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NOVICENight Operational Vision and the Individual Combat Engineer
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"Little enough, good father, little enough," said the novice, speaking English with a broad West Saxon drawl.
The young novice, however, appeared to have other thoughts, for his eyes sparkled and his smile broadened.
As these three brothers advanced towards him to carry out the Abbot's direction, the smile faded from the novice's face, and he glanced right and left with his fierce brown eyes, like a bull at a baiting.
But the novice was a strategist as well as a man of action.
"Two and thirty of the seniors and fifteen of the novices, most holy father.
"It would, perchance, be best that the novices be not admitted," suggested the master.
'So please you,' said the novice, 'that's not the worst--he calls his 'prentice idle dog, and stops his beer unless he works to his liking.
'If the society,' said the novice, who was an ill-looking, one- sided, shambling lad, with sunken eyes set close together in his head--'if the society would burn his house down--for he's not insured--or beat him as he comes home from his club at night, or help me to carry off his daughter, and marry her at the Fleet, whether she gave consent or no--'
To which the novice (being to that end instructed by his attendant sponsors) replied 'I do!'
Having gone over these several heads with great eloquence and force, and having further informed the novice that this society had its origin in his own teeming brain, stimulated by a swelling sense of wrong and outrage, Mr Tappertit demanded whether he had strength of heart to take the mighty pledge required, or whether he would withdraw while retreat was yet in his power.
To this the novice made rejoinder, that he would take the vow, though it should choke him; and it was accordingly administered with many impressive circumstances, among which the lighting up of the two skulls with a candle-end inside of each, and a great many flourishes with the bone, were chiefly conspicuous; not to mention a variety of grave exercises with the blunderbuss and sabre, and some dismal groaning by unseen 'prentices without.
'The novice,' pursued Mr Tappertit, not exactly in a voice of thunder, for his tones, to say the truth were rather cracked and shrill--but very impressively, notwithstanding--'where is he?'