In order to explain the cause of this remarkable apparition, we think it justifiable to state to the reader, in confidence, that young Master Corrie was deeply in love with the fair Alice. With all his reckless drollery of disposition, the boy was intensely romantic and enthusiastic; and, feeling that the unsettled condition of the times endangered the welfare of his lady-love, he resolved, like a true knight, to arm himself and guard the threshold of her door with his own body.
In the deep silence of the night he buckled on a saber, the blade of which, by reason of its having been broken, was barely eight inches long, and the hilt whereof was battered and rusty. He also stuck a huge brass-mounted cavalry pistol in his belt, in the virtue of which he had great faith, having only two days before shot with it a green-headed parrot at a distance of two yards. The distance was not great, to be sure, but it was enough for his purpose—intending, as he did, to meet his foe, when the moment of action should come, in close conflict, and thrust the muzzle of his weapon down the said foe’s throat before condescending to draw the trigger.
Thus prepared for the worst, he sallied out on tiptoe, intending to mount guard at the missionary’s door, and return to his own proper couch before the break of day.
But alas for poor Corrie’s powers of endurance! No sooner had he extended his chubby form on the door-mat, earnestly wishing, but not expecting, that Alice would come out and find him there, than he fell fast asleep, while engaged in the hopeless task of counting the starry host—a duty which he had imposed on himself in the hope that he might thereby be kept awake. Once asleep he slept on, as a matter of course, with his broad little chest heaving gently; his round little visage beaming upwards like a terrestrial moon; his left arm under his head in lieu of a pillow (by consequence of which it was fast asleep also), and his right hand grasping the hilt of the broken saber.
As for Corrie’s prostrate body affording protection to Alice, the entire savage population might have stepped across it, one by one, and might have stepped back again, bearing away into slavery the fair maiden, with her father and all the household furniture to boot, without in the least disturbing the deep slumbers of the youthful knight. At least we may safely come to this conclusion from the fact that Mr. Mason shook him, first gently and then violently, for full five minutes, before he could get him to speak; and even then he only gave utterance, in very sleepy tones, and half-formed words, to the remark—
“Oh! don’ borer me. It ain’t b’kfust-t’m’ yet?”
“Ho! Corrie, Corrie,” shouted Mr. Mason, giving the victim a shake that threatened to dislocate his neck, “get up, my boy—rouse up!”
“Hallo! hy! murder! Come on you vill—eh! Mr. Mason—I beg pardon, sir,” stammered Corrie, as he at length became aware of his condition, and blushed deeply; “I—I—really, Mr. Mason, I merely came to watch while you were all asleep, as there are savages about, you know, and—ha! ha! ha!—oh! dear me!” (Corrie exploded at this point, unable to contain himself at the sight of the missionary’s gaze of astonishment.) “Wot a sight, for a Sunday mornin’ too!”