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company of a Rifle Battalion, to which the
delinquent belonged. It was unarmed, each
private (there were three hundred) being
provided with a switch, and placed at a small
distance from his next man. At the tenth
stroke of the clock the drums were beaten,
and amidst a silence, deep and oppressive,
the prisoner was marched into the square.

He was as fine-looking a man as ever I
have set eyes upon; tall, powerful, and well
formed. His handsome features, to which a
black moustache gave a bold and martial
expression, shone forth in the full glow and
vigour of manhood; only they were of a
deadly paleness.

He was a non-commissioned officer; and,
during the last campaign in Italy, in eighteen
hundred and forty-nine, he had distinguished
himself in such a manner that his superior
officers had recommended him for promotion.
Austria is more generous than England
towards those that shed their blood in her
service, and he would have been made a
commissioned officer long since-- in spite of his
humble origin and his poverty-- if it had
not been for a fatal impediment. This
impediment was his own passionate temper:
he was a very choleric man; harsh and
brutal towards his inferiors, morose and
stubborn towards his superiors whenever
they deemed it necessary to check or rebuke
him. He was hated by the men to the
utmost. There was not a private in the whole
battalion that had not vowed him revenge.
He had never made one friend; nor did he
care to have one. Strict in the performance
of his military servicethe most minor duties
of which he discharged with the utmost
exactnesshe went his own way: reserved,
proud, solitairy. Innumerable were the
punishments which he had brought upon the
men; for however slight the offence might be,
he was sure not to pass it over in silence.

His superior officers respected him for
his usefulness, his ability, and his exactitude;
but they did not like him. The evident lack
of humanity in the man made him an
object of doubt rather than of love.
Moreover, there was a vague rumour about
his having once struck at his own officer in
the midst of a pell-mell caused by a hand-
to-hand encounter with the enemy. The
report never took a clear shape, the officer
having been killed in the engagement, and
the gossipings of a few wounded soldiers
having been much too incoherent and
contradictory to lead to a formal investigation
of the matter; besides, it was at the victory
of Novarra. He had greatly distinguished
himself, and old Field-Marshal Radezky had
with his own handsaffixed the golden
medal on his breast. The rumour, however,
together with the knowledge of his harsh
and violent temper, caused his name to be
erased from the list of those that were
recommended to higher promotion.

When this incident was made known to
him, he became even more sullen, more rigid,
more cruel than ever; but always-- as it was
well understood-- for the benefit of the
service; the slightest demands of which he
performed with the same immutable strictness
as he enforced them to be done by others.

A few weeks previous to the dreadful
punishment which he had now to undergo, he
was mounting guard in the outworks with
some twenty or twenty-five men of his own
company. It was a chilly, rainy night; and,
when the sentries were relieved, they were
glad to stretch themselveswet as they were
upon the floor near the large stove in the
middle of the guard-room. The floor not
being very clean (floors seldom are in these
localities), and the white uniforms of the men
being wet, it was no wonder that the dirt
adhered to them with a tenacity that defied
all exertions to get it off, when the wearers
were roused by this serjeant to prepare for
standing guard once more. The more they
tried to rub their clothes clean, the more
sturdily he lent a helping hand to their
endeavours by an application of the sad
equipment of every Austrian non-
commissioned officerthe stick. Whilst he was
fully at work, cutting away at the men with
a powerful arm, the door opened, and the
officer on duty entered the guard-room.

"Attention!" commanded the serjeant;
and, saluting his superior, made the usual
report that nothing worth remarking had
happened. The officer, a young ensign, fresh
from the military school, and almost a boy,
took no notice whatever of this important
news, but asked the serjeant in a brisk
and somewhat impetuous manner: "What he
was again striking the men for?"

The serjeant, already much annoyed at
this interference, gave a surly and unwilling
answer; and, when the young officer rebuked
him, in a severe and perhaps somewhat
haughty manner, the violent and passionate
man, losing all self-control, lifted up his hand
against his officer.

It was but one fatal moment, quick as
lightning. The uplifted hand never descended:
it was caught by a dozen powerful arms.
He was felled to the ground, and disarmed.
Half an hour afterwards he found himself in
irons in the casemates.

Lifting the arm against a superior is
considered a capital crime. In this case it
had been committed whilst both parties were
on duty, and the Austrian military laws are
the very last in the world to be trifled with.
The following day he was tried by court-
martial, and sentenced to be shot. When
the sentence was forwarded to the competent
authority for ratification, it happened to be
the Emperor's anniversary day: capital
punishment was commuted, the criminal had
to run the gauntlet.

A cruel act of grace was this commutation!
When the first sentence had been
read over to him, he had remained cold and

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