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Frenchmen were to be cut down like
grass in the swathe—and children who had long crept betimes around the evening fire, now, no longer talked of squeezing themselves into mouse-holes, and equally out of the way and contracted apertures, if Buonaparte should come—the good news was hailed by every age and every station, with all the exuberance of overflowing gratitude and delight. The bells rang harder, and louder, and faster, and every face seemed inexplicably happy.
Soon was the rector pacing along towards the Hall, where he found the De Bohuns in a ferment, and every member of the do-micile plunged into the heart and centre of the battle. Godfrey clutched the rector's hand, the rector giving unquestionable evidence of a person labouring under some powerful excitement, took off his Theodore Beza, and waved it long and lustily in marvellous joy. He had nurtured certain misgivings in his own breast as to whether his benefice were safe in the event of the French conquering—had just figured to his
fancy some tonsure-pated, Jesuitical sneak, located at the rectory; aye, and it was just possible to ensconce himself in the hide of his favourite, old Shiver-the-Timbers, possess himself of the cellar key, turn to the wilderness the lemon-and-whites, feather-legs, and liver-chesnuts, eat the dorkings and ducks, whilst the rightful possessor himself had been spitted by some demon-visaged cuirassier. Thank God it was not so, and such apprehensions were now idle.
“ Glorious news, De Bohun," said the parson, after waving his Theodore, whilst well nigh out of breath. “I hope they'll draw and quarter the evil spirit who has so long disturbed the world's peace. May the renegade son of Belial fall into the hands of the Philistines and be smitten by the edge of the sword, is my hearty prayer. Yea, may he beg in blindness like Belisarius of old!"
Godfrey concurred in this charitable wish, and said something about flaying alive, and certain other refined modes of torture, to which the very sensitive and rather irate follower of St. Stephen assented, and even declared that no ingeniously devised punishment could be too severe. When the ebulition of this first rapture of boisterous delight had in some measure subsided, his reverence made allusion to Moreton, and expressed a hope that the young soldier had passed through the glorious struggle unharmed. At the mention of his name Godfrey became agitated, and by-and-bye he told his friend of the ominous spectre which had left a 'weight upon his mid-day thoughts. The rector laughed heartily, and told his neighbour that he never before deemed him a superstitious old woman.
It can easily be imagined with what anxiety Godfrey now each morning looked out for Simon and the post-bag dangling at his side. Backwards and forwards along the avenue would he pace, first pulling out his watch, then looking towards the large gates at its extremity to catch a glimpse of the Corporal-trusty animal—who still continued to perform this journey to the Crossroads Inn.
Not till the fifth day after the battle did the intelligence arrive. When the bag was opened a large letter, “ On His Majesty's Service,” was at length there to either dispel doubts or confirm fears. With trembling hand and palpitating heart did Godfrey break the seal of that momentous missive, whilst the family group in breathless silence gathered round. When his eyes beheld the fatal announcement, words cannot express the tragic scene which ensued! It was one of those domestic heart-quakes which for a time lays all prostrate, benighting every hope, shutting out every ray of consolation. Thus woman's tender affection death had robbed of an idolized boy; thus the holy endearments of fond sister's love, had lost for ever the object of so much solicitude ; thus a father who had fondly reared in his fancy schemes of ambition and foresighted policy, was sternly told that the wisdom of this world is to him that planneth foolishness.
When the first paroxysm of grief had in some measure subsided, Mrs. De Bohun and her daughters, in that spirit of soothing kind
ness and tender concern, so characteristic of the gentler sex, essayed by every means in their power to assuage the sorrows which had lacerated the father's heart. Every consolatory word, every affectionate argument, which such sensitive and devoted sympathies could suggest, were employed to mitigate his grief; but, alas! the appaling truth had made a cheerless midnight of his mind. Under this afflictive trial the rector was sent for, impressed by those peculiar feelings that affliction when divided is mitigated in its poignancy. He endeavoured to console the ladies, and reason with Godfrey-he truly observed, as the young soldier was no more a world could not restore him—that the indulgence in sorrow was vain as it was foolish —that the only thing remaining was to sum up as much moral fortitude as possible, remembering he had died in a good causethat hundreds of families were overwhelmed in like distress, and that the wisest resolve would be to suffer the storm to pass away as quietly as such a loss would allow. He did not venture on pointing out any Scriptural