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_O sing us a song of days that are gone--
Of men and happenings--of war and peace;
We love to yarn of "th' times that was"
As our hair grows gray, and our years increase.
So--revert we again to our ancient lays--
Fill we our pipes, and our glasses raise--
"Salue! to those stirring, bygone days!"
Cry the old non-coms of the Mounted Police._
All day long the blizzard had raged, in one continuous squalling moaning
roar--the fine-spun snow swirling and drifting about the
barrack-buildings and grounds of the old Mounted Police Post of L.
Division. Whirraru!-ee!--thrumm-mm! hummed the biting nor'easter through
the cross-tree rigging of the towering flag-pole in the centre of the
wind-swept square, while the slapping flag-halyards kept up an infernal
"devil's tattoo." With snow-bound roof from which hung huge icicles,
like walrus-tusks, the big main building loomed up, ghostly and
indistinct, amidst the whirling, white-wreathed world, save where, from
the lighted windows broad streamers of radiance stabbed the surrounding
gloom; reflecting the driving snow-spume like dust-motes dancing in a
Enveloped in snow-drifts and barely visible in the uncertain light there
clustered about the central structure the long, low-lying guard-room,
stables, quartermaster's store, and several smaller adjacent buildings
comprising "The Barracks." It was a bitter February night in South
From the vicinity of the guard-room the muffled-up figure of a man, with
head down against the driving blizzard, padded noiselessly with
moccasined feet up the pathway leading to the main building. Soon
reaching his destination, he dived hastily through the double storm-doors
of the middle entrance into the passage, and banged them to.
Flanking him on either side, in welcome contrast to the bitter world
outside, he beheld the all-familiar sight of two inviting portals, each
radiating light, warmth, and good fellowship--the one on his right hand
particularly. A moment he halted irresolutely between regimental canteen
and library; then, for some reason best known to himself, he steadily
ignored both, for the time being, and passing on began slowly to mount a
short flight of stairs at the end of the passage.
Sweet music beguiled each reluctant step of his ascent: the tinkle of a
piano accompaniment to a roaring jovial chorus from the canteen assuring
him with plaintive, but futile insistence just then, that--
_Beer, beer! was glorious beer, etc_.
Reaching the landing he paused for a space in an intent listening
attitude outside the closed door of a room marked No. 3. From within
came the sounds of men's voices raised in a high-pitched, gabbling
Turning swiftly to an imaginary audience, his expressive young
countenance contorted into a grimace of unholy glee, the listener flung
aloft his arms and blithely executed a few noiseless steps of an
"They're at it again!" he muttered ecstatically.
Some seconds he capered thus in pantomime; then, as swiftly composing his
features into a mask-like expression, he turned the handle and entered.
On the big thermometer nailed outside the Orderly-room the mercury may
have registered anything between twenty and thirty below zero, but inside
Barrack-room No. 3 the temperature at that moment was warm enough.
Two men, seated at either end Of a long table in the centre of the room,
busily engaged in cleaning their accoutrements, glanced up casually at
his entrance; then, each vouchsafing him a preoccupied salutory mumble,
they bent to their furbishing with the brisk concentration peculiar to
"Service men" the world over. As an accompaniment to their labours, in
desultory fashion, they kept alive the embers of a facetious wrangling
argument--their respective vocabularies, albeit more or less ensanguined,
exhibiting a fluent and masterly range of quaint barrack-room idiom and
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