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O'Hara was deeply affected with the death of his gallant friend, and obedient to his last wishes (which he found contained in the little paper he had mentioned) made the necessary arrangements for his funeral.
A Serjeant of the deceased's Company arrived, and the commands of his departed Captain were communicated to him. “ Deserve the honours of a soldier! Weel does he deserve them," said the veteran. “ His fellow he has nae left behind him.” O'Hara observing, that as the Regiment was under arms on the Hill, he would procure a detachment from the Garrison of the Citadel to perform the last sad ceremony ;
“ Na, na," said the Serjeant, “gin it's necessary, they may fire over him, but nane but his ain shall gie him the last lift. Weel did we stick till him through the day, and his last biddin shall na be left undone. The company's sairly scattered, but there's in the hospital enough to carry him.”
The speaker had been a great favourite of his captain, and being beside him when he fell, O'Hara learned from him the distressing, but glorious detail. The light company in many dashing attempts had been driven back with loss. Edwards excited the admiration of the whole; he led his company to the very trenches, and when forced to retire, it was only to return with increased ardour. The colours of the supporting regiment passed frequently to fresh hands, as those who carried them were constantly marked and shot by the riflemen. The last Ensign had fallen, and Edwards seized the fatal standard—a bullet broke the staff and wounded him-he lifted them again, and rushed forward to the redoubt-a second ball struck him in the breast-he staggered to the glacis, threw the colours among the enemy, and sprang headlong over the ditch after them-his company desperately followed. The redoubt was carried with the bayonet, but the bravest of the brave was lost.
A message from Mrs. O'Hara recalled her husband from the chamber of death, and Mrs. Mahony, who conveyed the summons, and her honest Munsterman, met with feelings of undissembled pleasure; she sprang into his extended arms, while fondly pressing her to his bosom, he exclaimed, “ And Fanny, darline, did yourself ever expect to see me? We had a busy day, and, barrin a stragglin shot, I'm as fresh as a four-year-old; and may be the master hasn't got a young son-our turn's next ; but och! there lies his name-sake—but don't be afeard, may be you would not fancy to handle a corp, but a nater one never left a house feet foremost.
M‘Dermot lift me over, honey, and the wife 'will help us to lay him out. May the gun burst that kilt him, I pray Jasus !"
The speaker, still pouring out anathemas, was carried “ fornent the captain ;" and his brother soldier, obedient to his directions, removed a door from its hinges, and on it the body was extended; a sash secured it from moving, and with a quantity of laurel and other evergreen branches, which had garnished the apartment, the corse was profusely decorated; a plate filled with salt was placed on the breast, and an unequal number of candles lighted. The Irishmen looked with uncommon satisfaction at each other, when their task was completed, and Mahony addressed his coadjutor, “ M‘Dermot, isn't he nately laid out
och! but his poor mother would be glad to see him. Fanny, love, you luck palish-Mac, my darline, hand her a drap of wine, for crathers in her way is always squamish; but may be, jewel, the mistress would be wanting ye; step over, and after the berril 'I'll be there too, for the master allowed we would all lie-in together—but see-there's the poor old man (God pity him) whose girl died for love of the Captain, and him gettin the grave dug; well, that's good-natured-it would melt the heart of a stone to hear him afore he died talkin about his sweetheart, but they're now snug in heaven, laughin at us for lamentin them.” .
The course of Pat's morality was suspended by the measured step of the guard of honour, who now had halted at the door. O'Hara, the officer commanding the party, and Edwards's favourite serjeant, entered, attended by a dozen of the company of the deceased : some of them had been severely wounded—those carried light torches, while the serjeant with the remainder supported the body.
The simple forms of a soldier's funeral are easily arranged, and a low roll of a muffled
drum soon announced it to be in motion. The detour to the place of interment was but short, and therefore soon accomplished ; and for the first time, and most probably for the last, a military procession passed through the little wicket. The music ceased as it entered, and the corse was silently rested on the grass.
The serjeant, with tears rolling down his hard features, made the wishes of himself and the company known to O'Hara---. The lads wanted their captain's sash and epaulets to share among them for a keepsake."
While these ornaments were removing, a strong gleam of torch-light was thrown on the body, and the face even in death looked beautiful and placid ; the features were perfectly unchanged the lip was curled as if it still smiled, while here and there its hue of deadly paleness was tinted with a few dark spots of blood. The corse, enveloped in a military cloak, was gently lowered and laid beside her who was yet “green in earth.” The mould gradually fell in, and concealed it for ever ; no prayer was read, but many a heartfelt one was uttered. The last melancholy salute was thrice repeated, and the