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Title: The Actress in High Life - An Episode in Winter Quarters
Author: Bowen, Sue Petigru, 1824-1875
Language: English
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An Episode in Winter Quarters.

(Sue Petigru Bowen)

  "Grim-Visag'd War hath smooth'd his wrinkled front;
   And now, instead of mounting barbed steeds,
   To fright the souls of fearful adversaries,
   He capers nimbly in a lady's chamber,
   To the lascivious pleasing of a lute."

New York:
Derby & Jackson.


Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1860, in the Clerk's
office of the District Court of South Carolina.
C.A. Alvord, Printer, New York.




  I was a traveler, then, upon the moor,
    I saw the hare that raced about with joy,
  I heard the woods and distant waters roar,
    Or heard them not, as happy as a boy;
    The pleasant season did my heart employ.
  My old remembrances went from me wholly,
  And all the ways of men so vain and melancholy.


Gentle Reader: Wherever you may be, in bodily presence, when you cast
your eyes on this page, let it for a few hours transport your
complying spirit to a remote region and a bygone day. We may alter
names without injury to our story; but every real character, or event,
has its own time, place, and accidents; to tear it from them is like
transplanting a tree from its native spot; it must be trimmed and
pruned, and robbed of its due proportions and its natural grace.

Here, then, on this lovely day, near the end of the year 1812, you are
in Alemtejo--the largest, poorest, and, in every sense, worst peopled
province of Portugal. As its name implies, you are, as to Lisbon,
beyond the Tagus. Hasten eastward over this sandy, arid plain, covered
with a forest of stunted sea-pines, through whose tops the west wind
glides with monotonous and melancholy moans, fit music for the
wilderness around you. Nor need you loiter on this desolate moor,
scantily carpeted with heaths of different kinds and varying hues. The
drowsy tinkling of the cowbell amidst yonder brushwood, the goats
sportively clambering over that ledge of rocks, and those distant
dusky spots upon the downs, which may be sheep, tell you that all life
has not left the land. You may, perchance, on your journey, see a
goatherd or a shepherd here or there; by rarer chance may meet some
wayfarer like yourself, but as likely a robber as an honest man; and
may find shelter, at least, in one of the few and comfortless
_vendas_, the wretched inns the route affords.

You need not pause to gaze on many a wild scene, some beautiful, and
even here and there a fertile spot; nor loiter in this provincial
town--rich, perhaps, in Moorish ruins, but in nothing else--but hasten
onward till you reach that elevated point, where the road, one hundred
miles from Lisbon, winds over the ridge of yonder hill. The chilly
night winds of the peninsula have gone to sleep. Here, even in
midwinter, the sun at this hour shoots down scorching rays upon your
head. Seat yourself by the road-side, on this ledge of slate-rock, at
the foot of the cork-oak, which so invitingly spreads out its
sheltering arms. Here while you take breath, cast your eyes around

You are no longer in the midst of broken, desolate wastes. To the
south-west rises the Serra d'Ossa--its sides clothed with evergreen
oaks, and a dense growth of underbrush sheltering the wolf and the
wild boar, while the northern slope of its rocky ridge is thatched
with snow. Before you is spread out the valley of the Guadiana.
Sloping downward toward the mighty stream, lie pasture, grove and
field, gaily mingled together. There, to the east, sits Elvas, on a
lofty hill, whose sides are covered with vineyards, oliveyards and
orchards, and just north of it, on a yet loftier peak, with a deep
narrow valley lying between them, stands the crowning castle of La
Lippe, the strongest fortress in Portugal. Far beyond, but plainly
seen through the clear atmosphere of the peninsula, now doubly
transparent since it has been purified by the heavy rains which here
usher in the winter, rises the blue mountain of Albuquerque, far away
in Spanish Estremadura. Whichever way you look, Sierras, nearer or
more distant, tower above the horizon, or fringe its utmost verge.

Among these scenes of nature's handiwork, a production of human art
demands your attention. See, on your right, the beginning of the
ancient aqueduct, reared by Moorish hands, which leads the pure
mountain stream for three miles across the valley to the city seated
on the hill. Here, the masonry is but a foot or two above the ground;
below, the road will lead you under its three tiers of arches, with
the water gliding an hundred feet above your head.

But here comes a native of this region to enliven, if not adorn, the
landscape. This lean, swarthy young fellow, under his _sombrero_ with
ample brim, exhibits a fair specimen of the peasants of Alemtejo. His
sheep-skin jacket hangs loosely from his shoulders, and between his
nether garment and his clumsy shoes, he displays the greater part of a
pair of sinewy legs, which would be brown, were they not so well
powdered with the slate dust of the rocky road he travels. With a long
goad he urges on the panting beasts, yoked to the rudest of all
vehicles--the bullock cart of Portugal. Its low wheels, made of solid
wooden blocks, are fastened to the axle-tree, which turns with them,
and at every step squeaks out complaining notes under the burden of a
cask of the muddy and little prized wine of the province, which is
seeking a market at Elvas.

The carter is now overtaken by a peasant girl, who, with basket on her
arm, has been gathering chesnuts and _bolotas_ in the wood. They are
no strangers to each other, and she exchanges her brisk, elastic step,
for a pace better suited to that of the toiling oxen. The beauty of
this dusky belle consists of a smiling mouth, bright black eyes, and
youth and health. Though fond of gaudy colors, she is not over
dressed. A light handkerchief rather binds her raven hair than covers
her head. Her bright blue petticoat, scanty in length, and her
orange-colored spencer, open in front, both well worn, and showing
here and there a rent, but half conceal the graces of her form, and a
pair of nimble feet, scorning the trammels of leather, pick their way
skillfully along the stony path. That she does not contemn ornament,
is shown by her one small golden ear-ring, long since divorced from
its mate, and the devout faith which glows in her bosom is symbolized
by the little silver image of our lady, slung from her neck by a
silken cord, spun by her own silk worms, and twisted by her own hands.
In short, she is neither beautiful, nor noble, nor rich; yet her
company seems instantly to smooth the road and lighten the toils of
travel to her swain. He helps himself, unasked, out of her basket, and
urges her to partake of the stores of his leathern wallet--hard goat's
cheese--and the crumbling loaf of _broa_, or maize bread. Soon in deep
and sweet conference, in their crabbed, but expressive tongue, he
forgets to make occasional use of his goad, and thus keeping pace with
the loitering bullocks, they go leisurely along. Let them pass on, and
wait for better game.

Turn and look at this cavalcade toiling up toward you. A sudden bend
in the road has brought it into view, and its aspect, half native,
half foreign--its mixed civil and military character--attract
attention. Two mounted orderlies, in a British uniform, lead the way,
and are followed by a clumsy Lisbon coach, every part of it well laden
with luggage. It is drawn by four noble mules, such as are seldom seen
out of the peninsula, deserving more stylish postillions than those
who, in ragged jackets, greasy leathern breeches and huge jack boots,
are urging them on. Two men sit at ease on the coach box. One, a tall
young fellow, looks at a distance like a field-officer in a flashy
uniform, but is only an English footman in a gaudy livery, who needs
the training of a London winter or two, in a fashionable household, to
make him a flunky of the first water. The other, an old man, with a
severe countenance, is plainly dressed, but, with a less brilliant
exterior, has a more respectable air than his companion. He, too, is
the man in authority as, from time to time, he directs the party and
urges them on in somewhat impatient tones.

If you are familiar with the country and the times, you may imagine
that some British general officer has been so long in the peninsula,
that he has adopted the style and equipage of Cuesta, and some other
Spanish leaders, and fallen into their habits of slow and dignified
motion. You will think it high time for him to be sent home, that some
one less luxurious and stately, but more alert and energetic, may fill
his place. One look into the coach will undeceive you. Its chief
occupant is a lady, whose years do not exceed nineteen; and she is
evidently no native of Alemtejo, nor of Portugal; and might have been
sent out hither as a specimen of what a more northern country can
occasionally produce. While she looks out with deep, yet lively
interest on the scenery before and around her, you naturally gaze with
deeper interest only upon her. Her companion is her maid, some years
older than herself, who might be worth looking at, were her mistress
out of the way.

One of the orderlies, turning in his saddle, now points out the city
to the old man, who, in turn, leans over to the coach window, and
calls out, "My lady, there is Elvas!"

"And my father is in Elvas!" She leans eagerly out of the window; but
the front of the clumsy vehicle obstructs the view, and she calls out,
"Stop the coach, Moodie, and let me out. I will not go one step
further until I have taken a good look at Elvas."

The old man testily orders a halt. The footman opens the door, and the
lady springs lightly out, followed by her maid. Neglecting all other
objects in sight, she gazes long and eagerly at the city seated on the
hill. The interest she shows is no longer merely that of observant
curiosity, but is prompted by the gushing affections of the heart. In
Elvas, besides much new and strange, there is something known and

She now begins to question the orderlies as to the exact spot where
her father has quartered himself; but the old man interrupts her:

"You have traveled a long way, my lady, to get to Elvas, but you will
never reach it while you stand looking at it and spiering about it."

"Very true, old Wisdom. How comes it that you are always in the right?
Let us push on now, and in an hour," she exclaims, stepping into the
coach, "I will see my father, for the first time since I was

The coach moves on, but too slowly for her. Leaning out of the window,
and surveying the road, she calls out gaily, "Our way lies down hill,
Moodie, and they tell me that mules are so sure-footed that they never
stumble. Pray buy or borrow that long goad from the young gentleman in
the sheep-skin jacket. By skillful use of it you might mend our pace,
and bring us sooner to Elvas."

We will leave this impatient lady to hasten on to Elvas, whether
expedited or not by the use of the goad, to inquire the occasion of
her journey thither.

For five years the peninsula has been one battlefield, and the present
has been one of unceasing activity to the British troops. Beginning
the year by suddenly crossing the frontier and investing Ciudad
Rodrigo, they had taken it by storm in January, while the French were
preparing to relieve it. Equally unexpectedly crossing the Tagus and
the Guadiana, they had sat down before the strong fortress of Badajoz,
and to save a few precious days, in which Soult and Marmont might have
united their hosts to its rescue, they, in April, took it in a bloody
assault, buying immediate possession at the price of more than a
thousand precious lives. No sooner had the disappointed Marshals
withdrawn their armies to less exhausted regions, than the forts of
Almarez were surprised in May, and the direct route of communication
between them cut off. The British army then invaded Spain on the side
of the kingdom of Leon: the forts of Salamanca fell before them in
June, and in July the battle of Salamanca crushed the French force in
that quarter, and opened the road to Madrid to the British, who,
driving thence the intrusive king, acquired the control of all central
Spain. But, at length, in October, the castle of Burgos defied their
utmost efforts, unaided by a siege-train. The French hosts from north,
south and east, abandoning rich provinces and strong fortresses they
had held for years, gathered around them in overwhelming numbers; and
slowly, reluctantly, and with many a stubborn halt, the English
general retraced his steps toward Portugal. The prostrated strength of
both armies put an end to the campaign. The French gave up the
pursuit, being too hungry to march further, or to fight any more; and
the discipline and appetites of the British soldiers were indicated,
on their march through the forests bordering the Huebra, by the
fusilade opened on the herds of swine, which were fattening on the
acorns there. For a moment their commander thought himself surprised,
and that the country, for miles around, was the scene of one
wide-spread skirmish with the foe. Even hanging a few of his men did
not put a stop to the disorder. Late in November the troops were
permitted to pause for rest, in the neighborhood of Ciudad Rodrigo,
with their energies prostrated and their discipline relaxed through
the sieges and battles, the continual marches, the exposure and the
want of a campaign so long and arduous as this. Strange it seemed to
them, after going so far, and doing and suffering so much, that they
should end the campaign where they had begun it. Yet they had done
much: wrenching the larger and richer half of Spain out of the grasp
of the French, and changing their possession of the country to a mere
invasion of it.

Such toils need long rest. Privations and sufferings like theirs
should be repaid by no scanty measure of plenty and enjoyment. The
troops went into winter quarters chiefly between the Douro and the
Tagus; but, as an army in this country is always in danger of
starvation, a brigade was sent over into Alemtejo, at once, to make
themselves comfortable, and to facilitate getting up supplies from a
province which now had something in it: as, for four years, the French
had been kept out of it.

Accordingly, it was absolutely refreshing to see the liberal provision
made for the almost insatiable wants of this brigade--for among them
our story lies. They proved themselves good soldiers, to a man, in
their zeal to refresh and strengthen themselves against the next
campaign, by enjoying, to the full, every good thing within their
reach. The officers, especially, ransacked the country for every
commodity that could promote enjoyment; and what Alemtejo could not
furnish, Lisbon and London must provide. Nothing was too costly for
their purses, no place too distant for their search. Doubtless, the
veterans of the greatest of all great captains were permitted for a
time to run a free and joyous career in Capua; and this brigade,
besides having a little corner of Portugal to themselves, somewhat out
of sight of the commander-in-chief and of Sir Rowland Hill, enjoyed
the further advantage of being led by a good soldier in the field, and
a free-liver in garrison and camp, who looked upon his men in winter
quarters, after a hard campaign, somewhat in the light of school-boys
in the holidays, and was willing to see the lads enjoy themselves

Lord Strathern, a veteran somewhat the worse for wear, had entered the
army a cadet of a Scotch family, more noble than rich. At length, the
obliging death of a cousin brought him a Scotch peerage, and an estate
little adequate to support that dignity. High rank, and a narrow
estate, form an inconvenient union; so he stuck to the profession
which he loved, and, being a widower, entrusted his only child, a
daughter, to a sister in Scotland.

Though he had seen little of domestic life, he was an affectionate
man. The briskness of the last campaign, and the number of his friends
who dropped off in the course of it, strongly warned him that if he
would once again see his daughter, now attaining womanhood, it would
be well to lose no time about it. So, one morning, during the retreat
from Burgos, after issuing the brigade orders for the day, he penned
an order to his sister in Scotland, to send out the young lady, with
proper attendants, under the care of the wife of any officer of rank
who might be sailing for Lisbon. There she would be within reach, and
he might find leisure to visit her.

His sister would have protested against this had she had an
opportunity; but the order of the father, and the affectionate and
adventurous spirit of the daughter, at once decided the matter. On her
arrival, however, in Lisbon, her father was too busy establishing his
brigade in comfortable quarters, to meet her there; and the military
horizon giving promise of a quiet winter, he summoned her to join him
at Elvas.

The brigade had been for some weeks living in clover in their modern
Capua, when Lady Mabel Stewart joined her father. A Portuguese
provincial town, with its filthy streets and squalid populace, could
be no agreeable place of residence to a British lady. Lord Strathern
felt this, and, looking about him, found a large building in the midst
of an orchard without the walls of Elvas, and more than half-way down
the hill. It had been erected by one of the monastic societies of the
city, as a place of occasional retirement for pleasure, or devotion,
or both. The French had summarily turned them out of it five years
before, and so thoroughly plundered them, at the same time, that they
had not since found heart or means to repair and refurnish it.
Accordingly, it was a good deal dilapidated. But the refectory and the
kitchen took his lordship's eye. The former could dine half the
officers of the brigade at a time, and the latter allowed abundant
elbow-room to cooks and scullions, while preparing the feast. So, here
he established the headquarters of his brigade, and here Lady Mabel
Stewart made her appearance in the new dignity of womanhood, to
preside over his household.


  Oh sovereign beauty, you whose charms
    All other charms surpass;
  Whose lustre nought can imitate,
    Except your looking-glass.

                      Southey, _from the Spanish_.

The arrival of Lady Mabel Stewart was a god-send to the young officers
of the brigade. Already the sources of interest afforded by the
country around, began to fail them. Few men can long make a business
of mere eating and drinking; red-legged partridges were getting scarce
in that neighborhood, and boar hunting in the mountain forests was
distant, laborious, and too often, fruitless of game. The scenery of
the country, the costume and habits of the people, now familiar to
their eyes, palled upon their tastes. They wanted something new to
interest them, and were particularly delighted when this novelty came
from home. But, above all, the black-haired, dark-eyed daughters of
this sunny region grew many shades browner in their eyes. We look not
at the daffodils when the lily rears its head. A new and higher order
of beauty, rare even at home, now demanded homage, and it was freely

Lord Strathern, a social and jovial man, had always been a favorite
with his subalterns, but now his popularity attained its acme. His
open house became headquarters, even more in a social than a military
sense. It was a little court, and Lady Mabel played the queen regnant

Justly proud of her, her father encouraged this, taking all the
attention she attracted as compliments to himself; and the gentlemen
displayed great ingenuity in devising various excuses for being in
frequent attendance at headquarters, in the service of her ladyship.
Lieutenant Goring, the best horseman in the ---- light dragoons, a
squadron of which had been sent hither with the brigade, to fatten
their emaciated steeds on the barley and maize of Alemtejo,
established himself, uninvited, in the post of equerry, and sedulously
devoted himself to training the beautiful Andalusian provided for Lady
Mabel's own saddle. Of course, he had to be in attendance when she
took the air on horseback. Major Warren, from a free, heedless
sportsman, who followed his game for his own pleasure, became
gamekeeper, or rather, grand huntsman, bound to lay the feathered,
furred, and scaly tribes under contribution to supply her table and
tempt her delicate appetite. A proud and happy man was he when skill
or fortune enabled him to lay the antlered stag or tusked boar at her
feet, and expatiate on the incidents of his sylvan campaign. He, of
course, must be often invited to partake of the social meal. Captain
Cranfield, of the engineers, had just returned from Badajoz, where he
had been repairing shattered bastions, and patching up curtains sadly
torn by shot and shell. He found Lady Mabel busy renovating,
modernising and adorning the rude and comfortless apartments of her
monastic quarters. Immediately his pencil, his professional ingenuity
and skill are devoted to her service. He appoints himself architect,
upholsterer and improver-general to the household. He designed elegant
curtains, with graceful festoons for the misshapen windows, tasteful
hangings to conceal bare walls of rough-hewn stone, picturesque
screens to hide unsightly corners; and arranged and put them up with
as much skill as if, with a native genius for it, he had been bred to
the business. The commonest materials became rich chintz and costly
arras in his hands, mahogany, or rose-wood, at his bidding. One
morning so spent put him on an easier footing with Lady Mabel than a
dozen casual meetings; and he quite got the weather gage of both
equerry and huntsman, securing frequent and easy intercourse, while
advising and assisting her in his inter-menial capacity, whereas these
gentlemen's spheres of official duty lay properly out of doors. But he
soon found a dangerous rival to take the wind out of his sails, in the
person of Major Lumley, who, possessing great taste and skill in
music, accidentally heard Lady Mabel singing in one room, while he was
conversing with her father in the next. "She has," thought and said
the major, "the sweetest voice in the world; and it only needs a
little more cultivation to make it heavenly!" Lord Strathern thought
so too. The major's instructive talents were put into requisition,
and, from private practice, her father led her on, somewhat reluctant,
to more public display, and soon the major and herself discoursed
exquisite music to the ears of a score of officers, at a musical
soirée. If, with the powers, she did not acquire the confidence of a
_prima donna_, it was not his lordship's fault. Had propriety
permitted, he would have brought up the brigade in close column of
divisions, to hear Lady Mabel sing; and he could not help saying to
the gentlemen beside him: "I have heard you young fellows talk about
the nightingale, and have even known some of you spend hours in the
moonlit grove, listening to their music, but my bird from foggy
Scotland can out-warble a wood full of them." And no one felt disposed
to contradict him.

How many others, irresistibly attracted, sought, each in his own way,
to make himself agreeable, we will not undertake to say. Perhaps
Ensign Wade, who, not yet eighteen, had just been rubbing off the
school-boy in the last campaign, was the most madly in love with her;
unless he was surpassed by little Captain Hatton, who, being but five
feet three, had, to the great injury of his marching powers,
magnanimously added an extra inch to his boot heels, that Lady Mabel
might not look too much down upon him, when so happy as to stand
beside her.

Hers was a curious position for a lady, and, yet, more for one so
young. She instinctively looked round for the countenance and support
which only female companions could give. But, of the very few ladies
with the brigade, Mrs. Colonel Colville was at Portalegre, where her
husband's regiment was quartered, the wife of Major Grey was shut up
with him in his sick room; Mrs. Captain Howe had come out from home
less to visit her husband than to cure her rheumatism in the balmy
climate of Elvas; and the wife of Captain Ford had just, very
injudiciously, presented him with two little Portuguese, who might
have made very good Englishmen, had they first seen the light in the
right place. If the brigade had suffered heavy loss in the last
campaign, the ladies of the brigade were absolutely _hors de combat_,
and could not furnish Lady Mabel even a sentinel in the shape of a
chaperon. She felt that this was awkward; but, said she to herself,
"If there were any impropriety in my situation here, Papa would not
open his house so freely to the officers of the brigade." For she
loved and admired him far too much to doubt his judgment on such a
point. Now, Lord Strathern had dined the better part of his life at a
regimental mess table; and when promotion at length removed him from
that genial sphere, he felt selfish and solitary, if he took his
dinner and wine without, at least, a corporal's guard of his brother
officers around him. So far from deeming his daughter's arrival a
reason for excluding them, she was a strong ally, and a delightful
addition to his means of entertaining his friends. So she found
herself suddenly the centre of a circle, composed of gentlemen only,
most of them unmarried, young and gay, and admiring her. In short,
Lady Mabel was finishing off her education in a very bad school,
worse, perhaps, than a Frenchified academy, devoted to the education
of the extremities, in the shape of music, dancing and gabbling
French, with a dash of mental and moral training in the development of
the sickly imagination of the head and the empty vanities of the

For a time the dilapidated condition of kitchen and refectory
restricted the scale of hospitality at headquarters. But Lady Mabel
soon completed her reforms of house and household, in which she found
old Moodie an able assistant. Captain Cranfield had to bring his
labors of love to an end, and Lord Strathern celebrated the event by
feasting a large party of his friends.

While the company was assembled, Lady Mabel led a party of the first
comers through the apartments, to admire the results of the labor and
taste bestowed upon them. Some of the more prying peeped into the
kitchen to see what was going on there.

"I am glad to see," said Captain Hatton, "that though this is a
monastic house, and this a fast day, we shall not have to dine
orthodoxly, on _bacalhao_ and _sardinhas_."

"Nor be bored with the long Latin grace," said Major Warren, "which
the very walls of the refectory are tired of hearing and not

"Would rendering it into English reconcile you to its length?" asked
Lady Mabel.

"Not in the least. I think nothing so heterodox as a long grace, while
soup and fish grow cold."

"I am told," said Lady Mabel, ascending to the apartment above, "that
this was the abbot's own room."

"That is very likely," said Captain Hatton, "from its neighborhood to
the kitchen."

"It is not exactly the apartment," she continued, "which I would
design for a lady's withdrawing room. But, if it satisfied the holy
father before it was thus improved, it is too good for a heretic like
me. I sometimes feel myself a profane intruder here, and, when I call
to mind whom this building belongs to, and see so many red-coated
gentry stalking at ease through dormitory, refectory and cloisters, I
think of rooks who have fled the rookery, before a flock of flamingoes
who usurp their place."

"The pious crows," said Captain Hatton, "would forgive our intrusion,
did they see the bird of paradise that attracts us hither."

"Put a weight on your fancy, Captain Hatton," said Lady Mabel. "Such
another flight and it may soar away altogether. Pray observe the
admirable effect of those hangings, with which Captain Cranfield has
concealed the dark and narrow passage that leads to the oratory."

Major Warren was provoked at the general admiration of Cranfield's
taste and skill, and stung by the repeated thanks with which Lady
Mabel repaid his labors, so he endeavored to turn them into ridicule.

"It is a thousand pities, Cranfield, that these happy designs should
perish with their temporary use. Let me beg you to send a sketch of
them to Colonel Sturgeon, the head of your department. They should be
preserved among the draughts and plans of the engineer corps."

Cranfield was about to make angry answer, but Lady Mabel anticipated
him by saying: "doubtless, whenever Colonel Sturgeon has occasion to
turn monkish cloisters into ladies' bowers, it will save him a world
of trouble to avail himself of these designs."

At this moment dinner was announced. Colonel Bradshawe, resolving that
his juniors should not have Lady Mabel all to themselves, availed
himself of his right of precedence, to hand her into the room, and
seated himself at her right hand.

Full thirty guests occupied the space between her father's portly, but
martial figure, and her seat at the head of the table; and though,
Minerva-like in air and form, she presided there with exquisite grace,
she shrunk from this long array, and sought a kind of privacy in
devoting her attention, somewhat exclusively, to the senior colonel of
the brigade. Knowing how important a matter dining was in his
estimation, she soon made a conquest of him, by her judicious care in
supplying his wants, tickling his palate, and coinciding in his
tastes. She even, for his benefit, called into requisition the
unwilling service of old Moodie, who had habitually taken his post
behind her, like a sentinel, not troubling himself about the wants of
the guests. The colonel might have choked with thirst before he
spontaneously handed him a decanter.

Colonel Bradshawe having made himself comfortable, next sought to make
himself agreeable. "What a delightful contrast between my situation
to-day, and this day year, Lady Mabel."

"Where were you then?"

"About this hour we were fording the Aguada, in a snow storm, to
invest Ciudad Rodrigo."

"That was somewhat different from our present occupation."

"We soon finished that little job, however, before we had suffered
many privations there. But it proved to be but the opening of a
campaign, which I began, after a time, to think would never come to an

"And, unhappily," said Lady Mabel, "it did not end quite so well as it
promised to do."

"Fortune is a fickle mistress, and fond of showing her character in
war," said the colonel. "Sometimes she favors one party with a run of
luck, then shifts suddenly over to the other side. So with
individuals, only there she is most apt to work at cross purposes. One
pretty fellow deserves to live forever, and gets knocked on the head
in the first skirmish; another deserves to rise, and all his good
service is overlooked or forgotten; another gets praise and promotion
for what he never did, or ought never to have done. Some men have such
luck! There is L'Isle now, who, after being pushed on as fast as money
and family interest could shove him; what next happens to him? Why
just for blundering into a Spanish village, and being nearly taken
with his whole command, he is made a lieutenant-colonel on the spot."

"That is a curious result of such a blunder."

"Curious, but true. This is capital port," interjected the colonel,
emptying his glass. "We drank no such stuff as this during the last
campaign. I would not disgust you with a detail of our privations; but
you must know, Lady Mabel, that during the whole march from Madrid to
Burgos, and thence, in retreat, to Ciudad Rodrigo, I never tasted a
bottle of wine that deserved the name, except one of _Peralta_, of
which I feel bound to make honorable mention. I met with it by great
good luck at the posada at Buitrago; but when I called for another, it
was so excellent that the landlord had drank all himself. The stuff
we had to drink was made by pouring water on the skins of grapes
already pressed. After they had been well macerated in it, it was
allowed to ferment and grow sour, then sold to us at the price of good

"That accounts," said Lady Mabel, "for the provident care you lately
showed, in laying in a stock of better liquor for your winter's
use. Is it true that you sent a special agent to Xeres de la Frontera,
to select the best sherry for the regimental mess?"

"Not exactly a special agent," said the colonel, disclaiming it with a
gentle wave of the hand; "but, finding a trusty person, and a capital
judge, going thither, we did charge him with a little commission that

"I was sorry to hear of your disappointment," added she, in a
commiserating tone. "I am told that he found that the firm of Soult,
Victor & Co., had already taken up all the oldest and best wine on
credit, that is, without paying for it; and you had to put up with new
and inferior brands, or go without any."

"It is but too true," said the colonel, with a sigh. "Those rascally
Frenchmen had drained the country of everything worth drinking; our
agent, very wisely, under the circumstances, made no purchase there,
and I am glad of it; for I have since learned, that the Amontillado,
which had been recommended to us as the dryest of sherry wines, is
made from a variety of grapes plucked before they are ripe."

"How lucky," said Lady Mabel, in a congratulatory tone, "that you have
since found out that this wine is made of sour grapes."

A faint suspicion that she was laughing at him induced him to change
the topic. "You were never abroad before, I believe. This part of the
country has some drawbacks; but I think you will find it, during the
winter, a very pleasant part of the world."

"We will all endeavor to make it so to you, Lady Mabel," said Major
Warren, who, impatient of his superior's monopoly, here tried to edge
in a word. But the colonel cut him short with "That's a mere truism,
Warren, a self-evident proposition. Let us have nothing more of that
sort. One of the peculiarities of this climate, Lady Mabel, is that it
has a double spring: one in February and another in April. Then we
will see you take your appropriate place in the picture, representing
the heyday of youth in the midst of spring, and beauty, surrounded by

She bowed low, in suppressing a laugh at this elaborate compliment,
and said, "Will spring be so soon upon us?"

"In a fortnight you may gather the same flowers which at home you must
wait for till May."

"Not the same flowers," said she, quickly. "Portugal has a Flora
peculiar to itself, embracing very few of our native British plants. I
am on my strong ground on this topic, being a pupil of Dr. Graham, who
relieves his graver studies by striving to rival King Solomon in the
knowledge of plants, 'from the cedar of Lebanon to the hyssop that
grows on the wall.' I am pledged to carry home a vast _hortus siccus_
for him."

"Oh! a scientific young lady--perhaps a little of a blue-stocking,
too," said the colonel to himself. "I must hash up a dish to suit her
peculiar taste. Though no botanist," continued he aloud, "there is one
plant that has strongly attracted my attention, and I recommend it to
yours; though your _hortus siccus_ will hardly contain a fair specimen
of it."

"What is that?" said she, on the _qui vive_ to hear of some rare

"It is the cork-oak," said the colonel, solemnly. "Its rough exterior
has led tourists and artists, and even naturalists, to treat it with
neglect, while it is daily contributing to the comfort, delight, and
civilization of the world."

"It may, perhaps," said Lady Mabel, hesitating, "be said to do all
that you attribute to it."

"Does it not strike you as passing strange, Lady Mabel, (_apropos_ to
our subject, pray take a glass of wine with me,) that the Romans, who
were, doubtless, a great and a wise people, should have been masters
of Spain and Gaul, and of their forests of cork trees for
centuries--that these Romans," continued he, growing eloquent on the
subject, "who had the tree in their own country, though not, perhaps,
in the full perfection of its cortical development, and did apply its
bark to a number of useful purposes, including, occasionally, that of
stoppers for vessels, should yet never have attained to the systematic
use of it in corking their bottles!"

"Strange, indeed," said Lady Mabel. "It was shutting their eyes
against the light of nature; for, we may say, that the obvious final
end of the cork tree is to provide corks for bottles."

"A great truth well expressed," said the colonel. "Such an oversight
has hardly a parallel; unless it be in their invention of printing and
never using it. For we see, in the baker's name, stamped on the loaves
found in Pompeii, and words impressed on their pottery and other
articles, what amounts to stereotype printing; yet they never went on
to separate the individual letters, and so become compositors and
printers in the usual sense of the art. But they could certainly get
on better without printing than without corks."

"Undoubtedly. For the world may--indeed, has--become too full of
books; while there is little fear of its becoming too full of bottles;
they get emptied and broken so fast."

"I wonder whether Horace," continued Colonel Bradshawe, with a
thoughtful air, "when he opened a jar of Falernian, was obliged to
finish it at a sitting, to prevent its growing sour? Wine out of a
jar! Think of that. With a wooden or earthen stopper, made tight with
pitch. Think of having your wine vinho-flavored with pitch! like the
_vinho verde_ of these Portuguese peasants, out of a pitchy goat-skin

Lady Mabel looked nauseated at the idea, and the colonel swallowed a
glass of Madeira, to wash away the pitchy flavor. "Yes," said he,
shaking his head gravely, "they must have often felt sadly the want of
a cork. How would it be possible to confine champagne (I am sorry this
cursed war prevents our getting any,) until it is set free with all
its life and perfection of flavor, just at the moment of enjoyment!
They had glass, too, and used glass, these Romans, yet persevered in
keeping their wine in those abominable jars. It proves how little
progress they had made in the beautiful art of glass-blowing; and, of
course, (here the colonel took up a decanter of old Madeira and
replenished his glass, after eyeing approvingly the amber-colored
liquor,) they were ignorant that wines that attain perfection by
keeping, ripen most speedy in light-colored bottles."

"Indeed!" said Lady Mabel, "I did not know that. But I learn something
new from you every moment."

"And that," said he, nodding approvingly at her, "is something worth
knowing. I doubt, after all, whether these Romans, with the world at
their beck, really knew much of the elegant and refined pleasures of
life. Setting aside their gladiatorial shows, and the custom of
chaining the porter by the leg to the doorpost, that he might not be
out of the way when friend or client called on his master, and similar
rude habits, there is enough to convict them as a gross people. They
put honey in their wine, too! What a proof of childish, or rather,
savage taste! Lucullus' monstrous suppers, and Apicius' elaborate
feasts, are better to read about than to partake of. Give me, rather,
a quiet little dinner of a few well-chosen dishes and wines, and three
or four knowing friends, not given to long stories, but spicy in talk,
and I will enjoy myself better than 'the noblest Roman of them all.'"

"But, Colonel Bradshawe, how did you become so familiar with Roman
manners? Many of us know something of their public life, their wars,
conquests, seditions and laws; but you seem to have put aside the
curtain, and peered into the house, first floor, garret and cellar."

"You overrate my learning, Lady Mabel; my tastes naturally lead me to
inform myself on some points that may seem to lie out of the common
road. Some people take the liberty of calling me an epicure. I admit
it so far as this: I hold it to be our duty to enjoy ourselves wisely
and well. Much as I esteem a knowing _bon vivant_, I despise an
ignorant glutton, or undiscriminating sot. To know how to make the
most of the good things given us, is, at once, a duty and a
pleasure. This conviction has led me to heighten what are called our
epicurean enjoyments, by investigating the history of cookery, the
literature of the vineyard, and other cognate branches of learning."

"You have devised a happy union of intellectual and sensual pleasure,
well calculated to heighten both."

"Why were these good things given us," said the colonel, gracefully
waving his hand over the table, "but that we should ascertain their
uses, and apply them accordingly?"

"I begin to understand your philosophy, in letting none of the good
things of life run to waste, but rather receiving them all in the
spirit of thankfulness."

"In those few words you express the essence of my philosophy."

"There may be," continued Lady Mabel, "as much piety, and certainly
more wisdom, in frankly enjoying the good things given us, than in
despising the world which God made, and rejecting the blessings it
teems with, like these self-tormenting ascetics, the monks and friars
around us."

"Heaven help your simplicity, Lady Mabel! They only pretend to do so,
the hypocrites! Rest assured, every one of these fellows is on the

"What! No exceptions? Is it true of every one--

  'His eyes are set on heaven, his heart on earth?'"

"It fits them to a man!" said the colonel. "Their vocation is securing
to themselves the god things of this world, by promising to others the
blessings of the next: and as for the friars, true to their motto,
_Nihil habentes et omnia possidentes_, they profess to hold no special
property, merely that the whole country might be bound to maintain
them. They know the value of the good things of this life, and how to
enjoy them in a corner."

"These odd-looking monks and friars attract me much," said Lady Mabel:
"perhaps they will not bear a close inspection; but, with all my
prejudice against them, I must own, that many seem truly devout, and
the friars, at least, very zealous in their labors among the people."

"Yet the people, except the women," said Bradshawe, "are losing faith
in their greasy reverences."

"Women are everywhere more devout than men," she answered; "and I do
indeed observe their greasy reverences, as you call them, conversing
oftener with our sex than yours."

"Observe more closely, Lady Mabel, and you will see that they are most
zealous for the conversion of the young women, the tender lambs of the
flock. They care little for a tough, smoke-dried, old woman's soul."
This was said with a knowing, wink, and caused some merriment among
his juniors within ear-shot.

A gradual but perceptible change was coming over the colonel's manner,
which Lady Mabel did not like. In fact, Lord Strathern had pushed the
bottle briskly, though sometimes slighting it himself, as did many of
his guests; but Bradshawe made it a point of conscience to take toll
every time it passed him. He had, moreover, violated one of his own
maxims, in talking incessantly while imbibing his liquor; so she took
advantage of the next pause in his conversation to leave the table.


    You are a gentleman of excellent breeding, admirable discourse, of
  great admittance; authentic in your place and person, and generally
  allowed for your many warlike, courtlike, and learned
  preparations.--_Merry Wives of Windsor_.

So time ran merrily on in Elvas, and most merrily at headquarters;
thanks to Lord Strathern's hospitality, and to the elegance, variety
and life Lady Mabel gave to the brilliant circle she attracted

Entering her father's sitting-room one morning, she found him in
conference with a gentleman whom she had never seen before. They were
so much engrossed in conversation, that she had time to remark,
unobserved, that he was young, handsome, and an officer of rank, but
thin and pallid, as if just released from long confinement in a sick
room. She was about to withdraw, when the stranger, turning to take a
paper from the table, saw her. After an abstracted look of admiring
curiosity, as if gazing on a fine picture, unexpectedly placed before
him, he recollected himself, and rose from his chair.

"This must be Lady Mabel Stewart. Pray, my lord, present me to your

"What, _Ma Belle_, are you here? L'Isle, let me make you known to my
daughter. Like yourself, she occupies a distinguished post in the
brigade, though not quite so well defined as yours."

Lady Mabel acknowledged this addition to her acquaintance; then
said, "but I see you are busy, papa."

"Not at all," said he, thrusting some papers into his portfolio, "sit
with us here;" and he drew a chair for her. "L'Isle has been so long
in his sick room, that a little of our pleasant company will do him
good. You must have suffered much from solitude, L'Isle, as well as
from your wounds."

"Surgeons and servants were my sole companions. Their rude hands, too,
convinced me that our sex were never meant for nurses. A sister of
mercy would have been an angel of light; and if young and
good-looking, she might have made a convert of me to her church."

Lady Mabel could perceive that her father treated his companion with
unusual consideration, and L'Isle was induced to prolong his visit for
an hour and more. He was certainly well-bred and well-informed, and
seemed disposed to make himself agreeable; yet there was something in
his manner that puzzled and annoyed her. It was not the little reserve
which he exhibited toward her father, yet more than to herself. It was
not that he was out of spirits; for he was quite animated at times. It
seemed to be a feeling of--Lady Mabel's self-satisfaction did not
permit her immediately to perceive what this feeling was.

"So," said she to herself, when L'Isle had taken his leave, her father
accompanying him out of the room, "So this is the veritable
Lieutenant-Colonel L'Isle! After hearing of him daily for three weeks,
I have now seen him in real life, or rather, half alive; for the
cadaverous gentleman seems to have had at least half his life let out
of him in that last affair. This is the glass in which the young
lieutenants and ensigns of the brigade dress themselves. As Colonel
Bradshawe says, there is no need to distribute copies of the articles
of war among them. They may all be condensed into one injunction: 'Be
just like Lieutenant-Colonel L'Isle, and you will rise like him; and
deserve to rise--if you have as strong family interest to back you.'
But he seems to have suffered much from his wounds, poor fellow, and
in spite of family interest, to have been very near leaving his
regiment vacant for another aspirant."

"By-the-bye," said Lady Mabel, as a new light flashed upon her, "he
seemed to pity me all the time he was talking to me. That was it! A
condescending commiseration in every look, and in every word he
uttered. I am very much indebted to him for his sympathy." Here she
assumed a haughty air. "But we certainly do not know ourselves; for I
cannot, for the life of me, discover what he sees so pitiable about
me. He is, doubtless, a very over-weening fellow--I do not like him at
all!" And, with a haughty wave of the hand, she dismissed an imaginary
personage from her presence, and moved off with dignity to her own
room. Now, be it remembered, that Lady Mabel, walking in "maiden
meditation, fancy free," among the officers of the brigade, had never,
until this moment, thought it worth while to ask herself, as to any of
them, whether she liked him or not.

While she was thus meditating and soliloquizing, L'Isle had mounted
his horse, and was riding slowly back to his quarters, meditating and
soliloquizing, too.

"What on earth was Lord Strathern dreaming of, when he brought his
daughter out here--and such a daughter--to preside over his house and
his table? She might as well take her seat at the head of a regimental
mess-table. We know his habits of life. He cannot dine comfortably
without half a dozen fast fellows about him. To make it worse, has a
new set every day. And with his notions of hospitality, all are made
free of the house. Of course, they become her companions, and to such
a degree of freedom, that she can only get out of their way by
shutting herself up in her chamber. She can scarcely have a female
companion an hour in the week; for the few of our ladies here have no
leisure to be trotting out of Elvas, down to headquarters, to play
chaperon to a young girl who ought to be in England."

"Here is a man," continued L'Isle to himself, in an indignant tone,
and so loud that his servant spurred up from behind him to see if he
was wanted. "Here is a man who has been near forty years in the
service, and has not yet found out what kind of women are made out of
these garrison girls. Bold, flippant creatures, light infantry in
petticoats, destitute of the delicacy and modesty, without which a
woman may be honest by good luck, but can never be a lady deserving
the name.

"She seems to retain yet the air and manner, and, I trust, the modesty
and purity of mind that should grace such beauty. But how will it be
six months hence? Her situation is absolutely improper. Lord Strathern
has shown himself no more fit to bring up such a daughter, or even to
take charge of her, after some fitter person has brought her up, than
he is to say mass." For here L'Isle's eye fell on a fat priest,
toiling up the hill beside him. "Though he may be as fit for that as
some of these gentry. No more fit," continued he, struggling after
another simile, "than for a professor of Greek literature." For during
his late solitude his thoughts had often wandered back to his old
haunts, before he had broken off a promising career at Oxford, to join
the first British expedition that had come out to Portugal nearly five
years ago.

"I am sorry for her, upon my soul I am. She would make so fine a woman
in proper hands! I wonder if some remedy cannot be found against the
effects of her father's folly--his forgetfulness of what is due to
maiden delicacy and the privacies of domestic life!"

L'Isle was still meditating on this interesting subject when he
dismounted at his own quarters, one of the best houses on the _praça_,
or public square of Elvas.

Lady Mabel was right in supposing that family interest had something
to do with putting L'Isle at the head of a regiment when just
twenty-four. Such instances have been common enough in the British
service--and not rare in others, in all ages of the world. Family
interest, or something very like it, put Alexander, at the age of
twenty, at the head of an army with which he went on conquering to the
end of his short life. The same influence put Hannibal, at
twenty-seven, at the head of an army with which he continued for
seventeen years to shake the foundations of Rome. Family interest
thrust forward such men as Edward the Black Prince, the fifth Harry of
England, and the fourth Henri of France. This, too, thrust forward the
great Condè to offer to France the first fruits of his heroism, when
victor at Rocroi, at twenty-two. So, too, with Gustavus Adolphus,
Turenne, Eugene of Savoy, and Frederick the Great. Family interest,
not of the most creditable kind, turned the courtier Churchill into
the conquering Marlborough; and his nephew, the gallant young Berwick,
found that being, somewhat irregularly, the son of an English king,
helped him much in obtaining the command of the armies of France. Just
at this time the son of an earl, and the brother of a governor-general
of India, pushed on by family interest, was proving himself not unfit
to direct the efforts of the British arms. It is curious to see in
these, and many an instance more in military history, how aptly family
interest has come into play. It is likely that these men were not the
mere creatures of accident, but had each merits of his own, and in
spite of whispered insinuations, so had Lieutenant-Colonel L'Isle,
though nephew and heir to an earl. Having chosen his profession, he
followed it laboriously and gallantly, as if he had not been heir to
an acre--but bore his fortunes on the point of his sword.

He had just reached Elvas, after spending six tedious weeks at Ciudad
Rodrigo, under the surgeon's hands. He now found his own hands full of
regimental business--accumulated against his arrival--and being a
prompt man, set himself to work, though yet little fit for it.

Though he had seen Lady Mabel but once, he was not suffered to forget
her. Every young officer he met, and many of the older, had something
to say of her, some comment to make on the attractions at
headquarters, some details to give of the witty things said, and the
graceful things done by Lady Mabel; for she said many happy things,
and did many things well, and was, at all events, sure of admiration.
All this only the more convinced L'Isle that her position was very
inappropriate to one so beautiful and young.

After some days he began to think himself guilty of gross neglect in
not having called on the lady at headquarters. Disliking, however, to
make one of an admiring crowd, he showed his strategy in choosing well
his time, and called on Lady Mabel on the day and at the hour when an
inspection of the troops having been ordered, every officer was at his
post except himself--yet too weak to be expected to put himself at the
head of his regiment.

On calling, he was immediately admitted. Lady Mabel apparently had
been reading in the room in which she received him. He now saw her for
the first time alone, and she was by no means aware what a critical
examination she was undergoing. Her manner was different from what he
had expected. With quiet politeness she received his visit as one of
mere etiquette to the lady at headquarters. That repose of manner
might indicate a cold disposition, or might cover strength of
character and depth of feeling, not given to perpetual demonstrations,
but showing vigor and animation, with telling effect, at the right
time. There was no indication of that craving for company, of the
ennui at being thrown upon her own resources for a whole morning, so
common with young women brought up in a crowd, and habitually
surrounded by admirers. "As yet," thought L'Isle, "she has escaped
that." He even thought he could perceive that he had interrupted her
in some occupation, which would be resumed the moment he left her;
that his visit was a parenthesis awkwardly thrust in between, and
breaking the connection of her morning hours.

Lady Mabel expressed some surprise at his being at leisure just at
this time, but added: "I suppose you are yet too weak to burden
yourself with such mere formalities as parades and inspections."

L'Isle was a martinet, and this a military heresy. "Keeping the troops
up to the mark, fit for instant service, is not a matter of form; and
that is the end of parades and inspections. But," added he, smiling,
"I am not surprised at your mistake; for I find, on coming to Elvas,
that many of my brother officers have embraced the same opinion. They
have got tired of these formalities, and dispense with them as often
as they can. But I must not find fault with them, while indulging
myself as an invalid longer than is absolutely necessary. Confinement
and idleness have made me a little lazy."

An air of languor, and the marks of recent suffering, fully excused
what he called his laziness. They did something more for him by
exciting Lady Mabel's sympathy, putting her at ease, and inducing her
to exert herself to entertain him; and during their conversation
L'Isle was quietly on the watch for each indication of character his
fascinating companion might betray.

Presently she rested her elbow on a thick quarto on the table beside
her. L'Isle then observed that it was a Portuguese and English
dictionary, and saw a volume of Count Ericeira's works beside it.

"I see, Lady Mabel, that you do not mean to remain ignorant of the
language of the people you have come among."

"I wish not to remain ignorant. But between my own dullness and the
want of a master, I make wonderfully slow progress. It is very
provoking, particularly to a woman, to be in the midst of a people
whom she can neither talk to nor understand."

"It is certainly better," said L'Isle, "to learn to fight before we go
into battle, and to speak a people's language before we throw
ourselves among them."

"Very true. But I have been thrown very unexpectedly among these
Portuguese. I came out merely to visit my father, you know. That is,
he sent for me, not having seen me for years. That must account," said
she, laughing, "for my joining the brigade. I am not even a volunteer
among you; nor shall I subject myself to the articles of war."

"You are a traveler, then, and not a soldier," said L'Isle.

"I am a daughter," she answered, "and in that character I come. But,
beside the pleasure of being with my father, an opportunity to see
outlandish places and people was no small inducement. I have my full
share of curiosity and love of adventure; I want, too, to know the
people I am among; and that is impossible, without speaking their

"But I think you are misdirecting your efforts, and wasting your
time," said L'Isle. "The Spanish will be of more permanent value, and
almost equally useful here on the frontier. The one is a language
widely spread and a noble one. The other, though exceedingly well
adapted to conversation, has but a narrow range, and may one day be
merged in the superior tongue. The literature of the Spanish, too, is
the richer, though both are poor enough."

"I am glad to hear you say that; for I have already made some little
progress in Spanish. I have read a few books, and moulded my tongue to
the utterance of a long list of conversational phrases. I would now
gladly exchange my French for Spanish or Portuguese. What a pity it
is, that the languages of different countries are not, like their
coins, exchangeable one for another."

"Unfortunately," said L'Isle, laughing, "that exchange is a slow
process; and exact equivalents are seldom found."

"It is too provoking," continued Lady Mabel, "after having been at so
much pains to learn French, not to be at liberty to go to France, to
show the natives how well I can speak their tongue. True, I have
access to their books, which are, perhaps, better than themselves."

"That is not saying much for their books," said L'Isle contemptuously.
"Their literature is much overvalued. Its chief merits are variety and

"Do you think so? That is not the opinion I have heard expressed."

"Very true. The world is full of false opinions and bad taste. But a
literature, whose great epic poem is the _Henriade_, may be abundant
but cannot be rich. A language, in which you cannot make verse without
the jingle of rhyme, may be clear and copious, but is wanting in
melody and force. Take away from French literature Gil Blas and the
_memoires_, and were all the rest lost, its place might be easily
filled with something better. With these exceptions, there is little
worth doing into English or any other tongue. And after all, Gil Blas
is only a renegade Spaniard in a French uniform; and, undoubtedly, it
is not genius, but merely their intense vanity and egotism, that
enables them to excel in writing their own memoirs. Besides, unlike
most other people, their books are as immoral as themselves."

"Well," said Lady Mabel, looking at him in some surprise, yet half
convinced of the truth of what he had been saying. "It must certainly
be a great comfort to you to entertain so thorough a contempt and
dislike for the people you have to fight against."

"Perhaps it is," said L'Isle, laughing at her observation and his own
warmth. "It may not be in the spirit of Christianity or of chivalry,
but it is exceedingly true to our nature, to dislike our enemies, and
heartily, too. But to return to our subject. You wish to learn
Spanish, and I can provide you a capable and zealous teacher."

"I am much obliged to you; where is he to be found?"

"I will bring him here, any day and hour you may appoint."

"Then I will fix an early hour, and take a lesson every day."

"The truth is," said L'Isle, hesitating and somewhat confused, "it is
very difficult to find a Spaniard who speaks English well enough to
teach you his own tongue."

"But you said just now that would find me such a master."

"But not a Spaniard. I hear," said L'Isle, putting a bold face on the
matter, "that several of my brother officers have been permitted to
make themselves useful to you in various capacities. For instance, on
looking round this room, I see more than one achievement of Captain
Cranfield's, and hear that Major Lumley's skill in music has been
called into play. Now I am behind no one in zeal for your service."

"So you, yourself, are the Spanish master, whom you, yourself, would

"I assure you I do not know where to find another."

"Your offer is exceedingly tempting," said Lady Mabel, bowing
ironically low. "But I am too much in debt already to the gentlemen in
his majesty's service. To turn one of his colonels into my Spanish
master would be seriously to misemploy his precious time. I would feel
that I was robbing my country. Is it not positive treason to aid and
abet the king's enemies? Then it is negative treason, to divert from
his service any of the king's friends."

"But you forget that I am an invalid, not yet fit for duty."

"You are getting more fit for it every day. My invalid tutor would
become a sound colonel long before I had made much progress under his

"But I would not object to relaxing from my military duties, and
prolonging my invalid condition in your service."

"Let me beg that you do no such thing, but hasten to get so well as to
forget your wounds, and the awkward occasion on which you received

"Why," said L'Isle, in some surprise, "what have you heard of that

"Perhaps you, like some other people, do not care to be reminded of
your blunders," said Lady Mabel, mischievously.

"Blunders?" said L'Isle, "I do not see how a soldier can avoid
exposing himself occasionally to the risk of being shot, sabred, or
bayoneted. What blunder of mine have you heard of?"

"Merely that on the approach of a French column, you, instead of
rejoining the main body, in great alarm hid yourself and your men in a
little Spanish village too mean to have a name. The French found you
out, and kept you shut up there in great trepidation for five or six
hours, while they were cutting away your barricades, beating in the
doors, and tearing off the roofs of the houses. Your case was as
desperate as that of a rat in a trap; and when your friends came to
your relief, they had to knock a great many of the French in the head
before they could persuade them to let you slip out. But, by some
lucky misunderstanding at headquarters, you were soon after made a
lieut. colonel."

"Do you know," said L'Isle, laughing, "that this is, to me, quite a
new version of that little affair? Did you hear whether we did the
French any damage, while they beset us so closely?"

"Nothing was said on that score. So I suppose you did them little

"It is lucky for me that your informant had not the reporting of this
affair at headquarters."

"It is said that you had that more adroitly done by your own friends."

"They give me credit at least for good diplomacy," said L'Isle. "Or,
at all events, it is a good thing to have a friend at court--that is,
at the elbow of the commander-in-chief. And it seems that I have one
there. But still you make a great mistake in declining my services as
a teacher of the Spanish tongue. I may be a blundering soldier, but
have made myself thoroughly master of the languages of the Peninsula,
and have a decided aptitude for teaching. Let me begin by warning you
against a blunder we English always commit, in trying to speak a
tongue not our own, with the mouth half open, and the hands in the
pockets. Now, when you address a foreigner in his own tongue, speak
with much noise and vociferation, opening your mouth wide and using
much action. The ideas you cannot convey in words, you must
communicate by gesticulation, the more emphatic the better."

"What!" said Lady Mabel. "Would you have me go scolding and
gesticulating at every foreign fellow I meet with, and become
notorious throughout Elvas as the British virago?"

"There is no danger of that," said L'Isle. "They would only say that
you have as much vivacity as a native, and soon begin to understand

"I have made the acquaintance of some ladies of Elvas. As yet our
intercourse has been limited to a few formal visits, and a few set
phrases mingled with pantomime. But some of them are disposed to be
very sociable, and, through their teaching, I hope to be able soon to
bear my part in the most sprightly and sentimental conversation. You
shall see what an apt scholar I am under the tuition of my own sex."

"I trust you will be on your guard against cultivating too great an
intimacy with these people," said L'Isle. "You do not know what
Portuguese and Spanish ladies are."

"What are they?"

"A thorough knowledge of them would only satisfy you that they are
gross in language, particularly the Spaniards, indelicate in their
habits, careless of propriety, lax in morals, and, with all their
grace, vivacity, and elegance, very unfit companions for you. In
short, the purity of mind, true refinement of manners, and scrupulous
propriety of conduct we look for in a lady, are almost unknown among

"What a shocking picture you paint of our friends here. You must know
them exceedingly well," added Lady Mabel, in innocent surprise, "to
justify your abusing them so roundly."

"By report--only by report," said L'Isle hastily.

"But I have had many opportunities of judging of the grossness of
their conversation and manners. The Portuguese ladies are not gross in
language, like the Spaniards; but are quite on a par with them in
essentials, or rather the want of essentials."

"They are not at all indebted to your report, which has used them very
roughly. You, perhaps, have been unfortunate in the samples you have
met with; and, at least, do not know my new friends here in Elvas."

"I confess that I do not."

"Yet I must own that you have damped my ardor to cultivate an intimacy
with them. Yet such is the situation of the two or three of our own
ladies here, that these allies of ours afford the only female society
at my command."

"In that respect your situation here must seem very strange to you."

"Strange, indeed, at first--but now I am getting accustomed to it. I
begin to feel as if I held an official position in the brigade. I
make great progress in knowledge of military affairs--am quite
familiar, as you may perceive, with the details of the last campaign,
and begin to understand both the technical language and the slang of
our comrades; who give me plenty of their company, and right merry
companions they are. But, perhaps," said she, looking at him
doubtingly, "you may be able to understand me, and excuse my weakness,
when I confess that there is still so much of the woman left in me
that I do often long to slam the door in the face of the brigade, and
have a good long confidential chat with some of my own sex."

"The want of that must be a sad privation to you."

"My only resource now is to get old Moodie and Jennie Aiken, my maid,
together, and have a good home talk with them, which, for the time,
may blot out the map of Portugal, and carry us back to Scotland."

"After that avowal," said L'Isle, rising from his chair, "I had better
not trespass on you longer, lest I should have the door slammed in my
face the next time I visit you." And he bowed and put an end to his

As he rode homeward, he again brought Lord Strathern to trial, and
soon found a verdict against him, of utter incapacity to take charge
of such a daughter as heaven had blessed him with. L'Isle felt
strongly tempted to take the vacant guardianship upon himself--but did
not see just then how it was to be brought about.

He was buried in these thoughts when the sound of horses' feet aroused
him; and looking up he saw Lord Strathern riding down toward him from
the city gate, followed by a party of young officers. His lordship
drew up as he approached, and said: "L'Isle, I am glad to see you look
so much like taking the field again. Why, your ride has actually
brought a color into your cheeks." In truth, L'Isle had turned
somewhat red on seeing suddenly before him the very man he had just
been condemning in secret tribunal. "We cannot let you play invalid
much longer," his lordship continued. "We begin to miss you sadly. By
the by, I have just been inspecting the troops. Their condition is not
exactly what I would wish. But the less we say about the
matter--only--I am glad the French are not just now in the

"But they have not told us how long they meant to stay away,"
suggested L'Isle.

"We won't see them soon, however," said his lordship carelessly.
"Well, L'Isle, I will begin to put you on duty by having you to dine
with me to-morrow. These noisy fellows I have with me to-day would be
too much for your nerves. We will have a quieter party, and I will not
insist on your doing your full turn of duty at the bottle."

"I will obey you, my lord, with the greatest pleasure, particularly as
you are so considerate as to the bottle. I have just been paying my
respects, for the first time, to Lady Mabel."

"Well, if you did not bore her by the length of your visit--a thing
she sometimes complains of--she will be glad to see you again
to-morrow." And Lord Strathern rode off--with a merry party at his


  _Celia_.--Here comes Monsieur Le Beau.
  _Rosalind_.--With his mouth full of news.
  _Celia_.--Which he will put on us as pigeons feed their young.
  _Rosalind_.--Then shall we be news-crammed.

                                          _As You Like It._

The next morning Colonel L'Isle was seated in his room, wrapped in his
cloak, with a _brasero_ filled with wood embers at his feet; for it
was one of those windy, chilly days, not uncommon in this fluctuating
climate, and he was still invalid enough to be keenly sensitive to
these sudden changes of temperature. He was, too, so completely
wrapped up in his meditations, that his servant had twice to announce
that the adjutant was in the next room.

"Here, already!" said L'Isle; "I did not expect him until ten
o'clock." He looked at his watch. "But it is ten already. Here have I
been thinking for two hours, and have never once thought of the
regiment. I am acquiring a sad habit of day-dreaming, or, rather, my
mind has not yet recovered its tone. Ask Lieutenant Meynell to walk in

The regimental business was soon dispatched, and the adjutant, who was
a capital newsmonger, began to detail the local news of the
day. L'Isle liked to keep himself informed of what was going on around
him, on the easy terms of listening to the adjutant. But this morning
he seemed to tire soon at the details of small intelligence, much of
which was of a sporting character, such as this: "Warren has succeeded
in buying the famous dog at Estremoz; they say he will collar a wolf
without ceremony, and throttle him single-handed; and he has the knack
of so seizing a wild boar, that he can never bring his tusks to bear
upon him."

"I hope," said L'Isle, "that Warren will show us many trophies of his
prowess, or his dog's rather, in the hunt."

"He had to pay well for him, though. Fifty moidores was the least his
owner would take for him."

"I sincerely trust that Warren will get fifty moidores' worth of sport
out of him."

"He went out yesterday to try him," continued Meynell, "but Hatton,
who was with him, got such a fall (he is a villainous rider, without
knowing it), that they had great trouble in getting him back here, and
it broke up the day's sport."

"Is he much hurt?" asked L'Isle.

"No permanent injury. But he fell on his head, and, at first, they
thought the time come for firing blank-cartridges over him."

"I trust, if Hatton is bent on dying in the field, he will choose some
occasion when they do not fire blank-cartridges."

As his colonel seemed little interested in his sporting intelligence,
the adjutant turned to a topic that looked a little more like
business. "I see that Commissary Shortridge has got back."

"Ah!" said L'Isle, suppressing a yawn, "where has he been?"

"He has been to Lisbon."

"What carried him there?" mechanically asked the colonel, evidently
not caring to know.

"Business of the commissariat, he says."

"So I suppose," said L'Isle, carelessly.

"But I suppose no such thing," said Meynell. "The first thing these
fellows think of is not the supply of the troops, but their own
comfort. He only went to Lisbon to bring his wife here."

"What!" said L'Isle, with sudden interest, "is Mrs. Shortridge in

"Yes. She came with him last night."

"And is she to remain here any time?"

"As long as we stay," answered Meynell, surprised at the interest his
superior now showed at his intelligence. "That is, if Shortridge can
establish her here comfortably. You know, since the king's money has
been passing through his hands, and some of it has stuck to his palms,
he has begun to give himself airs. He speaks with the most gentlemanly
disgust of the narrow and inconvenient lodgings they are obliged to
put up with. He told me they were in the dirtiest part of the town, in
the midst of the filthiest of these Portuguese, and sooner than let
Mrs. Shortridge stay there, he will take her to Portalegre, or back to

"There will not be the least need of that," said L'Isle, quickly;
"this house is large and convenient enough"--and he looked round the
apartment into the room beyond--"and is one of the best situated in

"But you are occupying it yourself, sir. What good will that do,

"Oh, I will give it up to Shortridge. It is quite thrown away on a
bachelor like me. Now I am on duty again, I prefer being near the
regiment, and shall take rooms at the barracks."

"Shortridge will be exceedingly obliged to you. But," added Meynell,
fishing for information, "I did not think you cared a farthing whether
the commissary got into good quarters or no."

"The commissary!" said L'Isle, looking round on his companion with an
air of surprise; then he added, in a tone of contempt, "he may lie in
a ditch. Many a better man has done it. It is Mrs. Commissary for whom
I would find good quarters."

"Oh, indeed!" said Meynell, elevating his eyebrows a good deal, "I
overlooked that. But I was not aware that you had ever seen her."

"Oh, many times: in Lisbon, last year. Indeed, on one occasion I did
her a well-timed service."

"What was that?--if I may be allowed to ask."

"Why, Mrs. Shortridge, though an excellent woman, is a little
afflicted with the disease of sight-seeing, and had thrust herself,
with a party of other heretics, into the Patriarchal Church, to
witness the rending of the veil. Do you know what that means, Meynell?
I believe you are not well drilled in theology."

"Not popish theology."

"Nor any other, I fear. However, a large detachment of the live and
dead saints were there, and, certainly, half the rabble of Lisbon. In
the rush of this devout crowd, Mrs. Shortridge got separated from her
party, and, between alarm and exhaustion, fell, fainting, on the
pavement. She would soon have been trampled to death, had I not picked
her up and carried her out bodily. I had to swear awfully at the
rabble to make them give way."

"That was no small service," said Meynell; then, glancing at the
colonel's thin form, "I am afraid you could not repeat it just now.
Mrs. Shortridge is a plump little body."

"I suppose not. Yet there is no knowing what exertions a man might
make to save a pretty woman. However, she has been very grateful ever
since, and whenever we meet we are excellent friends. I am glad
Shortridge has brought her here. She is a different sort of person
from himself. She has some very pleasant traits of character--in fact,
she is a very good woman," and he sank into a reverie, apparently
thinking over Mrs. Commissary's good qualities.

Meynell had nothing more to tell, and, hopeless of extracting any
thing more, now took leave. But when he had gone out of the room, his
colonel called him back to inquire where Shortridge was now lodged.
Having given as precise an answer as he could to this question, the
adjutant departed, trying as he went, to frame such a definition of a
good woman as would fit his view of this case.

This little conversation seemed to have revived L'Isle a good deal. He
looked out of the window and pronounced the wind to have fallen, and
that, after all, it was a very pleasant day. Calling his servant to
bring his boots and brush his clothes, he was soon after on the
_praça_ of Elvas.

This exhibited a busy scene; for the troops quartered in Elvas created
a market, and drew a concourse of people from the surrounding
country. Asses laden with, or just unladen of, country produce, were
grouped about the square, each with his nose tied up in a net, that he
might not eat his saddle or panniers. Bullock carts were seen here and
there, among them, many of the oxen lying down with their legs doubled
under them, taking advantage of the halt to enjoy their _siesta_. A
crowd of peasants hovered about, and the sonorous Spanish mingling
with the abrupt and nasal Portuguese, the short black jackets and
_montero_ caps, among the hats and vests, generally brown, showed that
many of these men had come across the Spanish border. Here was the pig
merchant, with his unquiet and ear-piercing merchandise, and the wine
merchant, with his pitchy goat-skin sacks, full of, and flavoring the
_vinho verde_ Colonel Bradshawe so much abhorred. Here were peasant
women, with poultry, and sausages, and goats'-milk cheese; and young
girls, persuasively offering for sale the contents of their baskets,
oranges, chesnuts, bolotas, and other fruits and nuts. Here, in the
crowd, was a monk; there, a secular priest, and of friars a plenty.
And here, in the midst of them, were the broad-faced English soldiers,
touching their caps as L'Isle passed among them--their faces growing
broader as they remarked to each other, that there was still something
left of the colonel. Here, too, were the lounging citizens of Elvas,
who might have personified _otium cum dignitate_, or plain English
laziness, but for the presence of some of the gentlemen of the
brigade, who were sauntering about with their hands in their pockets,
as if caring for nothing, and having nothing to do, or at once too
proud and lazy to do it--not much caring which way their steps led
them, but expecting, of course, every one to get out of their way. Yet
a spark of interest would, at times, shine out from them at the sight
of a neat figure, or a pretty face, among the rustic belles, whose
love of bright and strongly contrasted colors in dress, attracted the
eye, and gave variety to the scene.

Some of these gentlemen stopped L'Isle to talk with him. But, avoiding
any prolonged conversation, he hastened across the _praça_, into one
of the narrow and uncleanly streets, along which he picked his way,
wishing that he had authority, for a few days, to turn the good people
of Elvas, clergy and all, into scavengers, and enter on a thorough
purification of the place, beginning with the persons of the people
themselves. A moral purification might possibly follow, but could not
possibly precede this physical cleansing. Walking along, divided
between these thoughts and the necessity of looking for the place he
was searching for, he heard himself called by some one behind him. He
turned; it was Commissary Shortridge himself, who being rather pursy,
was a little out of breath through his exertions to overtake him.

Now, there were a good many things that L'Isle despised. But, if there
was any thing that he did despise beyond all others, it was a
commissary--a fellow who makes his gains where all other men make
their losses; who devotes himself to his country's service for the
express purpose of cheating it; who seizes the hour of its greatest
want and weakness, to bleed it most freely; who, as often as he can,
_sells_ to his country straw for hay, chaff for corn, and bones for
beef; the master-stroke of whose art is to get passed, by fraudulent
vouchers, accounts full of imaginary articles, charged at fabulous
prices; in short, a man who loves war more than Mars or Achilles;
reaping, amidst its blood and havoc, a rich harvest in safety. Our
commissary was not quite equal in professional skill to some of his
brethren. Perhaps he had some small remnant of conscience left, or of
patriotism, or of loyalty, or of caution, which withheld him from
plundering king and country with both hands. Nevertheless, from being
an unprosperous London tradesman, he had, in a few years, contrived to
line his pockets exceedingly well, and had now grown ambitious of
social position.

How came it then, when the commissary had expressed very copiously his
delight at seeing Colonel L'Isle again, and yet more at seeing him so
much better in health and strength than he had dared to hope, L'Isle
condescendingly gave him to understand that the pleasure of this
meeting was not all on the commissary's side? When Shortridge
congratulated him on his promotion, and yet more on the high deserts
that had drawn it upon him, L'Isle's manner implied that the
commissary's good opinion gave him greater confidence in himself. How
could L'Isle do this? Simply because the proudest and best of us can
tolerate, and even flatter, those we despise, when we have urgent
occasion to use them.

The commissary then said, "I have brought Mrs. Shortridge with me to

"I am very glad to hear it," answered L'Isle, without betraying that
he knew it before. "Even one English lady is a precious addition to
our society in this dull place."

"Mrs. Shortridge has never forgotten your rescuing her from under the
feet of the idolatrous rabble of Lisbon. She is still a strong friend
of yours, and will be delighted to see you, as soon as she is mistress
of a decent apartment."

"Where is she now?"

"Not far from here--but in such an abominable hole, that a lady is
naturally ashamed to be caught there by any genteel acquaintance."

"I am truly sorry to hear that she is so badly lodged."

"Our officers," said Shortridge, "have taken up all the best houses;
and the troops being quartered here has attracted such an additional
population from the country around, that I was afraid I would have to
carry Mrs. Shortridge to rooms in the barracks."

"That will never do," said L'Isle. "But, pray, if I am in her
neighborhood, let me call on Mrs. Shortridge, and welcome her to

Thus urged, the commissary led the way, and soon reached his
lodgings. They found the lady in a room of some size, but dark, dirty,
and offensive enough to eye and nose to disgust her with Elvas and
drive her back to Lisbon, without unpacking the numerous trunks,
baskets, band-boxes, and portable furniture which lumbered the room.
These her man-servant was arranging, under her direction, while she
was good-humoredly trying to pacify her maid, who, with tears in her
eyes, was protesting that she could not sleep another night in that
coal-hole, into which the people of the house had thrust her, and
which they would persist in calling a chamber.

Mrs. Shortridge, a plump and pretty woman of eight-and-twenty, was a
good deal fluttered at seeing such a visitor at such a time. She
declared "that she did not know whether she was more delighted or
ashamed to see Major--I beg your pardon--Colonel L'Isle, in such a
place; we, who have been accustomed to a suite of genteel apartments
wherever we went."

L'Isle cast his eye around the forlorn and dismal walls. "Let me beg
you, Colonel L'Isle, to be conveniently near-sighted during your
visit. I would not, for the world, have our present domicil, and our
household arrangements, minutely inspected by your critical eye."

Without minding her protest, he completed a deliberate survey; then
said, suddenly, "Why, Shortridge, how could you think of shutting up a
lady in such a dungeon? If Mrs. Shortridge were not the best-tempered
woman in the world, it would cause a domestic rebellion, and we would
soon see her posting back to Lisbon, and London, perhaps, without
leave or license. Do you forget how she yearns after the two little
boys she left at home, that you venture to aggravate so her regrets at
leaving England?"

"How can I help it?" said Shortridge, looking much out of countenance;
"I have been into a dozen houses, and these rooms are the largest and
least comfortless I can find."

"I would pitch my tent in the _praça_, and pass the winter in it,"
said L'Isle, "sooner than share with these people the pig-sties they
call their houses."

"But a lady is not quite so hardy or fearless as a soldier," said
Mrs. Shortridge, "and needs more substantial shelter and protection
than a canvas wall."

"I have some thoughts of getting rooms in the barracks," said
Shortridge; "but it is not pleasant for a lady to be in the midst of
the rank and file."

"Of course not. By the by," said L'Isle, as if he had just thought of
it, "I intend, as soon as I get quite well, to take quarters at the
barracks; I lodge too far from the regiment now. I may as well hasten
my removal, and transfer my present abode to you. My house is large,
well situated, and not more dilapidated than every thing else is in
this country. It will suit Mrs. Shortridge as well as a Portuguese
house can suit an English lady."

"But I cannot think of turning you out of it," said Mrs.
Shortridge. "You are still an invalid, and need every comfort and
convenience about you."

"I am nearly as well as I ever was in my life," answered L'Isle; "a
little like the lean knight of La Mancha, it is true, but time and
good feeding will soon cure that. And, let me tell you, good feeding
is the order of the day here just now. I am only afraid we will eat up
the country around, before the opening of the campaign. But my present
house has a fault to me, which will be none to you. There is no
stabling for my horses, unless I follow the Portuguese custom, and
lodge them in the ground-floor of the house. I have to keep them at
the barracks, and like to be so quartered that I can put my foot in
the stirrup at a minute's warning."

The commissary and his wife made many scruples at accepting his offer,
but L'Isle overruled them, and at length it was settled that he should
march out at the end of three days, and Mrs. Shortridge and suite
should garrison the vacant post.

"And now I will leave you," said L'Isle; "I will finish my visit when
you are more suitably lodged. I know how annoying it must be to a neat
English woman to receive her friends in such a place as this." And he
left Mr. and Mrs. Commissary full of gratitude for his attentions, and
of a growing conviction that they were people of some importance and

The military gentlemen in Elvas had, most of them, abundant leisure on
their hands, and, like the Athenians in St. Paul's day, spent their
time in little else "than either to tell or to hear some new thing
every day." Colonel Bradshawe, strolling about the _praça_ with this
praiseworthy object, had the luck to meet with Adjutant Meynell, and
at once began to pump him for news. But the adjutant, being a man of
the same kidney, needed no pumping at all. He at once commenced laying
open to the colonel, under the strictest injunctions to secrecy, the
thing weighing most on his mind, which was the curious little
conversation he had just held with his own colonel, not forgetting to
give a few extra touches to the expressions of satisfaction that the
news of Mrs. Shortridge's arrival had called forth. After sifting and
twisting the matter to their own satisfaction, they parted, and the
colonel continued his stroll, chewing the cud of the last news he had
swallowed. An hour or so after, whom should he meet with, by the
greatest good luck, but the commissary himself. Now, Shortridge was
rather a favorite with the colonel, being a man who knew how to make
himself useful. For instance, he was the very agent who had so
judiciously declined purchasing the refuse sherry wines which Soult,
Victor & Co. had contemptuously left on the market; while, with equal
judgment and promptitude, he had laid in for the mess an abundant
stock of the best port, malmsey and Madeira. Two such cronies, meeting
for the first time for ten days, had much conference together; in the
course of which the colonel learned all about the straits
Mrs. Shortridge was put to for lodgings, and how she was to be
relieved through the considerate kindness of L'Isle. This led to a
minute account of the occasion on which their acquaintance began, and
rather an exaggerated statement of the social relations existing
between the aristocratic colonel and the Shortridge firm.

"I have been sometimes galled and ruffled by his haughty manner," said
the commissary; "but now I know it is only his manner. He is very
considerate of other people, and is getting more and more agreeable
every day."

The commissary not having, like the colonel, nothing to do, now took
his leave; a little surprised, however, seeing how glad Bradshawe had
been to meet with him, at his not inviting him to dine that day with
the mess, as he had often done before.

It was observed at the mess table of the ---- regiment, that the
colonel was in particularly fine spirits to-day. Always companionable,
he this day enjoyed his dinner, his glass, and his jokes, and other
men's jokes, with peculiar _gusto_. At length, however, the table grew
thin. Duty, pleasure, satiety, and restlessness, took off man after
man, particularly of the younger officers, and the colonel was left at
last to the support of three or four of his special confidants, the
stanchest sitters in the regiment.

Gathering them around him, he called for a fresh decanter, filled
their glasses, and ordered the last servant out of the room. After
slowly draining his glass, and dwelling awhile on the rich flavor of
the wine, he remarked: "We certainly owe a debt of gratitude to
Shortridge, for the good faith in which he executes these little
commissions. They are, we should remember, quite beside his official
duties. I never tasted better Madeira of its age in my life--it almost
equals my lord's best, which is ten years older; and I do not think
that Shortridge made more than two fair profits out of us. I met him,
by the by, to-day, and would have had him to dine with us; but, for
certain reasons, I think his best place, just now, is at home,
watching over his domestic relations."

"What is there in them," exclaimed one of the party, "that needs such
close watching?"

The colonel seemed for a moment to debate in his own mind the
propriety of making a revelation, then said: "We are all friends here;
and, while it is desirable in our profession, and in all others, to
know thoroughly the men we live among, still there are many little
things that are not to be published on parade, like a general order."

His discreet auditors assenting to this truth, he then gave a full
detail of Adjutant Meynell's morning conversation with his colonel,
painting broadly and brightly L'Isle's surprise and delight on hearing
that Mrs. Shortridge was in Elvas. "What do you think of that, Fox?"

Captain Fox thought L'Isle very imprudent. "But he is young yet, and
lacks secrecy and self-command."

"I had not well digested what Meynell had told me," continued
Bradshawe, "when I met Shortridge, and lo! L'Isle had already found
them out in their dirty lodgings," and the colonel went on to repeat
and embellish Shortridge's narrative of L'Isle's kind attention, and
the origin of their intimacy. Various were the comments of the company
on the affair. But they all agreed to the justness of their colonel's
criticism, when he remarked: "That scene in the Patriarchal Church
must have been exceedingly well got up. I should like much to have
been by. Have you ever remarked that a woman never faints out-and-out,
when there is no man near enough, and ready enough, to catch her
before she falls to the ground?"

This was a physiological fact, as to female fainting, that some of the
company admitted was new to them.

"Now, you are all sharp fellows," said Bradshawe, with a patronizing
wave of the hand; "and some of you profess to be men of intrigue; yet
I doubt whether any one of you can tell me why the house is not handed
over to Shortridge until at the end of three days."

One suggested one reason; another, another. But wine had failed to
sharpen their wits, and he scornfully rejected their solutions.

"Three days may be needed," said he, gravely, "to fit a double set of
keys to every lock in the house. Shortridge will have one. L'Isle may
keep the other, and with it the power of letting himself in and out at
any minute of the twenty-four hours."

How stupid did his companions think themselves. The thing was now
patent to the dullest apprehension.

"It is curious," continued the colonel, "that Shortridge, so keen a
fellow in all business transactions (for both we and the government
have found him too sharp for us before now), should be in these little
delicate domestic relations such an egregious gull. You all know I do
not view these little matters from the parson's point of view; but
still, there is a propriety to be observed. To think," continued
Bradshawe, with a countenance of comic horror, "of his proposing to
make our friend Shortridge lie in a ditch, for his accommodation! Our
punctilious comrade is getting to be a very bare-faced fellow. Just
snatched from the brink of the grave, too," added he, in a sudden fit
of pious indignation. "What a deliberate, cold-blooded fellow!"

Having thus, by fitting a few chance hints to each other, brought out
a pretty piece of Spanish intrigue, that would have delighted Calderon
or Lope de Vega, the colonel emptied the decanter by filling the
glasses all round, and each man emptying his glass, the company


    I praise God for you, sir: your reasons at dinner have been sharp
  and sententious; pleasant without scurrility, witty without
  affectation, audacious without impudence, learned without opinion,
  and strange without heresy.--_Love's Labor Lost_.

L'Isle, meanwhile, after spending an unwonted time at his toilet, drew
himself up to the utmost of the five feet ten which nature had
allotted to him, to shake off the stoop which he imagined himself to
have contracted during his long hours of languor and suffering. He
then inspected himself most critically in the glass, to see how far he
had recovered his usual good looks. But that truthful counsellor
presented to him cheeks still sunken and pallid, and sharpened
features. The clear gray eye looked out from a cavern, and the rich
nut-brown hair hung over a brow covered with parchment. His lean
figure no longer filled the uniform which once fitted it so well. He
stood before his glass in no peacock mood of self-admiration; but was
compelled to own that he was not, just now at least, the man to
fascinate a lady's eye; so he resolved to take Lady Mabel by the ear,
which is, in fact, the surest way to catch a woman.

Lord Strathern kept his promise: to have no noisy fellows at dinner
to-day. Perhaps an occasional visitor, who hovered near, the gout,
made him more readily dispense with his more jovial companions. The
only guest, beside L'Isle, was Major Conway, of the light dragoons.

A party of four is an excellent number for conversation, especially if
there be no rivalry among them. The major had served long in India,
but had arrived in the Peninsula only toward the end of the last
campaign. He wished to learn all he could of the country, the people
and the war; and nearly five years of close observation, industrious
inquiry, and active service had rendered L'Isle just the man to
gratify his wishes. Lord Strathern, too, in a long and varied military
career, had seen much, and the old soldier had not failed to lay in a
stock of shrewd observation and amusing anecdote. So that, to a young
listener like Lady Mabel, eager to learn and quick to appreciate, two
or three hours glided away in striking and agreeable contrast with the
more jovial and somewhat noisy festivities of yesterday and many a
previous day. L'Isle made no attempt to engross her attention. Major
Conway had left a wife in England, which shut out any feelings of
rivalry with him. L'Isle was thus quite at his ease, and showed to
much advantage; for it is surprising how agreeable some people can
make themselves when they are bent upon it. He combined the qualities
of a good talker and a good listener; was communicative to the major;
yet more attentive to his lordship; and most careful, above all
things, to turn the conversation to topics interesting to Lady Mabel,
who, while listening, asking questions, and offering an occasional
remark, was fast coming to the conclusion that L'Isle, young as he
was, was by far the best informed and most considerate man in the
brigade. She more particularly wondered how, while tied down to his
military duties, he had found time to master the languages, history,
topography, and even the antiquities of the peninsula. He knew
personally many a Spaniard and Portuguese who had made himself
conspicuous for good or ill, at this fearful crisis of his country's
history. He thoroughly understood the people, with all their virtues
and their vices, that perhaps outweigh those virtues; yet he seemed by
no means to despise them. Amidst the too common baseness and
corruption, he could paint vividly their nobler traits, and illustrate
them by many a pointed anecdote and thrilling narrative. Lady Mabel
could not help thinking what a delightful companion he would be on a
tour through these countries, if she found so much pleasure in merely
listening to his account of what he had seen and witnessed there.

"Traveling is my passion," said Lady Mabel. "From childhood I have
longed to see foreign lands, and to find myself surrounded by
outlandish people. I suppose it is owing to my having been kept close
at home, yet encouraged to follow the footsteps of travelers over page
after page of their rambles. My journey hither, through the wilderness
of Alemtejo, has but whetted my appetite. And there is something
peculiarly fascinating in the idea of traveling in Spain, the land of
adventure and romance."

"Just now is no good time for such a journey," said L'Isle; "there are
too many French and other robbers besetting the roads."

"There would be too little of romance and too much of adventure in
meeting with them," said she. "It is most provoking to be thus
tantalized; the cup at my lips, and I cannot taste of it; Spain in
sight, and I cannot explore it. I am eager to visit the Alhambra and
Escurial, and other show-places, and take a long ramble in the Sierra
Morena. I would wish to engage the most skillful _arriero_ in all
Spain, and, mounted on his best mule, roam all over the country,
through every mountain-pass, and across every desolate plain, and make
a pilgrimage to every spot hallowed by poetic or historic fame. I
would search out, as a shrine of chivalry, each field on which the Cid
displayed the gleaming blade of _Tizona_, and on which the hoofs of
his _Babieca_ trampled on the Moor. I wonder if my guide could not
show me, too, the foundation-stones of the manor-house of the good
knight of La Mancha, the site at least of the bower of Dulcinea del
Toboso, and Gil Blas' robbers' cave?"

"Just at this time," said L'Isle, "the cave of Captain Rolando and his
comrades, being in the north of Leon, is particularly inaccessible,
for there are some ninety thousand similar gentry wintering between us
and it."

"Those fellows have been very quiet of late, and it will probably be
some time before they are stirring again," said Lord Strathern.

"We will give them reason to bestir themselves as soon as the corn is
grown enough to fodder our horses," answered L'Isle. "Meanwhile, Lady
Mabel, there is much worth seeing in Portugal. All is not like the
wilderness of Alemtejo. If you will believe the Portuguese, it was not
to the imagination of the poet, but to the eye of the traveler in
Lusitania, that we owe the poetic pictures of the Elysian fields. All
the Portuguese agree that their country is crowded with the choice
beauties and wonders of nature, and they certainly should know their
own country best. I have seen enough of it to satisfy me, that though
but a little corner of the smallest of the continents, it is a lovely
and remarkable part of the earth. Its beautiful mountains, not
sublime, perhaps, like the Alps and Pyrenees, but exquisitely rich and
wonderful in coloring, with a variety of romantic and ever-shifting
scenery, are perhaps unrivaled in Europe; its grand rivers, often
unite on their banks the wildest rocks with the loveliest woodland
scenes; its balmy climate fosters in many places an ever green foliage
and a perpetual spring."

"From your description of the country," said Lady Mabel, "one might
take you for a Portuguese."

"Yet they themselves have little perception of the real beauties of
nature," said L'Isle. "They will lead you away from the loveliest
scene in their land, to point out some curiosity, more to their taste;
some miraculous image, some saintly relic brought by angels from the
Holy Land, or, perhaps, some local natural phenomenon, which has a
dash of the wonderful about it. For instance, when at Braga, three
years ago, with my hands full of business, and anxious at the same
time to learn all I could of the country around, my Portuguese
companion compelled me to waste a precious hour in visiting a famous
spring in the garden of a convent of St. Augustine. The water, you
must know, is intensely cold, and if a bottle of wine be immersed in
it, it is instantly turned into vinegar."

"Did you see that?" asked Lady Mabel.

"When I called for a bottle of wine, the good fathers told me they had
given all they had to a detachment of Portuguese troops that marched
by the day before--a charity more wondrous than the virtue of the

"Yet it is a pity you could not test the virtues of this wonderful
spring," said she.

"Not more wonderful," said L'Isle, "than the fountain in the village
of Friexada. Its water, too, is excessively cold, and of so hungry a
nature, that in less than an hour it consumes a joint of meat, leaving
the bones quite bare."

"You of course tested that," said she.

"Unluckily," said L'Isle, "our party had only one leg of mutton in
store, and were too hungry to risk their dinner in the fountain's

"You are a bad traveler," said Lady Mabel, "and seem never to have
with you the means of testing the truth of what you are told."

"I take with me a good stock of faith," said L'Isle, "and believe, or
seem to believe, all that I am told. This pleases these people
wonderfully well, and keeping them in good humor is the main point
just now. There is, however, near Estremoz, which place you passed
through coming hither, a curiosity of somewhat a similar kind. It is
a spring which is dry in winter, but pours out a considerable stream
in summer. Its waters are of so petrifying a quality, that the wheels
of the mills it works are said to be soon turned into stone."

"I trust, for your credit as a traveler," said Lady Mabel, "that you
will be able to say that you, for once, proved the truth or falsehood
of what you heard."

"I did, and found them incrusted with stone. But that is not so
curious as the prophetic spring of Xido, which foretells to the
rustics around a fruitful season, by pouring forth but little water,
or a year of scarcity by an abundant flow. These are little things;
but were I to run over each class of objects of curiosity or interest
this country affords, I would soon convince you that you were already
in a land of wonders and rare sights."

"But even here I am trammeled. Papa did not come out here to examine
the curiosities of the country, or to hunt out picturesque scenery,
Moorish antiquities, or Roman ruins, and I cannot go scampering over
the neighborhood with an escort of volunteers from the brigade or the
Light Dragoons. It is true that Mrs. Captain Howe, who is a great
_connoisseuse_ in nature and art, has promised to be my guide in
exploring the country as soon as she gets rid of her rheumatism. But
from the number of her flannel wrappers, I infer that there is no hope
of her soon extending her explorations beyond the walls of her room."

"You must indeed feel the want of a companion to free you from the
awkwardness of your situation; here with no company but those rude
comrades his majesty has sent out hither."

"My want is so urgent that were it not for my loyalty, I would now
exchange a crack regiment for a companionable woman."

"I am glad, then, to be able to tell you that a lady has arrived in
Elvas, who may be very useful in filling up this awkward gap in the
circle of your acquaintance!"

"A lady? An English lady? Who is she?"

"An English lady. One old enough to be your chaperon, and young enough
to be your companion. She has some other merits too, not the least of
which, in my estimation is that she professes to be a great friend of

"A crowning virtue, that," said lady Mabel.

"It does not blind me, however, to two or three faults, and a
misfortune she labors under."

"What then are her faults?"

"The first is, that she is, it must be confessed, rather simple."

"Simplicity may be a virtue. We will overlook that."

"Then she sometimes clips the king's English!"

"There is no statute against it, like clipping his coin."

"She is afflicted, moreover, with an inveterate love of sight-seeing."

"That is a positive virtue. I have fellow-feeling with her. She would
be no true woman if she ever lost her chance at a spectacle. But what
is her misfortune?"

"She is the wife of a commissary," said L'Isle with a very grave face.

"Why L'Isle," said Lord Strathern, "has Shortridge brought his wife to

"Yes, my lord, they came last night. Yes, Lady Mabel; the woman who
marries a commissary can hardly escape being the wife of a knave!"

"But I really believe," said his lordship, "that our rascal is the
most honest fellow in the commissariat department."

"That is not saying much for his honesty."

"I hope for the honor of human nature," interposed Major Conway, "that
there are honest men among commissaries?"

"It is no imputation on human nature to think otherwise," said L'Isle;
"You might as soon hope there are honest men among pickpockets. For
some good reason or other, honest men cannot follow either trade."

"That is one of your prejudices, L'Isle," said Lord Strathern, "and in
them you are a true bigot. You are too hard upon poor Shortridge and
his brethren. Shortridge is a very good fellow, though a little vulgar
it is true. And he always cheats with a conscience, and so do many of
his brethren."

"I shall have no scruples of conscience in making use of Mrs.
Commissary, if I can," said Lady Mabel. "I hope she is of a sociable

"Quite so. And moreover, I forgot one trait that will make her
particularly accessible to you. She is very fond of people of fashion,
and a title secures her esteem.

"Then she belongs to me, for I shall not be wanting in attention to
your newly arrived friend. How comes she to be your friend?"

L'Isle told Mrs. Shortridge's adventure in the Patriarchal church;
mentioned the straits she was now in for lodgings, and his intention
to yield his present quarters to her.

"Why Colonel L'Isle," exclaimed Lady Mabel, "you must be the very pink
of chivalry. I do not know which most to admire, your gallant rescue
of the dame, or your self-sacrificing spirit in finding her a home."

"You will make Shortridge jealous, L'Isle, by taking such good care of
his wife," said Lord Strathern.

"Our sharp friend has too much sense," answered L'Isle, "to be guilty
of such folly as that."

Major Conway setting the example, L'Isle now thought it time to take
his leave, and he returned to his quarters with the air of a man who
thought he had done a good day's work.

"I think," said Lord Strathern to his daughter, "that L'Isle is
improving in manners."

"His manners are good, Papa. Were they ever otherwise?"

"I mean that he is becoming more conciliatory, and more considerate of
other people. He has scarcely differed from me to-day, and certainly
did not undertake to set me right, or contradict me even once, a habit
he is _much_ addicted to, and very unbecoming in so young a man! It is
certainly, too, very kind of him to give up his comfortable quarters
to the Shortridges, in their distress, particularly as I know he
despises the man."

Now do not blunder on to the hasty conclusion, good reader, that
L'Isle, having, at first sight, plunged over head and ears in love
with Lady Mabel, had resolved to win and wear her with the least
possible loss of time; that he was now investing the fortress, about
to besiege it in form, and would hold himself in readiness to carry it
by storm on the first opportunity. He acknowledged to himself no such
intention; and he doubtless knew his own mind best. Without exactly
holding the opinion of Sir John, as set forth by his follower,
Bardolph, that a soldier is better accommodated than with a wife--he
had often strenuously maintained, in opposition to some love-stricken
comrade, that, in the midst of a bloody war, a soldier can give no
worse proof of devotion to the lady of his choice, than urging her to
become a promising candidate for early widowhood. He preached
exceedingly well on this text, and it is but fair to believe that he
would practice what he preached. No! in the interest he took in Lady
Mabel's situation, he was actuated by no selfish or personal
motives. He acquitted himself of that. Had he come across Lady Mabel's
old Lisbon coach, beset by robbers, in her journey through the
Alemtejo, he would have dashed in among them, sword in hand, like a
true gentleman, and a good knight. Now, when he saw her surrounded by
evils and embarrassments of a less tangible kind, the same spirit of
chivalry brought him promptly to her aid.

Lady Mabel lost no time in adding Mrs. Shortridge to the list of her
female acquaintances in Elvas, which, unlike that of her male friends
was so short that this new comer was the only one available as a
companion. This jewel of a companion, which elsewhere might have
escaped her notice, was now seized upon as a diamond of the first
water; and Mrs. Shortridge was happy and flattered to find herself the
associate of a lady of rank, not to speak of her other merits.

It is not always similarity of character that makes people friends. It
quite as often makes them rivals. To have what your companion wants,
and to need what he can afford you, is a better foundation for those
social partnerships, often dignified with the name of friendship. The
great talker wants a good listener; the sluggish or melancholic are
glad of a companion who will undertake the active duty of providing
conversation and amusement; he whose nature it is to lead, wants some
one who will follow; and the doubting man welcomes as a strong ally,
him who will decide for him. As Dogberry says, "when two men ride on a
horse, one must ride behind," and the social, compliant and admiring
temper of Mrs. Shortridge fitted in so well with the animated,
impulsive, and vigorous spirit of Lady Mabel, that something very like
friendship grew up between them.

Lady Mabel's habits now underwent a change, which proved that her late
mode of life, and her morning and evening _levees_ of epaulettes, had
been quite as much the result of necessity as of choice. Her father's
house was still much frequented by her gay and dashing comrades. But
whenever there was a large company to dinner, or any other cause
brought many of the gentlemen to head-quarters, she made a point of
having Mrs. Shortridge at hand to countenance and sustain her; and in
return she would often mount her horse early and canter into Elvas,
followed only by a groom, to shut herself up with Mrs. Shortridge for
a whole morning, doubtless in the enjoyment of those confidential
feminine chats, for which she had longed so much. On these occasions
the representatives of the ruder sex seldom gained admittance, except
that L'Isle would now and then drop in for an hour, he being too great
a favorite with Mrs. Shortridge to be excluded; and, for a time, he
showed no disposition to abuse his special privilege.

It was on one of these occasions that L'Isle discovered that with all
his assiduity in acquiring a thorough knowledge of the peculiar and
interesting land in which he had now spent more than four years--an
assiduity, on the result of which he much prided himself, and which
had done him good service in his profession--there was still one
important point that he had quite overlooked. He knew absolutely
nothing of the botany of this region, nor, indeed, of any other. He
made this discovery suddenly on hearing Lady Mabel express the
interest she felt in this science, and her hope of finding many
opportunities of pursuing it in a country whose Flora was so new to
her. He at once began to supply this omission by borrowing from her
half a dozen books on the subject. In two or three days he reappeared,
armed with a huge bunch of wild flowers and plants, and professed to
have mastered the technicalities sufficiently to enter at once on the
practical study of the science in the field. Unless he deceived
himself, he was an astonishing fast learner. Lady Mabel told him that
she had heard that _poeta nascitur_, and now she believed it from
analogy; for he was certainly born a botanist. He rebutted the sarcasm
by showing that he had the terms stamen, pistil, calix, corolla,
capsule, and a host of others at the tip of his tongue; though
possibly, had he been called upon to apply each in its proper place,
he would have been like a certain student of geometry we once knew,
who, by aid of a good memory alone, could demonstrate all Euclid's
theorems, without understanding one of them, provided the diagrams
were small enough to be hidden by his hand, so you could not detect
him in pointing to the wrong angle and line.

January was gone, and the earlier of the two springs that mark this
climate was opening beautifully. L'Isle displayed temptingly before
Lady Mabel's eyes the wild flowers he had collected during a laborious
morning spent on hill and plain, in wood and field, and urged her to
lose no time in taking the field too, and making collections for the
_hortus siccus_ of which she talked so much, but toward which she had
yet done nothing; while at the same time, she might, without trouble,
indoctrinate him in the mysteries of this beautiful branch of natural
history. Most of these flowers were new to her as living
specimens. Her botanical enthusiasm was roused at the sight of them,
and the offer of a pupil added to her zeal. When we know a little of
any thing, it is very pleasant to be applied to for instruction by the
ignorant, as it enables us to flatter ourselves that we know a great
deal. And it is only the more gratifying when our voluntary pupil is
otherwise well informed.

It was at once arranged that the party should take the field
to-morrow. Mrs. Shortridge, it is true, had no particular taste for
botany. If the flowers in her _bouquet_ were beautiful, or fragrant,
or both, she did not trouble herself about their history, names,
class, order, or alliances; but pleasant company, fresh air, exercise,
and new scenes were inducements enough for her.


  For thee my borders nurse the fragrant wreath,
  My fountain murmurs and my zephyrs breathe;
  Slow glides the painted snail, the gilded fly
  Smooths his fine down to charm thy curious eye;
  On twinkling fins my scaly nations play,
  Or wind, with sinuous train, their trackless way.
  My plumy pairs, in gay embroidery dressed,
  Form with ingenious skill the pensile nest;
  To Love's sweet notes attune the listening dell,
  And Echo sounds her soft symphonious shell.

                                   _The Botanic Garden_.

Betimes the next morning the botanical party were in the saddle.
Mrs. Shortridge rode a mule, the especial favorite of the commissary,
for her sure foot and easy gaits, and Lady Mabel was mounted on her
Andalusian, on whose education Lieut. Goring had bestowed such pains:
but on this occasion she ungratefully omitted to summon her equerry to
attend her.

Descending the granite hill of Elvas, they rode westward across the
fertile valley, their road shut in on either hand by luxuriant
evergreen hedges; for here the dark clay soil was all under
cultivation, and carefully laid out into garden, orchard, or field.
They passed under the arches of the great aqueduct that stretched its
tortuous length across the undulating vale; they paused to admire its
peculiarity of style and structure, and the greatness of the work; to
wonder at the crooked course it ran, and yet more at the little use
the people of Elvas made of its waters for cleaning purposes. Then,
hastening on, they found themselves, at the end of some five miles, in
an open and elevated country. Dismounting here, they left the horses
to the care of their servants. The riding skirts fell to the ground,
the ladies stepped forth in walking costume, and the party commenced
their ramble after flowers, plants, and scenery, directing their steps
toward the high grounds to the northwest of Elvas.

For two or three hours they got on famously. There was much that was
new, curious, and beautiful, to be gazed on and admired, wondered at,
and collected. Lady Mabel, with the enthusiasm of a young botanist and
a younger traveler, found treasures at every step. The gentle morning
breeze came refreshingly down from the hills before them, laden with
the perfumes of opening spring; the rich aroma of the gum-cistus, the
fragrance of the wild rosemary, and many another sweet-scented plant,
pervading the air, yet not oppressing the breath. Mrs. Shortridge
expressed, rather strongly, perhaps, her delight at the contrast
between the sweet-smelling country and the unsavory towns of the
Portuguese. She quoted, with no little unction, the proverb: "God made
the country, man made the town," as if she had never fully felt its
force till now.

"We may say more broadly," observed L'Isle, "that God makes nature and
man defiles it."

"I am truly glad," said Mrs. Shortridge, "that these filthy people
have not been able to defile their whole land."

Gradually the sunbeams grew hotter, the mountain breeze became a
sultry breath, the ground steeper and more rugged, and their
accumulating floral treasures more and more cumbrous. Lady Mabel
seemed to take delight in adding every moment to the load L'Isle
carried. "You must know," she said, "that the pupil is always the
packhorse on these occasions," and she insisted on Mrs. Shortridge
bearing her share of the burden. This lady at first had talked
incessantly, but had gradually less and less to say, and at length was
reduced to silence from sheer want of breath. She had frequently to
rest for a few minutes, and was coming fast to the conviction that
rural excursions on a hot day, and flower-hunting over rough ground,
were less pleasant than she thought at first. The hills, bare of
trees, exposed them to the full power of the sun, yet were covered
with a growth of tall heaths, mingled with patches of the _cistus
ladaniferus_, which covers so much of the surface of the slaty hills
of this region. The close growth and gummy exudations of this plant
often made the thickets impenetrable, and forced the party to many a
long circuit, in their efforts to reach the ridge of the high
grounds. Mrs. Shortridge at length sat, or rather sunk, down upon a
fragment of rock, and L'Isle came promptly to her aid.

"Colonel L'Isle," said she, panting, "I could not take another step up
hill for all the flowers in Portugal."

"I am only astonished at your getting so far up. You are not used to
climbing mountains."

"When Lady Mabel is at home in Scotland," said Mrs. Shortridge, "I
suppose she walks up a mountain every morning, to get an appetite for
breakfast. So it is in vain to attempt to follow her. But here she

Lady Mabel now joined them; and L'Isle, pointing out a belt of low
woods that wound along the hollow ground at no great distance below
them, offered Mrs. Shortridge his arm, and induced her to make an
effort to reach its shelter.

On drawing nearer to it, they found themselves in a rough path, made
by the flocks of the neighborhood, which led them at first through
thickets of evergreen shrubs, and then abruptly down the rocky and
almost precipitous bank of that stream, which a mile or two below
reached and supplied the aqueduct of Elvas.

Here the clear, cool waters glided over a rocky bed, and when they had
quenched their thirst, the ladies found time to look around. On
either hand they were shut in by masses of rock, which, with their
stratified and fractured lines, resembled walls, the rude masonry of
giants. A projecting crag shut out from sight the stream above them;
but, attracted by the sound of falling waters, they pushed their way
by a few careful steps round it, and full in view, and close at hand,
the stream fell over a ledge of rock in a beautiful cascade,
descending at once twenty feet into a rock-girdled pool, which in the
course of ages it had hollowed out for itself. Here the water ran
eddying round, as lingering on a spot it loved, and loath to resume
its onward course.

The perpetually falling waters fanned and freshened the noonday air;
while overhead, on every ledge that gave footing to their roots, the
myrtle and lauristinus, mingled with the oleander, the rhododendron
ponticum, and other evergreen shrubs, fed by the fostering moisture of
the atmosphere, almost to the size of trees, spread out their
luxurious branches to shut out each straggling sunbeam, and deepen the
shade of the narrow dell almost to twilight. It was a cavern, with
its vaulted roof removed, laying it gently open to the light of day,
without its glare. The wood-pigeon amidst the boughs mingled his
plaintive notes with the murmur of the falling water, and the speckled
trout sported in the pool--now displaying his glistening scales at the
surface, then suddenly and coyly hiding in some deep and dark recess.

Lady Mabel stood in silent, motionless delight, drinking in with eye,
and ear, and breath, the thrilling sensations crowding on her in this
enchanted spot. The exclamation in which Mrs. Shortridge's admiring
surprise found vent, jarred on her young companions' nerves, and
seemed to break a mystic spell.

The ladies were still wondering at the chance which had led them to
this spot, so cool, shady and refreshing after their fatigues, and so
charming in its happy grouping of wild, picturesque, and romantic
features on a miniature scale, when one of L'Isle's servants stepped
from behind the projecting crag, and spread a cloth over a large
fragment of rock, the stratified surface of its upper side making no
inconvenient table. Then, bringing forward a large basket, he lost no
time in setting forth the materials of a light but elegant repast. It
was now evident to the ladies that their arrival at this place of
refuge and delight, neighboring so closely the bare mountain-side, was
not so accidental as they had imagined, and they united in thanking
L'Isle for his foresight, and lauding his taste.

Smaller fragments of rock were placed as seats for the ladies, and
though they had not all the conveniences of a well-ordered
dining-room, they only enjoyed themselves the more for the want of
them, while L'Isle busied himself in doing the hospitalities of what
Lady Mabel christened "Fairy Dell." The inducements were strong to
remain here until the heat of the day was past. Mrs. Shortridge had
had her fill of heat and fatigue, in scrambling over the rugged
mountain. Lady Mabel had to place her botanical treasures with their
stems in the water, to revive their already withering bloom and rear
their drooping heads, before she could cull from their unwieldy bulk
the specimens she wished to preserve. So, after their meal, the
servant was sent to order the horses up to the nearest point that
admitted of riding, while the party reposed themselves in the shade
and rested from their labors, luxuriously enjoying the scene, sounds,
and atmosphere around them.

"How did you happen to find this lovely spot?" asked Mrs. Shortridge.

"The truth is, I yesterday morning went over the same ground we have
gone over to-day, and a good deal more," answered L'Isle. "Following
this stream upward, I came to this spot. If you would hunt out the
peculiar beauties of Portugal, you must follow the course of its
rivers and rivulets. True as this is of many countries, it is most
true of this. You may observe, Lady Mabel, that almost all the plants
you have collected, and some flowers you have not met with to-day,
were contained in the collection I brought you yesterday."

"I see that," said Lady Mabel. "But to-day's work is not therefore the
less satisfactory. The title botanist--and I suppose you have found
out that I make some pretensions to that character--is not content
with merely having flowers, leaves, and parts of plants in his _hortus
siccus_, or even abortive specimens in his garden and his hot-house:
he wants to see the whole plant where nature placed it, and study its
character and habits there. Who is satisfied with seeing a Turk in
London? To know him as he is, we look for him in Constantinople, or,
better still, in some province across the Bosphorus, seated on his own
carpet, in his own shop, or in his coffee-house; or, better still, in
his harem, with his customers, or neighbors, or his family of wives
around him. How much does the Esquimaux in London resemble the
Esquimaux seated on his sledge, shouting at his team of dogs, and
posting over his frozen and trackless route, with a horizon of ice
around him? That is traveling, and this is botany; and of all sciences
botany best suits the traveler. Every variation of latitude, climate,
or season, even the smallest changes of soil, elevation, or exposure,
brings him to a new region, where he may make new acquaintances, or
meet old friends. Through a love for botany the wilderness blooms to
us like a garden, and the solitary places are made populous and glad."

"Such an enthusiastic botanist must become an adept," said L'Isle. "I
suppose you see in Portugal nothing but a land of rare and varied

"By no means. I am not wedded to one pursuit; or gifted with but one
taste. I have eyes for other things beside flowers, and shall seize
every opportunity of seeing and knowing something of the people of the

"The people, the real people," said L'Isle, "both of this country and
of Spain, are the peasantry. They are chiefly agricultural countries,
and the rural, or rather village population forms the bulk of both
nations, and the best part of them."

"It is the peasantry, the dear, natural, picturesque peasantry that I
most want to know."

"I am astonished to hear you say so, Lady Mabel. The ignorant, filthy,
superstitious creatures!" exclaimed Mrs. Shortridge, with an air of
infinite disgust. "Their _fidalgos_, as they call their gentry, are
bad enough; but as for the common people, any familiarity with them,
sufficient to enable you to know them, would be too disgusting. They
may be picturesque; so let us confine them to their place in the
picture. There alone it is that they do not bring their savor of
garlic with them," and she here buried her pretty little turned-up
nose in a bunch of Lady Mabel's most fragrant flowers.

"Give me those flowers, Mrs. Shortridge; you handle them so rudely,
any one might see that you are no botanist. I had just laid them aside
to be pressed. And as for the poor Portuguese, I mean to know them as
well and despise them as little as I can, and even hope to learn
something through them, if not from them. Colonel L'Isle, I have
mastered already all the ordinary phrases of Portuguese salutation and
compliment, which you know are much more various and cumbrous than in
our direct, blunt English. I can already be as polite as the most
courteous native, and that is, at least, the beginning of
conversation. I can ask, too, for the necessaries of life, and inquire
my road, should I chance to lose it. Let a woman alone for getting the
tongues. I hold frequent conferences with Antonio Lobo, the peasant
who keeps our orchard at head-quarters, and have daily talks with our
Portuguese chamber-maid, and can find fault with her, not to say
scold, in good set terms. The awkward creature gives me abundant
provocation for scolding, and for not forgetting your advice about
vociferation and gesticulation."

"You do well to remember it," said L'Isle; "it will help you on

"I had some thoughts," she continued, "in order to lose no opportunity
of familiarizing myself with these tongues, of saying my prayers in
Spanish of a morning, and Portuguese at night. But a scruple of
conscience deterred me from attempting, in prayer, to kill two birds
with one stone."

"I think," said L'Isle, laughing, "that your scruple was not out of

"Yet you know that Charles V. held that God should never be addressed
but in Spanish."

"A strange doctrine for a Papist, who was always praying to him in bad
Latin," said L'Isle. "That opinion savors of heresy, and deserved the
notice of the Inquisition."

"At all events," said Lady Mabel, "it is best not to pray to him in
bad Spanish. But had I an opportunity of traveling through Spain and
Portugal, and mixing freely with the people, I would show you how
quickly both tongues could be mastered."

"I see little chance of your having that opportunity soon," said
Mrs. Shortridge.

"I am afraid I must give up all hope of it. The _Santa Hermandad_ no
longer keep the roads safe; and all the knights of Alcantara and
Calatrava to boot, of these degenerate days, would afford but little
protection to a _demoiselle errante_."

"I will offer you a more trusty escort than that of those false
knights," said L'Isle. "I will place myself and regiment at your

"That is truly kind. I accept the offer; and when I set out on my
travels, will send you on with it a march or two ahead, to clear the
way, and make all safe for us, while Mrs. Shortridge and myself will
follow at ease with our civic retinue, confident that you will have
removed every danger from the path!"

"That arrangement would make the journey less pleasant to me than I
hoped to find it."

"I thought your object was our safety, not your pleasure," said Lady

"And for my part," said Mrs. Shortridge, "I do not care to travel any
road which requires a regiment to make it safe. I am inquisitive
enough, but my fears would be stronger than my curiosity."

"Well," Lady Mabel said, "I begin to despair of ever gratifying my
longing after a rambling life. It is probably all for the best. I dare
say I would have become a mere vagabond. But I had embraced a wide
field in my contemplated travels: romantic Spain, la belle France,
classic Italy, and that dreamy, misty Faderland. But I suppose that
this war will last always, and for all practical purposes I may as
well roll up the map of Europe."

"Do you seriously imagine that this war will last forever?" L'Isle

"Why not forever, or, at least, for a long life time? It began before
I was born, and may continue long after I am dead. I have no
recollection of a state of peace, to make me think it the natural
condition of nations."

"We are luckily not limited to our own experience in drawing our
conclusions. Take my word for it, these wars are drawing to a close. I
am only afraid that they will end before I am a Major-General."

"Why! Do you expect them to go on making a series of blunders at
headquarters, like that in the affair of that unlucky Spanish

"A series of blunders," L'Isle answered, "would be quite in accordance
with the routine at the war-office, at least. So my expectations are
not so unreasonable as you may imagine."

"Then let them blunder on as fast as possible, and make you a
major-general, and a knight of the bath, too, if it please the king.
Many of your family were knighted of old, and Sir Edward L'Isle will
sound well enough until it be merged in the peerage. But mean while
hasten to drive these French out of Spain, as the czar is driving them
out of Russia; make Spain too hot, as Muscovy is too cold for them,
that I may begin my travels at an early day."

L'Isle, out of countenance, made no answer to this sally. He did not
like being laughed at, especially by Lady Mabel.

The rays of the declining sun now touched the tops only of the
luxuriant shrubbery, that overhung this fairy dell. The heat of the
day was passed, and clambering up the steep path to the more level
ground, the party found their servants at hand with the horses, and
rode slowly back toward Elvas.

Near the foot of the range of hills, L'Isle suddenly caught sight of
three red coats, and saying, "I wonder what those fellows are doing so
far from their quarters," he turned his horse out of the path, and
rode toward them. They presently saw him approaching, and much to Lady
Mabel's surprise and amusement, in which last feeling, Mrs. Shortridge
joined, instead of waiting for him to come up, they immediately ran
off different ways, seeking concealment from the thickets and hollows.
Selecting one of them for the chase, L'Isle pushed his horse boldly
over the rough ground. But the soldier, finding the pursuit too hot,
pulled off the coat which made him conspicuous, and folding it into
small compass, pushed through an overgrown hedge and vanished. L'Isle
was soon at fault, and had to give up the chase. He returned somewhat
out of humor, with his horse somewhat blown.

"You are a bold rider," said Lady Mabel, "but those red foxes are too
cunning for you. What made you chase them? What harm were they doing?"

"None that I know of--and had they let me speak to them I would have
suspected none. But a soldier is always at mischief when he avoids
being seen and identified by his officer. The men are allowed too much
liberty in rambling over the country. No wonder we have so many
complaints lodged against them."

"You had better speak to papa about it," said Lady Mabel, in simple
confidence that so doing would set all to right.

"So I have, more than once. But he does not agree with me, and is
opposed to what he calls needless restraint."

"Oh, if papa thinks so, you need not worry yourself about the
matter. It is his business, and doubtless near forty year's experience
has taught him what amount and kinds of restraint are needed, and what
is merely burthensome and oppressive. I have heard him discuss these
matters more than once."

She seemed so little disposed to think her father might be mistaken,
that L'Isle did not venture to hint further the possibility of it. In
that father, Lady Mabel had full faith, and also some of the faith of
inexperience in the beautiful theory which teaches that the general
knows best, that after him the second in command approaches nearest to
infallibility, and so on through every gradation of rank, in all
services, civil and military. Had she made an exception to the
application of this rule, it would have been in her father's case; for
she inclined to the belief, that notwithstanding the reputation and
higher rank of the military men who stood between him and the
commander-in-chief, her father was, after Wellington, the strongest
bulwark against the torrent of invading French.

"I dare say that many of these poor fellows," observed Lady Mabel,
"though they are but common soldiers, enjoy a stroll into the country
as much as we do. In a rude way they admire picturesque beauty, and
observe with interest, bird, beast and plant of a country so different
from their own."

"I suspect," said Mrs. Shortridge, "they look chiefly for the
picturesque spots frequented by the pigs and poultry of the peasants,
and have a keen eye to detect where the fruits of the orchard are
stored, and where the wine skins hang."

Lady Mabel was indignant at this suggestion. "It is a libel on the
British army in general, and on our brigade in particular. They are
soldiers, not robbers; and the king's troops are too well cared for to
be driven to plunder for a living."

"But they may rob from love of mischief, of excitement, of excess,
from mere idleness, or old habits," said L'Isle. "In recruiting we
adopt a physical, and not a moral standard. A sound body, five feet
some inches long, is all we look for, and we are glad to get it. A
great many rogues fulfil these requisites, and get into the ranks; and
though we charge ourselves with the moral as well as the physical
training, we are not always successful. The sack of Badajoz, and of
Ciudad Rodrigo bear witness to this."

They reached Elvas without further incident, and this proved but the
first of many excursions made from time to time to points around that
place. Thus, altogether with a view to her profit and pleasure, L'Isle
contrived to withdraw Lady Mabel frequently from the military throng
at headquarters, and, with Mrs. Shortridge's aid, appropriate her to

By this adroit manoeuvre, L'Isle did not gain the good will of some of
his brother officers, who found their share of her ladyship's society
much curtailed. What cared L'Isle for that? No more than colonels
usually care for the inclinations of subalterns. Many were the
pleasant morning rambles on horseback and on foot that he took with
the two ladies; and this mode of life agreed with him wonderfully
well. Before long he recovered strength and activity to achieve some
tall climbing after rare plants among the rocks and crags, which would
have gained him great credit in an escalade. Occasionally too, while
Mrs. Shortridge prudently, or indolently, kept the more level ground
he would contrive to lead Lady Mabel to some elevated and perilous
spot--and she boldly putting herself into difficulties, and not always
seeing the way out of them, had to rely on his aid, and the supporting
arm he delighted to afford her. And they gave to love for botany the
credit of it all.

The zeal with which Colonel L'Isle followed up this new study, did not
escape Colonel Bradshawe's watchful eye. So his satirical tongue had
many a comment to make on the change in L'Isle's habits. To his own
cronies Bradshawe dubbed him the bushman, not as being neighbor to the
Hottentots, but from his often riding into Elvas, equipped like one of
Malcolm's soldiers, marching from Birnam wood to Dunsinane.

"Our would be Achilles, laden with that huge bunch of materials for
Lady Mabel's _hortus siccus_, thinks himself like Hercules with the
distaff. To me he looks like a florist's apprentice, selling his
flowers at a penny a bunch. It must be confessed though that the
fellow has talents and tact. How completely has he contrived to shut
out rivalry, by availing himself of my lady's weakness in imagining
herself a great botanist, and providing her with a zealous and
admiring pupil in his own person. And then to use so adroitly his
accommodating temporary female friend in decoying his lawful love into
the trap. She is certainly the finest girl of her day, and acres are
good things, even though they be Scotch acres; for in the same
proportion they are broader as well as more barren than English acres.
The whole thing is admirable. It is a combination of means to a
combination of ends, evincing genius of high order. Were I at the head
of the war office, I would promote him on the spot."

"Poor Shortridge!" sighed Colonel Bradshawe, dropping at once from a
tone of the highest admiration to one of deep commiseration, "can he
possibly be blind to what is going on? And what is Lord Strathern
dreaming of! What a pity one cannot interfere in these little matters,
and put our friends on their guard! But Shortridge is so obtuse, and
my Lord so self-willed and wrong-headed, that it would only make
matters worse. Indeed, it is too late to help Shortridge, poor fellow!
and we must console ourselves with the wise conclusion of the great

  "He that is robbed, not wanting what is stolen,
   Let him not know it, and he's not robbed at all."


  Whanne that April with his shoures sote
  The droughte of March hath perced to the rote,
  And bathed every veine in swiche licour,
  Of which vertue engendred is the flour;
  Whan Zephirus eke with his sote brethe,
  Enspired hath in every holt and hethe
  The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
  Hath in the Ram his half cours yronne,
  And smale foules maken melodie
  That sleepen all night with open eye,
  So pricketh hem nature in hir corages;
  Than longen folk to gon on pilgrimages,
  And palmeres for to seken strange strondes,
  To servo halwes couthe in sondry londes.

                          _Prologue to Canterbury Tales_.

"Why, _Ma belle_, you are an indomitable excursionist!" exclaimed Lord
Strathern one evening, when the botanical party, after a hard day's
work in pleasure-hunting, returned to a late dinner at headquarters.
"I wonder Mrs. Shortridge is not worn out in accompanying you."

"I take it easily, my Lord," said Mrs. Shortridge, "keeping the
broadest and smoothest path I can find, like the wicked in Scripture,
while Lady Mabel rambles about on either hand, having, I think, a
liking for rough ground. Like the mountain goat, if she will forgive
the comparison, she prefers the crag to the plain. If your Lordship
saw the hardihood with which she puts herself into all sorts of
perilous situations, until, at times, it needs all the aid Colonel
L'Isle can give to extricate her, I fear you would put a stop to our

"As yet my wardrobe has been the only sufferer," said Lady Mabel. "I
have just taken off the third dress I have damaged past remedy."

"If you had been a boy, _Ma belle_, instead of a girl, you would have
made a rare sportsman!"

"A sportsman, indeed! By this time I would have held a commission in
his Majesty's service. Why, papa, I am a year older than ensign Wade,
have almost as much beard to my chin, and, but for my sex, would make
quite as good a soldier."

"I am content, however, to have you as you are, and would not exchange
you for a regiment of the best boys in England."

"Better one daughter than a thousand sons," said Lady Mabel, "for they
would make a cumbersome family."

"You are a cumbersome baggage yourself," said Lord Strathern. "Just
see the endless litter of flowers, leaves, yea, branches of trees,
with which you cumber the house. We will have to apply to the
quartermaster for the use of a returning supply-train to convey your
botanical treasures to Lisbon, and we will have to charter a vessel
there to carry them home. Dr. Graham's study will not contain all you
collect for him. You must have exhausted the neighborhood."

"In one sense I am afraid we have. Colonel L'Isle tells me that we
have explored almost every part of the country immediately around

"I am sorry we are tied down to this one spot," said her father. "As
you have never been from home before, I would wish you to see as much
as possible of this country. But I must stick close to the brigade, at
hand for orders at any moment."

"I must be content," said Lady Mabel. "And, after all, it is better to
see one place thoroughly, than to take a hasty glance at a dozen in
the style of common-place travelers."

"I confess I am but a common-place traveler," said Mrs. Shortridge,
"and would like to see a new place every day; though I have, I own,
found more variety and amusement in exploring the neighborhood than I

"You will shortly have an opportunity, Mrs. Shortridge," said L'Isle,
"of visiting a very striking place by merely accompanying the
commissary. He thinks of going to Evora to purchase cattle and grain
for the troops, and Evora is well worth seeing, as well as the country
you pass through in going thither."

"Ah! I would like the jaunt very much. But I did not know that the
commissary was going thither."

"He is going, and you might accompany him," said L'Isle. "You could
not indeed make the journey in your coach if you had one, for off this
high road, from Lisbon to Madrid, there is scarcely a carriage-road in
the country. But you are now quite at home, on the back of your
sure-footed mule."

The truth was, L'Isle had himself suggested to the commissary that the
country south of Evora was rich and productive, and that prices had
not been raised there by the vicinity of the troops, and the demands
of their market. At the same time he gave Shortridge to understand
that he wished to get up a party to visit Evora, and Lady Mabel must
be included in it.

"I will ask the commissary to-night when he is going," said Mrs.
Shortridge; "and to take me with him, if he can."

Lady Mabel had listened with silent interest so far; but here she
broke in upon their conference, just as L'Isle desired.

"Why, Mrs. Shortridge," she exclaimed, with a well-feigned air of one
deeply wronged, "do you mean to desert me? After partaking of my
pleasant excursions and botanical instructions (but I find you a very
dull scholar), do you mean to go traveling about, in search of
adventures and rare sights, without even asking me to be of the
party?--I, who am afflicted with a mania for traveling which can only
be cured by being gratified? But such is woman's friendship."

"My dear Lady Mabel, how do you know that my lord would trust you
so far under my care?

"So far!" said Lady Mabel, scornfully. "Did I not come from Scotland
hither, braving the perils of the sea and of the wilderness, the
stormy Bay of Biscay, and the desert of Alemtejo, teeming with robbers
and wild beasts? With no guardian but old Moodie, whose chief merit is
that of being a suspicious old Scot, with the fidelity and
snappishness of a terrier."

"I am surprised now that I sent for you," said Lord Strathern,
"considering the difficulties in the way of your coming. But you are
here, and I thank God for it. But you would find it a long, rough ride
to Evora, and the weather grows hotter every day."

"Rough roads are nothing to us who travel on horseback," Lady Mabel
said, with the air of a cavalier; "and as for the distance, it is not
much over a morning's ride. Colonel L'Isle, could not you ride there
in a morning?"

"With relays of good horses, and good luck to my neck," said L'Isle,
with a laugh. "It is about fifty miles; but one need not go the whole
way in one day."

"Of course not," she answered. "We will not ride post, but take our
ease, and see the country at our leisure."

"I see you intend going, _ma belle_," said Lord Strathern; "so I may
as well give my consent with a good grace. But is the commissary able
and willing to take charge of more than one lady, Mrs. Shortridge,
who has a will of her own? I trust, too, L'Isle, that after giving
these ladies a taste for rambling, you do not mean to desert them
now. They may need your escort. Small parties are never safe traveling
about this country. Our friends just hereabouts, especially, (I am
sorry to say it of them), are apt to fall in love with other men's
goods, and have a strong throat-cutting propensity."

"Oh, there is nothing to fear, papa," said Lady Mabel. "Our troops
occupy the country, and, if necessary, we will take Colonel L'Isle
with us for further protection. Pray, Colonel L'Isle, how many robbers
could you defend us from?"

"I would try to defend you against a hundred."

"But pray," said Mrs. Shortridge, "carry at least two servants, well

"Certainly," said Lady Mabel; "we will do the thing effectually. They
shall carry no baggage, but stuff their valises full of loaded
pistols, as antidotes to Mrs. Shortridge's fears."

"I will join the party with pleasure, my lord. I suppose I can be
spared from this post for a few days?" said L'Isle, well pleased to be
urged to join in an excursion, secretly and ingeniously contrived by

The ladies, delighted at the prospect of a pleasant journey and new
scenes, were at once full of plans and preparations for their outfit
on the road. Nor did they reckon without their host; for the
commissary assented to their joining him the moment it was proposed.
Colonel Bradshawe might amuse himself and his cronies by expressing
astonishment at his blindness or complaisance, but Shortridge had good
reasons for what he did. Since he had made money, both his wife and
himself felt a strong craving for social promotion; and Colonel L'Isle
and Lady Mabel were just the persons to lend them a helping hand in
their efforts to ascend the social ladder. But with Shortridge this
was just now but a secondary matter. The commander-in-chief had been
lately giving a rough overhauling to the officials of the
commissariat. Their numberless peculations, and short-comings at
critical moments, had exasperated him into a conviction that they were
necessary evils, and rascals to a man by right of office, and only to
be dealt with as such. And Sir Rowland Hill, to whose division the
brigade belonged, had learned this, among other lessons, from his
great commander. Now L'Isle was known to have the ear of Sir Rowland,
and the commissary was of opinion that, while Lord Strathern commanded
the brigade, Lady Mabel commanded him, so that the good opinion and
good word of those parties might avail him much on certain
emergencies. If a friend at court be a good thing, two are still
better; so he was all compliance, and let the ladies fix the next day
but one for the journey.

Early on that morning, accordingly, the party assembled at
headquarters, and their horses and mules crowded the little court of
the monastic building. L'Isle had provided an _arriero_ for a guide,
with his three mules for their baggage. The kind, and quantity, too,
of provision he had prepared for their journey, was a reflection on
the resources and hospitality of the country they were to pass
through. Nor had the commissary been negligent of creature comforts.

Lord Strathern placed his daughter in the saddle. "Remember, _ma
belle_, your blood is not used to this feverous climate, and even your
pretty neck may get broken in a mountain path."

Lady Mabel listened with dutiful attention to the warnings of
experience against the dangers from the noonday sun, the chilly night
wind, and fast riding over rough paths; but, full of anticipated
pleasure, she perhaps did not remember them an hour after.

"You are much encumbered with baggage, L'Isle," said Lord Strathern;
"and your party larger than I expected."

"My party, papa," said Lady Mabel, with an air of asserting her
position. "I like to travel in good style. This is my retinue, and a
very complete one it is. Colonel L'Isle is my dragoman, and interprets
for me among the barbarous natives. The servants, armed to the teeth,
are my guards. The commissary is my purveyor, and," she added, glancing
at his rotund figure, "I have no fear of starving in his company. Mrs.
Shortridge, though she does not look sour enough for the office, is my
duenna, punctilious and watchful--" Here she suddenly broke off her
discourse, and fixed her eyes on old Moodie, who now entered the
court, leading in a powerful horse of her father's, with a pair of
huge holsters at the saddle-bow. Being a small and an old man, he
climbed stiffly and with some difficulty into the saddle; but, when
seated there, his earnest face and resolute air made him look a hero
of the covenant quitting the conventicle for the battle-field.

After watching him in silent surprise, she exclaimed: "Why, Moodie,
are you going too? I did not know that you were so fond of traveling,
and so inquisitive about these idolatrous foreigners and their

"I would gladly turn my back on them and their country; but my duty
forbids it."

"But how will papa do without you?"

"Better than your ladyship can."

"But you have made yourself so useful, indeed necessary, as steward in
this house, which needed one sadly."

"Perhaps, so, my lady. But I know where I am most needed. I do not
mean to lose sight of you for twenty-four hours, until you are safe at

Lady Mabel looked exceedingly provoked and much out of countenance at
the _surveillance_ he assumed over her. Did he think her still a child
now, when she felt herself a woman? It was well she did not ask _him_
that question, for Moodie thought this the time when she needed most
watching. She was about to forbid his following her, but her father,
laughing at her discomfiture, said, "Moodie told me last night that he
would have to be of the party. He got his general orders before he
left Scotland, and in this case my sister is commander-in-chief."

The party was now ready, and rode out of the court, L'Isle putting
himself by Lady Mabel's side.

"What special part does this old man fill in your father's household?"

"Properly, none; though he has made himself steward by an act of
usurpation. Just at this time he belongs to my household," said she,
with mock dignity. "And, when at home, he is a very important person
at Craiggyside, a place unknown to your geography, but a very
important and delightful place, notwithstanding."

"I blush to acknowledge my ignorance. Pray put an end to it by telling
me what sort of a place Craiggyside is."

"It is a villa and farm, the home of my aunt, with whom I live. There
old Moodie fulfills his round of duties. He manages the farm, sells
the crops, tasks the ploughmen, overlooks the shepherd, scolds the
dairymaid, bullies the servants, and regulates all that come near
him. He can be charged with no shortcomings, for he overdoes all he
undertakes. Not content with controlling our secular concerns, he
would gladly take upon him the cure of souls. But there he meets with
stubborn resistance."

"He has a varied sphere of duty," said L'Isle, "and seems accustomed
to have his own way. He does not wait for your orders, nor, indeed,
seems to be very amenable to them. In short, notwithstanding the
official title you have bestowed on Mrs. Shortridge, it is plain to me
that the real duenna does not wear petticoats."

"His presumption is equal to any thing," said Lady Mabel, provoked at
the suggestion. "But I will make him repent it shortly. He shall long
remember this journey. But enough of him for the present. Let us make
the most of this delightful morning hour. It will be hot enough by
noon. I am now in the traveler's happiest mood, enjoying at once the
feeling of adventure with the sense of security, which, you must
admit, is a rare and difficult combination of emotions."

L'Isle was quite as well pleased as Lady Mabel with the prospect
before him. He had, at Lord Strathern's request, assented to join a
party, which he alone had gotten up, solely that he might put himself
in the relation of companion and protector to Lady Mabel. The
commissary and his wife were convenient screens, not at all in his
way. Whether the part of guide, philosopher, and friend to such a
pupil suited a man of four-and-twenty, he was yet to learn. No doubts
of this kind troubled him, however, as the _arriero_ led his mules
down the hill, and the party followed the music of their bells, all in
high spirits, except old Moodie, who, though a volunteer, continued to
be a grumbler.

Two hours' riding carried them beyond the point to which the botanical
excursions had led them in that direction. They were leaving the
valley, and entering on the high and broken uplands, when Lady Mabel
spied a low cross by the roadside. Though rudely formed, it was of
stone, and not of wood, like most of those in such places, and a short
inscription was carved upon it. Faintly cut, badly spelt, and with
many abbreviations, it was an enigma to her scholarship, and L'Isle
had to decipher it for her: "Andreo Savaro was murdered here. Pray for
his soul." "It is only one of those monumental crosses," said he, "of
which you see so many along the roads throughout the peninsula."

"Do they always add murder to robbery here?" she asked.

"Too often, but not always," answered L'Isle. "Nor is robbery the only
motive which leads to the taking of life. A solitary cross by the
roadside is usually in memory of the victim of robbers, or,
occasionally, of fatal accident; but when you see crosses, two or
three together, in villages or towns, or their immediate neighborhood,
they oftener mark the scene of some deed of bloodshed prompted by
revenge, not lucre."

"They are certainly very numerous," said she, "and form a shocking
feature on the face of the country, indicating a dreadful state of

"I wonder these people persist in putting them up," said the
commissary, "for they are of no manner of use."

"Use!" said Lady Mabel, "what is the use of a tomb-stone?"

"If you mean real use, I am sure I don't know," said Shortridge.

"I see that you are a thorough utilitarian," she replied; "and since
these people will continue to commit murder on the high road, I
suppose you would have them do it at regular intervals, so that by aid
of these monumental crosses we might measure our journey by murders
instead of miles. Come, Mrs. Shortridge, road-side murder is rife
here, so the less we loiter on our way the better."

This remark had the effect mischievously intended. Mrs. Shortridge,
turning somewhat pale, and twitching her bridle convulsively, urged
her mule close up to the party.

They went on some miles across a desolate country, covered with heath,
rosemary, and gum cistus, more fragrant than the many rank bulbous
plants, which disputed possession of the soil with them. The road was
rough with slaty rock, the air became beaming hot, and L'Isle told the
guide to lead them to some place of shelter from the noon-day
sun. Before them lay a high open plain, on which a large flock of
sheep, dusky, and many of them black in hue, were feeding, and filling
the air with their bleatings. On the right, beyond the plain, there
was a grove of the _Quercus Ilex_, rugged, stunted, thirsty-looking
trees, yet whose evergreen boughs gave promise of at least a partial
shade. The _arriero_ led the party toward it, but just as they
approached the wood, several large and savage dogs flew out, and
charged them with a ferocity that might have cost a solitary traveler
his life. They were busy repelling this assault, when five or six men
showed themselves from behind a thicket. Dark, sunburnt, smoke-dried
fellows they were, with shaggy hair, and rudely clad, each man having
a sheep-skin thrown over his shoulders, and most of them grasping
long, rusty guns in their hands.

Mrs. Shortridge called out "robbers!" and entreated L'Isle to fire
upon them. The commissary, too, but more coolly, pronounced them to be
robbers, "when they find an opportunity to follow that calling; but,
just now, they are watching their flocks."

"Shepherds! those ruffians, shepherds!" exclaimed Lady Mabel; "O!
shades of Theocritus and Virgil, what a satire upon pastoral poetry!"

Shepherds, however, they were, who called off their dogs, after
reconnoitring the party. The _arriero_ inquired of them where water
was to be found, and they pointed to a little hollow in the wood, an
hundred yards off. He was leading the party that way, when L'Isle said
to the ladies, "let us have a talk with these fellows."

"Certainly," said Lady Mabel, and she turned her horse's head toward

"Certainly not," said Mrs. Shortridge, and she reined her mule back,
"I am too near them already. I will not dare to take my siesta with
these fellows in the neighborhood, for fear of waking up in another
place than Portugal." And she followed her melting husband, who was
hastening out of the sun, in the hope of regaining his solidity in the
shade at hand.

L'Isle and Lady Mabel rode close up to the shepherds. They had been
resting under an oak, and the cooking utensils, some baggage, and two
asses near at hand, looked as if they, too, were travelers. L'Isle
addressed a tall, dark man, of middle age, who seemed to be the head
of the party. As soon as these men heard their own language from the
mouth of a foreigner, so fluently and correctly spoken, their faces
lightened up with interest and intelligence. They gave ready answers
to all inquiries, and L'Isle had to reply in turn to many a question
as to himself, his companions, and the news of the war. The chief
shepherd was particularly anxious to know the condition of the
province of Beira, and what were the chances of a visit there from the
French during the coming summer. His flock, he said, was one of those
which winter on the heaths and plains of Alemtejo, and, to avoid the
droughts which make them a desert in summer, are driven across the
Tagus in the spring, into the _Serra Estrella_, when the snow has
melted, and vegetation again covers that range of mountains.

One of his companions offered for sale two rabbits and some partridges
he had shot on the moors, which L'Isle bought, like a provident
traveler, who does not rely too much on the larder of the next inn.

Lady Mabel, with attentive ear, had gathered the sense of much that
had been said, and L'Isle had interpreted what puzzled her. But being
a woman, she was unwilling to remain a mere listener; so, elaborately
framing a question in Portuguese, she addressed the head shepherd,
seeking to know how far the migrations of these flocks resembled the
Spanish mesta. The dark man gazed at her admiringly and attentively,
repeating some of her words, but unable to make out her meaning. She
bit her lip, while he, shaking his head, turned to L'Isle, and said,
"what a pity so lovely a lady cannot speak Portuguese. She looks just
like our 'Lady of Nazareth,' at Pederneira, only her hair is brighter,
and her eyes are blue."

"What says he about my language and _Nossa Senhora de Nazareth?_" said
Lady Mabel. "Tell him that I speak better Portuguese than she ever
did, for all her black eyes and tawny skin."

"By no means," said L'Isle, smiling. "As you will have no opportunity
to evangelize the man, it will do no good to outrage his idolatrous
veneration for _Nossa Senhora de Nazareth?_ You might shake his
superstition, yet not purify his faith, but merely drive him to a
choice between the church and infidelity."

They now left the shepherds to join the party. "I am provoked," said
Lady Mabel, "to find how little progress I have made in speaking
Portuguese. But it is not surprising what a complete mastery the
rudest and most illiterate people here have over their tongue."

"And how polite and sociable they are," said L'Isle. "Unlike the
unmannered and almost languageless English peasant, they are
unembarrassed and social, fluent, and often eloquent."

"Yet these men," said she, "in habits, though not in race, are but
nomadic Tartars at the western extremity of Europe."

"They differ too," said L'Isle, "from their immediate neighbors, the
Spaniard, in being far more sociable and communicative. For instance,
I have got much more out of my Portuguese shepherd than a certain
French traveler got out of his shepherd of Castile."

"What do you allude to?" she asked.

"A French traveler, it is said, as he entered Castile, met a shepherd
guiding his flock. Curious to know all the circumstances which give to
the Spanish wool its inimitable qualities, he asked the shepherd an
hundred questions: 'If his flock belonged to that district? What sort
of food was given it? Whether he was on a journey? From whence he
came? Whither he was going? When he would return?' In short, he asked
every question a prying Frenchman could think of. The shepherd
listened coldly to them all. Then, in the sententious style of a true
Castilian, replied, '_aqui nacen_, _aqui pacen_, _aqui mueren_,' (here
they breed, here they feed, here they die,) and went his way without a
word more."

The party spent some time here, dining and resting under the shade of
these prickly oaks, the tree that yields the famous _botolas_, so
largely used for food by men and swine, and on tasting which we are
less surprised that in "the primal age,"

             "Hunger then
  Made acorns tasteful; thirst each rivulet
  Run nectar."

Mrs. Shortridge had contrived to snatch a short siesta, in spite of
her fears. Their horses were led up, ready for them to mount and
proceed on their journey, when Lady Mabel, plucking a twig from a
branch overhead, observed on it several specimens of the _kermes_. She
could not resist this opportunity of displaying her scraps of
scientific lore, and detained the party while she delivered a
discourse on the _coccus arborum_, "which," she said, "infests this
tree; the _quercus cocci_. This furnishes what the ignorant-learned
long called grains of kermes, looking like dried currants, which they
mistook for the fruit of a tree, while it is, in truth, the dried body
of an insect. It affords a vermilion dye, not so brilliant, but far
more durable than the cochineal of Mexico. There are in the
Netherlands," she continued, "rich tapestries dyed with kermes, known
to be three hundred years old, which still retain their pristine
brilliancy of color. Only think, Mrs. Shortridge, of having carpets,
shawls and cloaks of such unfading hues!"

"They would be of no use to me," yawned Mrs. Shortridge, "I would be
even more tired of myself than of my cloak, before the end of three
hundred years."

"Why," exclaimed L'Isle, "this indestructible dye must be the very
stuff with which the old lady of Babylon dyed her petticoat; for it
has not faded in the least since she first put it on, as we may see in
this country, where she wears it openly, without even a decent piece
of lawn over it, to suppress the brightness of its hues."

"As our lives are not so lasting as the dye Lady Mabel talks of," said
the commissary, "let us make the most of them by taking horse at once,
and hastening on, for we must pass through Villa Vicosa, and sleep
several miles beyond it to-night."

Returning to the road, they presently reached a cultivated valley, and
passed through a hamlet, scarcely seen before it was entered, so
completely were the low stone walls of the houses hidden by the olive,
orange, almond, and other fruit-trees surrounding them. The only
inhabitants visible were two or three squalid children, playing in the
road, and a woman lounging at her door, eyeing the party with mingled
curiosity and suspicion, while a stout yearling calf pushed
unceremoniously past her into the house, thus asserting his right as a
member of the family.

L'Isle paused before the little church, just beyond the village, and
pointed out to Lady Mabel a curious cross, the first of the kind she
had met with, though common enough in the peninsula. It was composed
of human skulls, on a pedestal of thigh bones, the whole let into the
wall, and secured by a rough kind of stucco.

"Certainly these people have curious ways of exciting devotional
fervor, and keeping death in memory," said Lady Mabel.

"One might suppose them to have remarked the grave-digger, who deals
habitually with the moldering remains of humanity, to be the most
God-fearing of men," said L'Isle; "so they seek to afford to every one
the devotional incentives peculiar to the grave-digger. Yet their
symbols serve rather to familiarize us with material death in this
world, than to remind us of a spiritual life in the world to
come. They often teach no better lesson than 'Eat, drink, and be
merry, for to-morrow we die.'"

"I have been told," said Lady Mabel, "that in spite of these pious
devices, the people have lost much of their devotional ardor and
fullness of faith."

"Not the rustic population," said L'Isle; "the church still retains
full sway over them."

"I cannot say," observed Lady Mabel, as they turned to proceed on
their way, "that the Romish system is very attractive to me. But,
viewing it as a sensuous worship, if ever I become a convert, it will
be through the influence of its music." And dropping the reins on her
horse's neck, she, with clasped hands and upturned eyes, began to

  "O Sanctissima! O Purissima!
   Ora, Ora, pro nobis," etc.

Music at once so sweet and orthodox from a heretic mouth, attracted
the muleteer's attention, and turning, he sat sideways in his saddle
to listen. This exciting old Moodie's suspicion, he pushed his horse
close up to Lady Mabel's, and as soon as she paused, said: "My lady,
what is that you are singing?"

"A hymn to the Virgin."

"A hymn to the Virgin!" he repeated, horror-struck.

"Yes; it is in Latin, you know. Have you never been to any of the
churches in Elvas, to 'assist' at the service and enjoy the music?"

"God forbid that I should countenance any of their idolatrous rites."

"Their music, however, is excellent, and has a grandeur suited to the
worship of God. You lose much in not hearing it, and may, at least,
let me amuse myself by singing a Popish hymn."

"You may amuse yourself by turning Papist in time. What begins in jest
often ends in earnest; and yours, my lady, will not be the first soul
that has been caught by such gear as the sweet sounds and glittering
shows of idolatry."

"But," said Lady Mabel, coolly, with a provoking insensibility to her
danger, "there are, not only in Latin, but in Spanish and Portuguese,
many of these hymns to the Holy Virgin--for, doubtless, she was a holy
virgin--exquisitely happy, both in words and music. A devout nation
has poured its heart into them."

"They are all idolatrous, every one of them. There is not a word of
authority for the worship of her in Scripture, and the texts of God's
book are our only safe guide."

Lady Mabel, while fanning a fire that never went out, was gazing
around on the landscape. Suddenly she said: "You are a great stickler,
Moodie, for the words of Scripture, yet these idolatrous people often
stick to it more closely than you do."

"I will trouble you, my lady, to name an instance," Moodie answered,
in a defiant tone.

"Do you see those men in that field, with three yoke of oxen going
round and round on one spot?"

"I see them. But what of them?"

"While you and other heretic Scots are racking your brains to devise
how to thresh corn by machines, these pious people, in simple
obedience to the injunction, 'Muzzle not the ox that treadeth out the
corn,' are treading out their corn with unmuzzled oxen. What think you
of that, Mr. Stick-to-the-text?"

"I think, my lady," he answered, doggedly, "that you had better read
your Bible to profit by it; not to puzzle an old man less learned than
yourself. But all things are ordered." Yet he loitered behind the
party, to gaze with mingled curiosity and pity at these people, at
once so benighted in theology and farming, the two points on which he
felt himself strongest.

They had not ridden much further, when they drew near to the ruinous
walls of a considerable town, situated in a fertile and delightful
region, and retaining amidst its dilapidation many marks of
grandeur. Entering through a ruinous gateway, they paused in the grand
_praça_. "This," said L'Isle, "is Ville Viçosa, 'the delightful city.'
What a pity we have but time to take a hasty glance at this ducal seat
of the house of Braganza. Two sides of the _praça_, as you see, are
occupied by the classic and imposing front of the palace in which the
dukes of Braganza lived during the sixty years of the Spanish
usurpation, before the heroism of the nation restored the royal line
to the throne."

"Even in its declining fortunes," said Lady Mabel, "Villa Viçosa has
not forgotten its connection with Portuguese royalty and
nationality. Was it not the first place in Alentejo to resist the
French robbers, who were lording it over them?"

"Yes. But it was neither loyalty nor patriotism that spurred them
on. You must not look to the royal palace before you, nor even to that
ancient and noble church, founded by the illustrious Constable,
Alvarez Pereira, which you see yonder, aspiring to heaven, nor to the
associations immediately connected with them, for the impulse which at
length stirred up these people to resist the oppressor. You must
rather seek it in that chapel, devoted to '_Nossa senhora dos
Remedios_,' and containing her miraculous image. They had submitted to
robbery, insult, and outrage without stint. They had seen Portuguese
soldiers seized on by regiments, and marched off to serve under French
eagles. They had heard Junot's insolent order to their priests,
commanding them to preach submission. They had witnessed the utter
degradation of their country. They had just seen the plate of the
churches, and the plunder of individuals, collected throughout the
neighboring _comarcas_, escorted through the town, and, though
groaning in spirit, they stood by with folded arms. But when the
godless French soldiers went so far as to offer insults and
indignities to _Nossa Senhora dos Remedios_ on her own holy day, on
which she yearly displays her miraculous powers, it was more than
Portuguese nature could bear. They broke out into open resistance, at
first successful--but which here and elsewhere led to woful slaughter
of the patriotic but half-armed mob."

"Heretic as you are," said Lady Mabel, "you must admit, that as 'Our
Lady of the Pillar' proved a tower of strength to the Saragossans in
their first siege, so here, either the patron saints of the
Portuguese, or their faith in them, has often done them yeoman's

"And often brought disaster upon them," L'Isle replied. "For instance,
St. Antony is the patron saint of Portugal. I am not going to deny
that he may have done them good service at times. But when the
archduke, Charles of Austria, commanded the army, about 1700, the
soldiers became exceedingly unruly, and demanded a native general. The
king sent them St. Antony, in the shape of a wooden image. He was
received with all the honors due to his rank. By royal decree a
regular commission was made out, appointing him generalissimo of all
the forces of Portugal, and he continued long in command; but, though
an excellent saint, Antony proved a very bad general, and repeatedly
brought the kingdom to the brink of ruin. They have lately been
compelled to displace him. Now that Beresford does their fighting, St.
Antony has full leisure to devote himself to intercession on their
behalf, and, between the two, with some help from us, they are getting
on pretty well."

The commissary now hinted that they had before them all that was worth
seeing in "this musty old place," and the party passing out of the
opposite gate pushed on as fast as they could over a rough road,
running across a succession of hills, the off-shoots of Serra d'Ossa.

"Traveling in this country," said Lady Mabel, as she paused with
L'Isle, to let the rest of the party come up, "is like sailing over
rough waters, a perpetual up and down, neither speedy nor safe."

"Few countries exhibit a greater variety of surface than Portugal,"
said L'Isle; "it may be likened to the ocean the day after a storm,
when a change of wind has intersected the mountain billows with every
variety of little waves. The language, accordingly, is rich in terms
expressive of these variations of surface. It has _Monte_, a mountain;
_Montezhino_, a little mountain; _Outeiro_, a hill; _Outeirinho_, a
hillock; _Serra_, a lofty mountain, with various inequalities of
surface; _Serrania_, a cluster of mountains; _Penha_, a rocky
precipice. So that you can hardly be at a loss for a word to express
the character of any elevation. Meanwhile, let us hasten up this
_Montezhino_, for both the sun and our night's quarters are on the
other side of it, and the former will not wait for us there."

They presently caught sight of what seemed at first to be a very tall
woman; but they soon perceived that it was a friar, who, with the hood
of his black cloak thrown back on his shoulders, and the skirts of his
dingy grey frock girded up under St. Francis' cord, was making such
good time on his up-hill path, that they overtook him with difficulty
at the top of the hill. He grasped in his hand what had a marvelous
resemblance to the _cajado_, a seven-foot staff, pointed at one end,
and with a heavy knob at the other, with which the Portuguese peasant
always goes armed; and a formidable weapon it is in his skillful
hands. The shortened skirt of the friar exposed a pair of muscular
calves, that bore him well over the mountain road.

He turned to look at them as they drew near, and they saw that he was
a young man, not much over twenty, tall and strong, and remarkably
well made and good-looking.

Old Moodie cast a sinister look on him, and longed to strip him of his
frock, and put him between the stilts of a plough.

"This is a noble specimen," the commissary remarked, "of that useless
army the country maintains at free quarters. His ration would more
than feed one English or two Portuguese soldiers for its defence."

"I would like to turn him loose on a Frenchman," said L'Isle, "armed,
like himself, only with the _cajado_. What a recruit Beresford lost
when this young fellow put on the uniform of St. Francis' brigade!"

L'Isle exchanged greetings with the young friar as he rode up abreast
of him, and entered into conversation with him at the suggestion of
Lady Mabel, who, partly to annoy her crusty watchman behind her,
affected to be much interested in this young limb of the church.

The able bodied servant of St. Francis proved intelligent and
sociable, and, while he eyed the travelers, particularly Lady Mabel,
with much interest, let them know that he had left his conventual home
at Villa Viçosa, on a visit to his mother, who lived at a village al,
and that he would pass the night at near Ameixial, and that he would
pass the night at the _venda_ near the bottom of the hill. They being
also bound thither, he joined them without ceremony, keeping up with
them with ease, while he drew out the news by a number of questions,
which showed that he was truly an active young friar, disposed to
gather ideas as well as alms on his perambulations.


  When late arriving at our inn of rest,
    Whose roof exposed to many a winter sky,
  Half shelters from the wind the shivering guest,
  By the pale lamp's dreary gloom
  I mark the miserable room,
  And gaze with angry eye
  On the hard lot of honest poverty,
  And sickening at the monster brood
  Who fill with wretchedness a world so good.


It was twilight when they reached the _venda_, a large but somewhat
ruinous building, surrounded by a few scattered trees, on the sloping
ground near the foot of the hill. The _arriero_ led his mules through
the archway which formed the only entrance, and the travelers
following found themselves beside and almost in a large apartment,
which served at once as kitchen, parlor and dining-room to this _house
of refuge_, which betrayed by many signs, that if it had ever done a
thriving business, that day had long gone by. Dismounting here, their
horses were led on into the stable under the same roof, and
imperfectly separated from the kitchen by a rude wall.

The people of the house, an old man and two women, sat staring at them
without making any hospitable demonstrations. So L'Isle made the first
advances, and, addressing them with a studied courtesy that seemed
ironical to the ladies, awakened them somewhat to a sense of their
duty to the wayfarers. Seats were got for the ladies on one side of
the huge fire-place, in which some embers were smouldering, and L'Isle
placed two cork stools to raise their feet above the damp pavement of
flat stone. On the young friar's now coming forward (for with a
modesty rare in his order he had hitherto kept in the background),
L'Isle resumed his sociable conversation with him, and accepted the
proffered pinch of snuff, that olive-branch of the Portuguese. This
evidently had a good effect on their hosts; while Shortridge was
surprised to see the colonel, whose _hauteur_ he had himself felt,
demean himself by familiarity with these low people. He did not know
that a proud man, if his be generous pride, is apt to keep it for
those who assume superiority, or at least equality, with himself.

That was not the commissary's way. So he began to question abruptly,
in very bad Portuguese, as to the state of her larder, the elder
woman, who, ugly and blear-eyed, with ragged, scanty dress, and bare
feet, yet wore a necklace of beads and earrings of gold. She answered
tartly, that it being a fast-day, there was no flesh in the
house. They had _bacalhao_ and _sardinhas_, and garlic, and pepper,
and onions, and oil; and everything that Christians wanted on a
fast-day. She forgot to say that the house was without flesh many
more days than the church commands. L'Isle, with more address, applied
to the younger woman with better success, inquiring after
accommodations for the ladies. He so moved her that she snatched up
the only lamp in the room, and, leaving the rest of the party in the
growing darkness, ushered the ladies up the ladder, like stairs, to
the only two chambers where they could be private.

Shortridge, meanwhile, finding out the desolate state of the larder,
let the woman know that they had not come unprovided with a stock of
edibles of their own. He urged her to make preparations for cooking
it; so rousing the old man from his chimney corner, she carried him
out with her, and they soon returned with no small part of a
cork-tree; and when Lady Mabel and Mrs. Shortridge came down, a
cheerful blaze had brought out more fully the desolation of the room
in dispelling half its gloom.

"I trust you have found a habitable chamber over head," said L'Isle to
Lady Mabel.

"I were a heretic to complain," she answered. "It is true the room has
no window; but it has a square hole in the wall to let in the light
and let out the foul air. The bed is hard and not over tidy. But what
is wanting in cleanliness is made up in holiness; for the bedstead has
an elaborate crucifix carved at its head, and I shall sleep under its
immediate protection. On the slightest alarm, by merely throwing my
arms upward, I can lay hold on the cross, and nothing will be wanting
to the sense of security but faith in this material symbol of my
faith. I shall have saintly company, too. On the wall to the right is
a print of St. Christopher carrying the infant Christ over a river,
and a bishop, in full canonicals, waiting on the other side, with
outstretched arms, to receive him; on the left, is a picture of
St. Antony, of Padua, preaching to the fishes. Religion is truly part
and parcel of this people's every day life; and the reality of their
devotion, and the falsehood and frivolity of many of its objects, make
a contrast truly painful to me."

Old Moodie, the muleteer, and the servants, having seen after their
horses and mules, now came straggling into this hall, common to all
the inmates of the house. Here they accommodated themselves with such
seats as they could find, or contrive out of the baggage; and one of
L'Isle's servants produced the rabbits and partridges purchased on the
road, with some other provisions brought from Elvas. These he gave to
the woman of the house to cook for the travelers, and no objection was
started as to cooking flesh, that other people might commit the sin of
eating it on a fast day. The whole party sat in a large semi-circle
around the fire, conversing and watching the cooking of their supper;
but no sooner did the savory fumes diffuse themselves through the
building than another personage joined them. A stout pig, evidently a
denizen of the house, came trotting and grunting out of the stable,
and pushed his way into the interior of the social circle. Though he
received some rude buffets, he persisted in keeping within it, until,
trenching on Lady Mabel's precincts, she made such an application of
her riding-wand that he was glad to seek refuge again among his
four-legged companions.

"It would seem," Lady Mabel remarked, "that these _Vendas_ are
caravansaries, providing only shelter for the traveler, who is
expected to bring his own food."

"This is so true, that it is a blessing there are no game laws in the
peninsula," said L'Isle. "The traveler would often starve at the inn
but for the game purchased on the road. And it is well to travel
prepared to shoot _one's own_ game, as you are perpetually threatened
with famine or robbers. The cookery, too, of this country is peculiar,
and if you ladies watch the process closely, you may carry home some
valuable hints in what some people think the first of the arts."

They accordingly closely watched the cooking, of the rabbits
particularly. Each was spitted on a little spit, which had four legs
at the handle, the other end resting on a piece of the fuel. When one
side was roasted, the other was turned to the fire. To know when they
were done, the woman cracked the joints; laying them by until cool,
she then tore them to pieces with her fingers; and afterward fried the
already over-roasted meat with onions, garlic, red pepper, and oil,
which is always rancid in Portugal, from the custom of never pressing
the olives until they are stale.

The commissary knew too much about Portuguese cookery to trust to
it. He had provided himself before leaving Elvas with the commissary's
cut, which is always the best steak from the best bullock. He now
produced from among his baggage that implement so truly indicative of
the march of English civilization--the gridiron; and not until the
large table, at the other side of the room, had been spread, and
supper was ready, did his man proceed to dress it skillfully and
quickly, under the vigilant superintendance of the commissary himself.

They were sitting down to supper when L'Isle, seeing that the young
friar remained by the fire, pointed out a vacant seat, and asked him
to join them. But he shook his head.

"You are eating flesh. I must fast to-day."

"Because the Scriptures bid you?" L'Isle inquired.

"Because the Church commands me."

"You are aware, then, that there is no absolute injunction in
Scripture to fast on particular days."

"Yet the Church may have authority--it doubtless has authority to
appoint such days," the young friar answered, seeming at once to
stifle a doubt and his appetite.

Cookery must be judged of by the palate, and not by the eye. So Lady
Mabel made a strong effort to try the rabbits by the latter
test--having had ocular proof that they were not cats in disguise.
But, after persevering through two or three mouthfuls, the garlic, red
pepper, and rancid oil, and the fact of having witnessed the whole
process of cooking and fingering the fricassee, proved too much for
her; and she was fain to be indebted to the commissary for a small
piece of his steak, reeking hot, and dripping with its natural juices.

The woman of the house now placed on a bench before the friar, some
_broa_, or maize bread, and a piece of _bacalhao_, fried in oil. From
the size of the morsel, the stock in the larder seemed to have run
low, even in this article, which is nothing but codfish salted by
British heretics for the benefit of the souls and bodies of the true
sons of the Church. The friar eat alone and in silence, less intent on
his meal than in watching and listening to the party at the table.

"They are, every one of them, eating flesh, and this day is a fast,"
said the elder woman to the friar, in a tone of affected horror.

"And they eat it almost raw," answered the friar, as Shortridge thrust
an ounce of red beef into his mouth. "But I know not that the Church
has prohibited that."

The ladies and the commissary retired soon, fatigued with their long
day's ride. The friar was devoutly telling his beads, and L'Isle sat
musing by the fire, while the servants, in turn, took their places at
the supper table. Presently the friar, having got through his
devotions, rose as if about to retire for the night; but, as he passed
L'Isle, he loitered, as if wishing to converse, perhaps for the last
time, with this foreigner, whose position, character, and ideas,
differed so much from his own, and who yet could make himself so well
understood. As L'Isle looked up, he said:

"Men of your profession see a great deal of the world."

"Yes. A soldier is a traveler, even if he never goes out of his own

"But the soldiers of your country visit the remotest parts of the
world, the Indies in the east and west, and now this, our country, and
many a land besides."

"At one time the soldiers of Portugal did the same," said L'Isle.

"Yes; there was a time when we conquered and colonized many a remote
land, where the banner of no other European nation had ever been
seen. We still have our colonies, but, some how or other, they do not
seem to do us any good."

"But men of your profession," said L'Isle, "have been as great or even
greater travelers than soldiers. They are few regions, however remote
or inaccessible, which the priests of the Church of Rome, and members
of your own order, have not explored."

The friar was silent and thoughtful for a moment, and then said: "What
you say is true; yet it seems to me, that is no longer the case, or,
at least, that our order here has been remiss in sending forth
missionaries to foreign lands. Here most of us follow through life the
same dull round. It is, however, the round of our duties. But,
perhaps, to find one's self in a strange country, surrounded by new
scenes, an unknown, perhaps heathen people, with difficulties to
struggle with, obstacles to overcome, might awaken in a man powers
that he did not know were slumbering in him, and enable him to do some
good, perchance great work, he never would have accomplished at home."
And the young friar drew himself up to his full height, while his
frame seemed to expand with the struggling energies that were shut up
unemployed within him.

Visions of travel, toil, adventure, perhaps martyrdom, seemed to float
before his eyes, and without another word, he strode off with a step
more like that of a soldier than a Franciscan.

L'Isle gazed after him with interest and pity, then ordering the table
to be cleared, stretched himself on it for the night, wrapped in his
cloak, rather than rely on the accommodations of the large room up
stairs, common to wayfarers of every grade, and populous with vermin.


  When at morn the muleteer,
  With early call announces day,
  Sorrowing that early call I hear
  That scares the visions of delight away;
  For dear to me the silent hour,
  When sleep exerts its wizard power.


"I trust you rested well last night, under the protection of your
saintly guardians," L'Isle said to Lady Mabel, when she made her
appearance down stairs, before the sun was yet up.

"Do not speak of last night," she said, throwing up her hands in a
deprecatory manner, "let it be utterly forgotten, and not reckoned
among the number of the nights. It was one of penance, not repose!
Never will I speak lightly of the saints again. I can only hope that
that and all my other sins are expiated, if I can infer any thing from
the number of my tormentors."

"Were they so numerous?" L'Isle asked, in a tone of sympathy.

"And various!" emphasized Lady Mabel. "Whole legions of various
orders, light and heavy armed. I could have forgiven the first, were
it only for their magnanimous mode of making war, always sounding the
trumpet, and giving fair warning before they charged; and the attack
being openly made, I could revenge myself on some of them by the free
use of my hands, and protect my face by covering it with my veil, at
the risk of being smothered. But the next band were so minute and
active, and secret in their movements, that I never knew where to
expect them. But the last slow, heavy legion which came crawling
insidiously on, were the most tormenting and sickening of all. To be
tortured by such a crowd of little fiends was enough to produce
delirium. But I will not recall the visions of the night. It was worse
than dreaming of being in purgatory!"

"I am sorry to hear that you had such shocking dreams," said Mrs.
Shortridge, who, as she came down the stairs, heard Lady Mabel's last
words, "I would have been thankful to be able to dream; but the mule
bells jingling under us all night were a trifling annoyance compared
to the mosquitos, fleas, and bugs, which scarcely allowed me a wink of

"Sleep!" Lady Mabel exclaimed, "they murdered sleep, and mine were
waking torments."

"It is all owing to the filthy habits of the nation," continued
Mrs. Shortridge. "The very pigs and asses are as much a part of the
family as the children of the house."

"The fraternization of the human race with brutes, which prevails
here," L'Isle remarked, "certainly, promotes neither comfort nor
cleanliness. Indeed, it is curious, that as you go from north to
south, cleanliness should decline in the inverse ratio with the need
of it. Compared with ourselves, the French are not a cleanly people,
but become so when contrasted with their neighbors, the Spaniards, who
are, in turn, less filthy than the Portuguese, whose climate renders
cleanliness still more necessary."

"By that ratio, what standard of cleanliness will you find in
Morocco?" asked Lady Mabel.

"Perhaps a prominent and redeeming feature in their religion," said
L'Isle, "may exalt the standard there. Mahomedan ablutions may avail
much in this world, though little in the next."

"I am afraid," said Lady Mabel, "that their cleanly superstition will
make me almost regret the expulsion of the Moors."

The commissary was now bustling about, hurrying the preparations for
breakfast, and L'Isle went to see if the servants were getting ready
for the journey; but Mrs. Shortridge, full of the annoyances she had
suffered, continued to denounce their small enemies. Her talk was of

Lady Mabel, thinking the subject had been sufficiently discussed,
interrupted her, saying, "you do not take the most philosophical and
poetical view of the subject. Is it not consolatory to reflect, that
while men, on suffering a reverse of fortune, too often experience
nothing but ingratitude and desertion from their fellows, and sadly
learn that

  "'Tis ever thus: Those shadows we call friends,
   Attend us through the sunshine of success,
   To vanish in adversity's dark hour."

"Yet there are followers that adhere to them in their fallen fortunes
with more than canine fidelity, sticking to them like their sins,
clinging to their persons, cleaving to their garments, with an
attachment and in numbers that grow with their patron's destitution."

"But I maintain," Mrs. Shortridge replied, "that it is not only the
poor and destitute that here support such a retinue. I have repeatedly
seen in Lisbon, and elsewhere, young ladies, and among others a young
widow of high rank, the sister of the Bishop of Oporto, lying with her
head in the lap of her friend, who parted the locks of her hair to

"Stop!" said Lady Mabel, laying her hand on Mrs. Shortridge's mouth,
"you need not chase those small deer any further through the
wood. Leave that privileged sport to the natives."

Breakfast was now ready, and Shortridge called to the ladies to lose
no time. L'Isle, seeing the young friar in front of the _venda_,
brought him in and seated him beside him. He pressed upon him many
good things, which the house did not furnish; and this being no
fast-day, the friar eat a meal better proportioned to his youth, his
bulk, and his health, than his last night's meagre fare. He showed his
patriotism by his approval of one of those hams of marvelous flavor,
the boast of Portugal, the product of her swine, not stuffed into
obesity in prison, but gently swelling to rotundity while ranging the
free forest, and selecting the _bolotas_, and other acorns, as they
drop fresh from the boughs. The friar was not so busy with his meal
but what he continued to observe his new friends closely, and while
the servants were getting their breakfast, he seized the leisure
afforded to converse with L'Isle, and with Lady Mabel through
him. After many questions asked and answered, the friar became
thoughtful and abstracted, as if he had been brought in contact with a
new class of persons and ideas, which he could not at once comprehend.

L'Isle now asked him, "When and why he had put on St. Francis' frock?"

"I do not remember when I wore any other dress. I was not four years
old when I was seized with a violent sickness, and soon at the point
of death. My mother vowed that if St. Francis would hear her prayer,
and spare me, her only son, she would devote me to his service. From
that moment, as my mother has often told me, I began to mend. As soon
as a dress of the order could be made for me, I put it on. From that
day I grew and strengthened rapidly, and have not had a day's sickness
since. When old enough I was sent to school, and then served my
noviciate in the Franciscan convent in Villa Viçosa. I am now on leave
to visit my mother and sisters, who live near Ameixial."

"If you had chosen for yourself," L'Isle suggested, "perhaps you would
not have been a friar."

"Perhaps not," said the young friar, hesitating. "Indeed, I have been
lately told, though I am loath to admit it, that, urgent as the
necessity was that gave rise to our order, and great as its services
have been, especially in former days, our holy mother, the Church, can
be better served now, by servants who assume a more polished exterior,
and obeying St. Paul's injunction to be all things to all men, mingle
on a footing of equality with men of this world, although they are not
of it."

"Who told you this?" asked L'Isle.

"A learned and traveled priest, whom I lately met with. He delighted
me with his knowledge, while he startled me by the boldness of some of
his opinions."

"But, perhaps," L'Isle persisted, "if left to your own unbiassed
choice, you would not have taken orders at all."

The young man paused, evidently unable to shut out the thought, "Are
there callings, which, without doing violence to my nature, are
compatible with the service of God?" At length he answered, with a
reserve not usual to him, "It is not every man whose way of life is,
or can be, chosen by himself." Then, crossing himself earnestly, as if
stifling the thought, and trampling down the tempting devil within
him, he exclaimed, "I _must_ believe that my instant recovery from
deadly sickness as soon as I was devoted to St. Francis, proves that
he has chosen me for his service and God's."

He said this eagerly and with an air of sincerity, and again made the
sign of the cross. Yet the doubting devil seemed to linger about him,
and he sunk into silence, seeming little satisfied with himself.
Meanwhile, during his conference with L'Isle and Lady Mabel, old
Moodie stood near, eyeing him with sinister looks, as if he had been
the inventor, not the victim, of the popish system, and all its
corruptions rested on his head. The old man now urged them to take
horse, and allowed them no respite from his bustling interference
until the party was again on the road.

The friar watched their motions with interest; and when, after
crossing the valley and ascending the hill before them, Lady Mabel
turned to take a last look at the ruinous old venda, she saw him still
standing like a statue in the archway, doubtless with eye and thought
following their steps.

"I am afraid," said L'Isle, "that our young gownsman will have to
undergo a ruinous conflict in the struggle between his nature and his
fate. His is the worst possible condition for a man of vigorous
character and inquiring mind. He has not arrived at his convictions,
but had prematurely thrust upon him the convictions he is professedly
bound to hold."

"And you have helped him into the conflict," said Lady Mabel, "without
staying to see him through it."

"I trust not. But, anyhow, it would have come. Were he a monk even,
seclusion and devotion might protect, study might withdraw him from
many temptations. Were he a secular priest, the active and definite
duties of a parish, fulfilling and inculcating the obligations of
Christian morals, which are the same in every church, might have
tasked his energies. But, to be all his life a wandering beggar, in
the name of God and St. Francis! If enthusiasts are to be pitied, how
much more those who, without being, are compelled to lead the life of
enthusiasts! Is it wonderful that many of these men are apostles only
of ignorance and profligacy?"

"But this young man has a mind too active and enquiring for contented
ignorance," said Lady Mabel. "From his very nature he must go on
adding fact to fact, and thought to thought."

"Until he has built up a system of his own," answered L'Isle. "And, a
hundred chances to one, that will not coincide with the teachings of
St. Francis and of Rome. What must he do, then? He, a professed
Franciscan, has lost his faith in St. Francis, in Rome, perhaps in
Christ!--known to him only through Rome. Must he persevere? or shall
he abjure? Between hypocrisy and martyrdom, he now must choose. Think
not, because the fires of the _auto da fe_ are extinct, a churchman
here can safely abjure his profession and his faith. A man may live a
life of martyrdom, although he escape a martyr's death."

They had ridden on some miles, and new scenes had suggested other
topics, when they heard a shout behind them, and, looking round, saw
the old man of the _Venda_ displaying unwonted energy. He was
vigorously pummeling with his heels the vicious _burro_ on which he
followed them, while he held up some article of clothing, and shouted
after them at the top of his voice.

They stopped for him to come up, and he handed to Lady Mabel a rich
shawl, which she had left behind in her bed-room, and a scrap of dingy
white paper. Refusing any reward for his trouble and honesty, he at
once took leave and turned back, the ass showing a more willing spirit
on his homeward path.

After trying in vain to decipher the scroll, Lady Mabel handed it to
L'Isle. "_Cito, tute, jucunde peregrineris_." "Swift, safe and
pleasant may your journey be," said L'Isle, translating it. "This is,
doubtless, from the young friar. He is anxious to show you at once his
scholarship and his good-will. We must not find fault with his Latin,
which is capital--for a friar!"

"Give it to me. I will keep it as a talisman of safety, and as a
memorial of our friar. Poor fellow!" continued Lady Mabel, "I suppose
the best wish I can return him is, that enthusiasm may carry him, in
sincerity and purity, through the path others have chosen for him."

"He is an impudent fellow!" growled out old Moodie. "You set too great
store, my lady, by this young vagabond!"

"Vagabond!" she exclaimed, with a look and tone of grave rebuke, "I am
afraid, Moodie, if you had met St. Paul wandering through Macedonia
without staff or scrip, or the cloak he left behind at Troas, you
would have found no better title for him."

"Is this man like St. Paul?" asked Moodie, startled at the profane

"I do not say so. But the whole order of friars, renouncing worldly
objects, devote themselves to the imitation of the seventy disciples
in Scripture, who were sent out by two and two to evangelize the

"I never expected, my lady, to hear you liken these lazy monks to our
Lord's disciples."

"They are not monks, but friars," said Lady Mabel quietly, "and,
without answering for their practice, I cannot but approve of what
they profess. They do not shut themselves up from the world, like the
monks, under pretence of escaping contamination, but devote themselves
to the mission of traveling about in apostolic poverty from house to
house, and, by prayer and preaching, by inculcating charity, and
receiving alms, sow every where the seeds of the faith they profess."

"The words old Chaucer puts into the mouth of his friar," said L'Isle,
"well express the objects of the order:

  "In shrift, in preaching is my diligence,
   And study in Peter's words and in Paul's;
   I walk and fish Christian men's souls,
   To yield my Lord Jesu his proper rent;
   To spread his word is set all mine intent."

"A truly apostolic aim!" Lady Mabel exclaimed, looking triumphantly
round on her old follower.

The descending road here narrowed suddenly, and Moodie reined back his
horse, silent in the sad conviction that Lady Mabel had already got
beyond that half-way house between the region of evangelical purity
and idolatrous Rome.

In the narrow valley, overgrown with shrubs and brushwood at the foot
of the hill, they came suddenly on a large number of swine luxuriating
in the cool waters, or on the shady banks of a brook. The swine
vanished instantly amidst the thickets, though hundreds were still
heard grunting and squealing around them, and the travelers might have
taken them for wild denizens of the wilderness, had not a fierce growl
attracted their attention, and they saw on the opposite bank a man
reclining under a _carob_ tree, one hand resting on the neck of a huge
dog, who yet showed two savage rows of teeth, and fixed his vigilant
and angry eyes on the intruders. The wild air of the master delighted
Lady Mabel, for there was mingled with it a savage dignity as he
stretched his manly form on the wolf-skin spread out under him, and
gazed calmly on the party drawing near. While their horses stopped to
drink at the stream, they observed him narrowly--he receiving this
attention with stoic indifference. A long gun lay on the ground beside
him, and his garments, made chiefly of the dressed skins of animals,
defied brier or thorn.

"Are we on the road to Evora?" L'Isle asked, by way of opening a
parley; but the man merely waved his hand gently toward the hill and
path before them. Resolved to make him speak, L'Isle asked, "What game
have you killed to-day?"--for he saw some animal lying in the moss at
the foot of the tree. The hunter silently held up a lynx and an otter,
which he had lately snared, and seemed to forget the presence of
strangers in contemplating his game. Despairing of extracting a word,
the travelers rode on.

"What a silent, unsocial wretch!" Mrs. Shortridge exclaimed. "He seems
to prefer the company of a savage hound, and his dead game, to that of
living Christians."

"He thinks a heretic no Christian, if he thinks at all," said L'Isle;
and he called to the guide, to ask what this wild man was.

"He is a swine-herd."

"Indeed!" said Lady Mabel. "I took him for a bandit, or a bold hunter,
at least."

"But he is the swine-herd of the great monastery of the Paulists, who
own half the lands on the southern slope of Serra d'Ossa. He is a
matchless hunter too, spending fewer nights under a roof than on the
mountain-side, where all the game is as much his, as the swine he
keeps is the property of the good fathers. They have the best bacon in
all Portugal, and plenty of it, as many a poor man can tell; and they
know this man's value, for he were a bold thief that pinched the ear
of his smallest pig."

"As soon as I get back to Elvas," said Lady Mabel, "I will send Major
Warren to make his acquaintance. The major will be charmed with
him. For his ambition is to take all sorts of game, in every possible
way; and though I have, or might have had, the history of all his
hunts by heart, neither lynx or otter has yet figured in the scene.
You remember, Colonel L'Isle, how much satisfaction he expressed when
you lately hinted at the probability of our brigade finding itself in
the north of Portugal early in the coming campaign. I at first thought
that the soldier saw some military advantage in the movement, but
found it was only the sportsman's delight at the hope of visiting
Truzos Montes, and killing one of the few Caucasian goats that yet
linger on the most inaccessible heights there."

"No gamester," said L'Isle, "is more a slave to the dice. That at this
time a soldier should be so little 'lost in the world's debate' as to
be eager, above all things, to kill a goat!"

They had now reached a point which gave them a fine view of the
southern side of Serra d'Ossa, so different from the northern, being
fertile, and showing many a cultivated spot upon its lower slopes,
while the light, fleecy clouds, gathering before the gentle western
wind, now veiled and then revealed the overhanging dark blue ridge
that crowned the scene. The guide pointed out the broad possessions of
the great monastery of the Paulists. At a distance, on the right, rose
Evora Monte, built like a watch-tower on a lofty hill; and, to the
south, the monastic towers and Gothic spires of Evora, the city of
monks, raised high above the plain, could be seen from afar.

"Why," asked Mrs. Shortridge, "do these people always build their
towns on hills?"

"That is a true English question," answered L'Isle. "At home, in our
bleak northern climate, we naturally seek sheltered situations. These
people as naturally select an airy site, above the parching heat and
poisoned air of the valleys. In founding colonies in tropical
countries we English, and the Dutch, have constantly blundered, acting
as if still at home; and choosing low and pestilential spots,
establish only hospitals and graveyards where we meant to build towns;
while the Spaniards and Portuguese, from the instinct of habit, select
the most salubrious situations within their reach. Moreover, high
points are safer from attack, and stronger to resist an enemy; and the
Christians of the peninsula were taught by seven centuries of conflict
with the Moors, that the safety of a man's house is the first point,
its convenience the second. Now, we islanders have long been but a
half military people. Content with incuring the guilt of war abroad,
we have carefully abstained from bringing it home to our own doors."

"But we never wage any but just wars," said Lady Mabel.

"We, at least," said L'Isle, "always find some plausible grounds on
which to justify our wars--to ourselves."

They were now on the outskirts of the undulating plain, on which a
rich soil overlying the granite rocks extends from Evora southward to
the city of Beja. The signs of cultivation and population multiplied
as they went on. The fields became larger and more frequent; detached
farm houses were seen on either hand, and they fell in on the road
with many peasants riding large and spirited asses, or driving oxen
all light bays with enormous horns, and so sleek and well grown, that
the commissary gazed on them with admiring eye and watering mouth, and
pronounced them equally fit for the yoke or the shambles.

It was a relief to find themselves once more in a cultivated country,
and Lady Mabel gazed round, admiring the prospect. "There is," she
observed, "one drawback to the landscape. At home, one of the most
enlivening features in our rural scenes, are the white sheep scattered
on the hills, but here they are almost black."

"But the goats you see are generally white," answered L'Isle. "It is,
too, the more picturesque animal, and well supplies what is wanting in
the sheep."

Evora was at hand. L'Isle launched out into an erudite discourse on
the aqueduct of Sertorius, which, stretching its long line of arches
from the neighboring hills, was converging with their road to the
city. As they entered it he was giving Lady Mabel all the pros and
cons, as to whether it was really the work of that redoubtable Roman.
The commissary was luxuriously anticipating the shade and rest before
him, when to his surprise and regret, L'Isle led the party another
way, and halted them before a small but striking building, which here
crowned the aqueduct at its termination in the city.

"Look, Lady Mabel. Observe it well, Mrs. Shortridge. This castellum is
a miniature embodiment of Roman taste and skill in architecture. This
is no ruin calling upon the imagination to play the hazardous part of
filling up the gaps made by the hand of time. We see it as the Moor,
the Goth, the Roman saw it, save the loss of a few vases which adorned
the depressed parapet, and the scaling plaster which here and there
betrays that the builder used that cheap but immortal material, the
Roman brick."

Much did Lady Mabel admire this architectural gem, scarcely tarnished
by the elements in nineteen centuries, and much more would L'Isle have
found to say of it, when the commissary, impatiently fanning himself
with his hat, ventured to ask, "how much longer shall we stay broiling
in the noon-day sun, staring at this Roman sentry-box?"

"Sentry-box!" said Mrs. Shortridge, with a puzzled air, "were the
Romans a gigantic people?"

"There were giants in those days," said Lady Mabel, gravely, gazing on
the castellum. But a crowd of idlers and beggars began to collect
around the cavalcade, and turning, they rode off, and were soon
enjoying the shelter, if not the more substantial hospitality, of the
_Estalagem de San Antonio_.


  Tell me, recluse Monastic, can it be
    A disadvantage to thy beams to shine?
  A thousand tapers may gain light from thee:
    Is thy light less or worse for lighting mine?
  If, wanting light, I stumble, shall
  Thy darkness not be guilty of my fall?

  Make not thyself a prisoner, thou art free:
    Why dost thou turn thy palace to a jail?
  Thou art an eagle; and befits it thee
    To live immured like a cloister'd snail?
  Let toys seek corners: things of cost
  Gain worth by view; hid jewels are but lost.

                                  Francis Quarles.

In the afternoon, the commissary going out in search of the objects of
his journey, grain and bullocks for the troops, L'Isle strolled out
with the ladies to survey the curiosities of Evora, and Moodie
followed closely Lady Mabel's steps.

"If I am to play the part of _cicerone_," said L'Isle, "I will begin
by reminding you that the history of many races and eras is
indissolubly connected with the Peninsula, and especially the southern
part of it. Here we find the land of _Tarshish_ of Scripture, so well
known to the Phoenicians, who, in an adjacent province of Spain, built
another Sidon, and founded Cadiz before Hector and Achilles fought at

"Yet they found the Celto-Iberian here before them--who after that
built Evora, according to Portuguese historians, some eight or ten
centuries before Christ. The Greeks, too, stretched their commerce and
their colonies to this land. The Carthaginians made themselves masters
of this country. The Romans turned them out, to give place in time to
the Vandals; who were driven over into Africa by the Goths--whose
dominion was, at the end of two centuries, overthrown by the Arabs;
who, after a war of seven centuries, were expelled in turn by the
descendants of their Gothic rivals. The land still shows many traces
of these revolutions. In the neighborhood of this city the rude altar
of the Druid still commemorates the early Celt. The majesty of the
Roman temple here forms a singular contrast with the delicacy of the
Arabian monuments, and the Gothic architecture with the simplicity of
the modern edifices."

"A truly Ciceronian introduction to your duties as _cicerone_," said
Lady Mabel. "But I have yet to see much that you describe so
eloquently. To my eye the most striking feature of Evora at this day
is its ecclesiastical aspect. It is full of churches, chapels, and
monkish barracks, and seems to be held by a strong garrison of these
soldiers of the Pope."

"Baal's prophets are four hundred and fifty men," said old Moodie, in
loud soliloquy behind.

"I have often heard the Pope called Antichrist, but never knew him
dubbed Baal before," said Lady Mabel. "Although not one of his flock,
I cannot but feel a deep interest in the head of the Latin Church, now
that the venerable old man is so shamefully treated; carried off and
kept a prisoner in France, to be bullied, threatened, and cajoled,
with a view to appropriate the papal influence to the furtherance of
this Corsican's ambition."

"You had better leave all those feelings to his own flock, my lady."

"Is it possible, Moodie," Lady Mabel retorted, "that you do not know
that we are on the Pope's side in this quarrel? We are bound to
sympathize with him, not only in politics but in religion, against his
unbelieving enemies. We must forget all minor differences, and think
only of the faith we hold in common. Even you must admit that it is
better to see the Almighty dimly through mists and clouds, or even
though our view be obstructed by a crowd of doubtful saints, than to
turn our backs on the Christian Godhead, and deny his existence like
these godless French. I assure you I have become a strong friend to
the Pope."

"The more is the pity," groaned Moodie. "But what is written is

"I know, Moodie, that you believe that we who have deserted the Kirk
of Scotland, and crossed the border in search of a church, have
already traveled a long way toward Rome."

"About half-way, my lady. The church of England is no abiding place,
but merely an inn on that road."

"Why," exclaimed Mrs. Shortridge, "is Moodie so much dissatisfied with
our church? For my part it does not seem natural to me for genteel
people to go any where else."

"You may find, madam," said Moodie, "a great many genteel people going
some where else. Gentry is no election to grace."

Mrs. Shortridge resented the insinuation by indignant silence; but
Lady Mabel, who had her own object in exasperating Moodie's sectarian
zeal, now asked him: "What is the last symptom of backsliding you have
seen in me?"

"It seems to me, my lady, that you are getting strangely intimate with
the Romish faith and rites, for one who does not believe and practice
them. It is a sinful curiosity, like that of the children of Israel,
which first made them familiar with the abominations among their
neighbors, then led them to practice the idolatries they had

"But may there not be something sinful, Moodie, in denouncing the
errors and corruptions of the Romanists, without having thoroughly
searched them out?"

"We know the great heads of their offense--their perversion of gospel
truth--their teaching for doctrine the commandments of men. There is
no need to trace every error through all its dark and crooked
windings. Truth is one: that God has allotted to his elect. Errors are
manifold, and sown broadcast among the reprobate."

"Still it must matter much what degree and kind of error falls to our
lot," Lady Mabel suggested.

"Perhaps so," Moodie answered, with doubting assent. "Yet if we are
not in the one true path, it may matter little which wrong road we

"Well, Moodie," said she, "however much you may narrow down your
Christian faith, you shall not hedge in my Christian charity, and
deprive me of all sympathy for the Pope in this his day of

"Whatever the holy father's errors may have been," said L'Isle, "we
may now say of him, a prisoner in France, what was said of Clement the
Seventh, when shut up in the Castle of St. Angelo, '_Papa non potest

"That is Latin, Moodie," said Lady Mabel, "and to enlighten your
ignorance it may be rendered, 'The Pope cannot err.'"

"Why that is nothing but the doctrine of the Pope's infallibility,"
exclaimed Moodie, indignantly; "and saying it in Latin cannot make it
true." And he dropped behind the party.

Gazing on the number of religious houses and habits around them, Lady
Mabel said: "Monastic life must hold forth strong allurements. The
monks seem to find it easy to recruit their ranks."

"Many motives combine to draw men into the church," L'Isle
answered. "Devotion may be the chief; but, in this climate and
country, the love of ease, and the want of hopeful prospects in
secular life, exercise great influence. Moreover, one monk, like one
soldier, serves as a decoy to another. Did you ever see a recruiting
sergeant, in all his glory, among a party of rustics at a village
alehouse? How skillfully he displays the bright side of a soldier's
life, while hiding every dark spot. The church has many a recruiting
sergeant, who can put the best of ours to shame. Many a recruit, too,
like our young friar, is caught very young."

They had now turned into another street, and L'Isle, stopping the
party, pointed out a large building opposite to them.

"What a curious mixture of styles it presents," said Mrs. Shortridge.

"What a barbarous mutilation of a work of art," exclaimed Lady Mabel.

"This is, or rather was," said L'Isle, "the temple of Diana, built
before the Christian era, perhaps while Sertorius yet lorded it in the
Peninsula, and made Evora his headquarters. The architect," continued
he, looking at it with the eye of a connoisseur, "was doubtless a
Greek. Time, and the mutilations and additions of the Moor, have not
effaced all the beauty of this structure, planned by the genius and
reared by the hands of men who lived nineteen centuries ago. The
rubble work and plaster wall that fills the space between those
columns, so requisite in their proportions--the pinnacles which crown
the structure in place of the entablature which has been destroyed,
are the work of the Moors, who strove in vain to unite in harmony
their own style of building with that of their Roman predecessors.
Enough remains to show the chaste, beautiful and permanent character
of the edifices of that classic age."

After gazing long with deep interest on this monument of the palmy
days and wide-spread sway of the Roman, Lady Mabel said: "Let us see
if there be not still left within the building some remains of a piece
with so noble an exterior."

"Unhappily," answered L'Isle, "all is changed there. Moreover, though
the sacrifices are continued, they are no longer conducted with the
decorum of the heathen rites. The temple of the chaste goddess is now
the public shambles of the city, defiled throughout by brutal
butchers, with the blood and offals of the slaughtered herd."

"Is it possible!" Lady Mabel exclaimed. "Have these people sunk so
low? Is so little taste, learning, and reverence for high art left
among them, that they can find no better use for this rare memorial of
the past."

"No people have proved themselves so destitute of taste, and of
reverence for antiquity, as the Portuguese," replied L'Isle. "They
seem to have found it a pleasure, or deemed it a duty, to erase the
footprints of ancient art. Monuments of all kinds, beautiful and rare,
and but lightly touched by the hand of time, have been ruthlessly
destroyed here. To give you a single instance: A gentleman of the
family of the Mascarenhas, who had traveled in Italy, and acquired a
taste for the arts, collected from different parts about the town of
Mertola, twelve ancient statues, with a view to place them on
pedestals in his country-house. But he dying before completing his
intention, these admirable productions of Roman art, the venerable
representations of heroes and sages, were hurled into a lime kiln to
make cement for the chapel of St. John. And such acts of Vandalism
have been perpetrated throughout Portugal."

"The barbarians!" exclaimed Lady Mabel. "The ignorance they condemn
themselves to, is scarce punishment enough for the offence."

"It is difficult to say how much they have destroyed," continued
L'Isle. "But, beside the voice of history, proofs enough remain that
Evora was, in the days of Sertorius, of Cæsar, and in after-times, a
favorite spot with the Romans. This temple before us, mutilated as it
is, and the aqueduct, though repaired in modern times, are still
Roman; and no ancient monument in Italy is in better preservation than
the beautiful little castellum which crowns its termination. Even
where Roman buildings have been destroyed we still see around us the
stones with ancient and classic inscriptions built into new walls. The
plough, too, of the husbandman still at times turns up the coins of
Sertorius, bearing a profile showing the wound he had received in his
eye, while the reverse represents his favorite hind leaning against a

"How completely do these things carry us back to ancient times, and
make even Plutarch's novels seem verities of real life," said Lady
Mabel. "These same Romans, whom we read of and wonder at, have indeed
left behind them, wherever they came, foot-prints indelibly stamped on
the face of the country."

"They did more," said L'Isle, "wherever civilization extends, they
still set their marks upon the minds of men."

"How barbarous seem the Moorish buildings, which we still see here and
at Elvas," said Lady Mabel, "compared with these monuments of a yet
earlier day."

"The Moors had a style of their own," said L'Isle. "Indifferent to
external decoration, they reserved all their ingenuity for the
interior of their edifices. Stimulated by a sensuous religion and a
luxurious climate, they there lavished whatever was calculated to
delight the senses, and accord with a sedentary and voluptuous life.
They sought a shady privacy amidst sparkling fountains, artificial
breezes, and sweet smelling plants; amidst brilliant colors and a
profusion of ornaments, seen by a light sobered from the glare of a
southern sun. Numberless were the luxurious palaces the Moors reared
in Portugal and Spain. The Alhambra yet stands a model of their
excellence in the arts; although many of its glories have departed,
its walls have become desolate, and many of them fallen into ruin,
though its gardens have been destroyed, and its fountains ceased to
play. Charles V. commenced a palace within the enclosure of the
Alhambra, in rivalry of what he found there. It stands but an arrogant
intrusion, and is already in a state of dilapidation far beyond the
work of the Arabs. In them the walls remain unaltered, except by
injuries inflicted by the hand of man. The colors of the painting, in
which there is no mixture of oil, preserve all their brightness--the
beams and wood work of the ceilings show no signs of decay. The art of
rendering timber and paints durable, and of making porcelain mosaics,
arabesques, and other ornaments, began and ended in western Europe
with the Spanish Arabs. But perhaps the most curious achievement
attributed to them is, that spiders, flies, and other insects, shunned
their apartments at all seasons."

"What!" exclaimed Lady Mabel, "had they attained that perfection in
the art of building? Could they exercise those hordes of little
demons, lay a spell upon them and turn them out of doors? Had you told
me this yesterday I would have been less impressed by it. But, after
last night's ordeal, I venerate the Moor. Almost I regret the
expulsion of his cleanly superstition, since it has carried with it
into exile so rare an art."

Mrs. Shortridge, too, seemed fully to appreciate the value of the lost
art, and said, "these Moors must indeed have been a very comfortable

"And they crowned their comfort in this world," said L'Isle, "by
inventing an equally comfortable system for the next."

"Is it not strange," said Lady Mabel, gazing on the building before
them, "that the production of two races, each so skillful, should be
so utterly incompatible. Classic and Saracenic art, both beautiful,
united make a monster."

"Not so strange," L'Isle answered, "as the simplicity of the
Mohammedan faith, amidst all that is fantastic in arts and letters--a
grotesque architecture, a wondrous alchemy, the extravagant in poetry
and the supernatural in fiction; or the purity of classic art,
characterized by simplicity and proportion, yet drawing its
inspiration from a wild and copious mythology, made up of the sportive
creations of fancy."

"They were a wonderful people, these Romans, as even this obscure
corner of Europe can witness," said Lady Mabel, her eyes dwelling on
the beautiful colonade, and tracing out the exquisite symmetry of the
shafts, and the rich foliage of the Corinthian capitals.

"Were these Romans Christians?" asked Moodie, who had hitherto looked
on in silence.

"No," she answered, "they worshipped many false gods."

"Then they were just like all the Romans I have known," said he dryly,
and turned his back on the temple.

"Come," said Mrs. Shortridge, "let us take Moodie's hint, and look for
something else worth seeing."

As they continued their walk, L'Isle remarked, "In many a place in the
peninsula we find a Roman aqueduct, a Moorish castle, and a Gothic
cathedral standing close together, yet ages apart. How much of history
is embraced in this? We have just been gazing upon the mouldering
remains of two phases of civilization, which were at their height,
one, while our forefathers were yet heathen and almost savage, the
other, while they were but emerging from a rude barbarism. We should
never forget that this peninsula was the high road which arts and
letters traveled on their progress into Western Europe, and to our own

"We are much indebted to letters and the arts for the unanimity with
which they came on to us; for certainly," said Lady Mabel, looking
round her, "little of either appears to have loitered behind. Every
object around us makes the impression of a country and a people who
have seen better days; and you cannot help wondering and fearing where
this downward path may end."

"The history of humanity is not always the story of progress," said
L'Isle; "one nation may be like a young barbarian, his face turned
toward civilization, gazing on it with dazzled but admiring eyes;
another, a scowling, hoary outlaw, turning his back on human culture
and social order."

"Your young barbarian," said Lady Mabel, "makes the more pleasing
picture of the two."

"Are there your hoary outlaws?" exclaimed Mrs. Shortridge, as a party
of beggars from the door of the Franciscan church hobbled toward them,
and beset them for alms.

"Oh, no!" said Lady Mabel, "they are angels in disguise, tempting us
to deeds of charity;" and with the devout air of a zealous daughter of
the one true church, she distributed sundry small coin among
them. "Come, Moodie," she exclaimed, "I know your pocket is never
without a store of sixpences, those _canny_ little dogs, that often do
the work of shillings. Seize the occasion of doing good works, of
appropriating to yourself a meritorious charity; for charity covers a
multitude of sins. Lay up some treasure in heaven without loss of

The beggars, on this hint, surrounded Moodie; but he, repudiating such
perversion of Scripture doctrine, shook them off with little
ceremony. And the beggars' instinct saw, in his hard, indignant face,
no hope of alms.

"If you will give nothing, at least buy something," said Lady Mabel;
"that fellow bawling at you _pelus almas_, is offering snuff for sale;
and the love of snuff, at least, is common ground to Scot and

Thus urged, Moodie paid liberally for a package, and was putting it in
his pocket, when Lady Mabel exclaimed, "You do not know, Moodie, what
a charitable and Christian deed you have done. Every thing is done in
Portugal _pelo amor de Deos e pelas almas_. That fellow is employed by
the priests to sell snuff _pelas almas_, and all the profits of the
trade go to release souls from purgatory."

"Purgatory!" exclaimed Moodie, "I will not be tricked into
countenancing that popish abomination;" and he hurled the package back
to the man, who gladly picked it up, and turned to seek a second

As they walked on toward the church of the Franciscans, Mrs.
Shortridge said, "You need not fear a scarcity of objects of charity,
Lady Mabel, for poverty seems rife in Evora."

"Yet, from the number of churches and monasteries, there must be much
wealth," Lady Mabel answered. "Probably, most of the property is in
their possession, and we may expect to see in their shrines and altars
a gorgeous display of their riches."

"You will be disappointed in that," said L'Isle. "Evora has passed too
lately through the hands of the French, too systematic a people to do
things by halves. Their emperor is more systematic still. On taking
possession of Portugal, his first edict from Milan imposed a
war-contribution on the country of one hundred million of francs, as a
ransom for private property of every kind. This being somewhat more
than all the money in the country, allowed a sufficiently wide margin
for spoliation, without making private property a whit the safer for
it; the imperial coffers absorbed this public contribution, leaving
the French officers and soldiers to fill their pockets and make their
fortunes as they could."

"But what was there left to fill their pockets with?" Lady Mabel

"There must have been a plenty left," said Mrs. Shortridge. "One does
not know the wealth of a country till you plunder it. Even some of our
fellows, though they came as friends, still continue occasionally to
pocket a useful thing. The officers cannot put a stop to it
altogether, do what they may."

"But, with some exceptions," said L'Isle, "each French general levied
contributions on his own account. Some idea of the amount may be
formed from the fact, that at the Convention of Cintra, Junot, who had
probably not brought baggage enough into Portugal to load five mules,
demanded five ships for the conveyance of his private property. Yet
Soult's accumulations in Andalusia are said to exceed Junot's.
Whatever may be the result of the war, many a French officer will have
made his fortune here. Well did they obey the injunction--

           "'See thou shake the bags
  Of hoarding abbots; angels imprisoned
  Set thou at liberty.'

"This last, though, in a sense different from the poets; in Lisbon
alone, turning thousands of nuns into the streets, that their convents
might be converted into barracks. In obedience to the imperial decree,
all the gold and silver of the churches, chapels, and fraternities of
the city were carried off to the mint; and, in this day of sweeping
confiscation, individuals did not forget themselves. Indeed,
throughout the country, the French soldier proved that he had the eye
of a lynx, the scent of a hound, and the litheness of a ferret after
booty, trained to it by the system which makes the war support the
war. But Evora has been particularly unlucky. It not only bore its
full share of the first burden imposed on the country, but the year
after, when the Portuguese, rising too late in armed resistance, lost
a battle before the town, the French, entering with the fugitives,
massacred nearly a thousand persons, many of them women and children,
including some forty priests, a class they made the especial objects
of their vengeance; and they plundered the town so thoroughly, that
the very cracks in the walls did not escape their search. The best
excuse that can be made for their plunderings is, that in the
confusion of their own revolution they so completely lost the idea of
property, that though they have recovered the thing, they have not yet
remastered the idea of it."

A number of friars now coming out of the church attracted Mrs.
Shortridge's attention. But Lady Mabel had an English woman's ear for
French atrocities, and continued the conversation:

"I can understand that a needy and ignorant soldiery may perpetrate
such robberies amidst scenes of violence, and under the temptations of
want; but we expect better things from the men who lead them."

"That supposes these men to be of a different class, with different
education and habits from the common soldier. The revolution and
conscription has leveled all those distinctions. Many a youth of good
birth and education is made to bear his musket in the ranks, and does
not elevate his comrades to his standard, but is soon degraded to the
level of their sentiments and habits. Many a French general, for
instance Junot, has been raised from the ranks. Military merit or
accident has elevated them to command without a corresponding
elevation of sentiment or principles. It is not easy to make a
gentleman in one generation: somebody says, it takes three."

"What a moderate man that somebody was!" said Lady Mabel; "I thought
that the gentry of a country were like its timber, the slow growth of
centuries, and that the beginning of nobility must be lost in the dark
ages, unless you can find some great statesman, warrior, or freebooter
of later date to start from."

"But," said L'Isle, laughing, "we find men whose pedigree fulfills
your requisitions, who are not gentlemen in their own persons. The son
of a gentleman is too often one only in name."

"I think," said Lady Mabel, reflecting, "I have myself met with more
than one gentleman rogue."

"That is impossible," said L'Isle, "for a gentleman is a
superstructure which can be built on only one foundation--an honest

"We had better stop defining the gentleman," said Lady Mabel, "lest
between us we narrow down the class, until there are not enough left
to officer a regiment, or for any other useful purpose."

"This is a fine old building," said Mrs. Shortridge, peeping into the
church, "and it will be a convenient time to look at it, for it seems
quite empty."

"It is not much worth seeing," said L'Isle, "but there is something
beyond it which I would like to show you."

They walked into it; but Moodie at first hung back, and hesitated to
enter this idolatrous temple, until, luckily remembering the prophet's
permission to Naaman the Syrian to accompany his master to the house
of Rimmon, he swallowed his scruples, and followed Lady Mabel.

Passing through the church, they came to an archway, over which was

  Nos os ossos que aqui estamos
  Pelos vossos esperamos.

Passing through it, they found themselves in a huge vault, its arched
ceiling supported by large square piers, which, with the walls, were
covered with human skulls, set in a hard cement. By the dim light they
saw on all sides thousands of ghastly human heads, grinning at them in
death; the only signs of life being a few crouching devotees,
prostrate before an illuminated shrine at the extremity of this

Both ladies paused, awe-stricken. Lady Mabel turned pale, and
Mrs. Shortridge, after gazing round her for a moment, uttered a little
shriek, and covered her face with her hands. To face these objects was
painful enough, but to have them grinning on her, as in mockery,
behind her back, was more than she could stand. So seizing old Moodie
by the arm, he being beside her, she rushed out of this charnel house,
and impatiently called to the others to join her in the church.

With an effort Lady Mabel stifled her contagious terror, and,
advancing further into the gloomy repository, inspected it on all
sides. There was little room left on the walls for more memorials of
mortality. Having in silence sated her curiosity and her sense of the
horrible, feeling all the while a strange reluctance to break the
deathlike stillness of the place by uttering a word, she at length
rejoined Mrs. Shortridge. After taking another look into this
apartment of death, her eye rested on the inscription over the arch.
L'Isle translated it:

  Our bones, which here are resting
  Are expecting yours.

"God forbid that mine should find so gloomy a resting place,"
exclaimed Mrs. Shortridge, with a shudder.

"It is a weakness," said Lady Mabel; "yet we must shrink from this
promiscuous mingling of our ashes, and are even choice in the
selection of our last resting place. We hope even in death to rejoin
our kindred dust in the ancestral vault, or at least to repose under
some sunny spot, in the churchyard hallowed to us in life. Is not this
your feeling?" she said, appealing to L'Isle.

L'Isle looked grave. "It is a natural feeling clinging to our mortal
nature, and doubtless has its use. But I must not indulge it. The
soldier is even less at liberty than other men to choose his own
grave. The fosse of a beleaguered fortress, a shallow trench in a
well-fought field, the ravine of a disputed mountain pass, the strand
of some river to be crossed in the face of the enemy--all these have
furnished, and will furnish graves for those who fall, and have the
luck to find burial; the wolf and the vulture provide for the rest. We
have a wide graveyard," he added, more cheerfully, "stretching from
hence to the Pyrenees, and, perchance, beyond them. It embraces many a
lovely and romantic spot, only the choice of our last resting place is
not left to ourselves."

Lady Mabel shuddered at this gloomy picture, and his foreboding
tone. She knew how many of her countrymen had fallen, and must fall,
in this bloody war. Yet, somehow or other, she had always thought of
L'Isle as one who was to live, and not to die prematurely, cut off in
youth, health, the pride of manhood, his hopes, powers, aspirations,
just in their bloom. She looked at him with deep, painful interest, as
if to read his fortune in his face. What special safeguard protected
him? The next moment her conscience pricked her, when her father's
image rose before her, grown gray in service, and seamed with scars,
yet no safer by all his dangers past than the last recruit, and she
walked slowly forth from the Franciscan church with sadder and more
solemn impressions of the reality and imminence of death than could be
generated by all that vast array of grinning skulls.

It was growing late, and they turned toward the _estalagem_. As they
strolled on, L'Isle, in the same strain of thought which had last
occupied them, said: "War is essentially a greedy thing, a great and
speedy consumer of what has been slowly produced in peace. We hear of
veteran armies, but an army of veterans does not, perhaps never
existed. We collect materials and munitions of war, expecting to
expend them in military operations; but we are not aware, until we
have tried it, how close a parallel there is between the fates of the
inanimate and the living constituents that furnish forth an army for
the field. It is not the sword chiefly that kills; the hospital
swallows more than the battle-field. After a few campaigns, what has
been falsely called the skeleton, but is, in truth, the soul of an
army, the remnant of experienced officers and tried soldiers, only
remains, and new flesh, blood, and bones must be provided for this
soul, in the shape of new levies. When we see an old soldier glorying
in his score of campaigns, we should call to mind the score of youths
prematurely covered by the sod."

"Few, then," said Lady Mabel, "can enjoy Gonsalvo of Cordova's
fortune. On retiring to a monastery, he avowed that every soldier
needed for repentance an interval of some years between his life and
his death."

"The great captain's conscience must have pricked him," said L'Isle,
"when he made that speech. An unjust war, or a war unjustly waged, lay
heavy on him. A soldier knows the likelihood of his dying in his
vocation. If he think it criminal, let him abandon it. Up to this day
my conscience has not troubled me on that score. War, always an evil,
is often a necessity; and I wonder whether, after an hundred years of
peace, we would not find nations worse and more worthless than they
now are."

Mrs. Shortridge now called their attention to the number of storks in
the air. The sun had set, and these grave birds were seeking their
roosts; every tower of church and monastery affording a domicil to
some feathered family, with the full sanction of the biped denizens

"The social position of these long-legged gentry all over the
peninsula," said L'Isle, "is one of the characteristics of the
country. It is astonishing what an amount of respect, and an immunity
from harm, they enjoy. I am afraid they would fare worse at the hands
of the more brutal part of our English populace. They are useful, too;
but are more indebted for their safety, and the respect shown them
here, to the clerical gravity of their demeanor."

They had now reached their lodgings, and were soon after joined by the
commissary, who came in rubbing his hands, and exclaiming: "Capital
bargains to be made here! Corn plenty, and bullocks that would make a
figure in Smithfield. Some farmers have not threshed last year's
crop. A curious country this: one province starving, and plenty in the
next. It is all owing to the want of roads. But, luckily, Elvas is not
far off."

"Yet the Romans," L'Isle remarked, "had once netted over the whole
Peninsula with roads."

"When they went away," said the commissary, "the first thing the
people of the country did, I suppose, was to let them go to ruin in
true Portuguese fashion."

Shortridge now said that he must spend some days in the neighborhood
of Evora, and that the party would have to return to Elvas without
him. This being agreed to, Lady Mabel suggested that they should find
their way back by a different route, and, on consulting the muleteer,
they found that it could be done without much lengthening their


  Led with delight they thus beguile the way
         *       *       *       *
  When weening to return whence they did stray,
  They cannot find that path, which first was showne,
  But wander to and fro in ways unknown,
  Furthest from end then, when they nearest weene,
  That makes them doubt their wits be not their own,
  So many paths, so many turning seene,
  That which of them to take in diverse doubt they been.

                                             Faerie Queene.

The party mustered early the next morning to continue their journey,
and after breakfast L'Isle called for the innkeeper to pay him his
bill. This worthy, acting on the natural supposition that the English
had come into the country to indemnify the Portuguese for their losses
at the hands of the French, at once named the round sum of sixty
_crusados_. On L'Isle looking surprised, he began to run over so long
a list of articles furnished, and items of trouble given, that L'Isle,
who was annoyed at the interruption of an agreeable conversation with
Lady Mabel, was about to pay him in full to get rid of him, when
Shortridge peremptorily interfered. The demand was extortionate and
aroused his indignation. Perhaps he looked upon the fellow as usurping
a privilege belonging peculiarly to the commissary's own
brotherhood. He abused the man roundly in very bad Portuguese, and
insisted that L'Isle should pay him but half the sum.

The innkeeper, a dark, sallow man, with a vindictive countenance,
glared on him as if fear alone withheld him from replying with his
knife. When he found his tongue, he began to answer with a bitterness
that was fast changing into uncontrollable rage; but the commissary,
who was a master in the art of bullying, cut him short.

"This fellow," said he, addressing L'Isle, but still speaking
Portuguese, "has three fine mules in his stable. I shall need a great
many beasts to carry corn to Elvas, and will apply to the _Juiz de
Fora_ to embargo them among the first."

The innkeeper turned as pale as his golden skin permitted at the bare
suggestion. The French had made a similar requisition on him four
years ago, and when he followed his cattle to reclaim them after the
required service, he got only sore bones and a broken head for his

"You may do as you please in that matter," said L'Isle, throwing on
the table half the sum demanded, and leaving their host to swallow his
anger, and take it up, if he pleased.

The muleteer, having come in for the baggage, on finding out the
nature of the controversy, now poured out a flood of vociferous
eloquence on the extortioner, denouncing him as a disgrace to the
nation, and no true Portuguese, but a New Christian, as might be seen
in his face; and he was urgent with Shortridge to let him show him the
way to the house of the _Juiz de Fora_ without loss of time.

L'Isle's commanding air and contemptuous indifference overawed the
innkeeper quite as much as Shortridge's threats. So, sweeping the
money into his pocket, he went out hastily to find a safe and secret
hiding place for his mules.

"Pray," said Lady Mabel to L'Isle, while they were waiting for their
horses, "what is a New Christian?"

"The explanation of the term does not tell well in the history of the
country," said he. "When Ferdinand and Isabella expelled the Jews from
Spain, many of them took refuge here, where John II. gave them
shelter, on condition that they should quit the kingdom in a limited
time. This king endeavored to keep faith with them. Nevertheless, in
his and the following reign, they were subjected to unceasing
persecutions, being required to become Christians, or leave the
country; at the very time every obstacle was put in the way of their
escape. At length their children were taken from them to be reared in
the Christian faith, and numbers abjured Judaism in order to recover
possession of their own offspring. But such a conversion failed not to
furnish for many a generation a crowd of hapless inmates for the
'Tremendous House of the Inquisition' in every town. Even in the last
century, no diversion delighted the Lisbon mob like the burning of a
relapsed Jew. The usage of them of old still influences the condition
of the country and the term New Christian is yet a by-word common in
the mouths of people."

"We certainly see a great many Jewish faces among the Portuguese
Christians," said Mrs. Shortridge.

"So the great Marquis de Pombul thought," L'Isle answered; "for when a
great crowd had assembled to see him open a fountain he had erected in
Lisbon, on a courtier's saying, 'See, my Lord, like Moses, you make
water flow from the rock!' 'Yes,' replied the marquis, 'and here are
the Jews looking at me.'"

"And our host," said Mrs. Shortridge, "is doubtless one of these New

"But has the commissary," Lady Mabel asked, "a right to make the
requisition with which he threatens him?"

"Not on his own authority," said L'Isle, laughing. "But these people
would well deserve that we should sweep off every mule and yoke of
oxen around Evora. Last year when we were collecting materials for the
siege of Badajoz, the ungrateful rascals would not send a single cart
to help us."

"Why, were we not fighting their battles?" Lady Mabel exclaimed.
"Would they not assist in their own defence?"

"Badajoz is not within sight of Evora, and that was enough for these
short-sighted patriots."

"Has such blind selfishness a parallel?" asked Lady Mabel.

"Many," said L'Isle. "We may at times find one at home, in the wisdom
of a whig ministry, which consists in taking a microscopic view of the
wrong side of things just under their noses."

They now mounted their horses, and leaving the _praça_, had entered on
a narrow and somewhat crooked street, where they suddenly met a
funeral procession, with its priests, crucifix and tapers, the dead
being carried by several persons on a bier, and followed by a few
peasants. The travelers drew up their horses close to the adjacent
wall, to leave room for the procession. The face of the dead was
uncovered as usual, and the friar's dress which clothed the body, with
the rosaries and other paraphernalia displayed about his person, led
Lady Mabel to say, "I see that one of the good fathers is gone to his

"He will now find out," said Moodie, "the worth of his beads, crucifix
and holy water."

"I am surprised," said Lady Mabel, "at so unpretending a funeral, in
the case of a member of the great order of St. Francis."

L'Isle asked a question of a Portuguese standing near, and then said,
"The cowl does not make the monk, nor must you infer from his dress
that this man was a friar. He lived all his life a peasant in a
neighboring village."

"Indeed!" exclaimed Lady Mabel.

"Almost every one," said L'Isle, as they turned to ride on their way,
"here and throughout the Peninsula, is buried in a religious
habit--the men in the uniform of friars, the women dressed like
pilgrims, and the girls like nuns. They are loaded with a freight of
rosaries, _agni dei_, and other saintly jewelry, fastened to the neck,
hands and feet, and stuffed into the clothes. Convents have often a
warehouse appropriated to this posthumous wardrobe, in the sale of
which they drive a profitable trade. It was a most natural mistake
made by a stranger, who, after being a few weeks at Madrid, and seeing
so many Franciscans interred, expressed his astonishment at the
prodigious number of them in the city, and asked if their order was
not entirely carried off by this violent epidemic."

"I suppose," said Lady Mabel, "the custom originated in the propensity
so strong in us all, to live sinners and die saints."

"Exactly so," L'Isle answered; "it is a fraudulent custom, old as the
fifth century, and common in popish countries. It is nothing less than
an attempt to cheat St. Peter, who, you know, keeps the keys of
heaven, by knocking at the gate in the disguise of a monk or a friar."

"I have too much faith in St. Peter's vigilance and penetration," said
Mrs. Shortridge, "to think he has ever been so taken in."

They presently got out of the city; but, to Moodie's displeasure, by a
gate opposite to that by which they had entered it. He was still more
annoyed, when, on coming to a place where the road branched into two,
the commissary took a brief though kindly leave of his wife and
friends, and, followed by his man, galloped off to the right, on a
professional chase after grain and bullocks.

L'Isle was surprised to find himself regretting the loss of their
fellow-traveler. He had found him, always remembering that he was a
commissary, a very good fellow; for we can find some good in every
man, if we take the trouble to look for it; and Shortridge was one
who, after taking care of himself, was quite willing to take care of
other people.

But L'Isle's regret was nothing to Moodie's, whose habits of life led
him to appreciate the nature and importance of the commissary's
official duties. He valued him as a practical, responsible man of
business, with no foolish fancies about him. He admired the summary
way in which he had disposed of the extortionate inn-keeper, and now
looked after him almost in despair; for he did not think the party
left behind by any means fit to take care of themselves or each other.
L'Isle he did not understand and mistrusted, doubting whether he were
merely idly rambling about the country, or harbored some covert
design, the object of which was Lady Mabel, of course.

"My Lady," said he, riding up beside her, and speaking in an under
tone, "this is not the road we traveled coming from Elvas. Where are
you going to now?"

Remarking his dissatisfied air, and the look of suspicion he cast on
L'Isle, she answered, with provoking coolness, "Oh, we are merely
rambling about; any road is the right one, if it but leads to a new

"But now the commissary has left us, do you not mean to go back to

"In returning we will make a detour."

"And what is a detour?" asked Moodie, with a puzzled air.

"It means going back the longest way. We have plenty of leisure, for
the campaign will not open directly."

"I would like to know what you, my Lady, have to do with the opening
of the campaign?"

"A great deal, and so have you; for, as soon as it does open, you and
I must march back to Scotland."

"I wish it were to-morrow," said Moodie.

"It will not be to-morrow, or to-morrow's morrow," Lady Mabel
answered. "Meanwhile, we will see all that is to be seen, and learn
all that is to be known. Even you, by crowding and packing more
closely your old notions, may find room for some new ones."

"I am too old to learn," said Moodie, sullenly.

"Too wise, you mean," she said, breaking off from him. "Come,
Mrs. Shortridge, let me tear you from this barren spot, to which grief
has rooted you on parting from the commissary;" and, seizing that
lady's mule by the rein, Lady Mabel led her, as if helpless from
sorrow, after the guide, who had taken the left-hand road.

"Somewhere hereabouts," L'Isle remarked, as they rode on, "lies what
is called the field of Sertorius. I know not why it is so named; but
it figures largely in the tradition, and yet more in the
superstitions, of the country. 'There exists in Portugal a strange
superstition concerning King Sebastian, whose reappearance is as
confidently expected by many of the Portuguese, as the coming of the
Messiah by the Jews. The rise and progress of this belief forms a
curious part of their history. It began in hope, when the return of
that prince, after his hapless expedition to Morocco, and the fatal
battle of _Alcaçar Quiber_, was not only possible, but might have been
considered likely; it was fostered by the policy of the Braganzan
party after all reasonable hope had ceased; and length of time only
served to ripen it into a confirmed and rooted superstition, which
even the intolerance of the Inquisition spared, for the sake of the
loyal and patriotic feelings in which it had its birth. The holy
office never interfered farther with the sect, than to prohibit the
publication of its numerous prophecies, which were suffered to
circulate in private. For many years the persons who held this strange
opinion had been content to enjoy their dream in private, shrinking
from observation and ridicule; but as the belief had begun in a time
of deep calamity, so now, when a heavier evil had overwhelmed the
kingdom, it spread beyond all former example. Their prophecies were
triumphantly brought to light, for only in the promises which were
there held out could the Portuguese find consolation; and proselytes
increased so rapidly, that half Lisbon became Sebastianists. The
delusion was not confined to the lower orders; it reached the educated
classes; and men who had been graduated in theology became professors
of a faith which announced that Portugal was soon to be the head of
the Fifth and Universal Monarchy; Sebastian was speedily to come from
the Secret Island; the Queen would resign the sceptre into his hands;
he would give Bonaparte battle near Evora, on the field of Sertorius,
slay the tyrant, and become monarch of the world."

"And this superstition now prevails?" Lady Mabel asked.

"So widely, that at least every other man you meet is a Sebastianist."

As they rode on they found the country dotted over with _quintas_ and
country-houses, here called _montes_, from being generally seated on
hills. Around each homestead the meagre and tame-hued olive was
mingled with the deep rich green of the orange-tree, which here
produces its fruit in the greatest perfection of flavor, at least, if
not of size, and a vineyard occasionally occupied the slope of the
hill. The lower grounds were covered with extensive cornfields,
bearing here a thriving growth of wheat, there a young crop of maize,
which furnishes these people with more than half their food.

"The Portuguese," said L'Isle, "like their Spanish neighbors, are
often charged with indolence; but here and elsewhere, under favorable
circumstances, they show no want of industry. The husbandman of this
part of Alemtejo has grown rich in spite of the greatest obstacle to
thrift, which the church has raised up in devoting more than half the
year to holy days. Good lands are apt to make good farmers, and labor
and skill well repaid, leads to the outlay of more labor and greater

"We see around us a people," said Lady Mabel, "reveling in the
Scripture blessings of corn, wine, and oil. I think there must be no
little resemblance between Portugal and Palestine."

"The Jews think so too," answered L'Isle. "The delights of Portugal
can make a Jew forget Jerusalem. They clung, and still cling to it, as
another promised land. Moreover, if their fathers of old longed after
the leeks and onions of Egypt, their sons may satisfy that longing

"And stuff themselves with garlic to boot, like Portuguese sausage,"
said Mrs. Shortridge. "The quantity of these things in it leaves
little room for the pork."

The travelers occasionally fell in with peasants singly, or in parties
on the road; and L'Isle, prompted by the ladies, let few of them pass
without exchanging some words, which were easily drawn out; for
English uniforms, and ladies so evidently foreigners, excited much
curiosity, especially in the women. Struck with the air of comfort
common among these people, and the marks of fertility and cultivation
in the country around them, Lady Mabel hoped that Moodie had at last
met with something to please him; so she asked the opinion of that
high authority on the rural prospect and the farming around them. But
he at once condemned it as unskillful, wasteful, and slovenly; in
short, just what was to be looked for in this benighted land.

"What a pity it is, Moodie, you cannot speak Portuguese," said Lady
Mabel; "you might seize many a chance of giving these benighted people
a valuable hint, particularly how to ferment their wine, and press
their olives."

"I am sure," replied Moodie, "I could make as sour wine and rancid oil
as the best of them, and they make no other."

"You are a fault-seeking traveler," said Lady Mabel; "and so will find
nothing to please you, while I enjoy all around me, and see nothing to
find fault with, except the abominable custom of the women riding
astride on their _burras_, which I am glad to see is not universal."

"Nay, my lady, the country pleases me well enough. The pasturage is
poor and parched, yet the oxen are fine in spite of their monstrous
horns; and I see corn land that might yield good oats or barley in
Scotland. The land is well enough; it is the people I find fault

"Moodie's verdict on Portugal," said L'Isle, "can be summed up in four
little words: '_Bona terra, mala gens_.'"

"What pleasure," continued Moodie, not heeding the interruption, "can
a Christian man find in traveling in a land where the people grovel in
ignorance and a besotted superstition, which manifests that God has
given them over to a reprobate heart. I cannot speak their language; I
can only look on their wanderings in the dark, and think of the wrath
to come."

"And so here is a missionary lost!" Mrs. Shortridge exclaimed.

"But, according to Moodie's favorite dogma," said L'Isle, "were he
gifted with the purest and most eloquent Portuguese, or had he the
gift of St. Francis Xavier, who, when thrown among any strange people,
was soon found exhorting them in their own tongue, he could be to this
people only a prophet of evil. You say that they are given over to a
state of reprobation. Do you, like a great English philosopher,
believe in election and reprobation by nature?"

"Not exactly; nor do I know any thing of your English philosopher; but
since I have been among these people, I have seen much to lead my
thoughts that way. And we have example for it. Had not God his chosen
people of old? And the seven nations of Canaan, were they not swept
off as utterly reprobate from the face of the earth?"

"And now," suggested L'Isle, wishing to know the old man's views,
"election is for the Scotch nation, and reprobation for the

"I do not say that all Scotchmen, even in the Kirk, are of the elect."

"No," interposed Lady Mabel. "You misconstrue Moodie. He holds a
particular election within the Kirk, and a national reprobation
outside of it."

"I am afraid, my lady, it is not given to you to understand that high
doctrine. It is ordered that the blessing, and the comprehension of
it, go hand in hand."

"I must despair then, for I certainly do not comprehend it. In truth,
the tenor of your discourse calls up in my mind the involuntary doubt,
did this people first desert God, or God them? But I trample it down
as a snare laid by the evil one."

"We are in a land where the evil one bears full sway," said Moodie.

"Yet you have voluntarily put yourself in purgatory by coming to
travel in it," said Lady Mabel. "But you have your consolation, and
may give thankful utterance to the words of our Scotch poet:

  'I bless and praise thy matchless might,
   Whan thousands thou hast left in night,
   That I am here afore thy sight,
       For gifts an' grace,
   A burning and a shining light,
       To a' this place.'"

"I do not know that psalmist, if in truth he be a maker of spiritual
songs," said Moodie, with a doubtful air.

"He did dabble a little in psalmody," said Lady Mabel; "but I doubt
whether his attempts would satisfy you. How like you this sample:

  'Orthodox, orthodox, who believe in John Knox,
   Let me sound an alarm to your conscience;
   There's a heretic blast has been blown in the Wast,
   That what is not sense must be nonsense.

   Calvin's sons, Calvin's sons, load your spiritual guns,
   Ammunition you never can need;
   Your hearts are the stuff, will be powder enough,
   And your skulls are store-houses o' lead.'"

"'Tis that profane, lewd fellow, Burns," exclaimed Moodie,
angrily. "He did worse than hide his ten talents in a napkin. I
wonder, my lady, you defile your mouth with his scurrilous words."

"I have done with him," said Lady Mabel, laughing. "He was a profane,
lewd fellow, far better at pointing out other men's errors than
amending his own."

Moodie now fell back among the servants; and L'Isle remarked, "your
old squire, Lady Mabel, holds an austere belief. I never met a man so
confident of his own salvation and of the damnation of others."

"He reminds me," Mrs. Shortridge said, "of a dissenting neighbor of
ours, when we lived in London, who was always saying, 'I am called,
but my wife is not,' much to the poor woman's disquiet in this world,
if not to the hazard of her happiness in the next."

"The old man puzzles me sadly at times," said Lady Mabel; "and he has
at hand many a text to sustain his dogmas."

"It is a pity," said L'Isle, "that he will not bear in mind those that
bid us 'Judge not that ye be not judged;' 'Let him that thinketh he
standeth, take heed lest he fall; 'Unto whomsoever much is given, of
him shall much be required;' and many others of the same tenor."

"Pray go on," said Lady Mabel, "and provide me with a refutation of
Moodie's theology of destiny: not that I hope to silence him, for
controversy is to him the breath of life."

Now L'Isle had acquired many things laboriously, but he had gotten his
training in divinity somewhat incidentally, and hesitated, as well he
might, to undertake the task imposed. But spurred on by the deference
she showed to his opinions, he eagerly sought to satisfy, yet not
mislead her. "Moodie is the type of a class," he said, "who are the
most wilful men in the world, yet are even inculcating that man has no
will of his own, but is the play thing of fate. Fatalism, indeed, is
no modern invention, being as old as humanity itself, perhaps,
older. We find it as strongly inculcated by the Greek tragic poet, as
by the modern Calvinist. But the peculiar colors in which we see it
dressed, are derived from the revolt of men's minds against the Romish
doctrine as to good works. Among these, penance, fasting, alms,
pilgrimages, bounty to the church and its servants, come first. This
leads to the keeping of a debt and credit account with heaven; and to
the saints is attributed the power of buying up a stock of works of
supererogation, by which they acquire a mediatory power in themselves.
Human reason has been likened to a drunken clown, who if you help him
up on one side of his horse, falls over on the other. To deter men
from the presumptuous sin of attributing merit to their actions, the
reformers, and also individuals and even orders in the church, have
labored to prove that man acts only in obedience to preordained
decree, and can of himself do nothing good; yet their logic charges
him freely with the _guilt_ of sinning by necessity. I cannot for the
life of me distinguish between fatalism and predestination. Either
binds us with the same chain of necessity, in thought, word and deed,
from the cradle to the grave. To escape this charge, fanaticism can
only add a few links to the chain of necessitating cause, and tell you
it is necessity no longer. Now, our most perfect conception of sin is
found in a will which sets itself in opposition to God's will. This is
the characteristic of the father of evil and his fallen hosts. Our
highest idea of virtue is found in the creature's conforming his will
to that of his Maker; this is the trait of the angels who were
steadfast in their faith. How can you here couple fatality and will?
If ours be a state of probation, it is only by a certain freedom of
action, an originating power of causation in ourselves, that we can
conceive of our being put to proof. Possibly, in fallen man, that
freedom is limited to the power of rejecting or yielding to the
influences of grace. Yet within that narrow range it may be still a
perfect freedom. God said, 'let us make man in our image and after our
likeness,' and this likeness between the 'cause of causes' and his
creature, may well consist in man's being endowed with a spark from
the Creator's nature, gifted with an originating will, and made a
source of causes in himself. To say that this may not be, were to
limit the power of God."

"Most assuredly," said Lady Mabel, who was on this point easily
convinced. "I shall now be ready armed for Moodie, when next he
broaches his dogma of predestination. But will he listen, much less

"If his dogma be a truth," continued L'Isle, encouraged by her
approbation, "to know it, or any other revealed truth, can avail us
nothing; for our knowledge, itself a predestined fact, cannot
influence our preordained condition here or hereafter. On the other
hand, if the doctrine be misunderstood or false, it is most dangerous;
there being but a short step between believing it and applying it,
presumptuously, in our own favor, and adversely to our neighbor. We
are ever more successful in deceiving ourselves than others; and to
indulge in the belief that we are the chosen of God, may be only less
dangerous than a conviction of our utter reprobation."

"For my part," said Lady Mabel, "I can appeal yet more confidently to
my feelings than my reason, for a refutation of the doctrine Moodie
has so often urged upon me. I feel within me a capacity to be as
wicked as I please, if fear and reverence did not withhold me."

"And I, as your duenna," said Mrs. Shortridge, "prohibit any such
frank admission of propensity to evil in a young lady under my

"Why, will you not let me make a Christian confession of the
sinfulness of my nature? It were indeed heresy to claim an equal
capacity for good. There I acknowledge the need of aid from above."

"And that aid is not compulsion," said L'Isle, "as every page of
Scripture testifies. There is something strangely illogical in the
reasoning of those who, starting from the point, that what has been
decreed by God is as good as done, and the future as fixed as the
past, thence exhort us to plead, because the decree has gone forth; to
run in the race, because the victor has been chosen, and the prize
adjudged; to strive, because the battle has been fought; and to repent
and be saved, because our final destiny was decided before time was.
Surely, if this life have any bearing on another, we are running a
race, the issue of which is undecided until death; and ours is a real
struggle, not merely the acting out of a foregone conclusion, not the
dramatic representation of a past event. What would you think of a
modern Greek praying zealously that Mohamed II. should not _have
taken_ Constantinople? Or of a Roman of to-day besieging heaven with
prayers that Rome should not _have been_ taken by the Goths, or sacked
by the army of the Constable Bourbon? Yet what is commonly called
Calvinist is nothing less than this; praying against past events, or
the decrees of fate. Is the papist so absurd in offering his masses
for the dead?"

The ladies were still complimenting L'Isle on his refutation of
Moodie's tenets, so obnoxious to their own convictions, when they met
a peasant trudging along, _cujado_ in hand, with the small end of
which he occasionally enlivened the motions of an ass toiling under a
heavy sack of grain. The muleteer stopped him to enquire where they
might find water for their animals in this thirsty land. The peasant
pointed back to a thicket near the road, and said: "I would have
watered my own beast there, but for the would have watered my own
beast there, but for the company I would have fallen among." He then
went on his way, and they rode to the spot pointed out, where among
the oleander and buckthorn bushes they found a puddle rather than a
spring, so well had it been lately stirred up. A gang of eight or nine
vagrants, who had been munching their crusts and _sardinhas_ in the
shade, now sprung up, and placing themselves between the travelers and
the water, vociferously demanded alms. To rid themselves of this
motley troop, L'Isle and Mrs. Shortridge threw each of them a small
coin. They were not so easily satisfied, but thrusting themselves
among the horses, continued to rival each other in whining petitions
and adjurations of their favorite saints. Lady Mabel, who had emptied
her purse of small coin the evening before, now entreated Moodie to
let this second opportunity of alms-giving, so manifestly sent for his
benefit, soften his stony heart. But he shook his head grimly, saying:
"If they are strong enough to travel, they are strong enough to work;
and work they shall, or starve, before they touch a penny of mine!"

L'Isle's short tempered groom, availing himself of the impatience of a
thirsty horse, now turned his about, at once spurring and reining him
in, which made him lash out his heels at the intruders near him. The
other steeds seemed to catch this infectious restiveness, and the
beggars were driven to a safer distance. Their horses now could drink
in peace of the water stirred up and muddied by their mendicant
friends, whom they presently left behind them, without further heeding
their continued and vociferous appeals. One stout ragged fellow put
himself in their way, and displayed to their eyes a flaming picture,
painted on a board, depicting the torments of the souls in
purgatory. But the travelers were in a hurry, and unmoved at the
sight, left the souls in unmitigated tortures there.

"What we have just seen," said L'Isle to the ladies, "may convince you
that beggars are a formidable class in this country. They ramble
about, and infest every place, not entreating charity, but demanding
it. They often assemble at night in hordes, at the best country house
they can find, and taking up their abode in one of the out-buildings,
call for whatever they want, like travelers at an inn; and here they
claim the right of tarrying three days, if they like it. When a gang
of these sturdy fellows meets a traveler on the highway, he must offer
them money; and it sometimes happens that the amount of the offering
is not left to his own discretion. St. Anthony assails him on one
side, St. Francis on the other. Having satisfied their clamor in
behalf of these favorite saints, he is next attacked for the honor of
the Virgin; and thus they rob him, for the love of God."

"I wonder," Mrs. Shortridge said, "the nation tolerates such a

"There are laws for its abatement," answered L'Isle. "John III. and
Sebastian both warred against the beggars. A law of the sixteenth
century ordains that the lame should learn the trade of a tailor or
shoemaker, the maimed serve for subsistence any who will employ them,
and the blind, for food and raiment, give themselves to the labors of
the forge, by blowing the bellows. But we see how the law is enforced.
These men behind us are neither lame, halt, nor blind, but truly
represent the sturdy vagrants with whom Queen Bess's statute dealt so
roughly. With what result? It is but the ancestor of a long line of
laws which load our statute-books, and have built up our poor-law
system, merely substituting for one evil another which burdens the
country like an incubus, and, vulture-like, is eating out its

"We have no such national institution for the breeding of beggars in
Scotland," said Moodie, from behind.

"Is it because Scotland is too poor to maintain paupers?" inquired
Mrs. Shortridge.

"It is because it is not natural for a Scotchman to be a beggar,"
replied Moodie, with patriotic pride.

"We cannot carry the system much further in England," said L'Isle;
"the resources of the country, and the sturdy character of the people,
are breaking down under it."

"Could our British population be brought down to as low a condition as
these people?" Lady Mabel asked.

"Assuredly not," said Mrs. Shortridge.

"Have you ever been in Ireland?" asked L'Isle.

No, neither of the ladies had been there.

"Or in an English poor-house?"

That, too, was _terra incognita_, especially to Lady Mabel.

"Either of them might assist you in finding an answer to a very
difficult question. Still, like Moodie, I have great faith in race,
and in the fitness of climates to races. There is something enervating
to a northern race in these subtropical climates. While the powers of
enjoyment remain unimpaired, or are even stimulated, the energy of
action is rapidly sapped. We know that the Gothic conquerors of this
peninsula lost, in a few generations, their energy and enterprise. A
war of seven centuries revived and sustained that of their
descendants; but, after that stimulant was withdrawn, on the expulsion
of the Moors, they gradually sunk to what we see them now. Some
persons attribute the character and condition of these peninsular
nations to the vices of government, others to the corruption of the
church. I doubt the question's admitting of so simple a solution as
either, or both of these. We may be putting effect for cause, and
cause for effect. An inferior people may deteriorate government, and
corrupt the church. The disciples of the apostles received
Christianity in its purity. Whence originated the rapid degeneracy of
the early Church? We see some portions of the human race betraying
stronger downward tendencies than others. But the 'why' is too complex
a question to admit of a simple solution. The Portuguese of this
province especially are an inferior people. They are probably a
degenerate people; and one cause of that degeneracy may be an
intermixture of dissimilar races."

"It is evident," said Lady Mabel, "that the work Pelayo began was
never finished by his successors; that in reconquering the country the
Christians did not make thorough work in expelling the Moors."

"I know not how thoroughly they may have driven out the Moors," said
Mrs. Shortridge, "but they certainly have not kept out the
black-a-moors. The negroes now form no small part of the population of

"And the worst part," said L'Isle; "as will always happen when an
inferior race is brought in contact and competition with one superior
to it. A great part of the robbers, and other criminals there, are
negroes. These are comparatively new-comers; but among the old
population around us, though we meet with many specimens of men of
pure and better breed, still, the great number of turned-up noses and
projecting lips we see, gives us an idea of an intermixture with
negroes. This mixture and deterioration of the people will control the
condition of the country far more than revolutions in church and
state. The presence of but one race in a country renders possible a
real freedom, embracing the whole population, and it becomes more
attainable if this people be a race of high caste; but an inferior
people mingled with them, will be politically and socially subjected
to them. This is the history of races all over the world."

They had now ridden many miles on the road to Murao, whither L'Isle
would gladly have led the ladies, were it only for the pleasure of
taking them across the Guadiana, so renowned in song; but he feared to
prolong the fatigues of the journey beyond the next day, and bade the
muleteer find the shortest way back to Elvas. On this their guide soon
turned into a by-way, and they gradually left the cultivated country
behind them. The heat of the day made them wish for shelter long
before it could be found in so bare and desolate a region. At length
they were cheered by the sight of a few pines of stunted growth, and
seating themselves in the shade, prepared to dine, while the servants
went in search of water, which proved scarce drinkable when
brought. The sweet-smelling thyme, which abounded in this spot, now
bruised under the horses' hoofs, gave a refreshing fragrance to the
air, and they rested the longer, as Mrs. Shortridge seemed worn out
with the heat. Lady Mabel seized the occasion to add some new plants
to her _hortus siccus_, which, now swollen to a portentous bulk,
occupied the highest place in the load of one of the mules. As she
wandered from one cluster of plants to another, her voice rose into a
tuneful strain. L'Isle followed her with eye and ear, as imprisoned
Palamon did Emilie, while

  "She gathered flowers, partly white and red,
   To make a subtle garland for her head,
   And as an angel, heaven-like she sang."

But she presently returned to her seat, and to her favorite diversion
of exciting Moodie's controversial spirit, by asking him if there was
not something exceedingly impressive in the external religion of the
people they were among?

The term she used was enough to rouse him; but, checking himself, he
sneeringly said, "I think these mummeries are well contrived for their
purpose, to amuse a childish people, and keep them in a state of

"And why should they not be amused?" said Lady Mabel, "since you will
view it in that light? The church, their nursing-mother, takes charge
of them, body and soul, and strives to make religion part and parcel
of the occupations of every hour of every day life. By spectacles,
processions, pictures, music, by the lonely way-side cross, by the
crucifix hidden in the bosom, by the neighboring convent bell, chiming
the hour of prayer, the Romanist is reminded forty times a day that he
does not live for this life alone. Does he seek amusement from books?
she takes out of his hands the lewd tale or lying romance, and puts
into it the more wonderful legend of a saint or a martyr. Does any son
of the church neglect the practice of charity? she sends him an humble
penniless friar to remind him of that duty. Does he strive to forget
his sins? she startles his slumbering conscience by duly summoning him
to the confessional. The youths and maidens, taking an evening walk,
led by early habit, stroll toward some neighboring chapel, and suspend
their thoughtless mirth, while they bend the knee to offer up a
prayer, and make the sign of the cross, in emblem of their faith in
Him who died upon it."

Moodie shook his head. "You have well named its external religion. It
is a whited sepulchre, full within of dead men's bones. The Kirk
swept out all that rubbish long ago, and the less it is like Rome the
nearer the pure faith."

"They would be odd Christians," said L'Isle, "who held nothing in
common with Rome. I doubt, too, whether it be possible to preserve the
substance with an utter disregard to form. When inspiration ceased, it
was time to frame liturgies and creeds. But there is one material
point in which the Kirk of Scotland and the Church of Rome still
strongly resemble each other."

Moodie pricked up his ears at this astounding assertion, and
scornfully asked: "What point is that, sir?"

"Their vicarious public worship," answered L'Isle. "They both pray by
proxy. The Papists employ a priest to pray for them in a dead language
which they do not understand, and the Presbyterians a minister to
offer up petitions unknown to his people until after they are uttered,
who stand listening, or seeming to listen, to this vicarious prayer,
which may be, and often is, unfitted to the wants of their hearts, and
the convictions of their consciences."

"And to escape these dangers, more possible than likely, you flee to
those dead formularies you call your liturgy," retorted Moodie.

"To the formalist and the negligent," L'Isle replied, "the liturgy is
but a form; but to the earnest churchman it is a thing of life. Using
it, the Christian congregation, priest and layman, pastor and flock,
join in an united confession of their sins, in the profession of their
common faith, in prayer for mercies needed, in thanksgiving for
blessings bestowed. God's praise is sung, his pardon to repentant
sinners authoritatively pronounced, the sacraments ordained by Christ
are reverently administered, and the whole body of revealed truth and
sacred history systematically recited to the people in the course of
each year--a most profitable teaching to the young and ignorant, who
cannot search the Scriptures for themselves. This is a true Christian
public worship, complete in itself. Nor do we neglect preaching as a
means of instruction and exhortation, without holding it to be an
always essential accompaniment, much less, as you do, the right arm in
the public worship of God."

"And to this form of words, made by man," objected Moodie, "you
attribute a divine character, little, if at all, below that which
belongs to the word of God."

"So far as it consists of the language of Scripture, rightly applied,
it is divine," said L'Isle. "But it is an error to say that our
liturgy, or any other worthy to be named, was made by a man, or the
men of any one age. It has a more catholic origin than that. The
spiritual experience of devout men of many centuries of Christianity,
realizing the needs of sinful humanity in its intercourse with its
Maker and Redeemer, and the comforting Spirit, have helped to build it
up, and thus adapted it, in its parts of general application, to the
spiritual wants, at all times, of every child of Adam."

"You speak up finely for your formal service, sir," said Moodie; "and
I may not be scholar enough to answer you. But every spiritual minded
man knows that it only fetters the spirit in prayer."

"Yet we might infer," said L'Isle, "from a passage in the Revelations
of St. John, that a liturgy is used by the four and twenty elders who
stand before the throne."

"You and Moodie do not seem to get any nearer to each other," said
Mrs. Shortridge, "in your rambles through the mazes of controversy."

"We only need here a well-trained son of Rome," answered L'Isle, "to
make confusion worse confounded. Luckily, Moodie and I can fight out
our duel in quiet, without having a dexterous adversary come in as
thirdsman, and kill us both."

The muleteer, who had shown signs of impatience unusual with him, now
pointed to the sun; in a few minutes they were again on the road,
which was but a bridle-path, and the country promised less and less as
they rode on. Their guide looked around doubtingly, and at length
turned aside to a half ruinous cottage, the only habitation they had
seen for miles, where he closely questioned an old woman whom he found
there as to the way before them. Little satisfied with her directions,
he presently stopped an idiotic looking fellow, with a huge head, whom
they met driving some milch goats toward the hovel, and questioned
him. The goatherd stood staring at the party with open mouth, and gave
little heed to him. But, at length, being pressed for an answer, he
gave one in a harsh voice with great volubility, and much action, as
if drawing in the air a map of the whole country around. The muleteer
seemed satisfied, and they again moved on over a waste of low, rolling
hills, without a tree upon them. Unlike the heaths of the north of
Europe, it was covered with a false show of fertility, displaying a
variety of plants; among them several species of heath, one six feet
high, and entirely covered with large red flowers, another, smaller
indeed, but with flowers of a yet more lively red. Here, too, were the
yellow-flowered _cisti_, and many other plants with blossoms of many
hues, perfuming the air while they delighted the eye. But the stunted
juniper bushes, and the myrtles, not luxuriant and beautiful, like
those growing on the banks of the rivulets, but dwarfish to the humble
size of weeds, told of a land of starvation under this wilderness of

Lady Mabel, much as she loved flowers, was sated here, and owned that
no profusion of them could make a landscape. "There is a dreary
monotony in a scene like this, that words cannot express. The sky of
brass over our heads, and this treeless, lifeless sea of sandy
hillocks around us, excite a feeling of desolation and solitude, which
forces me to look round on our party to convince myself that I am not
alone in the world."

The muleteer, who was some way ahead, now stopped short. Riding up,
they saw that the path here divided into two, and heard him heaping
curses on the huge head of the simpleton, who had forgotten to tell
him which to follow. But, on L'Isle's asking what they should do now,
he dismounted, and stepped up to consult his wisest mule, which he did
by slipping the bridle from his head. At once, sure instinct came to
faltering reason's aid; the beast turned complacently into the right
hand path, and moving briskly on, jingled his bells more cheerily than
before, as if he already saw the open stable door, and snuffed his
evening meal. Their path bending westward, they now saw clouds
mustering on the heights before them, and one of April's sudden
showers drawing near.

Within less then a mile, they came upon a hedge of American aloes,
which, with their close array of massive leaves, each ending in a
sharp point, protected an orchard. Following its course a few rods,
they came to a rude gateway, which admitted them into a small
cattle-yard, and a low, unpretending farm-house stood before them.


  First, for thy bees a quiet station find,
  And lodge them under covert from the wind;
  For winds, when homeward they return, will drive
  The loaded carriers from their evening hive;
  Far from the cows' and goats' insulting crew,
  That trample down the flowers and brush the dew,
  The painted lizard and the bird of prey,
  Foes to the frugal kind, be far away--
  The titmouse and the pecker's hungry brood,
  And Procne with her bosom stained with blood:
  These rob the trading citizens, and bear
  The trembling captives through the liquid air,
  And for their callow young a cruel feast prepare.
       *       *       *       *       *
  Wild thyme and savory set around their cell,
  Sweet to the taste and fragrant to the smell:
  Set rows of rosemary with flowering stem,
  And let the purple violet drink the stream.

                                   Dryden's _Virgil_.

The building before them had low, thick walls, of undressed stones,
and a heavy roof over it covered with tiles. The door was shut, and
the travelers could see nothing of the household; but the sharp, angry
challenge of the canine sentinels within, who did not pause to listen
for an answer, proved that the place was not without a garrison. Some
premonitory drops began to fall from the cloud, which now overhung
them. Tired of waiting, L'Isle was about to complete the investment by
sending the muleteer round to the other side of the house, when he
perceived two young round faces peeping out at a square hole in the
wall that served for a window; a man's voice was heard quieting the
dogs, and a pair of sharp eyes were detected peering over the door,
made too short for the doorway, perhaps for that purpose. The
governor was evidently reconnoitering carefully the party outside.
The result seemed, at length, to prove satisfactory, the presence of
the ladies probably removing any fears of violence.

The door was thrown open, and one, who seemed to be the master of the
house, stepped out with an air of frank hospitality to receive their
request for shelter. Begging them to alight, he called out for
"Manoel! Manoel!" who soon showed himself in the shape of a young
clown, crawling out from behind a heap of straw in a neighboring shed,
and who was ordered to assist in unloading the mules and taking care
of the horses.

Tired and thirsty, and glad to find shelter, the ladies entered the
house, where they were met by two young women, unmistakably the
daughters of the host. Their sparkling eyes and coal-black hair, their
round faces and regular features, were like his; and they were only
less swarthy, from being less exposed to the sun. Their dress was in
fashion, but commonly worn by the peasant women--the jacket and
petticoat--but smarter, and of more costly stuffs than usual. Their
feet, too, were bare, but small and well-formed, betraying little
indurating familiarity with the rough paths around them.

Had they preserved their pedigree, this family would have found many
an ancestor among the Lusitanian Moors, and afforded the most striking
among the many proofs the travelers had met with, that many a
Mohammedan, when the crescent waned before the cross, had preferred
his country to his faith. The girls were for a while abashed at the
presence of the strangers; but, with a hospitality spurred on by
curiosity, soon recovered themselves, and encumbered the ladies with
their attentions. Strangers they seldom saw, and these outlandish
ladies were as strange to them as if they had dropped from the moon.
Under pretence of assisting the travelers to rid themselves of their
outer garment of dust, they examined the texture and fashion of their
dresses, veils and gloves, spread out Lady Mabel's shawl to admire the
pattern, and asked more questions than she could answer or understand.
They were closely inspecting the rings on her fingers, and wondering
at the whiteness of her hand, when their father coming in, rebuked
their obtrusiveness. He made them gather up the pile of flax, with the
spindles and distaffs now lying idle on the floor, and invited the
ladies to take possession of the cushions, which, after a Moorish
custom still lingering here, the girls had used as seats.

L'Isle coming in and finding father and daughters bestirring
themselves to make their guests comfortable, suggested that their most
urgent want was water. One of the girls at once brought a cup, and
one from among several jars, and, while the ladies were drinking,
L'Isle called their attention to the peculiarities of the vessel, of
so porous a nature, that the water, always oozing through it, kept the
outside wet, the constant evaporation of a part cooling what remained
within. He pointed out, too, the peculiar fashion of the jar--its
beautiful and classic mould indicating that, amidst the corruption of
taste and the loss of arts, in pottery at least, the antique type of
form had been faithfully handed down from the time of the Roman. But
the ladies were too busy with the water to bestow much thought on the
jar, and L'Isle's lesson in _vertu_ was pretty much lost on them.

The house consisted of several small rooms, besides the larger
apartment, in which, after a while, the whole party was collected,
including the servants and muleteer. The girls called in an old woman
to assist them in their household duties, and she employed herself at
the smoky fire-place in cooking some sausages, which, by the perfume
they soon diffused through the room, proved that in stuffing them the
genus _allium_ had not been forgotten. To give a classic flavor to the
fumes, L'Isle found himself quoting the lines:

  "Thestylis et rapido fessis messoribus aestu
   Allia serpyllumque herbas contundit olentes."

But, if this sweetened the smell to him, it was lost on the ladies,
and Thestylis was still to them a smoky old woman, frying,
marvelously, ill-odored sausages. Their host disappeared for a few
minutes, and then returned, no longer in dishabille, but in full
dress, as if going to the next town on some high festival. This was
evidently in honor of his guests. It was growing dark, and he now lit
a lantern hanging against the wall. Within the lantern, and behind the
lamp, a little image of some saint was seen shedding his benignant
influence over the household. The hastily prepared meal was now
ready. This was no time or place for nice distinctions of rank, and,
urged by their host, the whole party sat down together. Besides the
overpowering sausages, preserved fruits, honey, and black and white
bread covered the table, with a pile of oranges just gathered from the
boughs. These last vanished rapidly before the thirsty travelers.
Their host seemed to think his more substantial fare neglected; and
L'Isle took care to attribute it to their having dined too lately and
heartily, to have yet recovered their appetites.

Lady Mabel, seeing Moodie at the end of the table, with his back to
the dim light, eating almost in the dark, urged him to change his
seat, and take one opposite to and close under the lamp. Moodie looked
askance at the saint, who was bestowing a benediction on those before
him, and grumbled out, "Better to eat in the dark, than by the light
of Satan's lantern."

"You are over scrupulous," said Mrs. Shortridge: "if these illuminated
saints be one of Satan's devices, I think it meritorious to turn them
to a useful purpose, as was successfully done by a friend of mine
residing in Lisbon. Finding the lamp he had put before his door
repeatedly broken--for the Lisbon rabble love darkness better than
light--he bought a little image of St. Antony, and put it up behind
it, and the saint's presence seemed to paralyze the arms of the evil

"There is an inward and an outward light," said Moodie, sententiously:
"your friend, wanting that inward light, chose, for a little personal
convenience, to countenance a shining idolatry." Their host, gathering
from their looks and gestures that they wanted more light, now brought
in another lamp, which the ladies soon used to light them to the
chamber allotted to them. The girls went with them; and Lady Mabel,
finding them loiter there, full of curiosity, and examining every
article of dress and baggage with prying eyes, deliberately unpacked
every thing she had with her, and induced Mrs. Shortridge, sleepy as
she was, to do so too; then, giving them to understand that there was
nothing more to be seen, politely turned them out of the room, that
she might make more profitable use of the remaining hours of the
night. A chamber and bed were found for L'Isle, but Moodie and the
servants had no better accommodations than mats spread on the floor of
the larger room. They had no sooner lain down than the rats overhead
commenced their gambols, racing each other over the reeds which laid
on the joists, formed the only ceiling to the room. Their gymnastic
sports brought down showers of dust and soot on the would-be sleepers
below, who were already beset by certain rejoicing tribes, which
seized the occasion to hold their carnival.

The whole household were afoot early next morning and, while waiting
for breakfast, Lady Mabel took the opportunity to survey the
premises. Cleanliness is not essential to Portuguese comfort; but,
within the house, there was not the squalor and poverty which here
usually characterises the peasant's home. Without, a small orchard,
and one narrow field, a few goats, and two or three stout asses,
seemed to comprise the farmer's possessions.

On sitting down to an abundant breakfast, she expressed to L'Isle her
wonder, how these people lived in such plenty, without flocks, or
herds, or fields.

"You are mistaken," said L'Isle. "Our host has flocks so numerous,
that it would startle you to hear their numbers told. The whole
country for miles around is pastured by them. He is a farmer, or
rather grazier, on a grand scale. Not to puzzle you longer, he is a
bee-farmer, having many hundred hives. This land of flowers yields him
two harvests a year. His income is derived from wax and honey, and his
rustic talk is not of bullocks, but of bees. After breakfast, we will
get him to show us something of the economic arrangements of his

During this meal, the two girls seemed anxious to make the most of
their guests, who were so soon to leave them. They had this morning
put on their best clothes, and all their trinkets. Their animated and
inquisitive conversation, addressed chiefly to L'Isle as spokesman and
interpreter, scarcely allowed him time to eat. Their restless,
sparkling black eyes, excited the admiration of the ladies. "Do you
think black eyes the most expressive?" said Lady Mabel to L'Isle; and,
with a natural coquetry, she turned her own blue orbs full upon
him. How else could he judge, but by a comparison?

"There is a liquid lustre in the full black eye," L'Isle answered,
looking into those of the girl who was sitting, very sociably, close
beside him, "which powerfully expresses languishing tenderness. It is
capable, too, of an angry and fierce expression. But from its dark
hues you cannot distinguish the pupil from the surrounding part, and
lose all the varying beauty of its dilation and contraction. There are
eyes of lighter and more heavenly hues," here he looked full in Lady
Mabel's, while describing them, "which have an unlimited range of
expression, embracing every shade of feeling, every variety of
sentiment. They are tell-tale eyes, that would betray the owner in any
attempt to play the hypocrite."

Lady Mabel, laughing and blushing, expressed great doubts whether any
eyes exercised that controlling guardianship over the integrity of
their owner.

As soon as the meal was over, the farmer, at their request, gladly
undertook to show them some thing of his peculiar husbandry. A hive or
two may be found any where--but a thousand hives! This was a great
proprietor. Going out of the enclosure, he led them to a neighboring
hill, on the south-eastern side of which, well sheltered from the
northern blasts, many lanes, five or six feet wide, had been cut
through the thickets, all leading to a central point, where, well
sheltered by the natural hedge, he had formed one of his numerous
colonies. Last night's shower had refreshed the thirsty vegetation,
washing the dust from the leaves and deepening their green; some
diamond drops still hung sparkling on the foliage; and numberless
blossoms were opening to the early beams of the sun. The citizens of
this thriving commonwealth were literally as busy as bees, and the
region was vocal with their buzz. The ladies shrunk from the well
armed but laborious crowd which surrounded them, going forth light or
returning laden to their homes; but the farmer assured them that the
busy multitude were perfectly tame, and as harmless as sheep, unless
maliciously disturbed.

Though this was but one of several colonies, the hives were too
numerous to be easily counted. They were all cylindrical in shape,
being made of the bark of the cork-tree, which is an excellent
non-conductor of heat, and were each covered with an inverted pan of
earthenware, the edge of which overhung the hive like a cornice. Each
hive was fastened together with pegs of hard wood, so that it could be
easily taken to pieces, and the joints were stopped with peat.

Full of the economy of the industrious tribes, whose habits he had
studied so profitably, the farmer talked long and well on the
subject. From him they learned that the bees would range a league and
more from the hive, if they could not gather honey nearer home. That
he gathered two harvests a year, spring and autumn each yielding one,
while the cold winter and the parched and blossomless summer equally
suspended the profitable labor of his winged workmen. He pointed out
the plants whose blossoms were preferred by the bees, and professed to
be able to distinguish the honey gathered in each month, varying as it
did in qualities according to the succession of flowers which bloomed
through the seasons, and he gave a preference to the product of the
rosemary over all other plants.

Lady Mabel was delighted with the method and the scale of this branch
of rural industry. "We have Moors enough in Scotland. Indeed, I wish
so much of them had not fallen to papa's lot. But when I go home, I
will endeavor to turn these wastes to better account, and rival our
friend here, by establishing a bee farm on a grand scale."

"You must not forget to carry the rosemary and other choice plants
with you," said Mrs. Shortridge, "and some beams of the Portuguese
sun, to secure two seasons of flowers in the year."

While she was yet speaking, a snake glided slowly across her
path. Starting back in terror, she uttered a little scream, and begged
L'Isle to kill it without delay.

"How shall I kill it," he said, laughing at her alarm. "Shall I bruise
the serpent's head with my heel, or shall I draw my sword on a

"In any way you please, so you do kill it," she exclaimed, seeing the
snake stop and raise its head to look at them.

But the farmer now interfered: "Spare his life, this is one of my best
friends. You see that he shows not the least fear. While providing for
himself, he works too for me, destroying the frogs and lizards that
make sad havoc among my bees."

Returning to the house, they found in front of it the mules laden and
the horses saddled for the journey. Observing that Moodie looked
particularly rueful this morning, Lady Mabel asked him what was the
matter, and he admitted that he was very unwell. "But with bad food
and worse water, loss of sleep and worry of mind, a man soon gets worn
out in this unhappy country; You, my lady, look jaded enough, too."

"Oh, never mind my looks," she answered. "I feel perfectly well, and
can travel on until I get tanned as brown as these Moorish girls. But
I am afraid Moodie, you are paying the penalty for last night's insult
to the patron saint of the house. Some saints are at times a little
revengeful, and your troubled mind and aching body you may owe to
him. Pray take the earliest opportunity to make amends."

"Who is the offended saint?" asked Mrs. Shortridge.

"I suppose," said Lady Mabel, "it is St. Meliboeus, the patron saint
of bees and honey."

"Take care," said L'Isle, laughing. "You are usurping the Pope's
function, and adding a new name to the calender."

"But what shall we do for Moodie?" she asked. "Whether stricken by the
saint or not, something must be done to relieve him."

"Your saint had nothing to do with my sickness," said Moodie,
angrily. "I was unwell yesterday, though I did not complain. I am sure
I was poisoned by that rascally innkeeper at Evora, with some trash he
called wine, which was nothing but drugged vinegar."

"If bad wine has poisoned you, good wine is the only antidote," said
L'Isle, and bidding his servant bring a cup and bottle from the
hamper, he persuaded Moodie to try the remedy.

Moodie tasted it with some hesitation, but the wine was excellent, and
in truth, just what he stood in need of. On being urged, he took a
good draught, and at L'Isle's suggestion, stowed away the bottle in
his valise for future reference.

Their host would receive but a small remuneration for the well timed
hospitality he had afforded the travelers. But the ladies had selected
sundry spare articles from their wardrobe, and delighted his daughters
with the gift of finery, such as they had never possessed before. As
L'Isle was turning to ride off, the farmer said, with a courteous air:
"When you or any friend of yours come this way, pray remember, sir,
you have a poor house here, always at your command."


  Crabbed age and youth cannot live together;
  Youth is full of pleasure, age is full of care;
  Youth like summer morn, age like winter weather;
  Youth like summer brave, age like winter bare.
  Youth is full of sport, age's breath is short;
  Youth is nimble, age is lame;
  Youth is hot and bold, age is weak and cold;
  Youth is wild, and age is tame.


They had ridden but a short way, when Lady Mabel, reining in her
horse, placed herself along side of Moodie, to ask how he felt now.
She feared lest he might be too unwell to undergo the fatigues of the
day. But, thanks to L'Isle's prescription, Moodie was already another
man. He sat bolt upright in the saddle, with a martial air, and looked
around as if ready for any emergency. She no longer felt any fears for
him. His curiosity, too, seemed to be awakened, for he said: "You are
a great botanist, my lady, and know every kind of plant. Pray, what
were those two tall trees near the farmer's house, with bare trunks
and feathery tops?"

"They are date palms," said Lady Mabel. "You see more and more of them
the nearer you get to Africa."

"Indeed!" said Moodie, with more astonishment than the information
seemed to warrant.

"Yes," she continued; "and they bear a luscious and nourishing fruit,
which, in the deserts of Africa, is the chief food of the people. It
is to them what oatmeal is to the Scot."

"And how far are we from Africa?" said Moodie, dreading the answer,
but striving to put the question in an indifferent tone.

"Why some people say that Africa begins at the Pyrenees, but Colonel
L'Isle, who knows the country thoroughly, says that the Sierra de
Monchique is the true boundary. The kingdom of Algarve, lying beyond
those mountains, is, in climate, soil, and vegetation, truly African;
and it is only the strip of salt water that separates it from Morocco,
that prevents its forming part of that country."

"I never heard of the kingdom of Algarve before," said Moodie,
pondering the information he had received. "How far are we from it?"

"We will not find it a long day's journey to one of the chief towns,"
said Lady Mabel. "Its name--its name is Mauropolis, the city of the
Moors. It lies on the border of Algarve, just like Berwick on the
border of Scotland, only Algarve is a beautiful and fertile country,
which poor Scotland is only to a Scot."

"It is an ill bird that fouls its own nest," growled Moodie in an
undertone. "Have you forgot, my lady, that you are yourself a Scot!"

"A Scot!" said she, deliberately, as if now first considering that
point. "My mother was an Englishwoman. So far, I am not a Scot."

"But your father! Your father, my lady!" Moodie angrily exclaimed. "He
is a true Scot, and knows the worth of old Scotland well."

"He does, indeed," said she; "and has always thought it an excellent
country--to come from; so he marched off at eighteen, and has seldom
been back there since."

"So we are on the borders of Africa!" exclaimed Moodie, speaking to
himself aloud.

"Why, do you not see Moodie, that the people grow darker, each day, as
we travel on?"

"The innkeeper at Evora is dark enough," said he, that truth flashing
on him; "but the farmer and his girls are browner still by many a

"You will think them fair," said Lady Mabel, "when you have traveled
far enough onward," and, leaving him confused and alarmed, she
cantered on to join Mrs. Shortridge.

Now Moodie was a shrewd man, perhaps a little too shrewd, with an eye
open to human depravity; he was learned, too, in his way; many a heavy
tome of Scotch controversial divinity had been thumbed by him as
carefully as his Bible; but he never dwelt on any thing he found there
not sustaining his preconceived notions. He involuntarily slighted
those parts even of Scripture that he could not wrest to his purpose.
Many an historical and traditionary fact, too, floated loosely on his
mind; but his geographical education had been sadly neglected. A
topographical knowledge of half a dozen shires, a general notion of
the shape of old Scotland, and a hazy outline of the sister kingdom,
made up all he had attained to. Had you laid before him a chart of the
sea coast of Bohemia, first discovered by our great dramatist, it
would not have startled him in the least, and he was ready to look for
Africa at any point of the compass.

He now saw clearly that this journey was part of a plot. L'Isle had
first won the confidence of father and daughter; then availing himself
of her love for botany, had habituated her to his presence and
protection on short excursions around Elvas; he had used the
commissary and his wife to beguile Lady Mabel from her father's
protection, under pretence of a short journey to a neighboring town.
Having now rid himself of the innocent commissary, he was leading her
by devious paths far beyond pursuit. Lady Mabel seemed bewitched, and
no longer saw with her own eyes. Was Mrs. Shortridge a simple gull or
something worse? "Perhaps," thought Moodie, "Colonel Bradshawe is
right;" for an eaves-dropping valet had given his scandal wings.

Moodie was not deeply read in romance; but he remembered the
traditionary tale of the young Scotch heiress, who, while a party of
her retainers were escorting her to the house of her guardian, was set
upon by a neighboring chieftain at the head of his clan. Her
followers, concealing the girl under a huge caldron, stood round it
for her defence, and when the last man had fallen the victorious
suitor carried off the girl, and married her for her lands. This, too,
was a plain case of abducting an heiress, not indeed by violence, but
with consummate art. Setting aside the rare attractions of the lady,
in Moodie's estimation the prize was immense. L'Isle, with all his
lofty airs, was but a commoner, with perhaps no fortune but his sword,
a mere adventurer, and Lord Strathern's broad acres were an
irresistible temptation; though, in truth, this coveted domain counted
thousands of acres of sheep-walk to the hundreds of plough land.

Having made this matter clear to his own mind, Moodie cursed in his
heart Lord Strathern's fatuity and the facile disposition Lady Mabel
had so unexpectedly betrayed. But, though sorely troubled, he was not
a man to despair. He resolved to watch L'Isle closely, and to rack his
own invention for some way to foil his schemes, while taking care not
to betray the least suspicion of them.

Meanwhile, Lady Mabel, as she could not herself visit Algarve, was
extracting from L'Isle a full account of that delightful region. And
he described well the picturesque and lofty mountains that cut off its
narrow strip of maritime territory from the rest of Portugal; its
tropical vegetation and its animal life, its perpetual summer,
tempered alternately by the ocean and the mountain breeze. When he
mentioned any fact which Lady Mabel thought might liken this region to
Africa in Moodie's imagination, she would turn and repeat it for his
benefit. Thus, the wolves and the wild boars abounding in the
mountains, became to him nameless monsters infesting the country; the
serpents were magnified in bulk, and the poisonous lizard redoubled
its venom. The fevers common there grew more malignant; the plague
broke out occasionally, and a few earthquakes were thrown in to
enliven the narrative. She garbled it too, sadly, suppressing the fact
that Algarve had furnished a large proportion of the adventurers who
had discovered and conquered India and Brazil, and its mariners of
this day, the best in Portugal, she converted into Barbary
corsairs. She said nothing about Algarve having been the first
province to rise against the French, or about the half-dozen
adventurous seamen who had sailed boldly in a fishing-boat to Brazil,
to inform the regent that Portugal still dared to struggle and to

L'Isle overheard and wondered at her perversion of his account of
Algarve, without detecting her motive, and Moodie thought her evident
desire to visit this region proved her little less than mad, for only
her version of select portions of L'Isle's remarks reached his ears.

"It is singular," said L'Isle, "that the Moors should have been more
thoroughly driven out of Algarve, the most southern province, than out
of others north of it. Its maritime position perhaps made it easy for
them to escape to Morocco. But the people are not so dark as in
Alemtejo, and many of the women are beautifully fair. In fact, I have
seen as lovely faces there as in any country but our own."

Lady Mabel took care not to enlighten Moodie by repeating to him this
observation, and he remained convinced that L'Isle had been describing
beforehand to the ladies the country he was leading them to.

"The heat, fatigue, and discomfort of the last four days had almost
worn out Mrs. Shortridge's strength, and now suggested to Lady Mabel
some sage reflections on travel in general, as the result of her

"Traveling is certainly one of the pleasures of life, with this
peculiarity, that it affords most pleasure when the journey is over.
With all the interest and excitement attending it, there are some
drawbacks. We gratify our curiosity at times at no little cost. In the
search after strange manners, the traveler may have to adopt them; in
inspecting the various conditions under which men can live, we must
often subject ourselves to these conditions, and thus acquire
practical experience in place of theoretical knowledge. We cannot,
like Don Cleofus, command the services of Asmodeus, to enable us to be
lookers-on without becoming parties in the scenes we witness. To know
how the Arab lives, we must for a time become an Arab; and to pry into
the inner mysteries of Hottentot life, you must make yourself a

"And to estimate the prisoner's woes," L'Isle suggested, "you must try
the virtues of a dungeon--musty straw, and bread and water."

"That would be buying the knowledge dearly," said she; "but I would
like to try how the life of a nun would suit me."

"It would suit you the least of all women," said Mrs. Shortridge.
"You might die in the cloister, but could not live there."

"Oh, I am sure I could stand a short novitiate, say three or six
months," exclaimed Lady Mabel.

"Your novitiate, soon to end in freedom," said L'Isle, "would not help
you to the experience of the true internal life of the nun. It is
pleasant to walk, leading your horse by the rein, and at liberty to
mount when you like; but the essence of monastic life lies in the
conviction that you have turned your back forever on the world
without, with all its trials, its hopes and fears, its passions and
pursuits, and have given yourself religiously to tread through this
life, the narrow path you have chosen, to the next."

"You have convinced me," said Lady Mabel. "In my longing after a
varied experience of the conditions of life, I might sacrifice half a
year to the trial of one, but I prefer ignorance on this point to the
burden of a life-enduring vow."

"If our knowledge were limited by our own experience, we would know
little indeed," said L'Isle. "Our capacity to bring home to ourselves
other conditions than our own, depends more on the transferring and
transforming faculties of the imagination, than on the observing
powers of the eye. If, indeed, we had never felt bodily pain, we could
not feel for a man on the rack. Had we never known anguish of mind, we
might not estimate the mental agonies of others. But we have
feelings, for the exercise of which sympathy and imagination can
create conditions. We can feel with the captive in the dungeon,
without going down there to take a place by his side."

"Still, there is nothing like experience in one's own person," said
Mrs. Shortridge. "I can now sympathize fully with the toilworn
traveler, across a parched and thirsty desert, under a broiling sun. I
own that the pleasures of this journey far exceed its pains, thanks to
your care and company; but, as Lady Mabel says, the chief pleasure
comes afterward, and this journey will be still more pleasant next
week than now."

"In spite of its hardships," said Lady Mabel, "it has been so
agreeable to me, that I would have it last a week longer. As an
escort, interpreter, and cicerone, Colonel L'Isle has no rival. He
has, too, filled the commissary's place so well, that we have suffered
nothing from your good man's desertion."

The pleasure Lady Mabel expressed, and her frank admission that she
wished the journey longer, delighted L'Isle. He longed to tell her
that he was ever at her command as companion, guardian, and guide on
any journey, however long. But no--he must not say that. He had no
thoughts of matrimony--at least, just now. A remote prospect did
indeed float before his eyes, in which he saw himself having outlived
this war, and attained the rank of Major-General, returning home to
find Lady Mabel still lovely and still free to listen to a lover's
suit. This was but a bright vista of the future, hemmed in and
overhung by many a dark contingency, a glowing picture in an ebony

The character of the country underwent a change as they rode on.
Sloping downward toward the Guadiana, over a succession of hills which
concealed the descent, the soil became more fertile, but was scarcely
more cultivated than in the region which they had just left behind
them. The heaths and broom plants now gave place to a variety of
evergreen shrubs. Though the forest trees had vanished centuries ago,
the prospect was often shut out by the thickets that overspread the
country. An occasional spot of open ground indicated some attempts at
cultivation, but they saw few peasants, and but one village seated on
a hill, until passing a wretched hamlet, they reach the bank of a
brook. The shade of some trees, already in full leaf, in this
sheltered spot, tempted them to make here their noonday halt.

Seating herself on the fern and moss at the foot of an old
mulberry-tree that overhung the little stream, Lady Mabel pointed out
to her companions, that the trees around them were all of the same

"They were doubtless planted here," said L'Isle, "when the silk
culture throve in this country, a branch of industry, which, with too
many others, has almost died out. Civil disorder and foreign war have
been fatal to it. The Spaniards have made Alemtejo their highroad in
every invasion of Portugal; and the disasters of late years have
completed the ruins of this frontier, so long a debatable land. The
country around, is, for the most part, a heath-covered waste, or a
wilderness of brushwood; here the silkworm has perished, the peasant's
hand is idle, and the amoreira stands with unplucked leaves."

"The better for us," said Mrs. Shortridge; "we need its thickest

A solitary stork, by the rivulet, was engaged in that gentle sport
which Isaac Walton assures us, is so favorable to tranquil
meditation. Deep in reverie, the philosopher seemed not to heed their
presence. For a time, he stood gravely on one leg, then with a few
stately strides, drew nearer to them. They were commenting on his
sedate air, and disregard for man's presence, when Moodie came and sat
down within ear-shot of them. The bird now raised his head and gave
them a searching look. Then bending back his long neck, he uttered a
dissatisfied chatter with his snapping beak, and taking wing, sought a
sequestered part of the stream, remote from the intruders.

"The stork would not thus have shunned natives. He must have found out
that we are foreigners and heretics" said Mrs. Shortridge.

"It is this arch-heretic, Moodie, that he shuns," said Lady
Mabel. "His presence would drive away a whole congregation of storks,
who are almost as good churchmen as the monks themselves."

"Perhaps quite as good," said Moodie. "My arch-heresy consists in
protesting now and always against idolatrous Rome. Some here are not
quite as good Protestants as I am."

"I never called myself a Protestant," said L'Isle.

"Do you not, sir?" exclaimed Moodie. "Pray what are you then?"

"I never called myself a Protestant in defining my faith."

"And why not, sir," asked Moodie, adding in an under tone. "Now he
will show the cloven foot."

"Because mine is a positive creed, not to be expressed by negation. In
defining it, I can admit no term not expressing some essential
point. I would not mistake the accident for the essence. That God has
given his revealed word to man, is an essential point in my
belief. That Rome has misconstrued that word, may be true, but comes
not within the scope of my creed. I believe that Christ by his
Apostles founded a church to ramify through the world, like the
fruitful vine running over the wall. Some branches may have rotted
off, some may bear degenerate fruit, some in unpruned luxuriance may
bring forth nothing but leaves. Be it so. My belief is that the branch
I cleave to retains its vital vigor and produces life-sustaining

"But how does this prevent your protesting against Rome?" objected

"It prevents my making that protest any part of the definition of my
faith. Names are things, and he who is perpetually dubbing himself a
Protestant, ends by making it the first article of his creed, that
Rome errs, and his active religion becomes opposition to Rome. Now I
find Voltaire quite as good a Protestant as you are."

"I can say nothing to that," answered Moodie, "never having met with
that gentleman."

L'Isle smiled for a moment, but went on earnestly to say: "We believe
that Christ not only gave us a father, but founded a church, and we
will not let go our hold upon it, as some sects and nations have done,
out of mere opposition to Rome. Our forefathers by God's providence,
set earnestly to work reforming it where corrupted, repairing it when
dilapidated, but did not pull it down, in the presumptuous hope of
building up another. They purified the temple, but did not destroy
it. They removed the idols, but did plough up and sow with salt the
consecrated spot, because it had been defiled."

"I see" said Moodie warmly, "that you aim your anathema at the Kirks
among other Christian bodies."

"Without anathematizing any one," L'Isle answered, "we take comfort to
ourselves, in the conviction that our church is a continuous branch of
that which the Apostles founded in Christ, and that it might have been
in essentials what it now is, were its history as closely connected
with the Greek church, as it is with that of Rome, or had it ever
stood unconnected with either of them. Never having been rebuilt from
its foundation, it has lost its apostolic character."

"You have given many branches to the vine planted by Christ," observed
Moodie. "Perhaps you admit the Church of Rome, to be one that still
bears fruit."

"To drop the figure of the vine, I will answer you by saying, that it
is possible for a Romanist to be a Christian."

"Are Christianity and idolatry one and the same?" said Moodie,

"Do you know how many dogmas the Kirk and Rome hold in common?"
answered L'Isle. "If you set down each article of Christian doctrine
in the order of its importance and certainty, you may travel the same
road with the Romanist a long way; nor is it easy to prove that Rome
does not hold to all Christian truths."

Moodie rose from where he sat and stretched forth a protesting
hand. But he saw that protest was useless here, so he withdrew to the
shade of another tree, and sat down to think what he should do for
Lady Mabel's safety. To refresh himself and sharpen his wits, he took
more than one draught from the bottle. The wine being old, mild and
delicate in flavor, he classed it in the same category with small
beer, far underrating its beguiling potency. This _vinho maduro_, the
_vino generoso_ of the Spaniard, was that which maketh glad the heart
of man, being of a choice vintage from a famous vineyard. It was rich,
oily and deceiving.

"Had Moodie not been too impatient to stay with us longer," said
L'Isle, "he might have heard me admit, that though the Church of Rome
has kept the truth, it has not been content with it, but has mingled
with it so large a mass of falsehood, that the truth it teaches is no
longer pure. It has not thrown away the God-given treasure, but it has
piled over it such an ever accumulating heap of rubbish that it is not
easily found. It may have guarded the fountain of life-giving waters,
but has so hedged it in with a labyrinth of superstitions and
ceremonial rites, that it is almost inaccessible to the flock."

"Call Moodie back, and redeem yourself in his opinion," said Mrs.
Shortridge. "He is now mourning over your approaching conversion to

"It is useless," said Lady Mabel. "Moodie sets no value on

"Moodie denies there being any Christianity left in Popery," said
L'Isle. "I assert that there is many a thorough, though unconscious
Papist among Protestants. Popery is not so much an accidental bundle
of errors, as a spontaneous and necessary growth from corrupt human
nature. Thus many a charity, with us, originates in the hope of
atoning for sins; many seek salvation through vicarious but human
means; many a sectarian, especially among women is not so much the
member of a church, as the follower of an idolized man. There are
Protestant popes, whose words are bulls in their little popedoms, and
Protestant saints who, unlike those of Rome, are canonized in life by
their handful of followers."

"I think I could find a patron saint for Moodie," said Lady Mabel. "At
least I do not think he would have been startled as I was, on hearing
a minister of the Kirk, after exhausting his powers of eulogy on the
great Apostle of the Gentiles, crown his praise by likening the
prisoner Paul preaching boldly in bonds before the Roman governor, in
whose hand was his life, to John Knox, the mouth-piece of the dominant
faction, bullying a lady and his queen, a capture in their hands. This
was a strange canonization of John Knox, or a singular degradation of
St. Paul. But I see that our dinner waits us; and though this is a
charming spot, we must not linger here too long. I am sure," she
added, "that the shy and meditative stork, who left us so abruptly,
must be a deep theologian, for it was he who suggested this learned
discertation on the church."

The travelers dined here under the shade of the trees, and soon after
took horse again. Moodie threw himself into the saddle with a spirit
and activity which led Lady Mabel to say: "Your good wine, Colonel
L'Isle, has done wonders for Moodie. It carries him well through the
labors of the day."

"It seems to have cured his ailing body," said L'Isle, "but has not
mellowed his temper. He grows more crusty than ever."

"In him," said Lady Mabel, "crustiness is the natural condition, and
betokens health."

They had ridden but a little way, when she heard Moodie call to her,
and reining in her horse, she let him come up alongside of her. He
evidently wished to speak to her in private, for he kept silence until
L'Isle and Mrs. Shortridge were out of hearing, and looked cautiously
round to see that the servants were not too near.

"My lady," said he, in a solemn manner, "I have been looking at you,
wondering if you are the same girl I have seen for years growing up
under my eye."

"Another, yet the same," said she. "I have not yet quite lost my
personal identity."

"And how many months is it since we left Scotland?"

"Weeks you mean, Moodie, it is scarcely yet time to count by months."

"Weeks, then, have made a wondrous change in you."

"I suspect that often happens in the progress of life," said Lady
Mabel. "We seem to stand still for a while at a monotonous stage of
our existence; a sudden change of condition comes, and we leap forward
toward maturity. So, too, we may for years continue young in heart and
health; some heavy trouble or deep grief overtakes us, and we at once
are old."

"It is not a leap forward in life that you have made, but a leap
aside, out of your own character. It amazes me to see you galloping
wildly over this outlandish country, without a thought but flowers,
soldiers, and sightseeing. I sometimes think you bewitched."

"What is more likely?" said Lady Mabel. "To us silly women, flowers,
soldiers, and sightseeing, are the most bewitching things in the

"But you have lost all caution, all fear, and let these friends of
yesterday lead you you know not whither."

"Traveling is one way to grow wise; and as to danger, what did you
leave Craiggyside for, if it was not to take care of me?"

"Heaven knows I knew not what I undertook. I find one young lady
harder to look after than twelve score of ewes, the kine, and the
crops, with the ploughmen, shepherd, and dairy-maid to boot."

"Pray do not tell that to any but myself. With such a character, so
far from passing for a lady, I could not get a place as lady's maid."

"You may laugh, my lady, but the danger is real and near. I do not
trust your new friends," and Moodie shook his finger at them before
him. "I know what is ordered must come to pass, and it is sinful to
repine at it. But I have known you from a girl, a child, for you are a
girl still, my lady, and it grieves my heart to see you galloping on
to Rome and ruin."

"Is that my predestined road?" said Lady Mabel. "Then I suppose I must
ride it, but it will be at a spanking pace," and giving her horse a
cut she dashed off to the head of the party, while Moodie gazed after
her in despair.

Hearing the tread of horses close behind him, he looked round and saw
L'Isle's servants at his heels, watching him closely. The thought
struck him, that he might find these men useful. So, falling back
alongside of them, he said to L'Isle's man: "Do you know any thing of
the strange country we are going to now?"

The man looked around for a moment with a puzzled air, but perceiving
that Moodie was under some strange mistake, he merely said: "I am
following my master, and leave him to choose his own road."

"We are playing the game of follow your leader, Mr. Moodie," said the
groom, dipping into the dialogue. "The Colonel leads, and we are to
follow you know; and d----t, we will play out the game."

"But do you know that he is leading you to the land of the Moors?"

"If he is going to the land of the great Black-a-moor himself, we must
shut our eyes and gallop down hill. His country is said to lie in that

Moodie muttered something about a son of Belial, but he wished to use
these men, and not offend them. So, turning to the groom, with grim
sociability, he asked: "Can you speak the language of the people

"I can call lustily for meat and drink, and make my wants known at a

"Can you hire me a messenger at the next place we stop at? You must
know," said he, in a confidential tone, "I left an important matter
sadly neglected in Elvas. It is my lord's business, and I would be
sorry to come to blame in it. Whatever it cost, I must send a letter
there without delay, and while I write, you must find man and
horse. He shall have two guineas the minute the job is done. Is that

"Quite enough," the groom answered, gravely, while his companion
turned away his head to conceal a grin. "I know something about riding
express, and for two guineas I will find you a man to ride to Elvas
and back in double quick time."

"You shall have a guinea for yourself, if you prove a man of your
word, and send my letter in time."

"If I fail you, may your guinea choke me, for I mean to melt it down
into good liquor," said the groom.

"And I'll help him to drink your health in it, Mr. Moodie," said the
other man. "For a guinea's worth of liquor might choke a better man
than Tom."

With hope renewed, Moodie rode on after his mistress. On coming up
with them, he heard L'Isle and Lady Mabel talking Portuguese. To while
away an idle hour, she was taking a lesson in that tongue. This
annoyed Moodie, who suspected some plot, when they thus kept him in
the dark. But he consoled himself with the hope that his important
dispatch would yet be in time to prevent mischief, and he once more
refreshed himself with his bottle, being now well convinced of its
medicinal virtue.

Lady Mabel was in high spirits, talking and laughing, and occasionally
looking round at Moodie, enjoying the deception she had put upon
him. Her success in bewildering him, now tempted her to quiz L'Isle,
and she abruptly said: "It must have been a violent fit of patriotism
and martial ardor that made you abandon the thought of taking orders,
and quit Oxford for the camp."

"I never had any thought of taking orders," answered L'Isle, surprised
and annoyed, he knew not exactly why. "I only lived with those who

"You lived with them to some purpose, then, and have, too, a great
aptitude for the church."

"It is not my vocation," said L'Isle, laconically.

"You have only not yet found it out. But it is not too late," she
persisted. "Your case, my good man-slaying Christian, is not like
Gonsalvo's of Cordova, who had but a remnant of his days in which to
play the penitent monk. These wars will soon be over, and you are
still young. If you cannot make a general, you may be a bishop in
time. Indeed, I already see in you a pillar of our church."

It was not flattering to an ambitious young soldier to hint that he
had so mistaken his calling. L'Isle was almost angry, at which Lady
Mabel felt a mischievous delight; and Mrs. Shortridge was highly

"It is but a small inducement I can offer you, among so many higher
motives," Lady Mabel continued. "But I promise you, that, whenever you
preach your first sermon, I will travel even to Land's-end to hear

"Lady Mabel shall offer a greater bribe," said Mrs. Shortridge, with
an arch look. "If you will only exchange the sword for the surplice,
Colonel L'Isle, whenever she commits matrimony, no one but you shall
solemnize the rite."

Far from being tempted, L'Isle seemed utterly disgusted at the

Lady Mabel blushed to the crown of her head, and exclaimed, "I am too
fond of my liberty to offer that bribe. That is a high and bare hill,"
she said, seeking to divert their attention. "Let us ride to the top
of it, and survey the country around."

"You may do so, if you like," said Mrs. Shortridge, composedly; "but I
have made a vow to do no extra riding to-day. This road is long enough
and rough enough for me."

Lady Mabel turned from the path, and, followed by L'Isle, was soon
ascending the hill. Moodie, somewhat under the influence of his
soporific draughts, was in a reverie, wondering whether Lord Strathern
would get his letter in time to send a troop of horse after the
fugitives, and whether it might not come within the provisions of the
military code to have L'Isle court-martialed and shot for running off
with his General's daughter, when, looking up, he missed Lady Mabel,
and then discovered her with L'Isle, scampering over the hill. In
great confusion, he rode up to Mrs. Shortridge, and asked, "Where are
they going now?"

"I scarcely know," she answered; "but Colonel L'Isle will take care of
Lady Mabel, so you can stay and take care of me."

Moodie cast on her a look of angry suspicion, which scanned her from
head to foot, and plainly pronounced her no sufficient pledge for his
mistress. Spurring his horse, he followed Lady Mabel at a run. The
animal he rode had often carried fifteen stone, in Lord Strathern's
person, over as rough ground as this, and made light of Moodie's
weight, which was scarcely more than nine. Without picking his way, he
made directly for his companions ahead; and the clatter of his hoofs
soon making Lady Mabel look round, she drew up her horse in haste, and
anxiously watched Moodie's career. A deep chasm, washed out by the
winter rains, was cleared by the horse in capital style, but Moodie
lit on his valise, and with difficulty recovered the saddle. Just
between him and Lady Mabel the last tree on the hill-side, torn from
the shallow soil by some heavy blast, lay horizontally on its decaying
roots and branches. Moodie rode at it with unquailing eye; and, while
Lady Mabel uttered an exclamation of alarm, the horse cleared it in a
bucking leap, throwing Moodie against the holsters; but he fell back
into his seat, and rode up triumphantly to his mistress. This
energetic demonstration seemed to overawe Lady Mabel. Turning from the
hill-top before them, she rode demurely back to the party, resolved
not to wander from the beaten path, or go faster than a foot-pace,
until Moodie had dismounted, and his neck was safe.

A peasant on an ass, coming down the road, had stopped and stood at
gaze at a distance, watching these equestrian manoeuvres. But when he
saw the party, now united, coming toward him, he turned short to the
left, and hastened away at a pace that proved that his _burro_ had
four nimble legs.

"That must be a thief," said Mrs. Shortridge, "afraid of falling in
with honest folks."

"Or an honest man," suggested L'Isle, "afraid of falling among
thieves. I have observed a growing dislike in the peasantry to meeting
small parties of our people in out of the way places. I suspect that
they are sometimes made to pay toll for traveling their own roads."

Their road was winding round the side of the hill, and they presently
got a glimpse of a cultivated valley before them. The spirit of
mischief suddenly revived in Lady Mabel's bosom. She fell back
alongside of Moodie, and said: "This way seems much traveled. It is no
longer a by-path; we may call it a high road in this country. We must
be drawing near to the city of Mauropolis. I wonder we have yet met
none of these turbaned Moors."

Moodie roused himself, and looked anxiously ahead. The mountain
shadows already fell upon the valley; but the evening sun still shone
upon a city opposite to them. It was seated high above the valley, and
flanked by two fortresses of unequal elevation, which partly hid it.
The Serra de Portalagre rising behind, overhung it, and the city
seemed nestled in a nook in the steep mountain side. Moodie from this
point did not recognize the place, but gazed on it steadfastly, with
no kindly feeling. "Edom is exalted. He hath made his habitation in
the clefts of the rock. He sayeth in his heart, who shall bring me
down?" But presently he distinguished the peculiar aqueduct, and his
eye roving westward, was struck by the familiar outline of _Serra

"We have lost our road," said Lady Mabel, "and found our way back to
Elvas;" and, laughing merrily, she shot ahead, leaving Moodie too much
angered and mortified to enjoy the relief of his anxieties.

On reaching his quarters he went straight to his bed, to sleep off his
fatigue, his chagrin, and the good wine which had befriended yet
beguiled him.


  It snowed in his house of meat and drink,
  Of all dainties that men could of think;
  After the sundry seasons of the year,
  So changed he his meat and soupere.
  Full many a fat patriarch had he in mew,
  And many a breme and many a luce in stew;
  Wo was his cook, but if his sauce were
  Poignant and sharp, and ready all his gere,
  His table dormant in his hall alway,
  Stood ready covered all the long day.

                         _Prologue to Canterbury Tales_.

Three days had gone by since the return of the party from Evora. The
ladies had gotten over their fatigue, talked over their travels, and
wondered at seeing nothing of L'Isle. He had merely sent to inquire
after their health, instead of coming himself, as in duty bound. Lady
Mabel had confidently looked for him the first day, asked about him
the next, and on the third, feeling hurt at this continued neglect,
concluded that she had had enough of his company of late, and it did
not matter should she not see him for a month.

Meanwhile, what was L'Isle doing? He was busy reforming himself and
his regiment. On his return to Elvas he had met with several little
indications of relaxed discipline, and somewhat suddenly remembered
that he had not come out to Portugal to ride about the country,
escorting young ladies in search of botanical specimens, picturesque
scenes, and fragments of antiquity. He, the most punctilious of
martinets, had been sadly neglecting his duties, and had used the
invalid's plea until it was worn threadbare long ago. He was
dissatisfied with himself, and, of course, more dissatisfied with
other people.

From the day he came back he was constantly in the midst of his
regiment. He showed himself, too, at the head of the mess table at
every meal, taking that, as well as other opportunities, to inculcate
rigid precept and sound doctrine on military matters, and lecture his
officers on the subject of discipline. Nor did he confine himself to
generalities. He was exacting with his major, hard on his adjutant; he
gave Captain A---- to understand that the days and nights spent in the
mountains in pursuit of his game tended little to promote the King's
service, and that leave would be refused in future, and he suggested
to Captain B---- that the best way to ascertain the state of his
company was not to send for his orderly sergeant, but to inspect it
himself. He spoiled more than one party of pleasure for some of these
gentlemen by finding very inopportunely something else for them to do
than following the ladies of Elvas and other game of the vicinage.

Many of the officers grumbled, and voted the colonel a bore. They even
talked of sending him to Coventry. But Adjutant Meynell excused him by
whispering it about that the colonel had just met with a rude rebuff
from a certain person at headquarters, and as the rank and sex of the
offender hindered his showing his resentment in that direction, on
whom could he vent his ill-humor but on those under his command?
Meynell advised that they should all unite in sending a round robbin
to Lady Mabel, begging her to smile upon their colonel, and put him in
an amiable mood.

With the little festive skirmishes, of almost daily occurrences at
headquarters, Lord Strathern loved to mingle occasionally more serious
affairs, in the shape of grander feasts; and on the fourth day after
Lady Mabel's return, the guests assembled in force. Among them were
three ladies of Elvas, who had established a social intercourse with
Lady Mabel, and a greater, though less ostensible intimacy with some
gentlemen of the brigade. Dinner company is a phase of social life
almost unknown in Portugal, and Lady Mabel, aware of this, was
needlessly anxious to put her female guests at their ease. Her
smattering of their tongue proved inadequate, and even her Spanish but
poorly served the purposes of conversation. Dona Carlotta Sequiera,
indeed, despising the peninsular tongues, would speak only French--but
such French! She had picked up most of it along Kellerman's officers,
when he held Elvas with a French garrison in 1808. This lady, like
some other renegade Portuguese, at that time assiduously courted the
Gaul; and she was anxious now to wipe out this blot, in the eyes of
her countrymen, by making much of their British allies. Lady Mabel,
tired of her efforts to converse with the other ladies, and sick of
Dona Carlotta's French,

  "After the school of Stratford at bow,
   For French of Paris was to her unknow"--

longed to see her self-appointed dragoman enter the room.

L'Isle had ridden out in the morning to a place on the borders,
equi-distant between Elvas and Badajoz, the scene of a serious outrage
by a party of marauders two nights before. A peasant, guilty of being
richer than his neighbors, had been punished by having his house
forced, his head broken, his premises sacked, and his family
ill-treated. Though there had been but little blood shed, there had
been much wine spilt, besides several plump goat-skins carried off
with the rest of the plunder. The English in Elvas laid this
achievement at the door of the irregular Spanish force at Badajoz. Tie
Spanish officers were quite as sure that it was the exploit of
volunteer foragers from the English cantonments. L'Isle, seeing nobody
disposed to inquire into the matter, went and made an examination on
the spot, which inclined him to believe that the Spanish version was
the true history of this little military operation. After a hot ride
he returned in time to make his bow to Lady Mabel among the latest of
her guests.

Mrs. Shortridge was very glad to see him, but reproached him with his
late neglect of his friends; and turned toward Lady Mabel, expecting
her concurrence in this censure. But my lady said, with sublime
indifference: "What matters Colonel L'Isle's absence hitherto, since
he has now come in time to interpret between us and our Portuguese
friends? I have exhausted my stock of Portuguese," she continued,
addressing L'Isle; "and find that they do not always comprehend my
Spanish. Major Warren, indeed, has been lending me his aid; but I
think the interpreter the harder to be understood of the two. Is it
not strange these ladies do not understand me better; for their
language is but bad Spanish, and mine is surely bad enough."

"Do not say that to the Portuguese," said L'Isle. "They will be justly
offended; for their tongue is rather the elder sister of the Spanish
than a corruption of it."

"Pray, lend me your tongue, Colonel L'Isle," said Mrs.
Shortridge. "Here Dona Carlotta Sequiera has been jabbering at me in
what I now find out to be French, but I am ashamed to say, I do not
know thirty words of the language."

"Better to be ignorant of it," said L'Isle with a sneer, "than learn
it as Dona Carlotta did."

"I know not how she acquired it," said Mrs. Shortridge, "but I am told
that here on the continent every educated person speaks French. We
English are far behind them in that."

"Be proud rather than ashamed of that," said L'Isle. "Monsieur has
taught all Europe his language except ourselves. Flagellation is a
necessary part of schooling. As he has never been able to thrash us,
we are the worst French scholars in Europe, and those he has thrashed
oftenest, are the best. They should blush at their knowledge; we plume
ourselves on our ignorance. Thank God you have an English tongue in
your head, and never mar a better language with a Gallic phrase. There
is in every country a class who are prone to denationalize themselves;
at this day, they generally ape the Frenchman. Now, I can tolerate a
genuine Frenchman, without having any great liking for him; but if
there is any one whom I feel at liberty to despise and distrust, it is
a German, Spaniard or Englishman, who is trying to Frenchify
himself. Such people are much akin to the self-styled citizen of the
world, who professes to have rid himself of all local and national
prejudice. I have usually met _no-prejudice_ and _no-principle_
walking hand in hand together. The French," he continued, "have the
impudence to call theirs the universal language; and in diplomacy and
war, they have been long too much encouraged in this. My Lord
Wellington here is much to blame in giving way to their pretensions on
this point. Whenever I have an independent command," said L'Isle
laughing, "I will not let a Frenchman capitulate but in good English,
or for want of it, in some other language than his own. I have
already put that in practice in a small way," said he, as he handed
Mrs. Shortridge down to dinner. "I once waylaid a foraging, _anglice_,
a plundering party, returning laden to Merida. They showed fight, but
we soon tumbled them into a _barranca_, where we had them quite in our
power. But I would not listen to a word of their French, or let them
surrender, until they found a renegade Spaniard to act as
interpreter. When I want anything of them, I may speak French; but
when they want anything of me, they must ask it in another tongue."

The dinner went off as large dinners usually do. The wrong parties got
seated together, and suitable companions were separated by half the
length of the board. Lady Mabel had Colonel Bradshawe, whom she did
not want, close at hand; and her dragoman was out of hearing, which
she felt to be not only inconvenient, but a grievance; for without
entertaining any definite designs upon him, habit had already given
her a sort of property in him, and a right to his services. But the
Elvas ladies had no such ground of complaint. Each had her favorite by
her side, and Dona Carlotta one on either hand.

It was a relief to Lady Mabel when the time came to lead the ladies
back to her drawing-room. There she labored to entertain them until
some of the gentlemen found leisure to come to her aid. She expected
to see L'Isle among the first; but one after another came in without
him; the Portuguese ladies were taken off her hands by their more
intimate male friends, and she had leisure to wonder what could keep
L'Isle down stairs so long, and to get out of humor at his sticking to
the bottle, and neglecting better company for it.

Meanwhile, a great controversy was waging below. The more the
disputants drank, the more strenuously they discussed the point at
issue; and the more they exhausted themselves in argument, the oftener
they refreshed themselves by drinking; swallowing many a glass
unconsciously in the heat of the debate.

The farmer talks of seasons and his crops; the merchant of traffic and
his gains; and the soldier, though less narrow in his range of topics,
often dwells on the incidents and characteristics of military life. In
answer to some very loose notions on the subject of discipline, L'Isle
mounted his hobby, and said that he had pretty much come into the
mechanical theory on military matters. "An army is a machine; the men
composing it, parts of that machine; and the more their personal and
individual characters are obliterated, by assimilating them to the
nature of precise and definite parts of one complicated organization,
the better will they serve their purpose. Now, a machine should be
kept always in perfect order and readiness for instant application to
the purpose of its construction. An army is a machine contrived for
fighting battles; and if at any time it is not in a condition to fight
to the best advantage, it is in a state of deterioration and partial
disorganization. Troops, therefore, should be kept, at all times and
under all circumstances, under the same rigid discipline, and in the
full exercise of their functions, equally ready at all seasons for

Lord Strathern took up the cudgels and maintained that though an army
might be called a machine, its component parts were men, who
necessarily had some perception of the contingencies and emergencies
incident to military life, and that great as were sacrifices they
might make, and the restrictions they might bear with when there was
obvious necessity for them, should the same exacting course be pursued
as a system, it would only break their spirits, freeze their zeal, and
disgust them with the service. "We have seen enough of your mechanical
armies, drilled and regulated to perfection, as soulless mechanism. We
have seen how, on the dislocation of this machine, the parts became
useless and helpless, without resource in themselves. In short, it is
the Prussian and Austrian system which has given half Europe to the
French. No; if the bow need unbending, still more does the soldier
need relaxation, to give vigor and elasticity to body and mind. A
little ease and pleasure chequering his career only beget desire and
the motives for new adventure and fresh exertions. How is it with our
horses," exclaimed his lordship, who was a jockey of the old school.
"Do we not give them a run at grass, to refresh their constitutions
and renew their youth?"

But L'Isle unshaken maintained his opinion, "With such materials as
make up a large part of our army, for his majesty gets the services of
many a fellow who can be put to no good use at home, your lordship's
relaxation system would only tend to sap its moral and physical
strength, and make it a curse to the country in which it is quartered,
whether at home or abroad."

It would have been well had the discussion stopped here. In the heat
of debate each pushed his argument beyond his own convictions.
Colonel Bradshawe sat sipping his wine, listening with mock gravity
and seeming to oscillate between the opinions of the disputants, but
most of the company agreed with Lord Strathern; still L'Isle found
several staunch backers for his mechanical theory. But when quoting
facts in support of his views, he referred to the conduct of their own
men on sundry late occasions, and stated the result of the inquiries
he that morning had made into the last outrage, he brought the whole
company down upon him. They were all sure that the English soldiers
had nothing to do with it. His lordship professed to detect, not only
in the act itself, but in the _modus operandi_, infallible marks that
fathered it on the Spaniard. The quiet, stealthy manner, the place,
just on the border, yet out of Spain. "Besides," he urged, "you
yourself say, that the few words the marauders were heard to utter
were all Spanish."

"But the same testimony proves them to have been bad Spanish, even to
the ears of a Portuguese borderer, and evidently used by foreigners
for the purpose of disguise, like the dresses they wore. Who ever
heard of a Spaniard breaking a man's head, when he could give him the
blade of his knife? The farmer's bloody crown was a plain piece of
English handicraft. Spaniards would have rummaged the house for _la
plata_, and have snatched the earrings from the women's ears; the
robbers, a more thirsty race, thought chiefly of carrying off the

The number and loud voices of those opposed to him only made L'Isle
more stubborn in maintaining his views. He seemed rather to like being
in a minority of one. On the other hand, Lord Strathern construed his
remarks into an undisguised censure of his lax discipline. Luckily he
was a truly hospitable man: nowhere, but at his own board, could he
have kept his temper under control. Between the fumes of wine and
smoke of cigars, the matter only became more and more cloudy. It was
late when L'Isle left the table and entered the drawing-room, with a
brow still ruffled by the controversy.

Striving to resume his equanimity, he took a seat by Lady Mabel. But
she, by no means pleased at the long absence of her interpreter, and
his late neglect in attending on her, pushed her chair back, and said
something about "falling into bad habits."

"Do you think so?" said L'Isle, looking surprised, then reflecting a
moment. "Why, Lady Mabel, I am not aware of having committed any
excess, at least of the kind you suspect."

"Why, then, do you come from below so much heated and excited?"

"I have been engaged in a hot argument with my Lord, and others."

"Coolness would be more appropriate to argument than heat. But this
was plainly an after-dinner discussion. The subject should be handled
a second time, in imitation of those wise barbarians, who resolved on
nothing until they had twice taken counsel, once of their cups, and
then of cool sobriety the morning after."

"I feel no need of appealing to the cool reflecting morning hours."

"Of course you do not feel it now; that, too, will come with the sober

L'Isle, a good deal nettled, was about to reply, when she exclaimed,
"Why, you have been smoking!"

"No, I have only been smoked."

"That is just as unpleasant," she said, pushing her chair farther
off. "The Portuguese snuff-taking is offensive enough, but this
Spanish habit of smoking perpetually is intolerable. Wherever our
officers go they pick up the small vices of the country, without
abandoning any of their own. Here they add smoking to their native
wine-bibbing propensities. They spoil a man utterly."

"Not utterly," said L'Isle; "there is Warren now, a capital fellow, a
delightful companion, and an inveterate smoker."

"For that I cannot abide him," said Lady Mabel, out of humor with

"There is your friend, Colonel Bradshawe, who sets no little store by
his wine and cigar."

"He is intolerable with them, and would be a bore without them."

"But my Lord himself smokes. Will you not tolerate him?"

"He is an old man, a general officer, and my father," said Lady
Mabel. "After a life of hard service in the worst climates in the
world, he may need indulgences not necessary to younger men. Besides,
he is obliged to see so much of his officers. If he could choose his
companions, he would lead a very different life. When we happen to be
alone here," continued Lady Mabel, "he never sits long after dinner,
seldom touches a cigar, and it is evidently only his position, and the
habits forced upon him in a long military career, which interfere with
his quiet tastes and love of domestic life."

L'Isle looked at Lady Mabel to see if she was in earnest. She had only
said what she willingly believed on rather slight foundations. In
truth, the novelty of having his daughter with him on the few
occasions on which they were here left alone together, had proved of
quite sufficient interest to enable Lord Strathern to dispense with
other society and excitements, and led him to look back and to speak
much of his short married life, and far beyond that, the days of his
boyhood. L'Isle found himself convicted of contributing, with others,
to mar the comfort and spoil the habits of the most abstemious and
domestic old gentleman in the king's service. This was plainly a point
on which it was not safe to contradict Lady Mabel, if he would keep in
her good graces--so he gladly waved the discussion.

Mrs. Shortridge, under the reviving influence of her love of
sight-seeing, now asked L'Isle to suggest some excursion for them, on
which they might see something new. But she begged that it might be
within a reasonable distance, for she had been so thoroughly shaken on
the rough paths to and from Evora, that she was not yet up to another
long ride.

"Cranfield has just been talking of Fort la Lippe," said L'Isle,
"which overlooks us from the North. Let us make up a party to visit it
to-morrow. Cranfield can entertain and instruct us by discoursing on
this masterpiece of the Count de Lippe, and unveil the mysteries of
the engineer's art. In the intervals, we can, from that high point,
survey the country around us."

Cranfield eagerly seconded the proposal. Anything that looked like
diversion was welcome to the ladies and the idlers about them, and
Lady Mabel, somewhat mollified, condescended to approve of it.

Accordingly, the next morning she met, by appointment, Mrs.
Shortridge and the three Portuguese ladies at the foot of the long
flight of steps that lead up to the cathedral of Elvas. They were
accompanied by L'Isle, Cranfield, and half a dozen gentlemen more,
including the young surgeon of the ---- regiment, who was always
imagining that Lady Mabel had a cold, headache, or some other little
ailment, that he might have the pleasure of prescribing for it.
Irreverently turning their backs on the old church, without one prayer
to the saints within, or those depicted on its windows of stained
glass, they walked out of town down into the narrow valley lying north
of the city, and crossing the brook which runs at the bottom (the
Portuguese, making a river of it, have christened it the Seto), on the
few stepping-stones which well supply the place of a foot-bridge, they
toiled up the opposite hill, the lower part of which is covered with a
grove of prickly oaks.

On reaching the gate Captain Cranfield stepped forward to the head of
the party, and entered zealously on his duties as _cicerone_. He led
them through the spacious barracks, in which the scanty garrison
seemed buried in monastic seclusion; through the huge store-houses and
bomb-proof kitchens and bakeries; showed them the vast tank containing
water for a full garrison for a year; and what was better, a natural
spring, welling out mysteriously within the circuit of the works. From
the ramparts of this huge coronet that crowned the head of this
eminence, he pointed out the strength of the position, the efficiency
of the works, and their importance to the safety of Elvas. From this
stronghold, with the works of the city and Fort St. Lucia on the other
side of it, lying before them, Cranfield discoursed at length on his
art, dealing largely in its technical terms: bastions, and curtains,
covered ways, scarps and counter scarps, with ravelins thrown out in
front of them, until Mrs. Shortridge, who listened with open-mouthed
admiration, got so confused that she imagined that a ravelin was some
kind of missile to be hurled at the French. Dona Carlotta and the
other Portuguese ladies were not so attentive, not understanding the
language of the lecturer, and feeling less interest in the defence of
their country than in the attentions of the foreign officers, who were
devoting themselves to their special service. But Lady Mabel, who
prided herself on being a soldier's daughter, lent a willing ear to
Cranfield, asked many questions, and even contrived to understand much
that he had to say.

L'Isle now thought that the engineer had held the first place in Lady
Mabel's attention long enough; so he broke in upon his eulogy on this
inland Gibraltar, the master-piece of "_o gran Conde de Lippe_."

"The whole thing is certainly grand and complete in itself," said he,
looking around; "and is a monument to the engineering talents of the
Count de Lippe. But, after all, constructing a great fortress in
Portugal is like building a ducal palace on a dairy farm; the thing
may be very fine in itself, but is altogether out of place. Half a
dozen such strongholds as Elvas, with its forts, would swallow up the
Portuguese army, yet be but half garrisoned, and leave not a man to
take the field. See the extent of the works between this and St.
Lucia, that other sentinel standing guard over Elvas on the south. It
would need twelve thousand men to garrison the city and the forts. I
never heard that this fortress was of use to any but the French, who
got it without fighting; and the possession of it helped them to
obtain the convention of Cintra; but for which we would have tumbled
Junot and his fellows into the Tagus. The Count de Lippe was
wonderfully successful in regenerating the army, and restoring the
military character of Portugal in the last century; but his
countryman, Schomberg, in the century before, showed how Portugal
could be better defended, and we have now in the country one who
understands it better than the Duke de Schomberg himself."

There was so much truth in what L'Isle said, that Cranfield was
obliged to yield up his impregnable fortress as a very fine thing in
itself, but quite out of place.

"I gather from your remarks," said Lady Mabel, "that Portugal has
often had a foreigner at the head of its army."

"Very often, indeed," answered L'Isle. "This same kingdom, which, in
spite of its narrow territory and small population, had, through the
enterprise of its rulers and the energy of the people, extended its
conquests in the East and the West; which, in the sixteenth century
had thirty-two foreign kingdoms and four hundred and thirty garrisoned
towns tributary to it--has now so much degenerated in its
institutions, that for two centuries it has never been able to defend
itself, or even make a decent showing in the field, but by foreign aid
and under a foreign leader. The Duke of Schomberg, Archduke Charles,
the Count de Lippe the Prince of Waldeck, and other Germans, have in
turn led the army, and each had to reorganize it, and revive its
discipline. Now, they rely on Beresford to train them for battle, and
Wellington to lead them to victory. The Count de Lippe found the
military character so sunk, that officers were often seen waiting at
the tables of their colonels; and the sense of individual honor was so
lost, that one of his first reforms was to insist on his officers
fighting when insulted, if they would not be cashiered."

"The former greatness of Portugal," said Lady Mabel, "is even more
wonderful than its present decay. Yet that is lamentable, indeed, when
the government, without striking a blow, could run away from the
country on the approach of the invader."

"That might have been called an act of deliberate wisdom," said
L'Isle, "had it not been stamped with feebleness and cowardice in the
execution. Resistance was hopeless against France united with Spain,
its tool, and soon to be its victim. Yielding to the storm left the
invaders without apology for the plunder and atrocities the French
have since perpetrated on the people. Nor was it a sudden thought. As
long ago as the beginning of the last century, a Portuguese Secretary
of State, seeing the defenceless condition of his country, urged that
the King should remove to Brazil, and fix his court at Rio Janeiro. He
points out the dependent state of his country in Europe, and asks:
'What is Portugal?' A corner of land divided into three parts; one
barren, one belonging to the church, and the other part not even
producing grain enough for the inhabitants. Look now at Brazil, and
see what is wanting! The soil is rich, the climate delightful, the
territory boundless, and the city would soon become more flourishing
than Lisbon. Here he might extend his commerce, make discoveries in
the interior, and take the title of Emperor of the West.' In truth,
the behavior of the house of Braganza in this migration, contrasts
well with the infamous conduct of the Spanish Bourbons."

They had strolled on to the foot of a tower within the fort, and
Cranfield led the party to the top to survey the panorama around them.
The horizon was pretty equally divided between Portugal and Spain. On
the North, close at hand, rose the rugged Serra de Portalegre, famous
for its chesnut forests; to the west was the fertile plain of Eastern
Alemtejo, crossed by the enormous pile of the aqueduct, and backed by
the heights of Serra D'Ossa; to the south and east, the valley of the
Guadiana lay before them, with few marks of culture on the Spanish
side; and the eye could range over the sheep pastured plains of
Estremadura to the misty sides and blue tops of the sierras that shut
them in on either hand.

In the East, nine miles off, by the straight path the vulture makes,
rose Badajoz, capped by its castle, and over-looked by fort San
Christoval on a high hill across the river. The fame of its sieges
during this war, its stubborn defence and bloody fall within the year,
drew the eyes of the ladies on it. L'Isle pulled out a field glass to
aid them in inspecting it. When the Portuguese ladies got hold of it,
they were as much delighted as children with a new toy, snatching it
out of each other's hands, without allowing time for its deliberate
use, and protesting against their Spanish neighbors being brought so
near to them.

"If they are so delighted at the powers of this little thing," said
L'Isle, "what would they think of the glass Lord Wellington had put up
in this tower during the siege of Badajoz?"

"Were its powers so great?" Mrs. Shortridge asked.

"Wonderful, according to rumor," answered L'Isle, "But I never had
time to come from the trenches to prove them. It is said to have
brought Badajoz so near, that you saw how the French soldiers made
their soup, and even smell the garlic they put into it. Once, when my
Lord saw Philipon leaning against the parapet of the castle, sneering
at the besieger's clumsy approaches, he so far forgot himself, as to
call for his holsters, that he might pistol the contemptuous Frenchmen
on the spot."

"Did he, indeed?" exclaimed Mrs. Shortridge; then laughing at herself
for being quizzed for the moment, begged L'Isle to tell this to the
Portuguese ladies, and see if they would not believe it.

Meanwhile, Lady Mabel was gazing thoughtfully over the winding valley,
which running toward them from the East, turned abruptly to the South,
indicating the course of the Guadiana, and on the wide plains of
Estremadura _baja_, or the lower, to the blue sierras that walled it
round. "This, then, is Spain," said she; "the land I have read of,
dreamed of, and for the last four years, thought of more even than of
my own."

"And yet," said L'Isle, "you calling yourself a traveler, have been
for months within sight of it, and have never set your foot on Spanish

"I blush to own it. But you, my self-appointed guide, should blush,
too, at never having led me thither. Come, Mrs. Shortridge: these
soldiers are too slow for us; let us take horse to-morrow, and make an
inroad into Spain."

"Willingly," said Mrs. Shortridge. "But let us take a strong party
with us. We do not know how we might be received, should the Spaniards
mistake us for Portuguese!"

"If a visit to Badajoz is your object," said Cranfield, "I offer
myself as a guide. As I have been lately engaged in repairing its
shattered walls, I may be useful in showing you how to get in.
Knowing, too, some of the Spanish officers there, I may in a parley
induce them to come to terms."

They now descended from the tower, and on leaving the fort, Lady Mabel
led the party to head-quarters, to take their luncheon there, while
they planned their measure for to-morrow's expedition to Badajoz.


  "Where Lusitania and her sister meet,
   Deem ye what bounds the rival realms divide?
   Or ere the jealous queens of nations greet,
   Doth Tayo interpose his mighty tide?
   Or dark Sierras rise in craggy pride?
   Or fence of art, like China's vasty wall?
   No barrier wall, no river deep and wide,
   No horrid crags, nor mountains dark and tall,
   Rise like the rocks that part Hispania's land from Gaul.

   But these between, a silver streamlet glides,
   And scarce a name distinguisheth the brook;
   Though rival kingdoms press its verdant sides,
   Here leans the idle shepherd on his crook,
   And vacant on the rippling waves doth look,
   That peaceful still 'twixt bitterest foemen flow,
   For proud each peasant as the noblest duke;
   Well doth the Spanish hind the difference know
   'Twixt him and Lusian slave, the lowest of the low."

                             _Childe Harold's Pilgrimage_.

The next morning early a numerous party issued from the eastern gate
of Elvas. The descending road led them between groves of olives, whose
sad colored foliage was relieved by the bright hues of the almond
tree, clothed with pink blossoms, the scarlet flowering pomegranate,
the dark, rich green of the orange-tree, already spangled over with
small white blossoms, yet still laden with its golden fruit, and the
prune trees of Elvas, favorites through the world, leafless as yet,
but conspicuous by the clouds of white flowerets which covered them.
The roofs of the suburban quintas showed themselves here and there
above the orchards, and by the roadside the _iris alata_ bloomed on
every bank.

The air is balmy, the scene lovely, and all nature smiling with the
sweet promises of Spring. Is this the goddess Flora leading down a
joyous train to the fields below? It is only Lady Mabel cantering
somewhat recklessly down hill. When she reached the more level ground,
she so far out-rode the ladies of her party, who were mounted on
mules, that, tired of loitering for them to come up, she proposed to
L'Isle, who had kept by her side, to employ their leisure in ascending
the bare hill on their left, to examine the old tower, that stood
solitary and conspicuous on its top. From the clearness of the
atmosphere it seemed nearer than it was, and the broken ground
compelled them to make a circuit before they reached it. Hence they
looked down upon their friends, crawling at a snail's pace along the
road to Badajoz. They rode round the weather-beaten, ruinous tower. It
was square, with only one small entrance, many feet above the ground,
and leading into a small room amidst the thick walls.

"What could this have been built for?" Lady Mabel asked.

"It is one of those watch-towers called _atalaias_," answered
L'Isle. "Many of them are scattered along the heights on the border.
They are memorials of an age in which one of people's chief
occupations was watching against the approach of their neighbors."

"Stirring times, those," said Lady Mabel. "People could not then
complain that their vigilance was lulled to sleep by too great
security; but this is, perhaps, a more comfortable age."

"To us in our island home," said L'Isle. "The improvement is more
doubtful here. There was a time when your forefathers and mine thus
kept watch against each other; when our own border hills were crowned
with similar watch-towers; but never did any country continue so long
a debatable land, and need, for so many centuries, the watch-tower and
the signal fire on its hills, as this peninsula during the slow
process of its redemption from the crescent to the cross."

"From this point," said Lady Mabel, "Elvas and Badajoz look like two
giant champions facing each other, in arms, each, for the defence of
his own border, yet one does not see here any of those great natural
barriers that should divide nations."

"They are wanting, not only here," said L'Isle, "but on other parts of
the frontier. The great rivers, the Duoro, the Tagus and the Guadiana,
and the mountain chains separating their valleys, instead of dividing
the two kingdoms, run into Portugal from Spain. The division of these
countries is not natural, but accidental; and in spite of some points
of contrast, the Portuguese are almost as much like the Spaniards, as
these last are like each other--for Spain is in truth a variety of
countries, the Spaniards a variety of nations."

"At length, however," said she, "Spain and Portugal are united in one

"Yet the Portuguese still hates the Spaniards," said L'Isle, "and the
Spaniard contemns the Portuguese."

"And we despise both," said Lady Mabel.

"Perhaps unjustly," said he.

"Why, to look no further into their short-comings and back-slidings,
to use Moodie's terms, have they not signally failed in the first duty
of a nation, defending itself?"

"Remember the combination of fatalities that beset them," said L'Isle,
"and the atrocious perfidy that aggravated their misfortunes. Both
countries were left suddenly without rulers, distracted by a score of
contending _juntas_, to resist a great nation, under a government of
matchless energy, the most perfectly organized for the attainment of
its object, which is not the good of its subjects, but solely the
developement, to the uttermost, of its military power. They at once
sunk before it, showing us how completely the vices of governments,
and yet more, the sudden absence of all government, can paralyze a
nation. But they have since somewhat redeemed their reputation, by
many an example of heroism."

"Why did not the nation, as one man, imitate the heroes of Zaragoza
and Gerona, and wage, like them, war to the knife's point against the
infidel and murderous horde of invaders?" exclaimed Lady Mabel, with a
flushed cheek and flashing eye, that would have become Augustina
Zaragoza herself.

"Because every man is not a hero, nor in a position to play a hero's
part. Spain was betrayed and surprised. The invaders came in the guise
of friends, under the faith of treaties, by which the flower of the
Spanish army had been marched into remote parts of Europe as allies to
the French; nor was the mask thrown off until long after it was
useless to wear it."

"Did the world ever before witness such complicated perfidy?"

"Perhaps not. But I trust it is about to witness its failure and

"_We_ and the Czar will have to administer it," said Lady Mabel, with
the air of an arbitress of nations. "We cannot look for much help from
our besotted allies here."

"It must be confessed," said L'Isle, "that an unhappy fatality in
council and in action, has beset the Portuguese and Spaniards,
throughout the war. They have too often shown their patriotism by
murdering their generals, underrating their enemies and slighting
their friends. They have, too, attained the very acme of blundering;
doing the wrong thing at the wrong time, and choosing the wrong man to
do it."

"Say no more," exclaimed Lady Mabel. "If that be the verdict you find
against our allies, I will not accuse you of blindness to their
faults. They are unworthy of the lovely and romantic land they live
in," she added, gazing on the scene before her. "What beautiful
mountain is that which trenches so close upon the border, as if it
would join itself to the Serra de Portalegre?"

"It is the mountain of Albuquerque, so called from a town at its

"That was the title of the Spanish duke, who died lately in London,"
Lady Mabel remarked.

"And in one sense the most unfortunate Spaniard of our day," added
L'Isle. "Of the highest rank among subjects, uniting in his person
names famous in Spanish history; he was brave and patriotic, and
though still young, one of the few Spanish leaders whose enterprize
did not lead to disaster. But the Supreme Junta, in its jealousy would
never entrust him with any but subordinate commands, subjecting him to
the orders of Castanos Cuesta, and other inefficient leaders whose
blunders his good conduct often covered. When, at length Andalusia was
lost by the folly and cowardice of others, he only had his wits about
him, and by a speedy march saved Cadiz. The rabid democrats of the
city repaid him with ingratitude and insults, which drove him into
exile; and, denied the privilege of falling in defence of his country,
he died broken-hearted in a foreign land."

"Are these people worth fighting for?" exclaimed Lady Mabel,
indignantly, reining back her horse, as if about to abandon her
Spanish allies to their own folly.

"Perhaps not," said L'Isle, "if we were not also fighting for
ourselves. Spain is a convenient field on which to drub the
French. But it is time to follow our party."

They now left the hill and getting back into the road, galloped after
their friends, but did not overtake them until they had reached the
little river Cayo, which here divides Portugal from Spain. The ladies,
on their mules, were grouped together in doubt and hesitation on this
bank, while several of the gentlemen were riding about in the water,
searching for holes in the bed of the stream, which was swollen and
turbid from the late rains.

"You hesitate too long to pass the Rubicon," said Lady Mabel, "just
let me tuck up the skirt of my riding dress, from the muddy waters,
and I will lead you over into Spain."

She was soon on the other bank, and her companions followed her. The
road now led them across a sandy plain, which, treeless and desolate,
contrasted strikingly with the fertility and cultivation around Elvas.

Looking at the fortress they were approaching, L'Isle remarked: "From
the times of Saguntum, Numantia, and Astapa, Spain has been noted for
cities that perished utterly rather than yield in submission to their
foes--Zaragoza, Gerona, and other places have in our day maintained
the old national fame. But Badajoz," he added, shaking his finger at
the towers before him, "is not one of them. It cannot be denied that
in this struggle the Spaniards have proved themselves a nation. 'Every
Spaniard remembers that his country was once great, and is familiar
with the names of its heroes; speaks with enthusiasm of the Cid, of
Ferdinand Cortes, and a host of others.' When the hour of trial come,
'the nation instinctively felt,' to use the language of one of their
own _juntas_, that 'there is a kind of peace more fatal than the field
of battle drenched with blood, and strewed with the bodies of the
slain.' The patriotic fire may have flamed the higher for the holy oil
of superstition poured upon it, but it was kindled by noble pride and
generous shame and indignation, by the remembrance of what their
fathers had been, and the thought of what their children were to be.'"

"In spite of the blunders, disasters, and treachery that have been
rife in the land," said Lady Mabel, "more than one name has been added
to the list of its heroes--Palafox and the Maid of Zaragoza have won
immortal fame."

"And others less famous have deserved as well," said L'Isle. "Before
Augustina, this second Joan of Arc, had stepped out of her sex, to
display her heroism, she and others, behind the same shattered,
crumbling wall, had been showing an equal heroism within their sex's
sphere. Women of all ranks were zealous in the patriotic cause. They
formed themselves into companies, some to assist the wounded, some to
carry water, wine and food to those who defended the gates. The
Countess Burita raised a corps for this service. She was young,
delicate and beautiful. In the midst of the most tremendous fire of
shot and shells, she was seen coolly attending to those occupations,
which were now become her duty; nor through the whole of a two month's
siege did the imminent danger, to which she incessantly exposed
herself, produce the slightest apparent effect upon her; her step
never faltered, her eye never quailed. What a partial thing is fame,"
he continued, "and how poor a motive to duty! The names of Palafox and
Zaragoza are forever wedded. How few remember the old plebeian, _Tio
Jorge_, who counseled and spurred on both governor and populace to
their heroic defence!"

"When we remember all that the Spaniards have undergone in this war,"
said Lady Mabel, "we cannot but think that their atrocities in the new
world have been visited on them at home."

"How far we must answer for the sins of our forefathers," said L'Isle,
"is a nice question. We have some scriptural authority for asserting
that responsibility; and as there is no hereafter for nations, they
must be punished in this world, or not at all. I would be sorry to
bear my share of the penalty of all that immaculate England has
done. But I do not fear the fate of Spain for England:

  'That royal throne of kings, that sceptred isle,
   That earth of majesty, that seat of Mars,
   That other Eden, demi-paradise;
   That fortress, built by nature for herself,
   Against infection, and the hand of war;
   That happy breed of men, that little world;
   That precious stone set in the silver sea,
   Which serves it in the office of a wall,
   Or as a moat defensive to a house,
   Against the envy of less happier lands.'

England against the world!" he exclaimed breaking off his quotation,
in his enthusiasm, and laying his hand on his sword.

"You are certainly a patriot," said Lady Mabel, "if any amount of
national prejudice can make patriotism. But yours is very like the
cockney's, who despised all the world, beyond the sound of Bow bells.
As to the fortress isle. (_Let me warn you to keep it well garrisoned
against surprise_.) I believe there is an obscure little corner of it
called Scotland, which both you and the poet have forgotten."

"I merely used _England_ in a figure of speech," said L'Isle, "putting
a part for the whole."

"I will not tolerate your figure of speech, as disparaging to old
Scotland," she said. "But for us Scots--"

"Us Scots!" L'Isle exclaimed. "Why, it was but yesterday you told me
how much you had angered Moodie by calling yourself an English woman."

"What of that? I would have you know that I have two sides to my
natural character. I claim the right to present my Scotch or English
side at will, and then you cannot see the other."

Fort San Christoval, on this side of the Guadiana, rose higher and
higher before them. Gazing on Badajoz and its castle on the other side
of the river, L'Isle thought of the failures before it, and of the
price in blood at which it had been bought at last. "We are not always
successful in our sieges--at times undertaking them rashly, without
the means of carrying them on. The sabre, and bayonet, unaided, take
few walled towns. They need the help of Cranfield's art, and he cannot
work without his tools."

"But we always beat the French in the field," said Lady Mabel.

"Always," said L'Isle. "There has been no instance of a real British
army being beaten by a French one."

"None of late years," said Lady Mabel. "To find a victory over us they
have to go as far back in the last century as Fontenoy."

"That is not a fair instance," said L'Isle eagerly. "We lost that
battle chiefly through the backwardness of our Dutch allies; and
Marshal Saxe, who was no Frenchman, but a German, beat us chiefly by
aid of the valor of the Irish regiments in the French pay."

"That alters the case," said Lady Mabel; "but were we not beaten some
years before that, at Almansa, here in Spain?"

"That instance is still more unfair," exclaimed L'Isle. "Our
Peninsular allies ran away, while we fought their battle. Still,
though the enemy were two to our one, the result might have been
different. But the French had an English general, the Duke of Berwick,
to win the battle for them, and we had a French commander, DeRuvigny,
whom Dutch William had made Earl of Galway, to lose it for us."

"Then, after all," exclaimed Lady Mabel, "the Englishman won the

"Yes, to our cost," said L'Isle, bitterly. "What made it more
provoking was, that we had at that very time the man to mate him;"
and, standing up on his stirrups, he raised his clenched hand above
his head, exclaiming: "O, for one hour of Peterborough to grapple with
his countryman and redeem the day!"

"What is the matter with Colonel L'Isle?" asked Mrs. Shortridge, who
was riding close behind with Cranfield.

"He is only leaping back to the beginning of the last century,"
answered Lady Mabel, "to reverse the issue of the battle of Almansa."

"Why, has not the colonel fighting enough before him," said Cranfield,
laughing, "that he must go back so far for more?"

"Let us be content with what we have," said L'Isle joining in the
laugh. "It is useless to dwell on old disasters but by way of shunning
new ones. It has been our constant luck to go into battle shoulder to
shoulder with allies who, except when in our pay, seldom stand by us
to the end of the day."

The river was now at hand. Turning to the right before reaching San
Christoval, they entered the _tete du pont_, and soon found themselves
on a noble granite bridge of many arches. The voices of many singers
drew their eyes to the banks of the river, where they saw all the
washerwomen of the city, collected in pursuit of their calling, and
lightening their labors with song, the burden of which, "Guadiana,
Guadiana," fell often on the ear, while the sun-beams bleached the
linen spread out on the banks of the stream, and tanned the faces of
the industrious choir chanting its praise.

"This, then, is the Guadiana!" said Lady Mabel, peeping over the
parapet. "I feel bound to admire its broad face, but miss the swift
current and pellucid waters of the poetasters, to whose bounties the
river god owes much of his fame."

"While you and our party loiter here, searching out the beauties of
the Guadiana," said L'Isle, "I will ride on and secure our peaceful
reception at the gate. A Spanish sentinel is often asleep, and apt to
prove his vigilance by firing on whoever wakes him up."

Presently following L'Isle, who luckily found the sentinel awake, they
reached the southern end of the bridge, and passing between two
beautiful round towers of white marble, now tinted straw-color with
age, they entered the northern gate of the city, and soon sought
hospitality at the _Posada de los Caballeros_.

Putting up their horses here, they left the servants to see that a
dinner was got ready; this meal, at a Spanish inn, depending less on
what you find there than on what you bring with you. Three Spanish
officers were lounging at the posada, one of whom immediately claimed
Cranfield's acquaintance, and introduced his companions. Cranfield did
not seem delighted to meet with him, nevertheless he presented them to
the whole party with studied politeness. Captain Don Alonzo Melendez,
with a handsome person, a swaggering air, and a costume more foppish
than military, looked more like a _majo_ of Seville than a soldier and
a gentleman. His companions had much the advantage of him there, but
he beat them hollow in assurance. Learning that curiosity alone had
brought them to Badajoz, he at once took the post of guide. Finding
that Lady Mabel knew enough of Spanish to make a good listener, he
placed himself by her side. Cranfield escorted her on the other, and
thus they walked forth. L'Isle, thrust into the background,
accompanied Mrs. Shortridge and the rest of the party.

As they drew near the works, many marks of injury and devastation on
the adjacent houses, brought the late siege prominently to their
minds. Don Alonzo Melendez at once began to discourse grandiloquently
on the subject. His narrative was so copious and inaccurate, that
Cranfield soon lost all patience, and found it hard to keep from
interrupting and contradicting him. Lady Mabel, detecting this,
encouraged the Spaniard to the uttermost by displaying rapt attention,
and full faith in his glowing narrative.

"I never before heard," said she to Cranfield, "so graphic an account
of the siege and storming of Badajoz."

"If our friend here talks about it much longer," said Cranfield, in
English, "he will forget that we had any thing to do with it. The
siege was, however, in one sense, the work of the Spaniards. If the
traitor Imaz had not sold it to Soult for a mule load of gold, we
would not have had to buy it back at the cost of so many thousands of
lives. Nor were any of them Spanish lives," he added bitterly; "though
some were Portuguese--for the only Spaniards at the siege were the
renegades who aided Philippon and his Frenchman to keep us out."

"Every Spaniard is not traitor or coward," said L'Isle from
behind. "If the brave Governor Menacho had not been killed in
defending the place, his successor Imaz could not have sold it a few
days after to the French."

As they strolled along the ramparts, Don Alonso, with a strange
forgetfulness of events within the year, lauded the impregnable
strength of the works, as if Badajoz were still a virgin fortress.
Cranfield, by way of rebuking him, pointed out to Lady Mabel the
restorations he had made of the breached walls. She replied that "the
patchwork character of his repairs were but too evident, as he had
invariably omitted to use materials of the same color with the
original works."

As they rambled through the city, Don Alonso failed not to point out
the superior size and style of the buildings over those of Elvas, and
Lady Mabel remarked that "in cleanliness, too, it far surpassed its
neighbor." Leading them to the cathedral, their guide compelled them
to inspect minutely this heavy and cumberous building, while he
eulogized it in terms that might have been suitable to St. Peter's, at
Rome. "I am sorry," said he, "you cannot see it in all its splendor;
but the gorgeous furniture of the altar and the rich ornaments of the
shrines are not now exhibited."

"Why not?" asked Lady Mabel.

"In these troubled, sacrilegious times, the clergy think it best not
to display the wealth of the church."

"They would find it difficult to display any thing but tinsel," said
Cranfield. "It is two years since the golden crucifix, the silver
candlestick, and the saintly jewelry, mounted on horseback and
traveled into France."

"But the saints," said L'Isle, "knowing that the air of France would
not agree with them, wisely staid behind."

As they were coming out of the cathedral, Mrs. Shortridge asked L'Isle
the meaning of the words on a tablet near them: "_Oy se sacca

"They give us notice," said L'Isle, "that to-day souls are released
from Purgatory. But surely the notice is incomplete, not specifying
whose souls they are. Their friends may go on spending money in masses
for them after they are in Paradise."

"That would be throwing away their cash," said Mrs. Shortridge. "I
have known good folks in London exercise their charity by releasing
small debtors from prison. But their bounty bears little fruit,
compared with that of the Papist, who, by opening his purse, rescues
sinful souls from purgatory. But our works, as our faith, fall far
short of theirs."

"And the Spaniards are foremost among the faithful," said L'Isle.
"They are greedy of belief, even beyond what the church commands. Thus
the mysterious origin of the Holy Virgin, which once convulsed the
Spanish church, is here no longer a disputed point. It is the first
article of their creed, as proved by their commonest term of
salutation. On entering a Spaniard's house, you must begin with the
words, '_Ave Maria Purissima_,' to which will be answered, '_Sin
pecado concebida_.' Smithfield fires could not burn this dogma out of
them, and they would become schismatics if the rest of Popedom were
not treading on their heels. Yet to me this doctrine seems to sap the
great Christian truth, that Christ is 'God made man,' for it pushes
his human origin one generation further back. Did Scripture tell the
name of the mother of the blessed Virgin, the next age might discover
that she too was '_sin pecado concebida_.'"

"Since I have been in this land," said Mrs. Shortridge, "I have seen
scarcely a street, or even a house, which is without an image or
picture of the blessed Virgin, and the images are often crowned with

"She is the goddess of these southern nations," L'Isle answered; "and
styled the Mother of God. Moreover, every pious Spaniard regards the
Virgin in the light of his friend, his confidante, his mistress, whose
whole attention is directed to himself, and who is perpetually
watching over his happiness. With the name of Mary ever on his lips he
follows his business, his pleasures, and his sins. It is in the name,
too, of Mary," L'Isle continued, with an arch smile, "that the ladies
write billetdoux, send their portraits, and entertain their gallants."

"Stop," said Mrs. Shortridge; "you are libeling our sex, and your love
of satire makes you as bitter against Popery as old Moodie himself."

"It is, at least, no scandal to say that, under her patronage, small
sins are easily absolved here, on the performance of certain duties of

"What are the duties of atonement?"

"Ave Marias, fasts, and alms. The alms go to the begging friars, or
else to buy masses for the souls in purgatory."

Walking up the sloping street that leads to the castle, they found
this Moorish edifice in a shattered condition, a few towers only
standing whole amidst the ruins. From one of these, looking northward
across the river which ran three hundred feet below them, they saw the
strong fort of San Christoval towering above them, while they, in
turn, overlooked the city, and beyond its walls, the plain to the
south, not long since covered with vineyards, and olive groves, and
the picturesque villas of the richer citizens of Badajoz--now its bare
surface was furrowed with trenches, ridged with field works, and
spotted with ruins. The devastating blast of war had left it the
picture of desolation.

Lady Mabel, turning to ask L'Isle a question, saw him gazing gloomily
down into the deep but dry fosse below them.

"What fixes your attention on that spot," she asked.

"Do you see where the earth shows, by its color differing from the
adjacent soil, that it has been turned up not long since? Thousands
of Britons, Portuguese, and French are buried there. They met but to
contend, yet now lie peaceably together. I have more than one friend
among them."

Mrs. Shortridge put her hand before her eyes, and Lady Mabel turned
pale as she gazed earnestly below. "Come," she said, at length, "we
have seen enough of bloody Badajoz. There are some feelings that may
well kill the idle curiosity that led us hither."

Descending into the town, they walked into the great square, their
party attracting much attention from several groups of citizens and of
soldiers of the garrison. Captain Don Alonso Melendez stopped them
here to point out various objects of interest, being evidently anxious
to display himself as the patron and intimate of these distinguished
strangers. He brought forward and presented to them two or three more
of his brother officers whom he here met.

While he was thus engaged with others of the party, Lady Mabel found
leisure to remark to Cranfield: "Short as is the distance from Elvas
to Badajoz, I fancy I can perceive, without listening to the language
around me, that I am among a new people."

"You may well be struck with the language," said Cranfield, "while
listening to our patronizing friend here. But you must not take his
discourse for a fair sample of Spanish style or facts."

"Of course not," said Lady Mabel. "Eloquence and intelligence like his
are rare everywhere."

"I trust they are," said Cranfield, with a sneer. "But there is
already an obvious difference observable here in the people, which
becomes more marked as you proceed toward Castile. The Spaniard is
taller and yet leaner than the Portuguese. He has a more expressive
countenance, a striking sedateness of carriage, and a settled gravity
of manner, especially when silent, which makes him seem wiser than he
is. With much elegance of form, his meagre person shows that he is the
denizen of a dry climate, which, every Spaniard will tell you, gives a
peculiar compactness of structure to all its products: the wheat of
Spain makes more bread, its beef and mutton are more nourishing, its
wines have more body, and the men more enduring vigor than those of
other countries. Certain it is that Spanish troops have often proved
great marchers; yet of all nations they have the slenderest legs, and
indeed they never use their own when they can substitute those of
horse, mule, or _burro_."

"The heat of the climate discourages exercise on foot," said Lady

"Or labor of any kind," said Cranfield. "The universal cloak
sufficiently proves that they are not a working people."

"And imperfectly conceals that they are a ragged one," said she. "Had
I old Moodie at my elbow, he would remind me that 'drowsiness shall
clothe a man in rags.'"

Observing Cranfield gazing round the square with much interest, she
said: "You must be quite familiar with this place."

"I shall never forget the occasion on which I saw it first," he
answered. "I was one of two engineers attached on the assault to
General Walker's brigade. While Picton was scaling the castle walls,
and crowds of our brave fellows were dying in the breaches, we
succeeded in forcing our way into the place over the bastion of San
Vincente. Hard work we had of it, and the fight did not end there; for
the enemy stubbornly disputed bastion after bastion on our flank, and
our commander fell on the ramparts covered with so many wounds that
his living seemed a miracle. The detachment I was with pushed forward
into the town. The streets were empty, but brilliantly illuminated,
and no person was to be seen; yet a low buzz and whisper was heard
around; lattices were now and then opened, and from time to time shots
were fired from underneath the doors by the Spaniards--"

"The French, you mean," said Lady Mabel.

"No; the Spaniards," persisted Cranfield. "And perhaps our talking
friend there was one of them."

"Don Alonso is an Andalusian and a patriot," said Lady Mabel; "and I
will not have him so traduced."

"Be it so," replied Cranfield. "It is lucky for your patriot that he
was not here. However, the troops, with bugles sounding, advanced up
yonder street into this square, and we captured several mules going
with ammunition to the trenches. But the square was empty and silent
as the streets, and the houses as bright with lamps; a terrible
enchantment seemed to be in operation; for we saw nothing but light,
and heard nothing but the low whispers around us, while the tumult at
the breach was like the crashing thunder. There, though the place was
already carried on two sides, by Picton's column and ours, the
murderous conflict still raged; we still heard the shots, and shouts,
and infernal uproar, while hundreds and hundreds fell and died after
fierce assault and desperate resistance were alike vain. We pushed on
that way to take the garrison in reserve, but our weak battalion was
repulsed by their reserve, and some time elapsed before the French
found out that Badajoz had changed hands."

"But it was ours!" exclaimed Lady Mabel, "though too dearly bought."

"The carnage was dreadful," said Cranfield; "and when the full extent
of that night's havoc became known to Lord Wellington, the firmness of
his nature gave way for a moment, and the pride of conquest yielded to
a passionate burst of grief at the loss of his gallant soldiers.--Then
came the _voe victis_," continued Cranfield. "We do not like to dwell
on the wild and desperate wickedness which Badajoz witnessed on
becoming ours. By the by, just where we stand stood the gallows."

"The gallows!" Lady Mabel exclaimed, stepping back from the polluted
spot. "You could not hang the French. Did you hang the Spaniards who
had fired on you."

"No; but Lord Wellington was compelled to hang some of his own heroes
for making too free with what was theirs by right of conquest."

The young surgeon, who had been listening to Cranfield, now thought it
time to lay some of his coloring on this picture of the siege,
storming and sack of this unhappy city. He told some curious and
thrilling incidents, but his profession getting the mastery of him, he
soon got to the hospital, and, amidst ghastly wounds, horrid
disfigurations, and dismembered limbs, began to bandage, slash, and
saw, until Lady Mabel sickened at the tale. "Pray stop there; you make
me shudder at your hospital scenes, which, in their endless variety of
suffering are too like the Popish pictures of souls in Purgatory. I
prefer going to dine at the posada, to stopping here to sup full of

They now returned to the posada and had their Spanish friends to dine
with them--Lady Mabel seating Don Alonso beside her, and losing not a
word of his grandiloquence. After the meal the party dispersed--most
of them taking a siesta in order to get rid of two or three hot hours
of the afternoon before they set out on their way back to Elvas. Their
Spanish friends however, returned and persuaded them to postpone their
ride until they had taken an evening promenade on the bridge, the
favorite resort of the ladies of Badajoz and their cavaliers during
the hot weather. Here they enjoy an extended prospect, and the cooling
breezes that attend the current of a great river.

They found here many of the first people of Badajoz and many of the
Spanish officers and their fair friends. Leaning against the parapet
of the bridge, Lady Mabel forgot the idlers walking by, while she
gazed on the scenery around, or watched the gliding stream below, and
listened to L'Isle speaking of the Guadiana; of its mysterious
disappearance near its source, its course betrayed only by the rich
pastures overlying the subterranean streams, of its return to daylight
in the lakes called its eyes: _Ojos de la Guadiana_; and following it
to Portugal, to the _Salto de Lobo_, so called because a wolf might
leap across the deep but narrow chasm between the overhanging rocks,
he named the noted places on its banks, and quoted many a ballad of
which it was the theme. Presently, finding themselves almost alone
they followed their companions, to the bridge head, and joined the
large company assembled in this outwork. The Spanish officers had
provided music for their entertainment, and oranges and confectionary
were handed about. Of the latter, the Spanish and Portuguese ladies,
according to national habit, eat a great quantity. After a pause the
musicians struck up a lively seguidilla, the gentlemen secured
partners, Lady Mabel declining a dozen applications, and with
difficulty ridding herself of Don Alonso, who could not understand how
a lady who delighted so much in his conversation could refuse to dance
with him.

The level space within this outwork was now crowded with couples, the
Portuguese ladies entering fully into the spirit of the hour. Mrs.
Shortridge and Lady Mabel stood aside, with L'Isle, and had the
pleasure of witnessing a genuine _impromptu_ Spanish ball in the open
air. They were at once struck with the sudden gayety and activity of a
people habitually so grave and inert. But as one dance followed
another, the vivacity of the party increased. Many of the officers and
some of their fair friends were from Andalusia, where music and the
castinets are never heard in vain. Presently the tune was changed, and
the excited dancers slid over into the fandango and volero, danced out
to the life in so demonstrative, voluptuous and seducing a style, that
Mrs. Shortridge declared such exhibitions abominable, and that they
should be prohibited by law; while Lady Mabel shrinkingly looked on in
bewildered astonishment. She had herself danced many a time, though
not as often as she wished; but such dancing she had never dreamed of

At this moment the sun set, and the bells of the churches and convents
across the water gave the signal for repeating the evening prayer to
the Virgin. In an instant the gay crowd was arrested as if by
magic. The music ceased; the dancers stood still; the women veiled
their faces with their fans; the men took off their hats; and all
breathed out or seemed to breathe a prayer to the protecting power who
had brought them to the close of another day--all but the English
officers, who, mingled with the devout dancers, stood looking like
profane fools caught without a prayer for the occasion. After a short
solemn pause, the men put on their hats, the women uncovered their
faces, the music again struck up, and the throng glided off into
gayety and revelry as before.

"I would not have lost this for any thing," Lady Mabel exclaimed; "It
is so sudden and extraordinary a transition from the wild abandonment
of revelry to absorbing devotion and back again to the revels. Without
seeing it, I could not have imagined it. I have before witnessed and,
at times, been impressed with this solemn call to the evening prayer,
misdirected though it be. But here the effect is utterly ridiculous,
to say the least."

"This may give you an insight into the Spanish character on more than
one point," said L'Isle. "As to their love of dancing, and of the
fandango in particular, it is said, though I do not vouch for it, that
the Church of Rome, scandalized that a country so renowned for the
purity of its faith, had not long ago proscribed so profane a dance,
resolved to pronounce the solemn condemnation of it. A consistory
assembled; the prosecution of the fandango was begun according to
rule, and a sentence was about to be thundered against it. But there
was a wise Spanish prelate present who knew his countrymen, and
dreaded a schism, should they be driven to choose between the fandango
and the faith. He stepped forward and objected to the criminal's being
condemned without being heard.

"The observation had weight with the assembly. He was allowed to
produce before them a _majo_ and a _maja_ of Seville, who, to the
sound of voluptuous music, displayed all the seductive graces of the
dance. The severity of the judges was not proof against the
exhibition. Their austere countenances began to relax; they rose from
their seats; their legs and arms soon found their former suppleness;
the consistory-hall was changed into a dancing-room, and the fandango

Both ladies laughed heartily at this story, and L'Isle went on to say;
"In spite of the exhibition before us, these people, in their serious
hours, retain all the gravity and ceremonious stateliness in language
and manner of their forefathers, in the time of Charles the Fifth and
his glooming son, when the Spaniard was the admiration and dread of

"I have been told," said Lady Mabel, "that you may, at this day, find
many a Spaniard who might sit for the portrait of Alva himself."

"Yes," answered L'Isle, "It has been well said that the Spaniard of
the sixteenth century has vanished, but his mask remains."

Twilight was now failing them, and the party from Elvas hastened back
to the posada. The horses had been brought out, and some of the ladies
were already mounted, when Don Alonso Melendez came hastily up, having
followed them to take a ceremonious leave. His parting words with his
new friends, and especially his compliments to Lady Mabel, who did not
allow herself to remain in his debt, delayed them some time. As they
rode off, he waved his hat, and called out: "_Con todo el mondo
guerra, y paz con Inglaterra!_"

"We taught them that proverb long ago," said Cranfield, "by taking
their galleons laden with plate from the New World."

"The Spaniard has a treasury of wisdom locked up in his proverbs,"
said L'Isle. "What a pity it is he will not take some of it out to
meet the current demands on him."

They soon again crossed the bridge, and entered the _tete du
point_--but the dancers had vanished; their music was hushed; nor was
its place supplied by the song of the morning. The chorus of
"Guadiana--Guadiana," no longer arose from its banks. All was still,
dark and desolate before them.

Meanwhile, Lord Strathern, though not given to over caution, was
seized, as night drew on, with a sudden nervousness, at _Ma Belle_'s
taking a night ride across the borders of two such unsettled
countries, infested with patriotic guerilleros, who sometimes mistook
friends for foes. He entertained--in fact, cultivated--an unfavorable
opinion of his neighbors, the Spanish garrison of Badajoz. He laid at
their door every outrage perpetrated in the country around.--The party
from Elvas would afford a rich booty in purses, watches, and jewelry;
and he thought it quite possible that after some of their allies had
entertained them in Badajoz, with ostentatious hospitality, others
might waylay, rob and murder them before, or soon after they crossed
the frontier. So, he hastily ordered Major Conway to send out a patrol
of dragoons to meet them; and the Major sent off Lieut. Goring in a
hurry on this service.

Now, Goring had passed the day chafing with indignation at hearing of
the pleasant party, which he had not been asked to join; and his anger
was not soothed by being despatched to meet it, at a late hour, when
all the pleasure was over. Galloping on in this mood, with a dozen and
more dragoons, behind him, he came to the Cayo, and after taking a
look at the dark current, was about to cross, when he heard the sound
of horses' feet, and the clattering of tongues drawing near on the
other side. In the spirit of mischief, he followed the impulse of the
moment. He ordered his men to form on the edge of the water, fronting
the ford, to unbuckle their cloaks, and throw them over their helmets,
and not to move or speak a word. The men took the joke instantly. The
crescent moon, already distanced by the sun, was sinking below the
horizon; the bank of the river threw its shade over them, and they
stood below, a dark, undistinguishable mass.

Presently the party came straggling up, Dona Carlotta and her cavalier
leading them, and feeling their way down to the water.

"This cannot be the ford," said he; "the bank looks too steep on the
other side."

"What is that black object across the water?" asked Cranfield, from
behind. "Can the river have risen and the bank caved in?"

"It has too regular an outline for that," said L'Isle, who had now
come up, and was trying to peer through the darkness. "Do you not hear
the stamping of a horse across the water?"

"And a clattering sound?" said Cranfield, as a dragoon's sword struck
against a neighboring stirrup.

"Lady Mabel," said L'Isle, eagerly, (she had pressed close up beside
him,) "Pray ride back a little way, and take the ladies with you."

"I will, but what is the matter?"

"The road seems to be occupied. But go at once, and take them with

"I wish it were daylight!" said she, trying to laugh off her
trepidation. "Adventures by night are more than I bargained for. Come
ladies, follow me."

"Tom," said L'Isle to his groom, without turning his head, but gazing
steadily at the dark object across the water, "Follow Lady Mabel."

"Better send the Doctor, sir," said Tom, doggedly. "He has not sword
or pistol."

"Whoever they are," said L'Isle to Cranfield, "they have posted
themselves badly for surprise or attack. Let us form here on the slope
of the bank, and if they attempt to cross, fall on them as they come
out of the water."

Officers and servants fell into line--a badly armed troop, with
infantry swords, and some without pistols. Meanwhile, L'Isle sent
Hatton's down to the edge of the river to challenge the opposite

Now, Hatton's knowledge of foreign tongues was pretty much limited to
those vituperative epithets which are first and oftenest heard in
every language. He rode down to the edge of the water, and proceeded
loudly to anathamatize his opponents in Portuguese, Spanish and French
successively. Having exhausted his foreign vocabulary, he hurled at
them some well shotted English phrases--but the heretics did not heed
the damnatory clauses, even in plain English. Not a word could he get
in reply from them. L'Isle literally and figuratively in the dark,
grew impatient, and announced his intention to commence a pistol
practice on them that would draw out some demonstration. He rode down
to the water's edge, and was leveling a long pistol at the middle of
the dark mass, when some epithet of Hatton's more stinging than any he
had yet invented, proved too much for Goring's gravity. He began to
laugh, and the contagion seized every dragoon of the party. The mask
of hostility fell off, and they were instantly recognized as friends,
to the great relief of those on the other bank.

Provoked as they were at this practical joke, their position had been
too ridiculous not to be amusing. After a hearty laugh, they hastened
to bring back the ladies, who were not found close at hand, for Dona
Carlotta and her friends had been posting back to Badajoz, and Lady
Mabel had only succeeded in stopping them by the assurance that the
road was doubtless beset, both before and behind them. When the two
parties, now united, had taken their way back to Elvas, Lieutenant
Goring found an opportunity of putting himself alongside of Lady

She reproached him with the boyish trick he had just perpetrated. It
might so easily have had fatal consequences. Goring, himself began to
think it not so witty as he had fancied it.

"It was very provoking, though," said he, "to be left out of your
pleasant party. I hope you will consider that, Lady Mabel, and forgive
me for the little alarm I have given you."

"Not to-night," said she. "My nerves are quite too much shaken. But
if I sleep well, and feel like myself again, I may possibly forgive
you to-morrow."


        (_Rosalind reading a paper_.)

    From the east to western Ind,
    No jewel is like Rosalind,
    Her worth being mounted on the wind,
    Through all the world bears Rosalind,
    All the pictures fairest lined,
    Are but black to Rosalind,
    Let no face be kept in mind,
    But the face of Rosalind.

  _Touchstone_.--I'll rhyme you so, eight years together; dinners and
  suppers, and sleeping hours excepted; it is the right butter-woman's
  rank to market.

                                                 As You Like It.

Whenever L'Isle took holiday from his military duties, he was pretty
sure to take it out of his regiment, the next day. On parade, next
morning, he inspected the ranks, bent on detecting some defect in
bearing or equipment, and peered into the faces of the men, as if
hunting out the culprits in the latest breach of discipline. Men and
officers looked for a three hours' drill, to improve their wind, and
put them in condition. But, to their great comfort, he soon let them
off, and hastened back to his quarters. Arrived there, he called to
his man for his portfolio, and at once sat down to write as if he had
a world of correspondence before him. But it was plain to this man,
who had occasion to come often into the room, that his master did not
get through his work with his usual facility. He found him, not so
often writing, as leaning on the table in laborious cogitation, or
biting the feather end of his quill, or rapping his forehead with his
knuckles, to stimulate the action of the organs within, or else
striding up and down the room, in a brown study, over sundry
half-written and discarded sheets of paper, scattered on the floor.
L'Isle's servant wished to speak to him, but was too wise to disturb
him in the midst of those throes of mental labor. But, when pausing
suddenly in his walk, he pressed his forefinger on his temple, and
exclaimed, "I had it last night, and now I have lost it!" his
confidential man thought it time to speak. "What is it, sir, shall I
look for it?"

L'Isle stared at him, as if just roused from a reverie, and bursting
into a hearty laugh, bid him go down stairs until he called for him.

Down stairs he went, and told his two companions that their master was
at work on the toughest despatch or report, or something of that sort,
he had ever had to make in his life, adding, "I would not be surprised
if something came of it."

"I have not a doubt," answered Tom, the groom, in a confident tone,
"that the colonel has found out some new way to jockey the French, and
is about to lay it before Sir Rowland Hill, or, perhaps my Lord
Wellington himself."

Being men of leisure, they were still busy discussing their master's
affairs, and had begun to wonder if he had forgotten that it was time
to go to dinner, when L'Isle called for his man; but it was only to
bid him send the groom up to him.

With an obedient start, Tom hastened up stairs. In a few minutes, he
came down with an exceedingly neatly folded despatch in his hand. He
seemed to have gained in that short interval no little accession of
importance. He had quite sunk the groom, and strode into the room with
the air of an ambassador.

"Now, my lads, without even stopping to wet my whistle," said he, "I
will but sharpen my spurs, saddle my horse, and then--"

"What then?" asked his comrades.

"I will ride off on my important mission."

"Were you right?" asked L'Isle's gentleman. "Is that for Sir Rowland

"Sir Rowland," answered Tom, carelessly, "is not the most considerable
personage with whom master may correspond. And as the army post goes
every day to _Coria_, he would hardly send me thither."

"Can it be for the commander-in-chief?" suggested the footman. "That
is farther off still."

"You are but half-right," said Tom, contemptuously; "for it is not so
far," and, holding up the letter, he pretended to read the direction:
"'To his excellency, Lieutenant-General Sir Mabel Stewart,
commander-in-chief of his majesty's forces in these parts.' If you had
not been blockheads, you might have known it, from the extraordinary
neatness of the rose-colored envelope, with its figured green border."

"I wonder where he got it?" said the footman.

"He brought them out with him from home," said Tom, as if he were in
all his master's secrets, "for his love-letters to the Portuguese
ladies--but never met with any worth writing love-letters to. And,
now, my lads, hinder me no longer, I must ride and run till this be
delivered to my lady, and your mistress, that is to be." He was soon
in the saddle, and when there, rode as if carrying the news, that a
French division, having surprised the dreamy Spaniards in Badajoz, was
already fording the Cayo, without meeting even Goring's handful of
dragoons, to check its advance.

L'Isle now hastened to the regimental mess, and, after dining,
loitered there longer than usual, with a convivial set, until it was
late enough to visit Lady Mabel.

He found her alone, in her drawing-room; her father being still at
table, with some companions, the murmur of whose voices and laughter
now and then reached L'Isle's ears.

"Lieutenant Goring, who is down stairs," said Lady Mabel, "has been
amusing us at dinner with his version of our adventure at the ford of
the Cayo; and a very good story he makes of it, giving some rich
samples of Captain Hatton's polyglot eloquence. He, alone, seems not
to have been in the dark; and saw all, and more than all, that
occurred--nor does he forget you in the picture. But, papa cannot see
the wit of it at all."

"_Burlas de manos, burlas de villanos_. There seldom is wit in
practical jokes," said L'Isle; "but there was certainly more wit than
wisdom in this."

"By-the-bye," said Lady Mabel, "our excursion yesterday has procured
me a new correspondent. You will be astonished to hear who he is, and
at the style in which he writes."

"Indeed!" said L'Isle, with heightening color. "I hope he writes on an
agreeable topic, and in a suitable style?"

"You shall judge for yourself," said Lady Mabel. "But the
grandiloquence of the epistle, worthy of Captain Don Alonzo Melendez
himself, calls not for reading, but recitation. Do you sit here as
critic, while I take my stand in the middle of the room, and give it
utterance with all the elocution and pathos I can muster. You must
know that this epistle I hold in my hand, is addressed to me by no
less a personage than the river-god of the Guadiana, who, contrary to
all my notions of mythology, proves to be a gentleman, and not a
lady." And, in a slightly mock-heroic tone, she began to recite it:

  Maiden, the sunshine of thine eye,
    Flashing my joyous waves along,
  The magic of thy soul-lit smile,
    Have waked my murmuring voice to song.

  Winding through Hispania's mountains,
    Watering her sunburnt plains,
  I, from earliest time, have gladdened
    Dwellers on these wide domains.

  I have watched succeeding races,
    Peopling my fertile strand,
  Marked each varying lovely model,
    Moulded by Nature's plastic hand.

  Striving still to reach perfection,
    Ruthless, she broke each beauteous mould;
  Some blemish still deformed her creature,
    Some alloy still defiled her gold.

  The Iberian girl has often bathed,
    Her limbs in my delighted flood,
  And no Acteon came to startle
    This very Dian of the wood.

  The stately Roman maid has loitered,
    Pensive, upon my flowering shore,
  Shedding some pearly drops to think,
    Italia she may see no more.

  While gazing on my placid face,
    She meditates her distant home;
  And rears, as upon Tiber's banks,
    The towers of imperial Rome.

  The blue-eyed daughter of the Goth,
    Fresh from her northern forest-home,
  In rude nobility of race,
    Foreshadowed her who now has come.

  The loveliest offspring of the Moor
    Beside my moon-lit current sat;
  And, sighing, sung her hopeless love,
    In strains, that I remember yet.

  The Christian knight, in captive chains,
    The conqueror of her heart has proved;
  His own, in far Castilian bower,
    He bears her blandishments unmoved.

  Thus Nature tried her 'prentice hand,
    Become, at last, an artist true;
  In inspiration's happiest mood,
    She tried again, and moulded you.

  Maiden, from my crystal surface,
    May thy image never fade;
  Longing, longing, to embrace thee,
    I, alas! embrace a shade.

  Fainter glows each beauteous image,
    Thy beauty vanishing before;
  I will clasp thy lovely shadow,
    Fate will grant to me no more.

If the verses were not very good, L'Isle was ready to acknowledge it;
but, in fact, he had not the fear of criticism before his eyes; for
when did lady ever criticise verses made in her praise? But he had
reckoned without his host. Though Lady Mabel recited them exceedingly
well, in a way that showed that she must have read them over many
times, and dwelt upon them, there was an under-current of ridicule
running through her tones and action--for she had personified the
river-god--and when she was done, she criticised them with merciless

"This is no timid rhymster," she exclaimed, "but a true poet of the
Spanish school: No figure is too bold for him. A mere versifier would
have likened a lady's eyes to earthly diamonds or heavenly stars; the
blessed sun itself is not too bright for our poet's purpose.--My timid
fancy dared not follow his soaring wing; to me at the first glance,
the 'stately Roman maid' was building her mimic Rome on the banks of
the Guadiana with solid stone and tough cement, and I saddened at the
sight of her labors. To come down to the mechanism of the verse," she
continued, "besides a false rhyme or two, the measure halts a
little.--But we must not forget that the river-god is taking a
poetical stroll in the shackles of a foreign tongue. In this case we
have good assurance that the poet has never been out of his own
country, and to the _eye_ of a foreigner 'flood' and 'wood' and 'home'
and 'come' are perfect rhymes. We must deal gently with the poet while
'trying his 'prentice hand,' hoping better things when he shall
'become an artist true;' and when we remember that to the national
taste sublimity is represented by bombast, artifice takes the place of
nature, and sense is sacrificed to sound, the love of the _ore
rotundo_ demanding mouth-filling words at any price, we cannot fail to
discover the genuine Spanish beauties of the piece. I only wonder that
in his chronological picture of the races he should omit to display
the Phoenician, Jewish and Gipsy maidens to our admiring eyes."

"Heyday!" exclaimed Colonel Bradshawe, who now came in with Major
Warren, while she was still standing in the middle of the floor, with
the paper raised in her hand, "Is this a rehearsal? Are we to have
private theatricals, with Lady Mabel for first and sole actress? With
songs interspersed for her as _prima donna_? Pray let me come in as
one of the _dramatis personæ_."

"It is no play!" said Lady Mabel, much confused. "I have just been
throwing away my powers of elocution in an attempt to make Colonel
L'Isle perceive the beauties of a piece of model poetry, moulded in
the purest Spanish taste. I thought him gifted with some poetic
feeling, but he shows not the slightest sense of its peculiar merits."

L'Isle, though much out of countenance, had kept his seat through the
recitation, but now got up looking little pleased with it.

"Try me," said Major Warren. "You may be more successful in finding a

"I never suspected you of any critical acumen," said Lady Mabel; "and
so could not be disappointed."

"Do not overlook me," said Bradshawe. "Poetry is the expression of
natural feeling, in a state of exaltation. Now, I am always in an
exalted state of feeling in your company, and may be just now a very
capable judge."

"No; one failure is enough for me," said Lady Mabel. "I am not in the
humor to repeat it."

"Let me read it then," said Bradshawe, offering to take the paper from
her hand.

Lady Mabel declined, and L'Isle tried to divert his attention. But
Bradshawe's curiosity was strongly excited, and he made more than one
playful attempt to get possession of the verses. Upon this, Lady Mabel
went to the table near which L'Isle was standing, and pretended to
hide them between the pages of one of the books there. L'Isle, anxious
that they should be kept from every eye but hers, watched her
closely. Could he believe his eyes? As she stooped over the table, she
actually, unobserved, as she thought, slipped the verses into her
bosom. Bradshawe pertinaciously began to search the volumes; on which,
Lady Mabel took up the largest of them, and with a grave face carried
it out of the room, leaving L'Isle so well satisfied with her care for
his epistle, that, by the time she came back, he was ready to bear,
without flinching, any severity of criticism.

The rest of the company below being gone, Lord Strathern now entered
the room. "Ah, L'Isle, I am glad to find you here; I was just about to
send after you. I have this moment received a dispatch from Sir
Rowland. He needs you for a special service, and this letter contains
his instructions."

"Is it in verse, Papa?" asked Lady Mabel, coming close up beside her

"In verse, child? What are you dreaming of? Sir Rowland is a sane man,
and never writes verses?"

"I thought it might be a growing custom to correspond in verse. The
last letter I received was in regular stanzas."

"Who from?" asked Lord Strathern.

"A Spaniard--a genuine Spaniard, of the purest water," said Lady
Mabel. "And, strange to tell, I never saw him but once in my life."

"The impudent rascal!" exclaimed his lordship. "I will have him
horsewhipped by way of answer, a stripe for every line."

"Nay," said Lady Mabel, "a stripe for every bad line will be cutting
criticism enough."

"Who is this fellow? Is it the Don Alonso Melendez you were telling me

"Never mind his name, Papa. I am afraid you might have him flayed
alive, while the poor fellow deserves nothing but laughter for his
doggerel." And while this doggerel was secretly pressed by her bosom,
she stole a look at L'Isle, and was surprised to see how little galled
he seemed to be by her ridicule.

"What is the burden of Sir Rowland's verses?" she asked, addressing

"Very true!" exclaimed L'Isle; "I had forgotten to read it." And
breaking the seal, he ran his eye hastily over the letter. "I must
leave Elvas at once, and be away some days," he said, with a look of

"Sir Rowland is very fond of sending you on his errands," remarked
Lord Strathern. "And, hitherto you seemed to like the extra work he
gave you."

"I would be gladly excused from it just now," answered L'Isle, and in
spite of himself, his eye wandered toward Lady Mabel. Lord Strathern
did not observe this, but said, jestingly: "I believe you have
contrived to convince Sir Rowland that none of us can do any thing so
well as you can," but there was a little tone of pique in the way this
was said.

"I have made no attempt to do so," L'Isle answered. "But he has given
me some thing to do now, and I must set about it at once." Taking
leave of Lady Mabel, he held a short private conference with his
lordship, and, when he went out to mount his horse, found Colonel
Bradshawe already in the saddle, waiting for him. This annoyed him,
for he instinctively knew Bradshawe's object, and looked to be
ingeniously cross-questioned as to the verses which Lady Mabel had
recited, and then criticised so unsparingly. Unwilling to let
Bradshawe stretch him on the rack for his amusement, L'Isle assumed
the offensive, and at once broached another matter which he had much
at heart.

"I wonder when we will leave Elvas," he exclaimed, abruptly. "If we
stay here much longer, we will be at war with the people around us. I
never knew my lord so negligent of discipline. It evidently grows upon

"The old gentleman," said Bradshawe, carelessly, "certainly holds the
reins with a slack hand."

"He is content with preserving order in Elvas," said L'Isle; "but
turns a deaf ear to almost every complaint the peasantry make against
our people."

"Many of them are lies," said Bradshawe, coolly.

"And many of them are too well founded," answered L'Isle. "You are the
senior officer in the brigade, and a man of no little tact. Could you
not stir my lord up to looking more closely into this matter."

"I will think of it," said Bradshawe, anxious to open a more
interesting subject.

"Pray think of it speedily," said L'Isle. "There is no time to be
lost, and I must lose no time now. The sun has set, and I must be in
Olivenca by midnight."

"What will you do there?" asked Bradshawe.

"Bait my horses on my way into Andalusia," answered L'Isle, riding off
at full gallop, leaving Bradshawe much provoked at his slipping out of
his hands before he could put him to the question.


  Who cannot be crushed with a plot?

                    All is Well that Ends Well.

Sir Rowland Hill had sent L'Isle off to the southward, to ascertain
the strength and condition of the reserve of Spanish troops moving up
from Andalusia. One might think that these things could be better
learned from the official reports of the _Conde d'Abispal_ and the
officers under him. But from the Prince of Parma's day to this,
Spanish officers in reporting the number and condition of their
commands, have made it a rule to state what they ought to be, not what
they are, leaving all deficiencies to be found out on the day of
battle. Sir Rowland, knowing this, now made use of L'Isle, whose
knowledge of the Spanish language and character, and his acquaintance
with many officers of rank, enabled him to ascertain the truth without
betraying the object of his mission, or giving offence to these proud
and jealous allies. Ten days had gone by when he again rode into
Elvas, and in spite of the secrecy aimed at in military councils, many
symptoms indicated that the campaign was about to open.

It was high time for the brigade to leave this part of the
country. The soldiers were disgusted with the sluggish people around
them, keen and active only in their efforts to make money out of their
protectors. The Portuguese were exasperated at the insolence of their
allies, their frequent depredations and occasional acts of violence,
many of which went unpunished; for the English officers, always
professing the utmost readiness to punish the offences of their men,
were singularly scrupulous and exacting as to the conclusiveness of
the proofs of guilt.

Lord Strathern's lax discipline may have aggravated, but had not
caused the evil, which was felt throughout Portugal. The Regency,
while proving itself unable to govern the country, or reform a single
abuse, had shown its ability to harass their allies and embarrass the
general charged with the conduct of the war. "A narrow jealousy had
long ruled their conduct, and the spirit of captious discontent had
now reached the inferior magistracy, who endeavored to excite the
people against the military generally. Complaints came in from all
quarters, of outrages on the part of the troops, some too true, but
many of them false or frivolous; and when Wellington ordered
courts-martial for the trial of the accused, the magistrates refused
to attend as witnesses, because Portuguese custom rendered such
attendance degrading, and by Portuguese law a magistrate's written
testimony was efficient in courts-martial. Wellington in vain assured
them that English law would not suffer him to punish men on such
testimony; in vain he pointed out the mischief which must infallibly
overwhelm the country, if the soldiers discovered that they might thus
do evil with impunity. He offered to send, in each case, lists of
Portuguese witnesses required, that they might be summoned by the
native authorities; but nothing could overcome the obstinacy of the
magistrates; they answered that his method was insolent; and with
sullen malignity continued to accumulate charges against the troops,
to refuse attendance in the courts, and to call the soldiers, their
own as well as the British, 'licensed spoliators of the community.'"

"For a time the generous nature of the poor people resisted all these
combined causes of discontent, * * * * * yet by degrees the affection
for the British cooled, and Wellington expressed his fears that a
civil war would commence between the Portuguese people on the one
hand, and the troops of both nations on the other. Wherefore his
activity to draw all military strength to a head, and make such an
irruption into Spain, as would establish a new base of operations
beyond the power of such fatal dissensions."

Throughout the war this great captain's hardest tasks had been to
conciliate the jealous, vain-glorious Spaniard, to stimulate the
laggard suspicious Portuguese, to enlighten the invincible ignorance
of Regency and _Juntas_, in order to draw out and combine the
resources of both countries with the scanty means afforded him by his
own blundering government. He was required to do great things with
small means, without offending one tittle against the laws, customs
and prejudices of three dissimilar nations. He might toil, fret and
fume, wearing himself to the bone, but could never get rid of this
task of making ropes out of sea-sand. So much as to the state of the
country. Let us return to our story.

L'Isle reached Elvas early in the day, and resolved to reward himself
for his labors, by paying a visit to Lady Mabel; then after a
conference with Lord Strathern, to sit down and write his report to
Sir Rowland, on the state of the Andalusian reserve. He knew that Sir
Rowland looked for a precise and pithy statement, and L'Isle mean this
to be a model for all such communications. But fate may mar the wisest

He found Lady Mabel and Mrs. Shortridge together, and soon perceived
that the latter lady's head was full of an entertainment she was about
to give.

"The commissary has warned me," she said "that from henceforth he will
be ever on the move--that he must break up his household here, and
send off his heavy baggage to Lisbon. In this he very politely
includes his wife."

"I am truly sorry to hear it," said L'Isle, "but confess that first
among a soldier's _impedimenta_ must be reckoned his wife."

"I did not look for so blunt an assent to the commissary's opinion
from you," said Mrs. Shortridge, somewhat nettled; "however, I am to
go, and as many of the good folks of Elvas have been as polite to me
as they know how, I wish to show my sense of it in parting. I have
invited all my Portuguese friends, with a good sprinkling of red coats
to meet them. I have put myself to infinite trouble and no little
expense, meaning to have a grand evening, combining _turtulia_,
concert and ball. I would show these people something of society and
life, then vanish from Elvas in a blaze of glory. Now, as the rarest
treat that I could offer, I had promised my guests that they should
hear Lady Mabel in all her glorious richness of voice; and now she is
seized with a sudden fit of modesty, and protests against being
exhibited before a motly crowd like an opera singer."

Lady Mabel's reluctance was not feigned; and when Mrs. Shortridge
called on L'Isle for assistance in overcoming it, he felt some
scruples at lending his aid. But her companion and friend was about to
leave her; it was painful to refuse her a favor on which she plainly
laid great stress. Friendship and flattery at length prevailed, and
Lady Mabel promised to do her utmost to charm the ears of the natives,
on condition that L'Isle should be at hand as her interpreter, and say
to them for her a dozen polite and half as many witty things for every
song she sang, in order that these foreigners might not mistake her
for a mere singer.

L'Isle pledged himself to be at her beck throughout the evening, and
to furnish wit and politeness without stint. This obstacle overcome,
Mrs. Shortridge was delighted, and talked gaily of her arrangements
and anticipations for the appointed night. L'Isle entering into her
humor, busied himself in drawing out a programme for Lady Mabel's
performance, and after turning over all the music at hand, made a list
of songs long enough to have cracked her voice forever. It was late
when he suddenly remembered that he had occasion to see Lord
Strathern, and he tore himself away to seek him.

L'Isle found his lordship in the business room of his quarters, and
quite at leisure, although seated by a table on which lay sundry
papers in no business like order. Most of them were despatches,
returns and other military documents. But among them was a goodly pile
of communications from the _Juiz de fora_ of more than one neighboring
_comarca_, written in eloquent but denunciatory Portuguese, being, in
truth, philippics aimed at sundry individuals or parties, belonging to
his command.

The old soldier had not treated them with absolute neglect. After
having the first two or three duly translated to him, and making
himself familiar with the tenor of this kind of document, he had
prepared a concise form of reply: regretting that any of his Majesty's
soldiers should be guilty of any act of violence, depredation or
impropriety in the country of their friends and allies, and proposing
that the accusers should come forward and prove the charges before a
court-martial, according to British laws. A copy of this stereotyped
answer, turned into good Portuguese, was always at hand to be
dispatched in reply to each new complaint, as soon as it reached
headquarters. Thus the correspondence cost little trouble there, for
Lord Strathern had an easy-going philosophy, which, like an ambling
pad, carried him smoothly over the rough and intricate path of
diplomacy, policy, and military exigencies. He knew it was impossible
to give perfect satisfaction to the Portuguese, and unlike his
commander, he eschewed all such attempts to make ropes out of

L'Isle's entrance roused Lord Strathern from a pleasant reverie over
his cigar.

"Why, L'Isle! are you back again? You certainly have the gift of
appearing just when you are wanted. Is not that the case with a
character called Mephistophiles?"

"Yes, my lord; but he is a devil," said L'Isle, drily.

"I beg your pardon. I did not mean to make an unsavory comparison. But
here is another billetdoux from Sir Rowland awaiting you."

L'Isle, taking the dispatch handed to him, broke the seal and read it
deliberately, then said: "Does Sir Rowland think I keep an extra stud
of horses, to do the riding that properly belongs to his own staff?"

"Why, where is he sending you now?"

"To Badajoz, on an errand similar to that on which I went into

"To Badajoz? That is no distance at all; at least nothing to grumble
at," said Lord Strathern. "You are growing lazy, L'Isle. Why Mabel
would ride that far after a rare flower. Just think you are chasing a
fox, who takes the high road, and never doubles once between this and

"That would be a fox of a new breed," suggested L'Isle.

"I confess," said his lordship, "I never started one of the kind. But
Sir Rowland's staff have their hands full just now. To lighten their
labors, I have had to furnish more than one officer for special
duties. You surely would not have Sir Rowland send an aid all the way
from _Coria_, merely to see if those Spanish fellows in Badajoz are in
a state to march without disbanding, or without plundering the country
as they move through it!"

"Talking of marauding, my lord," said L'Isle; "I wish the taste for
that diversion was confined to our Spanish friends. It is becoming
every day more necessary to check the excesses of our own people. We
cannot send out a party into the country around, but on their return
they are dogged at the heels by complaints and accusations. When we
march hence, we shall leave a villainous name behind us."

"Oh, we will never come back here again," said Lord Strathern,
carelessly. "Moreover, two-thirds of these complaints are groundless,
and the rest grossly exaggerated."

"The sacking of the farmer's house on the border needed no
exaggeration," said L'Isle.

"I tell you that was done by the Spaniards," exclaimed Lord Strathern.

"Yet worse cases than that have occurred, and gone unpunished," urged

"Because they never could prove the charge, and point out the
culprits," replied his lordship. "The country is full of
_rateros_. They commit the crimes and our fellows bear the blame."

"That is often true; but I have met with one little case in which the
offenders can be pointed out."

"Well, let me hear it," said Lord Strathern, leaning back in his
chair, as if compelled to listen, but anxious to be rid of the

"I stopped for a while on my way back," said L'Isle, "at a little
venda on this side of _Juramenha_. The people of the house were shy
and sullen. I had to ask many questions before I could induce them to
speak freely, but at length out came a charge against some of our
people. Three nights ago five of our men had come to the house, and,
calling for wine, sat down to drink. They soon became riotous, and
their conduct so insulting to the man's wife and daughters, that they
ran away to hide themselves. When he required them to pay the
reckoning and quit the house, they promised most liberal payment, and
seizing, bound him to a post in his own stable, where they gave him
fifty lashes with a leathern strap, valuing the stripes at a _vintem_

"The witty rascals," said Lord Strathern; "I would like to repay them
in their own coin."

"Moreover," continued L'Isle, "on the man's son making some resistance
to their treatment of his father, they bound the boy, too, and gave
him a dozen _vintems_' worth of the strap for pocket money."

"The liberal rascals!" said Lord Strathern; "they deserve a handsome
profit on their outlay. But how do you know, L'Isle, that this story
is true?"

"There is no mistake about the flogging," exclaimed L'Isle. "They used
the buckle end of the strap, and, I myself saw the marks, some not yet
scarred over."

"That silent witness may prove a good deal; I cannot call it
tongueless," said his lordship, "for I suppose the buckle had a

"I can vouch for that by the mark it left behind," said L'Isle. "Both
father and son swore that they would know the fellows among a
thousand. But the man dare not come to Elvas to search them out, as
the scamps promised faithfully to make sausage meat of him should he
venture near the town."

"If the cowardly rascal will not come forward and lodge a complaint,"
said Lord Strathern, "what the devil can we do?"

"We can bring him here and protect him," said L'Isle, "while he hunts
out the culprits. If necessary, I will take him before my regiment,
and let him look every man in the face, to see if he can identify the
offenders in the ranks; and so with other regiments."

"What! muster the whole brigade for such a poltroon to inspect them!"
exclaimed Lord Strathern. "What are you dreaming of, L'Isle? It would
be offering a bounty for accusations against the men. Half these
rascals would swear away a man's life for a _crusado_."

"Perhaps so, my lord. But by cross-questions and examining them apart,
the truth may be wrung from even lying witnesses."

"Impossible, with these people; the truth is not in them. Come,
L'Isle, no one knows better than you, who are so much in Sir Rowland's
councils, that we are on the point of moving from this part of the
country. The little disorders that have occurred here, can be followed
by no ill consequences."

"We carry the worse consequences with us," said L'Isle,
pertinaciously. "Little disorders, my lord! The peasantry round Elvas
do not talk of them so. They say that their property is plundered,
their women insulted, and themselves at constant risk in life and

"What! do the rascals talk of us in that way? even while we are
protecting them," exclaimed Lord Strathern, springing from his chair.
"We have spent more money among them than their beggarly country is
worth in fee simple; and they are no more thankful than if we had
occupied it as enemies. I wish they had among them again, for a few
weeks, that one-handed _Loison_ with his cut-throat bands, or pious
_Junot_, who loved church plate so well."

"It is bad enough to be robbed by their enemies, they say," suggested
L'Isle, "but they did not expect it from their friends."

"Pooh," said Lord Strathern, "the Portuguese, of all people, ought to
know what real military license is. The French taught them that. As
for our fellows, what if they do at times drink a little more wine
than they pay for, or even take a lamb or kid from the flocks they
protect, or kiss a wench before she has consented; is that any thing
to make a hubbub about? The lads should be paid for drinking their
muddy _vinho verde_, and as for the girls, all the trouble comes of
their ignorance of our tongue, so that they have to be talked to by

"You must be jesting, my lord. To overlook small offences is to
license greater."

"I license none; I punish whatever is clearly proved, but will not
play grand Inquisitor, and hunt out every little peccadillo. With your
notions, L'Isle, you would bring the men to confession every morning
and make the service worse than purgatory. Must I answer for it if a
girl squeaks out, half in jest, and half in earnest?"

L'Isle was provoked to see that Lord Strathern was laughing at him,
and said, earnestly, "You cannot have forgotten, my lord, the state of
the army at the end of the campaign. Little has yet been done to bring
this brigade up to the mark, and little will be achieved by it in the
coming campaign in its present state. Now is the time to check the
licentious spirit by making some severe examples."

"I will do no such thing," said Lord Strathern, coolly. "The occasion
does not call for it. We will be in the field shortly, and want all
the bayonets we can muster. The brigade is too weak to spare men from
the ranks to put into irons."

"I did not suppose," said L'Isle, "that the warning my Lord Wellington
gave us not long since, would be so soon forgotten."

L'Isle alluded to the circular letter Wellington had addressed to his
subordinates, at the end of the campaign, in which he had politely
dubbed half of his officers idlers, whose habitual neglect of duty
suffered their commands to run into ruffianism. Perhaps their
commander was suffering under a fit of indigestion when he wrote it.
It certainly caused a general heartburning among his officers. Lord
Strathern, among others, had found it hard to digest, and now angrily
denounced it unjust.

"Well, my lord," said L'Isle, with more zeal than discretion, "by the
end of the campaign our men may be in a state to be improved by a
touch of discipline from _Julian Sanchez_ or _Carlos d'Espana_, unless
they reject them as too much like banditti!"

"And I am captain of the banditti!" exclaimed Lord Strathern, in a
sudden rage. "As you do not _yet_ command the brigade, let me beg you,
sir, to go and look after your own people, and keep them up to the
mark, lest they become banditti!"

"I always obey orders, my lord," said L'Isle, with suddenly assumed
composure; "I will go and look after my own regiment, and let the rest
of the brigade march"--

"Where, sir?" thundered Lord Strathern.

"Their own road," L'Isle answered, and bowed himself out of the
room. He walked sedately through the long corridor that led to the
entrance of this monastic house, then, yielding to some violent
impulse, sprang into his saddle, and plunging his spurs into his
horse's flanks, dashed out of the court and through the olive grounds
at a killing pace. His astonished groom stared at him for a moment,
then followed with emulous speed. As L'Isle turned suddenly into the
high road, a voice called out: "Don't ride me down; I'm no Frenchman!"
and he saw Colonel Bradshawe quickly but coolly press his ambling cob
close to the hedge, to avoid his charge.

"You seem to be in a hurry, L'Isle. Hallo! here is another!" said the
colonel, giving his horse another dexterous turn, to shun the onset of
the groom. "What news has come? Or have you joined the dragoons? Or
are you merely running a race with your man here?"

"Neither, sir," said L'Isle, who had pulled up and turned to speak to
his comrade. His flashing eye and excited manner, his thoroughbred
steed, chafing on the bit and pawing the ground, were in striking
contrast with the unruffled Bradshawe on his sleek cob, whose temper
was as smooth as his coat.

"The fact is," said L'Isle, in what was meant for an explanatory tone,
"I have just had a serious conversation with Lord Strathern--"

"Which grew quite animated before it came to an end," interjected
Bradshawe, coolly.

"In which I took the liberty of expressing my opinion," continued

"Rather strongly on the subject of discipline, military license, and
the articles of war," interjected Bradshawe again.

"You are happy in your surmises, sir," said L'Isle, stiffly; for
Bradshawe's imperturbable manner chafed him much in his present mood.

"Surmises! my dear fellow. Do I not know your opinions and my lord's?
You believe the rules and regulations were made to be enforced _ad
literam_, and he thinks they are to be hung up _in terrorem_. My
lord," added Bradshawe, in a calm, judicial tone, "is the more
mistaken of the two."

"Since you so far agree with me," said L'Isle, "would it not be well
for you to remind his lordship that it is time to enforce some of the
rules and regulations for the government of his Majesty's troops, if
he would have his brigade consist of soldiers, and not of robbers."

"It is very desirable to keep up the distinction between the two
professions," said Bradshawe. "One has a strong tendency to slide into
the other. Pray, tell me what arguments you have been using with my

L'Isle, with an effort at calmness, repeated the substance of the late
conversation, much to Bradshawe's amusement; for in him a genuine love
of mischief rivaled his epicurean tastes.

"On one point, my lord had the advantage of you," said Bradshawe. "It
is his privilege to bid you look after your regiment; not yours to bid
him look after his brigade."

"True," said L'Isle, bitterly. "But as you, though my senior, are not
my commander, I trust there is no insubordination in my telling you
that the brigade is left to look after itself, and is going to the
devil as fast as it can."

"As individuals," said Bradshawe, "that is the probable destination of
most of us."

"We will have to get Julian Sanchez, or the Empecinado, or some other
guerilla chief, to undertake its reformation," continued L'Isle, in
great heat. "I forgot to suggest to my lord, that before we march
away, we ought to levy a contribution, as a bounty for the blessings
we bestow on the neighborhood in leaving it."

"A capital idea," said Bradshawe, "but by no means original. The
French always do so when they change their cantonments; that is, if
there be any thing left in the country around. If our hands were not
tied, we might yet learn some clever arts from Monsieur. Junot's
system was to drive up all the farm cattle of the neighborhood just
before he marched off; then allow them to be redeemed at a low cash
price. He found it a capital way to extract the last hidden crusado."

"You have mastered the enemy's system thoroughly," said L'Isle, with a
sneer. "But as our hands are tied, we cannot imitate them. Perhaps it
would better become your position in the brigade, for you to try and
rouse his lordship to the necessity of checking the license that is
growing daily."

"I would gladly do so," said Bradshawe; "but being no Oxford logician,
have not your irresistible power of convincing him. You have handled
the matter so fully and ably, that I need only repeat faithfully every
word you have said. You may depend upon me for that." And, turning
his horse, he rode gently off toward headquarters, while L'Isle
galloped up the hill to Elvas.

Bradshawe found Lord Strathern in as great a rage as the comrade he
had just parted with; so he amused himself with drawing out from his
lordship a recital of their late conversation, which he repaid with a
sketch of L'Isle's roadside conference with himself. The old soldier
was only the more provoked on finding that, freely as L'Isle had
spoken, he could hardly charge him with insubordination, or twist his
hot arguments into a personal insult. Soothing and chafing him by
turns, Bradshawe did not permit the subject to drop until they were
interrupted by a courier with despatches.

"What is all this! Post upon post! There must be some thing in the
wind!" said my lord, as he broke the seal, which was Sir Rowland

"Our pleasant winter here is over," said Bradshawe, with a sigh. "We
will be moving shortly, and then hot marches and cold meals, sour wine
and bad quarters, or no quarters at all, will be the order of the
day. I trust we shall move through a more plentiful country than we
did last year."

"It has not quite come to that yet," said Lord Strathern. "Here is an
order for me to meet Sir Rowland at Alcantara, at ten, the day after
to-morrow. I am to take you and Conway with me, for he has special
instructions for you both. And here is an order for that modest fellow
L'Isle to attend and report the state of the Andalusian reserve. I
expect Conway to dinner. You had better stay and meet him."

In due time Major Conway appeared, and dinner was announced. Mrs.
Shortridge had gone home, so that only two guests sat down with Lady
Mabel and her father. No man made himself more agreeable in his own
house and at his own table than Lord Strathern usually did, for
hospitality was with him an article of religion. But to-day my lord
was not in a religious frame of mind. He was moody and silent, or
growled at his servants, and gave short answers to his guests; so that
Major Conway, after sundry attempts to engage him in conversation,
gave it up, and joined Bradshawe in his efforts to entertain Lady
Mabel. At length the cloth was removed, the servants withdrew, and the
gentlemen sat over their wine; yet Lady Mabel, not trained to a nice
observance of little conventionalities, lingered there, watching her
father's moody brow.

"So L'Isle has got back," said Major Conway.

"The impudent coxcomb!" exclaimed Lord Strathern.

Conway started. But Lady Mabel started as if a snake had bitten
her. She said nothing, however; perhaps she could not had she
tried. But Conway exclaimed: "My lord, perhaps I did not hear you

"You did Major Conway. I say that L'Isle is an impudent coxcomb. The
most presumptuous fellow I know. I will find or make an occasion to
give him a lesson he much needs."

"Why, my lord, what has L'Isle done?" asked the Major.

"Done!" said Lord Strathern angrily. "He has said a great deal more
than I will tolerate." And, having broached the subject, he told the
story of L'Isle's interview with himself, and his remarks to
Bradshawe, pronouncing his whole conduct presumptuous and impertinent.
Losing his temper more and more, he exclaimed: "Sir Rowland's absurd
partiality has spoiled the fellow utterly!"

"Sir Rowland must not bear all the blame," said Bradshawe,
interposing; then added slyly: "No wonder L'Isle's head is turned,
considering who all have helped to spoil him."

"So they have; and you have spoiled him more than any one else,"
exclaimed Lord Strathern turning suddenly on Lady Mabel. "I hear of
nobody but Colonel L'Isle. This Colonel of yours has been growing more
and more intolerable--

"My Colonel, papa? I assure you I lay no claim to him," said Lady
Mabel, hastily disclaiming all interest in poor L'Isle.

"Why do you have him so much about you, then, and quote him so often?"

"Why, my lord," said Bradshawe, again interposing, "Lady Mabel cannot
but see and hear much of L'Isle, while she sees so much of Mrs.
Shortridge, their mutual friend."

Lady Mabel was truly thankful for this diversion. It gave her one
moment to think, and that was enough. In her father's present mood,
L'Isle could not escape gross insult at their next meeting. She felt
that the best way to molify his anger was to take up his quarrel
vigorously herself. So, warming herself into a fit of indignation
becoming the occasion, she exclaimed: "It is no fault of mine that I
see so much of Colonel L'Isle. Why do you make him so often your
guest? As Colonel Bradshawe says, I have no fit companion here but
Mrs. Shortridge, and he is often with her. As to his presumption, it
is not so new to me as you suppose. I have often laughed at him for
his vanity in thinking that nobody can do anything as well as
himself. I have had to check him before this for presuming to find
fault with your management of the brigade; but did not imagine he
would have the impertinence to insinuate to your face that he could
command it better than you do."

"By Jove!" exclaimed Lord Strathern, "indirectly, he as good as told
me so."

"So it seems," said Lady Mabel indignantly. "I am your daughter, and
resent such boyish impertinence more even than you do. I will take the
earliest opportunity to express to him my opinion on that point most

Bradshawe was discreetly silent, drinking in every word. He did not
actually hate L'Isle; he liked Lady Mabel well; but he loved the
mischief a-brewing, and watched her game, for he saw plainly that she
was playing one. Conway sat wondering what all this would lead to,
anxious, yet afraid, to say a word in extenuation of poor L'Isle's

"By the bye," exclaimed Lady Mabel, "I have promised Mrs. Shortridge
my utmost aid in entertaining her guests to-morrow night; and the
better to enable me to give it, Colonel L'Isle is pledged to be in
constant attendance as my interpreter. I must write at once, and let
him know that I shall dispense with his services."

"Write to the fellow at once," growled Lord Strathern, "and do not let
him misunderstand the tenor of your note."

"But he has gone to Badajoz," said Bradshawe. "Still, if he has an
appointment with you, Lady Mabel, he will assuredly be back in time."

"But, my lord," said Major Conway, "you have an order for him to
attend Sir Rowland, at Alcantara the morning after, so that he would
have to give up the pleasure of waiting on Lady Mabel at Mrs.
Shortridge's, even though she did not discard him in this summary

"Then Mabel shall summon him to attend her, according to promise, in
spite of Sir Rowland's order!" thundered Lord Strathern, with all the
perverseness of an angry man.

"But suppose he pleads Sir Rowland's order in excuse," urged Conway.

"It shall not serve him. Mabel shall treat it as a fresh piece of
impertinence, and cut him forever."

"Suppose he attends Lady Mabel, and neglects Sir Rowland?"

"Then Sir Rowland shall know how lightly he holds his orders."

"That is being very hard upon L'Isle," said Conway.

"Not as hard as he deserves," said Lord Strathern with a bitter laugh.

"It is probably very important," urged Conway, "that Sir Rowland
should know at once the real state of this Andalusian reserve. Much
may depend upon it."

"Tut," said Lord Strathern contemptuously. "What matters L'Isle's
being able to tell him whether or not they look like soldiers? If you
had been long in Spain, you would have known that the fighting has to
be done by us."

"O yes," said Bradshawe. "Whatever they may do on parade, the fighting
always falls to our lot."

Lady Mabel had listened to this dialogue with intense interest, and no
little confusion of mind. She was very angry with L'Isle, and that
perhaps made her feel how important he had become to her. She was not
quite prepared to cut his acquaintance, and turn her back on him
forever, and now thought she saw her way through the difficulty.

"You are driving my friend L'Isle to the wall," said Major Conway. "I
know him to be a _gallant_ man; but however painful the sacrifice may
be to him, I think he will feel compelled to waive his engagement with
Lady Mabel, and wait on Sir Rowland Hill."

"Let him, if he dare," said Lady Mabel, with an emphatic stamp of her

"I applaud your spirit, Lady Mabel," said Bradshawe mischievously. "It
is lucky for L'Isle that the Stewarts of Strathern are not now
represented by a son. As it is, L'Isle will have to make his
submission with the best grace he can."

"I trust Lady Mabel will accept it in some other shape than slighting
Sir Rowland's order," said Conway. "L'Isle will not do that."

"That, and nothing else," said Lady Mabel resolutely--almost
angrily. "I hold myself to be quite as good as Sir Rowland, and the
first appointment was with me."

"Sir Rowland will have to yield precedence to you, Lady Mabel," said
Bradshawe. "If L'Isle knows the penalty, he will have to attend on

"Begging Lady Mabel's pardon," said Conway, "L'Isle will do no such

"Conway," said Lord Strathern, with a sneer, "this punctilious friend
of yours is very exacting--toward other people. But I will bet you
fifty guineas that he keeps Sir Rowland waiting for news of a batch of
ragamuffins not worth hearing about."

"My funds are rather low just now," said Conway, "to hazard fifty
guineas on a bet."

"I thought you would not back him but in words," said Lord Strathern,
in a contemptuous tone.

"Nay," said Conway, stung by his manner, "I know that where duty is
concerned, L'Isle is a punctilious man. To obey every order to the
letter and the second, is a point of honor with him, and I will risk
my money upon him."

"Done," said Lord Strathern; "and now, Mabel, use your wits to keep
the fellow here, and make a fool of him; and I will expose and laugh
at him, as he deserves, at Alcantara."

"But this is a regular plot against poor L'Isle," objected Conway.

"Plot or no plot, it is understood that you give him no hint," said
Lord Strathern.

"Certainly not," exclaimed Bradshawe, rubbing his hands together.
"Conway, you must not blab."

"I suppose I must not," said Conway, with a very grave face, chiefly
for L'Isle, but partly for his fifty guineas. "But this is a serious
matter. It may be of vital importance for Sir Rowland to know at once
if the Andalusian reserve"--

"The Andalusian reserve," said Lord Strathern, interrupting him, "will
never let themselves be food for powder."

Lady Mabel now slipped out of the room, to hide her confusion and
anxiety; and Major Conway, finding my lord not in a mood to please or
be pleased, soon took leave, followed by Bradshawe in high glee,
though he suppressed the outward signs of it until he had turned his
back upon the hospitable mansion.


  "Here on the clear, cold Ezla's breezy side,
   My hand amidst her ringlets wont to rove;
   She proffered now the lock, and now denied--
   With all the baby playfulness of love.

  "Here the false maid, with many an artful tear,
   Made me each rising thought of doubt discover;
   And vowed and wept till hope had ceased to fear--
   Ah me! beguiling, like a child, her lover."

                             Southey, _from the Spanish_.

Lord Strathern's anger was not unlike a thunderstorm, violent and
loud, but not very lasting. It had spent its worst fury last night;
but Lady Mabel still heard the occasional rumbling of the thunder in
the morning, while seated, with her father, at an unusually early
breakfast; for he had before him no short day's journey over the rough
country between Elvas and Alcantara. Sleep may have dulled the edge of
his anger against L'Isle, but he had not yet forgotten or forgiven
him. As he kissed his daughter before he mounted his horse--for she
had followed him into the court--he said: "Do not forget that fellow
L'Isle, Mabel; keep him here, and make a fool of him, and I will
expose and laugh at him to-morrow in Alcantara."

Now, Lady Mabel had forgotten neither L'Isle, nor his offences. She
was indignant at his presumptuous censure of her father, as unjust and
disrespectful to him, and showing too little consideration for
herself. In short, it was, as Colonel Bradshawe had insinuated, an
indignity to the whole house of Stewart of Strathern. It must be
resented. Yet she could not resolve to turn her back upon him, and
discard him altogether, as she was pledged to do, as one
alternative. She thought it a far fitter punishment to compel him to
keep his appointment with her, and make Sir Rowland wait, fretting and
fuming for the intelligence he longed for, and which L'Isle alone
could give him. She reveled in the idea of making L'Isle turn his back
on military duty to obey her behest:

  "How she would make him fawn, and beg and seek,
   And wait the season and observe the times,
   And spend his prodigal wit in bootless rhymes."

But then L'Isle was so punctilious on points of duty, and Major Conway
had been so confident that she could not detain him in Elvas, that she
begun to doubt it herself, and resolved to spare no pains to gain her
end. So she at once sat down and penned an artful note; then calling
for her fine footman, dispatched him with it to L'Isle's quarters,
after schooling him well that he was to give it to the colonel's own
man, with strict injunctions to put it in his master's hand on his
return--if possible--before his foot was out of the stirrup;
certainly, before he got any other letter awaiting him.

Meanwhile, L'Isle was zealously fulfilling his mission at Badajoz. He
had made such good speed the evening before, that though the sun had
set on him in Elvas, some lingering rays of twilight still fell on the
round Moorish tower of white marble, on either hand, as he entered the
bridge-gate of Badajoz.

No sooner had he alighted at the posada, than he wrote a note, and
sent it to the governor of the place, saying, that having just come
back from Andalusia, whither he had been sent on an important mission
by Sir Rowland Hill, and not doubting that the Spanish dignitary would
be glad of news from that province, he would wait on him at breakfast
next morning. This done, and learning that many of the Spanish
officers were to be found at another posada, he hastened thither, soon
meeting acquaintances--and making more--among them. He knew well how
to approach the Spaniard, mingling the utmost consideration with his
frank address, and taking pains to make himself agreeable, even to
that puppy, Don Alonso Melendez, whom he found among them. Many of
them were at cards, and the dice were not idle. L'Isle soon found a
place among the gamesters, and took care to lose a few pieces to more
than one of his new friends; a thing easily done, they being in high
practice, and he little skilled in these arts. Having thus made
himself one of them, he, like a true Englishman, set to drinking,
contrived to get about him some of the graver and less busy of the
gentlemen present, and, while discussing with them the best wine the
house afforded, he adroitly turned the conversation to the topics on
which he sought information. He did not go to bed, at a late hour,
without having learned much as to the garrison of Badajoz, and of the
few precautions taken for the safety of this important fortress.

Early in the morning, L'Isle called on the governor, and found him in
his dressing-gown, just ready for his chocolate. The Don was well
pleased to hear L'Isle's account of the force coming up from
Andalusia, of his interviews with officers high in command in it, and
his comments on the spirit, activity, and endurance of the Spanish
soldier. This led to further conversation, in which L'Isle, while
sipping chocolate with the Spaniard, took occasion to abuse the French
roundly, which was agreeable enough to his host; but he quite won his
heart by the unfeigned contempt and abhorrence he expressed for the

L'Isle soon found that, in spite of his unsoldierly undress, the Don
was a sturdy old fellow, who chafed at being shut up in a garrison,
surrounded by defensive walls and moats. He longed to take the field
and become the assailant.

"I trust we will all be in the field shortly," said L'Isle, echoing
his sentiment. "But we have wily foes to deal with. All their great
successes have been won by surprise, aided by traitors among us. They
are now evidently anxious to anticipate us, and if we delay long,
there is no knowing where the first blow may fall. I wonder," said he,
with a puzzled look, "why they keep so large a force at Trujillo, and
have such strong detachments foraging on this side the mountains of
Toledo? A few marches may unite then near us."

"Do you suppose that they are thinking of Badajoz?" asked the
Spaniard, looking as if L'Isle had seized him by the shoulders, and
roughly waked him up.

"Marshal Soult has an eye this way, and would give more than his
little finger to have it again," said L'Isle; "for nothing would cramp
our movements more than the loss of it. They have now, indeed, little
chance of success, we know," he added, bowing to the governor, "but
may think it worth trying. Their leaders think nothing of risking the
loss of a thousand men or so, on the slenderest chance of a great
prize. The conscription fills up all these gaps."

"No doubt; no doubt. But we will watch the rascals closely," said the

"I dare say," said L'Isle laughing, "you have a spy or two in
Trujillo, besides the lynx-eyed, keen-eared scouts you keep on the
roads, and in the villages around you."

"We get intelligence--we get intelligence," said the Spaniard
evasively. "But as the French are now moving, it will be well to
bestir ourselves, to find out what they are at."

These, and other hints, that L'Isle threw out--not as advice, but
inquiries and chance suggestions, being mingled with deferential
attention to all the Spaniard had to say--neither startled his vanity,
nor chafed his pride. He was pleased with L'Isle, talked frankly to
him, and presented him ceremoniously to his officers, who now began to
wait upon him. When L'Isle was about to take his leave, he urged him
to return to dinner, and charged a favorite officer to show L'Isle
everything he wished to see in Badajos, that he might be enabled to
report the condition of this stronghold to Sir Rowland Hill.

"I must communicate with Sir Rowland so speedily," said L'Isle, "that
I must be content with the pleasure of having breakfasted with your
Excellency;" and with marked respect he took leave of the governor and
his suite, having been treated--in diplomatic phrase--with
"distinguished consideration." Indeed, had Sir Rowland seen and heard
him during his audience, he would have patted him on the back, and
thanked his stars for giving him so able and adroit an ambassador.
Were it possible to become wise by the wisdom of another, Badajos
would have had a watchful governor. Prolonged watching is no easy
task, but L'Isle knew that if the Spaniard could be roused to a week
of vigilance, the urgent need of it would be over.

He spent an industrious morning, making himself agreeable to his
companion, while inspecting the resources of the place, and the day
was well worn away when his guide and escort took leave of him at the
posada. His business here finished, he wished to leave Badajoz at
once; and on looking for his groom, found him ensconced in the
kitchen, providently dining on a rabbit, stuffed with olives, and
draining a bottle of wine, baptized _Valdepenas_--addressing the
landlord's tawny daughter with a flattering air, and smacking his lips
approvingly, after each mouthful, whether solid or fluid, while he
abused both food and wine in emphatic English, throwing in many
back-handed compliments to the lady's beauty, and she stood simpering
by, construing his words by his manner.

On seeing his master enter hastily, Tom, who had laid in all the wine,
and most of the food set before him, got up respectfully to receive
his orders; while with a full mouth he mumbled out: "Prayer and
provender hinder no man's journey."

"You abridge the proverb in practice," said L'Isle, "leaving out the
prayer to gain time to take care of the provender." Then sitting down
at the table, he took out a paper and began to note down what he had
observed in Badajoz. "There is nothing very tempting here," said he
presently, glancing his eye over Tom's scanty leavings, "but a
luncheon will not be amiss; so I will take what I can find, while you
saddle the horses."

It was late in the day when L'Isle left Badajoz; but instead of
posting back to Elvas, as he had come from it, he rode slowly on,
sometimes lost in thought, at times gazing on the scene around him.
Many objects along the road brought vividly back to him the incidents
of that pleasant excursion, so lately taken in company with Lady
Mabel. Here she had turned her horse aside for a moment, to pluck some
blossoms from this carob-tree, which stands alone on the sandy plain
around it; here, on the bank of the Cayo, was the spot where she had
pressed so close up beside him for protection, in the dark, on the
first alarm of danger before them; there stood the old watch-tower,
which they had examined together with interest, speculating on its
history, lost in by-gone ages; crossing the stream here, further on,
were the prints of her horses hoofs on the steep, pebbly bank, as she
had turned suddenly from the road, to ride up to the mysterious old

Were these pleasant days over? L'Isle knew that Lord Strathern had
taken violent, perhaps lasting offence at his strictures; and he
himself was too indignant at the summary way in which his commander
had cut short his protest, and dismissed him and the subject, for him
to make any conciliatory advances. Knowing, too, Lady Mabel's devotion
to her father, and her tenacity where his character and dignity were
concerned, there was no saying how much she might resent L'Isle's
offence, when it came to her knowledge. He could hardly, just now at
least, frequent headquarters on his former footing.

He was so much engrossed by these unpleasant thoughts, that it was in
vain officious Tom several times rode up close upon him, making his
own horse curvet and caper, hoping to attract his master's attention,
and remind him that he was loitering on the road long after his dinner
hour. L'Isle went on at a foot-pace up the hill of Elvas, until, from
a neighboring hedge, a nightingale, for whose ditty the hours of
darkness were too short, began his plaintive song. Many a time had
L'Isle paused to listen to such minstrelsey; but now his ear, or
something else, was out of tune:

  "Except I be with Silvia in the night,
   There is no music in the nightingale."

Rousing himself, he cantered through the gate, and hastened to his

Now, it was some time since L'Isle's servants had picked up the
notion, that in no way could they please him half so well as by
obeying the slightest hint from Lady Mabel. So his man came promptly
out, armed with her note, and thrust it into his hand before he had
left the saddle. Entering his quarters hastily, he broke it open, and
read it with infinite satisfaction.

(Lady Mabel Stewart sends her compliments to Col. L'Isle. She has a
presentment that her pleasant sojourn in Elvas draws to its end. Like
Mrs. Shortridge, she is ambitious to leave among her Portuguese
friends, the most favorable recollection of herself. So to-night she
will spare no pains, but will dress, look, sing and act her best, and
be as agreeable as she can to the natives at Mrs. Shortridge's house.
She relies, confidently, on Col. L'Isle's attending her as
interpreter, and saying a thousand witty and pleasant things in her
name. This, too, may be her last opportunity of thanking him for the
many, many delightful excursions enjoyed under his guidance and
protection. She may never repeat, but can never forget them!)

This note relieved L'Isle of a load of anxiety. It was plain that Lord
Strathern had gotten over his anger, and meant to have no quarrel with
him; or, more gratifying still, would not have the whole house of
Strathern involved in it, and so had given no hint of it to his
daughter. It was too the first note he had ever received from Lady
Mabel, and sportive as its tone was in the beginning, there was
something of feeling and even sadness in its close. L'Isle well knew,
while Lady Mabel had only chosen to assume it, that the time for
leaving Elvas was indeed at hand. Yet a few days, and a few things
were more uncertain than his again meeting Lady Mabel on this side of
the grave.

A few golden hours had yet to fleet by. Who would throw away a
happiness because it is fleeting? L'Isle had sunk into a delightful
reverie, anticipating the pleasures of the evening, when his man of
method laid before him the despatch from his other correspondent, Sir
Rowland Hill.

He read it hastily, and angrily threw it on the floor. He thought
himself an ill-used man! "Be in Alcantara by ten to-morrow! I will do
no such thing! I have been in the saddle for weeks. My horses are worn
out," (he chose to forget a fresh horse in the stable.) "Up late last
night and worried all day about affairs over which I have no control,
and fellows who will fail us at need. Sir Rowland must wait till
dinner time to-morrow for news of these dilatory Spaniards. If he has
to deal much more with them, it will be a useful lesson to learn to

He now went to his chamber to dress in order to attend Lady
Mabel. When he returned to his parlor, seeing Sir Rowland's insulted
despatch still lying on the floor, he condescended to pick it up and
stow it away in his pocket with his notes on the state of the
Andalusian reserve and the garrison of Badajoz, and then rode off in
the happiest mood to head-quarters. But when he dismounted there, his
conscience pricked him. An ambitious soldier, zealous in the cause for
which he fought, he, not long since, would have felt one moment's
forgetfulness, or the slightest neglect of the service, to be treason
against his own nature. He now turned back from the door to bid the
groom leave his own horse in Elvas, and take the fresh horse on to the
little town of Albuquerque, and expect him at the posada there before
the dawn of day. Having, by this provision for riding post, quieted
the compunctious visitings of conscience, he entered the house.

Lady Mabel kept him waiting some time, purposely, for delay was now
her policy. Soon, however, he heard her talking in the next room, and
the abrupt and crabbed tones of the voice which answered her, betrayed
Moodie in one of his objecting and protesting moods. Lady Mabel was
giving sundry injunctions to an unwilling agent. At length the old
Scotch grieve, like one of his own ill-conditioned steers, would
neither lead nor drive; for when she bid him to put the clock back an
hour, he flatly refused, calling it acting a lie, as the wily
Gibeonites did to Joshua.

"Or as Jacob and Rebecca did to blind old Isaac," Lady Mabel
suggested; but even the example of the patriarch could not move him,
and Lady Mabel had to make time move backward with her own hand.

At length she entered the room radiant with beauty and with smiles,
for Moodie's obstinacy had not ruffled her in the least. She was so
sorry to have kept Colonel L'Isle waiting, and so much afraid he would
have to wait a while longer, as the old Lisbon coach and the mules,
with their harness, were not put together so speedily, as the London
turn-out of a fashionable lady. "I am to blame," she continued, "for
not having looked to it before, for Antonio Lobo, my impromptu
postillion, is less skilled in the management of my vehicle, than of
the olive trees among which he has lived until he has taken the color
of their ripe fruit."

To fill up the time she now asked L'Isle's opinion of her dress,
seeing him eye it with some surprise. Turning gracefully about and
showing it off to him from different points of view, she told him
that, as a last compliment to her Elvas friends, she had, for once,
adopted their costume.

"Improved upon it, rather," said L'Isle, for she had not closely
followed the local costume where it did not please her. Then running
on, from one lively topic to another, she amused L'Isle so
successfully that he felt it to be an interruption when the footman
came in to say that the coach was ready. After depositing her guitar
in state, on a pile of music, on the front seat, L'Isle at length
found himself beside Lady Mabel in this venerable vehicle, long used
to bear a noble burden, having belonged to a Portuguese Marquis, who
on the first approach of Junot's invading horde, had run off to
Brazil, leaving his coach, his estate, his country, and perhaps his
honor behind him. Slow and dignified, as became its character, was its
progress up the hill of Elvas; for one pair of the team of mules which
had brought it from Lisbon, had returned to their duty in the
quartermaster's department, and their comrades, left to their own
unaided efforts, found the coach almost as hard to handle as a
nine-pounder. But in the dove-like, billing and cooing humor in which
L'Isle was, time flew on the wings of the carrier-pigeon, and they
arrived at Mrs. Shortridge's house too soon for him, though all the
guests, but themselves, were there already. Two or three score of
Portuguese, most of them ladies, and nearly as many English officers
filled the rooms.

Some of these gentlemen looked surprised at seeing L'Isle, thinking he
had already left Elvas. Lieutenant Goring, who was showing off his
tall lithe person and dragoon uniform to the best advantage, beside
his short and sturdy friend, Captain Hatton, seemed annoyed at
L'Isle's presence, and Hatton shared his feelings. L'Isle stood in the
way of their paying court to Lady Mabel, and Goring, at least, had
reckoned on his absence.

"I had hoped," said he, "that we were rid of the Colonel for once. He
is an abominable monopolist."

"He is so," said Hatton, "for Lady Mabel's smiles belong to the

"And the light dragoons quartered with it," interjected Goring. "But
here he is, basking in the sunshine, and keeping us shivering in the
shade, when he ought to be on the road to Alcantara. Sir Rowland is
expecting him. Major Conway seemed quite anxious that he should be
there betimes in the morning, and, doubtless, had some good reason for

"Why do you not give him a hint?" asked Hatton, "perhaps he has
forgotten it."

"He is your colonel, and the hint would come better from you."

"Thank you," said Hatton. "But in our regiment, it is contrary to the
etiquette to hint to the colonel that he is neglecting his duty."

"But it seems," said Goring, "that the rule does not apply to the
brigade. The major tells me that L'Isle has freely censured my lord's
remissness, and urged him to enforce more stringent discipline."

"How did my lord take it?"

"Like a slap in the face," answered Goring. "At least he treated it as
a great piece of presumption, and L'Isle was thoroughly angered at the
rough answer he got. Indeed, Conway thinks that there is nothing but
ill blood between them."

"That does not look much like it," said Hatton, glancing at Lady
Mabel, with L'Isle at her elbow.

"Let us go and beat about the bushes; we may start some thing worth

The two friends, looking like a greyhound and a bull-terrier coupled
together, proceeded to hunt in couple, by thrusting themselves into
the cluster of gentlemen around Lady Mabel. Hatton, with a little
start of admiring surprise, praised the taste displayed in her dress,
regretted her being so late in adopting it, it so became her. He
looked round, appealing to the bystanders, all of whom assented to his
opinion, except the discriminating Goring, who asserted that it was
not the costume which became Lady Mabel, but Lady Mabel who set off
the costume, and he carried the popular voice with him. "No head looks
so well under a Turk's turban as a Christian's," he continued, "and no
native could show off the national dress here like a genuine English
beauty." Lady Mabel had learned to listen complacently to the broadest
language of admiration.

There were handsome women present--for Elvas could boast its share of
beauty--but none to rival hers; the more conspicuous, too, from being
loveliness of a different type, and not likely to be overlooked among
the dumpy Portuguese ladies, few indeed of whom equaled her in
height. Lady Mabel would have been no woman had she not enjoyed the
admiration she excited; but she remembered the business of the night,
when Goring, bowing to L'Isle, spoke of the unexpected pleasure of
seeing him here.

At once interrupting him, she exclaimed: "It is probably the last time
we shall have the pleasure of meeting our friends of Elvas, so I at
least have come to devote myself exclusively to them. Do, Colonel
L'Isle, take pity on a dumb woman, and lend me a Portuguese tongue."
And gliding off among a party of the natives present, she entered into
conversation with them, calling continually on L'Isle to interlard her
complimentary scraps with more copious and better turned periods.

Mrs. Shortridge, too, kept her interpreter, the commissary, close at
her elbow, and the quantity of uncurrent Portuguese she made him utter
to her guests, in the course of the night, amounted to a wholesale
issue of the counterfeit coin of that tongue. From the assiduity of
both ladies in courting the natives, one might have thought that they
meant to settle at Elvas, or that they were rival candidates
canvassing the borough for votes.

It was a young and gay party assembled here, and Mrs. Shortridge's
floor was soon covered with dancers. In private houses the national
dances are often executed in a modified and less demonstrative style,
at least early in the evening, than elsewhere. Still the dancing in
Elvas and Badajoz were near neighbors to each other. But a change had
come over Mrs. Shortridge, and now she made no protest, and saw little
impropriety in displays which she had denounced a few days ago.
Fashion is the religion of half the world; the mode makes the morals,
and what it sanctions cannot be wrong. The commissary, not so easy a
convert, sneeringly remarked that the exhibition was very suitable to
ballet dancers and such folk, plainly classing most of his guests in
that category; while Lady Mabel, with bare-faced hypocrisy, glided
about among her foreign friends, lamenting that her English clumsiness
cut her off from taking her part in a diversion, and in the displays
of grace and feeling, which, she said, with double meaning, were
unbecoming any but women of the Latin races.

The night was hot, and dancing made it hotter. So Mrs. Shortridge
called upon Lady Mabel to fill up the interval of rest, and gratify
the expectations of their friends with some of her choicest songs.

But yesterday so large an audience would have abashed her; now she
scarcely saw the throng around her in her eagerness to gain her end by
prolonging the amusements of the night. She sent L'Isle for her
guitar, made him turn over her music, never releasing him for a
moment, while she sung no Italian, French or English songs, but some
of those native and cherished requidillas, the airs and words of which
find here so ready an access to all hearts; and she executed them with
a skill, melody, and pathos, that flattered and charmed the
Portuguese. The guitar, though the cherished friend of serenading
lovers of the old Spanish school, was truly but a poor accompaniment
to such a voice; but L'Isle saw that, like the harp, it had the merit
of displaying to advantage, the roundest, fairest, and most
beautifully turned arms he had ever gazed upon.

The dancers were again upon the floor; the night sped on, and Lady
Mabel made free use of her interpreter in ingratiating herself with
the Portuguese. L'Isle, true to his pledge, taxed his powers to the
utmost to be witty and agreeable in her name; at times a little
overdoing his part. Thus, at supper, when an elaborate compliment to
Dona Carlotta Seguiera, drew a reply as if it had originated with
himself, he stripped it of part of its merit by saying that he was
merely the mouth-piece of Lady Mabel's sentiments. When Dona Carlotta
expressed her surprise that Lady Mabel's short English sentence should
make so long a speech in Portuguese, he explained it by Lady Mabel's
peculiar faculty of uttering a volume in three words.

Supper and the dance that followed were over; Mrs. Shortridge's great
night drew to a close; and many of the company asked for one more
melody from the sweet songstress before they dispersed. While turning
over her music, Lady Mabel seemed to hesitate in her choice, and
L'Isle thought that her hand trembled as she selected a sheet.

As the fruit of his musical gleanings in the peninsula, Major Lumley
had lately sent her a parcel of old Spanish songs, among which she had
found a little piece, a mere fragment, but exquisitely touching in
melody and sentiment. Her father had been much taken with it, but no
one else had heard it from her lips. Like a volatile perfume, that
escapes in the attempt to pour it from one vessel to another, such
things defy translation. How, too, Lady Mabel gave it vocal life, may
be imagined, not described. She sang it with a truthfulness of feeling
that seemed to grow with each succeeding line. For the mere words, we
can only find this slender version for the English ear:

  In joyous hall, now thronged with young and fair,
  Your roving eye marks every beauty here;
  I harbor not one doubt or jealous fear;
  Constant your heart; it beats for me alone.

  In woodland glade, when armed for sylvan war,
  You mark the antlered monarch from afar,
  Your sportive toil cannot my pleasure mar;
  Constant your heart; it beats for me alone.

  In summer night, gazing on starry sky,
  And on yon radiant queen, who rides on high,
  Your fancy seems to roam, yet hovers nigh;
  Constant your heart; it beats for me alone.

  But hark! yon trump! you start as from a dream;
  From your bright eyes the warrior flashes gleam;
  All else forgotten. War is now your theme;
  Constant my heart; it beats for you alone.

  'Midst charging hosts, the foremost rank is thine;
  In saddened bower, the thrilling fear is mine;
  You glow with ardor, I in sorrow pine;
  Constant my heart; it beats for you alone.

Could L'Isle's vanity be beguiling him? The tremor of her voice, her
saddened troubled look, the beaming glances of her eyes, which hovered
about him, yet shunned to meet his gaze--they all betrayed her. She
was, perhaps half consciously, identifying him with the object of the
song. Her audience were delighted, but L'Isle was entranced, and no
longer a responsible man.

The guests were now fast leaving the house, and Lady Mabel, having
much to say to Mrs. Shortridge, was among the last. L'Isle attended
her down stairs, and was about to hand her into the old coach, when
she drew back timidly.

"How dark it is, with that cloud over the moon. I am afraid Antonio
Lobo is scarce postillion enough to drive down that steep rough road
without accident."

L'Isle instantly recollected, that having escorted Lady Mabel to the
party, it was his privilege to see her safe home again. Bidding the
footman keep the coach door open, he sprang into the house for his
hat, and in a moment was again seated by her side. The lumbering
vehicle rolled out of the _praça_ and down the sloping street to the
western gate of Elvas. As the guard there closed the gate behind them,
and shut them out from the light of the lantern, they seemed to plunge
into "outer darkness." Lady Mabel's nervous terrors came back upon her
with redoubled violence.

The fosse under the drawbridge seemed a ravenous abyss, and the deep
road cut through the _glacis_ and overhung by the outworks appeared to
be leading down into the bowels of the earth. The road, too, down into
the valley was steep, winding and much cut up by use and the heavy
winter rains.

"I have been so much on horseback lately," she said, apologizing for
her fears, "and so seldom in a carriage, and this is such a rickety
old thing, that you must excuse my alarm. Besides, I do not know that
Antonio ever played the part of postillion before. Why, the coach will
run over the mules," she exclaimed presently, as it glided down a
steep spot; then springing up and leaning out of the window, she
called out in plaintive Portuguese, "Antonio, my good Antonio, beware
of that short turn in the road, or we will all go tumbling down the
hill together! Excuse my terrors, Colonel L'Isle, but some late
occurrences have shaken my nerves sadly."

Surprised at her unusual timidity, L'Isle tried to calm her fears, and
taking her hand, endeavored to keep it, while he assured her that
every Portuguese peasant was familiar with mules and mountain roads
from boyhood. With a little laugh, she, struggling, rescued the
captured member, saying, "I shall need both my hands to scramble out
with when the coach breaks down or overturns, whichever happens
first," and after this she was more chary of her demonstrations of
terror, to escape his demonstrations of protection.

"If you doubt honest Lobo's ability to drive you safe home," said
L'Isle, "though I do not, perhaps your own man may be more skilful."

"What! cut down my two yards of footman into a postillion?" exclaimed
Lady Mabel; "on a mule, too! Why, he would rebel against such

"It would be promotion," said L'Isle, laughing, "to put a footman into
the saddle; and William would be of use for once in his life."

"Neither I nor nature demand usefulness of him. His whole capital
consists in being a tall footman, who becomes his livery; and he
fulfills his destiny when both he and it excite the admiration of the
Elvas ladies."

The coach presently turned into the olive yard, and drew up before the
old monastic pile without accident. L'Isle was surprised to see the
inhabited part of the building brightly lighted up at this late
hour. Old Moodie, looking graver and more sour than ever, was at the
open door. L'Isle handed Lady Mabel out of the coach, and she coolly
took his arm, showing that he was expected to hand her up stairs,
before taking leave of her. Moodie followed them into the
drawing-room, and said abruptly, "Well, my lady, will you have supper

"Certainly, if it be ready. By-the-bye, Colonel L'Isle, I did not see
you take the least refreshment at Mrs. Shortridge's--not even half a
pound of sugarplums, like the Portuguese ladies."

"I followed your example; for you yourself fasted."

"I was too busy talking my best and my last to my Portuguese friends,"
said Lady Mabel. "But when and where did you dine?"

"Dine?" said L'Isle, hesitating, then recollecting his luncheon;
"about two o'clock, in Badajoz."

"A Spanish dinner, I'll warrant, at a Spaniard's house!" she
exclaimed, throwing up her hands.

"You must be faint with hunger. Why," she added, taking up a light,
and holding it close to him, "you do look pale and famished; as if you
had dined like a Portuguese beggar's brat,--on a crust, rubbed over
with a _sardinha_, to give it a flavor. I cannot let you go away in
this condition. If you starve yourself so, you will degenerate from a
beef-eating red-coat, into a rationless Spanish soldier."

"There is no danger of that," L'Isle answered. "But how do you happen
to have a supper ready at this hour?"

"It shows what a slave of habit Moodie is. Because he has a supper got
for papa and his friends every night, he could not omit it; though
papa is far away, and he knows that I never touch it. But here he
comes to announce it. For once it is well timed, and you must do it
justice, unless you would make both Moodie and myself your enemies for

"Supper is ready, my lady," said Moodie. Then grumbled aside to her,
"If you wait awhile longer it will serve for breakfast."

"Pray send Jenny to me; and then, Moodie, I will not keep you up
longer," said Lady Mabel, for she was anxious to get rid of the old

They went into the next room to supper, and she seated L'Isle sociably
beside her. It was truly a tempting little supper party, without one
too many at table. Lady Mabel had now been long enough in the army to
feel at home there. Why should she not, like any of her comrades,
bring home a friend to sup with her? Especially when that friend is
the pleasantest fellow in the brigade? Having or affecting an
appetite, she set the example to L'Isle, and urged him to make up for
the meagre fare of the day. The table looked as if Lord Strathern and
three or four of his friends had been expected to take their seats at
it; and when she bid the footman hand wine to Colonel L'Isle, he
promptly placed three decanters on the table.

"William mistakes me for Colonel Bradshawe," said L'Isle smiling, as
he glanced at them.

"That is Moodie's doing," said she. "He provides liberally, one bottle
for you, and two for himself, I suppose."

Jenny Aiken now came into the room, very neatly dressed, and,
evidently not at all surprised at her mistress's summons. Upon this
Lady Mabel bid William go, as he would not be wanted.

"I have not a doubt, Colonel L'Isle, that you prefer a Hebe to a

"Infinitely," said L'Isle; "and I only wonder how great Jove himself
could differ with me."

"Then let Jenny refill your glass, that you may drink the health of
the Portuguese ladies, to whom you said so many witty and pleasant
things this evening."

"I only translated them," said L'Isle, bowing gaily to her.

"May I be ever blessed with such an interpreter," said Lady Mabel,
"and I may, without fear, set up for a wit." And she repeated some of
the best things he had said in her name, and seemed to enjoy them so
much, that L'Isle, who, like some other people, had

                       "A _heart_
  Open as day to melting _flattery_,"

became almost as much charmed with himself as he was with his
companion. Thus they amused themselves, recalling the little incidents
of the evening; Lady Mabel turning satirist, at the cost of all her
friends, not sparing even Mrs. Shortridge, in her attempts to play the
Rome hostess, and ridiculing, without mercy, the commissary's awkward
efforts at Portuguese eloquence and politeness. Then recalling and
laughing at the extravagant compliments paid her after each song, she
sung snatches of several of her favorite pieces, but had the grace not
to allude to 'Constant my Heart;' while L'Isle longed for an occasion,
yet hesitated to tell her how much better he liked it than all the
others. In the midst of her extravagantly high spirits, checking
herself suddenly, she said: "I see that you are surprised at me, but
not more than I am at myself. Have you ever heard of our Scottish
superstition of being _fie_--that is, possessed by a preternatural
excess of vivacity? No? It is deemed the sure forerunner of evil at
hand,--a sudden and violent death; some dire misfortune; perhaps a sad
and final parting of--of the dearest friends. I own," she added, with
a deep sigh, "I cannot free myself from this superstition of the

"I will not share it with you!" L'Isle exclaimed. "And you must shake
it off. What were life without hope, and high hope too!" and seizing
her hand he kissed it respectfully but with a fervor which indicated
the direction his hopes had taken.

"For shame, Colonel L'Isle!" she exclaimed, laughing, while she
snatched her hand away. "See how much shocked Jenny is at this liberty
taken with her mistress!"

L'Isle had forgotten Jenny Aiken's presence. He turned to look at her,
and the Scotch Hebe was plainly more amused than shocked at what she
was witnessing. Had L'Isle forgotten also his appointment to-morrow
morning at Alcantara? Perhaps not. But had Sir Rowland Hill now
appeared and demanded his opinion of the Andalusian levies, L'Isle
would have told him that he had no leisure to think of him or them.

But all sublunary pleasure has an end. Supper was over, and L'Isle
could devise no excuse for lingering here, but the pleasure of
listening to Lady Mabel, who seemed willing to amuse him as long as he
staid. After a pause, divining that he was about to take leave of her,
she said suddenly: "What an unreasonable fellow Sir Rowland Hill must
be! Because he cannot find any one to execute his delicate commissions
half so well as you do, he must be thrusting them all upon you! Does
he take you for a Popish saint, endowed with pluripresence, and able
to be in Andalusia, at Badajoz, Elvas, and Alcantara, all at one

"Not exactly so," said L'Isle, a good deal flattered at this
speech. "He has indeed tasked me well, at times doing other men's
work; but it is all in a good cause, you know; and I never objected to
these tasks till now--My Lord, I hear, set out for Alcantara early
this morning, taking Bradshawe and Conway with him."

"Yes! they rode merrily off this morning," said Lady Mabel in a gay
tone. "A summons to Alcantara breaks the monotony of their life here,
and they were eager to meet Sir Rowland. I hear that these conferences
with his officers always conclude with a capital dinner. That sallow
Major Conway, with his fastidious appetite, and his Calcutta liver,
will appreciate the excellence of the _cuisine_. I have heard Colonel
Bradshawe dilate, with enthusiasm, on Sir Rowland's choice selection
of wines. Papa, too, will meet some new people there, which will give
him an opportunity of once more undergoing his three years of siege,
famine, and bombardment in Gibraltar thirty years ago, and of uttering
a new edition to the expedition to Egypt, in which he will again put
Sir Ralph Abercromby to a glorious death in the arms of victory. They
tell me, Sir Rowland, too, dearly loves these occasions for repeating
his favorite lecture on strategy and grand tactics. But you must have
heard it so often, that you can repeat it _verbatim_ to me, if you
have nothing more entertaining to say."

"I hope I could find topics more agreeable to us both," said L'Isle,
laughing and blushing. "But unluckily I have in my pocket Sir
Rowland's order to meet him there, and have intelligence he is waiting
for. I am afraid he will have to wait."

"I am afraid, he will," said Lady Mabel, coolly, "for I do not see how
you are to get out of the house now. By this time Moodie has bolted,
barred, and locked every door and window below, hidden the keys, and
gone to bed in his usual condition. He never can find them again,
until his head gets clear in the morning."

"What!" exclaimed L'Isle, "that respectable old man drunk every

"Not _every_ night!" said Lady Mabel. "But have you forgotten in what
condition he came back with us from Evora?"

"True. But I thought that an accident, and more the effect of sickness
than drinking. He seemed quite sober when you came home, and a graver
and more sedate man I do not know."

"O, he is a Presbyterian, you know, and the more liquor he swallows
the graver and more sanctimonious he becomes."

"That may be. Still Lady Mabel, I must find some way of getting out of
the house. Already I shall be too late at Alcantara."

"I am afraid Sir Rowland will not drink in your news at breakfast. But
if it be good, it will come in capitally after dinner, by way of

"After dinner!" said L'Isle hurriedly. "I must be there many hours
before that!"

"Then I am sorry to have kept you here so long. I suppose Jenny and I
must keep watch by ourselves all night, for I cannot keep those
heavy-headed fellows awake."

"Awake and watching!" exclaimed L'Isle.

"Yes--awake and watching," Lady Mabel answered. "If you could stay we
would not insist on your sitting up with us. I could have Papa's room
made ready for you; and if I knew that you were asleep in Papa's bed,
with your drawn sword on one side, and a pair of his pistols, cocked,
on the other, I would not be in the least afraid."

"Afraid of what?" asked L'Isle in astonishment.

"Of these robbers, who go plundering and murdering all over the
country by night!" said Lady Mabel, her large blue eyes opening wide
in well-feigned terror.

"Oh, don't talk of them, my lady!" said Jenny, with a stifled scream,
and an affected shudder.

"Have you not heard of them?" Lady Mabel asked in a tone of surprise.

"I cannot say I have--at least of any depredations here at Elvas."

"But we are outside of Elvas--to our sorrow; and the monks, great
engineers as they have elsewhere proved themselves, have constructed
but a very weak fortress in this building. Our garrison is weaker
still. Papa carried off his two most efficient servants. William is a
simpleton, Tomkins a craven, and Moodie, though bold as a lion, is an
old man, already bound hand and foot, and gagged by his strong enemy."

"But where is the Portuguese part of your household?" L'Isle asked.

"Being thieves in a small way," said Lady Mabel, "we always, at night,
lock them out of this part of the building. While the robbers were
cutting our throats up-stairs, they might be stealing our silver
below. We have an anxious time here, I assure you. It is as much as I
can do to keep poor Jenny from going off into hysterics; she will not
go to bed lest she should be robbed and murdered in her sleep. It is
lucky that I, being a soldier's daughter, have a little courage."

"Courage!" exclaimed L'Isle, "I am astonished at your sudden
timidity. Why, there is a sentinel day and night here at

"But out of sight and hearing at the other end of this old rambling
monk's roost," said Lady Mabel, "mounting guard over papa's musty

"And the fellow now there," said Jenny, "told me he could not quit
them--no, not if we were robbed and murdered twice over. I could
scream now, only that I'm afraid the villains might hear me!"

While L'Isle looked suspiciously at the maid, not so good an actress
as her mistress, Lady Mabel glanced her eye at the clock. Apparent
time called it one, real time said it was two hours after
midnight. She felt sure of her game, and need wear the mask no longer.
She had been acting a long and trying part, and began to feel tired,
and now showed it by letting her terror subside into one or two little
yawns, which became her so well, that L'Isle never thought her more
lovely than now when she was getting tired of his company.

It was high time to get rid of him. But now a real fear come over her,
and she shrunk from his searching glance with unfeigned timidity.
Still the thing had to be done; so nerving herself to the task, she
stepped close up beside him, and looking confidingly in his face,
said: "I am truly sorry to have kept you here so long, and hope you
will not find Sir Rowland fretting and fuming at the delay of your
news; but I was so anxious to have your protection, having just
learned that these horrid ruffians are not _guerilleros_ from the
Spanish band at Badajoz, but some of your own regiment disguised as

L'Isle started back one step. In an instant, from the fairy land of
hope and love, his Eden of delights, with every soothing and
intoxicating influence around him, he found himself transported to a
bleak common, stripped of his dreamy joys, exposed to the ridicule of
the enchantress, and soon to be pelted with the pitiless jests of all
who might hear of his adventure. He looked at Lady Mabel, almost
expecting to see her undergo some magic transformation. But there she
stood unchanged, except that there was a little sneer on her lip, a
glance of triumph from her eye, an expression of intense but
mischievous enjoyment in her whole air, and, what he had never
observed before, a strong likeness to her father.

Striving quickly and proudly to recover himself, L'Isle said, with
admirable gravity, "You have convinced me, Lady Mabel, that it is my
especial duty to protect you from my own banditti. I will not leave
you, not close an eye in sleep, while a shadow of danger hangs over
you. But," he added, slowly drawing near to a window, and gently
opening it, "I have observed that house-breakers always choose the
darkest hours to hide their deeds of darkness. For to-night the danger
is over. The moon is overhead, and not a cloud obscures the sky. We
English may envy these Southern nations their nights, though not their
days." Half a dozen nightingales were now pouring out their rival
melodies in the grove. Looking out on the landscape before him, its
features softened rather than concealed by the sober silvery light, he

  "How sweet the moonlight sleeps on yonder bank,
   * * * * In such a night as this,
   When the sweet wind did gently kiss the trees,
   And they did make no noise--in such a night
   Troilus, methinks, mounted the Trojan walls,
   And sighed his soul toward the Grecian tents,
   Where Cressid lay that night."

While repeating these lines, he measured with his eye the distance to
the ground. The comfort-loving monks had provided lofty ceilings and
abundant air for their apartments under the scorching sun of
Alemtejo. But in L'Isle's angry, defiant mood, he would have leapt
from the top of Pompey's Pillar, rather than stay to be laughed at by
Lady Mabel. Seating himself on the window-sill, he turned and threw
his legs out of the window.

"For Heaven's sake, Colonel L'Isle, what are you dreaming of?"

"I am dreaming that, happy as Ulysses, I have listened to the Syren,
and escaped her snares."

She had sprang forward as he spoke, and now threw out her arms to draw
him back. He eluded her clasp, and dropped to the ground on his feet,
but fell backward, and did not at once rise again. She shrieked, and
then called out in a piteous tone: "Speak to me, Colonel L'Isle. For
Heaven's sake, speak. Say you are not injured--not hurt."

"Console yourself, Lady Mabel," said he, rising slowly. "I have not
broken my neck, and shall not break my appointment. And, now, I must
bid you good-night; or shall I say good-morning?"

As L'Isle turned, he spied old Moodie standing in the open gateway of
the court, with a light in his hand, and knitting his shaggy brows. He
looked neither very drunk, nor much afraid of robbers, but trembled
with rage on seeing L'Isle's mode of breaking out of the mansion. With
a strong effort of self-control, L'Isle walked off without limping,
and was soon lost in the gloomy shades of the olive and the orange

Lady Mabel had played out the comedy, and now came--reflection. What
had she done? How would it tell? Above all, what would L'Isle think of
her? What were his feelings now? And what would they be when the exact
truth-the whole plot--was known to him? Every faculty hitherto
engrossed in the part she was playing, until this moment she had never
looked on this side of the picture? Now, bitter self-reproach, womanly
shame, and tears--vain, useless tears--filled up the remaining hours
of the night. Jenny Aiken's feeble attempts at consolation were worse
than futile, and she was sent off abruptly to her room for
misconstruing the cause of her mistress' grief. Lady Mabel found
little relief in remembering her father's injunction, to play her part
well, and not fail of success. She was hardly soothed even by the
resolution she took to rate that father soundly for the gross
impropriety he had permitted, induced--nay, almost commanded--her to


    _Don Pedro_.--By this light he changes more and more. I think he
  be angry, indeed.
    _Claudio_.--If he be, he knows how to turn his girdle.
    _Benedict_.--Shall I speak a word in your ear?
    _Claudio_.--God bless me from a challenge.

                                         Much ado about Nothing.

Sir Rowland Hill, with a stout division, had been posted during the
winter at Coria, facing Marshal Soult in the valley of the
Tagus--holding him to bail not to disturb the peace and quiet of the
British army cantoned along the frontier. The Marshal had now
swallowed or pocketed all that he could find in the rich, but hapless
vale of Plasencia, and of late had been casting hungry glances on the
country south of the river. This had induced Sir Rowland to ride over
from Coria to Alcantara, to look to his line of communication with the
southern provinces. This old city had been long sinking into decay;
the French General, Lapisse, spent one night in it four years ago; and
well nigh completed the work which time had begun. Still its position
and its famous bridge, one arch of which had been blown up, and had
now been hastily repaired, made it an important point at this time.

In a Gothic hall, which looked as if it had not long since been
visited by the Vandals, but which had of old been often thronged with
members of the once chivalrous order of Alcantara, now as effete in
knighthood as that of Malta; a military secretary was writing at a
small table, at the dictation of Sir Rowland Hill, who stood near,
perchance, as good a knight as ever trod that floor. Officers came in
to him, and were sent out again on various missions. Lord Strathern
was seated by a larger table at the other end of the room, conversing
gaily with his fellow-travelers from Elvas, and waiting Sir Rowland's

Sir Rowland presently looked at his watch, and raising his voice,
inquired--"My Lord, has L'Isle come yet?"

"Not yet," Lord Strathern answered with a smiling countenance, while
Sir Rowland's expressed disappointment. He knew that the
commander-in-chief was about to order a combination of simultaneous
movements. Every part of the allied force from Gallicia to Andalusia
had its task allotted, and he was anxious to know how far the _Conde
di Abispal's_ could be relied on.

"L'Isle is usually before his time," said Sir Rowland. "Do you think
he got my order yesterday?"

"I have little doubt of it," said my lord.

"But I doubt his being here soon," said Bradshawe, dipping in his oar
to trouble the waters. "He had to go last night to a concert in

"A concert detain him! I do not understand that."

"Nor I, Sir Rowland," said Bradshawe coolly. "I only heard it without
pretending to understand it."

Sir Rowland looked puzzled, but his unfinished dispatch claimed his
attention, and he turned again to his secretary.

Meanwhile Lord Strathern was in high spirits. "The hour has come, but
not the man!" he said, and began to triumph over Conway, and laugh at
L'Isle so merrily, that he would have soon found it in his heart to
forgive the latter all his offensive strictures on him. But, suddenly,
his merriment gave place to a look of surprise and disappointment.
Conway, turning to ascertain the cause, saw L'Isle walk into the room
as if he had come hither at his leisure; yet, something in his
bearing, betrayed that his pride was in arms.

"I am glad to see you, L'Isle," said Sir Rowland. "I were loath to
close my dispatch without adding the intelligence you might bring
me. By the bye, some of these gentlemen thought that you would not be
here so soon."

"They must have supposed that I had not received your order, sir,"
said L'Isle, glancing haughtily round on Lord Strathern; "but, having
got it, I am here."

"It seems to have cost you hard riding though, and more fatigue than
you are yet equal to," said Sir Rowland, remembering his late
wounds. "And you have had a fall," he added, observing some marks on
his clothes.

"Not from my horse," said L'Isle, shortly and somewhat bitterly. "But
it is of no consequence," and he hastened to produce his notes and
furnish Sir Rowland with the information expected from him.

Besides the unerased marks of a fall, L'Isle's clothes were
travel-stained, and his face was pale, less, perhaps, from fatigue and
loss of sleep, than from the violent excitement and revulsion of
feelings he had lately undergone. But he soon withdrew Sir Rowland's
attention from himself to his full and precise account of the state of
the Andalusian reserve, and the garrison of Badajoz.

"I am glad to find that this body of Spanish troops are not, like too
many Spanish armies, men of straw, an army on paper," said Sir
Rowland. "The French are trying to occupy so extended a position here
in Estremadura, that our Andalusian friends may do capital service in
harassing their out-posts, and cutting off their convoys."

"If they can be kept out of the plains, and induced not to fight,"
said L'Isle, smiling. "But the Spaniard is always seeking to surround
the enemy, and force him to battle."

"At all events," said Sir Rowland, "I can now give Lord Wellington a
definite and reliable account of their condition;" and, making a sign
to L'Isle to accompany him, he walked across the room and seated
himself at the larger table. Here he held a somewhat prolonged
conference with Lord Strathern, in which the other gentlemen were, at
times, called upon to take part. When compelled to speak, L'Isle
distinguished himself by giving admirable specimens of the lapidary
style, not one spare word. Sir Rowland had many questions to ask and
instructions to give; but, these over, he gave a less professional
turn to the conversation, and then said: "I hope, my lord, you and
these gentlemen will share my poor dinner to-day; but remember, I am
not at home in Alcantara, and cannot feast you, as you do your friends
at Elvas; neither can we sit long and drink deep, as I must return
to-night to Coria."

"We will dine with you with pleasure," said Lord Strathern. "Pray,
Bradshawe, who could have told Sir Rowland that we sit long and drink
deep at Elvas?"

"Some thirsty fellow," said Bradshawe, "who had drained the last drop
from his last bottle."

"Oh, my lord," said Sir Rowland, laughing, "I meant no
insinuation. But I must finish my despatch," and he returned to his

While Lord Strathern and his companions awaited Sir Rowland's leisure,
L'Isle sat moodily apart, turning an unsocial shoulder toward his
lordship, giving him a glimpse of his back.

Lord Strathern smiled; he saw the earth stains, and saw, moreover,
evident marks of anger and chagrin in L'Isle's demeanor. His curiosity
was strongly excited, and he resolved to make the silent man find his

"Pray, L'Isle how came you to let your horse slip from under you, and
measure your length in the road?"

"You are mistaken, my lord," said L'Isle, formally; "my horse did not
throw me."

"You are so used to success that you will acknowledge no failure, not
even a fall from your horse, or your hobby-horse. Perhaps you got
tired, and took a nap by the roadside, which accounts for your getting
here no sooner."

L'Isle was too angry to trust himself with an answer, but Major
Conway, turning to Bradshawe, said gaily: "Colonel L'Isle is here soon
enough for me; he is within the time, and I have won the fifty

L'Isle started. Here was a revelation! His last night's adventure was
no secret. There were more parties to the plot than he had imagined.

"Sir!" said he, turning upon Conway, with a cold, hard manner. "Am I
to understand that you have done me the honor to bet on my movements?"

"Here is gratitude for you," exclaimed Conway, pacifically appealing
to his companions, and his voice attracted Sir Rowland's attention.
"Here have I been showing for him the height of friendship, hazarding
my best friends, my guineas, on his infallible fulfillment of duty;
and my full faith in him is received as an outrage."

"I suppose, sir," said L'Isle, turning on Bradshawe, with freezing
politeness, "it is you who have so obligingly afforded my volunteer
backer so singular an opportunity of proving his friendship?"

"I cannot claim the credit of it," answered Bradshawe, with easy
urbanity. "I am not even a stakeholder in the game; though, as a mere
looker-on, I confess having watched it with keen and growing
interest." And with a little wave of the hand he passed L'Isle gently
over to Lord Strathern.

L'Isle looked from the imperturbable colonel to the pacific major, who
professed to be so zealously his partisan, and back again to the
former. Not seeing how he could fasten a quarrel on either, he turned
somewhat reluctantly on Lord Strathern, who complacently awaited him.

"As for you, my lord, I might have felt surprise at your making me the
subject of such a bet, but it is lost in astonishment at the means you
took to win it!"

"And, after all to lose it," said Lord Strathern, in a mocking,
dolorous tone. "Is it not provoking?"

"No scruple," continued L'Isle, "seems to have stood in your way, my
lord, in the choice of either means or agent."

"On the contrary," said Lord Strathern, blandly, "I always
scrupulously choose the best of both."

"You must have contrived this plot," L'Isle persisted, "though the
chief actor be in Elvas. But I will say no more here."

"A few words more, I pray," said Lord Strathern, smiling. "I
understood that you were to have been detained in Elvas. How the devil
did you get away?"

L'Isle turned abruptly away, seeing that the more anger and
mortification he showed, the more gratified Lord Strathern seemed to
be. Rising from his seat, he walked up to Sir Rowland, who had been
watching him with much curiosity, and said: "I suppose, sir, you have
no further use for me here. If so, pray excuse my absence from your
table to-day, as I have occasion to return at once to Elvas."

Sir Rowland bid his secretary go and send off the despatch at once;
then looking fixedly at L'Isle, said: "I may need you here for a day
or two."

L'Isle bit his lip till the blood came, while Sir Rowland, stepping
over to Lord Strathern, asked in an undertone: "What is the matter
with L'Isle, my lord? he seems strangely out of humor."

"The truth is, Sir Rowland," said his lordship, in a confidential
tone, "somebody in Elvas has been quizzing L'Isle, and a man of his
vanity cannot stand being quizzed."

"Quizzed!" said Sir Rowland. "Does quizzing make a man mad?"

L'Isle dared not trust himself longer in Lord Strathern's company; he
wanted time to recover his self-command; so he again addressed Sir
Rowland: "That I left Elvas so suddenly, and unprepared for a
prolonged absence, matters little, Sir Rowland; but I have been so
little with my regiment of late, that--"

"Let your major take care of it a few days longer," Sir Rowland
answered, in a positive tone.

"You had better let L'Isle go, Sir Rowland," said Lord Strathern. "He
is afraid to lose sight of his regiment, lest they become banditti."

L'Isle's flushed cheek and compressed lips, showed that he felt the
taunt, while Sir Rowland exclaimed, in surprise: "Are they so unruly?
Then you must look to them yourself, my lord, for I shall keep Colonel
L'Isle a while with me. The truth is, L'Isle, I divine your urgent
business at Elvas. Some one there has given you gross offence, and you
seek revenge under the name of satisfaction. There is always sin and
folly enough in these affairs; but here, within sight of the smoke of
the enemy's camp, and now, when we are about to fall upon them, these
personal feuds are criminal madness. I would put you under arrest,
sooner than let you post off to Elvas on so bloodthirsty an errand."

Sir Rowland uttered this speech with an air worthy of his Puritan
uncle, of Calvinistic memory; but, in spite of the respect due to the
speaker, it was too much for the gravity of his hearers. Lord
Strathern and his companions burst into a roar of laughter, and even
L'Isle, amidst all his anger, felt tempted to join them.

"Gentlemen," said Sir Rowland, in grave astonishment, "I like a joke
as well as any of you. Pray explain this, that I may share your

Bradshawe, with an effort, cut short his laughter, to say: "As a
neutral party, Sir Rowland, I will be Colonel L'Isle's surety, that in
whatever mood he may set out for Elvas, as soon as he finds himself in
the presence of his enemy there, he will be gentle as a lamb."

"You deal in mysteries; who in Elvas is so safe from L'Isle's

"Nobody but Lady Mabel Stewart."

"Lady Mabel Stewart!" exclaimed Sir Rowland, looking at Lord
Strathern. "If a lady contrived this plot, I shall never unravel it;
so you must do it for me."

"Perhaps the explanation," said Bradshawe, "would come more gracefully
from my lord."

"If I knew the details of it," said Lord Strathern, interrupting his
hearty laughter, for he seemed resolved, at all hazard, to recover his
fifty guineas, in sport, out of L'Isle. "I can tell but the beginning;
and then, Sir Rowland, you can squeeze the rest out of L'Isle

"By all means," said Sir Rowland. "L'Isle, take a seat, and learn to
stand fire. You must not dodge from a volley of laughter, that happens
to be aimed at yourself."

L'Isle reluctantly sat down, while Lord Strathern said: "Have you ever
discovered, Sir Rowland, that L'Isle is a monomaniac?"

"No! On what point?"

"Discipline! He is a little touched here," said my lord, laying his
finger on his temple, "on the subject of discipline. He never eats
heartily, nor sleeps quietly, but after detecting the breach of a
dozen of the rules and regulations made for the government of his
Majesty's troops. He fancies that they were made expressly to afford
him the pleasure of detecting the breach of them."

"Is this disease prevalent in your brigade, my lord?" Sir Rowland
inquired in a sarcastic tone.

"By no means; I have kept it down; for my method, looking to the
spirit, not the letter of the law, discourages it greatly."

"I have seen something of your method, my lord," said Sir Rowland,
smiling; "but cannot say that I have mastered its peculiar merits."

"That is very likely," said Lord Strathern, complacently. "As every
art has its mysteries--so each man may have some peculiar gift in the
application of his art; even though taught by the same master, no two
men's handwriting are exactly alike; so each of us may have some
inimitable peculiarity in his soldiership. It is certain that L'Isle,
not understanding my more enlarged and liberal system, wished to force
me into his own narrow notions, and when I would not yield to him, he
intimated to me that I was training up banditti. I had to recommend to
him the study of one of the articles of war, which he had
overlooked. It treats of subordination, and of each man's minding his
own business. Neither of us was very successful in keeping his temper;
and, indeed, being a good deal ruffled, I afterward spoke pretty
freely of L'Isle's conduct to these gentlemen, who dined with me.
Mabel shared my feelings, and, with my consent, set a trap for him,
hoping to teach him that he himself might be caught tripping. How he
escaped in time to get here you must learn from himself."

"Come, L'Isle, we have heard the prologue," said Sir Rowland; "be not
bashful, but give us the comedy."

What was L'Isle to do? It was evidently something more than curiosity
that made Sir Rowland so earnest to sift this matter. He could hardly
refuse all explanation to him--and he felt that it would never do to
give an account of Lady Mabel's behavior, to himself, as he had
construed it. Lord Strathern, too, did not exactly know what he was
urging him to do. Suddenly recollecting Lady Mabel's note, L'Isle drew
it from his pocket, and handed it to her father, for his private
reading. To L'Isle's astonishment, Lord Strathern read it out with
great _gusto_, and commented on it.

This was capital bait for the trap. "And pray, Mr. Interpreter, how
did you and your principal get through the evening?"

"You see the dilemma, Sir Rowland," exclaimed Bradshawe, with
glee. "Here was a conflict of duties. Colonel L'Isle had to obey two
commanders at one time, which Scripture tells us is difficult, if not

"L'Isle seems to have achieved the impossible," said Sir Rowland; "for
I know you are too _gallant_ a man, L'Isle, to neglect a lady's order
for mine."

Sir Rowland's manner, though not his words, were urgent for an
explanation; and L'Isle being now fairly in for it, with an effort,
gathered his wits together, and opened the narrative of his last
night's adventure. He recounted Lady Mabel's successful efforts to
amuse and occupy him into a forgetfulness of the flying hours; her
artful delays before setting out; their slow but pleasant drive up
hill to Elvas; the animated and well-sustained part she had played
throughout the evening; her wit, her satire, and her singing, and his
labors as interpreter, acknowledging many foolish things of his own,
in his efforts to be witty and amusing according to contract. He
described her well-feigned fear of returning home in the dark without
an escort, the brilliantly lighted house and well-timed supper, at
which, unconscious of the flight of time, he sat listening to her
diverting talk, including her piquant sketch of Sir Rowland's glorious
dinners and tactical lectures, and the value his officers set on
each. Here his auditors had each an opportunity of laughing at each
other, and being laughed at in turn.

L'Isle strove to make Lady Mabel appear witty, amusing, and adroit; he
gave edge to her satire--keenness to her wit; but carefully rounded
off all the more salient points of her acting. He said nothing of her
singing "Constant my heart," at him. He did not hint at his taking her
hand in the coach, or kissing it at the supper table; but dilated on
her skillful libel on old Moodie's sobriety, and her well acted dread
of the house-breaking banditti, from whom he could best protect her,
as they are no other than his own men.

Though L'Isle did not get through his narrative with the best possible
grace, he was doubly successful in it; at once greatly amusing his
auditors, yet exhibiting Lady Mabel only as a witty girl, who had
merely played the part allotted to her with mischievous pleasure and
consummate tact. But he attained this at the cost of showing himself
an easy dupe to her arts, and getting well laughed at for his
pains. It cost L'Isle no small effort to do this. It was, in fact, a
heroic, self-sacrificing act; for he was not used to being laughed at,
and there is something highly amusing in compelling a man to tell a
story which makes him more and more ridiculous at every turn. But
while showing so much consideration for Lady Mabel, so far was he from
beginning to forgive her ill-usage of him, that the constraint he had
put upon himself only embittered his feelings toward her.

As to Lord Strathern, he was delighted with the account of _ma
belle_'s cunning manoeuvres and witty speeches, even to the point of
laughing heartily at her satire on himself; and he reveled in L'Isle's
ill-concealed mortification, exclaiming: "What a pity the plot failed
by Mabel's unmasking too soon. That and your good horse enabled you to
keep your appointment at the risk of your neck. Why, L'Isle, you might
have become a ballad hero. Mabel would have put your adventure in
verse, and set it to music, and you would have been sung by all our
musical folks, from Major Lumley down to the smallest drummer-boy. You
are a lucky fellow; but this time your luck has lost you fame."

"And how did you get away at last?" asked Sir Rowland, fully convinced
that L'Isle had been a prisoner, under lock, bolt and bar.

The earth-stains on L'Isle's clothes might have testified that he had
gotten a bad fall in jumping out of a lady's window, at two o'clock in
the morning. But this is a scandalous world. L'Isle remembered
Bradshawe, without looking at him, and evaded the question.

"I found old Moodie, lantern in hand, at the open gate, looking as if
he had drank nothing but vinegar in a month, the picture of sour

Sir Rowland had striven in vain not to join in the laugh; but, in
spite of himself, was much diverted at L'Isle's adventure. But he was
provoked at the usage his favorite colonel had incurred, for the best
of faults--too much zeal for the service; and he longed to discuss
with Lord Strathern the propriety of setting traps for his own
officers, when posting, with important intelligence, to their common
commander. But there was a lady in the case, and Sir Rowland was
afraid to broach the subject; Lord Strathern, too, though his
subordinate was nearly old enough for his father--a man of high rank,
and a known good soldier; so he put off the discussion to a more
convenient season. As to L'Isle, Sir Rowland had been watching him
closely, and saw something in his eye and bearing that betrayed too
much exasperation for him to be trusted to return at once to Elvas.
So, Sir Rowland invented, on the spot, a special duty for him, and bid
him accompany him, that evening, to Coria.


  Ralph.--Help down with the hangings.
  Roger.--By and by, Ralph.
              I am making up the trunks here.
  Ralph.--Who looks to my lady's wardrobe? Humphrey!
              Down with the boxes in the gallery,
              And bring away the couch-cushions.
  Shorthose.--Will it not rain?
              No conjuring abroad, nor no devices
              To stop this journey.

                                    --_Wit without Money_.

  Away, you trifler!--Love?--I love thee not:
  I care not for thee, Kate; this is no world
  To play with mammets, and to tilt with lips:
  We must have bloody noses, and cracked crowns,
  And pass them current, too. Godsme, my horse!

                                      --_Henry IV_.

Lord Strathern returned the next day to Elvas, and found his daughter
very desolate, and full of more than filial anxiety to see him. She
was alone, for the Commissary had, the day before, sent off his heavy
baggage toward Lisbon. Lady Mabel would, at any time, have grieved at
parting with a true-hearted friend like Mrs. Shortridge; but now other
troubles weighed heavy on her, and so aggravated her obvious grief,
while the chief cause was hidden, that her kind friend was deeply
moved and greatly flattered at perceiving it. Had she staid longer in
Elvas, Lady Mabel would have confided her troubles to her, knowing
that, though she might not think wisely, she could feel rightly, and
give both advice and sympathy. But after a struggle of hesitation, she
let Mrs. Shortridge depart in ignorance, receiving from her many kind
messages and adieus for L'Isle.

Perhaps it was best that it should be so; for, had the good lady
learned the usage her favorite had met with, she might, for once in
her life, have boiled over with indignation.

"Well, _Ma Belle_," said Lord Strathern, as soon as he was alone with
his daughter, "so that fellow, L'Isle, beat us, after all, at our own
game. I did expect that your woman's wit would have carried it through

"Would to Heavens, papa, my woman's wit, as you call it, had been
sufficient to keep me out of it altogether. How could you think of
putting such a part upon me? I never would have dreamed of it, if you
had not urged--insisted on my detaining him here. What is Colonel
L'Isle to me, that I should manoeuvre to keep him in Elvas, when Sir
Rowland Hill expects him in Alcantara? And as for my resenting your
quarrels with him, there is an impropriety in it, and yet more in the
mode you made me adopt. I am ashamed of myself--I am ashamed of you,
papa, for conceiving it."

"And to fail, after all," said Lord Strathern. "And yet, by L'Isle's
own account, you played your part well."

"His account!" exclaimed Lady Mabel. "To whom?"

"To us all--Sir Rowland, Bradshawe, Conway, and myself. He was
disposed to be sulky and silent, at first; but, with Sir Rowland's
help, we drew it all out of him."

"Drew it all out of him!" said Lady Mabel, in a faltering tone. She
gasped for breath, and her cheek grew pale. But the next moment the
blood rushed into her face, and she exclaimed: "What! Did Colonel
L'Isle give you a full account of the party--of all that occurred that

"Full and minute. He was very reluctant to tell, as we were all
laughing at him; but Sir Rowland is a good inquisitor, and made him
speak out, and at length. I did not know he had so good a memory, or
you so much wit."

"For Heaven's sake, papa, what did he tell you?" Lady Mabel sat
watching her father with eager eyes, her hands firmly clasped, and her
heel impatiently tapping the floor, while she strove to master her
almost uncontrollable confusion and anxiety.

"Why, he handed me your note," said Lord Strathern. "Perhaps he meant
it for my eye alone; but it was such capital bait for the trap, that I
read it aloud. He then seemed to make up his mind to conceal
nothing. He told us of your artful delays, your slow-paced coach
crawling up-hill; of your efforts to entertain Mrs. Shortridge's
company, and keep him employed as interpreter; your songs and your
care to prolong the amusements of the evening; your affected fears at
riding home in your old coach with your new postillion. He described
your supper-party, and repeated your entertaining conversation, your
libel on Moodie, gone drunk to bed, and your satire on Sir Rowland and
the rest of us; your well-acted terror of robbers, and your triumph
over him when you thought the game was won. If you had not been
over-confident and too hasty, Mabel, we would have had L'Isle on the

"Was that _all_ he told you?" asked Lady Mabel.

"Why? Was there any thing more to tell?" inquired her father.

Lady Mabel drew a deep, long breath. "Then he said nothing about
my--my singing--'Constant my heart' to him?"

"How!" exclaimed Lord Strathern. "Did you sing 'Constant my heart'
_at_ him?"

"How could I help it, papa, it came in so pat to the purpose?"

"The devil it did! It seems you did not mean to fail, by under acting
your part. It is lucky he forgot to mention it. Was there any thing

"And he said nothing about squeezing my hand in the coach," asked she,
hesitatingly, "when I showed so much fear of its overturning?"

"Squeezing your hand?"

"Or of his kissing it, after supper?"

"What! Had he got on so far? And pray, madam, what did you tell him?"

"Tell him!" said Lady Mabel. "I was acting a part, you know, papa; so
I told him his presumption had put Jenny Aiken quite out of

"By Jove! you were acting your part with a vengeance! Why not tell
him, at once, never to kiss your hand when a third person was

"How can you talk so, papa? I meant no such thing. But what account
did he give of his leaving the house?"

"Merely that he hurried away when you unmasked the plot to him;
hastened to Elvas to get his horse, and post off to Alcantara."

"Then he said nothing of his leaping out of the window?"

"Did he leap out of the window?"

"Or of my trying to hold him back?"

"What!" exclaimed Lord Strathern, starting up. "Did he escape by
jumping out of the window, and you try to detain him?"

"The height was so great, I feared he would break his neck."

"Damn his neck!" said Lord Strathern, striding up and down the
room. "Better a neck cracked than a reputation. Things have come to a
pretty pass. You singing love-songs at him, he squeezing and kissing
your hand--perhaps going further. In these cases, women never tell the
whole truth! When he would escape by a leap from your window, you try
to keep him by strength of arm. You get on finely, madam! Three months
in the army have done wonders for you. Three months more will
accomplish you so thoroughly, that you will be fit for no other
society through life. I will tell you what, Mabel, I will not lose a
moment, but bundle you up, and pack you off to your aunt, while you
are yet worth sending!"

Between shame and indignation at this unjust assault from such a
quarter, poor Lady Mabel burst into tears, and rushed off to her room,
where she locked herself up, resolving never again to leave it until
she commenced her journey homeward. It was not long before her hasty
father repented of his coarse and violent attack on her, in a case in
which the heaviest fault was his own. He came rapping at her door, and
by dint of apologies, remonstrance, and commands, brought her out, and
induced her to spend the evening in his company. And a very
uncomfortable evening it was to both of them.

Two days after this, L'Isle rode into Elvas, and brought orders with
him that set the town astir. Such a breaking up of all the comfortable
and luxurious arrangements of messes and quarters had not been lately
seen. For Elvas was the Capua of the brigade, which had to lighten
itself of many an incumbrance, including much of what Shortridge
termed its heavy baggage, in order to bring itself to a condition to
march. There was many a woeful parting, too, and scandal says that the
ladies of Elvas might have laid the dust with their tears. But we will
leave these stories to Colonel Bradshawe.

All was confusion in the household at headquarters. Lord Strathern had
to bestir himself, to get both his brigade and himself ready to march
by one route, and Lady Mabel had to prepare for her journey by
another. It was now that Moodie's worth shone manifestly forth. The
old coach and harness were overhauled and put in order. He secured, we
believe, by impressment, another pair of mules and two postillions.
Every leaf of the _hortus siccus_ was carefully packed, and put into
the hands of an _arriero_, bound for Lisbon, and Jenny Aiken and
William, the footman, were pulled and shoved about in a way that
convinced them that it was time to be moving; yet he found plenty of
time to spur up my lord's own servants, and push forward their
preparations. Busy as Lord Strathern was, he failed not to remark
Moodie's prompt, methodical, and energetic labors. He pronounced him
the prince of quartermasters, and a heavy loss to the army. "The old
fellow would evacuate a fortress, or conduct a retreat with the
precision of a parade, and not leave even a dropped cartridge to the
enemy behind him." In fact, had Marshal Soult sworn to sack Elvas
to-morrow, Moodie could not have been more on the alert in getting
Lady Mabel ready to leave it. Not that he was afraid of a
Frenchman--he would willingly have faced him, and made his mark upon
him--but when all might be lost, and nothing gained by staying,
Moodie, like Xenophon, was proving his soldiership by a speedy, yet
orderly retreat. He was carrying off Lady Mabel, _via_ the villages of
Lisbon and London, to his stronghold of Craggy-side, where, he
trusted, she would be safe from L'Isle and Popery.

Many signs of a speedy flitting were now seen about head-quarters.
Lady Mabel sat melancholy and alone in her half-dismantled
drawing-room. To-morrow, she is again to enter the desert of Alemtejo,
on her way back to Lisbon. What a relief she would have found in busy
preparations, even for that dull journey, now robbed of all the charms
of novelty and expectation; but Moodie's industrious alacrity had
deprived her even of this resource. She was ready, and, instead of
busy preparations, had only sad thoughts to occupy her. About to part
with that father, of whom she had known more in the last three months
than in all her life before; for hitherto her's had been but a child's
knowledge of him--loving him and proud of him--for the defects she
began to see she viewed but as minor blemishes, foreign to his nature,
and due solely to that long career in which he had known no home, nor
companionship, but what he found in garrison and field; she could not
conceal from herself the new career of danger he was about to
run. Everything she heard indicated that he was now to march to fields
where war's wild work would be urged on with a fury, and on a scale
for which the last five campaigns, great as their results had been,
were but the preparation. She shuddered to think that, yet a few days
or weeks, and the veteran of near forty years of service may lie on
his last field. This, perhaps, was not her greatest grief, but she
strove to make it so, and sat gloomily and anxiously awaiting her
father's return from Elvas.

Presently she heard the sound of horses' hoofs clattering on the
pavement of the court. Rising from her melancholy posture, she was
going to meet her father, when, on opening the door, Colonel L'Isle
stood before her.

All the incidents of the last evening they had spent together,
particularly those which he had so carefully suppressed from the
narrative wrung from him, rushed upon her memory. Her folly and his
generous forbearance stood facing each other. Casting her eyes on the
floor, and grasping the handle of the door, to steady her tottering
frame, she could only gasp out, "I expected my father."

"My lord is very busy in Elvas, and so indeed was I," said L'Isle,
coolly; "but, as I march at sunrise to-morrow, I felt bound to borrow
a few minutes from duty to take my leave of Lady Mabel Stewart."

She now recollected herself enough to let go the handle of the door,
and make room for him to enter, and, by a motion of the hand, invited
him to take a seat.

Taking a chair near her, L'Isle ran his eye round the well-remembered
room. Perhaps he was thinking of his last visit here--perhaps
remarking its dismantled, comfortless condition. It was not more
changed than he was. All his earnest frankness of manner was gone. He
seemed to have borrowed a leaf from Colonel Bradshawe's book; and his
air of cool self-possession, his imperturbable manner, under the
present trying circumstances, would have excited that gentleman's
admiration, but it added a chill to the discomfort of Lady Mabel's

Had he been angry, indignant, haughty, or sullen, it would have been
an infinite relief to her. She might have known how to deal with him,
and perchance have soon brought him round to a very different
mood. Now L'Isle evidently waited with cool politeness to hear some
sound from her lips; and she at length stammered out, "I am very sorry
that you are going--that is, that papa and all of you are going so

"Our pleasant sojourn in Elvas is over!" said L'Isle, carelessly, "and
Elvas is a pleasant place. Your stay here, too, has been quite an
episode in winter quarters. We cannot thank you too much for the
enlivening influence of your presence among us. I, for one, will ever
carry with me a vivid recollection of it."

Lady Mabel bowed. How cold and formal did this sound in her ears.

"To do ourselves justice," continued L'Isle, "some of us have not been
remiss in our efforts to enable you to pass your time pleasantly. I
dare say now, were I to hold myself to a strict account, I could
reckon up many an hour stolen from the dull routine of duty to devote
it to Lady Mabel's service."

"I am surely deeply indebted to you for the hours you so borrowed to
bestow on me," Lady Mabel answered, much at a loss what to say, and
looking every way but at L'Isle. "When I look back, I cannot but be
surprised at the amount of my gains, the knowledge and amusement I
have crowded into three short months, and chiefly through you."

"That time has passed, however," said L'Isle; "I can no longer be at
hand to afford you amusement. And as for knowledge, although older
than you, and knowing more of life, the world, and perchance of books,
I doubt whether you have been the greatest gainer in our intercourse.
But feeling a deep interest in you, I sincerely hope that you may gain
one precious lesson through me."

"What is that?" asked Lady Mabel eagerly--for the first time looking
fully at him.

"Never again heartlessly to throw away a friend!!" L'Isle said this
more gravely than bitterly. Then rising, he bowed respectfully but
formally, and was turning to go away.

Can she let him go without one word? But what can she say? She, at
length, gasped out, "It was papa's doing."

"Your father's doing!" exclaimed L'Isle, with well-feigned
astonishment. "Then Lady Mabel is an automaton," he added scornfully,
"and I, blockhead that I am, never found it out till now! But I am
thankful for wisdom even that comes too late. I now know Lady Mabel
and myself."

Was not Lady Mabel now disarmed and defenceless? Completely at his
mercy? By no means! In this extremity she sheltered herself behind her
strongest defences. She covered her face with her hands, and burst
into tears.

Was ever man more embarrassed than L'Isle? His proud, scornful air,
vanished like a snow-flake in the fire--and forgetting all that had
passed, he was seizing her hands to draw them away from her face, when
old Moodie abruptly entered the room, and called out, "Colonel L'Isle,
you are wanted in Elvas?"

"What the devil are you doing here?" said L'Isle, turning round
quickly, and placing himself so as to hide Lady Mabel's face.

"My duty," said the old man sternly, "and they have sent for you to
attend to yours!" for he saw that something had gone wrong; and he
longed to get L'Isle out of the house.

Looking into the passage, L'Isle now saw an orderly, whom Moodie had
officiously brought up-stairs from the door, and he hurried out to
receive the man's message, and send him off. This done, he hastily
re-entered the room to speak to Lady Mabel. But he was too late! The
bird had flown, and her old Scotch terrier was covering her retreat,
shutting the door of the next room behind her, and spitefully locking
it in L'Isle's face.

At sunrise, the next morning, L'Isle marched his regiment out of
Elvas. Setting his face sternly northward, he never once looked back
on the serried ranks which followed him, until the embattled heights
of La Lippe had hidden Elvas and its surroundings. Turning his back
upon the past, he strove to look but to the future; but at the very
moment of this resolve, memory cheated him, and he caught himself
repeating a line of Lady Mabel's song:

  "All else forgotten, War is now my theme."

and the thrilling music of her intonation seemed to swell upon his
ear. He hastily exchanged his quotation for a greater poet's words:

  "He that is truly dedicate to war,
   Hath no self-love."

If it be possible to forget, he will have ample opportunity, amidst
the crash of armies and the crumbling of an empire, to erase from his
memory Elvas, and its "episode in winter quarters." From the heights
of Traz os Montes, Wellington was now to make an eagle's swoop upon
the north of Spain, and a lion's spring upon the herd, driven into the
basin of Vittoria. The march now begun was to lead thence to the
blood-stained passes of the Pyrennees, to Bayonne, Orthes, and
Toulouse, and later, to Paris, from the field of Waterloo. But who
shall measure, step by step, over conquered enemies and fallen
friends, this long eventful road?

  "To die beneath the hoofs of trampling steeds,
   That is the lot of heroes upon earth!"


    He that commends me to mine own content,
  Commends me to the thing I cannot get.
  I to the world am like a drop of water,
  That in the ocean seeks another drop;
  Who, falling there to find his fellow forth,
  Unseen, inquisitive, confounds himself.

                                  Comedy of Errors.

Three eventful years have passed, and a general peace is giving rest
to exhausted Europe. The war has cut off many a brave man; but it
remained for peace to terminate the military career of a rising
soldier in L'Isle's person; and sad to say, before he was either Major
general or knight of the Bath; though sought in many a dangerous path,
he had not found his golden spurs.

Regiments have been disbanded, his comrades are scattered, and he
himself has nothing to do, not even the poor resource of having to
study economy on half-pay, or of looking for more additional means to
eke out a living.

It is the curse of those entirely engrossing pursuits, which excite
all our enthusiasm, and task every energy, and of which the
statesman's and the soldier's callings are the best examples, that,
when they fail us, we can find no substitute. All things else are, by
comparison, stale, flat, and unprofitable. Can the brandy drinker
cheer himself with draughts of small beer? Screw up his nervous
energies to their accustomed tone with slops?

Tired to death of fox-hunting, pleasant shooting, and country
neighbors; all the means of excitement around him exhausted, L'Isle
lounged in the library at C----d Hall, with half a dozen open but
discarded volumes before him, revolving in his mind all possible means
of occupation. At one time he would resolve to travel the world over,
and get up a personal narrative, attractive as that of Humboldt, and
views of nature, that should look through nature's surface to the
recognition of Nature's God, whom the philosopher seems never to have
found in all his works. At another time, in order more effectively to
counteract the ill effects, on mind and habits, of the soldier's
exciting and unsettled life, he resolves to subject himself to still
severer regimen: not to go rambling about the world, an idling
philosopher, but to tie himself down to one spot, and take violently
to a course of high farming; grow the largest turnips, breed the
fattest South-downs, and the heaviest Devonshires, and carry off
agricultural prizes as substitutes for additional Waterloo medals.

But this was too severe a contrast to his late mode of life, and the
prospect soon disgusted him utterly. Having strong influence to back
him, he now thought of getting a seat in Parliament, and for a moment
the prophetic cries of 'Hear! hear!' arose from both sides of a full
House of Commons. But he knew that the occasion, even more than the
man, makes the orator; and in 'this weak piping time of peace,' these
cost-counting, debt-paying days, he foresaw no occasion that could
call forth the thunders of Demosthenes or Burke.--But although a new
light shines in upon him, and he suddenly makes up his mind that,
since he can no longer take the field, because all the world is tired
of fighting, and yet more of paying the bills run up in that expensive
diversion, he will write the narrative of the campaigns in which he
had taken part, without letting the '_quorum pars magna fui_' fill too
large a place in the picture.--Where can he find so much of the
materials needed in the construction of his work as in London? So to
London he went.

The season was at its height, and the town was full. L'Isle's object
required that he should not only examine many musty papers, but see
many persons; as some of his gayer friends soon found him out, and
induced him to look in upon the inner circles of London fashionable
life, to which his early and long absence from England had kept him a

It so happened that Lord Strathern had come up from his moors, where
the winter had got too cold for him (the climate had changed much
since he was a boy), to visit the clubs and meet old comrades. But
these proved too much for the old veteran, who soon had to shut
himself up, in order to stave off an attack of his old enemy, the
gout. He would not, however, permit Lady Mabel to stand the siege with
him. The consequence was, that not long after L'Isle had come up to
London, he found himself in one of Lady D----'s thronged rooms, within
four steps of Lady Mabel.

In three years she had become, if we may be pardoned the bull, more
like herself than ever, for she was now all that she had promised to
be. She shone out in a richer and riper beauty, and a more sedate and
womanly deportment set it off, retaining not the least trace of that
somewhat cavalier manner she had picked up in the brigade. She was
more than three years wiser, and certainly more dangerous than ever.

L'Isle had long and studiously schooled himself to the conviction that
his fair and fascinating companion in Elvas was, after all, but a
heartless woman. Yet his vanity, to say nothing of any other feeling,
had never quite gotten over the rude shock it had received on Mrs.
Shortridge's great night there. His first thought was to withdraw from
the dangerous neighborhood. But he blushed at his own cowardice; and
the moment after, having caught her eye, he, self-confident, made his
way through the crowd, and greeted her politely as an old
acquaintance. It was plain that she was a little nervous on his
approach; her lips were compressed for a moment, and she drew more
than one deep breath, while watching him closely, and carefully
modeling her manner by his. Yet no stranger could have inferred, from
word or look, that they had not met for years, still less that they
had ever met on terms of intimacy. If L'Isle needlessly prolonged the
conversation, to the annoyance of the gentlemen at her elbow, his sole
object was to prove to her, beyond the possibility of doubt, by his
easy self-possession, that he had now, at least, attained to a sublime
indifference where she was concerned.

The ice once broken, accident seemed to throw them frequently into the
same company. L'Isle doubtless needed relaxation from his historical
labors; and a London season had at least the attraction of novelty for
him. He was, too, just the man to win friends among the ladies; yet he
still made it a point, whenever he met Lady Mabel, to bestow on her a
few minutes cold attention and indifferent notice, for old
acquaintance sake.

Lady Mabel stood in no need of these attentions. It was not her first
season; and many a butterfly, that hovered about that garden which
blooms in winter at the West-End, had hailed with delight the
reappearance of this rare flower. And she liked to have them buzzing
about her; it was her due, and yielded pleasant pastime. Yet while
busiest dealing sentiment, jest, and repartee among them, she now had
always an ear and a word for L'Isle, when he condescended to bestow a
few minutes cold consideration on her.

Her gentlemen in waiting wondered at her having so much to say to
L'Isle. She seemed to be under an obligation to be at leisure for him;
and Sir Charles Moreton, who was argus-eyed where Lady Mabel was
concerned, ventured to ask: "What pleasure can you find in talking to
this austere soldier? His smile is a sneer; he warms only to grow
caustic, and his cynical air betrays how little he cares even for

"Were you ever clogged with sweet things?" asked Lady Mabel. "At times
I tire of bonbons, and long for vinegar, salt and pepper. My austere
friend deals in these articles."

She seemed to have found a special use for him, treating him as a
complete thinking machine, of high powers of observation, inflection,
thought and reason, but not susceptible of aught that savored of
feeling, sentiment or passion. She quietly threw the mantle of Mentor
over his shoulders, deferred to his judgment, had recourse to him as a
store-house of knowledge; and seemed so fully impressed with the fact
that he had a head, as utterly to forget the probability of his having
a heart. With a strange perversity, L'Isle was at once flattered and
annoyed at the use she made of him. It was an unequal game he was
playing, like a moth fluttering round a candle. His temper began to be
worn threadbare, and oftener than ever he repeated to himself, "She is
a heartless woman!"

In this mood L'Isle was listening, with a curled lip, to an animated
discussion between Lady Mabel, Sir Charles Moreton, and another
gentleman, as to the merits of a new actress, a dramatic meteor, then
briefly eminent on the London boards. The Honorable Mr. L----, who
was a _savant_ in the small sciences that cater to amusement,
pronounced her the Siddons of the day; Lady Mabel called her a ranter,
then, as if alarmed at her temerity, appealed as usual to L'Isle.

"No one can be a better judge of acting than Lady Mabel," said
L'Isle. "But for her opinion, I would call your favorite an
indifferently good actress."

Thus to "damn with faint praise," displeased Mr. L---- more than
positive censure, and he exclaimed: "Then you never saw her play Jane
Shore. The illusion is perfect. The house is deceived into forgetting
the drama, to witness the living and dying agonies of the desolate
penitent. Who can equal her?"

"Many," answered L'Isle; "and Lady Mabel can do better."

"Lady Mabel! She doubtless excels in everything. But I never saw her

"I have," said L'Isle bitterly. "The illusion of Mrs. ----'s acting is
limited to the spectators. Lady Mabel deceives him who acts with her."

Lady Mabel turned pale, and then red, while the two gentlemen stared
at her and L'Isle alternately. Suddenly exclaiming, "There is my
friend, Mrs. B----. I have not seen her for a month. I must go and
speak to her," she accepted the arm of the _savant_ in small things,
and hastened after her friend, who had appeared so opportunely.

"You set little value on Lady Mabel's favors," said Sir Charles,
looking inquisitively at L'Isle. "You have certainly offended her

"Do you think so?" said L'Isle coldly. "Then I suppose I must
apologize and beg my peace."

"If you do it successfully," said his companion, "I will be glad of a
lesson from you in the art."

L'Isle was angry with himself. Not that he felt that he owed Lady
Mabel any amends. But he had never until now made the slightest
allusion to certain scenes in the past. Pride had forbidden it. And he
was still reproaching himself with his want of self-control, when, on
entering another room, he saw Lady Mabel seated between two old
ladies, having ensconced herself there to get rid of the small

She no longer looked discomposed or angry, nor did she turn her eyes
away on his approach. She almost seemed to wish to speak to him. So
he offered his arm, and they walked toward the room he had just left.

"I know that you are too proud," she said, "to ask any pardon for the
attack you made on me just now. So I wish to tell you that I have
already forgiven it."

"That is truly generous," said L'Isle, with haughty irony. "You prove
the adage false which says, 'The injurer never forgives.'"

"Say you so? I see then that you have gone back years to dig up old
offences. Although I remember, to repent of them, I trusted that you
would have willingly forgiven and forgot my folly, or only recall it
to laugh at it. I know now," she said, stealing a look at him, "that
you are of an unforgetting, unforgiving temper." Then looking away,
she added, "I thought better of you once."

"There are some things," answered L'Isle, but in a softened tone, "not
to be forgotten, nor easily forgiven."

"I assure you," said Lady Mabel, with the air of a penitent, "I have
been terribly ashamed of myself ever since. Had I known that you still
viewed my thoughtless conduct as a serious wrong to you, I would
willingly have made you any apology, any reparation."

"Apologies would hardly reach the evil," said L'Isle. "But any
reparation! That is a broad term."

"Any, I mean, that you ought to ask, or I to make."

"There would be no absolute impropriety in my asking a good deal,"
said L'Isle, in tones that reminded Lady Mabel of some witching
moments in Elvas, "I will not make the blunder of asking too little,"
he added resolutely. "Let me first ask when you will be at home
to-morrow--at three?"

"Certainly at three; more certainly at two," she answered in a low

"And most certainly at one," said he joyously. "I like your
superlative degree of comparison."

"I only meant," she said, yet more confused, "that I am more likely to
be at home alone at two." And turning quickly away, she took a vacant
seat beside one of her friends, to whom, while fanning herself, she
complained of the heated room. She seemed, indeed, quite overcome by
it, which accounted for her labored breathing and heightened color.

       *       *       *       *       *

"After all," said Lady Mabel, some days after the morning on which
L'Isle found her at home alone, "I was neither so good an actress, nor
so great a hypocrite as you took me for. My offence was not so much
that I simulated, as that I ceased to dissemble."

L'Isle readily embraced the faith that she was no actress but a true
woman, nor did he ever waver from it. But she did not always find so
easy a convert. Old Moodie, true to his nature, baffled all her
efforts to convince him of his errors. It is true that he became in
time, somewhat reconciled to L'Isle, but to his dying day he continued
to laud that special providence, which had snatched Lady Mabel from
the land of idolatry, at the very last moment before her perversion to

Lady Mabel was not the woman to forget old friends; and now, that she
could recur with pleasure to her recollections of Elvas, she sought
out that companion who had so amiably filled the part of duenna and
chaperon. She and Mrs. Shortridge fought all their battles over again,
by retracing, step by step, varied excursions and toilsome journey,
while enjoying all the comforts of an English home. But it never does
to tell all that we do, still less, to lay open the spirit in which we
do it. Lady Mabel never let Mrs. Shortridge fully into the secret
history of the last dark treacherous scene in the episode in winter

Lord Strathern was much pleased to find that L'Isle had greatly
modified his opinion, as to the mechanical nature of an army, and
hoped in time to dispel certain other erroneous notions, to which he
had formerly clung so stubbornly. It is not known whether or not
L'Isle ever finished his narrative of the Peninsular campaigns. It is
certain that he never published it. The author often labors harder
than the ploughman; and when a man is made happy, he becomes lazy. Let
the wretched toil to mend his lot, or to forget it.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Actress in High Life - An Episode in Winter Quarters" ***

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