were strongly entrenched in the fortified heights close by, overlooking the village and stream of a place called Alma. We met them in hard fightDec.--VOL. CII. NO. CCCCVIII.