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THE WAGER MAN-OF-WAR

hope and helping one another over hideous tracts of rocks; but considering the difficulties attending this only mode of travelling left them, for the woods are impenetrable, from their thickness, and the deep swamps everywhere met within them, and considering, too, that the coast is here rendered inhospitable by the heavy seas that are constantly tumbling upon it, it is probable that they all experienced a miserable fate.

 

The picture of the four marines as they waved their caps and shouted that immortal huzza is apt to suggest the wreck of the Birkenhead troop-ship in 1852, when she struck a rock off the Cape of Good Hope and four hundred British soldiers and marines perished. With the ship foundering beneath their feet, they fell in and stood as though on parade, while the women and children were put into the two available boats. As the decks of the Birkenhead lurched under the sea, the ranks of the four hundred British soldiers and marines were still splendid and unbroken. The deed rang through England like a trumpet-call, as well it might.

Brothers in arms and kinsmen in spirit were these four hundred men of England's thin, red line to the four humble privates of the Royal Marines whose names are forgotten. And Kipling's tribute may be said to include them also:

 
To take your chance in the thick of a rush, with firing all about.