Page:Yule Logs.djvu/103

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87
"A FRENCHMAN'S GRATITUDE"

Regiment reached General Stewart early on the 2oth April, and he immediately despatched a force, under Lieutenant-Colonel Patrick Macleod (commanding the 2nd Battalion 78th[1]), to reinforce Vogelsang. Macleod's force was composed of a piquet of the 20th Light Dragoons, two guns, two companies of the 35th, and five of the 78th.

On the afternoon of the 20th April our company was on duty in one of the batteries. Charles Holroyd, Paddy Cantillon, and I were with the company, none of us feeling particularly amiable. Our artillery had been blazing away all day at Rosetta, while we had little or nothing to do except to listen to the eternal "bang, bang" of the guns; a sort of music that gets monotonous, especially when one wishes to indulge in "forty winks."

"I'm sick of this business!" exclaimed Paddy, as we sat with our backs against the parapet. "Sorra a bit of divarsion do I see in squattin' on me hams in a damp ditch!"

"Take things as they come, Paddy," rejoined Holroyd, who was discussing a piece of salt junk and a ship's biscuit. "Now, I should much prefer to dine off a spatchcock or a devilled kidney, but as I can't get such luxuries, I — Halloa, Harris! what ill wind blows you here?"

"An order for you, Holroyd," replied Harris, our worthy adjutant, who came hurrying up at this moment. "The light company has been detailed as an escort for an ammunition column about to start for El Hamet, and the general desires you to deliver this despatch to Colonel Macleod."

"But we're on piquet, my dear fellow," expostulated Holroyd, not relishing the idea of a long tramp across the desert. "Besides, it is not our turn, you know; we only

  1. This 2nd Battalion of the 78th (Ross-shire Buffs) Highlanders was raised in 1804. Patrick Macleod was its first commanding officer. The battalion distinguished itself at the battle of Maida, and subsequently in the Netherlands. It was reduced in 1816-17.