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TOMMY ATKINS;

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^gmtcrniaimamm^r-ir-^ ■" eati 111 [ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.] I TOMMY ATKINS; AT HOME AND ABROAD. A Glimpse at His Private Life. —. I, i. i n BY SERGEANT" CROWSFOOT." Very little indeed is known by the general public of the soldier's inner life, and the present work is undertaken by me in the hope that those who may do me the honour to read it will be en- lightened in regard to the same. I do not think I am wrong in stating that a feeling of interest is entertained by far the great majority of people towards the defenders of their country, and it is this belief which tas prompted mo to set about my task. WHAT IS IN A NAME ? Few people, I believe, know why a soldier is called Tommy Atkins," and fewer still have ever enquired the reason. I believe it is this-that, with all Government forms and military documents, a specimen copy is always sent, which is already made out in print, for instruction and guidance, and on all such forms the fictitious name given I have always found to be No. 1,716, Private Thomas Atkins. Hence the name which is so universally applied to him. I have often been asked how it is that the profession of the soldier is generally so plainly marked on his features. I tell those who enquire that, in my opinion, the causes are numerous. In the first place, the habit of "sentry-go" pacing up and down and keeping a sharp look out in the darkness, tends to straighten the muscles of the face and to give the eyes a fixed, penetrating look, at once fearless and bold. In the same way drill tends to give the soldier's face a stern, rigid expression, very handsome in the face of a man, as it indicates character and a determination to go on. This ex- pression is produced by the very strict discipline which is enforced on parade, where a soldier is not allowed to look about him for a single instance, under penalty of punishment, and when inarching he has to keep his eyes on a mark in front, moving straight in that direction. These, then, in my humble opinion, are two of the chief causes which gives to the face of the soldier that indescribable look which at once proclaims him to be a son of Mars. I, am strengthened in my opinion by a fact that this peculiar look does not appear in the soldier's face in less than seven or eighc years of service, and it is in the face of veterans that it is most remarkable. Moreover, I have noticed that in the case of old soldiers, who were not duty men, but have been employed on some occupation which exempted them from attending parades or doing guards, that the soldierly expression referred to is totally absent. TOMMY ATKINS IS A STRANGE INDIVIDUAL when looked upon in the abstract; a curious compound of good and evil but, to his credit let it be said, the good predominates. I am writing now, after an experience extending over eight years, curing which time I have studied Mm intently, and I have come to this conclusion that, provided he is what is termed in Army phraseo- logy, Off the booze or On the dead," or a dozen other equally myste- xious terms which go to mean that he is not drinking to excess, he is a pleasant companion and a jolly fellow to live with; and if it were not for the amount of drunkenness which is to be found among cSoldiers I would have made soldiering my profession. Touching on drunkenness, I may here state that moderation in drinking seldom answers among soldiers. There are those among them who, I found, would abstain altogether from intoxicating liquor for a considerable period, but the crash would come at last, and in the words of Scrip- ture, I may say that great was the fall -when it did occur. These men would not waste a penny, nay, they would often stint themselves during the time of their abstinence from drink; but it would astonish one to see how foolishly extra- vagant they became during their PERIODICAL FITS OF DRUNKENNESS. Surrounded by a horde of loafers and hangers-on, who flattered him to the utmost to excite his generosity, he would fling his hard-earned savings broadcast with the most child-like absence of all reason. This would last perhaps a week. Presently the scene is changed the man who had a few days previously been lording it right loyally among a crowd of so-called admirers, who praised his per- son, laughed immoderately at all his stories and puns, and humoured him in every possible way, is now left desolate and oppressed, with none to comfort him and bereft of all his money. Such an one could be seen any morning waking up with a splitting headache after his last night's bout, and longing, oh, with such a craving, for a drop of the poison which he had imbibed the previous night to steady his shaking nerves, to allay his thirst and ease his head-ache. But alas for human hopes his search is in vain. But where, you ask, are his comrades of the previous night ? They, too, are or profess to be, in the same state of utter destitution as he is in. He can get no help. No one will lend him anything. It is in such a case as this that I recog- nise the truth of the old adage, Who goeth a borrowing goeth a sorrowing." For, in truth, it has always appeared to me that the state of the borrower is bliss, compared with that of the lender, espe- cially when he cannot get his money back. But to return. Is not such a man as I liave described to you to be pitied ? What does he do ? Naturally disgusted with 1 the conduct of his former associates, he resolves that he will eschew their com- pany, likewise beer, and go again" up the pole "-only another term. And so he keeps up there until he again falls. This is a faithful description of some of the men one meets in the Army, and understand them I cannot. THE BITER BITTEN. I once knew quite an innocent-looking young lad, named James. So good was he that some of the fellows used to call him Saint James," whom everyone in the regiment knew to be on the tack —don't be alarmed, it is only yet another term, just to illustrate what a store of phrases soldiers have to fall back upon to express their meaning. Well this young fellow, he was only about 19, bethought himself one evening that he would have a little game with some of these-blood suckers I will call them-who gather round a man who has taken to drink; so he came into the Barrack-room one night in Rangoon pretending to be very drunk. The hearts of some rejoiced at the sight for they well knew he had money in the bank, and, as he expected, three or four gathered around him, and with praise- worthy solicitude saw him safely to his bed, and everything made snug so that, as they said, the sergeant should not have the apportunity of putting him in the "clink," i.e., Guardroom when he came around to see that everyone was in Barracks at tatoo-sounding" at 9.30 p.m. They even went so far-may I say it ?-as to place his washing bowl by his bedside in case he should be ill during the night. Early next morning behold these good Samaritans again making their appearance at James' cot, and with great kindness enquired if his head ached much, at the same time gently hinting that they knew where a remedy was to be found. It was then that THE FUN COMMENCED. James expressed horror at the accusa- tion of drunkenness when he had never tasted a drop in his life. But they only laughed at that until James at length con- fessed, amidst the suppressed laughter of some of his friends who were standing near to see the effect, and who were in the know, you know," that he was only acting a part the previous night, whereat the good Samaritans at first expressed incredulity, then they became very wrath at being so mugged," as they called it, and finally departed amidst loud laughter, covered with confusion. Such men, however, are few iin a regiment, but they are to be found in every company. (To be continued.) -f

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