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Black, unbroken, - thought grows busy ,Still, for size and beauty, cunning, courage thrids each pathway of old years,
- ah, the brute he was ! Notes this forthright, that ineander, till the Why, that Clive, — that youth, that greenlong-past life appears
horn, that quill-driving clerk, in Like an outspread map of country plodded
fine, through, each mile and rood,
He sustained a siege in Arcot... But the Once, and well remembered still, - I'm
world knows! Pass the wine. 40 startled in my solitude Ever and anon by — what's the sudden Where did I break off at ? How bring Clive mocking light that breaks
in ? Oh, you mentioned “ fear"! On me as I slap the table till no rummer- | Just so: and, said I, that minds me of a glass but shakes
story you shall hear. While I ask - aloud, I do believe, God help me! “ Was it thus ?
We were friends then, Clive and I: so, when Can it be that so I faltered, stopped when
the clouds, about the orb just one step for us – "
Late supreme, encroaching slowly, surely, (Us, — you were not born, I grant, but
threaten to absorb surely some day born would be) Ray by ray its noontide brilliance, — friendu – One bold step had gained a province"
ship might, with steadier eye (figurative talk, you see)
20 Drawing near, bear what had burned else, “ Got no end of wealth and honor, - yet I
now no blaze — all majesty. stood stock-still no less ? ”
Too much bee's-wing floats my figure ? -“For I was not Clive," you comment:
Well, suppose a castle's new: but it needs no Clive to guess None presume to climb its ramparts, none Wealth were handy, hovor ticklish, did no
find foothold sure for shoe writing on the wall
'Twixt those squares and squares of granite Warn me “ Trespasser, 'ware man-traps!”
plating the impervious pile Him who braves that notice – As his scale-mail's warty iron cuirasses a call
crocodile. Hero! none of such heroics suit myself who Reels that castle thunder-smitten, stormread plain words,
I dismantled ? From without Doff my hat, and leap no barrier. ScripScrambling up by crack and crevice, every ture says, the land 's the Lord's:
cockney prates about Louts then — what avail the thousand, noisy Towers — the heap he kicks now! turrets — in a smock-frocked ring,
just the measure of his cane! All-agog to have me trespass, clear the Will that do? Observe moreover — (same fence, be Clive their king ?
similitude again) Higher warrant must you show me ere I Such a castle seldom crumbles by sheer set one foot before
stress of cannonade: T'other in that dark direction, though I 'Tis when foes are foiled and fighting 's stand forevermore
finished that vile rains invade, Poor as Job and meek as Moses. Ever Grass o'ergrows, o'ergrows till night-birds more ? No! By and by
congregating find no holes Job grows rich and Moses valiant, Clive Fit to build in like the topmost sockets made turns out less wise than I.
for banner-poles. Don't object “ Why call him friend, then ?" So Clive crumbled slow in London, crashed Power is power, my boy, and still
at last. Marks a man, -God's gift magnific, exercised for good or ill.
A week before, You've your boot now on my hearth-rug, Dining with him,- after trying churchyard tread what was a tiger's skin:
chat of days of yore, — Rarely such a royal monster as I lodged Both of us stopped, tired as tombstones, the bullet in !
head-piece, foot-piece, when they lean True, he murdered half a village, so his | Each to other, drowsed in fog-smoke, o'er own death came to pass;
a coffined Past between.
As I saw his head sink heavy, guessed the Tracing, in the stains and streaks there, soul's extinguishment
thoughts encrusted long ago. By the glazing eyeball, noticed how the When he spoke 't was like a lawyer reading furtive fingers went
word by word some will, Where a drug-box skulked behind the honest | Some blind jungle of a statement, — beatliquor, “One more throw
ing on and on until Try for Clive !” thought I: “Let's ven Out there leaps fierce life to fight with.
ture some good rattling question !”
“This fell in my factor-days. “Come Clive, tell us " - out I blurted Desk-drudge, slaving at Saint David's, one - " what to tell in turn, years
must game, or drink, or craze. hence,
I chose gaming: and, — because your highWhen my boy — suppose I have one — asks
flown gamesters hardly take me on what evidence
Umbrage at a factor's elbow if the factor I maintain my friend of Plassy proved a
pays his stake, warrior every whit
I was winked at in a circle where the comWorth your Alexanders, Cæsars, Marlbor
pany was choice. oughs and — what said Pitt? - 70 Captain This and Major That, men high of Frederick the Fierce himself! Clive told
color, loud of voice, me once" – I want to say
Yet indulgent, condescending to the modest “ Which feat out of all those famous doings
juvenile bore the bell away
Who not merely risked but lost his hard- In his own calm estimation, mark you,
earned guineas with a smile. not tbe mob's rough guess —
“ Down I sat to cards, one evening, — had Which stood foremost as evincing what
for my antagonist Clive called courageousness!
Somebody whose name 's a secret - you 'll Come! what moment of the minute, what
know why – so, if you list, 100 speck-centre in the wide
Call him Cock o' the Walk, my scarlet son Circle of the action saw your mortal fairly
of Mars from head to heel! deified ?
Play commenced: and, whether Cocky fan(Let alone that filthy sleep-stuff, swallow
cied that a clerk must feel bold this wholesome Port!)
Quite sufficient honor came of bending over If a friend has leave to question, — when
one green baize, were you most brave, in short ?” I the scribe with him the warrior, guessed
no penman dared to raise Up he arched his brows o'the instant – for- | Shadow of objection should the honor stay midably Clive again. .
but playing end “ When was I most brave? I'd answer, More or less abruptly, whether disinwere the instance half as plain 80
clined he grew to spend As another instance that's a brain-lodged Practice strictly scientific on a booby born crystal — curse it ! - here
to stare Freezing when my memory touches — ugh! | At — not ask of — lace-and-ruffles if the the time I felt most fear.
hand they hide plays fair, Ugh! I cannot say for certain if I showed Anyhow, I marked a movement when be fear - anyhow,
bade me Cut!'. Fear I felt, and, very likely, shuddered,
“ I rose. since I shiver now."
•Such the new manœuvre, Captain ? I'm
a novice: knowledge grows... 110 “ Fear! "smiled I. “Well, that's the rarer: What, you force a card, you cheat, Sir ?'
that 's a specimen to seek, Ticket up in one's museum, Mind-Freaks,
6 Never did a thunder-clap Lord Clive's Fear, Unique !"
Canse emotion, startle Thyrsis locked with
Chloe in his lap, Down his brows dropped. On the table | As my word and gesture (down I Alung my painfully be pored as though
cards to join the pack)
Fired the man of arms, whose visage, sim- Of such prime success moreover: scarce an ply red before, turned black.
inch above his head When he found his voice, he stammered Went my ball to hit the wainscot. He was, . That expression once again !!
living, I was dead. «« Well, you forced a card and cheated !. “Up he marched in flaming triumph —
't was his right, mind! - up, within «« Possibly a factor's brain, Just an arm's length. Now, my clerkling,' Busied with his all-important balance of chuckled Cocky with a grin accounts, may deem
As the levelled piece quite touched me, Weighing words superfluous trouble: cheat “Now, Sir Counting-House, repeat to clerkly ears may seem
That expression which I told you proved Just the joke for friends to venture: but bad manners ! Did I cheat ?
we are not friends, you see! When a gentleman is joked with, — if he's “Cheat you did, you knew you cbeated, good at repartee,
and, this moment, know as well. He rejoins, as do I — Sirrah, on your knees, As for me, my homely breeding bids you withdraw in full !
fire and go to Hell !'. Beg my pardon, or be sure a kindly bullet through your skull
“ Twice the muzzle touched my forehead. Lets in light and teaches manner to what
Heavy barrel, flurried wrist, brain it finds! Choose quick - Either spoils a steady lifting. Thrice: then, Have your life snuffed out or, kneeling,
Laugh at Hell who list, pray me trim yon candle-wick 1' I can't! God's no fable either. Did this
boy's eye wink once ? No! " "Well, you cheated !'.
There's no standing him and Hell and God “ Then outbroke a howl from all the
all three against me, — so, 150 friends around.
I did cheat!' To his feet sprang each in fury, fists were
clenched and teeth were ground. “ And down he threw the pistol, out • End it ! no time like the present ! Cap
rushed by the door tain, yours were our disgrace! Possibly, but, as for knowledge if by chimNo delay, begin and finish! Stand back,
ney, roof or floor, leave the pair a space !
He effected disappearance - I'll engage Let civilians be instructed: henceforth sim
no glance was sent ply ply the pen,
139 That way by a single starer, such a blank Fly the sword! This clerk 's no swords
astonishment man ? Suit him with a pistol, then ! Swallowed up their senses : as for speaking Even odds! A dozen paces 'twixt the most
- mute they stood as mice. and least expert Make a dwarf a giant's equal: nay, the “Mute not long, though! Such reaction, dwarf, if he's alert,
such a hubbub in a trice! Likelier hits the broader target !!
• Rogue and rascal! Who'd have thought
it? What's to be expected next, “Up we stood accordingly. / When His Majesty's Commission serves a As they handed me the weapon, such was
sharper as pretext my soul's thirst to try
For . . . But where's the need of wasting Then and there conclusions with this bully, time now? Naught requires detread on and stamp out
lay: Every spark of his existence, that, - crept Punishment the Service cries for: let disclose to, curled about
grace be wiped away
160 By that toying tempting teasing fool-fore- Publicly, in good broad daylight! Resigfinger's middle joint, —
nation? No, indeed! Don't you guess ? - the trigger yielded. Drum and fife must play the Rogue's.
Gone my chance ! and at the point 1 March, rank and file be free to speed
Tardy marching on the rogue's part by ap For if he be dead or living I can tell no pliance in the rear
more than you. - Kicks administered shall right this All I know is - Cocky had one chance wronged civilian, — never fear,
more; how he used it, - grew Mr. Clive, for— though a clerk — you bore Out of such unlucky habits, or relapsed, and yourself -- suppose we say —
back again Just as would beseem a soldier ?
Brought the late-ejected devil with a score
more in his train,“Gentlemen, attention — pray! That's for you to judge. Reprieval I proFirst, one word!'
cured, at any rate.
Ugh— the memory of that minute's fear “I passed each speaker severally in re
makes gooseflesh rise! Why prate view.
Longer ? You ’ve my story, there's your When I had precise their number, names
instance: fear I did, you see!” and styles, and fully knew Over whom my supervision thenceforth “ Well” – I hardly kept from laughing must extend, — why, then
“if I see it, thanks must be
Wholly to your Lordship's candor. Not "Some five minutes since, my life lay
that -- in a common caseas you all saw, gentlemen - 170 When a bully caught at cheating thrusts a At the mercy of your friend there. Not a
pistol in one's face, single voice was raised
I should under-rate, believe me, such a trial In arrest of judgment, not one tongue
to the nerve! before my powder blazed —
'Tis no joke, at one-and-twenty, for a youth Ventured “Can it be the youngster blun
to stand nor swerve. dered, really seemed to mark
Fear I naturally look for -- unless, of all Some irregular proceeding? We conjecture men alive, in the dark,
I am forced to make exception when I come Guess at random, — still, for sake of fair
to Robert Clive. play — what if for a freak,
Since at Arcot, Plassy, elsewhere, he and In a fit of absence,- such things have been!
death — the whole world knows- if our friend proved weak
Came to somewhat closer quarters." - What's the phrase ? - corrected fortune! Look into the case, at least!”
Qnarters? Had we come to blows, Who dared interpose between the altar's Clive and I, you had not wondered - up he victim and the priest?
sprang so, out he rapped Yet he spared me! You eleven! Whoso- Such a round of oaths - no matter! I 'll ever, all or each,
endeavor to adapt To the disadvantage of the man who spared To our modern usage words he — well, me, utters speech
't was friendly license - flung - To bis face, behind his back, - that | At me like so many fire-balls, fast as he speaker has to do with me:
could wag his tongue. Me who promise, if positions change and
mine the chance should be, “You — a soldier? You — at Plassy? Not to imitate your friend and wave ad
Yours the faculty to nick vantage!'
Instantaneously occasion when your foe, if
lightning-quick, “Twenty-five — At his mercy, at his malice, – bas you, Years ago this matter happened: and 't is
through some stupid inch certain,” added Clive,
Undefended in your bulwark? Thus laid “Never, to my knowledge, did Sir Cocky
open, - not to flinch
210 have a single breath
- That needs courage, you 'll concede me. Breathed against him: lips were closed
Then, look here! Suppose the man, throughout his life, or since his Checking bis advance, his weapon still exdeath,
tended, not a span
Distant from my temple, - curse him! Next week, how your own hand dealt you quietly had bade me, There!
doom, and uttered just the word Keep your life, calumniator! — worthless “ Fearfully courageous!” this, be sure, and life I freely spare :
nothing else I groaned. Mine you freely would have taken — mur- | I'm no Clive, nor parson either: Clive's dered me and my good fame
worst deed — we 'll hope conBoth at once - and all the better! Go, and
doned. thank your own bad aim Which permits me to forgive you!' What
EPILOGUE if, with such words as these, He had cast away his weapon? How
In regard to the third verse of this poem the should I have borne me, please ? Pall Mall Gazette of February 1, 1890, related Nay, I'll spare you pains and tell you. this incident: “One evening, just before his
This, and only this, remained - death-illness, the poet was reading this from a Pick bis weapon up and use it on myself. If
| proof to his daughter-in-law and sister, He
said: “It almost looks like bragging to say so had gained
this, and as if I ought to cancel it; but it's the Sleep the earlier, leaving England probably simple truth; and as it's true, it shall stand.'”
to pay on still Rent and taxes for half India, tenant at | At the midnight in the silence of the sleep the Frenchman's will."
When you set your fancies free, “Such the turn,” said I, “ the matter takes Will they pass to where - by death, fools with you? Then I abate
think, imprisoned - No, by not one jot nor tittle, — of your Low he lies who once so loved you, whom act my estimate.
you loved so, Fear - I wish I could detect there: courage
— Pity me? fronts me, plain enough — Call it desperation, madness — never mind ! "Oh to love so, be so loved, yet so misfor here 's in rough
taken! Why, had mine been such a trial, fear had What bad I on earth to do overcome disgrace.
With the slothful, with the mawkish, the True, disgrace were hard to bear: but such upmanly ? a rush against God's face
Like the aimless, helpless, hopeless, did I - None of that for me, Lord Plassy, since I
drivel go to church at times,
- Being — who? Say the creed my mother taught me! Many years in foreign climes 230
One who never turned his back but marched Rub some marks away — not all, though!
breast forward, We poor sinners reach life's brink, | Never doubted clouds would break, Overlook what rolls beneath it, recklessly | Never dreamed, though right were worsted, enough, but think
wrong would triumph, There 's advantage in what 's left us — Held we fall to rise, are baffled to fight ground to stand on, time to call
better, • Lord, have mercy !'ere we topple over
Sleep to wake. - do not leap, that's all ! ”
No, at noonday in the bustle of man's workOh, he made no answer, re-absorbed into
time his cloud. I caught
Greet the unseen with a cheer! Something like “Yes — courage: only fools | Bid him forward, breast and back as either will call it fear.”
If aught “Strive and thrive!” cry "Speed, - fight Comfort you, my great unhappy hero Clive, on, fare ever in that I heard,
There as here !"