Still reading Mason & Dixon, and I’ve run hard aground on the following passage:
Summer takes hold, manifold sweet odors of the Fields, and presently the Forest, become routine, and one night the Surveyors sit in their Tent, in the Dark, and watch Fire-flies, millions of them blinking ev’rywhere,—Dixon engineering plans for lighting the Camp-site with them[…] Jeremiah will lead the Fire-flies to stream continuously through the Tent in a narrow band, here and there to gather in glass Globes, concentrating their light to the Yellow of a new-risen Moon.
“And when we move to where there are none of these tiny Linkmen?”
“We take ’em with huz…? Lifetime Employment!”
“But how long do they live?”
I’ve racked my brains but can come up with no interpretation of “Ensign Cheer” that makes sense. Can anyone come up with an idea? Perhaps a translated version might shed some light?
Update. David A. Heal explains it perfectly in the comments: it’s not a direct answer to the question, it’s a commentary on the question: “My, what a cheerful fellow!” Once again, the LH readership comes through.
Incidentally, I regret to report that the doubtless illegal German site that reproduced the entire text of the novel has been taken down, as was inevitable, so it looks like I’ll have to copy out my quotations by hand from now on.