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SCENE iv PART SECOND
It is brought towards the incomplete grave, and followed by HOPE, GRAHAM, ANDERSON, COLBORNE, HARDINGE, and several aides-decamp, a chaplain preceding.
They are here, almost as quickly as ourselves. There is no time to dig much deeper now: Level a bottom just as far's we've got. He'll couch as calmly in this scrabbled hole As in a royal vault!
Would it had been a foot deeper, here among foreigners, with strange manures manufactured out of no one knows what! Surely we can give him another six inches ?
There is no time. Just make the bottom true.
The meagre procession approaches the spot, and waits while the half-dug grave is roughly finished by the men of the Ninth. They step out of it, and another of them holds a lantern to the chaplain's book. The winter day slowly dawns.
" Man that is born of a woman hath but a short time to live, and is full of misery. He cometh up, and is cut down, like a flower ; he fleeth as it were a shadow, and never continueth in one stay/'
A gun is fired from the French battery not far"off; then another. The ships in the harbour take in their riding-lights.
COLBORNE (in a low voice) I knew that dawn would see them open fire.
We must perforce make swift use of our time. Would we had closed our too sad office sooner!