Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/45

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11
HIS LIFE, POEMS AND SPEECHES.

sage of duty, in order to pass a certain great plate-glass window, in which he could behold the dazzling proportions of himself and his steed. But the boyish pride had in it nothing to spoil his manliness. He coveted, and easily won, the truer happiness of knowing that he was beloved by his fellows. The qualities which had made him the favorite of the printing-office and the Volunteer barracks, which were destined to win the hearts of thousands in every rank of life, in a strange land, gave him a high place in the hearts of the rough troopers of the Tenth. By his personal magnetism, as much as by the force of his eloquence, he turned many a stout fellow from allegiance to the Queen, to the more dangerous path of devotion to country.

Before coming to the abrupt close of his service as a trooper in the "Prince of Wales' Own," it is worth while to dwell for a moment on the life which he loved so well. Among his unpublished papers I find some interesting fragmentary sketches of military life, which show what his possibilities were had he possessed the leisure or inclination to amplify them into pictures.

One is a delightful view of a passing regiment entitled:

THE PICKET OF DRAGOONS.

On a bright March morning, about ten o'clock, the loungers on the quay along the river Liffey, that flows peacefully through the center of Dublin, turned their indolent backs to the low wall and gazed at the mounted picket of dragoons on its way to the "Castle." The soldiers were going to relieve the picket from another cavalry regiment that had been on guard since the day before. The picket was composed of a sergeant, a corporal, and twelve troopers. The sun glittered on their burnished bits, stirrups, and swords, and on the silk-like coats of their well-groomed horses. They rode leisurely, in perfect order.

The sergeant, old, white-mustached, red-nosed, and very corpulent, rode in front, his right hand planted jauntily on his thigh, and his wicked eye raking the sidewalk for female admiration, and glancing into the large shop windows, where he caught a passing reflection of his graceful self.

"Old Jock is in no hurry this morning," said one of the drummers, with a low laugh, to the comrade next him. "Hurry! old peacock!" grumbled the other; "he would like to parade here all day. Just look! "A lady who had been approaching on the almost deserted