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Grand in its growth, but only to be found in a few places, is 바카라 the Osmund or Royal Fern, which throws up a tall spike bearing the spores or seeds of the plant. Sometimes, in moist places, the crown of the root is a clump of more than a foot high, from which the stem rises. Of late years, this kingly fern has become still more rare, and happy is the fern-hunter who comes upon a specimen.

Who can help admiring the beautiful Lady Fern, which seems to be most at home when growing near a streamlet or pond? It is stately and graceful, with large fronds of clear green, and the tips of its sprays bend like plumes. What is called the Male Fern grows in hedges or banks, and indeed almost anywhere; a handsome cheery-looking plant, though of moderate size. It will even manage to live in a London back-garden, or area, and many cottagers have it amongst the flowers of their small garden plots. Occasionally, by the side of a copse, we may come upon a great bed of the male fern, which frequently keeps green all the winter. Often, about the same spots where the male fern flourishes, the Shield Fern displays its fronds, larger and broader, but fewer in number, and prettily toothed along their edges. Fond of damp hollows or the sides of ditches is the handsome Hart's-tongue Fern, which will also, now and then, choose to grow on a cracked wall, or perhaps down a well.

We must not forget the Polypody, which delights to creep amongst the trees and bushes of a lane, and looks very fresh in June, keeping its fronds till some sharp frost brings them off. It took the name of Polypody from its jagged leaves, upon which the seeds or spores appear in bright orange spots. The humble Wall Rue and the Wall Spleenwort grow on walls chiefly, sometimes on rocky banks. The true Maiden-hair Fern is amongst the rarest of our native ferns. What is so commonly grown by gardeners, and used for bouquets and buttonholes, is the Black Maiden-hair, a rather stronger plant.
Hetais was a French sailor, a carpenter of the Ville de Paris, and he and his ship-mates took part with our soldiers in the siege of Sebastopol in 1854, where Hetais, having shown great gallantry during one of the sorties, was adjudged that coveted decoration, the médaille militaire—a medal that is only given to privates and non-commissioned officers.

The presentation of this medal was to be made on a certain evening, and on the morning, as he and his mates were on duty in the trenches, the chief subject of conversation was the honour that had befallen Hetais.

He was a modest, brave-hearted fellow, and though much pleased at the prospect of his medal, was pleased, too, to think of the treat he meant to give his comrades to celebrate the event.

'Look here,' he said to his particular chum, 'I have just drawn out all the money owing to me, and I mean you fellows to have a good, hot supper to-night at the canteen, and I foot the bill!' and as he spoke he pulled out a handful of silver from his pocket and showed it with a laugh to his friend.

Hot suppers were a rarity in that camp, and the very thought of such a treat was cheering to the half-starved men.

'You are a good fellow, Hetais,' said one of the men, 'and you deserve your luck.'

'Hold your tongue, you silly fellow,' said Hetais, with a good-natured thump on the speaker's back. 'Get on with your coffee-making, and do not talk nonsense!'

'All right,' said the man, cautiously lifting his head above the shelter of the trench, so as to see what the Russians were about. 'The "Moscos"' (so the French termed the enemy) 'seem keeping quiet to-day, and we shall be able to enjoy our coffee in peace,' he continued.

A fire was lighted, and the water put on to boil in a saucepan, the men all sitting round in eagerness, for it was bitterly cold in the trenches, and a hot cup, or rather tin, of coffee seemed to warm and cheer them better than anything else.

'Now then,' at last said the coffee-maker, 'hold out your mess-tins, and we will divide fairly.'

Every man held out his mess-tin—but not one drop of coffee was to be drunk by any of them, for at that very moment a bomb from the Russian battery landed in their midst, upsetting the saucepan of coffee and exploding in the midst of the little crowd of men.

It seemed as if none could escape! Yet, strange to say—for this is a true story—of all that group, no one was hurt, except the brave Hetais, whose head had been all but blown away by the bursting of the bomb.

It is impossible to describe the grief and consternation of his comrades, who felt, one and all, that each could have been better spared than the man who lay dead at their feet.

Just then the officer in charge of the party came up, and the senior man told him how Hetais had met his death. The officer was no less sorry than the men, for Hetais was popular with all ranks.

'Poor fellow! he was a brave man if there ever was one,' said the officer. 'Carry his body back to camp, my lads; he shall be honoured in death, if he has just missed it in life,' for the officer was thinking of the medal and the ceremony of presentation which was to have taken place that evening.

The men extemporised a sort of bier out of a litter on which the dead man was lying and their muskets, and thus they reverently carried him back to camp, the relief party presenting arms as the funeral procession passed by them.

When the General in command was informed of the death of Hetais, he issued the following order to the troops:

'I was to have presented Hetais, of the Ville de Paris, with the médaille militaire, and his untimely death must not deprive him of this honour. I shall fasten the medal on him at his burial.'

A few hours later, all the sailors and soldiers who could be spared from the trenches were drawn up in a hollow square outside the camp around the body of Hetais, who, wrapped in his cloak, slept his last calm sleep on the rough litter in which he had been carried from the trenches.

The deep silence was at last broken by the loud voice of the commanding officer: 'Present arms!' Then he took off his helmet, and followed by another officer, who carried the medal, he advanced towards the bier, and read out the brief account of the gallant action which had gained Hetais his medal.

Then, taking the medal from the hand of the subaltern, he fastened it on to the cloak of the sailor, and, turning to the assembled soldiers and sailors, he thus addressed them:

'A glorious death has ended a noble life,' he said, in a loud, clear voice, which could be heard by all; 'but death, though it has robbed us of a brave comrade, shall not rob him of the honour due to his services. In the name of the General commanding the forces in the East, I confer on our dead comrade the médaille militaire!'

Then all ranks passed in turn, bare-headed, past the still figure of Hetais, lying all unconscious of the honour done to him; and thus were the last honours paid to a brave man.[Pg 360]

"The commanding officer advanced towards the bier." "The commanding officer advanced towards the bier."
[Pg 361]

"'How would you like to earn twenty pounds reward?'" "'How would you like to earn twenty pounds reward?'"
[Pg 362]

It was the visit to Dan Webster which brought it all about; but for the fact that the handle of Charlie's bicycle got badly bent, so that only the village blacksmith could put it right, the most exciting incident which ever befell the boys would probably never have taken place.

It happened thus.

'Dan,' said Charlie, as he and his brother Sydney were waiting while the blacksmith finished a job he was at work on when they arrived, 'how would you like to earn twenty pounds reward?'

'I should like it amazingly well, sir,' was the reply; 'a third of that sum even would be a godsend to me.'

'How would you spend it?' asked Sydney, with an amused smile.

A serious look came into old Dan's face. 'I'd send my daughter away to the seaside for a change,' he said. 'The doctor tells me it would do her more good than all his medicines. But what's all this,' he asked, 'about twenty pounds reward? I suppose it's some joke of yours, young gentlemen?'

'It's no joke,' said Charlie; 'at least, Lady Winterton does not think so. She is on a visit to our house, you know; and this morning she discovered that she had lost a valuable necklace. Father was so angry that such a thing should have happened that he at once offered twenty pounds reward for the recovery of the necklace.'

Dan thought seriously awhile. Then he said, 'I wonder if the young chap who roused me up this morning at six o'clock, because his horse had cast a shoe, had anything to do with it?'

Both boys were instantly on the alert. 'What was he like?' they asked, in a breath.

Dan described the stranger as minutely as he could. 'He had a small bag slung round him,' he finished, 'and seemed in a great hurry to be off.'

'That's the thief, you may depend upon it,' said Charlie. 'If we can only track him, Dan, you shall share the profits.'

Dan laughed. 'He didn't look much like a thief, now I come to think of it,' said he. 'He had too honest a face for that.'

'Oh, you never know,' was Sydney's comment. 'I dare say he's a thorough bad 'un, if the truth is known. Which way did he go, Dan, when he left you?'

The blacksmith then told all he knew, and the boys, as soon as Charlie's bicycle was ready, started off, as they fondly hoped, on the track of the thief. After a good long ride, they suddenly came upon the object of their search. He was leisurely taking photographs on the outskirts of a wood. No horse was visible, so he had evidently been home to breakfast, and had started forth again.

As the lads drew near he eyed them with interest, his idea being to photograph them.

Charlie, plucking up all the courage he possessed, went straight to the point. 'I wonder if you would mind,' said he, growing very red, 'if we looked into that case of yours?'

'And what for, young stranger, may I ask?' was the reply, given with a slightly American accent.

'Because—because,' stammered Charlie, 'we think you have something there belonging to Lady Winterton.'

'Upon my word,' laughed the young fellow, 'you are a "cute" chap. As a matter of fact, I have, but how did you know it?'

'We guessed it,' said Sydney, thinking it was time he put a spoke in the wheel; 'and now, if you will give it up to us, without making any fuss about it, we won't give you in charge.'

'Very kind of you, I am sure,' replied the thief. 'How am I to reward you for your goodness?'

'Oh, Father is going to give us the reward!' cried Charlie, very pleased with himself. 'It's twenty pounds, you know.'

'Is it, indeed?' said the young man, looking rather mystified. 'Tell me all about it, and what you are going to do with the money?'

There was something so winning about this innocent-looking criminal that the boys grew quite confidential, telling him the history of the whole morning.

'Dan said you had too honest a face for a thief,' said Sydney, at the close of the recital. 'I wonder what made you do it?'