By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

´╗┐Title: The Ballad of Ensign Joy
Author: Hornung, E.W.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Ballad of Ensign Joy" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.


By E.W. Hornung

E. P. Dutton & Company



[Ill 0001]

[Ill 0007]

[Ill 9011]
IS is the story of

````Ensign Joy

````And the obsolete

`````rank withal

````That I love for each gentle English


````Who jumped to his country's


````By their fire and fun, and the

`````deeds they've done,

````I would gazette them Second to


````Who faces a gun in Gaul!)

|IT is also the story of Ermyntrude

````A less appropriate name

````For the dearest prig and the

`````prettiest prude!

````But under it, all the same,

````The usual consanguineous squad

````Had made her an honest child

`````of God--

````And left her to play the game.

|IT was just when the grind of

`````the Special Reserves,

````Employed upon Coast Defence,

````Was getting on every Ensign's


````Sick-keen to be drafted


````That they met and played tennis

`````and danced and sang,

````The lad with the laugh and the

`````schoolboy slang,

````The girl with the eyes intense.

|YET it wasn't for him that she

`````languished and sighed,

````But for all of our dear deemed


````And it wasn't for her, but her

`````sex, that he cried,

````If he could but have probed

`````the truth !

````Did she? She would none of his

`````hot young heart;

````As khaki escort he's tall and


````As lover a shade uncouth.

|HE went with his draft. She

`````returned to her craft.

````He wrote in his merry vein:

````She read him aloud, and the

````Studio laughed!

````Ermyntrude bore the strain.

````He was full of gay bloodshed and

````Old Man Fritz:

````His flippancy sent her friends

`````into fits.

````Ermyntrude frowned with


|HIS tales of the Sergeant who

`````swore so hard

````Left Ermyntrude cold and


````The tactless truth of the picture


````And some of his jokes were


````Yet, let him but skate upon

`````tender ice,

````And he had to write to her twice

`````or thrice

````Before she would answer him.

|YET once she sent him a

`````fairy's box,

````And her pocket felt the brunt

````Of tinned contraptions and

`````books and socks--

````Which he hailed as "a sporting


````She slaved at his muffler none

`````the less,

````And still took pleasure in mur-

`````muring, "Yes!

````For a friend of mine at the


|ONE fine morning his name


````Looking so pretty in print!

````"Wounded!" she warbles in

`````tragedy tears--

````And pictures the reddening


````The drawn damp face and the

`````draggled hair . . .

````But she found him blooming in

````Grosvenor Square,

````With a punctured shin in a


|IT wasn't a haunt of Ermyn-


````That grandiose urban pile;

````Like starlight in arctic altitudes

````Was the stately Sister's smile.

````It was just the reverse with

````Ensign Joy--

````In his golden greeting no least


````In his shining eyes no guile!

|HE showed her the bullet that

`````did the trick--

````He showed her the trick,


````He showed her a table timed to

`````a tick,

````And a map that an airman


````He spoke of a shell that caused grievous loss--

````But he never mentioned a certain


````For his part in the escapade!

|SHE saw it herself in a list next


````And it brought her back to his


````With a number of beautiful

`````things to say,

````Which were mostly over his


````Turned pink as his own pyjamas'


````To her mind he ceased to em-

`````body a type--

````Sank into her heart instead.

|I WONDER that all of you

`````didn't retire!"

````"My blighters were not that


````"But it says _you_ 'advanced un-

`````der murderous fire,

````Machine-gun and shell com-


````"Oh, that's the regular War

````Office wheeze!"

````"'Advanced'--with that leg!--

`````'on his hands and knees'!"

````"I couldn't leave it behind."

|HE was soon trick-driving an

`````invalid chair,

`````and dancing about on a crutch;

````The _haute noblesse_ of Grosvenor


````Felt bound to oblige as such;

````They sent him for many a motor-


````With the wistful, willowy wisp of

`````a girl

````Who never again lost touch.

|THEIR people were most of

`````them dead and gone.

````They had only themselves to

````His pay was enough to marry


````As every Ensign sees.

````They would muddle along (as

`````in fact they did)

````With vast supplies of the _tertium


````You bracket with bread-and-



|THEY gave him some leave

`````after Grosvenor Square--

````And bang went a month on


````For Ermyntrude had a natural


````For the least unusual plans.

````Her heaviest uncle came down


````And entertained, at a fair hotel,

````The dregs of the coupled clans.

|A CERTAIN number of

`````cheques accrued

````To keep the wolf from the


````The economical Ermyntrude

````Had charge of the dwindling


````When a Board reported her

`````bridegroom fit

````As--some expression she didn't

`````permit . . .

````And he left for the Front once


|HIS crowd had been climbing

`````the jaws of hell:

````He found them in death's dog-


````With little to show but a good

`````deal to tell

````In their fissure of smoking


````There were changes--of course

`````--but the change in him

````Was the ribbon that showed on

`````his tunic trim

````And the tumult hidden be-


|FOR all he had suffered and

`````seen before

````Seemed nought to a husband's


````And the Chinese puzzle of mod-

`````ern war

````For subtlety couldn't compare

````With the delicate springs of the

`````complex life

````To be led with a highly sensitised


````In a slightly rarefied air!

|YET it's good to be back with

`````the old platoon--

````"A man in a world of men"!

````Each cheery dog is a henchman


````Especially Sergeant Wren!

````Ermyntrude couldn't endure his


````Considered bad language no lien

`````on fame,

````Yet it's good to--hear it


|BETTER to feel the Ser-

`````geant's grip,

````Though your fingers ache to

`````the bone!

````Better to take the Sergeant's tip

````Than to make up your mind


````They can do things together, can

````Wren and Joy--

````The bristly bear and the beard-

`````less boy--

````That neither could do on his


|BUT there's never a word

`````about Old Man Wren

````In the screeds he scribbles


````Though he praises his N.C.O.'s

`````and men

````In rather a pointed way.

````And he rubs it in (with a knitted


````That the war's as good as a pic-

`````nic now,

````And better than any play!

|HIS booby-hutch is "as safe

`````as the Throne,"

````And he fares "like the C.-in-


````But has purchased "a top-hole


````By way of comic relief."

````(And he sighs as he hears the

`````men applaud,

````While the Woodbine spices are

`````wafted abroad

````With the odour of bully-beef.)

|HE may touch on the latest

`````type of bomb,

````But Ermyntrude needn't


````For he never says where you hurl

`````it from,

````And it might be from your


````He never might lead a stealthy


````Or toe the horrors of No Man's


````Or swim at the sickly stench. . . .

|HER letters came up by


````As the men stood-to before


````He followed the chart of her

`````soaring heart

````With face transfigured yet


````It filled him with pride, touched

`````with chivalrous shame.

````But--it spoilt the war, as a first-

`````class game,

````For this particular pawn.

|THE Sergeant sees it, and

`````damns the cause

````In a truly terrible flow;

````But turns and trounces, without

`````a pause,

````A junior N. C. O.

````For the crime of agreeing that

````Ensign Joy

````Isn't altogether the officer boy

````That he was four months ago!

|AT length he's dumfounded

`````(the month being May)

````By a sample of Ermyntrude's


````"You will kindly get leave _over

````Christmas Day_,

````Or make haste and finish the

````But Christmas means presents,

`````she bids him beware:

````"So what do you say to a son and


````I'm thinking of giving you


|WHAT, indeed, does the

````Ensign say?

````What does he sit and write?

````What do his heart-strings drone all day?

````What do they throb all night?

````What does he add to his piteous


````"Not for my own sake, Lord, but


````See me safe through ..."

|THEY talk--and he writhes

`````--"of our spirit out here,

````Our valour and all the rest!

````There's my poor, lonely, delicate


````As brave as the very best!

````We stand or fall in a cheery


````And yet how often we grouse


````She faces _that_ with a jest!"

|HE has had no sleep for a day

`````and a night;

````He has written her half a


````He has Iain him down to wait for

`````the light,

````And at last come sleep--and a


````He's hopping on sticks up the

`````studio stair:

````A telegraph-boy is waiting there,

````And--that is his darling's


|HE picks her up in a tender


````But how does it come to pass

````That he cannot see his reflected


````With hers in the studio glass?

````"What's wrong with that mir-

`````ror?"' he cries.

````But only the Sergeant's voice


````"Wake up, Sir! The Gas--

`````the Gas!"

|IS it a part of the dream of


````What are the men about?

````Each one sticking a haunted


````Into a spectral clout!

````Funny, the dearth of gibe and


````When each one looks like a pig

`````in a poke,

````Not omitting the snout!

|THERE'S your mask, Sir! No

`````time to lose!"

````Ugh, what a gallows shape!

````Partly white cap, and partly


````Somebody ties the tape.

````Goggles of sorts, it seems, inset:

````Cock them over the parapet,

````Study the battlescape.

|ENSIGN JOY'S in the second


````And more than a bit cut off;

````A furlong or so down a green


````The fire-trench curls in the


````Joy cannot see it--it's in the bed

````Of a river of poison that brims


````He can only hear--a cough!

|NOTHING to do for the

````Companies there--

````Nothing but waiting now,

````While the Gas rolls up on the

`````balmy air,

````And a small bird cheeps on a


````All of a sudden the sky seems full

````Of trusses of lighted cotton-wool

````And the enemy's big bow-


|THE firmament cracks with

`````his airy mines,

````And an interlacing hail

````Threshes the clover between our


````As a vile invisible flail.

````And the trench has become a

`````mighty vice

````That holds us, in skins of molten


````For the vapors that fringe the


|IT'S coming--in billowy swirls

`````--as smoke

````From the roof a world on fire.

````It--comes! And a lad with a

`````heart of oak

````Knows only that heart's de-


````His masked lips whimper but one

`````dear name--

````And so is he lost to inward shame

````That he thrills at the word:


|WHOSE is the order, thrice


````Ensign Joy cannot tell :

````Only, that way lies Ermyntrude,

````And the other way this hell!

````Three men leap from the pois-

`````oned fosse,

````Three men plunge from the para-


````And--their--officer--as well!

|NOW, as he flies at their fly-

`````ing heels,

````He awakes to his deep dis-


````But the yawning pit of his shame


````A way of saving his face:

````He twirls his stick to a shep-

`````herd's crook,

````To trip and bring one of them

`````back to book,

````As though he'd been giving


|HE got back gasping--

````"They'd too much start!"

````"I'd've shot 'em instead!"

`````said Wren.

````"That was your job, Sir, if you'd

`````the 'eart--

````But it wouldn't 've been you,


````I pray my Lord I may live to see

````A firing-party in front o' them


````(That's what he said to the


|NOW, Joy and Wren, of

`````Company B,

````Are a favourite firm of mine;

````And the way they reinforced A,

````C, and D

````Was, perhaps, not unduly fine;

````But it meant a good deal both to

````Wren and Joy--

````That grim, gaunt man, but that

`````desperate boy!--

````And it didn't weaken the Line.

|NOT a bad effort of yours,

`````my lad,"

````The Major deigned to declare.

````"My Sergeant's plan, Sir"--

````"And that's not bad--

````But you've lost that ribbon

`````you wear?"

````"It--must have been eaten away

`````by the Gas!"

````"Well--ribbons are ribbons--

`````but don't be an ass!

````It's better to do than dare."

|DARE! He has dared to de-

`````sert his post--

````But he daren't acknowledge

`````his sin!

````He has dared to face Wren with

`````a lying boast--

````But Wren is not taken in.

````None sings his praises so long

`````and loud--

````With look so loving and loyal

`````and proud!

````But the boy sees under his


|DAILY and gaily he wrote to

`````his wife,

````Who had dropped the beati-

`````fied droll

````And was writing to him on the

````Meaning of Life

````And the Bonds between Body

`````and Soul.

````Her courage was high--though

`````she mentioned its height;

````She was putting upon her the

````Armour of Light--

````Including her aureole!

|BUT never a helm had the lad

`````we know,

````As he went on his nightly raids

````With a brace of his Blighters, an

````N. G O.

````And a bagful of hand-grenades

````And the way he rattled and

`````harried the Hun--

````The deeds he did dare, and the

`````risks he would run--

````Were the gossip of the Bri-


|HOW he'd stand stockstill as

`````the trunk of a tree,

````With his face tucked down

`````out of sight,

````When a flare went up and the

`````other three

````Fell prone in the frightening


````How the German sandbags, that

`````made them quake,

````Were the only cover he cared to


````But he'd eavesdrop there all


|MACHINE-GUNS, tapping

`````a phrase in Morse,

````Grew hot on a random quest,

````And swarms of bullets buzzed

`````down the course

````Like wasps from a trampled


````Yet, that last night!

````They had just set off

````When he pitched on his face with

`````a smothered cough,

````And a row of holes in his chest.

|HE left a letter. It saved

`````the lives

````Of the three who ran from the


````A small enclosure alone survives,

````In Middlesex, under glass:

````Only the ribbon that left his


````On the day he turned and ran

`````with the rest,

````And lied with a lip of brass!

|BUT the letters they wrote

`````about the boy,

````From the Brigadier to the


````They would never forget dear

````Mr. Joy,

````Not look on his like again.

````Ermyntrude read them with dry,

`````proud eye.

````There was only one letter that

`````made her cry.

````It was from Sergeant Wren:

|THERE never was such a fear-

`````less man,

````Or one so beloved as he.

````He was always up to some daring


````Or some treat for his men and


````There wasn't his match when he

`````went away;

````But since he got back, there has

`````not been a day

````But what he has earned a

````V. C

|A CYNICAL story? That's

`````not my view.

````The years since he fell are


````What were his chances of coming


````Which of his friends remain?

````But Ermyntrude's training a

`````splendid boy

````Twenty years younger than En-

`````sign Joy.

````On balance, a British gain!

|AND Ermyntrude, did she

`````lose her all

````Or find it, two years ago?

````O young girl-wives of the boys

`````who fall,

````With your youth and your

`````babes to show!

````No heart but bleeds for your


````Yet Life is with you, and Life is


````No bone of _your_ bone lies low!

|YOUR blessedness came--as

`````it went--in a day.

````Deep dread but heightened

`````your mirth.

````Your idols' feet never turned to


````Never lit upon common earth.

````Love is the Game but is _not_ the


````You played it together, body and


````And you had your Candle's


|YES! though the Candle light

`````a Shrine,

````And heart cannot count the


````You are Winners yet in its tender


````Would _they_ choose to have

`````lived and lost?

````There are chills, you see, for the

`````finest hearts;

````But, once it is only old Death

`````that parts,

````There can never come twinge

`````of frost.

|AND this be our comfort for

````Every Boy

````Cut down in his high heyday,

````Or ever the Sweets of the Morn-

`````ing cloy,

````Or the Green Leaf wither


````So a sunlit billow curls to a crest,

````And shouts as it breaks at its


````In a glory of rainbow spray!

|BE it also the making of


````And many a hundred more--

````Compact of foibles and forti-


````Woo'd, won, and widow'd, in


````God, keep us gallant and unde-


````Worthy of Husband, Lover, or


````Sweet as themselves at the


*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Ballad of Ensign Joy" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.