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´╗┐Title: Under Wellington's Command - A Tale of the Peninsular War
Author: Henty, G. A. (George Alfred), 1832-1902
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Under Wellington's Command - A Tale of the Peninsular War" ***

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Under Wellington's Command:
A Tale of the Peninsular War
by G. A. Henty.

Contents

Preface.
Chapter  1: A Detached Force.
Chapter  2: Talavera.
Chapter  3: Prisoners.
Chapter  4: Guerillas.
Chapter  5: An Escape.
Chapter  6: Afloat.
Chapter  7: A French Privateer.
Chapter  8: A Smart Engagement.
Chapter  9: Rejoining.
Chapter 10: Almeida.
Chapter 11: The French Advance.
Chapter 12: Fuentes D'Onoro.
Chapter 13: From Salamanca To Cadiz.
Chapter 14: Effecting A Diversion.
Chapter 15: Dick Ryan's Capture.
Chapter 16: Back With The Army.
Chapter 17: Ciudad Rodrigo.
Chapter 18: The Sack Of A City.
Chapter 19: Gratitude.
Chapter 20: Salamanca.
Chapter 21: Home Again.

Illustrations

"You may as well make your report to me, O'Connor."
Plan of the Battle of Talavera.
"We surrender, sir, as prisoners of war."
Stooping so that their figures should not show against the sky.
"She is walking along now."
"This is Colonel O'Connor, sir."
Plan of the Battle of Busaco.
"Good news. We are going to take Coimbra."
Plan of the Lines of Torres Vedras.
Plan of the Battle of Fuentes d'Onoro.
The men leapt to their feet, cheering vociferously.
"Search him at once."
The man fell, with a sharp cry.
Plan of the Forts and Operations round Salamanca.
A shell had struck Terence's horse.



Preface.


As many boys into whose hands the present volume may fall will not
have read my last year's book, With Moore in Corunna, of which this
is a continuation, it is necessary that a few words should be said,
to enable them to take up the thread of the story. It was
impossible, in the limits of one book, to give even an outline of
the story of the Peninsular War, without devoting the whole space
to the military operations. It would, in fact, have been a history
rather than a tale; and it accordingly closed with the passage of
the Douro, and the expulsion of the French from Portugal.

The hero, Terence O'Connor, was the son of the senior captain of
the Mayo Fusiliers and, when the regiment was ordered to join Sir
Arthur Wellesley's expedition to Portugal, the colonel of the
regiment obtained for him a commission; although so notorious was
the boy, for his mischievous pranks, that the colonel hesitated
whether he would not get into some serious scrapes; especially as
Dick Ryan, one of the ensigns, was always his companion in
mischief, and both were aided and abetted by Captain O'Grady.

However, on the way out, the slow old transport, in which a wing of
the regiment was carried, was attacked by two French privateers,
who would have either taken or sunk her, had it not been for a
happy suggestion of the quick-witted lad. For this he gained great
credit, and was selected by General Fane as one of his aides-de-camp.
In this capacity he went through the arduous campaign, under General
Moore, that ended at Corunna.

His father had been so seriously wounded, at Vimiera, that he was
invalided home and placed on half pay; and in the same battle
Captain O'Grady lost his left arm but, on its being cured, returned
to his place in the regiment.

At Corunna Terence, while carrying a despatch, was thrown from his
horse and stunned; and on recovering found that the British had
already embarked on board the ships of the fleet. He made his way
to the frontier of Portugal, and thence to Lisbon. He was then
appointed to the staff of Sir John Craddock, who was now in
command; and sent in charge of some treasure for the use of the
Spanish General Romana, who was collecting a force on the northern
border of Portugal. Terence had orders to aid him, in any way in
his power, to check the invasion of Portugal from the north.

Of this order he took advantage when, on the way, the agents of the
junta of Oporto endeavoured to rob him; attacking the house where
he and his escort had taken up their quarters with a newly-raised
levy of two thousand five hundred unarmed peasants. By a ruse he
got their leaders into his hands, and these showed such abject
cowardice that the peasants refused further to follow them, and
asked Terence to take the command of the force.

He assented, formed them into two battalions, appointed two British
orderlies as majors, the Portuguese officer of his escort
lieutenant-colonel, and his troopers captains of companies; put
them in the way of obtaining arms and, by dint of hard drill and
kindness, converted them into an efficient body of soldiers.
Finding that little was to be expected from Romana's force, he
acted as a partisan leader and, in this capacity, performed such
valuable service that he was confirmed in the command of his force,
which received the name of the Minho regiment; and he and his
officers received commissions for the rank they held in the
Portuguese army.

At Oporto he rescued from a convent a cousin, who, at the death of
her father, a British merchant there, had been shut up by her
Portuguese mother until she would consent to sign away the property
to which she was entitled, and to become a nun. She went to England
to live with Terence's father, and came into possession of the
fortune which her father, foreseeing that difficulties might arise
at his death, had forwarded to a bank at home, having appointed
Captain O'Connor her guardian.

The present volume takes the story of the Peninsular War up to the
battle of Salamanca, and concludes the history of Terence O'Connor.
My readers will understand that, in all actions in which the
British army took part, the details are accurately given; but that
the doings of the Minho regiment, and of Terence O'Connor as a
partisan leader, are not to be considered as strictly historical,
although similar feats of daring and adventure were accomplished by
Trant, Pack, and other leaders of irregular forces.

G. A. Henty.



Chapter 1: A Detached Force.


"Be jabers, Terence, we shall all die of weariness with doing
nothing, if we don't move soon," said Captain O'Grady; who, with
Dick Ryan, had ridden over to spend the afternoon with Terence
O'Connor, whose regiment of Portuguese was encamped some six miles
out of Abrantes, where the division to which the Mayo Fusiliers
belonged was stationed.

"Here we are in June, and the sun getting hotter and hotter, and
the whisky just come to an end, though we have been mighty sparing
over it, and nothing to eat but ration beef. Begorrah, if it wasn't
for the bastely drill, I should forget that I was a soldier at all.
I should take meself for a convict, condemned to stop all me life
in one place. At first there was something to do, for one could
forage for food dacent to eat; but now I don't believe there is as
much as an old hen left within fifteen miles, and as for ducks and
geese, I have almost forgotten the taste of them."

"It is not lively work, O'Grady, but it is worse for me here. You
have got Dicky Ryan to stir you up and keep you alive, and
O'Flaherty to look after your health and see that you don't exceed
your allowance; while practically I have no one but Herrara to
speak to, for though Bull and Macwitty are excellent fellows in
their way, they are not much as companions.

"However, I think we must be nearly at the end of it. We have got
pretty well all the troops up here, except those who are to remain
at Lisbon."

"I see the men," O'Grady said, "but I don't see the victuals. We
can't march until we get transport and food, and where they are to
come from no one seems to know."

"I am afraid we shall do badly for a time in that respect, O'Grady.
Sir Arthur has not had time, yet, to find out what humbugs the
Spaniards are, and what wholesale lies they tell. Of course, he had
some slight experience of it when we first landed, at the Mondego;
but it takes longer than that to get at the bottom of their want of
faith. Craddock learnt it after a bitter experience, and so did
Moore. I have no doubt that the Spaniards have represented to Sir
Arthur that they have large disciplined armies, that the French
have been reduced to a mere handful, and that they are only waiting
for his advance to drive them across the frontier. Also, no doubt,
they have promised to find any amount of transport and provisions,
as soon as he enters Spain. As to relying upon Cuesta, you might as
well rely upon the assistance of an army of hares, commanded by a
pig-headed owl."

"I can't make out, meself," O'Grady said, "what we want to have
anything to do with the Spaniards for, at all. If I were in Sir
Arthur's place, I would just march straight against the French and
thrash them."

"That sounds well, O'Grady, but we know very little about where the
French are, what they are doing, or what is their strength; and I
think that you will allow that, though we have beaten them each
time we have met them, they fought well. At Rolica we were three to
one against them, and at Vimiera we had the advantage of a strong
position. At Corunna things were pretty well even, but we had our
backs to the wall.

"I am afraid, O'Grady, that just at present you are scarcely
qualified to take command of the army; except only on the one
point, that you thoroughly distrust the Spaniards.

"Well, Dick, have you been having any fun lately?"

"It is not to be done, Terence. Everyone is too disgusted and out
of temper to make it safe. Even the chief is dangerous. I would as
soon think of playing a joke on a wandering tiger, as on him. The
major is not a man to trifle with, at the best of times and, except
O'Flaherty, there is not a man among them who has a good word to
throw at a dog. Faith, when one thinks of the good time one used to
have at Athlone, it is heartbreaking."

"Well, come in and refresh yourselves. I have a bottle or two still
left."

"That is good news!" O'Grady said fervently. "It has been on the
tip of me tongue to ask you, for me mouth is like an oven; but I
was so afraid you would say it was gone that I dare n't open me
lips about it."

"To tell you the truth, O'Grady, except when some of you fellows
come over, there is not any whisky touched in this camp. I have
kept it strictly for your sergeants, who have been helping to teach
my men drill, and coaching the non-commissioned officers. It has
been hard work for them, but they have stuck to it well, and the
thought of an allowance at the end of the day's work has done
wonders with them.

"We made a very fair show when we came in, but now I think the two
battalions could work with the best here, without doing themselves
discredit. The non-commissioned officers have always been our weak
point, but now my fellows know their work very fairly, and they go
at it with a will. You see, they are all very proud of the corps,
and have spared no pains to make themselves worthy of it.

"Of course, what you may call purely parade movements are not done
as they are by our infantry; but in all useful work, I would back
them against any here. They are very fair shots, too. I have paid
for a lot of extra ammunition; which, I confess, we bought from
some of the native levies. No doubt I should get into a row over
it, if it were known; but as these fellows are not likely ever to
fire a shot against the French, and it is of importance that mine
should be able to shoot well, I didn't hesitate to do it.
Fortunately the regimental chest is not empty, and all the officers
have given a third of their pay, to help. But it has certainly done
a lot of good, and the shooting has greatly improved since we came
here."

"I have been working steadily at Portuguese, Terence, ever since
you spoke to me about it. One has no end of time on one's hands
and, really, I am getting on very fairly."

"That is right, Dicky. If we win this campaign I will certainly ask
for you as adjutant. I shall be awfully glad to have you with me,
and I really do want an adjutant for each battalion.

"And you, O'Grady?"

"Well, I can't report favourably of meself at all, at all. I tried
hard for a week, and it is the fault of me tongue, and not of
meself. I can't get it to twist itself to the outlandish words. I
am willing enough, but me tongue isn't; and I am afraid that, were
it a necessity that every officer in your corps should speak the
bastely language, I should have to stay at home."

"I am afraid that it is quite necessary, O'Grady," Terence laughed.
"An adjutant who could not make himself understood would be of no
shadow of use. You know how I should like to have you with me; but,
upon the other hand, there would be inconveniences. You are, as you
have said many a time, my superior officer in our army, and I
really should not like to have to give you orders. Then again, Bull
and Macwitty are still more your juniors, having only received
their commissions a few months back; and they would feel just as
uncomfortable as I should, at having you under them. I don't think
that it would do at all. Besides, you know, you are not fond of
work by any means, and there would be more to do in a regiment like
this than in one of our own."

"I suppose that it must be so, Terence," O'Grady said resignedly,
as he emptied his tumbler; "and besides, there is a sort of
superstition in the service that an adjutant should be always able
to walk straight to his tent, even after a warm night at mess. Now,
although it seems to me that I have every other qualification, in
that respect I should be a failure; and I imagine that, in a
Portuguese regiment, the thing would be looked at more seriously
than it is in an Irish one; where such a matter occurs,
occasionally, among men as well as officers."

"That is quite true, O'Grady. The Portuguese are a sober people and
would not, as you say, be able to make the same allowance for our
weaknesses that Irish soldiers do; seeing that it is too common for
our men to be either one way or the other.

"However, Ryan, I do hope I shall be able to get you. I never had
much hopes of O'Grady; and this failure of his tongue to aid him,
in his vigorous efforts to learn the language, seems to quite
settle the matter as far as he is concerned."

At this moment an orderly rode up to the tent. Terence went out.

"A despatch from headquarters, sir," the trooper said, saluting.

"All right, my man! You had better wait for five minutes, and see
if any answer is required."

Going into the tent, he opened the despatch.

"Hooray!" he said, as he glanced at the contents, "here is a
movement, at last."

The letter was as follows:

"Colonel O'Connor will at once march with his force to Plasencia;
and will reconnoitre the country between that town and the Tagus to
the south, and Bejar to the north. He will ascertain, as far as
possible, the position and movements of the French army under
Victor. He will send a daily report of his observations to
headquarters. Twenty Portuguese cavalry, under a subaltern, will be
attached to his command, and will furnish orderlies to carry his
reports.

"It is desirable that Colonel O'Connor's troops should not come in
contact with the enemy, except to check any reconnoitring parties
moving towards Castello Branco and Villa Velha. It is most
necessary to prevent the news of an advance of the army in that
direction reaching the enemy, and to give the earliest possible
information of any hostile gathering that might menace the flank of
the army, while on its march.

"The passes of Banos and Periles will be held by the troops of
Marshal Beresford and General Del Parque, and it is to the country
between the mountains and Marshal Cuesta's force, at Almaraz, that
Colonel O'Connor is directed to concentrate his attention. In case
of being attacked by superior forces, Colonel O'Connor will, if
possible, retreat into the mountains on his left flank, maintain
himself there, and open communications with Lord Beresford's forces
at Banos or Bejar.

"Colonel O'Connor is authorized to requisition six carts from the
quartermaster's department, and to hand over his tents to them; to
draw 50,000 rounds of ball cartridge, and such rations as he may be
able to carry with him. The paymaster has received authority to
hand over to him 500 pounds, for the payment of supplies for his
men. When this sum is exhausted, Colonel O'Connor is authorized to
issue orders for supplies payable by the paymaster to the forces,
exercising the strictest economy, and sending notification to the
Paymaster General of the issue of such orders.

"This despatch is confidential, and the direction of the route is,
on no account, to be divulged."

"You hear that, O'Grady; and you too, Dicky. I ought not to have
read the despatch out loud. However, I know you will keep the
matter secret."

"You may trust us for that, Terence, for it is a secret worth
knowing. It is evident that Sir Arthur is going to join Cuesta, and
make a dash on Madrid. Well, he has been long enough in making up
his mind; but it is a satisfaction that we are likely to have hot
work, at last, though I wish we could have done it without those
Spaniards. We have seen enough of them to know that nothing, beyond
kind words, are to be expected of them and, when the time for
fighting comes, I would rather that we depended upon ourselves than
have to act with fellows on whom there is no reliance, whatever, to
be placed."

"I agree with you there, heartily, O'Grady. However, thank goodness
we are going to set out at last; and I am very glad that it falls
to us to act as the vanguard of the army, instead of being attached
to Beresford's command and kept stationary in the passes.

"Now I must be at work. I daresay we shall meet again, before
long."

Terence wrote an acknowledgment of the receipt of the general's
order, and handed it to the orderly who had brought it. A bugler at
once sounded the field-officers' call.

"We are to march at once," he said, when Herrara, Bull, and
Macwitty arrived. "Let the tents be struck, and handed over to the
quartermaster's department. See that the men have four days'
biscuit in their haversacks.

"Each battalion is to take three carts with it. I will go to the
quartermaster's department, to draw them. Tell off six men from
each battalion to accompany me, and take charge of the carts. Each
battalion will carry 25,000 rounds of spare ammunition, and a chest
of 250 pounds. I will requisition from the commissariat as much
biscuit as we can carry, and twenty bullocks for each battalion, to
be driven with the carts.

"As soon as the carts are obtained, the men will drive them to the
ordnance stores for the ammunition, and to the commissariat stores
to load up the food. You had better send an officer in charge of
the men of each battalion.

"I will myself draw the money from the paymaster. I will go there
at once. Send a couple of men with me, for of course it will be
paid in silver. Then I will go to the quartermaster's stores, and
get the carts ready by the time that the men arrive. I want to
march in an hour's time, at latest."

In a few minutes the camp was a scene of bustle and activity. The
tents were struck and packed away in their bags, and piled in order
to be handed over to the quartermaster; and in a few minutes over
an hour from the receipt of the order, the two battalions were in
motion.

After a twenty-mile march, they halted for the night near the
frontier. An hour later they were joined by twenty troopers of a
Portuguese regiment, under the command of a subaltern.

The next day they marched through Plasencia, and halted for the
night on the slopes of the Sierra. An orderly was despatched, next
morning, to the officer in command of any force that there might be
at Banos, informing him of the position that they had taken up.

Terence ordered two companies to remain at this spot, which was at
the head of a little stream running down into an affluent of the
Tagus; their position being now nearly due north of Almaraz, from
which they were distant some twenty miles. The rest of the force
descended into the plain, and took post at various villages between
the Sierra and Oropesa, the most advanced party halting four miles
from that town.

The French forces under Victor had, in accordance with orders from
Madrid, fallen back from Plasencia a week before, and taken up his
quarters at Talavera.

At the time when the regiment received its uniforms, Terence had
ordered that twenty suits of the men's peasant clothes should be
retained in store and, specially intelligent men being chosen,
twenty of these were sent forward towards the river Alberche, to
discover Victor's position. They brought in news that he had placed
his troops behind the river, and that Cuesta, who had at one time
an advanced guard at Oropesa, had recalled it to Almaraz. Parties
of Victor's cavalry were patrolling the country between Talavera
and Oropesa.

Terence had sent Bull, with five hundred men, to occupy all the
passes across the Sierras, with orders to capture any orderlies or
messengers who might come along; and a day later four men brought
in a French officer, who had been captured on the road leading
south. He was the bearer of a letter from Soult to the king, and
was at once sent, under the escort of four troopers, to
headquarters.

The men who had brought in the officer reported that they had
learned that Wilson, with his command of four thousand men, was in
the mountains north of the Escurial; and that spies from that
officer had ascertained that there was great alarm in Madrid, where
the news of the British advance towards Plasencia was already
known; and that it was feared that this force, with Cuesta's army
at Almaraz and Venegas' army in La Mancha, were about to combine in
an attack upon the capital. This, indeed, was Sir Arthur's plan,
and had been arranged with the Supreme Junta. The Junta, however,
being jealous of Cuesta, had given secret instructions to Venegas
to keep aloof.

On his arrival at Plasencia, the English general had learned at
once the hollowness of the Spanish promises. He had been assured of
an ample supply of food, mules, and carts for transport; and had,
on the strength of these statements, advanced with but small
supplies, for little food and but few animals could be obtained in
Portugal. He found, on arriving, that no preparations whatever had
been made; and the army, thus early in the campaign, was put on
half rations. Day after day passed without any of the promised
supplies arriving, and Sir Arthur wrote to the Supreme Junta;
saying that although, in accordance with his agreement, he would
march to the Alberche, he would not cross that river unless the
promises that had been made were kept, to the letter.

He had, by this time, learned that the French forces north of the
mountains were much more formidable than the Spanish reports had
led him to believe; but he still greatly underrated Soult's army,
and was altogether ignorant that Ney had evacuated Galicia, and was
marching south with all speed, with his command. Del Parque had
failed in his promise to garrison Bejar and Banos, and these passes
were now only held by a few hundreds of Cuesta's Spaniards.

A week after taking up his position north of Oropesa, Terence
received orders to move with his two battalions, and to take post
to guard these passes; with his left resting on Bejar, and his
right in communication with Wilson's force. The detachments were at
once recalled. A thousand men were posted near Bejar, and the rest
divided among the other passes by which a French army from the
north could cross the Sierra.

As soon as this arrangement was made, Terence rode to Wilson's
headquarters. He was received very cordially by that officer.

"I am heartily glad to see you, Colonel O'Connor," the latter said.
"Of course, I have heard of the doings of your battalions; and am
glad, indeed, to have your support. I sent a messenger off, only
this morning, to Sir Arthur; telling him that, from the information
brought in by my spies, I am convinced that Soult is much stronger
than has been supposed; and that, if he moves south, I shall scarce
be able to hold the passes of Arenas and San Pedro Barnardo; and
that I can certainly spare no men for the defence of the more
westerly ones, by which Soult is likely to march from Salamanca.
However, now you are there, I shall feel safe."

"No doubt I could hinder an advance, Sir Robert," Terence said,
"but I certainly could not hope to bar the passes to a French army.
I have no artillery and, though my men are steady enough against
infantry, I doubt whether they would be able to withstand an attack
heralded by a heavy cannonade. With a couple of batteries of
artillery to sweep the passes, one might make a fair stand for a
time against a greatly superior force; but with only infantry, one
could not hope to maintain one's position."

"Quite so, and Sir Arthur could not expect it. My own opinion is
that we shall have fifty thousand men coming down from the north. I
have told the chief as much; but naturally he will believe the
assurances of the Spanish juntas, rather than reports gathered by
our spies; and no doubt hopes to crush Victor altogether, before
Soult makes any movement; and he trusts to Venegas' advance, from
the south towards the upper Tagus, to cause Don Joseph to evacuate
Madrid, as soon as he hears of Victor's defeat.

"But I have, certainly, no faith whatever in either Venegas or
Cuesta. Cuesta is loyal enough, but he is obstinate and pig headed
and, at present, he is furious because the Supreme Junta has been
sending all the best troops to Venegas, instead of to him; and he
knows, well enough, that that perpetual intriguer Frere is working
underhand to get Albuquerque appointed to the supreme command. As
to Venegas, he is a mere tool of the Supreme Junta and, as likely
as not, they will order him to do nothing but keep his army intact.

"Then again, the delay at Plasencia has upset all Sir Arthur's
arrangements. Had he pressed straight forward on the 28th of last
month, when he crossed the frontier, disregarding Cuesta
altogether, he could have been at Madrid long before this; for I
know that at that time Victor's force had been so weakened that he
had but between fourteen and fifteen thousand men, and must have
fallen back without fighting. Now he has again got the troops that
had been taken from him, and will be further reinforced before Sir
Arthur arrives on the Alberche; and of course Soult has had plenty
of time to get everything in readiness to cross the mountains, and
fall upon the British rear, as soon as he hears that they are
fairly on their way towards Madrid. Here we are at the 20th, and
our forces will only reach Oropesa today.

"Victor is evidently afraid that Sir Arthur will move from Oropesa
towards the hills, pass the upper Alberche, and so place himself
between him and Madrid; for a strong force of cavalry reconnoitred
in this direction, this morning."

"Would it not be as well, sir," said Terence, "if we were to
arrange some signals by which we could aid each other? That hill
top can be seen from the hill beyond which is the little village
where I have established myself. I noticed it this morning, before
I started. If you would keep a lookout on your hill, I would have
one on mine. We might each get three bonfires, a hundred yards
apart, ready for lighting. If I hear of any great force approaching
the defiles I am watching, I could summon your aid either by day or
night by these fires; and in the same way, if Soult should advance
by the line that you are guarding, you could summon me. My men are
really well trained in this sort of work, and you could trust them
to make an obstinate defence."

"I think that your idea is a very good one, and will certainly
carry it out. You see, we are really both of us protecting the left
flank of our army, and can certainly do so more effectually if we
work together.

"We might, too, arrange another signal. One fire might mean that,
for some reason or other, we are marching away. I may have orders
to move some distance towards Madrid, so as to compel Victor to
weaken himself by detaching a force to check me; you may be
ordered, as the army advances, to leave your defiles in charge of
the Spaniards, and to accompany the army. Two fires might mean,
spies have reported a general advance of the French coming by
several routes. Thus, you see, we should be in readiness for any
emergency.

"I should be extremely glad of your help, if Soult comes this way.
My own corps of 1200 men are fairly good soldiers, and I can rely
upon them to do their best; but the other 3000 have been but
recently raised, and I don't think that any dependence can be
placed upon them, in case of hard fighting; but with your two
battalions, we ought to be able to hold any of these defiles for a
considerable time."

Two days later, Terence received orders to march instantly with his
force down into the valley, to follow the foot of the hills until
he reached the Alberche, when he was to report his arrival, wait
until he received orders, and check the advance of any French force
endeavouring to move round the left flank of the British. The
evening before, one signal fire had announced that Wilson was on
the move and, thinking that he, too, might be summoned, Terence had
called in all his outposts, and was able to march a quarter of an
hour after he received the order.

He had learned, on the evening he returned from his visit to Sir
Robert, from men sent down into the plain for the purpose, that
Cuesta's army and that of Sir Arthur had advanced together from
Oropesa. He was glad at the order to join the army, as he had felt
that, should Soult advance, his force, unprovided as it was with
guns, would be able to offer but a very temporary resistance;
especially if the French Marshal was at the head of a force
anything like as strong as was reported by the peasantry. As to
this, however, he had very strong doubts, having come to distrust
thoroughly every report given by the Spaniards. He knew that they
were as ready, under the influence of fear, to exaggerate the force
of an enemy as they were, at other times, to magnify their own
numbers. Sir Arthur must, he thought, be far better informed than
he himself could be; for his men, being Portuguese, were viewed
with doubt and suspicion by the Spanish peasantry, who would
probably take a pleasure in misleading them altogether.

The short stay in the mountains had braced up the men and, with
only a short halt, they made a forty-mile march to the Alberche by
midnight. Scarcely had they lit their fires, when an Hussar officer
and some troopers rode up. They halted a hundred yards away, and
the officer shouted in English:

"What corps is this?"

Terence at once left the fire, and advanced towards them.

"Two Portuguese battalions," he answered, "under myself, Colonel
O'Connor."

The officer at once rode forward.

"I was not quite sure," he said, as he came close, "that my
question would not be answered by a volley. By the direction from
which I saw you coming, I thought that you must be friends. Still,
you might have been an advanced party of a force that had come down
through the defiles. However, as soon as I saw you light your
fires, I made sure it was all right; for the Frenchmen would not
likely have ventured to do so unless, indeed, they were altogether
ignorant of our advance."

"At ten o'clock this morning I received orders from headquarters to
move to this point at once and, as we have marched from Banos, you
see we have lost very little time on the way."

"Indeed, you have not. I suppose it is about forty miles; and that
distance, in fourteen hours, is certainly first-rate marching. I
will send off one of my men to report who you are. Two squadrons of
my regiment are a quarter of a mile away, awaiting my return."

"Have you any reason to believe that the enemy are near?"

"No particular reason that I know of, but their cavalry have been
in great force along the upper part of the river, for the last two
days. Victor has retired from Talavera, for I fancy that he was
afraid we might move round this way, and cut him off from Madrid.
The Spaniards might have harassed him as he fell back, but they
dared not even make a charge on his rear guard, though they had
3000 cavalry.

"We are not quite sure where the French are and, of course, we get
no information from the people here; either their stupidity is
something astounding, or their sympathies are entirely with the
French."

"My experience is," Terence said, "that the best way is to get as
much information as you can from them, and then to act with the
certainty that the real facts are just the reverse of the
statements made to you."

As soon as the forces halted a picket had been sent out; and
Terence, when the men finished their supper, established a cordon
of advanced pickets, with strong supports, at a distance of a mile
from his front and flanks; so as to ensure himself against
surprise, and to detect any movement upon the part of the enemy's
cavalry, who might be pressing round to obtain information of the
British position. At daybreak he mounted and rode to Talavera, and
reported the arrival of his command, and the position where he had
halted for the night.

"You have wasted no time over it, Colonel O'Connor. You can only
have received the order yesterday morning, and I scarcely expected
that you could be here till this evening."

"My men are excellent marchers, sir. They did the forty miles in
fourteen hours, and might have done it an hour quicker, had they
been pressed. Not a man fell out."

"Your duty will now be to cover our left flank. I don't know
whether you are aware that Wilson has moved forward, and will take
post on the slopes near the Escurial. He has been directed to
spread his force as much as possible, so as to give an appearance
of greater strength than he has."

"I knew that he had left his former position," Terence said. "We
had arranged a code of smoke signals, by which we could ask each
other for assistance should the defiles be attacked; and I learned
yesterday morning, in this way, that he was marching away."

"Have you any news of what is taking place on the other side of the
hills, since you sent off word two days ago?"

"No, sir; at least, all we hear is of the same character as before.
We don't hear that Soult is moving, but his force is certainly put
down as being considerably larger than was supposed. I have deemed
it my duty to state this in my reports, but the Spaniards are so
inclined to exaggerate everything that I always receive statements
of this kind with great doubt."

"All our news--from the juntas, from Mr. Frere, and from other
quarters--is quite the other way," the officer said. "We are
assured that Soult has not fifteen thousand men in condition to
take the field, and that he could not venture to move these, as he
knows that the whole country would rise, did he do so.

"I have no specific orders to give you. You will keep in touch with
General Hill's brigade, which forms our left and, as we move
forward, you will advance along the lower slopes of the Sierra and
prevent any attempt, on the part of the French, to turn our flank.

"I dare say you do not know exactly what is going on, Colonel
O'Connor. It may be of assistance to you, in taking up your
position, to know that the fighting is likely to take place on the
line between Talavera and the mountains. Cuesta has fallen back, in
great haste, to Talavera. We shall advance today and take up our
line with him.

"The Spaniards will hold the low marshy ground near the town. Our
right will rest on an eminence on his left flank, and will extend
to a group of hills, separated by a valley from the Sierra. Our
cavalry will probably check any attempt by the French to turn our
flank there, and you and the Spaniards will do your best to hold
the slope of the Sierra, should the French move a force along
there.

"I may say that Victor has been largely reinforced by Sebastiani,
and is likely to take the offensive. Indeed, we hear that he is
already moving in this direction. We are not aware of his exact
strength, but we believe that it must approach, if not equal, that
of ourselves and Cuesta united.

"Cuesta has, indeed, been already roughly handled by the French.
Disregarding Sir Arthur's entreaties, and believing Victor to be in
full retreat, he marched on alone, impelled by the desire to be the
first to enter Madrid; but at two o'clock on the morning of the
26th of July, the French suddenly fell upon him, drove the Spanish
cavalry back from their advanced position, and chased them hotly.
They fled in great disorder, and the panic would have spread to the
whole army, had not Albuquerque brought up 3000 fresh cavalry and
held the French in check, while Cuesta retreated in great disorder
and, had the French pressed forward, would have fled in utter rout.
Sherbrooke's division, which was in advance of the British army,
moved forward and took up its position in front of the panic-stricken
Spaniards, and then the French drew off.

"Cuesta then yielded to Sir Arthur's entreaties, recrossed the
Alberche, and took up his position near Talavera. Here, even the
worst troops should be able to make a stand against the best. The
ground is marshy and traversed by a rivulet. On its left is a
strong redoubt, which is armed with Spanish artillery; on the right
is another very strong battery, on a rise close to Talavera; while
other batteries sweep the road to Madrid. Sir Arthur has
strengthened the front by felling trees and forming abattis, so
that he has good reason to hope that, poor as the Spanish troops
may be, they should be able to hold their part of the line.

"Campbell's division forms the British right, Sherbrooke comes
next, the German legion are in the centre, Donkin is to take his
place on the hill that rises two-thirds of the way across the
valley, while General Hill's division is to hold the face looking
north, and separated from the Sierra only by the comparatively
narrow valley in which you have bivouacked. At present, however,
his troops and those of Donkin have not taken up their position."

The country between the positions on which the allied armies had
now fallen back was covered with olive and cork trees. The whole
line from Talavera to the hill, which was to be held by Hill's
division, was two miles in length; and the valley between that and
the Sierra was half a mile in width, but extremely broken and
rugged, and was intersected by a ravine, through which ran the
rivulet that fell into the Tagus at Talavera.



Chapter 2: Talavera.


On leaving the Adjutant General, Terence--knowing that Mackenzie's
brigade was some two miles in advance on the Alberche river, and
that the enemy was not in sight--sent off one of the orderlies who
accompanied him, with a message to Herrara to fall back and take up
his station on the lower slopes of the Sierra, facing the rounded
hill; and then went to a restaurant and had breakfast. It was
crowded with Spanish officers, with a few British scattered among
them.

As he ate his food, he was greatly amused at the boasting of the
Spaniards as to what they would accomplish, if the French ventured
to attack them; knowing as he did how shamefully they had behaved,
two days before, when the whole of Cuesta's army had been thrown
into utter disorder by two or three thousand French cavalry, and
had only been saved from utter rout by the interposition of a
British brigade. When he had finished breakfast, he mounted his
horse and rode to the camp of his old regiment.

"Hooroo, Terence!" Captain O'Grady shouted, as he rode up, "I
thought you would be turning up, when there was going to be
something to do. It's yourself that has the knack of always getting
into the thick of it.

"Orderly, take Colonel O'Connor's horse, and lead him up and down.

"Come on, Terence, most of the boys are in that tent over there. We
have just been dismissed from parade."

A shout of welcome rose as they entered the tent, where a dozen
officers were sitting on the ground, or on empty boxes.

"Sit down if you can find room, Terence," Colonel Corcoran said.
"Wouldn't you like to be back with us again, for the shindy that we
are likely to have, tomorrow?"

"That I should, but I hope to have my share in it, in my own way."

"Where are your men, O'Connor?"

"They will be, in another hour, at the foot of the mountains over
there to the left. Our business will be to prevent any of the
French moving along there, and coming down on your rear."

"I am pleased to hear it. I believe that there is a Spanish
division there, but I am glad to know that the business is not to
be left entirely to them. Now, what have you been doing since you
left us, a month ago?"

"I have been doing nothing, Colonel, but watching the defiles and,
as no one has come up them, we have not fired a shot."

"No doubt they got news that you were there, Terence," O'Grady
said, "and not likely would they be to come up to be destroyed by
you."

"Perhaps that was it," Terence said, when the laughter had
subsided; "at any rate they didn't show up, and I was very pleased
when orders came, at ten o'clock yesterday, for us to leave Banos
and march to join the army. We did the forty miles in fourteen
hours."

"Good marching," Colonel Corcoran said. "Then where did you halt?"

"About three miles farther off, at the foot of the hills. We saw a
lot of campfires to our right, and thought that we were in a line
with the army, but of course they were only those of Mackenzie's
division; but I sent off an orderly, an hour ago, to tell them to
fall back to the slopes facing those hills, where our left is to be
posted."

"You are a lucky fellow to have been away from us, Terence, for it
is downright starving we have been. The soldiers have only had a
mouthful of meat served out to them as rations, most days; and they
have got so thin that their clothes are hanging loose about them.
If it hadn't been for my man Doolan and two or three others, who
always manage, by hook or by crook, to get hold of anything there
is within two or three miles round, we should have been as badly
off as they are. Be jabers, I have had to take in my sword belt a
good two inches; and to think that, while our fellows are well-nigh
starving, these Spaniards we came to help, and who will do no
fighting themselves, had more food than they could eat, is enough
to enrage a saint.

"I wonder Sir Arthur puts up with it. I would have seized that
stuck-up old fool Cuesta, and popped him into the guard tent, and
kept him there until provisions were handed over for us."

"His whole army might come to rescue him, O'Grady."

"What if they had? I would have turned out a corporal's guard, and
sent the whole of them trotting off in no time. Did you hear what
took place two days ago?"

"Yes, I heard that they behaved shamefully, O'Grady; still, I think
a corporal's guard would hardly be sufficient to turn them, but I
do believe that a regiment might answer the purpose."

"I can tell you that there is nothing would please the troops more
than to attack the Spaniards. If this goes on many more days, our
men will be too weak to march; but I believe that, before they lie
down and give it up altogether, they will pitch into the Spaniards,
in spite of what we may try to do to prevent them," the Colonel
said. "Here we are in a country abounding with food, and we are
starving, while the Spaniards are feasting in plenty; and by Saint
Patrick's beard, Terence, it is mighty little we should do to
prevent our men from pitching into them. There is one thing, you
may be sure. We shall never cooperate with them in the future and,
as to relying upon their promises, faith, they are not worth the
breath it takes to make them."

As everything was profoundly quiet, Terence had no hesitation in
stopping to lunch with his old friends and, as there was no
difficulty in buying whatever was required in Talavera, the table
was well supplied, and the officers made up for their enforced
privation during the past three weeks.

At three o'clock Terence left them and rode across to his command,
which he found posted exactly where he had directed it.

"It is lucky that we filled up with flour at Banos, before
starting, Colonel," Bull said, "for from what we hear, the soldiers
are getting next to nothing to eat; and those cattle you bought at
the village halfway, yesterday, will come in very handy. At any
rate, with them and the flour we can hold out for a week, if need
be."

"Still, you had better begin at once to be economical, Bull. There
is no saying what may happen after this battle has been fought."

While they were talking, a sudden burst of firing, at a distance,
was heard.

"Mackenzie's brigade is engaged!" Terence exclaimed. "You had
better get the men under arms, at once. If the whole of Victor's
command is upon them, they will have to fall back.

"When the men are ready, you may as well come a few hundred feet
higher up the hill, with me. Then you will see all over the
country, and be in readiness to do anything that is wanted. But it
is not likely the French will attempt anything serious, today. They
will probably content themselves with driving Mackenzie in."

Terence went at once up the hill, to a point whence he could look
well over the round hills on the other side of the valley, and make
out the British and Spanish lines, stretching to Talavera. The
troops were already formed up, in readiness for action. Away to his
left came the roll of heavy firing from the cork woods near the
Alberche and, just as his three officers joined him, the British
troops issued pell mell from the woods. They had, in fact, been
taken entirely by surprise; and had been attacked so suddenly and
vigorously that, for a time, the young soldiers of some of the
regiments fell into confusion; and Sir Arthur himself, who was at a
large house named the Casa, narrowly escaped capture. The 45th,
however, a regiment that had seen much service, and some companies
of the 60th Rifles presented a stout front to the enemy.

Sir Arthur speedily restored order among the rest of the troops,
and the enemy's advance was checked. The division then fell back in
good order, each of its flanks being covered by a brigade of
cavalry. From the height at which Terence and his officers stood,
they could plainly make out the retiring division, and could see
heavy masses of French troops descending from the high ground
beyond the Alberche.

"The whole French army is on us!" Macwitty said. "If their advance
guard had not been in such a hurry to attack, and had waited until
the others came up, not many of Mackenzie's division would have got
back to our lines."

It was not long before the French debouched from the woods and, as
soon as they did so, a division rapidly crossed the plain towards
the allies' left, seized an isolated hill facing the spur on to
which Donkin had just hurried up his brigade, and at once opened a
heavy cannonade. At the same time another division moved towards
the right, and some squadrons of light cavalry could be seen,
riding along the road from Madrid towards the Spanish division.

"They won't do much good there," Terence said, "for the country is
so swampy that they cannot leave the road. Still, I suppose they
want to reconnoitre our position, and draw the fire of the
Spaniards to ascertain their whereabouts. They are getting very
close to them and, when the Spaniards begin, they ought to wipe
them out completely."

At this moment a heavy rattle of distant musketry was heard, and a
light wreath of smoke rose from the Spanish lines. The French
cavalry had, in fact, ridden up so close to the Spaniards that they
discharged their pistols in bravado at them. To this the Spaniards
had replied by a general wild discharge of their muskets. A moment
later the party on the hill saw the right of the Spanish line break
up as if by magic and, to their astonishment and rage, they made
out that the whole plain behind was thickly dotted by fugitives.

"Why, the whole lot have bolted, sir!" Bull exclaimed. "Horse and
foot are making off. Did anyone ever hear of such a thing!"

That portion of the Spanish line nearest to Talavera had indeed
broken and fled in the wildest panic, 10,000 infantry having taken
to their heels the instant they discharged their muskets; while the
artillery cut their traces and, leaving their guns behind them,
followed their example. The French cavalry charged along the road,
but Sir Arthur opposed them with some British squadrons. The
Spanish who still held their ground opened fire, and the French
drew back. The fugitives continued their flight to Oropesa,
spreading panic and alarm everywhere with the news that the allies
were totally defeated, Sir Arthur Wellesley killed, and all lost.

Cuesta himself had for some time accompanied them, but he soon
recovered from his panic, and sent several cavalry regiments to
bring back the fugitives. Part of the artillery and some thousands
of the infantry were collected before morning, but 6000 men were
still absent at the battle, and the great redoubt on their left was
silent, from want of guns.

In point of numbers there had been but little difference between
the two armies. Prior to the loss of these 6000 men, Cuesta's army
had been 34,000 strong, with seventy guns. The British, with the
German Legion, numbered 19,000, with thirty guns. The French were
50,000 strong, with eighty guns. These were all veteran troops,
while on the side of the allies there were but 19,000 who could be
called fighting men.

"That is what comes of putting faith in the Spaniards!" Bull said
savagely. "If I had been Sir Arthur, I would have turned my guns on
them and given them something to run for. We should do a thousand
times better, by ourselves; then we should know what we had to
expect."

"It is evident that there won't be any fighting until tomorrow,
Macwitty. You will place half your battalion on the hillside, from
this point to the bottom of the slope. I don't think that they will
come so high up the hill as this; but you will, of course, throw
some pickets out above. The other wing of your battalion you will
hold in reserve, a couple of hundred yards behind the centre of the
line; but choose a sheltered spot for them, for those guns Victor
is placing on his heights will sweep the face of this hill.

"This little watercourse will give capital cover to your advanced
line, and they cannot do better than occupy it. Lying down, they
would be completely sheltered from the French artillery and, if
attacked, they could line the bank and fire without showing more
than their heads. Of course, you will throw out pickets along the
face of the slope in front of you.

"Do you, Bull, march your battalion down to the foot of the hill
and take up your post there. The ground is very uneven and broken,
and you should be able to find some spot where the men would be in
shelter; move a couple of hundred yards back, then Macwitty would
flank any force advancing against you. The sun will set in a few
minutes, so you had better lose no time in taking up your ground.

"As soon as you have chosen a place go on, with the captains of
your companies, across the valley. Make yourselves thoroughly
acquainted with the ground, and mark the best spots at which to
post the men to resist any force that may come along the valley. It
is quite possible that Victor may make an attempt to turn the
general's flank tonight. I will reconnoitre all the ground in front
of you, and will then, with the colonel, join you."

The position Terence had chosen was a quarter of a mile west of the
spur held by Donkin's brigade. He had selected it in order that, if
attacked in force, he might have the assistance of the guns there;
which would thus be able to play on the advancing French, without
risk of his own men being injured by their fire.

Bull marched his battalion down the hill and, as Terence and
Herrara were about to mount, a sudden burst of musketry fire, from
the crest of the opposite hill, showed that the French were
attempting to carry that position. Victor, indeed, seeing the force
stationed there to be a small one; and that, from the confusion
among the Spaniards on the British right, the moment was very
favourable; had ordered one division to attack, another to move to
its support, while a third was to engage the German division posted
on the plain to the right of the hill, and thus prevent succour
being sent to Donkin.

From the position where Terence was standing, the front of the
steep slope that the French were climbing could not be seen but,
almost at the same moment, a dense mass of men began to swarm up
the hill on Donkin's flank; having, unperceived, made their way in
at the mouth of the valley.

"Form up your battalion, Macwitty," he shouted, "and double down
the hill."

Then he rode after Bull, whose battalion had now reached the valley
and halted there.

"We must go to the assistance of the brigade on the hill, Bull, or
they will be overpowered before reinforcements can reach them.

"Herrara, bring on Macwitty after us, as soon as he gets down.

"Take the battalion forward at the double, Bull."

The order was given and, with a cheer, the battalion set out across
the valley and, on reaching the other side, began to climb the
steep ascent; bearing towards their left, so as to reach the summit
near the spot where the French were ascending. Twilight was already
closing in, and the approach of the Portuguese was unobserved by
the French, whose leading battalions had reached the top of the
hill, and were pressing heavily on Donkin's weak brigade; which
had, however, checked the advance of the French on their front.
Macwitty's battalion was but a short distance behind when, marching
straight along on the face of the hill, Bull arrived within a
hundred yards of the French. Here Terence halted them for a minute,
while they hastily formed up in line, and Macwitty came up.

The din on the top of the hill, just above Bull's right company,
was prodigious, the rattle of musketry incessant, the exulting
shouts of the French could be plainly heard; and their comrades
behind were pressing hotly up the hill to join in the strife. There
was plainly not a moment to be lost and, advancing to within fifty
yards of the French battalions, struggling up the hill in confused
masses, a tremendous volley was poured in.

The French, astonished at this sudden attack upon their flank,
paused and endeavoured to form up, and wheel round to oppose a
front to it; but the heavy fire of the Portuguese, and the broken
nature of the ground, prevented their doing this and, ignorant of
the strength of the force that had thus suddenly attacked them,
they recoiled, keeping up an irregular fire; while the Portuguese,
pouring in steady volleys, pressed upon them. In five minutes they
gave way, and retired rapidly down the hill.

The leading battalions had gained the crest where, joining those
who had ascended by the other face of the hill, they fell upon the
already outnumbered defenders. Donkin's men, though fighting
fiercely, were pressed back, and would have been driven from their
position had not General Hill brought up the 29th and 48th, with a
battalion of detachments composed of Sir John Moore's stragglers.
These charged the French so furiously that they were unable to
withstand the assault, although aided by fresh battalions ascending
the front of the hill.

In their retreat the French, instead of going straight down the
hill, bore away to their right and, although some fell to the fire
of the Portuguese, the greater portion passed unseen in the
darkness.

The firing now ceased, and Terence ordered Bull and Macwitty to
take their troops back to the ground originally selected, while he
himself ascended to the crest. With some difficulty he discovered
the whereabouts of General Hill, to whom he was well known. He
found him in the act of having a wound temporarily dressed, by the
light of a fire which had just been replenished; he having ridden,
in the dark, into the midst of a French battalion, believing it to
be one of his own regiments. Colonel Donkin was in conversation
with him.

"It has been a very close affair, sir," he said; "and I certainly
thought that we should be rolled down the hill. I believe that we
owe our safety, in no small degree, to a couple of battalions of
Spaniards, I fancy, who took up their post on the opposite hill
this morning. Just before you brought up your reinforcement, and
while things were at their worst, I heard heavy volley firing
somewhere just over the crest. I don't know who it could have been,
if it was not them; for there were certainly no other troops on my
left."

"They were Portuguese battalions, sir," Terence said quietly.

"Oh, is it you, O'Connor?" General Hill exclaimed. "If they were
those two battalions of yours, I can quite understand it.

"This is Colonel O'Connor, Donkin, who checked Soult's passage at
the mouth of the Minho, and has performed other admirable
services."

[Illustration: 'You may as well make your report to me, O'Connor.']

"You may as well make your report to me, O'Connor, and I will
include it in my own to Sir Arthur."

Terence related how, just as he was taking up his position for the
night along the slopes of the Sierra, he heard the outbreak of
firing on the front of the hill and, seeing a large force mounting
its northern slope, and knowing that only one brigade was posted
there, he thought it his duty to move to its assistance. Crossing
the valley at the double, he had taken them in flank and, being
unperceived in the gathering darkness, had checked their advance,
and compelled them to retire down the hill.

"At what strength do you estimate the force which so retired,
Colonel?"

"I fancy there were eight battalions of them, but three had gained
the crest before we arrived. The others were necessarily broken up,
and followed so close upon each other that it was difficult to
separate them; but I fancy there were eight of them. Being in such
confusion and, of course, unaware of my strength, they were unable
to form or to offer any effectual resistance; and our volleys, from
a distance of fifty yards, must have done heavy execution upon
them."

"Then there is no doubt, Donkin, Colonel O'Connor's force did save
you; for if those five battalions had gained the crest, you would
have been driven off it before the brigade I brought up arrived
and, indeed, even with that aid we should have been so outnumbered
that we could scarcely have held our ground. It was hot work as it
was, but certainly five more battalions would have turned the scale
against us.

"Of course, O'Connor, you will send in a written report of your
reasons for quitting your position to headquarters; and I shall,
myself, do full justice to the service that you have rendered so
promptly and efficaciously. Where is your command now?"

"They will by this time have taken up their former position on the
opposite slope. One battalion is extended there. The other is at
the foot of the hill, prepared to check any force that may attempt
to make its way up the valley. Our line is about a quarter of a
mile in rear of this spur. I selected the position in order that,
should the French make an attempt in any force, the guns here might
take them in flank, while I held them in check in front."

The general nodded. "Well thought of," he said.

"And now, Donkin, you had better muster your brigade and ascertain
what are your losses. I am afraid they are very heavy."

Terence now returned across the valley and, on joining his command,
told Herrara and the two majors how warmly General Hill had
commended their action.

"What has been our loss?" he asked.

"Fifteen killed, and five-and-forty wounded, but of these a great
proportion are not serious."

Brushwood was now collected and in a short time a number of fires
were blazing. The men were in high spirits. They were proud of
having overthrown a far superior force of the enemy, and were
gratified at the expression of great satisfaction, conveyed to them
by their captains by Terence's order, at the steadiness with which
they had fought.

[Illustration: Plan of the Battle of Talavera.]

At daybreak next morning the enemy was seen to be again in motion,
Victor having obtained the king's consent to again try to carry the
hills occupied by the British. This time Terence did not leave his
position, being able to see that the whole of Hill's division now
occupied the heights and, moreover, being himself threatened by two
regiments of light troops, which crossed the mouth of the valley,
ascended the slopes on his side, and proceeded to work their way
along them. The whole of Macwitty's battalion was now placed in
line, while Bull's was held in reserve, behind its centre.

It was not long before Macwitty was hotly engaged; and the French,
who were coming along in skirmishing order, among the rocks and
broken ground, were soon brought to a standstill. For some time a
heavy fire was exchanged. Three times the French gathered for a
rush; but each time the steady volleys, from their almost invisible
foes, drove them back again, with loss, to the shelter they had
left.

In the intervals Terence could see how the fight was going on
across the valley. The whole hillside was dotted with fire, as the
French worked their way up, and the British troops on the crest
fired down upon them. Several times parties of the French gained
the brow, but only to be hurled back again by the troops held in
reserve, in readiness to move to any point where the enemy might
gain a footing. For forty minutes the battle continued; and then,
having lost 1500 men, the French retreated down the hill again,
covered by the fire of their batteries, which opened with fury on
the crest, as soon as they were seen to be descending the slope.

At the same time the light troops opposed to Terence also drew off.
Seeing the pertinacity with which the French had tried to turn his
left, Sir Arthur Wellesley moved his cavalry round to the head of
the valley and, obtaining Bassecour's division of Spanish from
Cuesta, sent them to take post on the hillside a short distance in
rear of Terence's Portuguese.

The previous evening's fighting had cost Victor 1000 men, while 800
British had been killed or wounded; and the want of success then,
and the attack on the following morning, tended to depress the
spirits of the French and to raise those of the British. It was
thought that after these two repulses Victor would not again give
battle, and indeed the French generals Jourdan and Sebastiani were
opposed to a renewal of hostilities; but Victor was in favour of a
general attack. So his opinion was finally adopted by the king, in
spite of the fact that he knew that Soult was in full march towards
the British rear, and had implored him not to fight a battle till
he had cut the British line of retreat; when, in any case, they
would be forced to retire at once.

The king was influenced more by his fear for the safety of Madrid
than by Victor's arguments. Wilson's force had been greatly
exaggerated by rumour. Venegas was known to be at last approaching
Toledo, and the king feared that one or both of these forces might
fall upon Madrid in his absence, and that all his military stores
would fall into their hands. He therefore earnestly desired to
force the British to retreat, in order that he might hurry back to
protect Madrid.

Doubtless the gross cowardice exhibited by the Spaniards, on the
previous day, had shown Victor that he had really only the 19,000
British troops to contend against; and as his force exceeded theirs
by two to one, he might well regard victory as certain, and believe
he could not fail to beat them.

Up to midday, a perfect quiet reigned along both lines. The British
and French soldiers went down alike to the rivulet that separated
the two armies, and exchanged jokes as they drank and filled their
canteens. Albuquerque, being altogether dissatisfied with Cuesta's
arrangements, moved across the plain with his own cavalry and took
his post behind the British and German horse; so that no less than
6000 cavalry were now ready to pour down upon any French force
attempting to turn the British position by the valley. The day was
intensely hot and the soldiers, after eating their scanty rations,
for the most part stretched themselves down to sleep; for the night
had been a broken one, owing to the fact that the Spaniards,
whenever they heard, or thought they heard, anyone moving in their
front, poured in a tremendous fire that roused the whole camp; and
was so wild and ill directed that several British officers and men,
on their left, were killed by it.

Soon after midday the drums were heard to beat along the whole
length of the French line, and the troops were seen to be falling
in. Then the British were also called to arms, and the soldiers
cheerfully took their places in the ranks; glad that the matter was
to be brought to an issue at once, as they thought that a victory
would, at least, put an end to the state of starvation in which
they had for some time been kept. The French had, by this time,
learned how impossible it was to surmount the obstacles in front of
that portion of the allies' line occupied by the Spaniards. They
therefore neglected these altogether, and Sebastiani advanced
against the British division in the plains; while Victor, as
before, prepared to assail the British left, supported this time by
a great mass of cavalry.

The French were soon in readiness for the attack. Ruffin's division
were to cross the valley, move along the foot of the mountain, and
turn the British left. Villatte was to guard the mouth of the
valley with one brigade, to threaten Hill with the other, and to
make another attempt to carry it. He was to be aided by half the
division of Lapisse, while the other half assisted Sebastiani in
his attack on the British centre. Milhaud's dragoons were placed on
the main road to Talavera, so as to keep the Spaniards from moving
to the assistance of the British.

The battle began with a furious attack on the British right, but
the French were withstood by Campbell's division and Mackenzie's
brigade, aided by two Spanish columns; and was finally pushed back
with great loss, and ten of their guns captured; but as Campbell
wisely refused to break his line and pursue, the French rallied on
their reserve, and prepared to renew the attack.

In the meantime Lapisse crossed the rivulet and attacked
Sherbrooke's division, composed of the Germans and Guards. This
brigade was, however, driven back in disorder. The Guards followed
hotly in pursuit; but the French reserves came up, and their
batteries opened with fury and drove the Guards back, while the
Germans were so hotly pressed, by Lapisse, that they fell into
confusion. The 48th, however, fell upon the flank of the advancing
French; the Guards and the Germans rallied, the British artillery
swept the French columns, and they again fell back. Thus the
British centre and right had succeeded in finally repelling the
attacks made upon them.

On the left, as the French advanced, the 23rd Light Dragoons and
the 1st German Hussars charged the head of Ruffin's column. Before
they reached them, however, they encountered the ravine through
which the rivulet here ran. The Germans checked their horses when
they came upon this almost impassable obstacle. The 23rd, however,
kept on. Men and horses rolled over each other, but many crossed
the chasm and, forming again, dashed in between the squares into
which the French infantry had thrown themselves, and charged a
brigade of light infantry in their rear. Victor hurled two
regiments of cavalry upon them and the 23rd, hopelessly over
matched, were driven back with a loss of 207 men and officers,
being fully half the number that had ridden forward. The rest
galloped back to the shelter of Bassecour's division.

Yet their effort had not been in vain. The French, astonished at
their furious charge, and seeing four distinct lines of cavalry
still drawn up facing them, made no further movement. Hill easily
repulsed the attack upon his position, and the battle ceased as
suddenly as it had begun, the French having failed at every point
they had attacked.

Terence had, on seeing Ruffin's division marching towards him,
advanced along the slope until they reached the entrance to the
valley; and then, scattering on the hillside, had opened a heavy
and continuous fire upon the French, doing much execution among
their columns, and still more when they threw themselves into
square to resist the cavalry. He had given orders that, should
Ruffin send some of his battalions up the hill against them, they
were to retire up the slopes, taking advantage of every shelter,
and not to attempt to meet the enemy in close contact. No such
attack was, however, made. The French battalion most exposed threw
out a large number of skirmishers, and endeavoured to keep down the
galling fire maintained from the hillside; but as the Portuguese
took advantage of every stone and bush, and scarcely a man was
visible to the French, there were but few casualties among them.

The loss of the British was in all, during the two days' fighting,
6200, including 600 taken prisoners. That of the French was 7400.
Ten guns were captured by Campbell's division, and seven left in
the woods by the French as they drew off, the next morning at
daybreak, to take up their position behind the Alberche.

During the day Crauford's brigade came up, after a tremendous
march. The three regiments had, after a tramp of twenty miles,
encamped near Plasencia, when the alarm spread by the Spanish
fugitives reached that place. Crauford allowed his men two hours'
rest and then started to join the army, and did not halt until he
reached the camp; having in twenty-six hours, during the hottest
season of the year, marched sixty-two miles, carrying kit, arms,
and ammunition--a weight of from fifty to sixty pounds. Only
twenty-five men out of the three regiments fell out and,
immediately the brigade arrived, it took up the outpost duty in
front of the army.

Terence was much gratified by the appearance, in general orders
that day, of the following notice:

"The general commander-in-chief expresses his warm approbation of
the conduct of the two battalions of the Minho regiment of
Portuguese, commanded by Colonel O'Connor. This officer, on his own
discretion, moved from the position assigned to him, on seeing the
serious attack made on Colonel Donkin's brigade on the evening of
the 27th and, scaling the hill, opened so heavy a fire on the
French ascending it that five battalions fell back, without taking
part in the attack. This took place at the crisis of the
engagement, and had a decisive effect on its result."

At eight o'clock a staff officer rode up, with orders for the Minho
regiment to return at once to the pass of Banos, as the news had
come in that the enemy beyond the hills were in movement. Terence
was to act in concert with the Spanish force there, and hold the
pass as long as possible. If the enemy were in too great strength
to be withstood, he was given discretion as to his movements; being
guided only by the fact that the British army would, probably,
march down the valley of the Tagus.

If Soult crossed, "his force," the order added, "was estimated as
not exceeding 15,000 men."



Chapter 3: Prisoners.


On the 31st of July Terence reached the neighbourhood of Banos and
learned, from the peasantry, that a French army had passed through
the town early on the preceding day. No resistance, whatever, had
been offered to its passage through the pass of Bejar; and the
Spanish at Banos had retreated hastily, after exchanging a few
shots with the French advanced guard. The peasantry had all
deserted their villages, but had had some skirmishes with small
foraging parties of cavalry. Several French stragglers had been
killed in the pass.

Hoping to find some of these still alive, and to obtain information
from them, Terence continued his march for Banos; sending on two of
the best mounted of the Portuguese horsemen, to ascertain if there
was any considerable French force left there. He was within half a
mile of the town when he saw them returning, at full speed, chased
by a party of French dragoons; who, however, fell back when they
saw the advancing infantry.

"What is your news?" Terence asked, as the troopers rode up.

"Banos is full of French troops," one of them replied, "and columns
are marching down the pass. From what I can see, I should think
that there must be 16,000 or 20,000 of them."

In fact, this was Soult's second army corps--the first, which had
preceded it, having that morning reached Plasencia, where they
captured 400 sick in the hospitals, and a large quantity of stores
that had been left there, from want of carriage, when the British
army advanced. Terence lost no time in retreating from so dangerous
a neighbourhood, and at once made for the mountains he had just
left.

Two regiments of French cavalry set out in pursuit, as soon as the
party that had chased the Portuguese troopers entered Banos with
the news that a body of infantry, some 2000 strong, was close at
hand. They came up before the Portuguese had marched more than a
mile. The two battalions were halted, and thrown into square. The
French rode fearlessly down upon them, but were received with so
hot and steady a fire that they speedily drew off, with
considerable loss. Then the regiment ascended the hills and, half
an hour later, halted.

"The question is, what is to be done?" Terence said to Herrara and
his two majors. "It is evident that, for once, the information we
obtained from the Spaniards is correct, and that Soult must have at
least 30,000 men with him. Possibly his full strength is not up
yet. By this time the force that passed yesterday must be at
Plasencia, and by tomorrow may be on the Tagus, and Sir Arthur's
position must be one of great danger. Putting Cuesta and the
Spaniards altogether aside as worthless, he has, even with that
brigade we saw marching in soon after we started, only 22,000 or
23,000 men; and on one side of him is Victor, with some 40,000; on
the other is Soult, with perhaps as many more. With starving and
exhausted troops his chances are small, indeed, unless he can cross
the Tagus. He might beat one marshal or the other, but he can
hardly beat the two of them.

"The first thing to do is to send two troopers off, with duplicate
despatches, telling Sir Arthur of Soult's passage. He might not
otherwise hear of it for some time, and then it might be too late.
The peasantry and the village authorities will be too busy carrying
off their effects, and driving their animals to the hills, to think
for a moment of sending information. That is evidently the first
thing to be done.

"Until we see what is going to happen, I don't think we can do
better than cross the Sierra, and encamp at some spot where we can
make out the movements of the French on the plain. At the same time
we can keep an eye on the road to Plasencia, and be able to send
information to Sir Arthur, if any further bodies of French troops
come down into the valley. Our position is evidently a dangerous
one. If the news has reached Sir Arthur, he will have fallen back
from Talavera at once. Victor will no doubt follow on his heels,
and his cavalry and those of Soult will speedily meet each other.
Therefore it will be, in all ways, best to see how matters develop
themselves before moving down into the plain."

Accordingly two of the troopers were sent off with information that
15,000 French were already in the valley, and that as many more
would be there on the following day. Then the regiment marched
across the Sierra and took post high up on the slope, with
Plasencia ten miles away on the right, and the spires of Oropesa
visible across the valley.

On the following day another army corps was seen descending from
Banos to Plasencia, while a large body of troops marched from that
town to Navalmoral, thus cutting off the retreat of the British by
the bridge of boats at Almaraz. Clouds of dust on the distant plain
showed that a portion, at least, of the Allied Army had arrived at
Oropesa; and bodies of French cavalry were made out, traversing the
plain and scattering among the villages. Two more troopers were
sent off with reports, and warned, like the others, to take
different routes, and make a wide circuit so as to avoid the
French, and then to come down upon Oropesa. If the troops there
were British, they were to deliver their reports to the general in
command. If it was occupied by Spaniards, they were to proceed to
Talavera and hand them in at headquarters.

On the following day, still another army corps marched down to
Plasencia, raising Soult's force to 54,000. On that day Cuesta, who
had undertaken to hold Talavera, retreated suddenly; alarmed by
Victor's army making an advance, and leaving to their fate the 1500
British wounded in the hospital. These, however, were benefited by
the change. They had been dying of hunger for, although there was
an abundance of provisions in Talavera, the inhabitants refused to
sell any to the British, and jealously concealed their stores in
their houses. Nor would Cuesta do anything to aid them; and thus
the men who had fought and suffered for the Spanish cause were left
to perish, while there was abundance around them. The conduct of
the Spaniards, from the moment the British crossed the frontier to
the time of their leaving Spain, was never forgotten or forgiven by
the British troops, who had henceforth an absolute hatred for the
Spanish, which contributed in no small degree to the excesses
perpetrated by them upon the inhabitants of Badajos, and other
places, taken subsequently by storm.

The French, on entering Talavera, treated the British wounded with
the greatest kindness, and henceforth they were well fed and cared
for.

The first report sent by Terence reached Sir Arthur safely, ten
hours after it was sent out, and apprised him for the first time of
the serious storm that was gathering in his rear; and he had,
without an hour's delay, given orders for the army to march to
Oropesa, intending to give battle to Soult before Victor could come
up to join his fellow marshal. The second report informed him of
the real strength of the army towards which he was marching, and
showed him the real extent of his danger. So he at once seized the
only plan of escape offered to him, marching with all speed to
Arzobispo, and crossing the Tagus by the bridge there, Cuesta's
army following him. As soon as the Tagus was passed, Crauford's
brigade was hurried on to seize the bridge of boats at Almaraz, and
prevent the French from crossing there.

Fortunately, Soult was as ignorant of the position of the Allies as
Sir Arthur was of his and, believing that the British were
following Victor and pressing forward towards Madrid, he had
conducted his operations in a comparatively leisurely manner.
Therefore, it was not until the British were safely across the
Tagus that he ascertained the real state of affairs, and put
himself in communication with Victor.

On the morning following the crossing Terence was apprised, by a
note sent back by one of the troopers, of the movement that had
taken place. It was written upon a small piece of paper, so that it
could be destroyed at once, by the bearer, if he should be
threatened with capture, and contained only the following words:

"Your report invaluable. The Allied Army moves to Arzobispo, and
will cross the Tagus there. You must act according to your
judgment. I can give no advice."

"Thank God the British army has escaped!" Terence said, after
reading the despatch to his officers; "now we have only to think of
ourselves. As to rejoining Sir Arthur, it is out of the question;
the valley is full of French troops. Ney has joined Soult, and
there are 100,000 Frenchmen between us and our army. If I had any
idea where Wilson is, we might endeavour to join him, for he must
be in the same plight as ourselves. Our only chance, so far as I
can see, is to cross their line of communications and to endeavour
to join Beresford, who is reported as marching down the frontier
from Almeida."

"Would you propose to pass through Banos, Colonel?" Herrara asked.
"The mountains there are almost, if not quite, impassable; but we
might get a peasant to guide us."

"I don't like going near Banos, Herrara. The French are almost sure
to have left a strong body there, and the chances are against our
finding a peasant; for the inhabitants of all the villages, for ten
miles round, have almost certainly fled and taken to the hills.

"I think it would be safer to follow along this side of the Sierra,
cross the road a few miles above Plasencia, then make for the
mountains, and come down on the head of the river Coa. Beresford is
probably in the valley of that river. We are more likely to find a
guide, that way, than we are by going through Banos. We shall have
tough work of it whichever way we go, even if we are lucky enough
to get past without running against a single Frenchman."

"Would it not be better to wait till nightfall, Colonel?" Bull
asked.

Terence shook his head.

"There is no moon," he said; "and as to climbing about among these
mountains in the dark, it would be worse than running the risk of a
fight with the French. Besides, we should have no chance whatever
of coming across a peasant. No, I think we must try it as soon as
it gets light, tomorrow morning. We had better dress up a score of
men in peasant clothes; and send them off, in couples, to search
among the hills. Whoever comes across a man must bring him in,
whether he likes it or not. The Spaniards are so desperately afraid
of the French that they will give us no information, whatever,
unless forced to do so; and we shall have even more difficulty than
the British. There must have been thousands of peasants, and
others, who knew that Soult had come down upon Plasencia; and yet
Sir Arthur obtained no news.

"There is one comfort: there can be little doubt that Soult is just
as much in the dark as to the position of the British army."

By nightfall three peasants had been brought in. All shook their
heads stolidly, when questioned in Portuguese; but upon Terence
having them placed against a rock, and twelve men brought up and
ordered to load their muskets, one of them said, in Spanish:

"I know where a path across the mountains leaves the road, but I
have never been over the hills, and know nothing of how it runs."

"Ah! I thought you could make out my question," Terence said.
"Well, you have saved the lives of yourself and your comrades. Take
us to the path, tomorrow, and set us fairly on it; and you shall be
allowed to go free, and be paid five dollars for your trouble."

Then he turned to Bull.

"Put four men to guard them," he said, "and let the guard be
changed once every two hours. Their orders will be to shoot the
fellows down, if they endeavour to make their escape. They are
quite capable of going down into Plasencia and bringing the French
upon us."

At daybreak they were on the march and, two hours later, came down
into the valley through which the road from Banos ran down to
Plasencia. They had just crossed it when the head of a column of
cavalry appeared, coming down the valley. It at once broke into a
gallop.

"How far is it to where the path begins to ascend the mountains?"
Terence asked, holding a pistol to the peasant's head.

"Four miles," the man replied sullenly, looking with apprehension
at the French.

Terence shouted orders to Bull and Macwitty to throw their men into
square, and as they had been marching, since they reached level
ground, in column of companies, the movement was carried out before
the enemy arrived.

The French cavalry, believing that the battalions were Spanish, and
would break at once, charged furiously down upon them. They were,
however, received with so heavy a fire that they drew off
discomfited, leaving many men and horses on the ground.

"They are a strong body," Terence said quietly to Bull, in the
centre of whose square he had taken up his position. "I should say
there are 3000 of them, and I am afraid they are the head of
another division."

"Yes, there are the infantry coming down the valley. We must press
on, or we shall be caught before we get into the hills."

The battalions were soon in motion but, immediately they started,
the cavalry prepared to charge again.

"This will never do, Bull. If we form square every time, we shall
be delayed so much that the infantry will soon be up. You must do
it now, and quickly; but we will start next time in column, eight
abreast; and face the men round in lines, four deep either way, if
they charge again."

The French, this time, drew off without pressing their charge home;
and then, trotting on, took their place between the Portuguese and
the mountains.

"Form your leading company in line, four deep, Bull. The column
shall follow you."

The formation was quickly altered and, preceded by the line, to
cover them from the charge in front, the column advanced at a rapid
pace. The cavalry moved forward to meet them, but as the two
parties approached each other the line opened so heavy a fire that
the French drew off from their front, both to the right and left.
Bull at once threw back a wing of each company, to prevent an
attack in flank; and so, in the form of a capital T, the column
kept on its way. Several times the French cavalry charged down,
compelling them to halt; but each time, after repulsing the attack,
the column went on.

"It would be all right if we had only these fellows to deal with,"
Terence said to Bull, "but their infantry are coming on fast."

The plain behind was, indeed, covered with a swarm of skirmishers,
coming along at the double.

"We must go at the double, too, Bull," Terence said, "or they will
be up long before we get to the hills. We are not halfway yet. Keep
the men well in hand, and don't let them fall into confusion. If
they do, the cavalry will be down upon us in a minute."

The cavalry, however, were equally conscious of the importance of
checking the Portuguese, and again and again dashed down upon them,
with reckless bravery; suffering heavily whenever they did so, but
causing some delay each time they charged.

"I shall go back to the rear, Bull. Mind, my orders are precise
that, whatever happens behind to us, you are to push forward until
you begin to climb the hills."

Then, without waiting for an answer, he galloped back.

Although the column pressed on steadily at the double, the delay
caused by the cavalry, and the fact that the French infantry were
broken up--and able, therefore, to run more quickly--was bringing
the enemy up fast. Herrara was riding at the head of the second
battalion, and to him Terence repeated the instructions he had
given Bull.

"What are you going to do, Colonel?" the latter asked.

"There is some very broken ground, a quarter of a mile ahead," he
replied. "I intend to hold that spot with the rear company. It will
be some little time before the French infantry will be able to form
and attack us; and the ground looks, to me, too broken for their
cavalry to act. As soon as I can see that you are far enough ahead
to gain the hill, before they can overtake you again, I shall
follow you with the company; but mind, should I not do so, you must
take the command of the two battalions, cross the mountains, and
join Beresford."

He galloped on to Macwitty, who was riding in the rear, and
repeated the order to him.

"Well, Colonel, let me stop behind with the company, instead of
yourself."

"No, no, Macwitty. It is the post of danger and, as commanding
officer, I must take it. It is a question of saving the two
battalions at the cost of the company, and there is no doubt as to
the course to be taken. Do you ride on at once, and take your post
at the rear of the company ahead of this, and keep them steady.
Here come their cavalry down again on the flank."

There was another charge, three or four heavy volleys, and then the
French drew off again. The bullets of their infantry were now
whistling overhead.

"A hundred yards farther," Terence shouted, "and then we will face
them."

In front lay an upheaval of rock, stretching almost like a wall
across the line they were following. It was a sort of natural
outwork, pushed out by nature in front of the hill, and rose some
fifty feet above the level of the plain. There were many places at
which it could be climbed, and up one of these the track ran
obliquely. Hitherto it had been but an ill-defined path, but here
some efforts had been made to render it practicable, by cutting
away the ground on the upper side, to enable laden mules to pass
up.

Terence reined up at the bottom of the ascent, and directed the men
to take up their post on the crest; the leading half of the company
to the right, and the other half to the left of the path. Before
all were up the French light troops were clustering round, but a
rush was prevented by the heavy fire that opened from the brow
above, and the company were soon scattered along the crest, a yard
apart.

In five minutes some two thousand French infantry were assembled. A
mounted officer rode some distance to the right and left, to
examine the ground. It was evident that he considered that the
position, held by 200 determined men, was a formidable one. Lying
down, as they were, only the heads of the Portuguese could be seen;
while a force attacking them would have to march across level
ground, affording no shelter whatever from the defenders' fire, and
then to climb a very steep ascent. Moreover, the whole force they
had been pursuing might be gathered, just behind.

After another five minutes' delay, half a battalion broke up into
skirmishers; while the rest divided into two parties, and marched
parallel to the rocks, left and right. Terence saw that these
movements must be successful for, with 200 men, he could not defend
a line of indefinite length. However, his object had now been
achieved. The descent behind was even and regular, and he could see
the column winding up the hill, somewhat over half a mile away. Of
the French cavalry he could see nothing. They had, after their last
charge, ridden off, as if leaving the matter in the hands of their
infantry.

He ordered the bugler to sound the retreat, in open order; and the
Portuguese, rising to their feet, went down the gentle slope at a
trot. They were halfway to the hills when the long lines of the
French cavalry were seen, sweeping down upon them from the right;
having evidently ridden along the foot of the steep declivity,
until they came to a spot where they were able to ascend it.

At the sound of the bugle the rear company instantly ran together
and formed a square and, as the French cavalry came up, opened a
continuous fire upon them. Unable to break the line of bayonets,
the horsemen rode round and round the square, discharging their
pistols into it, and occasionally making desperate efforts to break
in. Suddenly the cavalry drew apart, and a battalion of infantry
marched forward, and poured their fire into the Portuguese.

Terence felt that no more could be done. His main body was safe
from pursuit, and it would be but throwing away the lives of his
brave fellows, did he continue the hopeless fight. He therefore
waved a white handkerchief, in token of surrender; shouted to his
men to cease fire and, riding through them with sheathed sword,
made his way to the officer who appeared to be in command of the
cavalry.

[Illustration: 'We surrender, sir, as prisoners of war.']

"We surrender, sir," he said, "as prisoners of war. We have done
all that we could do."

He could speak but a few words of French, but the officer
understood him.

"You have done more than enough, sir," he said. "Order your men to
lay down their arms, and I will guarantee their safety."

He ordered his cavalry to draw back and, riding up to the infantry,
halted them. Terence at once ordered his men to lay down their
arms.

"You have done all that men could do," he said. "You have saved
your comrades, and it is no dishonour to yield to twenty times your
own force. Form up in column, ready to march."

The commander of the cavalry again rode up, this time accompanied
by another officer.

"The general wishes to know, sir," the latter said in English, "who
you are, and what force this is?"

"I am Colonel O'Connor, holding that rank in Lord Beresford's army;
and have the honour to be on the staff of Sir Arthur Wellesley,
though at present detached on special service. The two battalions
that have marched up the hill are the Minho regiment of Portuguese,
under my command. We were posted on the Sierra and, being cut off
from rejoining the British by the advance of Marshal Soult's army,
were endeavouring to retire across the mountains into Portugal,
when you cut us off."

The officer translated the words to the general.

"Tell him," the latter said, "that if all the Portuguese fought as
well as those troops, there would have been no occasion for the
British to come here to aid them. I have never seen troops better
handled, or more steady. This cannot be the first time they have
been under fire."

Terence bowed, when the compliment was translated to him.

"They fought, General, in the campaign last year," he said, "and
the regiment takes its name from the fact that they prevented
Marshal Soult from crossing at the mouth of the Minho; but their
first encounter with your cavalry was near Orense."

"I remember it well," the general said, "for I was in command of
the cavalry that attacked you. Your men were not in uniform, then,
or I should have known them again. How did you come to be there?
For at that time, the British had not advanced beyond Cintra."

"I had been sent with a message to Romana and, happening to come
across this newly-raised levy, without officers or commander, I
took the command and, aided by two British troopers and a
Portuguese lieutenant, succeeded in getting them into shape; and
did my best to hold the pass to Braga."

"Peste!" the general exclaimed. "That was you again, was it? It was
the one piece of dash and determination shown by the Portuguese,
during our advance to Oporto, and cost us as many men as all the
rest of the fighting put together.

"And now, Colonel, we must be marching. Major Portalis, here, will
take charge of you."

In a few minutes the French cavalry and infantry were on their
march towards Plasencia, the Portuguese prisoners guarded on both
sides by cavalry marching with them; their captain being, like
Terence, placed in charge of an officer. The Portuguese marched
with head erect. They were prisoners, but they felt that they had
done well, and had sacrificed themselves to cover the retreat of
their comrades; and that, had it not been for the French infantry
coming up, they might have beaten off the attacks of their great
body of cavalry.

On their arrival at Plasencia, the troops were placed in a large
building that had been converted into a prison. Here were some
hundreds of other prisoners, for the most part Spaniards, who had
been captured when Soult had suddenly arrived.

Terence was taken to the quarters of General Foy, who was in
command there. Here he was again questioned, through the officer
who spoke English. After he translated his answers to the general,
the latter told him to ask Terence if he knew where Wilson was.

"I do not, sir," he replied; "we were together on the Sierra, a
fortnight ago, but he marched suddenly away without communicating
with me, and I remained at Banos until ordered to march to the
Alberche. We took part in the battle there, and were then ordered
back, again to support the Spaniards at Banos; but Marshal Soult
had marched through the pass, and the Spaniards had disappeared
before we got there. We remained among the mountains until
yesterday when, hearing that the British had crossed the Tagus, and
seeing no way to rejoin them, I started to cross the mountains to
join Lord Beresford's force, wherever I might find it."

"General Heron reports that the two battalions under your command
fought with extraordinary steadiness, and repulsed all the attempts
of his cavalry to break them; and finally succeeded in drawing off
to the mountains, with the exception of the two companies that
formed the rear guard. How is it that there is only one officer?"

"They were, in fact, one company," Terence said. "My companies are
each about 200 strong, and the officer captured with me was its
captain."

"General Heron also reports to me that your retreat was admirably
carried out," General Foy said, "and that no body of French
veterans could have done better.

"Well, sir, if you are ready to give your parole not to escape, you
will be at liberty to move about the town freely, until there is an
opportunity of sending a batch of prisoners to France."

"Thank you, general. I am ready to give my parole not to make any
attempt to escape, and am obliged to you for your courtesy."

Terence had already thought over what course he had best take,
should he be offered freedom on parole, and had resolved to accept
it. The probabilities of making his escape were extremely small.
There would be no chance whatever of rejoining the army; and a
passage, alone, across the all-but-impassable mountains, was not to
be thought of. Therefore he decided that, at any rate for the
present, he would give his promise not to attempt to escape.

Quarters were assigned to him in the town, in a house where several
French officers were staying. These all showed him great courtesy
and kindness. Between the English and French the war was,
throughout, conducted on honourable terms. Prisoners were well
treated, and there was no national animosity between either
officers or men.

When he went out into the town one of the French officers generally
accompanied him, and he was introduced to a number of others. He
set to work, in earnest, to improve the small knowledge of French
that he possessed and, borrowing some French newspapers, and buying
a dictionary in the town, he spent a considerable portion of his
time in studying them.

He remained three weeks at Plasencia. During that time he heard
that the army of Venegas had been completely routed by Victor, that
Cuesta had been badly beaten soon after crossing the Tagus, and
Albuquerque's cavalry very roughly treated. Five guns and 400
prisoners had been taken. Ney had marched through Plasencia, on his
way back to Valladolid to repress an insurrection that had broken
out in that district; and on his way met Wilson, who was trying to
retreat by Banos, and who was decisively beaten and his command
scattered.

Terence was now told to prepare to leave, with a convoy of
prisoners, for Talavera. He was the only British officer and, being
on parole, the officer commanding the detachment marching with the
prisoners invited him to ride with him, and the two days' journey
was made very pleasantly.

At Talavera he remained for a week. The Portuguese prisoners
remained there, but the British who had been captured in Plasencia,
and the convalescents from the hospital at Talavera--in all 200
strong, among whom were six British officers--were to march to the
frontier, there to be interned in one of the French fortresses.

The officer who had commanded the escort, on the march from
Plasencia, spoke in high terms of Terence to the officer in charge
of the two hundred men who were to go on with them. The party had
been directed not to pass through Madrid, as the sight of over two
hundred British prisoners might give rise to a popular demonstration
by the excitable Spaniards, which would possibly lead to disorder.
He was therefore directed to march by the road to the Escurial, and
then over the Sierra to Segovia, then up through Valladolid and
Burgos. The escort was entirely composed of infantry and, as Terence
could not therefore take his horse with him, he joined the other
officers on foot.

To his great surprise and joy he found that one of these was his
chum, Dick Ryan.

"This is an unexpected pleasure, Dicky!" he exclaimed.

"Well, yes, I am as pleased as you are at our meeting, Terence; but
I must own that the conditions might have been more pleasant."

"Oh, never mind the conditions!" Terence said. "It is quite enough,
for the present, that we both are here; and that we have got before
us a journey that is likely to be a jolly one. I suppose that you
have given your parole, as I have; but when we are once in prison
there will be an end of that, and it is hard if, when we put our
heads together, we don't hit on some plan of escape.

"Do you know the other officers? If so, please introduce me to
them."

As soon as the introductions were completed, Terence asked Ryan
where he had been wounded.

"I was hit by a piece of a French shell," the latter replied.
"Fortunately it did not come straight at me, but scraped along my
ribs, laying them pretty well bare. As it was a month ago, it is
quite healed up; but I am very stiff still, and am obliged to be
very careful in my movements. If I forget all about it, and give a
turn suddenly, I regularly yell; for it feels as if a red-hot iron
had been stuck against me. However, I have learned to be careful
and, as long as I simply walk straight on, I am pretty well all
right.

"It was a near case, at first; and I believe I should have died of
starvation if the French had not come in. Those brutes of Spaniards
would do nothing whatever for me, and I give you my word of honour
that nothing passed my lips, but water, for three days."

"Perhaps it was a good thing for you, Dicky, and kept down fever."

"I would have run the chance of a dozen fevers, to have got a good
meal," Ryan said indignantly. "I don't know but that I would have
chanced it, even for a crust of bread. I tell you, if the French
had not come in when they did, there would not have been a man
alive in hospital at the end of another forty-eight hours. The men
were so furious that, if they could have got at arms, I believe
everyone who could have managed to crawl out would have joined in a
sally, and have shot down every Spaniard they met in the streets,
till they were overpowered and killed.

"Now, let us hear your adventures. Of course, I saw in orders what
good work you did, that day when you were in our camp, against the
French when they attacked Donkin. Some of our fellows went across
to see you, the morning after the big battle; but they could not
find you, and heard afterwards, from some men of Hill's division,
that you had been seen marching away in a body, along the hills."

Terence then gave an account of the attack by the French upon his
regiment, and how he had fallen into their hands.

"That was well done, Terence. There is some pleasure in being taken
prisoner, in that sort of way. What will become of your regiment,
do you suppose?"

"I have no idea. Herrara may be appointed to the command. I should
think that most likely he would be, but of course Sir Arthur may
put another English officer at its head. However, I should say that
there is no likelihood of any more fighting, this year. Ney's corps
has gone north, which is a sign that there will be no invasion of
Portugal at present; and certainly Sir Arthur is not likely to take
the offensive again, now that his eyes have been thoroughly opened
to the rascality and cowardice of the Spaniards; and by next spring
we two may be back again. We have got into so many scrapes
together, and have always pulled through them, that I don't think
the French will keep us long.

"Have you stuck to your Portuguese, Dicky?"

"I have, and am beginning to get on very fairly with it."

"That is right. When we get back I will apply for you as my
adjutant, if I get the command of the regiment again."



Chapter 4: Guerillas.


The marches were short, as many of the prisoners were still weak
and, indeed, among their guard were many convalescents who had
recently been discharged from the hospital at Toledo, and who were
going back to France. The little column was accompanied by four
waggons, two of which were intended for the conveyance of any who
should prove unable to march; and the others were filled with
provisions for consumption by the way, together with a few tents,
as many of the villages that would be their halting places were too
small to afford accommodation for the 400 men, even if every house
was taken up for the purpose. Although the first day's march was
only twelve miles, the two empty waggons were quite full before
they reached their halting place; and many of the guard had placed
their guns and cartridge boxes on the other carts.

It was now the middle of August, and the heat in the valley of the
Tagus was overpowering. The convoy, however, had marched at six in
the morning; and halted at eight, in the shade of a large olive
wood; and did not continue its march until five in the afternoon.
The night was so warm that the English prisoners, and many of their
guards, preferred lying down in the open and throwing the blanket
(with which each had been furnished) over him to keep off the dew,
to going into the stuffy cottages, where the fleas would give them
little chance of rest.

On the third day they arrived at the village of Escurial. The next
morning they began to mount the pass over the Sierra, and slept
that night in an empty barracks, at Segovia. Here they left the
main road leading through Valladolid and took one more to the east,
stopping at small villages until they arrived at Aranda, on the
Douro. Thence they marched due north, to Gamonal.

They were now on the main road to the frontier, passed through
Miranda and Zadorra, and began to ascend the slopes of the
Pyrenees. The marches had, for some days, been considerably longer
than when they first started. The invalids had gained strength and,
having no muskets to carry, were for the most part able to march
eighteen or twenty miles without difficulty. Four had been left
behind in hospital at Segovia, but with these exceptions all had
greatly benefited by steady exercise, and an ample supply of food.

"I could do a good deal of travelling, in this way," one of the
officers said, as they marched out from Miranda. "Just enough
exercise to be pleasant; no trouble about baggage or route, or
where one is to stop for the night; nothing to pay, and everything
managed for you. What could one want for, more?"

"We could do with a little less dust," Dick Ryan said, with a
laugh; "but we cannot expect everything."

"Unfortunately, there will be an end to our marching, and not a
very pleasant one," Terence said. "At present, one scarcely
recognizes that one is a prisoner. The French officers certainly do
all in their power to make us forget it; and their soldiers, and
ours, try their best to hold some sort of conversation together. I
feel that I am making great progress in French, and it is
especially jolly when we halt for the night, and get the bivouac
fires burning, and chat and laugh with the French officers as
though we were the best friends in the world."

The march was, indeed, conducted in a comfortable and easy fashion.
At starting, the prisoners marched four abreast, and the French two
abreast at each side; but before a mile had been passed the order
was no longer strictly observed, and the men trudged along, smoking
their pipes, laughing and talking, the French and English
alternately breaking into a marching song. There was no fear of the
prisoners trying to escape. They could, at night, have got away
from their guards easily enough; but there was nowhere for them to
go, if they had done so. The English, smarting from the cruelty and
ill faith of the inhabitants of Talavera and the Spanish
authorities, felt a burning hatred of the Spanish; while the
Spaniards, on their side, deceived by the lying representations of
their Juntas, had no love whatever for the English, though ready
enough to receive money and arms from them.

On leaving Zadorra, the French officer in command said to Terence:

"Now, colonel, we shall have to be more careful during our marches,
keeping a sharp lookout at night. The country here is infested by
guerillas, whom all our efforts cannot eradicate. The mountains of
Navarre and Biscay are full of them. Sometimes they are in bands of
fifteen or twenty strong, sometimes they are in hundreds. Some of
them are at ordinary times goatherds, shepherds, muleteers, and
peasants; but a number of them are disbanded soldiers--the remains
of armies we have defeated and broken up, and who prefer this wild
life in the mountains to returning to their homes. Our convoys are
constantly attacked, and have always to be accompanied by a strong
guard."

"As we have no waggons with us, I should think that they would
hardly care to molest us," Terence said.

"That renders it less likely, certainly, colonel; but they fight
from hatred as much as for booty, and no French soldier who falls
into their hands is ever spared. Generally they are put to death
with atrocious tortures. At first there was no such feeling here
and, when my regiment was quartered at Vittoria, some three years
ago, things were quiet enough. You see, the feeling gradually grew.
No doubt some of our men plundered. Many of the regiments were
composed of young conscripts, with very slight notions of
discipline. Those from the country districts were, as a rule, quiet
lads enough; but among those from the towns, especially such places
as Toulouse, Lyons, and Marseilles, were young scoundrels ready for
any wickedness, and it is to these that the troubles we now have
are largely due.

"Of course the peasants, when they were able to do so, retaliated
upon these marauders. The feeling of hatred grew, on both sides.
Straggling parties of our men were surrounded, captured, and then
hung, shot, or burnt alive.

"Then, on our side, villages were destroyed and the peasants shot
down. Lately, that is, after the defeats of their armies, numbers
of fugitives took to the hills, threw away their uniforms, obtained
peasants' dresses, and set up as what they called guerillas, which
is only another term for bandits; for although their efforts are
chiefly directed against us, they do not hesitate to plunder their
own people, when they need provisions, and are a perfect scourge to
all the villages among the hills between the Bay of Biscay and the
Mediterranean. Of course, they are strongest along the line of
communication with France; but it may be said that, roughly, where
there are mountains there are guerillas, though there are but few
of them along the hills we crossed between the valley of the Tagus
and that of the Douro.

"This is for two reasons: in the first place, there are very few
villages, and they would have difficulty in maintaining themselves;
and in the second place, because hitherto Leon and Old Castile, on
the north of the Sierra, have always been under different commands
to that in the Tagus valley, and therefore there has been but small
communication between them, except by messengers with despatches
from Madrid. The passes have scarcely been used and, indeed, in
winter they are practically altogether impassable; except that
along the valley of the Ebro. We found that to our cost, when we
marched with Napoleon to cut off your British General Moore. We
lost nearly two days getting through them, and the delay saved your
army."

"Yes, it was a very close thing," Terence said. "As I have told
you, I was with Moore; and if the troops from the south had come up
but six hours earlier, it would have gone very hard with us."

"It was an awful time," the officer said, "and I think our army
must have suffered quite as much as yours did. Soult's force was
reduced fully to half its strength, when he first arrived on that
hill near Corunna. Of course the stragglers came in rapidly, but a
great number never returned to their colours again--some died of
cold and hardship, others were cut off and murdered by the
peasantry. Altogether, we had an awful time of it. Your men were,
in one respect, better off than ours; for your stragglers were not
regarded with hostility by the peasants, whereas no mercy was shown
to ours."

"Yes, major, one of the battalions that fought at Talavera was
entirely composed of men who had straggled in the retreat, and who
afterwards succeeded in gaining the Portuguese frontier."

That evening they halted, for the night, at a small village high up
in the passes. The French officer took every precaution against
surprise. Twenty sentries were placed at various points round the
village; and as many more were posted, in pairs, three or four
hundred yards farther out.

At three in the morning, several shots were fired. The troops all
got under arms, and parties were sent out to the outposts. At two
of these posts both the sentries were found stabbed to the heart.
At others men had been seen crawling up towards them, and the shots
that had aroused the troops had been fired. The outposts were
recalled to the village, and the soldiers remained under arms until
morning.

As soon as it was daybreak a scattered fire opened from the hills
on either side of the valley, and it was evident that these were
occupied by strong parties. The villagers, on being questioned,
denied all knowledge of these bands; but under threats said that
they had heard that Minas, with a very strong force, was in the
neighbourhood, and that the Impecinado had been reported to be
among the hills between the pass and that of Roncesvalles.

"What strength do you put them down at, colonel?" the major asked
Terence.

"I should say, from what we can see of them, that there must be
four or five hundred on each hill."

"They must have had information from their spies at Zadorra,
colonel, and half a dozen bands must have united to crush us.

"Diable, that was a good shot!" he exclaimed, as his shako was
struck from his head by a bullet. "That is the worst of these
fellows. They are uncommonly good shots. You see, almost all these
mountain men are accustomed to carry guns, and the charcoal burners
and shepherds eke out a living by shooting game and sending it down
to the towns."

"What are you thinking of doing, major?"

"I shall hold the village," the latter replied. "We might get
through the pass, but I doubt whether we should do so; and if we
did, my men and yours would suffer terribly. Can I rely upon your
fellows keeping quiet?"

"I think so. At any rate, we will all go round and order them to do
so."

There was, however, no necessity to impress this on the men. Two of
them had already been wounded by the guerillas' fire.

"Why, sir," one of them said, "if we had but muskets here, we would
turn out and help the French to drive those fellows off. The French
have behaved very well to us, while the Spaniards did their best to
starve us to death; and there ain't one of us who wouldn't jump at
the chance of paying them out."

"All right, men!" said Terence. "I agree with you, as to the
treatment you have received; however, we are not here to fight. We
are prisoners, and have nothing to do with the fray, one way or the
other; though I don't mean to say that I should not, myself, be
glad to see the French beat the guerillas off."

The other officers found the same spirit among the soldiers they
questioned.

"I quite agree with them," one of the officers said, "and if there
were muskets handy I would not mind leading them, myself, if it
were not for the uniform. Sir Arthur would scarcely be pleased if,
among all his other worries, he got a despatch from the central
Junta, complaining that a large number of innocent peasants had
been killed by English troops, fighting by the side of the French."

Gradually the guerillas drew in towards the village, taking
advantage of every stone and bush, and rarely giving a chance to
the French infantry. Their aim was exceedingly accurate and,
whenever a French soldier showed himself from behind a hut to fire,
he was fortunate if he got back again without receiving a bullet.

"This is getting serious," the French major said, coming into the
cottage where the English officers were gathered. "I have lost
thirty-eight killed and wounded, already. I have had the wounded
carried into the church, and some of your men are unloading the
provision waggons, and taking the contents inside. They have
requisitioned every utensil that will hold water in the village. No
doubt we shall be able to hold out there till some other detachment
comes along the road."

"I think that it is a very good plan, major," Terence said. "They
would hardly be able to carry it by assault, unless they burnt down
the door; and you ought to be able to prevent them from doing
that."

Half an hour later, the whole French force was collected in the
church. As soon as the Spaniards found what had happened, they
speedily entered the village; and opened fire from every window
giving a view of the church, and from loopholes that they quickly
made in the walls.

Terence noticed that, when the British soldiers entered the church,
most of them carried heavy staves. A sergeant came up, and saluted.

"We have had four men killed and eight wounded, sir. The men
declare that they are not going to stand still and see the French
murdered by these fellows, and I doubt if any orders will keep them
back."

"Very well, sergeant. I will speak to them, presently.

"Now, gentlemen," he said, to the other officers, "three of you are
senior to me in our own army and, though I own that I don't know
how matters should stand, holding as I do Lord Beresford's
commission as colonel, I am perfectly willing to place myself under
the orders of whoever may be senior of you."

"I believe I am the senior," one of the captains said; "but I
should imagine that Lord Beresford's commission would, for the
time, rank just as if it had been signed by our own authorities.
Moreover, you are on Wellesley's staff. You have seen more service
out here than any of us, and I think that you are certainly
entitled to the command; though really, I don't see what we can do,
in our uniforms."

"I quite agree with you, Captain Travers, and therefore my proposal
is that we shall all take them off, and fight in our shirt sleeves.
The guerillas will then not be able to affirm that there were any
men in English uniforms assisting the French."

"I think the idea is an excellent one," Captain Travers said.

"Then in that case I will act upon it;" and Terence went up to the
English soldiers, who were standing in a group in the middle of the
church.

"I am sure you quite understand, my men," he said, "that it would
never do for you to be fighting, in British uniforms, against the
Spaniards; otherwise, I leave the matter in your hands. But I may
mention that it is the intention of myself, and the other officers,
to defend this church without our coats and caps. If any of you
like to do the same, of course you can join us. I give no orders
whatever on the subject, but you see that it would get rid of the
inconvenience of soldiers, in British uniforms, fighting against
the Spaniards."

The men answered with a shout of satisfaction, mingled with
laughter and, in less than a minute, the scarlet uniforms had
disappeared. The muskets of the French killed and wounded were
appropriated, and the rest of the English prisoners seized their
clubs.

For some hours the fight continued and, from the roof of the church
belfry and windows, a hot fire answered the incessant fusillade of
the Spaniards. The French and English officers were obliged,
constantly, to impress upon the men that they must husband their
ammunition; as there was no saying how long they might be besieged
before a detachment, strong enough to turn the scale, arrived.

"Maintain a fire heavy enough to make them keep at it. Their
ammunition is likely to run short as soon as ours, and there is not
much chance of their being able to replenish it. But don't fire at
random. Let every bullet tell. Take a steady aim at the windows
through which they are firing."

Late in the afternoon the fire of the guerillas slackened a good
deal, and it was evident that their leaders were enjoining them not
to waste their ammunition. As it became dark, the officers gathered
again in the body of the church. The total loss had risen to
thirty-two killed and fifty wounded, the English casualties being
about a third of the whole.

"It is a heavy loss," the major said, "and I have noticed that, as
the fire slackened, the proportion of men hit has been larger. I
suppose that they are only keeping their best shots at work."

"I should fancy," Terence said, "that if we were to make a sortie,
we could scatter them altogether. As soon as it is dark we might
get out by that sacristy door at the rear. They gave up the attack
on that side some time ago, as they could not get any shelter; and
when they found that was so, they betook themselves to houses where
they were better covered. If we were to go out noiselessly and
sweep round the village; so as to fall upon it in two bodies, one
at each end; they will take us for a body of troops just arrived.
Even if they do hear us, as we go out, we can go straight at them;
and should, I have no doubt, be able to clear the place with a
rush.

"The only thing is, major, I should be glad if your soldiers would
take off their coatees, too, so that there would be nothing to
distinguish our men from yours. What do you think?"

"I think that it will be much the best plan," Captain Travers said.
"In the first place, it is probable that they will try to burn us
out, tonight; and we could not hope to prevent their piling faggots
against the doors, in the dark. For that reason, alone, I think
that it will be much better to attack them than wait for them to
attack us.

"We need only leave some twenty of the less seriously wounded men
to guard the place. When we sally out, the guerillas will have
plenty to do without making an attack on the church. I certainly
think that we are not likely to lose so many lives in a sortie as
we should do in the defence, here, against a night attack."

"I certainly am of your opinion, colonel," the French major said;
"and if you and your men will join us, I have no doubt that we
shall be able to clear the village."

As soon as it became quite dark, the men on the roof were all
called down; with the exception of one or two, who were ordered to
continue to fire from various spots there and in the belfry, so
that the Spaniards should not discover that the garrison had been
withdrawn. Then the French were drawn up, and divided into two
parties. The English who had muskets were told off, in equal
numbers, to each of these parties; as were those who had nothing
but their clubs. The major then ordered his soldiers to take off
their coats, and to leave their shakos behind them.

The French major took the command of one party, and asked Terence
to take command of the other. This he declined.

"No, sir, it is better that one of your own officers should be in
command. We will divide ourselves between the two parties."

The major now impressed upon his men the necessity for absolute
quiet, and for marching as lightly and silently as possible. The
English officers gave similar instructions to their men. It was
arranged that, when the door was opened, the two parties should
issue out simultaneously, two abreast; so that if the alarm was
given before all were out, they would be able to turn right and
left, and attack in both directions at once. A French lieutenant
was appointed to remain in the church, and command the little
garrison of wounded men.

Those who sallied out were to stoop low as they went, and were to
keep a few paces apart. Some hangings in the church were pulled
down and torn up into strips, with which the men were directed to
muffle their boots.

There was no mistaking the ardour with which the soldiers prepared
for the sortie. Both English and French were indignant at being
pent up by a foe they thoroughly despised, and were eager to be at
the enemy. The casualties added to their wrath; one of the French
officers had been killed, and another hurt seriously; while three
of the English had also been wounded, though in each case but
slightly.

The bolts of the door were noiselessly drawn, and that of the lock
forced back; then the two little parties stole out, in the order in
which they had been directed. The guerillas had just begun to fire
heavily, as a prelude, Terence had no doubt, to a serious attack
upon the church. Fortunately there were no houses at the back of
the church, and no shout indicated that the party were seen. They
therefore kept together, until fifty or sixty yards from the door;
then they separated, and continued their way to the ends of the
village to which they had been, respectively, assigned.

Then at one end of the village a French trumpeter sounded the
charge, and two drummers at the other beat the same order,
vigorously, and with loud cheers they rushed down the street, the
French and English alike shouting. It had been arranged that, while
the French held their way straight on, shooting down the Spaniards
as they poured out into the street, the British should break up
into small detachments, burst their way into the houses, and
overpower the enemy there. They found the first houses they entered
deserted, and the soldiers uttered exclamations of impatience as
they heard the heavy roll of firing in the main street. As they
approached the centre of the village, however, they came upon a
number of the Spaniards rushing from their houses.

The men who had arms opened fire at once upon them, while those
with clubs dashed forward, levelling the panic-stricken guerillas
to the ground with their heavy blows, and arming themselves with
their muskets and bandoleers. Thus the firing soon became general,
and the Spaniards, struck with utter dismay, and believing that
they had been attacked by a heavy column that had just arrived,
speedily took to headlong flight, most of them throwing away their
arms as they fled. In some of the houses there were short but
desperate conflicts but, in a quarter of an hour after the first
shot was fired, there was not a guerilla remaining alive in the
village, upwards of a hundred and fifty having been killed; while
on the side of their assailants only some fifteen had been killed,
and twenty-eight wounded.

They soon formed up in the street, and were told off, in parties of
twelve, to the houses in the outskirts of the village. Three in
each party were to keep watch, by turns, while the rest slept. An
English officer was to remain in charge on one side of the street,
and a French officer on the other. The rest went back to the
church, whose doors were now thrown open.

"I thank you most heartily, gentlemen," the French officer said, to
Terence and to the other British officers, "for the immense service
that you have rendered us. Had it not been for your aid, our
position would have been a very precarious one, before morning. As
it is, I think we need fear no further interruption. We are now all
armed; and as, with the wounded fit for work, we are still three
hundred strong, we should beat off any force likely to attack us;
though indeed, I have no belief that they will rally again. At any
rate, their losses have been extremely heavy; and the streets were
completely strewn with guns, so that I doubt whether half of those
who got away have carried their weapons with them."

The next morning, indeed, it was found that in all about 400
muskets had been left behind. All that remained over, after arming
the British soldiers, were broken up and thrown down the wells.
Enough provisions were collected, among the houses, to furnish the
whole with three or four days' rations. The dead were buried in a
field near the village, those wounded too severely to march were
placed in the waggons; and the rest, who had now resumed their
uniforms, set out in high spirits. They were in the same order as
before, but the prisoners were told to carry their muskets at the
trail, while the French shouldered theirs; so that, viewed from a
distance, the British should appear unarmed.

"That has been a grand bit of excitement, Terence," Dick Ryan said
gleefully to his friend, as they marched along together. "Those
fellows certainly fight a good deal more pluckily than the regular
troops do. It was a capital idea to make all the men take off their
uniforms, for I don't suppose the Spaniards, even for a moment,
dreamt that we were among their assailants; at any rate, they have
no proof that we were.

"You really must get me as your adjutant, Terence. I see there is
very much more fun to be got out of your sort of fighting than
there is with the regiment. I am very pleased, now, that I stuck to
Portuguese as you advised me; though it was a great bore, at
first."

"I hope, Dicky, we sha'n't find, when we get back in the spring,
that the corps has been turned over to Beresford as part of his
regular command; for I must say that I quite appreciate the
advantage of independence.

"Well, this business ought to do us some good. No doubt the major
will report, in warm terms, the assistance we have rendered him;
and we shall get good treatment. Of course, some of their prisons
must be better than others and, if they will confine us in some
place near the frontier, instead of marching us half through
France, it will make it all the easier for us to get away. It is
not the getting out of prison that is the difficulty, but the
travelling through the country. I am getting on well with my
French, but there is no hope of being able to speak well enough to
pass as a native. As for you, you will have to keep your mouth shut
altogether, which will be mightily difficult."

"You will manage it somehow, Terence. I have no fear of you getting
me through the country. It is getting out of the country that
seems, to me, the difficulty."

"There is one thing, Dicky. We need be in no hurry about it. There
is little chance of fighting beginning for another six or seven
months and, directly we come to the end of our march, wherever it
may be, we must begin to pick up as much French as we can, from our
guards. In three or four months I ought, at least, to be able to
answer questions; not perhaps in good French, but in French as good
as, say, a Savoyard workman or musician might be able to muster."

"Oh, Lor'!" Dick Ryan said, with a deep sigh, "you don't mean to
say that I must begin to work on another language, just after I
have been slaving, for the last six months, at Portuguese?"

"Not unless you like, Dicky. I can either start alone, or with
someone else who has some knowledge of French; but I am not going
to run the risk of being recaptured by taking anyone with me who
cares so little for liberty that he grudges three or four hours'
work, a day, to get up the means of making his escape."

"Oh, of course I shall learn," Ryan said pettishly. "You always get
your own way, Terence. It was so at Athlone: you first of all began
by asking my opinion, and then carried out things exactly as you
proposed, yourself. Learning the language is a horrid nuisance, but
I see that it has to be done."

"I expect, Dicky, you will have to make up as a woman. You see, you
are not much taller than a tallish woman."

"Well, that would be rather a lark," Ryan said; "only don't you
think I should be almost too good-looking for a French woman?"

"You might be that, Dicky. It is certainly a drawback. If I could
get hold of a good-sized monkey's skin, I might sew you up in it."

"A bear skin would be better, I should say," Dick laughed; "but I
don't think anyone would think that it was a real bear. I saw a
chap with one once, at Athlone: no man could open his mouth as wide
as that beast did; and as to its tongue, it would be four times as
long as mine. No, I think the woman idea would be best; but I
should have to shave very close."

"Shave!" Terence repeated, scornfully. "Why, I could not see any
hair on your face with a magnifying glass. If that were the only
drawback, the matter could be arranged without difficulty."

Without farther adventure, they crossed the mountains and came down
to Bayonne. At each halting place where French troops were
stationed, the British prisoners were received with warm
hospitality by them, when they learned from their comrades that the
British had fought side by side with the French against the
guerillas, and had saved them from what might have been a very
serious disaster. The French shook hands with them warmly, patted
them on the shoulders, with many exclamations of "Braves garcons!"
and they were led away to cafes, and treated as the heroes of the
day, while the officers were entertained by those of the garrison.

At Bayonne they and their escort parted on the most cordial terms,
the French exclaiming that it was a shame such brave fellows should
be held as prisoners; and that they ought to be released at once,
and sent back in a ship, with a flag of truce, to Portugal.

The major, after handing over the soldiers to the prison
authorities, took Terence and the other British officers to the
headquarters of the governor of the town; and introduced them to
him, giving him a lively account of the fight with the guerillas,
and the manner in which the prisoners, armed only with clubs and
the muskets of the soldiers no longer able to use them, had made
common cause with the French and, joining them in the sortie,
defeated the Spanish with heavy loss. The governor expressed,
courteously, his thanks to the officers for the part they had
taken.

"I shall forward Major Marcy's report to headquarters, gentlemen,
and shall be happy to give you the liberty of the town on parole. I
have no doubt that, if no other good comes of your adventure, you
will be placed among an early list of officers to be exchanged."

"I am very much obliged to you, general," Terence said, "but I and
Lieutenant Ryan would prefer not to give our parole. I don't say we
are likely to make our escape but, at any rate, we should like to
be able to take any opportunity, if we saw one."

The general smiled.

"Of course, it must be as you like, sir; but I think that you are
wrong. However, at any time, if you like to change your minds, I
will give instructions to the officer in command of the prison to
release you, immediately you give your parole not to leave the
town."

The matter had been talked over on the march, and the others now
expressed their willingness to give their parole. They had told
Terence they thought he was wrong, and that it would be impossible
to make an escape, as it would be necessary to traverse either the
whole of Spain or the whole of France before he could find any
means of rejoining the army; and that, before long, they might be
exchanged.

"I don't think there is a prospect of an early exchange," Terence
said. "There cannot have been many prisoners taken, during this
short campaign; and I don't suppose there will be any talk of
exchanges, for some time to come. I am particularly anxious to get
back again, if I possibly can, as I am afraid that my regiment will
be broken up; and that, unless I get back before the campaign
begins in spring, I shall not get the command again. So I mean to
get away, if I can. Anyhow, I would just as soon be in prison as
walking about the streets of Bayonne. So I have quite made up my
mind not to give my parole."

The officers all returned to the prison quarters assigned to them;
the difference being that those on parole could go in and out as
they chose, and could, at will, take their meals in the town; while
Terence and Ryan were placed together in a room, with a sentry at
the door, whose instructions were to accompany them whenever they
wished to go beyond the door and to walk in the prison yard, or on
the walls surrounding it.



Chapter 5: An Escape.


"Well, here we are, Terence," Ryan said cheerfully, as the door of
their cell closed behind them; "and now, what next?"

"The next thing is to look round, Dick. Other matters can wait. One
cannot form the remotest idea as to the possibilities of an escape,
until one has found out everything about the place. I should say
that it will be quite soon enough to discuss it, in another couple
of months.

"Now, as to the room; there is nothing to grumble at here. Two
truckle beds, not altogether luxurious in appearance but, at any
rate, a good deal softer than the ground on which we have been
sleeping, for months past. A couple of chairs, designed for use
rather than comfort; but which will do to sit on, while we take our
meals, and at other times we can use the beds as sofas. A
good-sized piece of carpet, a table, and what looks like a pudding
dish to wash in.

"Things might have been better, and they might have been a great
deal worse. As to our food, we must reserve comment until they
bring us some.

"Now, as to funds, I had only twenty-five crowns on me when I was
captured. You were rather better off, as you had ten pounds in gold
and eight crowns in silver. You see, had we given our parole like
the others, and gone in for luxurious feeding outside, our stock
would soon have given out; and money is an essential for carrying
out an escape, when that escape involves perhaps weeks of
travelling, and certainly disguises of different kinds. We have not
a penny too much for that, and must resolve to eschew all luxuries
except tobacco, and perhaps a bottle of wine on Sundays."

"Our windows, as you observe, are very strongly barred. They look
westward, but that range of buildings opposite prevents our getting
a view of the sea. One thing is evident, at once: that it is no
manner of use for us to think of cutting through those bars, or
dislodging them; for we should only, on lowering ourselves, be in
the courtyard, and no nearer escape than we were before we began
the job. It is a good thing to get at least one point off our mind.

"Now, Dick, before we go further, let us make an agreement that we
will always talk in French. I know enough of it to be able to
assist you, and it will be an amusement, as well as a help, to
accustom ourselves to talk in it."

"All right," Ryan said, resignedly; "but I bargain that, for an
hour a day, we drop it altogether. It will be an awful nuisance;
and one must give one's tongue a rest, occasionally, by letting it
straighten itself out a bit."

The door now opened, and one of the warders entered with two large
bowls of broth, a fair-sized piece of the meat from which it was
made, a dish of vegetables, a large piece of bread, and a bottle of
wine.

"This is your supper, messieurs. In the morning you have coffee and
a piece of bread; at twelve o'clock a meal like this, with a bottle
of wine between you."

"Thank you," Terence said cheerfully, "that will do extremely well.
Are there any other British officers here?"

"None, except your comrades. There were some naval officers here
last week, but they have been sent into the interior. We do not
have many prisoners here. Those captured at sea, by warships or
privateers, are generally taken to Brest and, so far, we have not
had many of your nation sent from Spain. There are Spaniards,
sometimes, but they do not count. Those that are taken are
generally drafted into the Spanish corps of our army."

"Can we buy tobacco?" Terence asked.

"Certainly, monsieur. There is a canteen in the courtyard. It is
open from eight till nine o'clock in the morning, and from five to
six in the evening. But you are not allowed to get things in from
the town; but nevertheless--" and he smiled, "--as your comrades
are on parole, doubtless, should you need anything beyond what is
sold in the canteen, it may chance that they may bring you just the
things you want."

"Thank you. You had better get something from the canteen for
yourself," Terence said, handing him a crown.

"Thank you, monsieur. I have heard, from the soldiers who came in
with you, that you fought bravely with them against the Spanish
brigands; and they think that it is very hard that you and your
companion should be shut up here, after having proved such good
comrades. I have a cousin among them. He, like myself, is a native
of Bayonne and, should it be in his power, I am sure that he and
his comrades would do anything they could for Monsieur--as far, of
course, as their duty as French soldiers will allow them."

"Thanks. By the way, what is your name?"

"Jean Monier, monsieur."

"Well, Jean, will you please tell your cousin that I am obliged to
him for his goodwill? It was a pleasure to fight side by side with
such brave soldiers and, should an occasion offer, I will gladly
avail myself of his services. The detachment is not going farther,
is it?"

"No, monsieur. They will remain here for perhaps two or three
months, till the good French air has invigorated them; then they
will join some column marching south again. There is nothing more
that you will want tonight, monsieur?"

"No, thank you, Jean. Good evening!"

"Good evening, good sleep!" and the warder retired.

"What is all that jabber about, Terence?"

"Very satisfactory jabber, and jabber that is likely to lead to a
very good result. A cousin of his is one of the guard that came
down with us. He has told this warder about our fight, and asked
him to say that he and his comrades were very angry at our being
shut up here; and as much as said that they would aid us to escape,
if it was in their power, so we may consider that our first
difficulty is as good as arranged. No doubt in a short time they
will be put on regular garrison duty, and will take their turn in
furnishing prison guards. This warder is evidently ready to do
anything he can, so that we may look upon our escape from prison as
a matter of certainty. I don't suppose that, in any case, the guard
is a very vigilant one; for they would not expect that prisoners of
war here would try to escape. At Verdun, and other prisons within a
few days' journey of the frontier, it would be different."

"Well, that is good news, Terence, though I see myself that our
difficulties will really begin only when we get out. There is no
doubt that the fight with the guerillas was a lucky thing for us. I
would not have missed it for anything, for I must say there was
much more excitement in it than in a battle, at least as far as my
experience of a battle goes. At Talavera we had nothing to do but
stick up on the top of a hill, watch the French columns climbing
up, and then give them a volley or two and roll them down the hill
again; and between times stand to be shelled by Victor's batteries
on the opposite hill. I cannot see that there is any fun about
that. This fight, too, has turned out a very good thing for us. I
expect we should not have been so well treated if it had not been
for it, and the fact that some of these French soldiers are ready
to give us a helping hand is first rate.

"You see, it is all your luck, Terence. There never was such a
fellow for luck as you are."

"There is no doubt about that," Terence agreed. "Now, Dick, you
must really break into French."

"Tomorrow morning will be time enough for that," Ryan said, in a
tone of determination. "I want to talk now, really talk; and I
can't do that in French, especially after what you have just told
me. By the way, I don't see, myself, why we should make this
journey through France. Why not try to get a boat, and land
somewhere on the coast of Spain?"

"I have been thinking of that, Dick; but it seemed to me, before,
altogether too difficult. Still, if we can get help from outside, I
don't know why we should not be able to manage it. We should have
to go some distance along the Spanish coast, for there are sure to
be French garrisons at Bilbao and Santander; but beyond that I
should think we might land at any little village. Galicia must
certainly have been evacuated by the French, for we know that Ney's
corps were down in the Tagus valley; and I should think that they
cannot have any great force in the Asturias. The worst of it is, we
have not got enough money to buy a boat; and if we had, the
soldiers could hardly bargain with a fisherman for one. Of course,
if we were free we might arrange with a man to go with us in his
boat, and pay him so much for its hire, for three or four days."

"We might make our way down the river, and steal one, Terence."

"Yes, we might do that, but it would be a heavy loss to some poor
fellow. Well, I shall look forward to the morning, when we can go
out and see all about the prison arrangements."

"Then you have given up the idea of waiting for two months before
you do anything, Terence?" Ryan remarked.

"Certainly. You see, these French convalescents may be marched back
again, in another month's time and, at present, our plans must be
formed upon the supposition that they are ready to help us. It
would never do to throw away such an opportunity as that. It would
be little short of madness to try and get out, unless we had
disguises of some sort. My staff officer's uniform, or your
scarlet, would lead to our arrest at the first village we came to.

"Besides, before this news one was willing to wait contentedly, for
a time, till some good opportunity presented itself. Now that we
have such an unexpected offer of assistance, the sooner we get out
of the place the better."

The next morning they went out into the courtyard of the prison.
The soldiers who had been captured with them were walking about in
groups; but the sentry who accompanied the two British officers led
them through these, and took them up to the top of the wall
surrounding the prison.

"Messieurs," he said, "when the others are shut up you can go where
you please, but my orders are that you are not to communicate with
your soldiers."

He then fell back some distance, and left them free to wander about
on the wall.

From this point they had a view over the city. Bayonne was a
strongly fortified place, standing on the junction of the Nive and
Adour, and on the south side of the latter river, two miles from
its mouth. The Nive ran through the town, and its waters supplied
the ditches of the encircling wall and bastions. The prison was
situated on the Nive, at some three or four hundred yards from the
spot where it entered the Adour.

"I should say this quite decides it," Terence said, when they had
made the circuit of the walls, upon which sentries were placed at
short intervals. "Once out of the town the river would be open to
us, but it would be next to impossible to pass those semicircles of
fortifications on both sides of the town. You can see the masts of
the craft lying at the quays and, though I should not like to rob a
fisherman of his boat; I should not feel the smallest scruple in
taking a ship's boat, which would be, comparatively, a small loss
to the owner. The worst of it would be that, directly we were found
to be missing, and the owner of the boat reported its loss, they
might send out some of their gunboats in search of us, and we
should very soon be overtaken."

Discipline was not very strict in the French army, except when in
an enemy's country; and the sentries, knowing well that there was
really no occasion for watchfulness, answered willingly the
questions that Terence asked them as to the names of places within
sight.

"It must be rather tedious work for you, on the wall here," Terence
said to one whose post was shielded by a building close by, from
observation from below.

"Very dull," the soldier said, "and we shall be glad enough when we
are relieved and marched into Spain. Here we are doing no good.
There is no chance whatever of the prisoners attempting an escape,
for if they did get out of here they could get no further; but they
say that we shall not stop here long, and we shall be heartily glad
when the order comes. They say the convalescents who came in
yesterday will take over the prison duties next week."

Terence's motive for speaking to the men was to discover whether
they were forbidden to talk, and it was satisfactory to find that,
if there was such a rule, it was by no means strictly observed.
Leaning on the parapet, he and Ryan stood for some time looking at
the sea. There were many fishing boats dotting its surface, and the
tapering masts of two schooners could be seen near the mouth of the
river.

"I have no doubt that they are privateers," Terence said. "They
have just the appearance of that fellow we captured on the way out.
One would not have much chance of getting far in a boat, with those
fellows after us.

"It seems to me that, if it could possibly be managed, our safest
plan would be to lie quiet in the town for a week or so, after we
got out; then it would be comparatively safe to get hold of a boat
and make off in it."

"Yes, if that could be managed, it certainly would be the safest
plan. If we changed our minds about making off by sea, we might
then be able to pass out through the fortifications, without
question. Of course, they would be vigilant for a short time after
we were missing; but I suppose that, at ordinary times, the country
people would go in and out unquestioned, just as in any other town
for, with no enemy nearer than Portugal, there could be no occasion
whatever for watchfulness."

Terence and his companion had seen nothing of their friends on
parole, as these, they found, although lodged in prison for their
own convenience, were not permitted to have any communication with
the other prisoners. Ten days after they arrived at Bayonne, the
warder, who had, since he first spoke to them, said nothing beyond
the usual salutations, remarked carelessly:

"The soldiers who came down with you took up the prison duties last
night. My cousin told me to say that you will know him, and four or
five of his comrades of the 72nd of the line, all of whom are
thoroughly in agreement with him, by their saying as you pass them:

"'The morning is fair, Colonel.'

"To any of them you can speak, when you find an opportunity of
doing so, unobserved."

"Thank you; but will it not be safer for them were you to carry my
messages?"

"No; I cannot do that," the warder said. "I think that it is quite
right that my cousin, and his comrades, should do anything in their
power to aid those who stood by them when attacked; but I wish to
know nothing about it. It must be between you and them, for I must
be able to swear that I had no hand in the matter, and that I
locked you up safely, at night."

"You are quite right, Jean. It is much the best plan that it should
be so. I certainly should not, myself, like to know that in making
my escape I might endanger the life of one who had acted simply
from kindness of heart; and trust that no suspicion, whatever, will
fall upon you. I thank you most heartily for having brought me the
message from your cousin, and for the goodwill that you have shown
us."

When Terence and Ryan went out as usual, after breakfast, all the
sentries they passed saluted, as if to one of their own officers.
They of course returned the salute, and made a cheery remark to
each, such as "Rather a change, this, from our work up in the
hills, lad," to which each gave some short and respectful answer,
three of them prefacing it with the words: "The morning is fair,
mon Colonel ".

Two of these had the number of their regiment on their shako. The
other, who had a deep and scarcely-healed scar over the ear, only
wore a forage cap, having evidently lost his shako when wounded.

"What do you mean by saluting a prisoner," a French staff officer,
when he was passing, angrily asked an old soldier. "You have been
long enough in the service, surely, to know that prisoners are not
saluted."

The soldier stood at attention.

"Monsieur le Capitaine," he said, "I am not saluting a prisoner. I
am saluting a brave officer, whose orders I have obeyed in a hard
fight, and to whom I and my comrades probably owed our lives. A
mark of respect is due to a brave man, whether a prisoner of war or
not."

The officer passed on without answering and, arriving at
headquarters, reported the circumstances to the general.

"I am not surprised, Captain Espel," the latter replied, with a
slight smile. "A French soldier knows how to respect bravery, and
in this case there is little doubt that, but for the assistance of
their prisoners, it would have gone very hard with that detachment.
That young officer who, strangely enough, is a colonel, was a
prisoner when he fought side by side with these men; and it is but
natural that they scarcely regard him as one, now. He has refused
to give his parole, and I am afraid he means to try to make his
escape. I am sorry for, should he do so, he is sure to be captured
again."

The third one of the 72nd men, the one with a forage cap, chanced
to be posted at the point of the wall that was not overlooked and,
after he had repeated the formula agreed upon, Terence said to him:

"You are one of those lads who sent me a message that you would
assist me, if you could."

"That is so, mon Colonel. You assisted us when we were somewhat
hotly pressed, and tis but good comradeship to repay such a
service, if one can. We have been thinking it over and, although it
would not be difficult for you to escape from here, we do not see
how you are to be got out of the town."

"That is the difficulty I see myself," Terence replied. "We could
not hope to pass through the circle of fortifications and, were we
to take a boat and make off, we should be pursued and recaptured,
to a certainty; for of course, as soon as our escape was known,
there would be a hot search made for us.

"There are two things needed. The first is disguises. The second is
a shelter, until the search for us slackens, after which it would
be comparatively easy for us to make off."

"What sort of disguises would you want, monsieur?"

"If we go by land, peasant dresses; if by water, those of
fishermen. We have money, which I can give you to purchase these."

"That we could do for you, monsieur, but the hiding place is more
difficult. However, that we will see about. I am a native here, and
have of course many friends and acquaintances in the town. When we
have made our plans I will let you know. I will manage that, when
it is my turn for duty, I will always be posted here; and then I
can tell you what is arranged, and give you whatever is necessary
to aid you to make your escape. My cousin, Jean Monier, will shut
his eyes; but he will not do anything himself, and I think that he
is right, for of course he will be the first to be suspected.

"As for us, it will be no matter. Everyone knows how you stood by
us, and they will guess that some of us have had a hand in it; but
they will never find out which of us was chiefly concerned. I
expect that soon we shall all be taken off this prison duty, for
which we shall not be sorry, and sent back to Spain with the first
detachment that comes along; but after all, one is not so badly off
in Spain, and certainly Madrid is a good deal more lively than
Bayonne."

"I suppose," Terence said, nodding towards their guard, who was
standing a few paces away gazing over the country, "he knows
nothing about this."

"No, monsieur, we have kept it to just the men of our own regiment;
but all feel the same about your being kept a prisoner, and there
is no fear of his telling anyone that you spoke to one man more
than another, when it is found out that you have escaped. Still, it
might be as well that you should not speak to me again, until I
tell you that it is a fine morning; for although all our own men
can be trusted, if any of the regular prison warders was to notice
anything he would not be slow in mentioning it, in hope of getting
promotion."

Accordingly Terence made a point of only passing along that part of
the wall once a day, and merely saying a word to the soldier, as he
did to others, on the occasions when he was on duty.

Ten days later the man replied to his salutation by remarking that
it was a "fair day." It happened that the man told off to guard
them on this occasion was another of the 72nd; there was therefore
nothing to be feared from him.

"I have arranged the matter, monsieur," the soldier said. "My
sister's husband, Jules Varlin, will shelter you. He is a
fisherman, and you can be safely hidden in the loft where he keeps
his nets and gear. He is an honest fellow, and my sister has talked
him over into lending his aid so far and, although he has not
promised it yet, I think we shall get him to go down the river with
you, so as to reply if you are challenged. You can put him ashore a
mile or two along the coast.

"Now as to the escape, monsieur. Here is a sharp saw. With it you
can cut round the lock of your door. There are two outside bolts,
whose position I dare say you have noticed; by cutting a hole close
to each of them, you can get your hand through and draw them. Here
is a short-handled augur, to make a hole for the saw to go through.

"There are four sentries at night, in the courtyard. We shall
manage to get all our men on duty, tomorrow evening. Our sergeant
is a good fellow and, if he guesses anything, will hold his tongue;
for I have heard him say, more than once, that it is monstrous that
you should be kept a prisoner.

"Therefore you need not be afraid of them. They will take care to
keep their eyes shut. I shall be on sentry duty here, and will get
the disguises up, and a rope. When you have got down I shall let
the rope drop, and you will carry it off and take it away with you;
thus there will be no evidence where you descended.

"Here are two sharp files, with which you can cut through the bars
of your window, and remove some of them; then it will not be known
whether you escaped that way, or down the stairs; and the men on
sentry in the courtyard at the bottom cannot be blamed because, for
aught the governor will know, you may have gone out through this
window into the other courtyard, and got over the wall on that
side; so they would have no proof as to which set of men were
negligent.

"No doubt we shall all be talked to, and perhaps kept in the
guardroom a few days, but that won't hurt us; and soldiers are
scarce enough, so they will hardly keep ten or twelve men long from
duty. There are not enough in the town, now, to furnish all the
guards properly; so you need not worry about us.

"I will give you instructions how to find my sister's house,
tomorrow night. You must not escape until you hear the bell strike
midnight. Our party will relieve guard at that hour. You see, we
have four hours on duty and, as you may have gone either on the
first watch, the second, or the third, they will not be able to
pitch on us more than on the others; so that, in fact, the blame
will be divided between forty of us. You will, of course, put on
your disguises over your uniforms, and destroy your clothes, when
you get to Jules' house."

"I thank you very warmly, my good fellow, for running all this risk
for me. Here are two hundred francs to pay for the disguises."

"That will be more than enough," the soldier said. "Jules put it
down at a hundred and fifty."

"Things may cost more than he expects. At any rate, please hand
these to him. I can arrange matters with him when I see him.

"Then at about a quarter past twelve we will sally out. We will
walk on now, lest any of the warders should happen to notice that
we have been a long time on this part of the wall."

Ryan had understood but little of what was happening and, when
Terence told him what had been arranged, he exclaimed:

"Well, after this, Terence, I will never say a word against a
Frenchman. Here are these soldiers going to run a lot of risk, and
a certainty of getting into a row for us, merely because we did the
best we could against those wretched Spaniards; and without getting
any reward whatever, for they must know that prisoners are not
likely to have any money to spare about them."

"Quite so, Ryan; and what is more, if I had a hundred pounds in my
pocket, I would not offer them a penny; for certainly they would
take it as an insult if I did so. They would feel that it would be
a sort of bribe and, though they are ready to help us as comrades,
I am sure they would not do it for money. I sincerely hope they
won't get into any serious row. As he said, authorities won't be
able to tell which party was on guard at the time we went, and they
could hardly put the whole of them under arrest--at least, not keep
them under arrest. No doubt there will be a close search in the
town for us, but there is little fear of our being discovered.

"Our dangers won't begin until we are fairly afloat. I know nothing
about sailing. I have rowed a boat many a time, at Athlone; but as
for sailing, I have never once tried it."

"Nor have I," Ryan said. "But I suppose there is no difficulty
about it. You put up the sail, and you take hold of the rope at the
corner, and off you go."

"It sounds all right, Dicky, and I dare say we shall manage to get
along, somehow; but these things are not half as easy as they look.
Now we had better have four or five hours' sleep this afternoon,
for I expect it will take us the best part of the night to file
through the bars. You must not cut quite through them, but just
leave them so that we can finish them off in a short time, tomorrow
night."

"But the warder might notice them?"

"He is not likely to look very sharply, Dicky; but at the same
time, it is just as well not to put too great a strain on his
loyalty. We will keep a piece of bread over from our supper, work
it up into a sort of paste, fill up any cuts we make, and rub it
over with dirt till it well matches the bars. Certainly they have
planned the affair capitally, so as to throw doubt as to which way
we descended, and so divide the blame between as many of the
sentries as possible."

It took four hours' work, that night, to get through the bars. They
were most careful not to let any of the filings fall outside for,
had any of them dropped into the courtyard below, they might well
catch the eye of a warder; and in that case an examination of all
the windows of the rooms above would certainly be made, at once.
Before the warder's visit the next morning, the holes had been
filled up with bread worked into a putty and smeared over with
dust; which so nearly matched the bars that it could not be
observed, except by a careful examination.

The next day they abstained from saying more than a passing word to
any of the French soldiers. They waited, after being locked up for
the night, for two or three hours; and then began their work at the
door. The saw was a very narrow one and, when they had made a hole
with the augur, they found no difficulty in cutting the wood;
therefore they thought it was well to leave that for the last
thing, and so betook themselves to their files, and soon removed
enough of the bars to enable a man to crawl through. Then they
returned to the door, and had cut round the lock, and made holes
through which they could pass their hands to draw back the bolts, a
short time before the clock struck twelve.

Then they went to the window, and listened. They heard the bells
strike midnight, and then a stir below, as the sentries were
relieved. Waiting for a few minutes, until all had become quiet
again, they drew back the bolts, took off their shoes, and went
noiselessly down the stairs.

The night was very dark and, although they could hear the tread of
the sentries in the courtyard, they could not make out their
figures. They crossed the yard, keeping as far as possible from the
sentries. They had no doubt that all would happen as arranged; but
there was, of course, the possibility that at the last moment some
change might have been made; and it was, in any case, as well that
the men there should be able to declare, honestly, that they had
seen no one.

[Illustration: Stooping so that their figures should not show
against the sky.]

They were glad when they reached the archway leading to the stairs
that led to the top of the wall. Mounting, they kept along by the
parapet, stooping so that their figures should not show against the
sky for, dark as it was below, they might have been noticed had
they not done so. Presently they saw the sentry.

"Diable, messieurs!" he said in a low tone, as they came up to him,
"you gave me a start. I was expecting you, but I did not hear your
footsteps nor see you and, had you been enemies, you might very
well have seized and disarmed me before I could give the alarm.

"Well, here are your clothes."

They soon pulled the blue canvas leggings over their breeches, and
over these the high boots, in which their feet felt lost. A rough
blouse and a fisherman's oilskin cap completed the disguise. They
put their boots into the capacious pockets in the blouses, and were
then ready to descend. They had left their shakos in their cell
when they started.

While they had been putting on their clothes, the sentry had
fastened the rope and lowered it down.

"We are ready now, Jacques," Terence said. "Goodbye, my good
friend. We shall never forget the kindness that you have shown us,
and shall remember with gratitude, all our lives, how a party of
French soldiers were ready to show themselves good comrades to men
who had fought by their sides, even though the two nations were at
war with each other. We shall always feel a kindness towards the
French uniform, in future; and if you or any of your comrades of
the 72nd should chance to fall into British hands, and you can send
word to me or to Mr. Ryan, I can promise you that we will do all we
can to have you released at once and sent back, or to aid you in
any other way."

"We have done but our duty to brave comrades," the soldier said.

"Now, as to where to find my cousin. You will go down that street
below, and take the third turning on the right. That will lead you
down to the wharves. Keep along by the houses facing them until you
come to the fourth turning. It is a narrow lane, and there is a
cabaret at each corner of it. My cousin's house is the twelfth on
the left-hand side. He will be standing at the door. You will say
to him as you pass, It is a dark night,' and he will then let you
in.

"Don't walk as if you were in a hurry: fishermen never do that. It
is not likely that you will meet anyone, but if you do, and he sees
two fishermen hurrying, it will strike him as singular; and when
there came news of two prisoners having escaped, he might mention
the matter, which might lead to a search in the right quarter."

"Will you go first, Ryan, or shall I?" Terence said.

"Just as you like."

"Well, then, you may as well go, as then I can talk with this good
fellow till it is my turn."

Ryan shook the soldier's hand heartily, took hold of the rope,
slung himself over the parapet, and began the descent. Terence and
the soldier leaned over, and watched him until they could no longer
make out the figure with certainty. As soon as the tension on the
rope slackened, Terence grasped Jacques' hand, said a few more
words of thanks, and then followed his companion. As soon as he
reached the ground he shook the rope and, a minute later, it fell
on the ground beside him.

He coiled it up, and then they started down the street. Following
the instructions that they had received, in ten minutes they
reached the end of the lane.

"We were to throw away the rope, were we not?" Ryan said.

"Yes, but now we are here, there can be no use in our doing so. If
a length of rope were found lying in the road, people would wonder
who had thrown it away; besides, it is a good stout piece of new
rope, and may be of use to the fisherman."

Counting the doors carefully as they went along, they came to the
twelfth where, before they reached it, the red glow from a pipe
showed that a man was standing outside.

"It is a dark night, mate," Terence said in a low tone, as he came
up to him.

"That is right," the man replied; "come in."

He stood aside as they entered, closed the door behind them, and
then lifted a piece of old canvas thrown over a lighted lantern.



Chapter 6: Afloat.


Jules Varlin held the lantern above his head, and took a good look
at his visitors.

"You will pass very well for young fishermen, messieurs," he said,
"when you have dirtied your faces and hands a bit, and rubbed your
hair the wrong way, all over your head. Well, come in here. My wife
is waiting up to welcome you. It is her doing that you are here. I
should not have agreed, but what can one do when a woman once sets
her mind upon a thing?"

He opened a door. A woman rose from her seat. She was some years
younger than her husband.

"Welcome, messieurs," she said. "We are pleased, indeed, to be able
to return the kindness you showed to my brother."

The fisherman grunted.

"No, Jules," she said, "I won't have you say that you haven't gone
willingly into this. You pretended not to, but I know very well
that it was only because you like to be coaxed, and that you would
have done it for Jacques' sake."

"Jacques is a good fellow," her husband replied, "and I say nothing
against him; but I don't know that I should have consented, if it
had not been for you and your bothering me."

"Don't you believe him, monsieur. Jules has a good heart, though he
likes pretending that he is a bear.

"Now, monsieur, I have some coffee ready for you."

"I need not say, madam," Terence said, "how truly thankful we both
are for your and your husband's kindness, shown to us strangers;
and I sincerely hope that you will have no cause to regret it. You
may be sure of one thing: that if we are recaptured, we shall never
say how our escape was effected, nor where we were sheltered
afterwards; and if, after the war is over, we can find an
opportunity of showing how grateful we are for your kindness, we
shall not miss the chance."

"We are but paying the service you rendered to Jacques, monsieur.
He tells me that, if it had not been for the aid the British
prisoners gave them, that probably those Spanish bandits would have
captured the church during the night; and we know that they never
show mercy to prisoners."

The coffee was placed on the table and, after drinking it, the
fisherman led them to a low shed in the yard.

"We could have done better for you," he said apologetically, "but
it is likely that they may begin a search for you, early in the
morning. This yard can be seen from many houses round about, so
that, were you to sleep upstairs, you might be noticed entering
here in the morning; and it is better to run no risks. We have
piled the nets on the top of other things. You will find two
blankets for covering yourselves there. In the morning I will come
in and shift things, so as to hide you up snugly."

"We shall do just as well on the nets as if we were in bed,"
Terence laughed. "We are pretty well accustomed to sleep on the
hard ground."

"I think we are going to have some bad weather," the man remarked,
as they settled themselves on the nets. "I hope it will be so, for
then none of the boats will put out; and there will be no comments
on my staying at home, instead of going out as usual.

"And now, good night, and good sleep to you!"

"He is an honest-looking fellow," Terence said, when he had gone
out, "and I have no doubt what his wife says of him is true; but it
is not surprising that he held back at first. It is not everyone
that is prepared to run the risk of heavy punishment for the sake
of his wife's relations.

"This is not by any means bad; these nets make a very comfortable
bed."

The next morning, at daybreak, the fisherman came in with a can
containing hot coffee, two great slices of bread, and tin cups.

"Now, messieurs, when you have drank that I will stow you away. We
shifted most of the things yesterday, so as to make as comfortable
a bed for you as may be."

The nets were pulled off; and a mass of sails, ropes, and other
gear appeared underneath. One of the sails in the corner was pulled
away, and showed a vacant space, some six feet long and four feet
wide, extending down to the ground, which was covered by old nets.

"Now, messieurs, if you will get down there, I shall pile a couple
of sacks over and throw the nets on the top, and there is no fear
of your being disturbed. I will bring your meals in to you, and let
you know what is doing in the town; but I shall not come in oftener
than I can help. I shall leave the doors open, as usual."

They took their places in the hole, and the fisherman piled sails
and nets over the opening. There was no occasion to leave any
apertures for air, for the shed was roughly built, and there were
plenty of openings between the planks of which it was constructed.
They had, before he came in, divested themselves of their uniforms;
and these the fisherman put into a kit bag and carried indoors;
where his wife at once proceeded to cut them up, and thrust the
pieces into the fire.

"It is a pity," she said regretfully, "but it would never do to
leave them about. Think what a waistcoat I could have made for you,
Jules, out of this scarlet cloth. With the gold buttons it would
have been superb, and it would have been the envy of the quarter;
but it would never do."

"I should think not, Marie. Burn the clothes up, and give me the
buttons and gold lace. I will put them in a bag with some stones,
and drop them into the river. The sooner we get rid of them, the
better."

As soon as the things were put into a bag, he went out with with
them. The wind was blowing strongly and, as he had predicted the
night before, the clouds were flying fast, and there were many
signs of dirty weather. He returned a couple of hours later.

"There is quite an excitement in the town, Marie," he said.
"Everyone is talking about it. Two rascally English prisoners have
escaped, and the soldiers say that they must be somewhere in the
town, for that they could never have passed through the lines. Some
gendarmes have been along the quays, inquiring if a boat has been
missed during the night; but they all seem to be safe. Written
notices have been stuck up warning everyone, on pain of the
severest punishment, not to give shelter to two young men, in
whatever guise they may present themselves. The gendarmes say that
the military authorities are convinced that they must have received
assistance from without."

For the next three days, indeed, an active search was kept up.
Every house was visited by the gendarmes but, as there was no
reason for suspecting one person more than another, there was no
absolute search made of the houses; which indeed, in so large a
town as Bayonne, would have been almost impossible to carry out
effectually.

The fisherman reported each day what was going on.

"The soldiers are giving it up," he said, at the end of the third
day. "I saw Jacques today for the first time. He tells me there was
a tremendous row when your escape was discovered. The warder, and
every soldier who had been on duty that night, were arrested and
questioned. The warder was the one first suspected, on the ground
that you must have had assistance from without. He said that if you
had, he knew nothing about it; and that, as you knew all the
soldiers of the prison guard, and as he had heard many of them say
it was very hard, after fighting as you did on their behalf, that
you should be kept prisoner, any of them might have furnished you
with tools for cutting the door and filing the bars. This was so
clear that he was released at once. The soldiers were kept for two
days under arrest. This morning the governor himself came down to
the prison, and the men under arrest were drawn up. He spoke to
them very sharply, to begin with.

"'One or more of you is assuredly concerned in this matter. A
breach of trust of this kind is punishable with death.'

"Then he stopped, and looked fiercely up and down the line, and
went on in a different tone:

"'At the same time, I admit that some allowance is to be made for
the crime, and I can understand that as soldiers you felt sympathy
with soldiers who, although prisoners at the time, did not hesitate
to cast in their lot with you, and to fight side by side with you.
Still, a soldier should never allow private sentiments to interfere
with his duty. I myself should have been glad, when you arrived
here and I heard of what had happened, to have been able to place
these British officers and soldiers in a ship, and to have sent
them back to their own country; but that would have been a breach
of my duty, and I was forced to detain them here as prisoners. Of
course, if I could find out which among you have been concerned in
this affair, it would be my duty to punish them--for there must
have been more than one--severely. However, although I have done my
best to discover this, I am not sorry, men, that I have been unable
to do so; for although these men may have failed in their duties as
soldiers, they have shown themselves true-hearted fellows to run
that risk--not, I am sure, from any thought of reward, but to help
those who had helped them.

"'You can all return to your duty, and I hope that you will, in
future, remember that duty is the first thing with a soldier, and
that he should allow no other feeling to interfere with it.'

"Jacques and his comrades are all satisfied that, although the
general felt it was his duty to reprimand them, he was at heart by
no means sorry that you had got off.

"The gendarmes are still making inquiries, but of course they have
learned nothing. Nobody was about on the wharves at that time of
night, and I don't think that they will trouble themselves much
longer about it. They will come to believe that you must, somehow,
have managed to get through the line of fortifications, and that
you will be caught trying to make your way across the country.

"In another three or four days it will be quite safe for you to go
down the river. For the first two days every boat that went down
was stopped and examined, and some of the vessels were searched by
a gunboat, and the hatches taken off; but I hear that no boats have
been stopped today, so I fancy you will soon be able to go down
without fear."

Although at night Terence and Ryan were able to emerge from their
place of concealment, and walk up and down the little yard for two
or three hours, they were heartily glad when, a week after their
confinement, Jules told them that he thought they might start at
daybreak, the next morning.

"Now, messieurs, if you will tell me what you want, I will buy the
things for you."

They had already made out a list. It consisted of a nine-gallon
breaker for water, a dozen bottles of cheap wine, thirty pounds of
biscuits, and fifteen pounds of salt meat, which Jules's wife was
to cook. They calculated that this would be sufficient to last
them, easily, until they had passed along the Spanish coast to a
point well beyond the towns garrisoned by the French, if not to
Corunna itself.

"But how about the boat?" Terence asked, after all the other
arrangements had been decided upon. "As I told you, we don't wish
to take a boat belonging to anyone who would feel its loss; and
therefore it must be a ship's boat, and not one of the fishermen's.
If we had money to pay for it, it would be another matter; but we
have scarcely enough now to maintain us on our way through Spain,
and there are no means of sending money here when we rejoin our
army."

"I understand that, monsieur; and I have been along the quay this
morning taking a look at the boats. There are at least a dozen we
could choose from; I mean ships' boats. Of course, many of the
craft keep their boats hauled up at the davits or on deck, but most
of them keep one in the water, so that they can row off to another
ship or to the stairs. Some simply leave them in the water, because
they are too lazy to hoist them up. That is the case, I think, with
one boat that belongs to a vessel that came in, four days since,
from the West Indies. It's a good-sized ship's dinghy, such as is
used for running out warps, or putting a sailor ashore to bring off
anything required. The other boats are better suited for a voyage,
but they are for the most part too large and heavy to be rowed by
two oars and, moreover, they have not a mast and sail on board, as
this has. Therefore that is the one that I fixed my eye on.

"The ship is lying alongside, and there is not another craft
outside her. The boat is fastened to her bowsprit, and I can take
off my boots and get on board and drop into her, without
difficulty; and push her along to the foot of some stairs which are
but ten yards away. Of course, we will have the water and food and
that bundle of old nets ready, at the top of the stairs, and we can
be out into the stream five minutes after I have cut her loose. We
must start just before daylight is breaking, so as to be off before
the fishermen put out for, if any of these were about, they would
at once notice that I have not got my own boat. At the same time I
don't want to be far ahead of them, or to pass the gunboats at the
mouth of the river in the dark, for that would look suspicious."

"And now, Jules, about yourself. Of course, I know well that no
money could repay you for the kindness you have shown us, and your
risking so much for strangers; and you know that we have not with
us the means of making any return, whatever, for your services."

"I don't want any return, monsieur," the fisherman said. "I went
into the matter a good deal against my will, because my wife had
set her mind upon it; but since you came here I have got to have
just as much interest in the matter as she has. I would not take a
sou from you, now; but if, some day, when these wars are over, you
will send a letter to Marie with some little present to her, just
to show her that you have not forgotten us, it would be a great
pleasure to us."

"That I will certainly do, Jules. It may be some time before there
will be an opportunity of doing it, but you may be sure that we
shall not forget you and your wife, or cease to be grateful for
your kindnesses; and that, directly peace is made, or there is a
chance in any other way of sending a letter to you, we will do so."

That evening Jacques paid a visit to his sister. He had abstained
from doing so before, because he thought that the soldiers who were
suspected of being concerned in the escape might all be watched;
and that if any of them were seen to enter a house, a visit might
be paid to it by the gendarmes. He did not come until it was quite
dark, and made a long detour in the town before venturing to
approach it. Before he entered the lane he took good care that no
one was in sight.

When, after chatting for an hour, he rose to leave, Terence told
him that when he wrote to his sister he should inclose a letter to
him; as it would be impossible to write to him direct, for there
would be no saying where he might be stationed. He begged him to
convey the heartiest thanks of himself and Ryan to his comrades for
the share they had taken in the matter.

On saying good night, Terence insisted on Marie accepting, as a
parting gift, his watch and chain. These were handsome ones, and of
French manufacture, Terence having bought them from a soldier who
had taken them from the body of a French officer, killed during
Soult's retreat from Portugal. They could, therefore, be shown by
her to her friends without exciting any suspicion that they had
been obtained from an English source. Marie accepted them very
unwillingly, and only after Terence declaring that he should feel
very grieved if she would not take the one present he was capable
of making.

"Besides," he added, "no one can tell what fortune may bring about.
Your husband might lose his boat, or have a long illness; and it is
well to have something that you can part with, without discomfort,
in such a time of need."

Jules, although desiring no pay for his services and risks, was
very much gratified at the present.

"I for my part do not say no, monsieur," he said. "What you say is
right. We are careful people, and I have laid by a little money;
but as you say, one cannot tell what may happen. And if the weather
were bad and there was a risk of never getting back home again, it
would be a consolation to me to know that, in addition to the few
hundred francs we have laid by since we were married, two years
ago, there is something that would bring Marie, I should say, seven
or eight hundred francs more, at least. That would enable her to
set up a shop or laundry, and to earn her own living. I thank you
from my heart, monsieur, for her and for myself."

Terence and Ryan slept as soundly as usual until aroused by Jules.
Then they put on their sea boots again, loaded themselves with the
nets and the bags with the provisions and wine, while Jules took
the water barrel and after saying goodbye to Marie, started. There
was not a soul on the wharf and, putting the stores down at the top
of the steps, they watched Jules who, after taking off his boots,
went across a plank to the ship, made his way noiselessly out on to
the bow, swinging himself down into the boat, loosening the head
rope before he did so. A push with the oar against the ship's bow
sent the boat alongside the quay, and he then worked her along,
with his hands against the wall, until he reached the steps.

The stores were at once transferred to the boat, and they pushed it
out into the stream. The tide had but just turned to run out and,
for half a mile, they allowed her to drift down the river. By this
time the light was broadening out in the sky. Jules stepped the
mast and hoisted the sail, and then seated himself in the stern and
put an oar out in the hole cut for it to steer with. Terence
watched the operation carefully. The wind was nearly due aft, and
the boat ran rapidly through the water.

"We are just right as to time," Jules said, as he looked back where
the river made a bend. "There are two others coming down half a
mile behind us, so that we shall only seem to be rather earlier
birds than the rest."

Near the mouth of the river two gunboats were anchored. They passed
within a short distance of one of these, and a solitary sailor,
keeping anchor watch on deck, remarked:

"You are going to have a fine day for your fishing, comrade."

"Yes, I think so, but maybe there will be more wind presently."

Some time before reaching the gunboat, Ryan had lain down and the
nets were thrown loosely over him, as it would be better that there
should not seem to be more than the two hands that were generally
carried in the small fishing boats. Once out of the river they
steered south, laying a course parallel to the shore and about a
mile out. After an hour's sail Jules directed her head into a
little bay, took out an empty basket that he had brought with him,
and stepped ashore, after a cordial shake of the hand. He had
already advised them to bear very gradually to the southwest, and
had left a small compass on board for their guidance.

"They are things we don't often carry," he said, "in boats of this
size; but it will be well for you to take it. If you were blown out
of sight of land you would find it useful. Keep well out from the
Spanish coast, at any rate until you are well past Bilbao; after
that you can keep close in, if you like, for you will be taken for
a fishing boat from one of the small villages.

"I shall walk straight back now to the town. No questions are asked
at the gates and, if anyone did happen to take notice of me, they
would suppose I had been round peddling fish at the farmhouses."

Coming along, he had given instructions to Terence as to sailing
the boat. When running before the wind the sheet was to be loose,
while it was to be tightened as much as might be necessary to make
the sail stand just full, when the wind was on the beam or forward
of it.

"You will understand," he said, "that when the wind is right ahead
you cannot sail against it. You must then get the sail in as flat
as you can, and sail as near as you can to the wind. Then when you
have gone some distance you must bring her head round, till the
sail goes over on the other side; and sail on that tack, and so
make a zigzag course: but if the wind should come dead ahead, I
think your best course would be to lower the sail and row against
it. However, at present, with the wind from the east, you will be
able to sail free on your proper course."

Then he pushed the boat off.

"You had better put an oar out and get her head round," he said,
"before hoisting the sail again. Goodbye; bon voyage!"

Since leaving the river, Terence had been sailing under his
instructions and, as soon as the boat was under way again he said
to his companion:

"Here we are, free men again, Dicky."

"I call it splendid, Terence. She goes along well. I only hope she
will keep on like this till we get to Corunna or, better still, to
the mouth of the Douro."

"We must not count our chickens before they are hatched, Dicky.
There are storms and French privateers to be reckoned with. We are
not out of the wood yet, by a long way. However, we need not bother
about them, at present. It is quite enough that we have got a stout
boat and a favouring wind."

"And plenty to eat and drink, Terence; don't forget that."

"No, that is a very important item, especially as we dare not land
to buy anything, for some days."

"What rate are we going through the water, do you think?"

"Jules said we were sailing about four knots an hour when we were
going down the river, and about three when we had turned south and
pulled the sail in. I suppose we are about halfway between the two
now, so we can count it as three knots and a half."

"That would make," Ryan said, after making the calculation,
"eighty-four miles in twenty-four hours."

"Bravo, Dicky! I doubted whether your mental powers were equal to
so difficult a calculation. Well, Jules said that it was about four
hundred miles to Corunna, and about a hundred and fifty to
Santander, beyond which he thought we could land safely at any
village."

"Oh, let us stick to the boat as long as we can!" Ryan exclaimed.

"Certainly. I have no more desire to be tramping among those
mountains and taking our chance with the peasants than you have,
and if the wind keeps as it is now we should be at Corunna in
something like five days. But that would be almost too much to hope
for. So that it does but keep in its present direction till we are
past Santander, I shall be very well satisfied."

The mountains of Navarre and Biscay were within sight from the time
they had left the river, and it did not need the compass to show
them which way they should steer. There were many fishing boats
from Nivelle, Urumia, and Saint Sebastian to be seen, dotted over
the sea on their left. They kept farther out than the majority of
these, and did not pass any of them nearer than half a mile.

After steering for a couple of hours, Terence relinquished the oar
to his companion.

"You must get accustomed to it, as well as I," he said, "for we
must take it in turns, at night."

By twelve o'clock they were abreast of a town; which was, they had
no doubt, San Sebastian. They were now some four miles from the
Spanish coast. They were travelling at about the same rate as that
at which they had started, but the wind came off the high land, and
sometimes in such strong puffs that they had to loosen the sheet.
The fisherman had shown them how to shorten sail by tying down the
reef points and shifting the tack and, in the afternoon, the
squalls came so heavily that they thought it best to lower the sail
and reef it. Towards nightfall the wind had risen so much that they
made for the land, and when darkness came on threw out the little
grapnel the boat carried, a hundred yards or so from the shore, at
a point where no village was visible. Here they were sheltered from
the wind and, spreading out the nets to form a bed, they laid
themselves down in the bottom of the boat, pulling the sail partly
over them.

"This is jolly enough," Ryan said. "It is certainly pleasanter to
lie here and look at the stars than to be shut up in that hiding
place of Jules's."

"It is a great nuisance having to stop, though," Terence replied.
"It is a loss of some forty miles."

"I don't mind how long this lasts," Ryan said cheerfully. "I could
go on for a month at this work, providing the provisions would hold
out."

"I don't much like the look of the weather, Dicky. There were
clouds on the top of some of the hills and, though we can manage
the boat well enough in such weather as we have had today, it will
be a different thing altogether if bad weather sets in. I should
not mind if I could talk Spanish as well as I can Portuguese. Then
we could land fearlessly, if the weather was too bad to hold on.
But you see, the Spanish hate the Portuguese as much as they do the
French; and would, as likely as not, hand us over at once at the
nearest French post."

They slept fairly and, at daybreak, got up the grapnel and hoisted
the sail again. Inshore they scarcely felt the wind but, as soon as
they made out a couple of miles from the land, they felt that it
was blowing hard.

"We won't go any farther out. Dick, lay the boat's head to the west
again. I will hold the sheet while you steer, and then I can let
the sail fly, if a stronger gust than usual strikes us. Sit well
over this side."

[Illustration: 'She is walking along now.']

"She is walking along now," Ryan said joyously. "I had no idea that
sailing was as jolly as it is."

They sped along all day and, before noon, had passed Bilbao. As the
afternoon wore on the wind increased in force, and the clouds began
to pass rapidly overhead, from the southeast.

"We had better get her in to the shore," Terence said. "Even with
this scrap of sail, we keep on taking the water in on that lower
side. I expect Santander lies beyond that point that runs out ahead
of us, and we will land somewhere this side of it."

But as soon as they turned the boat's head towards the shore, and
hauled in the sheet as tightly as they could, they found that, try
as they would, they could not get her to lie her course.

"We sha'n't make the point at all," Terence said, half an hour
after they had changed the course. "Besides, we have been nearly
over, two or three times. I dare say fellows who understood a boat
well could manage it but, if we hold on like this, we shall end by
drowning ourselves. I think the best plan will be to lower the sail
and mast, and row straight to shore."

"I quite agree with you," Ryan said. "Sailing is pleasant enough in
a fair wind, but I cannot say I care for it, as it is now."

With some difficulty, for the sea was getting up, they lowered the
sail and mast and, getting out the oars, turned her head straight
for the shore. Both were accustomed to rowing in still water, but
they found that this was very different work. After struggling at
the oars for a couple of hours, they both agreed that they were a
good deal farther away from the land than when they began.

"It is of no use, Dick," Terence said. "If we cannot make against
the wind while we are fresh, we certainly cannot do so when we are
tired; and my arms feel as if they would come out of their
sockets."

"So do mine," Ryan said, with a groan. "I am aching all over, and
both my hands are raw with this rough handle. What are we to do,
then, Terence?"

"There is nothing to do that I can see, but to get her head round
and run before the wind. It is a nuisance, but perhaps the gale
won't last long and, when it is over, we can get up sail and make
for the northwestern point of Spain. We have got provisions enough
to last for a week.

"That is more comfortable," he added, as they got the boat in the
required direction. "Now, you take the steering oar, Dick, and see
that you keep her as straight as you can before the wind; while I
set to and bale. She is nearly half full of water."

It took half an hour's work, with the little bowl they found in the
boat, before she was completely cleared of water. The relief given
to her was very apparent, for she rose much more lightly on the
waves.

"We will sit down at the bottom of the boat, and take it by turns
to hold the steering oar."

They had brought with them a lantern in which a lighted candle was
kept burning, in order to be able to light their pipes. This was
stowed away in a locker in the stern, with their store of biscuit
and, after eating some of these, dividing a bottle of wine, and
lighting their pipes, they felt comparatively comfortable. They
were, of course, drenched to the skin and, as the wind was cold,
they pulled the sail partly over them.

"She does not ship any water now, Terence. If she goes on like
this, it will be all right."

"I expect it will be all right, Dick, though it is sure to be very
much rougher than this when we get farther out. Still, I fancy an
open boat will live through almost anything, providing she is light
in the water. I don't suppose she would have much chance if she had
a dozen men on board, but with only us two I think there is every
hope that she will get through it.

"It would be a different thing if the wind was from the west, and
we had the great waves coming in from the Atlantic, as we had in
that heavy gale when we came out from Ireland. As it is, nothing
but a big wave breaking right over her stern could damage us very
seriously. There is not the least fear of her capsizing, with us
lying in the bottom."

They did not attempt to keep alternate watches that night, only
changing occasionally at the steering oar, the one not occupied
dozing off occasionally. The boat required but little steering for,
as both were lying in the stern, the tendency was to run straight
before the wind. As the waves, however, became higher, she needed
keeping straight when she was in a hollow between two seas. It
seemed sometimes that the waves following behind the boat must
break on to her, and swamp her but, as time after time she rose
over them, their anxiety on this score lessened, and they grew more
and more confident that she would go safely through it.

Occasionally the baler was used, to keep her clear of the water
which came in in the shape of spray. At times they chatted
cheerfully, for both were blessed with good spirits and the faculty
of looking on the best side of things. They smoked their pipes in
turns, getting fire from each other, so as to avoid the necessity
of resorting to the lantern, which might very well blow out, in
spite of the care they had at first exercised by getting under the
sail with it when they wanted a light.

They were heartily glad when morning broke. The scene was a wild
one. They seemed to be in the centre of a circle of mist, which
closed in at a distance of half a mile or so, all round them. At
times the rain fell, sweeping along with stinging force but, wet as
they were, this mattered little to them.

"I would give something for a big glass of hot punch," Ryan said,
as he munched a piece of biscuit.

"Yes, it would not be bad," Terence agreed; "but I would rather
have a big bowl of hot coffee."

"I have changed my opinion of a seafaring life," Ryan said, after a
pause. "It seemed delightful the morning we started, but it has its
drawbacks; and to be at sea in an open boat, during a strong gale
in the Bay of Biscay, is distinctly an unpleasant position."

"I fancy it is our own fault, Dicky. If we had known how to manage
the boat, I have no doubt that we should have been able to get to
shore. When the wind first began to freshen, we ought not to have
waited so long as we did, before we made for shelter."

"Well, we shall know better next time, Terence. I think that, now
that it is light, we had better get some sleep, by turns. Do you
lie down for four hours, and then I will take a turn."

"All right! But be sure you wake me up, and mind you don't go to
sleep; for if you did we might get broadside on to these waves, and
I have no doubt they would roll us over and over. So mind, if
before the four hours are up you feel you cannot keep your eyes
open, wake me at once. Half an hour will do wonders for me, and I
shall be perfectly ready to take the oar again."



Chapter 7: A French Privateer.


Terence went off into a deep sleep as soon as he had pulled the
sail over his head, but it seemed to him as if but a minute had
elapsed when his companion began to stir him up with his foot.

"What is it?" he asked.

"I am awfully sorry to wake you," Ryan shouted, "but you have had
two hours of it, and I really cannot keep my eyes open any longer.
I have felt myself going off, two or three times."

"You don't mean to say that I have been asleep for two hours?"

"You have, and a few minutes over. I looked at my watch as you lay
down."

"All right! Give me the oar. I say, it is blowing hard!"

"I should think it is. It seems to me it is getting up, rather than
going down."

"Well, we are all right so far," Terence said cheerfully, for he
was now wide awake again. "Besides, we are getting quite skilful
mariners. You had better spend a few minutes at baling before you
lie down, for the water is a good three inches over the boards."

All day the storm continued and, when darkness began to close in,
it seemed to them that it was blowing harder than ever. Each had
had two spells of sleep, and they agreed that they could now keep
awake throughout the night. It was bad enough having no one to
speak to all day, but at night they felt that companionship was
absolutely needed. During the day they had lashed together the
spars, sail, and the barrel of water--which was now nearly half
empty--so that if the boat should be swamped, they could cling to
this support.

It was a terrible night but, towards morning, both were of opinion
that the gale was somewhat abating. About eight o'clock there were
breaks in the clouds and, by noon, the sun was shining brightly.
The wind was still blowing strong, but nothing to what it had been
the evening before and, by nightfall, the sea was beginning to go
down. The waves were as high as before, but were no longer broken
and crested with heads of foam and, at ten o'clock, they felt that
they could both safely lie down till morning.

The steering oar was lashed in its position, the sail spread over
the whole of the stern of the boat, every drop of water was baled
out and, lying down side by side, they were soon fast asleep. When
they woke the sun was high, the wind had dropped to a gentle
breeze, and the boat was rising and falling gently on the smooth
rollers.

"Hurrah!" Ryan shouted, as he stood up and looked round. "It is all
over. I vote, Terence, that we both strip and take a swim, then
spread out our clothes to dry, after which we will breakfast
comfortably and then get up sail."

"That is a very good programme, Dicky; we will carry it out, at
once."

While they were eating their meal, Ryan asked:

"Where do you suppose we are, Terence?"

"Beyond the fact that we are right out in the Bay of Biscay, I have
not the most remote idea. By the way the water went past us, I
should say that we had been going at pretty nearly the same rate as
we did when we were sailing; say, four miles an hour. We have been
running for forty-eight hours, so that we must have got nearly two
hundred miles from Santander. The question is: would it be best to
make for England, now, or for Portugal? We have been going nearly
northwest, so I should think that we are pretty nearly north of
Finisterre, which may lie a hundred and twenty miles from us; and I
suppose we are two or three times as much as that from England. The
wind is pretty nearly due east again now, so we can point her head
either way. We must be nearly in the ship course, and are likely to
be picked up, long before we make land. Which do you vote for?"

"I vote for the nearest. We may get another storm, and one of them
is quite enough. At any rate, Spain will be the shortest, by a
great deal and, if we are picked up, it is just as likely to be by
a French privateer as by an English vessel."

"I am quite of your opinion, and am anxious to be back again, as
soon as I can. If we got to England and reported ourselves, we
might be sent to the depot and not get out again, for months; so
here goes for the south."

The sail was hoisted, and the boat sped merrily along. In a couple
of hours their clothes were dry.

"I think we had better put ourselves on short rations," Terence
said. "We may be farther off than we calculate upon and, at any
rate, we had better hold on to the mouth of the Tagus, if we can;
there are sure to be some British officials there, and we shall be
able to get money, and rejoin our regiment without loss of time;
while we might have all sort of trouble with the Spaniards, were we
to land at Corunna or Vigo."

No sail appeared in sight during the day.

"I should think we cannot have come as far west as we calculated,"
Terence said, "or we ought to have seen vessels in the distance;
however, we will keep due south. It will be better to strike the
coast of Spain, and have to run along the shore round Cape
Finisterre, than to risk missing land altogether."

That night they kept regular watches. The wind was very light now,
and they were not going more than two knots an hour through the
water. Ryan was steering when morning broke.

"Wake up, Terence!" he exclaimed suddenly, "here is a ship within a
mile or so of us. As she is a lugger, I am afraid she is a French
privateer."

Terence sprang to his feet. The light was still faint, but he felt
sure that his companion was right, and that the vessel was a French
privateer.

"We have put our foot in it now, and no mistake," Ryan said. "It is
another French prison and, this time, without a friendly soldier to
help us to get out."

"It looks like it, Dicky. In another hour it will be broad
daylight, and they cannot help seeing us. Still, there is a hope
for us. We must give out that we are Spanish fishermen, who have
been blown off the coast. It is not likely they have anyone on
board that speaks Spanish, and our Portuguese will sound all right
in their ears; so very likely, after overhauling us, they will let
us go on our way. At any rate, it is of no use trying to escape; we
will hold on our course for another few minutes, and then head
suddenly towards her, as if we had only just seen her. I will hail
her in Portuguese, and they are sure to tell us to come on board;
and then I will try to make them understand by signs, and by using
a few French words, that we have been blown out to sea by the gale,
and want to know the course for Santander. As the French have been
there for some time, it would be natural enough for us to have
picked up a little of their language."

In a few minutes they altered their course and sailed towards the
lugger, which also soon turned towards them. When they approached
within the vessel's length, Terence stood up, and shouted in
Portuguese:

"What is the bearing of Santander?"

The reply was in French, "Come alongside!" given with a gesture of
the arm explaining the words. They let the sail run down as they
came alongside. Terence climbed up, by the channels, to the deck.

"Espagnol," he said to the captain, who was standing close to him
as he jumped down on to the deck; "Espagnoles, Capitaine; Poisson,
Santander; grand tempete," and he motioned with his arms to signify
that they had been blown offshore at Santander. Then he pointed in
several directions towards the south, and looked interrogatively.

"They are Spanish fishermen who have been blown off the coast," the
captain said to another officer. "They have been lucky in living it
out. Well, we are short of hands, having so many away in prizes;
and the boat will be useful, in place of the one we had smashed up
in the gale. Let a couple of men throw the nets and things
overboard, and then run her up to the davits."

Then he said to Terence: "Prisoners! Go forward and make yourself
useful;" and he pointed towards the forecastle.

Terence gave a yell of despair, threw his hat down on the deck and,
in a volley of Portuguese, begged the captain to let them go. The
latter, however, only waved his hand angrily; and two sailors,
coming up, seized Terence by the arms and dragged him forward. Ryan
was called upon deck, and also ordered forward. He too remonstrated,
but was cut short by a threatening gesture from the captain.

For a time they preserved an appearance of deep dejection, Terence
tugging his hair as if in utter despair, till Ryan whispered:

"For heaven's sake, Terence, don't go on like that, or I shall
break out in a shout of laughter."

"It is monstrous, it is inhuman!" Terence exclaimed, in Portuguese.
"Thus to seize harmless fishermen, who have so narrowly escaped
drowning; the sea is less cruel than these men. They have taken our
boat, too, our dear good boat. What will our mothers think, when we
do not return? That we have been swallowed up by the sea. How they
will watch for us, but in vain!"

Fortunately for the success of their story, the lugger hailed from
a northern French port and, as not one on board understood either
Spanish or Portuguese, they had no idea that the latter was the
language in which the prisoners were speaking. After an hour of
pretended despair, both rose from the deck on which they had been
sitting and, on an order being given to trim the sails, went to the
ropes and aided the privateersmen to haul at them and, before the
end of the day, were doing duty as regular members of the crew.

"They are active young fellows," the captain said to his first
mate, as he watched the supposed Spaniards making themselves
useful. "It was lucky for them that they had a fair store of
provisions and water in their boat. We are very short handed, and
they will be useful. I would have let them go if it had not been
for the boat but, as we have only one left that can swim, it was
too lucky a find to give up."

The craft had been heading north when Ryan had first seen her, and
she held that course all day. Terence gathered from the talk of the
sailors that they were bound for Brest, to which port she belonged.
The Frenchmen were congratulating themselves that their cruise was
so nearly over, and that it had been so successful a one. From time
to time a sailor was sent up into the cross trees, and scanned the
horizon to the north and west. In the afternoon he reported that he
could make out the upper sails of a large ship going south. The
captain went up to look at her.

"I think she is an English ship of war," he said, when he descended
to the deck, "but she is a long way off. With this light wind we
could run away from her. She will not trouble herself about us. She
would know well enough that she could not get within ten miles of
us, before it got dark."

This turned out to be the case, for the lookout from time to time
reported that the distant sail was keeping on her course, and the
slight feeling of hope that had been felt by Terence and Ryan faded
away. They were placed in the same watch, and were below when, as
daylight broke, they heard sudden exclamations, tramping of feet
overhead, and a moment later the watch was summoned on deck.

"I hope that they have had the same luck that we had, and have run
into the arms of one of our cruisers," Terence whispered in
Portuguese to Ryan, as they ran up on deck together.

As he reached the deck the boom of a cannon was heard, and at the
same instant a ball passed through the mainsail. Half a mile away
was a British sloop of war. She had evidently made out the lugger
before the watch on board the latter had seen her. The captain was
foaming with rage, and shouting orders which the crew hurried to
execute. On the deck near the foremast lay the man who had been on
the lookout, and who had been felled with a handspike by the
captain when he ran out on deck, at the first alarm. Although at
first flurried and alarmed, the crew speedily recovered themselves,
and executed with promptitude the orders which were given.

There was a haze on the water, but a light wind was stirring, and
the vessel was moving through the water at some three knots an
hour. As soon as her course had been changed, so as to bring the
wind forward of the beam, which was her best point of sailing, the
men were sent to the guns; the first mate placing himself at a long
eighteen pounder, which was mounted as a pivot gun aft, a similar
weapon being in her bows. All this took but four or five minutes,
and shot after shot from the sloop hummed overhead.

The firing now ceased, as the change of course of the lugger had
placed the sloop dead astern of her; and the latter was unable,
therefore, to fire even her bow chasers without yawing. It was now
the turn of the lugger. The gun in the stern was carefully trained
and, as it was fired, a patch of white splinters appeared in the
sloop's bulwarks. A cheer broke from the French. The effect of the
shot, which must have raked her from stem to stern, was at once
evident. The sloop bore off the wind, until her whole broadside
could be seen.

"Flat on your faces!" the captain shouted.

There was a roar of ten guns, and a storm of shot screamed
overhead. Four of them passed through the sails. One ploughed up
the deck, killing two sailors and injuring three others with the
splinters. Two or three ropes of minor importance were cut, but no
serious damage inflicted.

The crew, as they leapt to their feet, gave a cheer. They knew
that, with this light wind, their lugger could run away from the
heavier craft; and that the latter could only hope for success by
crippling her.

"Steady with the helm!" the captain went on, as the pivot gun was
again ready to deliver its fire. "Wait till her three masts show
like one.

"Jacques, aim a little bit higher. See if you cannot knock away a
spar."

The sloop was coming up again to the wind and, as she was nearly
stem on, the gun cracked out again. A cheer broke from the lugger
as her opponent's foretop mast fell over her side, with all its
hamper. Round the sloop came, and delivered the other broadside.
Two shots crashed through the bulwarks, one of them dismounting a
gun which, in its fall, crushed a man who had thrown himself down
beside it. Another shot struck the yard of the foresail, cutting it
asunder; and the lugger at once ran up into the wind.

"Lower the foresail!" the captain shouted. "Quick, men! and lash a
spare spar to the yard. They are busy cutting away their topmast,
but we shall be off again before they are ready to move. They have
lost nearly half a mile; we shall soon be out of range. Be sharp
with that gun again!"

The sloop had indeed fallen greatly astern while delivering her
broadsides; but her commander had evidently seen that, unless the
wind sprang up, the lugger would get away from him unless he could
cripple her; and that she might seriously damage him, and perhaps
knock one of the masts out of him by her stern chaser. His only
chance, therefore, of capturing her was to take a spar out of her.
He did not attempt to come about again, after firing the second
broadside; but kept up his fire as fast as his guns could be
loaded.

The lugger, however, was stealing rapidly away from him and, in ten
minutes, had increased her lead by another half mile, without
having suffered any serious damage; and the sloop soon ceased fire,
as she was now almost out of range. Seven or eight of the crew had
been more or less injured by splinters but, with the exception of
the three killed, none were badly hurt. The lugger was now put on
her former course, the guns lashed into their places again, and the
three men killed sewn up in hammocks and laid between two of the
guns, in order to be handed to their friends on arrival in port.

"That is another slip between the cup and the lip," Terence
remarked to his companion, as the sloop ceased firing. "I certainly
thought, when we came on deck, that our troubles were over. I must
say for our friend, the French captain, he showed himself a good
sailor, and got out of the scrape uncommonly well."

"A good deal too well," Ryan grumbled; "it was very unpleasant
while it lasted. It is all very well to be shot at by an enemy, but
to be shot at by one's friends is more than one bargained for."

The coolness under fire displayed by the two Spaniards he had
carried off pleased the captain, who patted them on the shoulder as
he came along, his good temper being now completely restored by his
escape.

"You are brave fellows," he said, "and will make good
privateersmen. You cannot do better than stay with us. You will
make as much money, in a month, as you would in a year's fishing."

Terence smiled vaguely, as if he understood that the captain was
pleased with them, but did not otherwise catch his meaning. They
arrived at Brest without further adventure. As they neared the
port, the captain asked Terence if he and his companion would enter
upon the books of the privateer and after much difficulty made, as
he believed, Terence understand his question. The latter affected
to consult Ryan, and then answered that they would be both willing
to do so. The captain then put the names they gave him down on the
ship's roll, and handed each of them a paper, certifying that Juan
Montes and Sebastian Peral belonged to the crew of the Belle
Jeanne, naming the rate of wages that they were to receive, and
their share in the value of the prizes taken. He then gave them
eighty francs each, as an advance on their pay from the date of
their coming on board, and signified to them that they must buy
clothes similar to those worn by the crew, instead of the heavy
fishermen's garments they had on.

"They will soon learn our language," he said to the mate, "and I am
sure they will make good sailors. I have put down their wages and
share of prize money at half that of our own men, and I am sure
they will be well worth it, when they get to speak the language and
learn their duties."

As soon as they were alongside, the greater portion of the men went
ashore and, in the evening, the boatswain landed with Terence and
Ryan, and proceeded with them to a slop shop, where he bought them
clothes similar to those worn by the crew. Beyond the fact that
these were of nautical appearance, there was no distinctive dress.
They then returned to the lugger and changed their clothes at once,
the boatswain telling them to stow away their boots and other
things, as these would be useful to them in bad weather.

The next day the privateer commenced to unload, for the most
valuable portions of the cargoes of the captured ships had been
taken on board when the vessels themselves, with the greater
portion of the goods they carried, had been sent into port under
the charge of prize crews. They remained on board for ten days,
going freely into the town, sometimes with the sailors and
sometimes alone. Terence pretended to make considerable progress in
French, and was able, though with some difficulty, to make himself
understood by the crew. The first mate had gone with them to the
mairie, where the official stamp had been affixed to their ship
papers.

They found that no questions were asked of persons entering or
leaving the town, on the land side; and twice strolled out and went
some distance into the country. They had agreed that it would be
better to defer any attempt to escape until the day before the
lugger sailed, as there would then be but little time for the
captain to make inquiries after them, or to institute a search.
They bought a pocket map of the north of France, and carefully
studied the roads.

"It is plain enough what our best course is, Dick. We must go along
this projecting point of Brittany through Dinan to Avranches, and
then follow the coast up till we get to Coutances. You see it is
nearly opposite Jersey, and that island does not look to be more
than fifteen miles away so that, if we can get hold of a boat
there, we should be able to run across in three hours or so, with
favourable wind."

"That looks easy enough," Ryan agreed. "It seems to be about one
hundred and twenty miles from here to Avranches, and another thirty
or forty up to Coutances, so we should do it in a week, easily.
What stories shall we make up, if we are questioned?"

"I don't suppose the peasants we may meet on the road are likely to
question us at all, for most of the Bretons speak only their own
language. We had better always sleep out in the open. If we do run
across an official, we can show our papers and give out that we
have been ill treated on board the lugger, and are going to Saint
Malo, where we mean to ship on another privateer. I know that is a
port from which lots of them sail. I don't think we shall have any
difficulty in buying provisions at small villages. My French will
pass muster very well in such places, and I can easily remark that
we are on our way to Saint Malo to join a ship there and, if any
village functionary questions us, these papers will be good enough
for him.

"Or we can say that we got left ashore by accident, when our craft
sailed from Brest, and are going to rejoin her at Saint Malo, where
she was going to put in. I think, perhaps, that that would be a
better story than that we had run away. I don't know that the
authorities interest themselves in runaway seamen from privateers
but, at any rate, it is a likely tale. Drunken seamen, no doubt,
often do get left ashore."

"Yes, that would be a very good story, Terence, and I think that
there would be no great fear, even if we were to go boldly into a
town."

"I don't think there would; still, it is better to be on the safe
side, and avoid all risks."

Accordingly, the afternoon before the Belle Jeanne was to sail they
went ashore, bought enough bread and cold meat to last them for a
couple of days; and two thick blankets, as it was now November and
the nights were bitterly cold; and then left the town and followed
the road for Dinan. On approaching the village of Landerneau they
left the road, and lay down until it was quite dark. Then they made
a detour through the fields, round the village, came down on the
road again, walked all night--passing through Huelgoat--and then,
as morning was breaking they left the road again and, after going a
quarter of a mile through the fields, lay down in a dry ditch by
the side of a thick hedge, ate a meal, and went to sleep.

They did not start again until it was getting dusk, when they
returned to the road, which they followed all night. In the morning
they went boldly into a little village, and Terence went into a
shop and bought a couple of loaves. His French was quite good
enough for so simple an operation.

"I suppose you are going to Saint Malo," the woman said.

"Yes. We have had a holiday to see some friends at Brest, and are
going to rejoin."

This was the only question asked and, after walking another two
miles, they lay up for the day as before. They had met several
peasants on the road, and had exchanged salutations with them. They
found by their map that they were now within twenty miles of Dinan,
having made over thirty miles each night and, as both were somewhat
footsore from their unaccustomed exercise, they travelled only some
sixteen or seventeen miles the following night.

The next evening, at about ten o'clock, they walked boldly through
Dinan. Most of the inhabitants were already asleep, and the few who
were still in the streets paid no heed to two sailors; going, they
had no doubt, to Saint Malo. Crossing the river Rance by the
bridge, they took the road in the direction of the port but, after
following it for a mile or two, struck off to the east and, before
morning, arrived on the river running up from the bay of Mount
Saint Michaels. They lay down until late in the afternoon, and then
crossed the river at a ferry, and kept along by the coast until
they reached the Sebine river.

"We are getting on first rate," Ryan said, as they lay down for a
few hours' sleep. "We have only got Avranches to pass, now."

"I hope we sha'n't be questioned at all, Dick, for we have now no
good story to tell them; for we are going away from Saint Malo,
instead of to it. Of course, as long as they don't question us we
are all right. We are simply two sailors on our way home for a
time; but if we have to show our papers, with those Spanish names
on them, we should be in a fix. Of course, we might have run away
from our ship at Saint Malo, but that would not explain our coming
up this way. However, I hope my French is good enough to answer any
casual questions without exciting attention. We will cross by the
ferry boat, as soon as it begins to ply and, as Avranches stands
some little distance up the river, we can avoid it altogether by
keeping along the coastline."

A score of peasants had assembled by the time the ferry boat man
made his appearance from his cottage, and Terence and his
companion, who had been lying down 200 yards away, joined them just
as they were going down to the boat.

"You are from Saint Malo, I suppose?" an old peasant said to
Terence.

The latter nodded.

"We have got a month's leave from our ship," he said. "She has been
knocked about by an English cruiser, and will be in the
shipwright's hands for five or six weeks, before she is ready for
sea again."

"You are not from this part of the country," the peasant, who was
speaking in the patois of Normandy, remarked.

"No, we come from the south; but one of our comrades comes from
Cherbourg and, as he cannot get away, we are going to see his
friends and tell them that he is well. It is a holiday for us, and
we may as well go there as anywhere else."

The explanation was simple enough for the peasant, and Terence
continued chatting with him until they landed.

"You do not need to go through Avranches," the latter said. "Take
the road by the coast through Granville to Coutances."

"How far is it to Coutances?"

"About twenty miles. At least, so I have heard, for I have never
been there."

After walking a few miles, they went down on to the seashore and
lay down among some rocks until evening. At eight o'clock they
started again and walked boldly through Granville, where their
sailor's dress would, they felt sure, attract no attention. It was
about nine o'clock when they entered the place. Their reason for
doing so at this hour was that they wished to lay in a stock of
provisions, as they did not intend to enter Coutances until late at
night; when they hoped to be able to get hold of a boat, at once.
They had just made their purchases when they met a fat little man,
with a red sash--which showed him to be the Maire of the place, or
some other public functionary.

"Where are you going, and what ship do you belong to?" he asked
pompously.

"We are sailors on our way from Saint Malo to Cherbourg," Terence
replied.

"You have papers, of course?"

"Of course, Monsieur le Maire."

"I must see them," the Maire said. "Come with me to my house, close
by."

There were several persons near, and a man in civil uniform was
with the Maire. Therefore Terence gave an apparently willing assent
and, followed by the functionary, they went into a house close by.
A lamp was burning on the table in the hall.

"Light these candles in my office," the Maire said. "The women have
gone up to bed."

The man turned a key, went in and, bringing out two candles,
lighted them at the lamp; and they then went into the room. The
Maire seated himself in an armchair at the table. The minor
functionary placed the two suspected persons on the side facing
him, and took his place standing by their side.

As they were going in, Terence whispered:

"If there is trouble, I will take this fellow, and you manage the
Maire."

"Now," that functionary said, "let me see your papers.

"Why," he exclaimed, looking at the names, "you are not Frenchmen!"

"No," Terence said quietly. "We do not pretend to be but, as you
see, we are sailors who have done service on board a French
privateer."

"But where is this privateer?"

"I don't know, Monsieur le Maire. We were not satisfied with our
treatment, so we left her at Brest."

"This is very serious," the Maire said. "You are Spaniards. You
have deserted your ship at Brest. You have travelled a hundred and
fifty miles through France, and now what are you doing here?"

"We are, as you say, monsieur, travelling through France. We desire
to see France. We have heard that it is the greatest country in the
world. Frenchmen visit Spain in large numbers. Why should not
Spaniards visit France?"

The tone of sarcasm in which Terence spoke was not lost upon the
Maire, who rose from his seat, purple with anger.

"You will take these men into custody," he said to his assistant.
"This is a very grave business."

"Now, Dick!" Terence exclaimed and, turning to the man who stood
next to him, he grasped him suddenly by the throat.

At the same moment Ryan caught up a heavy inkstand and threw it
across the table at the Maire, striking that functionary in the
stomach, and doubling him completely up. Then he ran round the table
and bound the man--who had not yet recovered his breath--tightly in
his chair, and thrust his handkerchief into his mouth.

The man whom Terence was holding had scarcely struggled. Terence,
as he gripped him, had said, "Keep quiet or I will choke you!" and
the prisoner felt that his assailant could do so in a moment, if he
chose.

His hands were fastened tightly behind him, with his own belt, by
Ryan. A short ruler was thrust between his teeth, and fastened
there by a handkerchief going round the back of his head.

"So far so good, Dick. Now look round for something with which we
can bind them more firmly."

Several hanks of red tape lay upon the table. With a portion of one
of these, the back of the chair in which the Maire sat was lashed
to the handle of a heavy bureau. Then his feet were fastened to the
two legs of the chair, so that he could neither kick nor upset
himself. The other man was then fastened as securely. This done
they blew out the candles, left the room, locked the door behind
them--taking the key--and then sallied out into the street.

"That was a good shot of yours with the inkstand," Terence said.

"I had my eye on it, all the time he was speaking," Ryan replied.
"I saw that, if I were to move to get round the table at him, the
little man would have time to shout; but that if I could hit him in
the wind, it would be all right."

"Well, there must be no more stopping, now. I don't know whether
there is a Mrs. Maire; if not, there will certainly be no alarm
until morning. If there is, it depends upon what sort of woman she
is as to how long a start we shall get. If she is a sleepy woman
she is probably dreaming by this time, and may not discover until
morning that her lord and master is not by her side. If she is a
bad-tempered woman, she will probably lie for an hour or two,
thinking over what she shall say to him when he comes in. If she is
a nervous woman, she will get up and go downstairs.

"I left the lamp burning in the hall on purpose. Seeing it there,
she will naturally think that he has not come in, and will go
upstairs again for an hour or two; then she will probably call up
the servants, and may send them out to look for him; finally, she
may go to the police office and wake up a constable. It is not
probable there are any of them on night duty, in a quiet place like
this. Altogether, I calculate that it will be at least four hours
before they think of breaking open the door of the office, to see
if he is there; so at the worst we have got four hours' start; at
the best, ten hours.

"It is only half-past nine now. We shall be at the mouth of the
Sienne in three hours, or less. It does not look above nine or ten
miles on the map and, directly we get fairly out of the town, we
will go as quickly as we can, for every minute is of importance.

"If we can get hold of a boat at once, we ought to be at Jersey
soon after daybreak; although I am not very sure of that, for I
believe there are all sorts of strong currents along this coast. I
remember one of the officers saying so, as we came down the Channel
on the voyage out. Of course, it will make a difference whether we
can get a boat with a sail, or not. If we cannot find a boat, we
shall have to hide up; but you may be sure that there will be a hot
search for us in the morning, and we must get off tonight, if we
can. Most likely there is a fishing village somewhere near the
mouth of the river."

As soon as they were out of the town they broke into a trot; which
they continued, with scarcely any intermission, until they
approached a small village.

"I expect this stands on the bank of the river," Terence said.
"There is no chance of anyone being up, so we can go through
fearlessly."

A couple of hundred yards farther they reached the river. A large
ferry boat was moored here. Keeping along the bank to the left,
they were not long before they came upon several boats hauled up on
the shore; while three or four others lay at their moorings, a
short distance out.

"Thank goodness," Terence exclaimed. "We shall have no difficulty,
now!"

They selected the boat lying nearest the water's edge. The moon was
half full, but was now sinking towards the west. Its light,
however, was of some assistance to them. There was a mast and sail
in the boat, as well as a pair of oars.

At first they were unable to move her down to the water but,
getting some oars out of the other boats, they laid them down as
rollers and, with these, managed after great exertions to get her
afloat.



Chapter 8: A Smart Engagement.


After pushing the boat out into the stream, Terence and his
companion allowed it to drift quietly for some distance; and then,
getting out the oars, rowed hard until they were beyond the mouth
of the river. The tide was, they thought, by the level of the water
where they had embarked, within an hour or two of flood. They
therefore determined to shape their course to the north of the
point where they believed Jersey to lie, so that when tide turned,
it would sweep them down upon it. The wind was too light to be of
any assistance, but the stars were bright, and the position of the
north star served as a guide to the direction they should take.

It had taken them some considerable time to launch the boat, and
they calculated that it was nearly midnight when they left the
mouth of the river. There was no occasion to row hard for, until it
became daylight and they could see the island of Jersey, they could
not shape their course with any certainty; and could only hope that
by keeping to the north of it they would not find, in the morning,
that the tide had taken them too far to the south.

"We are very lucky in our weather," Terence said as, after
labouring at the heavy oars for a couple of hours, they paused for
a few minutes' rest. "If it had been a strong wind, it would never
have done for us to have started. I believe in bad weather there
are tremendous currents about the islands, and desperately rough
water. A fog would have been even worse for us. As it is, it seems
to me we cannot go very far wrong. I suppose the tide is about
turning now; but if by daylight we find that we have been carried a
long way past the island, we shall soon have the tide turning
again, which will take us back to it.

"I am more afraid of falling in with a French privateer than I am
of missing the island. There are sure to be some of them at
Granville, to say nothing of Saint Malo. I don't suppose any of
those at Granville will put out in search of us, merely to please
the Maire; but if any were going to sea, they would be sure to keep
a lookout for us."

"If they did see us, we should have no chance of getting away,
Terence. This boat is not so big as the one we stole at Bayonne,
but it rows much heavier."

"There is one thing--even a privateer could not sail very fast in
this light wind and, if it freshens in the morning, we can get up
the sail."

"Then I hope it will get up a bit," Ryan said, "for after another
five or six hours' rowing, with these beastly oars, my hands will
be raw; and I am sure my back and arms will be nearly broken."

"We must risk that, Dick. We calculated fifteen miles in a straight
line across to Jersey, so that we must jog along at the rate of a
couple of miles an hour to get far enough to the west. Now then,
let us be moving again."

The night seemed interminable to them; and they felt relieved,
indeed, when morning began to break. In another half hour it would
be light enough for them to see for a considerable distance.
Unshipping their oars, they stood up and looked round.

"That must be Jersey," Terence exclaimed, pointing to the north.
"The current must have taken us past it, as I was afraid it would.
What time is it, Dick?"

"Nearly eight."

"Then tide must be turning already. The island must be six miles
away now. If we row hard we shall know, in half an hour, whether we
are being carried north or south."

"But we must be going north if tide has turned, Terence?"

"I don't know--I remember that the mate of the Sea Horse said that,
in the Channel, the course of the current did not change at high
and low water; so there is no saying what way we are going, at
present. Well, there is a little more wind, and I suppose we had
better get up our sail. There is Jersey, and whether we get there a
little sooner or a little later cannot make much difference. I am
sure we are both too tired to row her much faster than we can
sail."

Terence agreed, and they accordingly stepped the mast and hoisted
the sail. At first the boat moved but slowly through the water, but
the wind was freshening and, in half an hour, she was foaming
along.

"Tide is against us, still," Terence said presently. "I don't think
we are any nearer Jersey that when we first saw it."

"Look there!" Ryan exclaimed, a few minutes later, "there is a
lugger coming out from the direction of Granville."

"So there is, Dick, and with the wind behind her, she won't be very
long before she is here. I should say that she is about six or
seven miles off, and an hour will bring her up to us."

"I will get out an oar, Terence. That will help us a bit. We can
change about, occasionally."

Terence was steering with the other oar, while he held the sheet.
The boat was travelling at a good rate, but the lugger was fast
running down towards them.

"There is a schooner coming out from Jersey!" Terence exclaimed,
joyously. "If she is a British privateer we may be saved yet. I had
just made up my mind that we were in for another French prison."

Ryan looked over his shoulder.

"She is farther off than the lugger," he said.

"Yes, but the current that is keeping us back is helping her on
towards us. It will be a close thing; but I agree with you, I am
afraid that the lugger will be here first.

"Change seats with me. I will have a spell at the oar."

He was a good deal stronger than Ryan, and he felt comparatively
fresh after his hour's rest, so there was a perceptible increase in
the boat's speed after the change had been effected. When the
lugger was within a mile of them, and the schooner about double
that distance, the former changed her course a little, and bore up
as if to meet the schooner.

"Hurrah!" Ryan shouted. "The Frenchman is making for the schooner
and, if the Jersey boat don't turn and run, there will be a fight."

"The lugger looks to me the bigger boat," Terence said, as he
stopped rowing for a moment. "However, we are likely to be able to
slip off while they are at it."

Rapidly the two vessels approached each other and, when within a
mile, a puff of smoke broke out from the lugger's bow; and was
answered almost instantly by one from the schooner. Running fast
through the water, the vessels were soon within a short distance of
each other. Terence had ceased rowing, for there was no fear that
the lugger, which was now abeam of them, would give another thought
to the small boat.

The fight was going on in earnest, and the two vessels poured
broadsides into each other as they passed; the lugger wearing round
at once, and engaging the schooner broadside to broadside.

"The Frenchman has the heavier metal," Terence said. "I am afraid
the schooner will get the worst of it. The lugger is crowded with
men, too. What do you say, Dick? Shall we do our best to help the
schooner?"

"I think we ought to," Ryan agreed, at once. "She has certainly
saved us, and I think we ought to do what we can."

Accordingly he brought the boat nearer to the wind. The two vessels
were now close-hauled, and were moving but slowly through the
water. The boat passed two or three hundred yards astern of the
lugger, sailed a little farther; and then, when able to lay her
course for the schooner, went about and bore down towards her. Just
as they did so, the halliards of the schooner's mainsail were shot
asunder, and the sail ran down the mast. There was a shout of
triumph from the lugger, and she at once closed in towards her
crippled adversary.

"They are going to try and carry the schooner by boarding," Terence
exclaimed. "Keep her as close as she will go, Dick," and, seizing
his oar again, he began to row with all his might.

By the time they came up, the two vessels were side by side. The
guns had ceased their fire, but there was a rattle of pistol shots,
mingled with the clash of arms and the shouts of the combatants.
Running up to the schooner's side, Terence and Ryan clambered on
the channel and sprung on to the deck of the schooner.

A desperate fight was going on forward, where the two vessels
touched each other. There was no one aft. Here some fifteen or
twenty feet of water separated the ships, and even the helmsmen had
left the wheel to join in the fight. About half of the lugger's
crew had made their way on to the deck of the schooner, but the
Jersey men were still fighting stoutly. The rest of the lugger's
crew were gathered in the bow of their own vessel, waiting until
there should be a clear enough space left for them to join their
comrades.

"Things look bad," Terence exclaimed. "The French crew are a great
deal stronger. Lend me a hand to turn two of these eight-pounders
round. There are plenty of cartridges handy."

They drew the cannon back from their places, turned them round,
loaded them with a charge of powder, and then rammed in two of the
bags of bullets that were lying beside them. The schooner stood
higher out of the water than the lugger, and they were able to
train the two cannon so that they bore upon the mass of Frenchmen
in the latter's bow.

"Take steady aim," Terence said. "We are only just in time; our
fellows are being beaten back."

A moment later the two pieces were fired. Their discharge took
terrible effect among the French, sweeping away more than half of
those gathered in the lugger's bow.

"Load again!" Terence exclaimed. "They are too strong for the
Jersey men, still."

For a moment the French boarders had paused; but now, with a shout
of fury, they fell upon the crew of the schooner, driving them back
foot by foot towards the stern. The cannon were now trained
directly forward and, when the crowd of fighting men approached
them, Terence shouted in French to the Jersey men to fall back on
either side.

The captain, turning round and seeing the guns pointing forward,
repeated the order in a stentorian shout. The Jersey men leapt to
one side or the other, and the moment they were clear the two
cannon poured their contents into the midst of the French; who had
paused for a moment, surprised at the sudden cessation of
resistance.

Two clear lanes were swept through the crowd; and then, with a
shout, the captain of the schooner and his crew fell upon the
Frenchmen. Ryan was about to rush forward, when Terence said:

"No, no, Ryan, load again; better make sure."

The heavy loss they had suffered, however, so discouraged the
French that many at once turned and, running back, jumped on to the
deck of the lugger; while the others, though still resisting, were
driven after them.

As soon as the guns were reloaded they were trained, as before, to
bear on the lugger's bow and, as the French were driven back, they
were again fired. This completed the discomfiture of the enemy and,
with loud shouts, the Jersey men followed them on to the deck of
their own ship.

Terence and Ryan now ran forward, snatched up a couple of
cutlasses, and joined their friends; and were soon fighting in the
front line. But the French resistance was now almost over. Their
captain had fallen and, in five minutes, the last of them threw
down their arms and surrendered; while a great shout went up from
the crew of the schooner. The French flag was hauled down and, as
soon as the prisoners had been sent below, an ensign was brought
from the schooner, fixed to the flag halliards above the tricolor,
and the two hoisted together.

The captain had already turned to the two men who had come so
opportunely to his assistance.

"I do not know who you are, or where you come from, men, but you
have certainly saved us from capture. I did not know it was the
Annette until it was too late to draw off, or I should not have
engaged her; for she is the strongest lugger that sails out of
Granville, and carries double our weight of metal, with twice as
strong a crew; but whoever you are, I thank you most heartily. I am
half owner of the schooner, and should have lost all I was worth,
to say nothing of perhaps having to pass the next five years in a
French prison."

"We are two British officers," Terence said. "We have escaped from
a French prison, and were making our way to Jersey when we saw that
lugger coming after us, and should certainly have been captured had
you not come up; so we thought the least we could do was to lend
you a hand."

"Well, gentlemen, you have certainly saved us. Jacques Bontemps,
the captain of the Annette, was an old acquaintance of mine. He
commanded a smaller craft before he got the Annette, and we have
had two or three fights together.

"So it was you whom I saw in that little boat! Of course, we made
out that the lugger was chasing you, though why they should be
doing so we could not tell; but we thought no more about you after
the fight once began, and were as astonished as the Frenchmen when
you swept their bow. I just glanced round and saw what looked like
two French fishermen, and thought that you must be two of the
lugger's crew who, for some reason or other, had turned the guns
against their own ship.

"It will be a triumph, indeed, for us when we enter Saint Helier.
The Annette has been the terror of our privateers. Fortunately she
was generally away cruising, and many a prize has she taken into
Granville. I have had the luck to recapture two of them, myself;
but when she is known to be at home we most of us keep in port, for
she is a good deal more than a match for any craft that sails out
from Saint Helier.

"She only went into Granville yesterday, and I thought that there
was no fear of her being out again, for a week or so. When I saw
her, I took her for a smaller lugger that sails from that port, and
which is no more than a match for us. The fact is, we were looking
at her chasing you, and wondering if we should be in time, instead
of noticing her size. It was not until she fired that first
broadside that we found we had caught a tartar. We should have run,
if there had been a chance of getting away; but she is a
wonderfully fast boat, and we knew that our only chance was to
knock away one of her masts.

"And now, we will be making sail again. You must excuse me for a
few minutes."

In half an hour the main halliards had been repaired, and the sail
hoisted. When other damages were made good the captain, with half
his crew, went on board the lugger; and the two vessels sailed
together for Jersey. Terence and his companion had accompanied the
captain.

"Now, gentlemen, you may as well come down with me into the cabin.
It is likely enough that you will be able to find some clothes, in
Bontemps' chest, that will fit you. He was a dandy, in his way. At
any rate, his clothes will suit you better than those you have on."

They found, indeed, that the lugger's captain had so large a store
of clothing that they had no difficulty, whatever, in rigging
themselves out. While they were changing, the captain had left
them. He returned, presently, with a beaming face.

"She is a more valuable prize than I hoped for," he said. "She is
full almost to the hatches with the plunder she had taken in her
last cruise. I cannot make out what led her to come out of
Granville, unless it was in pursuit of you."

"I expect it was that," Terence said. "We were arrested by the
Maire of Granville, and had to tie him and one of his officials up.
He was a pompous little man; and no doubt, when he got free, went
down to the port and persuaded the captain of the lugger to put
out, at once, to endeavour to find us. I expect he told him that we
were prisoners of importance, either English spies or French
emigres.

"Well, Captain, I am glad that the capture has turned out well for
you."

"You certainly ought to share it," the captain said; "for if it had
not been for you, matters would have gone all the other way, and we
should have undoubtedly been captured."

"Oh, we don't want to share it! We have helped you to avoid a
French prison, but you have certainly saved us from the same thing,
so we are fairly quits."

"Well, we shall have time to talk about that when we get into port.
In the meantime we will search Jacques' lockers. Like enough there
may be something worth having there. Of course, he may have taken
it ashore, directly he landed; but it is hardly likely and, as he
has evidently captured several British merchantmen while he has
been out, he is sure to have some gold and valuables in the
lockers."

The search, indeed, brought to light four bags of money, each
marked with the name of an English ship. They contained, in all,
over 800 pounds; with several gold watches, rings, and other
valuables.

"Now, gentlemen," the captain said, "at least you will divide this
money with me. The Annette and the cargo below hatches are
certainly worth ten times as much, and I must insist upon your
going shares with me. I shall feel very hurt if you will not do
so."

"I thank you, Captain," Terence said, "and will not refuse your
offer. We shall have to provide ourselves with new uniforms, and
take a passage out to Portugal, which is where our regiments are,
at present; so the money will be very useful."

"And I see you have not a watch, monsieur. You had better take one
of these."

"Thanks! I parted with mine to a good woman, who helped me to
escape from Bayonne; so I will accept that offer, also."

In two hours the schooner entered the port of Saint Helier; the
lugger, under easy sail, following in her wake. They were greeted
with enthusiastic cheers by the crowd that gathered on the quays,
as soon as it was seen that the prize was the dreaded Annette--which
had, for some months past, been a terror to the privateers and
fishermen of the place--and that she should have been captured by
the Cerf seemed marvellous, indeed.

A British officer was on the quay when they got alongside. He came
on board at once.

"The governor has sent me to congratulate you, in his name, Captain
Teniers," he said, "on having captured a vessel double your own
size, which has for some time been the terror of these waters. He
will be glad if you will give me some particulars of the action;
and you will, when you can spare time afterwards, go up and give
him a full report of it."

"I owe the capture entirely to these two gentlemen, who are
officers in your army. They had escaped from a French prison, and
were making for this port when I first saw them this morning, with
the Annette in hot chase after them. It did not strike me that it
was her, for it was only last night that the news came in that she
had been seen, yesterday, sailing towards Granville; and I thought
that she was the Lionne, which is a boat our own size. I came up
before she had overhauled the boat and, directly the fight began, I
could see the mistake I had made. But as she was a good deal faster
than we were, it was of no use running. There was just a chance
that I might cripple her, and get away."

He then related the incidents of the fight.

"Well, I congratulate you, gentlemen," the officer said, heartily.
"You have indeed done a good turn to Captain Teniers. To whom have
I the pleasure of speaking?"

"My name is O'Connor," replied Terence. "I have the honour to be on
Sir Arthur Wellesley's staff; and have the rank of captain in our
army, but am a colonel in the Portuguese service. This is
Lieutenant Ryan, of His Majesty's Mayo Fusiliers."

The officer looked a little doubtful, while Terence was speaking.
It was difficult to believe that the young fellow, of one or two
and twenty, at the outside, could be a captain on Lord Wellington's
staff--for Sir Arthur had been raised to the peerage, after the
battle of Talavera--still less that he should be a colonel in the
Portuguese service. However, he bowed gravely, and said:

"My name is Major Chalmers, of the 35th. I am adjutant to the
governor. If it will not be inconvenient, I shall be glad if you
will return with me, and report yourselves to him."

"We are quite ready," Terence said. "We have nothing to do in the
way of packing up, for we have only the clothes we stand in; which
were, indeed, the property of the captain of the lugger, who was
killed in the action."

Telling Captain Teniers that they would be coming down again, when
they had seen the governor, the two friends accompanied the
officer. Very few words were said on the way, for the major
entertained strong doubts whether Terence had not been hoaxing him,
and whether the account he had given of himself was not altogether
fictitious. On arriving at the governor's he left them for a few
minutes in the anteroom; while he went in and gave the account he
had received, from the captain, of the manner in which the lugger
had been captured; and said that the two gentlemen who had played
so important a part in the matter were, as they said, one of them
an officer on the staff of Lord Wellington and a colonel in the
Portuguese army, and the other a subaltern in the Mayo Fusiliers.

"Why do you say, as they said,' major? Have you any doubt about
it?"

"My only reason for doubting is that they are both young fellows of
about twenty, which would accord well enough with the claim of one
of them to be a lieutenant; but that the other should be a captain
on Lord Wellington's staff, and a colonel in the Portuguese
service, is quite incredible."

"It would seem so, certainly, major. However, it is evident that
they have both behaved extraordinarily well in this fight with the
Annette, and I cannot imagine that, whatever story a young fellow
might tell to civilians, he would venture to assume a military
title to which he had no claim, on arrival at a military station.
Will you please ask them to come in? At any rate, their story will
be worth hearing."

"Good day, gentlemen," he went on, as Terence and Ryan entered. "I
have to congratulate you, very heartily, upon the very efficient
manner in which you assisted in the capture of the French privateer
that has, for some time, been doing great damage among the islands.
She has been much more than a match for any of our privateers here
and, although she has been chased several times by the cruisers,
she has always managed to get away.

"And now, may I ask how you happened to be approaching the island,
in a small boat, at the time that the encounter took place?"

"Certainly, sir. We were both prisoners at Bayonne. I myself had
been captured by the French, when endeavouring to cross the
frontier into Portugal with my regiment; while Lieutenant Ryan was
wounded at Talavera, and was in the hospital there when the
Spaniards left the town, and the French marched in."

"What is your regiment, Colonel O'Connor?"

"It is called the Minho regiment, sir, and consists of two
battalions. We have had the honour of being mentioned in general
orders more than once; and were so on the day after the first
attack of Victor upon Donkin's brigade, stationed on the hill
forming the left of the British position at Talavera."

The governor looked at his adjutant who, rising, went to a table on
which were a pile of official gazettes. Picking out one, he handed
it to the governor, who glanced through it.

"Here is the general order of the day," he said, "and assuredly
Lord Wellington speaks, in the very highest terms, of the service
that Colonel O'Connor and the Minho regiment, under his command,
rendered. Certainly very high praise, indeed.

"You will understand, sir, that we are obliged to be cautious here;
and it seemed so strange that so young an officer should have
attained the rank of colonel, that I was curious to know how it
could have occurred."

"I am by no means surprised that it should seem strange, to you,
that I should hold the rank I claim. I was, like my friend
Lieutenant Ryan, in the Mayo Fusiliers; when I had the good fortune
to be mentioned, in despatches, in connection with an affair in
which the transport that took us out to Portugal was engaged with
two French privateers. In consequence of the mention, General Fane
appointed me one of his aides-de-camp; and I acted in that capacity
during the campaign that ended at Corunna. I was left on the field,
insensible, on the night after that battle.

"When I came to myself, the army was embarking; so I made my way
through Galicia into Portugal and, on reaching Lisbon, was
appointed by Sir John Craddock to his staff; and was sent by him on
a mission to the northern frontier of Portugal.

"On the way I took the command of a body of freshly-raised
Portuguese levies, who were without an officer or leader of any
kind. With the aid of a small escort with me, I formed them into a
reliable regiment, and had the good fortune to do some service with
them. I was therefore confirmed in my command, and was given
Portuguese rank. Sir Arthur Wellesley, on succeeding Sir John
Craddock in the supreme command, still kept my name on the
headquarter staff, thereby adding greatly to my authority; and
continued me in the independent command of my regiment.

"After Talavera we were despatched to aid the Spaniards in holding
the pass of Banos but, before we arrived there, Soult had crossed
the pass and, being cut off by his force from rejoining the army, I
determined to cross the mountains into Portugal. In so doing we
came upon a French division, on its march to Plasencia, and the
company of my regiment with which I was were cut off, and taken
prisoners."

"Forgive me for having doubted you, Colonel O'Connor. I should, of
course, have remembered your name. In his report of his operations,
before and subsequent to the battle of Talavera, Lord Wellington
mentions, more than once, that his left during his advance was
covered by the partisan corps of Wilson and O'Connor; and mentions,
too, that it was by messengers from Colonel O'Connor that he first
learned how formidable a force was in his rear, and was therefore
able to cross the Tagus and escape from his perilous position. Of
course, it never entered my mind that the officer who had rendered
such valuable service was so young a man.

"There is only one mystery left. How was it, when you and Mr. Ryan
escaped from Bayonne, that you are found in a boat in the Bay of
Saint Malo?"

"It does seem rather a roundabout way of rejoining," Terence said,
with a smile. "We escaped in a boat and made along the north coast
of Spain but, when off Santander, were blown out to sea in a gale,
and were picked up by a French privateer. We were supposed to be
two Spanish fishermen and, as the privateer was short of boats,
they took ours and enrolled us among their crew. They were on their
way to Brest, and we took an opportunity to desert, and made our
way on foot until we reached the mouth of the river Sienne; and
made off in a boat, last night. This morning we saw the privateer
in chase of us, and should certainly have been recaptured had not
the Cerf come up and engaged her. While the fight was going on we
had gone on board the schooner, unperceived by either party, and
took what seemed to us the best way of aiding our friends; who were
getting somewhat the worst of it, the crew of the lugger being very
much stronger than the crew of the schooner."

"Well, I hope that you will both, at once, take up your quarters
with me as long as you stay here; and I shall then have an
opportunity of hearing of your adventures more in detail."

"Thank you very much, sir. We shall be very happy to accept your
kind invitation; but I hope we shall not trespass upon your
hospitality long, for we are anxious to be off, as soon as
possible, so as to rejoin without loss of time. I am particularly
so for, although it will be two or three months before there is any
movement of the troops, I am afraid of finding someone else
appointed to the command of my regiment; and I have been so long
with it, now, that I should be sorry indeed to be put to any other
work."

"That I can quite understand. Well, there is no regular
communication from here, but there is not a week passes without
some craft or other sailing from here to Weymouth."

"We would rather, if possible, be put on board some ship on her way
to Portugal," Terence said. "If we landed in England, we should
have to report ourselves, and might be sent to a depot, and be
months before we got out there again. I spoke to the captain of the
Cerf about it, this morning; and he was good enough to promise
that, as soon as he had repaired damages, he would run out into the
Bay, and put us on board the first ship he overhauled bound for the
Peninsula."

"That would be an excellent plan, from your point of view," the
governor said. "Teniers is one of the best sailors on the island,
and has several times carried despatches for me to Weymouth. You
could not be in better hands."

Four days later the schooner was ready to sail again.

"This will be my last voyage in her," the captain said. "I have had
an offer for her, and shall sell her as soon as I come back again,
as I shall take the command of the Annette. I ought to do well in
her, for her rig and build are so evidently French that I shall be
able to creep up close to any French vessel making along the coast,
or returning from abroad, without being suspected of being an
enemy. Of course, I shall have to carry a much stronger crew than
at present; and I hope to clip the wings of some of these French
privateers, before long."

They had, on the day of their landing, ordered new uniforms, and
had purchased a stock of underclothing. They were fortunate in
being able to pick up swords and belts, and all were now ready for
them and, on the fifth day after landing, they said goodbye to the
governor, and sailed on board the Cerf.

When twenty-four hours out the vessel lay to, being now on the
track of ships bound south. On the following day they overhauled
six vessels and, as the last of these was bound with military
stores for Lisbon, Terence and Ryan were transferred to her. With a
hearty adieu to the skipper, they took their places in the boat and
were rowed to the vessel; being greeted, on their departure, by a
loud and hearty cheer from the crew of the privateer. There were no
passengers on board the store ship, and they had an uneventful
voyage, until she dropped anchor in the Tagus.

After paying the captain the small sum he charged for their
passage, they landed. They first went to a hotel and put up. On
sallying out, Ryan had no difficulty in learning that the Mayo
Fusiliers were at Portalegre.

Terence took his way to headquarters. The first person he met, on
entering, was his old acquaintance Captain Nelson, now wearing the
equipments of a major. The latter looked at him inquiringly, and
then exclaimed:

"Why, it is O'Connor! Why, I thought you were a prisoner! I am
delighted to see you. Where have you sprung from?"

"I escaped from Bayonne and, after sundry adventures, landed an
hour ago. In the first place, what has been done with my regiment?"

"It is with Hill's division, which is at Abrantes and Portalegre."

"Who is in command?"

"Your friend Herrara. No British officer has been appointed in your
place. There was some talk of handing it over to Trant in the
spring but, as nothing can be done before that, no one has yet been
nominated."

"I am glad, indeed, to hear it. I have been fidgeting about it,
ever since I went away."

"Well, I will take you in to the adjutant general, at once. I heard
him speak, more than once, of the services you rendered by sending
news that Soult and Ney were both in the valley, and so enabling
Lord Wellington to get safely across the Tagus. He said it was an
invaluable service. Of course Herrara reported your capture, and
that you had sacrificed yourself, and one of the companies, to
secure the safety of the rest. Now, come in."

[Illustration: 'This is Colonel O'Connor, sir.']

"This is Colonel O'Connor, sir," Major Nelson said, as he entered
the adjutant general's room. "I could not resist the pleasure of
bringing him in to you. He has just escaped from Bayonne, and
landed an hour ago."

"I am glad to see you, indeed," the adjutant general said, rising
and shaking Terence warmly by the hand. "The last time we met was
on the day when Victor attacked us, in the afternoon, after sending
the Spaniards flying. You rendered us good service that evening,
and still greater by acquainting the commander-in-chief of the
large force that had gathered in his rear--a force at least three
times as strong as we had reckoned on. A day later, and we should
have been overwhelmed. As it was, we had just time to cross the
Tagus before they were ready to fall upon us.

"I am sure Lord Wellington will be gratified, indeed, to hear that
you are back again. I suppose you will like to return to your
command of the Minho regiment?"

"I should prefer that to anything else," Terence said, "though, of
course, I am ready to undertake any other duty that you might
intrust to me."

"No, I think it would be for the good of the service that you
should remain as you are. The difficulty of obtaining anything like
accurate information, of the strength and position of the enemy, is
one of the greatest we have to contend with; and indeed, were it
not for Trant's command and yours, we should be almost in the dark.

"Please sit down for a minute. I will inform Lord Wellington of
your return."



Chapter 9: Rejoining.


The adjutant general returned in two or three minutes.

"Will you please come this way, Colonel O'Connor," he said, as he
re-entered the room; "the commander-in-chief wishes to speak to
you."

"I am glad to see you back, Colonel O'Connor," Lord Wellington said
cordially, but in his usual quick, short manner; "the last time I
saw you was at Salamende. You did well at Talavera; and better
still afterwards, when the information I received from you was the
only trustworthy news obtained during the campaign, and was simply
invaluable. Sir John Craddock did me no better service than by
recognizing your merits, and speaking so strongly to me in your
favour that I retained you in command of the corps that you had
raised. I shall be glad to know that you are again at their head,
when the campaign reopens; for I know that I can rely implicitly
upon you for information. Of course, your name has been removed
from the list of my staff, since you were taken prisoner; but it
shall appear in orders tomorrow again. I shall be glad if you will
dine with me, this evening."

"I wish I had a few more young officers like that," he said to the
adjutant general, when Terence had bowed and retired. "He is full
of energy, and ready to undertake any wild adventure, and yet he is
as prudent and thoughtful as most men double his age. I like his
face. He has a right to be proud of the position he has won, but
there is not the least nonsense about him, and he evidently has no
idea that he has done anything out of the ordinary course. At first
sight he looks a mere good-tempered lad, but the lower part of his
face is marked by such resolution and firmness that it goes far to
explain why he has succeeded."

There were but four other officers dining with the
commander-in-chief that evening. Lord Wellington asked Terence
several questions as to the route the convoy of prisoners had
followed, the treatment they had received, and the nature of the
roads, and whether the Spanish guerillas were in force. Terence
gave a brief account of the attack that had been made on the French
convoy, and the share that he and his fellow prisoners had taken in
the affair; at which Lord Wellington's usually impassive face
lighted up with a smile.

"That was a somewhat irregular proceeding, Colonel O'Connor."

"I am afraid so, sir; but after their treatment by the Spaniards
when in the hospital at Talavera, our men were so furious against
them that I believe they would have fought them, even had I
endeavoured to hold them back; which, indeed, being a prisoner, I
do not know that I should have had any authority to do."

"And how did you escape from Bayonne?" the general asked.

"Through the good offices of some of the soldiers who had been our
escort, sir. They were on duty as a prison guard and, being
grateful for the help that we had given them in the affair with the
guerillas, they aided me to escape."

"And how did you manage afterwards?"

Terence related very briefly the adventures that he and his
companion had had, before at last reaching Jersey.

On leaving, the adjutant general requested him to call in, the
morning before starting to rejoin his regiment, as he expressed his
intention of doing. The talk was a long and friendly one, the
adjutant general asking many questions as to the constitution of
his corps.

"There is one thing I should like very much, sir," Terence said,
after he had finished, "it would be a great assistance to me if I
had an English officer, as adjutant."

"Do you mean one for each battalion, or one for the two?"

"I think that one for both battalions would answer the purpose,
sir. It would certainly be of great assistance to me, and take a
great many details off my hands."

"I certainly think that you do need assistance. Is there any one
you would specially wish to be appointed?"

"I should be very glad to have Lieutenant Ryan, who has been with
me on my late journey. We are old friends, as I was in the Mayo
regiment with him. He speaks Portuguese very fairly. Of course, it
would be useless for me to have an officer who did not do so. I
should certainly prefer him to anyone else."

"That is easily managed," the officer replied. "I will put him in
orders, today, as appointed adjutant to the Minho Portuguese
regiment, with the acting rank of captain. I will send a note to
Lord Beresford, stating the reason for the appointment for, as you
and your officers owe your local rank to him, he may feel that he
ought to have been specially informed of Ryan's appointment;
although your corps is in no way under his orders, but acting with
the British army."

"I am very much obliged to you, indeed, sir. It will be a great
comfort to me to have an adjutant, and it will naturally be much
more pleasant to have one upon whom I know I can depend absolutely.
Indeed, I have been rather in an isolated position, so far. The
majors of the two battalions naturally associate with their own
officers, consequently Colonel Herrara has been my only intimate
friend and, although he is a very good fellow, one longs sometimes
for the companionship of a brother Englishman."

Terence had not told Dick Ryan of his intention to ask for him as
his adjutant. When he joined him at the hotel, he saluted him with:

"Well, Captain Ryan, have you everything ready for the start?"

"I have, General," Dick replied with a grin, "or perhaps I ought to
say Field Marshal."

"Not yet, Dicky, not yet; and indeed, possibly I am premature
myself, in addressing you as Captain."

"Rather; I should say I have a good many steps to make, before I
get my company."

"Well, Dick, I can tell you that, when the orders come out today,
you will see your name among them as appointed adjutant to the
Minho Portuguese regiment, with acting rank as captain."

"Hurrah!" Ryan shouted. "You don't say that you have managed it,
old fellow? I am delighted. This is glorious. I am awfully obliged
to you."

"I think, Dick, we will make up our minds not to start until this
evening. You know we had arranged to hire a vehicle, and that I
should get a horse when I joined; but I think now we may as well
buy the horses at once, for of course you will be mounted, too. We
might pay a little more for them, but we should save the expense of
the carriage."

"That would be much better," Dick said. "Let us go and get them, at
once. There must be plenty of horses for sale in a place like this
and, as we are both flush of money, I should think that a couple of
hours would do it."

"I hope it will. As I told them at headquarters that I was going to
start today, I should not like any of them to run across me here
this evening. No doubt the landlord of the hotel can tell us of
some man who keeps the sort of animals we want. The saddlery we
shall have no difficulty about."

Two hours later a couple of serviceable horses had been bought;
with saddles, bridles, holsters, and valises. In the last named
were packed necessaries for the journey, and each provided himself
with a brace of double-barrelled pistols. The rest of their effects
were packed in the trunks they had bought at Jersey, and were
handed over to a Portuguese firm of carriers, to be sent up to the
regiment.

At two o'clock they mounted and rode to Sobral. The next day they
rode to Santarem, and on the following evening to Abrantes. They
here learned that their corps was in camp, with two other
Portuguese regiments, four miles higher up the river. As it was
dark when they arrived at Abrantes, they agreed to sleep there and
go on the next morning; as Terence wished to report himself to
General Hill, to whose division the regiment was attached, until
operations should commence in the spring.

They put up at an inn and, having eaten a meal, walked out into the
town, which was full of British soldiers. They were not long before
they found the cafe that was set apart for the use of officers and,
on entering, Terence at once joined a party of three, belonging to
a regiment with all of whose officers he was acquainted, as they
had been encamped next to the Mayo Fusiliers during the long months
preceding the advance up the valley of the Tagus. Ryan was, of
course, equally known to them; and the three officers rose, with an
exclamation of surprise, as the newcomers walked up to the table.

"Why, O'Connor! How in the world did you get here? How are you,
Ryan? I thought that you were both prisoners."

"So we were," Terence said, "but as you see, we gave them the slip,
and here we are."

They drew up chairs to the little table.

"You may consider yourself lucky in your regiment being on the
river, O'Connor. You will be much better off than Ryan will be, at
Portalegre."

"I am seconded," Ryan said, "and have been appointed O'Connor's
adjutant, with the temporary rank of captain."

"I congratulate you. The chances are you will have a much better
time of it than if you were with your own regiment. I don't mean
now, but when the campaign begins in the spring. O'Connor always
seems to be in the thick of it, while our division may remain here,
while the fighting is going on somewhere else. Besides, he always
manages to dine a good deal better than we do. His fellows, being
Portuguese, are able to get supplies, when the peasants are all
ready to take their oath that they have not so much as a loaf of
bread or a fowl in their village.

"How will you manage to get on with them, Ryan, without speaking
their language? Oh! I remember, you were grinding up Portuguese all
the spring, so I suppose you can get on pretty well, now."

"Yes; O'Connor promised that he would ask for me, as soon as I
could speak the language, so I stuck at it hard; and now, you see,
I have got my reward."

"I can tell you that the troops, here, are a good deal better off
than they are elsewhere. There is a fearful want of land carriage,
but we get our supplies up by boats. That is why the Portuguese
regiments are encamped on the river.

"Well, how did you get away from the French? It is curious that
when I saw O'Grady last--which was a fortnight ago, when he came in
to get a conveyance to take over sundry cases of whisky that had
come up the river, for the use of his mess--he said:

"'I expect that O'Connor and Dick Ryan will turn up here, before
the spring. I am sure they will, if they have got together.'"

"It is too long a story to tell, here," Ryan said. "It is full of
hairbreadth escapes, dangers by sea and land, and ends up with a
naval battle."

The officers laughed.

"Well, will you come to our quarters?" one of them said. "We have
got some decent wine, and some really good cigars which came up
from Lisbon last week, and there are lots of our fellows who will
be glad to see you."

They accordingly adjourned to a large building where the officers
of the regiment were quartered and, in the apartment that had been
turned into a mess room, they found a dozen officers, all of whom
were known both to Terence and Ryan. After many questions were
asked and answered on both sides, Ryan was requested to tell the
story of their adventures after being taken prisoners. He told it
in an exaggerated style that elicited roars of laughter, making the
most of what he called The Battle of the Shirt Sleeves with the
guerillas; exaggerating the dangers of his escape, and the horrors
of their imprisonment, for a week, among the sails and nets.

"O'Connor," he said, "has hardly got back his sense of smell yet.
The stink of tar, mixed with fishy odours, will be vivid in my
remembrance for the rest of my life."

When he had at last finished, one of them said:

"And now, how much of all this is true, Ryan?"

"Every fact is just as I have told it," he replied gravely. "You
may think that I have exaggerated, for did an Irishman ever tell a
story, without exaggeration? But I give you my honour that never
did one keep nearer to the truth than I have done. I don't say that
the fisherman's wife took quite such a strong fancy to me as I have
stated, although she can hardly have been insensible to my personal
advantages; but really, otherwise, I don't know that I have
diverged far from the narrow path of truth. I tell you, those two
days that we were running before that gale was a thing I never wish
to go through again."

"And you really tied up the Maire of Granville, Ryan?"

"We did so," Dicky said, "and a miserable object the poor little
fat man looked, as he sat in his chair trussed up like a fowl."

"And now, about the sea fight, Ryan?"

"Every word was as it happened. O'Connor and I turned gunners, and
very decent shots we made, too; and a proof of it was that, if we
would have taken it, I believe the captain of the schooner would
have given us half the booty found in the lugger's hold; but we
were modest and self denying, and contented ourselves with a third,
each, of the cash found in the captain's cabin; which we could not
have refused if we wanted to, the captain made such a point of it.
It came to nearly three hundred pounds apiece; and mighty useful it
was, for we had, of course, to get new uniforms and rigs out, and
horses and saddlery at Lisbon. I don't know what I should have done
without it, for my family's finances would not have stood my
drawing upon them; and another mortgage would have ruined them,
entirely."

"Well, certainly, that is a substantial proof of the truth of that
incident in your story; but I think that, rather than have passed
forty-eight hours in that storm, I would have stopped at Bayonne
and taken my chance of exchange."

"Then I am afraid, Forester, that you are deficient in martial
ardour," Terence said gravely. "Our desire to be back fighting the
French was so great that no dangers would have appalled us."

There was a general laugh.

"Well, at any rate, you managed uncommonly well, Ryan, whether it
was martial ardour that animated you or not; and O'Grady was not
far wrong when he said that you and O'Connor would creep out
through a mouse's hole, if there was no other way of doing it."

"Now, what has been doing since we have been away?" Terence asked.

"Well, to begin with, all Andalusia has been captured by Soult.
Suchet has occupied Valencia. Lerida was captured by him, after a
scandalously weak resistance; for there were over nine thousand
troops there, and the place surrendered after only 1000 had fallen.
Gerona, on the other hand, was only captured by Augereau after a
resistance as gallant as that of Saragossa.

"That is the extraordinary thing about these Spaniards. Sometimes
they show themselves cowardly beyond expression, at others they
fight like heroes. Just at present, even the Juntas do not pretend
that they have an army capable of driving the French out of the
Pyrenees; which is a comfort, for we shall have to rely upon
ourselves and not be humbugged by the Spaniards, the worthlessness
of whose promises, Lord Wellington has ascertained, by bitter
experience. The Portuguese government is as troublesome and as
truthless as that of Spain, but Wellington is able to hold his own
with them; and there is little doubt that the regular regiments
will fight, and be really of valuable assistance to us; but these
have been raised in spite of the constant opposition of the Junta
at Lisbon.

"There is no doubt that the next campaign will be a hot one for,
now that Spain has been as completely subdued as such vainglorious,
excitable people can be subdued, the French marshals are free to
join against us; and it is hard to see how, with but 30,000 men, we
are going to defend Portugal against ten times that number of
French. Still, I suppose we shall do it, somehow. The French have a
large army on the other side of the Aqueda, and there is no doubt
they will besiege Ciudad Rodrigo, as soon as winter is over. I
doubt whether we shall be strong enough to march to its relief, and
I fancy that in that direction the Coa will be about our limit. At
any rate, it is likely to be a stirring campaign.

"The absurdity of the thing is, that we have an army in Sicily
which might as well be at Jericho, for any use it is. If it joined
us here, it would make all the difference in the world; though
certainly till the campaign opens it would have to be quartered at
Lisbon, for it is as much as the wretched transport can do to feed
us. Now the truth is, Portugal is a miserably poor country at the
best of times, and does not produce enough for the wants of the
people. Of course, it has been terribly impoverished by the war.
The fields in most places have been untilled and, in fact, the
greater portion of the population, as well as our army, has to be
fed from England.

"Altogether, Wellington must have enough worry to drive an ordinary
man out of his mind. I never heard of such difficulties as those he
has to meet. We come to help a people who won't help themselves, to
fight for people who not only won't fight for themselves, but want
to dictate how we shall fight. Instead of being fed by the country,
we have to feed it; and the whole object of the Juntas, both in
Spain and Portugal, seems to be to throw every difficulty in our
way, and to thwart us at every turn. The first step towards success
would be to hang every member, of every Junta, in every place we
occupy."

A general chorus of "Hear, hear!" showed how deeply was the feeling
excited by the conduct of the Portuguese and Spanish authorities.

After chatting until a late hour, Terence and his companion
returned to their inn. The next morning, Terence reported himself
to General Hill.

"I am glad to see you again, Colonel O'Connor," the general said.
"The last time we met was when the surgeons were dressing my
wounds, on the heights near Talavera. That was a hot business, for
a time."

"Yes, sir; and I have to thank you, very much, for the very kind
report you sent in as to the conduct of my regiment."

"They deserved it," the general said. "If they had not come up at
the time they did, we should have had hard work to retake that
hill.

"Your regiment has been behaving very well, since they have been
here. They, like the other Portuguese regiments, have often been on
short rations, and their pay is very much in arrear, but there has
been no grumbling. I know Herrara will be extremely glad to have
you back again in command. He has said as much, several times, when
he has been in here. He is a good man, but not strong enough for
his position; and I can see that he feels that, himself, and is
conscious that he is not equal to the responsibility. I intended to
recommend that a British officer should be placed in command of the
regiment, before the campaign opens in the spring. Your two majors
do their best, but they have scarcely sufficient weight; for their
men know that they were but troopers when the regiment was first
raised."

"I shall be glad to be back again, sir; and I am pleased to say
that I have been given an adjutant--Lieutenant Ryan, of the Mayo
Fusiliers. He has the acting rank of captain. He is an old friend
of mine, and is a good officer. He has just effected an escape from
Bayonne with me."

"Yes, that will be of great assistance to you," the general said.
"With two battalions to command, you must want a right-hand man
very much. I shall be glad if your regiment remains in my division,
when the campaign reopens; but I suppose that, as before, you will
be sent ahead. At present, it is only attached to my command for
convenience of rationing and pay. I have inspected it twice, and it
is by far the finest of the Portuguese regiments here. But I can
see a certain deterioration, and I am sure that they want you back
badly. Still, it is not your loss only that is telling on them. No
soldiers like to go without their pay. Lord Wellington himself is
always kept short of funds. The Portuguese Ministry declare that
they have none. Of course that is all a lie but, true or false, it
is certain that all the Portuguese regiments are greatly in arrears
of pay, ill-provided with clothes, and indeed would be starved,
were it not that they are fed by our commissariat."

After his interview with the general, Terence went back to the inn
and, five minutes later, started with Ryan to join the regiment.
The two battalions were engaged in drill when they rode up, but as
the men recognized Terence there was a sudden movement, then a
tremendous cheer and, breaking their ranks, they ran towards him,
waving their shakos and shouting loudly; while Herrara, Bull, and
Macwitty galloped up to shake him by the hand.

"This is not a very military proceeding," Terence laughed, "but I
cannot help being gratified."

He held up his hands for silence.

"Form the men into a hollow square," he said to the majors.

In a very short time the order was carried out, and then Terence
addressed them.

"My men," he said, "I am deeply gratified by your hearty reception,
and I can assure you that I am quite as glad to be back in the
regiment as the regiment can be to have me with it again. While I
was a prisoner, one of the things that troubled me most was that,
when I returned, I might find that someone else had been appointed
your commander; and I was glad indeed when, upon landing at Lisbon,
I heard that this had not been the case, and that I could resume my
command of a body of men of whom I am proud; and at no time more
proud than when you beat off the attacks of a whole brigade of
French cavalry, and made good your escape to the mountains. I
regret that some of your comrades failed to do this, but the manner
in which they did their duty, and sacrificed themselves to cover
your retreat, was worthy of all praise, and reflects the highest
credit upon the regiment.

"I have been fortunate enough to make my escape from a French
prison, in company with my friend here, Captain Ryan; who has, at
my request, been appointed by the commander-in-chief to be your
adjutant. I am sorry to hear that there have been difficulties in
the way of rations, and that your pay is in arrears. However, I
know well that you are not serving for the sake of pay, but to
defend your country from invasion by the French; and that whether
you get your pay day by day, or receive it in a lump sum later on,
will make no difference to you; and indeed, in some respects, you
will be better off for the delay for, getting it daily, it is spent
as soon as obtained; whereas, if it comes in a lump sum, it will be
useful to you when you return to your homes, after your work is
done. I am confident that, in this regiment at least, which has
borne itself so well from the day that it was raised, there will be
neither grumbling nor discontent; but that you will suffer any
hardship or privation that may come in your way as trifling
incidents in the great work that you have undertaken: to defend, at
the cost of your lives if need be, your country from the invader.
The regiment is dismissed drill for the day."

Loud cheers at once broke from the men and, falling out, they
proceeded to their tents.

"Well, Terence, there is no doubt about the enthusiasm of your
fellows," Ryan remarked. "As you said, it was hardly military, but
it was better. It was real affection, and I am sure the men would
follow you anywhere."

Ryan shook hands with Herrara, Bull, and Macwitty; all of whom he
knew well, from his frequent visits to Terence in the spring.

"I am very glad that you have come to us, Captain Ryan," Bull said.
"A regiment don't seem like a regiment without an adjutant, and it
will take a lot of work off the colonel's hands. I wish there could
have been one for each battalion."

"How has the regiment been going on, Bull?"

"Nothing much to grumble about, sir; but I must say that it has
been more slack than it was. We have all done our best, but we have
missed you terribly; and the men don't seem to take quite as much
pains with their drill as they used to do, when you were in
command. However, that will be all right now that you have come
back again. I have always found that when the battalion was not
working well, the men have pulled themselves together at once when
I said:

"'This won't do, lads. The colonel will be grievously disappointed,
when he comes back again, if he finds that you have lost your
smartness.'

"It was as much as we could do to hold them in hand, when they saw
you surrounded by the French. They would have rushed back again, to
a man, if we would have let them. I own I felt it hard, myself, to
be marching away and leaving you behind."

In a few minutes, a couple of tents were erected by the side of
that of Herrara and, while these were being got ready for
occupation, Terence and Ryan, with the two majors, entered that of
Herrara; and the latter produced two or three bottles of wine from
his private store, and a box of cigars. So for some time they sat
chatting, Terence giving an outline of the events that had happened
since he had been away from the regiment. He and Ryan had ordered
half a dozen small casks of wine, and two cases of whisky, to be
sent up with their trunks by water; and now asked regarding the
rations of the men.

"They get their bread regularly," Herrara said. "They have put up
some large bakeries at Abrantes and, as the flour is brought up in
boats, there is no difficulty that way. They get their meat pretty
regularly, and their wine always. There is no ground of complaint,
whatever, as to rations here; though, from what I hear, it is very
different at the stations where everything has to be taken up by
waggons or mules.

"The difficulty is with the uniforms. Not one has been served out,
and it is really difficult to get the men to look smart, when many
of them are dressed almost in rags. It is still worse in the matter
of boots. A great many of them were badly cut, when we were in the
mountains; and especially in the rough march we had over the hills,
after you left us. The men themselves would greatly prefer sandals
to boots, being more accustomed to them; and could certainly march
farther in them than in stiff English boots. But of course, it
would be of no use sending in any requisition for them."

"I don't see why they should not wear sandals," Terence said; "at
any rate, until there is an issue of boots. I suppose the men can
make them, themselves."

"In most cases, no doubt, they could. At any rate, those who could,
would make them for the others. Of course they will all have to
wear them of one colour; but as most of the cattle are black, there
would be no difficulty about that. I have no doubt that we could
get any number of hides, at a nominal price, from the commissariat.
At any rate, I will see about it. I suppose they are made a good
deal like Indian moccasins. I noticed that many of the Spanish
troops wore them, but I did not examine them particularly."

"They are very easily made," Herrara said. "You put your foot on a
piece of hide of the right size. It is drawn right up over the
foot, and laced. Another thickness of hide is sewn at the bottom,
to form the sole, and there it is. Of course, for work in the hills
it might be well to use a double thickness of hide for the sole.
The upper part is made of the thinnest portion of the hide and, if
grease is rubbed well inside, so as to soften the leather as much
as possible, it makes the most comfortable footgear possible."

"Well, we will try it, anyhow," Terence said. "It mayn't look so
soldierly but, at any rate, it would look as well as boots with the
toes out; and if any general inspects us, and objects to them, we
can say that we shall be perfectly ready to give them up, as soon
as boots are issued to us. But by using all black hides, I really
do not think that it will look bad; and there would certainly be
the advantage that, for a night attack, the tread would be much
more noiseless than that of a heavy boot.

"I really like the idea, very much. The best plan will be to pick
out two or three score of men who are shoemakers by trade, and pay
them a trifle for the making of each pair. In that way we could get
much greater uniformity than were each man to make his own.

"As to the clothes, I don't see that anything can be done about it,
beyond getting a supply of needles and thread, and seeing that
every hole is mended as well as possible. I daresay new uniforms
will be served out, before the spring. It does not matter much in
camp, and I suppose we are no worse than the other Portuguese
regiments."

The next week was spent in steady drill and, by the end of that
time, the exercises were all done as smartly as before. Terence had
already tried the experiment of sandals. The commissariat at
Abrantes were glad enough to supply hides, at a nominal price. He
began by taking a dozen. These were first handed to a number of men
relieved from other duties who, after scraping the under side,
rubbed them with fat, and kneaded them until they were perfectly
soft and pliable. The shoemakers then took them in hand and, after
a few samples of various shapes were tried, one was fixed upon, in
which the sandal was bound to the foot by straps of the same
material, with a double thickness of sole. Terence tried these
himself, and found them extremely comfortable for walking; and gave
orders that one company should be entirely provided with them. As
to appearance, they were vastly superior to the cracked and bulged
boots the men were wearing.

After a week of sharp drill Terence was satisfied, and proposed to
Ryan that they should now ride over to Portalegre, and pay a visit
to their friends of the Fusiliers and, accordingly, the next day
they went over. They were most heartily received.

"Sure, Terence, I knew well enough that you and Dicky Ryan would be
back here, before long. And so you have taken him from us! Well, it
is a relief to the regiment; and I only hope that now he is an
adjutant he will learn manners, and behave with a little more
discretion than he has ever shown before. How you could have
saddled yourself with such a hare-brained lad is more than I can
imagine."

"That is all very well, O'Grady," Ryan laughed, "but it is a
question of the pot calling the kettle black; only in this case the
pot is a good deal blacker than the kettle. There may be some
excuse for a subaltern like me, but none for a war-scarred veteran
like yourself."

"Dick will do very well, O'Grady," Terence said. "I can tell you he
sits in his tent, and does his office work, as steadily as if he
had been at it all his life; and if you had seen him drilling a
battalion, you would be delighted. It is just jealousy that makes
you run him down, O'Grady--you were too lazy to learn Portuguese,
yourself."

"Is it lazy you say that I am, Terence? There is no more active
officer in the regiment, and you know it. As for the heathen
language, it is not fit for an honest tongue. They ought to have
sent over a supply of grammars and dictionaries, and taught the
whole nation to speak English.

"When did you get back?"

"A week ago; but we have been too busy drilling the regiment to
come over, before.

"How are you getting on here, Colonel?"

"We are not getting on at all, O'Connor. It is worse than
stationary we are. They ought to put on double the number of carts
they allow us. Half the time we are on short rations; except wine
which, thank Heaven, the commissariat can buy in the country. It is
evil times that we have fallen upon, and how we shall do, when the
snow begins to fall heavily, is more than I can tell you."

"At any rate, Colonel, from what I hear you are a good deal better
off than the division at Guarda, for you are but a day's march from
the river."

"The carts take two days over it," the colonel said, "and then
bring next to nothing; for the poor bastes that draw them are half
starved, and it is as much as they can do to crawl along. They
might just as well keep the whole division at Abrantes, instead of
sticking half of them out here, just as if the French were going to
attack us now.

"There is the luncheon bugle. After we have done, you may tell us
how you and Ryan got out of the hands of the French, for I suppose
you were not exchanged."



Chapter 10: Almeida.


The winter was long and tedious but, whenever the weather
permitted, Terence set his men at work; taking them twice a week
for long marches, so as to keep their powers in that direction
unabated. The sandals turned out a great success. The men had no
greatcoats, but they supplied the want by cutting a slit in the
centre of their black blankets and passing the head through it.
This answered all the purposes, and hid the shabby condition of
their uniforms.

General Hill occasionally rode over to inspect this and the other
Portuguese regiments encamped near them.

"That is a very good plan of yours, Colonel O'Connor," he said, the
first time the whole regiment turned out in their sandals. "It is a
much more sensible footgear than the boots."

"I should not have adopted them, General, if the men had had any
boots to put on; but those they had became absolutely unwearable.
Some of the soles were completely off, the upper leathers were so
cut and worn that they were literally of no use and, in many cases.
they were falling to pieces. The men like the sandals much better,
and certainly march with greater ease. Yesterday they did thirty
miles, and came in comparatively fresh."

"I wish the whole army were shod so," the general said. "It would
improve their marching powers, and we should not have so many men
laid up, footsore. I should say that the boots supplied to the army
are the very worst that soldiers were ever cursed with. They are
heavy, they are nearly as hard as iron when the weather is dry, and
are as rotten as blotting paper when it is wet. It is quite an
accident if a man gets a pair to fit him properly. I believe it
would be better if they were trained to march barefooted. Their
feet would soon get hardened and, at any rate, it would be an
improvement on the boots now served out to them.

"I wish the other Portuguese regiments were as well drilled and as
well set up as your fellows. Of course, your men don't look smart,
at present, and would not make a good show on a parade ground; but
I hear that there are a large quantity of uniforms coming out,
shortly; and I hope, long before the campaign opens, they will all
be served out. The British regiments are almost as badly off as the
native ones. However, I suppose matters will right themselves
before the spring; but they are almost as badly off, now, as they
were when they marched into Corunna. The absurdity of the whole
thing is that all the newly-raised Portuguese levies, who will
certainly not be called upon to cross the frontier until next year,
have got uniforms; while the men who have to do the work are almost
in rags."

Two or three of the officers of the Fusiliers rode over frequently,
to stop for a night or so with Terence; and the latter found time
pass much more pleasantly than he had done before Ryan had joined
him. During the day both their hands were full; but the evenings
were very pleasant, now that he had Dick as well as Herrara to talk
to. The feeling of the responsibility on his shoulders steadied
Ryan a good deal, and he was turning out a far more useful
assistant than Terence had expected; but when work was over, his
spirits were as high as ever, and the conversation in Terence's
tent seldom languished.

Spring came, but there was no movement on the part of the troops.
Ney, with 50,000 men, began the siege of Ciudad Rodrigo in earnest.
The Agueda had now become fordable; and Crawford, with his light
brigade, 2500 strong, was exposed to a sudden attack at any time.
On the 1st of June Terence received orders to march with his
regiment to Guarda, where Wellington was concentrating the greater
portion of his army; leaving Hill, with 12,000 men, to guard the
southern portion of the frontier.

Both the Spanish and Portuguese urged the general to relieve Ciudad
Rodrigo; but Wellington refused, steadily, to hazard the whole
fortune of the campaign on an enterprise which was unlikely to
succeed. His total force was but 56,000 men, of whom 20,000 were
untried Portuguese. Garrisons had to be placed at several points,
and 8000 Portuguese were posted at Thomar, a day's march from
Abrantes, as a reserve for Hill.

It was not only the 50,000 infantry and 8000 cavalry of Massena,
who now commanded in front of Ciudad Rodrigo, that he had to reckon
with. Regnier's division was at Coria; and could, in three easy
marches, reach Guarda; or in four fall on Hill at Abrantes; and
with but 26,000 men in line, it would have been a desperate
enterprise, indeed, to attack 60,000 veteran French soldiers merely
for the sake of carrying off the 5000 undisciplined Portuguese
besieged at Ciudad.

The Minho regiment had only received their new uniforms a month
before the order came, and made a good show as they marched into
Guarda, where Wellington's headquarters were now established. When
Terence reported himself to the adjutant general, the latter said:

"At present, Colonel O'Connor, you cannot be employed in your
former work of scouting. The French are altogether too powerful for
a couple of battalions to approach them and, with 8000 cavalry,
they would make short work of you. Crawford must soon fall back
behind the Coa. His position already is a very hazardous one. It
has therefore been decided to place 1500 of your men along on this
side of the Coa and, with half a battalion, you will march at once
to Almeida to strengthen the garrison of that place which, as soon
as Crawford retires, is certain to be besieged. It should be able
to offer a long and stout resistance.

"You will, of course, be under the general orders of the
commandant; but you will receive an authorization to take
independent action, should you think fit: that is to say, if you
find the place can be no longer defended, and the commandant is
intending to surrender, you are at liberty to withdraw your
command, if you find it possible to do so."

On the following morning the corps left Guarda and, leaving a
battalion and a half on the Coa, under Herrara; Terence, with 500
men, after a long march, entered Almeida that night. The town,
which was fortified, was occupied only by Portuguese troops. It was
capable of repulsing a sudden attack, but was in no condition to
withstand a regular siege. It was deficient in magazines and bomb
proofs; and the powder, of which there was a large supply, was
stored in an old castle in the middle of the town. On entering the
place, Terence at once called upon Colonel Cox, who was in command.

"I am glad that you have come, Colonel O'Connor," the latter said.
"I know that Lord Wellington expects me to make a long defence, and
to keep Massena here for at least a month but, although I mean to
do my best, I cannot conceal from myself that the defences are
terribly defective. Then, too, more than half my force are
newly-levied militia, in whom very little dependence can be placed.
Your men will be invaluable, in case of assault; but it is not
assault I fear, so much as having the place tumbling about our ears
by their artillery, which can be so placed as to command it from
several points. We are very short of artillery, and the guns are
well nigh as old as the fortifications."

"We will do our best, Colonel, in any direction you may point out;
and I think that we could defend a breach against any reasonable
force brought against it. I may say that I have been ordered, if
the worst comes to the worst, to endeavour to make my way out of
the town before it surrenders."

For a fortnight the place was left unmolested. Crawford's division
still kept beyond the Coa, and his cavalry had had several
engagements with French reconnoitring parties. On the 2nd of July,
however, the news came that, after a most gallant resistance,
Ciudad Rodrigo had surrendered; and it was now certain that the
storm would roll westward, in a very short time. Massena, however,
delayed strangely; and it was not until daylight on the 24th that a
sudden roll of musketry, followed almost immediately by a heavy
artillery fire, told the garrison of Almeida that the light
division was suddenly attacked by the enemy.

Crawford had received the strictest orders not to fight beyond the
Coa; but he was an obstinate man, and had so long maintained his
position across the river that he believed that, if attacked, he
should be able to withdraw over the bridge before any very strong
force could be brought up to attack him. In this he was mistaken.
The country was wooded, and the French march was unsuspected until
they were close upon Crawford's force. The light division had,
however, been well trained; indeed, it was composed of veteran
regiments, and had been practised to get under arms with the least
possible delay. They were, therefore, already drawn up when the
French fell upon them and, fighting hard and sternly, repelled all
the efforts of the enemy's cavalry to cut them off from the bridge.
Driving back the French light infantry, the Light Division crossed
in safety, although with considerable loss; and repulsed, with
great slaughter, every attempt of the French to cross the bridge.

Almeida was now left to its fate. Again Massena delayed, and it was
not until the 18th of August that the siege was begun. On the 26th
sixty-five heavy guns, that had been used in the siege of Ciudad
Rodrigo, opened fire upon the town. The more Terence saw of the
place, the more convinced was he that it could not long be held,
after the French siege guns had been placed in position. Moreover,
there was great lukewarmness on the part of several of the
Portuguese officers, while the rank and file were dispirited by the
fate of Ciudad Rodrigo, and by the fact that they had, as it seemed
to them, been deserted by the British army.

"I don't like the look of things, at all," he had said to Bull and
Ryan, the evening before the siege guns began their work. "In the
first place the defences will crumble, in no time, under the French
fire. In the second place, I don't think that the Portuguese, with
the exception of our own men, have any fight in them. Da Costa, the
lieutenant governor, openly declares that the place is indefensible,
and that it is simply throwing away the lives of the men to resist.
He is very intimate, I observe, with Bareiros, the chief of the
artillery. Altogether, things look very bad. Of course, we shall
stay here as long as the place resists; but I am afraid that won't
be for very long.

"I was speaking to Colonel Cox this afternoon. He is a brave man,
and with trustworthy troops would, I am sure, hold the town until
the last; but, unsupported as he is, he is in the hands of these
rascally Portuguese officers. I told him that, if he ordered me to
do so, I would undertake with my men to arrest the whole of them;
but he said that that would bring on a mutiny of all their troops;
and this, bad as the situation already was, would only make matters
much worse. I then suggested that, as the French are driving their
trenches towards those two old redoubts outside the wall, I would,
if he liked, place our force in them; and would undertake to hold
them, pointing out that if they fell into the hands of the enemy
they would soon mount their cannon there, and bring down the whole
wall facing in that direction.

"He quite agreed with that view of the case, but said that it would
be a very exposed position; still, as our fellows were certainly
the only trustworthy troops he had, he should be very glad if I
would undertake the defence at once, as the French were pushing
their approaches very fast towards them. I said that I was sure we
could hold them for some little time; and that, indeed, it seemed
to me that the French intended to bombard the town rather than to
breach the walls, knowing the composition of the garrison and,
perhaps, having intelligence that their courage would be so shaken,
by a heavy fire, that the place would surrender in a much shorter
time than it would take to breach the walls. Accordingly, he has
given me leave to march our men up there, at daybreak tomorrow;
taking with us ten days' provisions.

"I said that if he had trouble with the other Portuguese regiments
I would, on his hoisting a red flag on the church steeple, march in
at once to seize and shoot the leaders of the mutiny, if he wished
it. Of course, one of my reasons for wanting to take charge of the
redoubts was that we should have more chance of withdrawing, from
them, than we should of getting out of the town, itself, in the
confusion and panic of an approaching surrender."

Bull and Ryan both agreed with Terence and, at daybreak the next
morning, the half battalion marched out, relieved the Portuguese
troops holding the two redoubts, and established themselves there.
They had brought with them a number of intrenching tools, and were
accompanied by an engineer officer. So, as soon as they reached the
redoubts, several parties of men were set to work, to begin to sink
pits for driving galleries in the direction of the approaches that
the French were pushing forward; while others assisted a party of
artillerymen to work the guns. Some of the best shots in the corps
took their places on the rampart, and were directed to maintain a
steady fire on the French working parties.

The roar of cannon, when the French batteries opened fire on the
town, was prodigious; and it was not long before it was evident
that there was no present design, on the part of the French, to
effect a breach.

"I expect they have lots of friends in the town," Terence said to
Dick Ryan, as they watched the result of the fire; "and they make
sure that the garrison will very soon lose heart. Do you see how
many shots are striking the old castle? That looks as if the French
knew that it was the magazine. They are dropping shell there, too;
and that alone is enough to cause a scare in the town, for if one
of them dropped into the magazine, the consequences would be
terrific. They are not pushing on the trenches against us with
anything like the energy with which they have been working for the
past week; and it is certainly curious that they should not keep up
a heavier fire from their batteries upon us, for it is evident that
they cannot make an assault, on this side of the town, at any rate,
until they have captured our redoubts."

"I wish we were well out of it," Ryan exclaimed. "It is quite
certain that the place must fall, sooner or later; and though we
might beat the French back several times, it must come to the same,
in the end. The thing I am most concerned about, at present, is how
we are to get away."

"I quite agree with you, Dick; and you know, we have had several
looks at the French lines, from the roof of the church. Their
batteries are chiefly on this side of the town; but most of their
troops are encamped on the other side, so as to be in readiness to
meet any attempt of Wellington to succour the place; and also to
show the garrison that there is no chance, whatever, of their being
able to draw off. We agreed that the chances would be much better
of getting out on this side than on the other."

"Yes; but we also agreed, Terence, that there would be a good deal
more difficulty in getting safely back; for practically the whole
of their army would be between us and Wellington."

"It will be a difficult business, Dicky, whichever way we go; and I
suppose that, at last, we shall have to be guided by circumstances."

In a very short time, fires broke out at several points in the
town. The guns on the walls made but a very feeble reply to the
French batteries; and one or two bastions, where alone a brisk fire
was at first maintained, drew upon themselves such a storm of
missiles from the French guns that they were soon silenced.

"It is quite evident that the Portuguese gunners have not much
fight in them," Bull said.

"I am afraid it is the disaffection among their officers that is
paralysing them," Terence said. "But I quite admit that it may be
good policy to keep the men under cover. They really could do no
good against the French batteries; which have all the advantage of
position, as well as numbers and weight of metal; and it would
certainly be well to reserve the troops till the French drive their
trenches close up. If I thought that the silence of the guns on the
walls were due to that, I should be well content; but I am afraid
it is nothing of the sort. If the French keep up their fire, as at
present, for another forty-eight hours, the place will throw open
its gates. The inhabitants must be suffering frightfully. Of
course, if Colonel Cox had men he could thoroughly rely upon, he
would be obliged to harden his heart and disregard the clamour of
the townspeople for surrender; but as the garrison is pretty
certain to make common cause with them, it seems to me that the
place is lost, if the bombardment continues."

In a short time, seeing that the working parties in the enemy's
trenches made no attempt to push them farther forward, Terence
withdrew the men from their exposed position on the ramparts--leaving
only a few there on the lookout--and told the rest to lie down on the
inner slopes, so as to be in shelter from the French fire. Bull was
in command of the force in the other redoubt, which was a quarter of
a mile away. The redoubts were, however, connected by a deep ditch,
so that communication could be kept up between them, or reinforcements
sent from one to the other, unobserved by the enemy, except by those
on one or two elevated spots.

All day the roar of the cannon continued. From a dozen points,
smoke and flame rose from the city, and towards these the French
batteries chiefly directed their fire, in order to hinder the
efforts of the garrison to check the progress of the conflagration.

Just after dark, as Ryan and Terence were sitting down in an angle
of the bastion to eat their supper, there was a tremendous roar;
accompanied by so terrible a shock that both were thrown prostrate
upon the ground with a force that, for the moment, half stunned
them. A broad glare of light illuminated the sky. There was the
rumble and roar of falling buildings and walls; and then came dull,
crashing sounds as masses of brickwork, hurled high up into the
air, fell over the town and the surrounding country. Then came a
dead silence, which was speedily broken by the sound of loud
screams and shouts from the town.

"It is just as we feared," Terence said as, bruised and bewildered,
he struggled to his feet. "The magazine in the castle has
exploded."

He ordered the bugler to sound the assembly and, as the men
gathered, it was found that although many of them had been hurt
severely, by the violence with which they had been thrown down,
none had been killed either by the shock or the falling fragments.
An officer was at once sent to the other redoubt, to inquire how
they had fared; and to give orders to Bull to keep his men under
arms, lest the French should take advantage of the catastrophe, and
make a sudden attack.

"Ryan, do you take the command of the men, here, until I come back.
I will go into the town and see Colonel Cox. I fear that the damage
will be so great that the town will be really no longer defensible
and, even if it were, the Portuguese troops will be so cowed that
there will be no more fight left in them."

It was but five hundred yards to the wall. Terence was unchallenged
as he ran up. The gate was open and, on entering, he saw that the
disaster greatly exceeded his expectations. The castle had been
shattered into fragments, the church levelled to the ground and, of
the whole town, only six houses remained standing. Five hundred
people had been killed.

The wildest confusion prevailed. The soldiers were running about
without object or purpose, apparently scared out of their senses.
Women were shrieking and wringing their hands, by the ruins of
their houses. Men were frantically tugging at beams, and masses of
brickwork, to endeavour to rescue their friends buried under the
ruins. Presently he came upon Colonel Cox, who had just been joined
by Captain Hewitt, the only British officer with him; who had
instantly gone off to see the amount of damage done to the
defences, and had brought back news that the walls had been
levelled in several places, and the guns thrown into the ditch.

Da Costa, Bareiros, and several other Portuguese officers were
loudly clamouring for instant surrender and, the French shells
again beginning to fall into the town, added to the prevailing
terror. In vain the commandant endeavoured to still the tumult, and
to assure those around him that the defence might yet be continued,
for a short time; and better terms be obtained than if they were,
at once, to surrender.

"Can I do anything, Colonel?" Terence said. "My men are still
available."

The officer shook his head.

"Massena will see, in the morning," he said, "that he has but to
march in. If these men would fight, we could still, perhaps, defend
the breaches for a day or two. But it would only be useless
slaughter. However, as they won't fight, I must send a flag of
truce out, and endeavour to make terms. At any rate, Colonel
O'Connor, if you can manage to get off with your command, by all
means do so. Of course, I shall endeavour to obtain terms for the
garrison to march out; but I fear that Massena will hear of nothing
but unconditional surrender."

"Thank you, Colonel. Then I shall at once return to my corps, and
endeavour to make my way through."

On returning to the redoubt, Terence sent a message to Bull to come
to him at once and, when he arrived, told him and Ryan the state of
things in the town, and the certainty that it would surrender, at
once.

"The Portuguese are so clamorous," he said, "that a flag of truce
may be despatched to Massena, in half an hour's time. The
Portuguese are right so far that, if the place must be surrendered,
there is no reason for any longer exposing the troops and the
townsfolk to the French bombardment. Therefore it is imperative
that, if we are to make our way out, we must do so before the place
surrenders.

"We agreed, yesterday, as to the best line to take. The French
force here is by no means considerable, their main body being
between this and the Coa. Massena, knowing the composition of the
garrison here, did not deem it requisite to send a larger force
than was necessary to protect the batteries; and the major portion
of these are on the heights behind the city. Between the road
leading to Escalon and that through Fort Conception there is no
French camp, and it is by that line we must make our escape.

"We know that there are considerable forces, somewhere near Villa
Puerca; but when we reach the river Turones we can follow its banks
down, with very little fear. It is probable that they have a force
at the bridge near San Felices; but I believe the river is fordable
in many places, now. At any rate, they are not likely to be keeping
a sharp watch anywhere, tonight. They must all know that that
tremendous explosion will have rendered the place untenable and,
except at the batteries which are still firing, there will be no
great vigilance; especially on this side, for it would hardly be
supposed that, even if the garrison did attempt to escape, they
would take the road to the east, and so cut themselves off from
their allies and enter a country wholly French.

"Of course, with us the case is different. We can march farther and
faster than any French infantry. The woods afford abundant places
of concealment, and we are perfectly capable of driving off any
small bodies of cavalry that we may meet. Fortunately we have eight
days' provision of biscuit. Of course, it was with a view to this
that I proposed that we should bring out so large a supply with us.

"Now, I think we had better start at once."

"I quite agree with you, Colonel," Bull said. "I will return to the
other redoubt, and form the men up at once. I shall be ready in a
quarter of an hour."

"Very well, Bull. I will move out from here, in a quarter of an
hour from the present time, and march across and join you as you
come out. We must move round between your redoubt and the town. In
that way we shall avoid the enemy's trenches altogether."

The men were at once ordered to fall in. Fortunately, none were so
seriously disabled as to be unfit to take their places in the
ranks. The necessity for absolute silence was impressed upon them,
and they were told to march very carefully; as a fall over a stone,
and the crash of a musket on the rocks, might at once call the
attention of a French sentinel. As the troops filed out through the
entrance to the redoubt, Terence congratulated himself upon their
all having sandals, for the sound of their tread was faint, indeed,
to what it would have been had they been marching in heavy boots.

At the other redoubt they were joined by Bull, with his party.
There was a momentary halt while six men, picked for their
intelligence, went on ahead, under the command of Ryan. They were
to move twenty paces apart. If they came upon any solitary
sentinel, one man was to be sent back instantly to stop the column;
while two others crawled forward and surprised and silenced the
sentry. Should their way be arrested by a strong picket, they were
to reconnoitre the ground on either side; and then one was to be
sent back, to guide the column so as to avoid the picket.

When he calculated that Ryan must be nearly a quarter of a mile in
advance, Terence gave orders for the column to move forward. When a
short distance had been traversed, one of the scouts came in, with
the news that there was a cordon of sentries across their path.
They were some fifty paces apart, and some must be silenced before
the march could be continued.

Ten minutes later, another scout brought in news that four of the
French sentries had been surprised and killed, without any alarm
being given; and the column resumed its way, the necessity for
silence being again impressed upon the men. As they went forward,
they received news that two more of the sentries had been killed;
and that there was, in consequence, a gap of 350 yards between
them. A scout led the way through the opening thus formed. It was
an anxious ten minutes, but the passage was effected without any
alarm being given; the booming of the guns engaged in bombarding
the town helping to cover the sound of their footsteps.

It had been settled that Ryan and the column were both to march
straight for a star, low down on the horizon, so that there was no
fear of either taking the wrong direction. In another half hour
they were sure that they were well beyond the French lines; whose
position, indeed, could be made out by the light of their bivouac
fires.

For three hours they continued their march, at a rapid pace,
without a check. Then they halted for half an hour, and then held
on their way till daybreak, when they entered a large village. They
had left the redoubts at about nine o'clock, and it was now five;
so that they had marched at least twenty-five miles, and were
within some ten miles of the Aqueda.

Sentries were posted at the edge of the wood, and the troops then
lay down to sleep. Several times during the day parties of French
cavalry were seen moving about; but they were going at a leisurely
pace, and there was no appearance of their being engaged in any
search. At nightfall the troops got under arms again, and made
their way to the Aqueda.

A peasant, whom they fell in with soon after they started, had
undertaken to show them a ford. It was breast deep, but the stream
was not strong, and they crossed without difficulty, holding their
arms and ammunition well above the water. They learned that there
was, indeed, a French brigade at the bridge of San Felices.
Marching north now, they came before daybreak upon the Douro. Here
they again lay up during the day and, that evening, obtained two
boats at a village near the mouth of the Tormes, and crossed into
the Portuguese province of Tras os Nontes.

The 500 men joined in a hearty cheer, on finding themselves safe in
their own country. After halting for a couple of days, Terence
marched to Castel Rodrigo and then, learning that the main body of
the regiment was at Pinhel, marched there and joined them; his
arrival causing great rejoicing among his men, for it had been
supposed that he and the half battalion had been captured, at the
fall of Almeida. The Portuguese regular troops at that place had,
at the surrender at daybreak after the explosion, all taken service
with the French; while the militia regiments had been disbanded by
Massena, and allowed to return to their homes.

From here Terence sent off his report to headquarters, and asked
for orders. The adjutant general wrote back, congratulating him on
having successfully brought off his command, and ordering the corps
to take post at Linares. He found that another disaster, similar to
that at Almeida, had taken place--the magazine at Albuquerque
having been blown up by lightning, causing the loss of four hundred
men.

The French army were still behind the Coa, occupied in restoring
the fortifications of Almeida and Ciudad Rodrigo, and it was not
until the 17th of September that Massena crossed the Coa, and began
the invasion of Portugal in earnest; his march being directed
towards Coimbra, by taking which line he hoped to prevent Hill, in
the south, from effecting a junction with Wellington.

The latter, however, had made every preparation for retreat and, as
soon as he found that Massena was in earnest, he sent word to Hill
to join him on the Alva, and fell back in that direction himself.

Terence received orders to co-operate with 10,000 of the Portuguese
militia, under the command of Trant. Wilson and Miller were to
harass Massena's right flank and rear. Had Wellington's orders been
carried out, Massena would have found the country deserted by its
inhabitants and entirely destitute of provisions; but as usual his
orders had been thwarted by the Portuguese government, who sent
secret instructions to the local authorities to take no steps to
carry them out; and the result was that Massena, as he advanced,
found ample stores for provisioning his army.

The speed with which Wellington fell back baffled his calculations
and, by the time he approached Viseu, the whole British army was
united, near Coimbra. His march had been delayed two days, by an
attack made by Trant and Terence upon the advanced guard, as it was
making its way through a defile. A hundred prisoners were taken,
with some baggage; and a serious blow would have been struck at the
French, had not the new Portuguese levies been seized with panic
and fled in confusion. Trant was, consequently, obliged to draw
off. The attack, however, had been so resolute and well-directed
that Massena, not knowing the strength of the force opposing him,
halted for two days until the whole army came up; and thus afforded
time for the British to concentrate, and make their arrangements.

[Illustration: Plan of the Battle of Busaco.]

The ground chosen by Wellington to oppose Massena's advance was on
the edge of the Sierra Busaco; which was separated, by a deep and
narrow valley, from the series of hills across which the French
were marching. There were four roads by which the French could
advance. The one from Mortagao, which was narrow and little used,
passed through Royalva. The other three led to the position
occupied by the British force between the village of Busaco and
Pena Cova. Trant's command was posted at Royalva. Terence with his
regiment took post, with a Portuguese brigade of cavalry, on the
heights above Santa Marcella, where the road leading south to
Espinel forked; a branch leading from it across the Mondego, in the
rear of the British position, to Coimbra. Here he could be aided,
if necessary, by the guns at Pena Cova, on the opposite side of the
river.

While the British were taking up their ground between Busaco and
Pena Cova, Ney and Regnier arrived on the crest of the opposite
hill. Had they attacked at once, as Ney wished, they might have
succeeded; for the divisions of Spenser, Leith, and Hill had not
yet arrived. But Massena was ten miles in the rear, and did not
come up until next day, with Junot's corps; by which time the whole
of the British army was ranged along the opposite heights.

Their force could be plainly made out from the French position, and
so formidable were the heights that had to be scaled by an
attacking force that Ney, impetuous and brave as he was, no longer
advocated an attack. Massena, however, was bent upon fighting. He
had every confidence in the valour of his troops, and was averse to
retiring from Portugal, baffled, by the long and rugged road he had
travelled; therefore dispositions were at once made for the attack.
Ney and Regnier were to storm the British position, while Junot's
corps was to be held in reserve.

At daybreak on the 29th the French descended the hill; Ney's
troops, in three columns of attack, moving against a large convent
towards the British left centre; while Regnier, in two columns,
advanced against the centre. Regnier's men were the first engaged
and, mounting the hill with great gallantry and resolution, pushed
the skirmishers of Picton's division before them and, in spite of
the grape fire of a battery of six guns, almost gained the summit
of the hill--the leading battalions establishing themselves among
the rocks there, while those behind wheeled to the right.
Wellington, who was on the spot, swept the flank of this force with
grape; and the 88th and a wing of the 45th charged down upon them
furiously.

The French, exhausted by their efforts in climbing the hill, were
unable to resist the onslaught; and the English and French, mixed
up together, went down the hill; the French still resisting, but
unable to check their opponents who, favoured by the steep descent,
swept all before them.

In the meantime, the battalions that had gained the crest held
their own against the rest of the third division and, had they been
followed by the troops who had wheeled off towards their right, the
British position would have been cut in two. General Leith, seeing
the critical state of affairs had, as soon as he saw the third
division pressed back, despatched a brigade to its assistance. It
had to make a considerable detour round a ravine; but it now
arrived and, attacking with fury, drove the French grenadiers from
the rocks; and pursued them, with a continuous fire of musketry,
until they were out of range. The rest of Leith's division soon
arrived, and General Hill moved his division to the position before
occupied by Leith. Thus, so formidable a force was concentrated at
the point where Regnier made his effort that, having no reserves,
he did not venture to renew the attack.

On their right the French had met with no better success. In front
of the convent, but on lower ground, was a plateau; and on this
Crawford posted the 43rd and 52nd Regiments of the line, in a
slight dip, which concealed them from observation by the French. A
quarter of a mile behind them, on the high ground close to the
convent, was a regiment of German infantry. These were in full
sight of the enemy. The other regiment of the light division was
placed lower down the hill, and supported by the guns of a battery.

Two of Ney's columns advanced up the hill with great speed and
gallantry; never pausing for a moment, although their ranks were
swept by grape from the artillery, and a heavy musketry fire by the
light troops. The latter were forced to fall back before the
advance. The guns were withdrawn, and the French were within a few
yards of the edge of the plateau, when Crawford launched the 43rd
and 52nd Regiments against them.

Wholly unprepared for such an attack, the French were hurled down
the hill. Only one of their columns attempted to retrieve the
disaster, and advanced against the right of the light division.
Here, however, they met Pack's brigade; while Crawford's artillery
swept the wood through which they were ascending. Finally, they
were forced to retire down the hill, and the action came to an end.
Never did the French fight more bravely; but the position, held by
determined troops, was practically impregnable. The French loss in
killed and wounded was 4500, that of the allies only 1300; the
difference being caused by the fact that the French ranks,
throughout the action, were swept with grape by the British
batteries; while the French artillery could do nothing to aid their
infantry.



Chapter 11: The French Advance.


As there were no signs of any French force approaching the position
held by the Portuguese, Terence moved his regiment a short distance
forward, to a point which enabled them to obtain a view right down
the valley in which the conflict was taking place. He then allowed
them to fall out of their ranks; knowing that in less than a minute
from the call being sounded they would be under arms again, and in
readiness to move in any direction required. Then, with Herrara and
his three English officers, he moved a short distance away and
watched the scene.

As soon as Regnier's columns had crossed the bottom of the ravine,
their guns along the crest opened fire on the British position
facing them.

"They are too far off for grape," Terence said. "You remember,
Ryan, at Corunna, how those French batteries pounded us from the
crest, and how little real damage they did us. A round shot does
not do much more harm than a bullet, unless it strikes a column in
motion, or troops massed in solid formation.

"Those fellows are mounting the hill very fast."

"They are, indeed," Ryan agreed. "You can see how the line of smoke
of our skirmishers on the hillside gets higher and higher."

"I wish our regiment was there, Colonel," Bull said. "We might do
some good; while here we are of no more use than if we were a
hundred miles away."

"No, no, Bull, that is not the case. If the French had not seen
that this position was strongly held, they might have moved a
division by this road and, if they had done so, they would have
turned the main position altogether, and forced Wellington to fall
back, at once. So you see, we are doing good here; though I do not
say that I should not like to be over there."

"The French will soon be at the top of the hill," Herrara
exclaimed. "See how they are pushing upwards."

"They certainly are gaining ground fast," Macwitty said. "They are
within a hundred yards of the top. Our men don't seem to be able to
make any stand against them at all.

"Colonel, the lower column is turning off more towards their left."

"They had better have kept together, Macwitty. It is evident that
Picton's division is hard pressed, as it is and, if those two
columns had united and thrown themselves upon him, they would have
broken right through our line. As it is, the second party will have
Leith's division to deal with. Do you see one of his brigades
marching swiftly to meet them, and some guns sweeping the French
flank? I wish we were nearer."

The scene had become too exciting for further conversation, and
they watched almost breathlessly. The line of smoke on the top of
the crest showed that the head of the column had made good its
footing there; while the quick puffs of smoke, and the rattle of
musketry, denoted that the other column was also within a short
distance of the summit. But Leith's regiments were approaching the
spot at the double. Presently there was the crash of a tremendous
volley, and then the leading regiment disappeared over the brow of
the hill, and into brushwood. The roar of musketry was heavy and
continuous, and then Ryan gave a joyous shout, as it could be seen
that the two long smoke wreaths were becoming mixed together, and
that the movement was downwards and, ere long, the dark masses of
troops could be seen descending the hill even more rapidly than
they had climbed it. Leith's second brigade was now approaching the
scene of the struggle, and was near at hand; Hill's division was
seen in motion towards the same spot.

"That is all right now," Terence said; "but there is another big
fight going on, further up the valley."

It was too far off to make out the movements of the troops but,
even at that distance, the smoke rolling up from the hillside gave
some idea of the course of the fight. Here, too, after mounting
more than halfway up the slope, it could be seen that the tide of
war was rolling down again; though more slowly, and with harder
fighting than it had done in the struggle nearer to them. And when
at last the firing gradually ceased, they knew that the French had
been repulsed, all along the line.

"The men had better open their haversacks and eat a meal," Terence
said. "We may get an order to move, at any moment."

No orders came, however, and the troops remained in the positions
that they occupied until the following morning. Then a heavy
skirmishing fire broke out and, for some time, it seemed as if the
battle was to be renewed. No heavy masses of the French, however,
came down from the hill on their side to support the light troops
in the valley and, in the afternoon, the firing died away. Towards
evening a staff officer rode up, at full speed, and handed a note
to Terence.

"The French have turned our left by the Royalva Pass. Trant has
failed to check them, and the whole army must fall back. These are
your instructions."

The mishap had not been Trant's fault. He had been sent by the
Portuguese general on a tremendous detour and, when he arrived at
the position assigned to him, his troops were utterly exhausted by
their long and fatiguing march. A large proportion had deserted or
fallen out and, with but 1500 wearied and dispirited men, he could
offer but little resistance to the French advance and, being
attacked by their cavalry, had been driven away with loss. Terence
opened the note.

"You will march at once. Keep along on this side of the Mondego,
breaking up your command into small parties, who will visit every
village within reach. All of their inhabitants who have not obeyed
the proclamations, and retired, are to leave at once. Destroy all
provisions that you can find. Set fire to the mills and, where this
is not practicable, smash the machinery and, bearing south as you
go, spread out over the country between the Zezere and the sea, and
continue to carry on the duty assigned to you, compelling the
peasants to drive their animals before them, along the roads to
Lisbon."

"I understand, sir," Terence said, after reading the note, "and
will carry out the orders to the best of my ability."

Five minutes later the regiment was under arms. Terence called the
whole of the officers together, and explained the instructions that
he had received. The two battalions were broken up into half
companies which, as they marched along the Mondego, were to be left
behind, one by one; each party, when left, turning south, and
proceeding to carry out the orders received. In a few cases, only,
were companies to keep intact as, although a hundred men would be
ample for the duty at the large villages, two hundred would not be
too much in a town like Leiria.

On reaching Foz d'Aronce, half a battalion moved to the east, to
work down by the river Zezere. The rest turned to the right, to
follow the course of the Mondego down to the sea. For convenience,
and in order to keep the troops in hand, Bull, Macwitty, Ryan, and
Herrara each took the command of half a battalion; with orders to
supervise the work of the companies belonging to it, and to keep in
touch with the nearest company of the next battalion, so that the
two thousand men could advance, to a certain extent, abreast of
each other.

Foz d'Aronce had already been evacuated by its inhabitants, but in
all other villages the orders were carried out. By daybreak the
last company in the two battalions reached the sea coast and, after
two hours' rest, began its march south. The others had long been at
work.

It was a painful duty. The frightened villagers had to be roused in
the darkness, and told that the French were approaching, and that
they must fly at once, taking their animals and what they could
carry off in carts away with them. While the terrified people were
harnessing horses to their carts, piling their few valuables into
them, and packing their children on the top, the troops went from
house to house, searching for and destroying provisions, setting
fire to barns stored with corn, and burning or disabling any flour
mills they met with.

Then, as soon as work was done, they forced the villagers to take
the southern road. There was no difficulty in doing this for,
although they had stolidly opposed all the measures ordered by
Wellington, trusting that the French would not come; now that they
had heard they were near, a wild panic seized them. Had an orderly
retreat been made before, almost all their belongings might have
been saved. Now but little could be taken, even by the most
fortunate. The children, the sick, the aged had to be carried in
carts and, in their haste and terror, they left behind many things
that might well have been saved.

The peasantry in the villages suffered less than the townspeople,
as their horses and carts afforded means of transport: but even
here the scenes were most painful. In the towns, however, they were
vastly more so. The means for carriage for such a large number of
people being wanting, the greater number of the inhabitants were
forced to make their way on foot, along roads so crowded with
vehicles of every kind that the British divisions were frequently
brought to a standstill, for hours, where the nature of the country
prevented their quitting the road and making their way across the
fields.

On the 29th, the greater portion of the British troops passed the
Mondego. Hill retired upon Thomar, and the rest of the troops were
concentrated at Milheada. The commissariat stores followed the
coast road down to Peniche, and were embarked there. The light
division and the cavalry remained, after the main body had been
drawn across the Mondego, north of that river.

Soon after starting on his work, Terence learned that the British
troops had passed through Pombal, Leiria, and Thomar. It was
consequently unnecessary for him to endeavour to clear those towns.

The delays caused at every village rendered the work slow, as well
as arduous. The French drove the light division through Coimbra
and, following, pressed so hotly that a number of minor combats
took place between their cavalry and the British rear guards.
Before Leiria the rear guards had to fight strongly, to enable the
guns to quit the town before the French entered it.

Terence presently received orders to collect his regiment again
and, crossing the Zezere, to endeavour to join Trant and the other
leaders of irregular bands, and to harass Massena's rear. He had
already, knowing that great bodies of French cavalry had crossed
the Mondego, called in the companies that were working Leiria and
the coast; as they might otherwise have been cut up, in detail, by
the French cavalry. With these he marched east, picking up the
other companies as he went and, on the same evening, the regiment
was collected on the Zezere.

Having followed the river up, he reached Foz d'Aronce and then,
finding that several bodies of French troops had already passed
through that village, he turned to the left and camped close to the
Mondego; sending ten of his men over the river, in peasants'
clothes, to ascertain the movements of the enemy. One of them
returned with news that he had come upon a party of Trant's men,
who told him that their main body were but two miles away, and that
there were no French north of Coimbra.

The regiment had made a march of upwards of forty miles that day.
Therefore, leaving them to rest, Terence forded the Mondego and
rode, with Ryan, to Trant's village.

"I am glad, indeed, to see you, O'Connor," the partisan leader
said, as Terence entered the cottage where he had established
himself. "Is your regiment with you?"

"Yes, it is three miles away, on the other side of the river. We
have marched something like eighty miles, in two days. We have been
busy burning mills and destroying provisions, but the French
cavalry are all over the country, so I was ordered to join you, and
aid you to harass the French line of communication, and to do them
what damage we could."

"There is not much to be done in the way of cutting their
communications; at least, there is nothing to be done to the north
and east of this place, for Massena brought all his baggage and
everything else with him; and cut himself loose, altogether, from
his base at Ciudad. If the people had but carried out Wellington's
orders, Massena would have suffered a fearful disaster. We have
learned, from stragglers we have taken, that the fourteen days'
provisions with which they marched were altogether exhausted; and
that they had been unable to obtain any here. They would have had
to retreat, instantly; but I hear that, in Coimbra alone, there is
enough food for their whole army, for at least two months."

"But could we not have destroyed it, as we retreated?"

"Of course, we ought to have done so," Trant said; "but from what I
hear, the affair was very badly managed. Instead of the first
division that went through burning all the magazines and stores, it
was left to Crawford to do so; and he, as usual, stopped so long
facing the enemy that, at last, he was regularly chased through
Coimbra and, the roads being blocked with carts, his brigade would
have been destroyed had the French infantry pushed strongly after
him.

"Things are just as bad, in the way of provisions, on the other
side of the river. We have done a great deal in the way of
destroying mills and magazines. I am afraid Massena will find
enough provisions to last his army all the winter."

"That is bad."

"Had it only been Coimbra, no very great harm would have been done;
for the French troops got altogether out of hand when they entered,
plundered the place and, as I hear, destroyed enough provisions to
have lasted them a month."

"Of course, they hold the town?"

"Oh yes! It is full of their sick and wounded."

"What force have you?" Terence asked.

"I have 1500 men of my own. Miller and Wilson, with some of the
Northern militias, will be here shortly; and I expect, in a few
days, we shall have eight thousand men."

"The great thing would be to act before the French know that there
is so strong a force in the neighbourhood," Terence said, "because
as soon as they hear that, they are sure to send a strong force
back to Coimbra."

"How do you mean, to act?" Trant asked in some surprise.

"I propose that we should capture Coimbra, at once. I have 2000 men
and you have 1500. I don't suppose they have left above a couple of
thousand in the town, perhaps even less and, if we take them by
surprise, I should think we ought to be able to manage that number,
without difficulty. I certainly consider my own men to be a match
for an equal number of French."

"It is a grand idea," Trant said, "and I don't see why we should
not carry it out. As you say, the sooner the better. They may know
that I am here, but they will never dream of my making such attempt
with a force which, I must own, is not always to be relied upon.
They are always shifting and changing. After a long march, half of
them will desert; then in a few days the ranks swell again.
Consequently, the men have little discipline and no confidence in
each other, and are little better than raw levies; but for rough
street fighting I have no doubt they would be all right, especially
when backed by good troops like yours.

"How would you proceed? As yours is the real fighting body, you
should have the command."

"Not at all," Terence said warmly. "You are my senior officer, not
only in rank but in age and experience. My orders were to assist
you as far as I could and, while we are together, I am ready to
carry out your orders in any way."

"Will your men be able to attack in the morning?"

"Certainly. They will have a good night's rest, and will be quite
ready for work, say, at four o'clock in the morning. It is not more
than two hours' march to Coimbra, so that we shall be there by
daybreak. Have they any troops between us and the town?"

"They have a post at a village, a mile this side, O'Connor. Do you
know how far their army is, on the other side of the river?"

"I know that they had a division close to Leiria, the day before
yesterday; but whether they have any large body just across the
Mondego, I cannot say."

"Then we will first surprise their post. I will undertake that.
Will you march your force down the river, close to the town? I have
a hundred cavalry and, as soon as I have captured the post, I will
send them on at a gallop; with orders to ride straight through to
the bridge, and prevent any mounted messengers passing across it.
As soon as you hear them come along the road, do you at once enter
the town. I will bring my men on at the double, and we shall not be
many minutes after you.

"It would be as well for you to enter it by several streets, as
that will cause greater confusion than if you were in a solid body.
The principal point is the great convent of Santa Clara, which has
been converted into a hospital. No doubt a portion of the garrison
are there; the rest will be scattered about in the public
buildings, and can be overpowered in detail.

"I think we are certain of success. I hope you will stop for a time
and take supper with me and, in the meantime, I will send down
orders for my men to be under arms, here, at half-past three."

[Illustration: 'Good news. We are going to take Coimbra.']

Terence and Ryan remained for an hour, and then rode back to the
regiment. The men were all sound asleep, but Herrara and the two
majors were sitting round a campfire.

"What news, Colonel?" the former asked, as Terence rode up.

"Good news. We are going to take Coimbra, tomorrow morning. All
Massena's sick and wounded, and his heavy baggage are there. They
have no suspicion that any force is yet assembled in the
neighbourhood and, I expect, we shall have easy work of it. They
have a post a mile out of the town. Trant will surprise and capture
that, at five in the morning. Just before daybreak we shall enter
the town. We must march from here at half-past three."

"That is something like news, Colonel," Macwitty exclaimed. "It
will cut the French off from this line of retreat, altogether, and
they must either fall back by the line of the Tagus, or through
Badajoz and Merida."

Terence laughed.

"You are counting your chickens before they are hatched, Macwitty.
At the present moment, it seems more likely that Wellington will
have to embark his troops than that Massena will have to retreat.
He must have nearly a hundred thousand men, counting those who
fought with him at Busaco and the two divisions that marched down
through Foz d'Aronce; while Wellington, all told, cannot have above
40,000. Certainly some of the peasants told me they had heard that
a great many men were employed in fortifying the heights of Torres
Vedras, and Wellington may be able to make a stand there; but as we
have never heard anything about them before, I am afraid that they
cannot be anything very formidable.

"However, just at present we have nothing to do with that. If we
can take Coimbra it will certainly hamper Massena and, if the worst
comes to the worst, we can fall back across the Douro.

"Don't let the bugles sound in the morning. It is not likely, but
it is possible that the French may send out cavalry patrols at
night. If a bugle were heard they might ride back and report that a
force was in the neighbourhood, and we should find the garrison
prepared for us. Now we had better do no more talking. It is past
eleven, and we have but four and a half hours to sleep."

At half-past three the troops were roused. They were surprised at
the early call, for they had expected two or three days' rest,
after the heavy work of the last eight days; but the company
officers soon learned the news from their majors and, as it quickly
spread through the ranks, the men were at once alert and ready.
Fording the river, they marched at a rapid pace by the road to
Coimbra and, soon after five o'clock, arrived within a few hundred
yards of the town. Then they were halted and broken up into four
columns, which were to enter the town at different points. The
signal for moving was to be the sound of a body of cavalry,
galloping along the road. Terence listened attentively for the
rattle of musketry in the distance, but all was quiet; and he had
little doubt that the French had been surprised, and captured,
without a shot being fired.

Soon after half-past five he heard a dull sound which, before long,
grew louder and, in five minutes, a body of horsemen swept past at
a gallop. The troops at once got into motion, and entered the town.
There was no longer any motive for concealment. The bugles sounded
and, with loud shouts, the Portuguese ran forward. French officers
ran out of private houses, and were at once seized and captured.
Several bodies of troops were taken, in public buildings, before
they were fairly awake. Some of the inhabitants--of whom many,
unable to make their escape, had remained behind; or who had
returned from the villages to which they had at first fled--came
out and acted as guides to the various buildings where the French
troops were quartered and, in little over a quarter of an hour, the
whole town, with the exception of the convent of Santa Clara, was
in their hands.

By this time Trant had come up, with his command. The troops
rapidly formed up again and, issuing from several streets, advanced
against the convent. The astonished enemy fired a few shots; then,
on being formally summoned to surrender, laid down their arms.
Thus, on the third day after Massena quitted the Mondego his
hospitals, depots, and nearly 6000 prisoners, wounded and
unwounded, among them a company of the Imperial Guard, fell into
the hands of the Portuguese.

The next day Miller and Wilson came up; and their men, crossing the
bridge and spreading over the country, gathered in 300 more
prisoners; while Trant marched, with those he had captured, to
Oporto.

[Illustration: Plan of the Lines of Torres Vedras.]

On the 10th of October the whole of Wellington's army was safely
posted on the tremendously strong position that he had, unknown to
the army, carefully prepared and fortified for the protection of
Lisbon. It consisted of three lines of batteries and intrenchments.
The second was the most formidable; but the first was so strong,
also, that Wellington determined to defend this, instead of falling
back to the stronger line. At the foot of the line of mountains on
which the army was posted, stretching from the Tagus to the sea,
ran two streams; the Zandre, a deep river, which extended nearly
halfway along the twenty-nine miles of lines, covered the left of
the position; while a stream running into the Tagus protected the
right. The centre, therefore, was almost the only part at which the
line could be attacked with any chance of success; and this was
defended by such tremendous fortifications as to be almost
impregnable.

Massena, who had only heard vague rumours of the existence of these
fortifications, four days before, was astounded at the unexpected
obstacle which barred his way. The British troops, as soon as they
arrived, were set to work to strengthen the intrenchments. Trees
were felled, and every accessible point was covered by formidable
abattis. The faces of the rocks were scarped, so that an enemy who
won his way partly up the hill would find his farther progress
arrested by a perpendicular wall of rock. Soon the eminences on the
crest bristled with guns; and Massena, after carefully reconnoitring
the whole position, came to the conclusion that it could not be
attacked; and disposed his troops in permanent positions, facing the
British centre and right, from Sobral to Villafranca on the Tagus;
and sent his cavalry out over the country, to bring in provisions.

To lessen the district available for this operation, Wellington
sent orders for the northern militia to advance and, crossing the
Mondego, to drive in the foraging parties. Trant, Wilson and the
other partisan corps were also employed in the work. A strong force
took up its position between Castello Branco and Abrantes, while
the militia and partisans occupied the whole country north of
Leiria; and the French were thus completely surrounded.
Nevertheless, the store of provisions left behind in the towns and
villages was so large that the French cavalry were able to bring in
sufficient supplies for the army.

During the week that followed, the Minho regiment was engaged in
watching the defiles by which Massena might communicate with Ciudad
Rodrigo, or through which reinforcements might reach him. Wilson
and Trant were both engaged on similar service, the one farther to
the north; while the other, who was on the south bank of the Tagus
with a number of Portuguese militia and irregulars, endeavoured to
prevent the French from crossing the river and carrying off the
flocks, herds, and corn which, in spite of Wellington's entreaties
and orders, the Portuguese government had permitted to remain, as
if in handiness for the French foraging parties.

Owing to the exhausted state of both the British and Portuguese
treasuries, it was impossible to supply the corps acting in rear of
the French with money for the purchase of food. But Terence had
received authority to take what provisions were absolutely
necessary for the troops, and to give orders that would, at some
time or other, be honoured by the military chest. A comparatively
small proportion of his men were needed to guard the defiles,
against such bodies of troops as would be likely to traverse them,
in order to keep up Massena's communications. Leaving, therefore, a
hundred men in each of the principal defiles; and ordering them to
entrench themselves in places where they commanded the road, and
could only be attacked with the greatest difficulty; while the road
was barred by trees felled across it, so as to form an impassable
abattis, behind which twenty men were stationed; Terence marched,
with 1500 men, towards the frontier.

Five hundred of these were placed along the Coa, guarding the roads
and, with the remainder, he forded the river and placed himself in
the woods, in the plain between Almeida and Ciudad Rodrigo. Here he
captured several convoys of waggons, proceeding with provisions for
the garrison of the former place. A portion of these he despatched,
under guard, for the use of the troops on the Coa, and for those in
the passes; thus rendering it unnecessary to harass the people, who
had returned to their villages after Massena had advanced against
Lisbon.

Growing bolder with success, he crossed the Aqueda and, marching
round to the rear of Ciudad Rodrigo, cut off and destroyed convoys
intended for that town, causing great alarm to the garrison. These
were absolutely ignorant of the operations of Massena, for so
active were the partisans, in the French rear, that no single
messenger succeeded in getting through and, even when accompanied
by strong escorts, the opposition encountered was so determined
that the French were obliged to fall back, without having
accomplished their purpose. Thus, then, the garrison at Ciudad
Rodrigo were ignorant both of Massena's whereabouts, and of the
nature of the force that had thrown itself in his rear. Several
times, strong parties of troops were sent out. When these were
composed of cavalry only, they were boldly met and driven in. When
it was a mixed force of cavalry, infantry, and artillery, they
searched in vain for the foe.

So seriously alarmed and annoyed was the governor that 3000 troops
were withdrawn, from Salamanca, to strengthen the garrison. In
December Massena, having exhausted the country round, fell back to
a very strong position at Santarem; and Terence withdrew his whole
force, save those guarding the defiles, to the neighbourhood of
Abrantes; so that he could either assist the force stationed there,
should Massena retire up the Tagus; and prevent his messengers
passing through the country between the river and the range of
mountains, south of the Alva, by Castello Branco or Velha; posting
strong parties to guard the fords of the Zezere.

So thoroughly was the service of watching the frontier line carried
out, that it was not until General Foy, himself, was sent off by
Massena, that Napoleon was informed of the state of things. He was
accompanied by a strong cavalry force and 4000 French infantry
across the Zezere, and ravaged the country for a considerable
distance.

Before such strength, Terence was obliged to fall back. Foy was
accompanied by his cavalry, until he had passed through Castello
Branco; and was then able to ride, without further opposition, to
Ciudad Rodrigo.

Beresford was guarding the line of the Tagus, between the mouth of
the Zezere and the point occupied on the opposite bank by
Wellington, sending a portion of his force up the Zezere; and these
harassed the French marauding parties, extending their devastations
along the line of the Mondego.

Although the Minho regiment had suffered some loss, during these
operations, their ranks were kept up to the full strength without
difficulty. Great numbers of the Portuguese army deserted during
the winter, owing to the hardships they endured, from want of food
and the irregularity of their pay. Many of these made for the Minho
regiment, which they had learned was well fed, and received their
pay with some degree of regularity, the latter circumstance being
due to the fact that Terence had the good luck to capture, with one
of the convoys behind Ciudad Rodrigo, a considerable sum of money
intended for the pay of the garrison. From this he had, without
hesitation, paid his men the arrears due to them; and had still
30,000 dollars, with which he was able to continue to feed and pay
them, after moving to the line of the Zezere.

He only enrolled sufficient recruits to fill the gaps made by war
and disease; refusing to raise the number above 2000, as this was
as many as could be readily handled; for he had found that the
larger number had but increased the difficulties of rationing and
paying them.



Chapter 12: Fuentes D'Onoro.


In the early spring Soult, who was besieging Cadiz, received orders
from Napoleon to cooperate with Massena and, although ignorant of
the latter's plans, and even of his position, prepared to do so at
once. He crushed the Spanish force on the Gebora; captured Badajoz,
owing to the treachery and cowardice of its commander; and was
moving north, when the news reached him that Massena was falling
back. The latter's position had, indeed, become untenable. His army
was wasted by sickness; and famine threatened it, for the supplies
obtainable from the country round had now been exhausted.
Wellington was, as he knew from his agents in the Portuguese
government, receiving reinforcements; and would shortly be in a
position to assume the offensive.

The discipline in the French army under Massena had been greatly
injured by its long inactivity. The only news he received as to
Soult's movements was that he was near Badajoz; therefore, the
first week in March he began his retreat, by sending off 10,000
sick and all his stores to Thomar. Then he began to fall back.
Thick weather favoured him, and Ney assembled a large force near
Leiria, as if to advance against the British position. Two other
corps left Santarem, on the night of the fifth, and retired to
Thomar. The rest of the army moved by other routes.

For four days Wellington, although discovering that a retreat was
in progress, was unable to ascertain by which line Massena was
really retiring. As soon as this point was cleared up, he ordered
Beresford to concentrate near Abrantes; while he himself followed
the line the main body of the French army seemed to be taking. It
was soon found that they were concentrating at Pombal, with the
apparent intention of crossing the Mondego at Coimbra; whereby they
would have obtained a fresh and formidable position behind the
Mondego, with the rich and untouched country between that river and
the Douro, upon which they could have subsisted for a long time.

Therefore, calling back the troops that were already on the march
to relieve Badajos, which had not yet surrendered, he advanced with
all speed upon Pombal, his object being to force the French to take
the line of retreat through Miranda for the frontier, and so to
prevent him from crossing the Mondego.

Ney commanded the rear guard, and carried out the operation with
the same mixture of vigour, valour, and prudence with which he,
afterwards, performed the same duty to the French army on its
retreat from Moscow. He fought at Pombal and at Redinha, and that
so strenuously that, had it not been for Trant, Wilson, and other
partisans who defended all the fords and bridges, Massena would
have been able to have crossed the Mondego. Wellington however
turned, one by one, the positions occupied by Ney; and Massena,
believing that the force at Coimbra was far stronger than it really
was, changed his plans and took up a position at Cazal Nova.

Here he left Ney and marched for Miranda but, although Ney covered
the movement with admirable skill, disputing every ridge and post
of vantage, the British pressed forward so hotly that Massena was
obliged to destroy all his baggage and ammunition. Ney rashly
remained on the east side of the river Cerra, in front of the
village of Foz d'Aronce and, being attacked suddenly, was driven
across the river with a loss of 500 men; many being drowned by
missing the fords, and others crushed to death in the passage.
However, Ney held the line of the river, blew up the bridge, and
his division withdrew in good order.

Massena tarnished the reputation, gained by the manner in which he
had drawn off his army from its dangerous position, by the ruthless
spirit with which the operation was conducted; covering his retreat
by burning every village through which he passed, and even ordering
the town of Leiria to be destroyed, although altogether out of the
line he was following.

After this fight the British pursuit slackened somewhat, for
Wellington received the news of the surrender of Badajoz and,
seeing that Portugal was thus open to invasion by Soult, on the
south, despatched Cole's division to join that of Beresford;
although this left him inferior in force to the army he was
pursuing. The advance was retarded by the necessity of making
bridges across the Cerra, which was now in flood, and the delay
enabled Massena to fall back unmolested to Guarda; where he
intended to halt, and then to move to Coria, whence he could have
marched to the Tagus, effected a junction with Soult, and be in a
position to advance again upon Lisbon, with a larger force than
ever. He had, however, throughout been thwarted by the factious
disobedience of his lieutenants Ney, Regnier, Brouet, Montbrun, and
Junot; and this feeling now broke into open disobedience and, while
Ney absolutely defied his authority, the others were so disobedient
that fierce and angry personal altercations took place.

Massena removed Ney from his command. His own movements were,
however, altogether disarranged by two British divisions, marching
over the mountains by paths deemed altogether impassable for
troops; which compelled him to abandon his intention of marching
south, and to retire to Sabuga on the Coa. Here he was attacked.
Regnier's corps, which covered the position, was beaten with heavy
loss but, owing to the combinations--which would have cut Massena
off from Ciudad Rodrigo--failing, from some of the columns going
altogether astray in a thick fog, Massena gained that town with his
army. He had lost in battle, from disease, or taken prisoners,
30,000 men since the day when, confident that he was going to drive
Wellington to take refuge on board his ships, he had advanced from
that town.

Even now he did not feel safe, though rejoined by a large number of
convalescents; and, drawing rations for his troops from the stores
of the citadel, he retired with the army to Salamanca. Having
reorganized his force, procured fresh horses for his guns, and
rested the troops for a few days; Massena advanced to cover Ciudad
Rodrigo, and to raise the siege of Almeida--which Wellington had
begun without loss of time--and, with upwards of 50,000 men,
Massena attacked the British at Fuentes d'Onoro.

[Illustration: Plan of the Battle of Fuentes d'Onoro.]

The fight was long and obstinate, and the French succeeded in
driving back the British right; but failed in a series of desperate
attempts to carry the village of Fuentes. Both sides claimed the
battle as a victory, but the British with the greater ground; for
Massena fell back across the Aqueda, having failed to relieve
Almeida; whose garrison, by a well-planned night march, succeeded
in passing through the besieging force, and effected their retreat
with but small loss, the town falling into the possession of the
British.

Terence had come up, after a series of long marches, on the day
before the battle. His arrival was very opportune, for the
Portuguese troops with Wellington were completely demoralized, and
exhausted, by the failure of their government to supply them with
food, pay, or clothes. So deplorable was their state that
Wellington had been obliged to disband the militia regiments, and
great numbers of desertions had taken place from the regular
troops.

The regiment had been stationed on the British right. Here the
fighting had been very severe. The French cavalry force was
enormously superior to the British, who had but a thousand troopers
in the field. These were driven back by the French, and Ramsay's
battery of horse artillery was cut off. But Ramsay placed himself
at the head of his battery and, at full gallop, dashed through the
French infantry and cavalry, and succeeded in regaining his
friends.

The two battalions of the Minho regiment, who were posted in a
wood, defended themselves with the greatest resolution against an
attack by vastly superior numbers; until the French, advancing on
each side of the wood, had cut them off from the rest of the
division. Then a bugle call summoned the men to assemble at the
rear of the wood and, forming squares, the two battalions marched
out.

Twelve French guns played upon them and, time after time, masses of
cavalry swept down on them but, filling up the gaps in their ranks,
they pressed on; charged two French regiments, at the double, that
endeavoured to block their way; burst a path through them, and
succeeded in rejoining the retiring division, which received them
with a burst of hearty cheering. Two hundred had fallen, in the
short time that had elapsed since they left the wood.

Terence had been in the centre of one of the squares but, just as
they were breaking through the French ranks, he had ridden to the
rear face; and called upon the men to turn and repulse a body of
French cavalry, that was charging down upon them. At this moment a
bullet struck his horse in the flank. Maddened with the sudden
pain, the animal sprang forward, broke through the ranks of the
Portuguese in front of it and, before Terence could recover its
command, dashed at full speed among the French cavalry. Before he
could strike a blow in defence, Terence was cut down. As he fell
the cavalry passed over him but, fortunately, the impetus of his
charge had carried him nearly through their ranks before he fell;
and the horses of the rear rank leapt over his body, without
touching him. It was the force of the blow that had felled him for,
in the hurry of striking, the trooper's sword had partly turned,
and it was with the flat rather than the edge that he was struck.

Although half stunned with the blow and the heavy fall, he did not
altogether lose consciousness. He heard, as he lay, a crashing
volley; which would, he felt sure, repulse the horsemen and,
fearing that in their retreat they might ride over him, trampling
him to death, he struggled to his feet. The French, however, though
repulsed, did not retire far, but followed upon the retreating
regiment until it joined the British; when a battery opened upon
them, and their commander called upon them to fall back. This was
done in good order, and at a steady trot.

On seeing Terence standing in their path, an officer rode up to
him.

"I surrender," Terence said.

A trooper was called out, and ordered to conduct him to the rear;
where many other prisoners, who had been taken during the French
advance, were gathered. Here an English soldier bound up Terence's
wound, from which the blood was streaming freely, a portion of the
scalp having been shorn clean off.

"That was a narrow escape, sir," the man said.

"Yes; I don't know how it was that it did not sever my skull; but I
suppose that it was a hasty blow, and the sword must have turned.
It might have been worse, by a good deal. I am afraid things are
going badly with us."

"Badly enough, here," the soldier said; "but I think we are holding
our own, in the centre. There is a tremendous roar of fire going
on, round that village there. I was captured half an hour ago, and
it has been growing louder and louder, ever since."

For another two hours the battle continued and, as it still centred
round the village, the spirits of the prisoners rose; for it was
evident that, although the right had been driven back, the centre
was at least holding its position, against all the efforts of the
French. In the afternoon the fire slackened, and only a few shots
were fired.

The next morning at daybreak the prisoners, 300 in number, were
marched away under a strong escort. Both armies still occupied the
same positions they had held the day before, and there seemed every
probability of the battle being renewed. When, however, they had
marched several miles, and no sound of heavy firing was heard, the
prisoners concluded that either Wellington had retired; or that
Massena, seeing his inability to drive the British from their
position, intended himself to fall back upon Ciudad.

The convoy marched twenty miles, and then halted for the night. Two
hours after they did so a great train of waggons containing wounded
came up, and halted at the same place. The wounded were lifted out
and laid on the ground, where the surgeons attended to the more
serious cases.

"Pardon, monsieur," Terence said in French, to one of the doctors
who was near him, "are there any of our countrymen among the
wounded?"

"No, sir, they are all French," the doctor replied.

"That is a good sign," Terence said, to an English officer who was
standing by him when he asked the question.

"Why so, Colonel?"

"Because, if Massena intended to attack again tomorrow, he would
have sent the British wounded back, as well as his own men. The
French, like ourselves, make no distinction between friends and
foes; and that he has not sent them seems, to me, to show that he
intends himself to fall back, and to leave the British wounded to
the care of their own surgeons, rather than embarrass himself with
them."

"Yes, I have no doubt that is the case," the officer said. "It
seems, then, that we must have won the day, after all. That is some
comfort, anyhow, and I shall sleep more soundly than I expected. If
we had been beaten, there would have been nothing for it but for
the army to fall back again to the lines of Torres Vedras; and
Wellington would have had to fight very hard to regain them. If
Massena does fall back, Almeida will have to surrender."

"I was inside last time it surrendered," Terence said, "but I
managed to make my way out with my regiment, after the explosion."

"I wonder whether Massena means to leave us at Ciudad, or to send
us on to Salamanca?"

"I should think that he would send us on," Terence replied; "he
will not want to have 300 men eating up the stores at Ciudad,
besides requiring a certain portion of the garrison to look after
them."

Terence's ideas proved correct and, without stopping at Ciudad, the
convoy of prisoners and wounded continued their march until they
arrived at Salamanca. Terence could not help smiling, as he was
marched through the street, and thought of the wild panic that he
and Dicky Ryan had caused, when he was last in that town. The
convent which the Mayo Fusiliers had occupied was now turned into a
prison, and here the prisoners taken at Fuentes d'Onoro were
marched, and joined those who had fallen into the hands of the
French during Massena's retreat. Among these were several officers
of his acquaintance and, as discipline was not very strict, they
were able to make themselves fairly comfortable together.

The French, indeed, along the whole of the Portuguese frontier, had
their hands full; and the force at Salamanca was so small that but
few men could be spared for prison duties and, so long as their
captives showed no signs of giving trouble, their guards were
satisfied to leave them a good deal to their own devices; watching
the gate carefully, but leaving much of the interior work of the
prison to be done by Spanish warders for, violent as the natives
were in their expressions of hatred for the French, they were
always ready to serve under them, in any capacity in which money
could be earned.

"There can be no difficulty, whatever, in making one's escape from
here," Terence said, to a party of four or five officers who were
lodged with him in a room, from whose window a view over the city
was obtainable. "It is not the getting out of this convent that is
difficult, but the making one's way across this country to rejoin.
I have no doubt that one could bribe one of those Spaniards to
bring in a rope and, even if that could not be obtained, we might
manage to make one from our blankets; but the question is, what to
do when we have got out? Massena lies between us and Ciudad and,
from what I hear the French soldiers say, the whole line is guarded
down to Badajoz, where Soult's army is lying. Victor is somewhere
farther to the south, and their convoys and cavalry will be
traversing the whole country. I speak Portuguese well, and know
enough of Spanish to pass as a Spaniard, among Frenchmen, but to
anyone who does not speak either language it would be next to
impossible to get along."

"I quite see that," one of the officers said, "and for my part I
would rather stay where I am, than run the risk of such an attempt.
I don't know a word of Spanish, and should be recaptured before I
had been out an hour. If I got away from the town I should be no
better off, for I could not obtain a disguise. As to making one's
way from here to Almeida, it would be altogether hopeless."

The others agreed, and one of them said:

"But don't let us be any hindrance to you, O'Connor. If you are
disposed to try, by all means do so and, if we can help you in any
way, we will."

"I shall certainly try," Terence said; "but I shall wait a little
to see how things go. It may be by this time Wellington has fallen
back again and, in that case, no doubt Massena will advance. We
heard as we came along that Marmont, with six divisions, is
approaching the frontier and, even if Wellington could maintain
himself on the Aqueda, Soult is likely to crush Beresford, and may
advance from Badajoz towards Lisbon, when the British will be
obliged to retire at once.

"To make one's way across the open country between this and Ciudad
would be easy enough; while it would be dangerous in the extreme to
enter the passes, while the French troops are pressing through them
on Wellington's rear. My Portuguese would, of course, be a
hindrance rather than a benefit to me on this side of the frontier;
for the Spaniards hate the Portuguese very much more heartily than
they do the French. You know that, when they were supplying our
army with grain, the Spanish muleteers would not bring any for the
use of the Portuguese brigades; and it was only by taking it as if
for the British divisions, and distributing it afterwards to the
Portuguese, that the latter could be kept alive. As a British
officer I should feel quite safe, if I fell into the hands of
Spanish guerillas; but as a Portuguese officer my life would not be
worth an hour's purchase."

Two days later came the news that a desperate battle had been
fought by Beresford at Albuera, near Badajoz. He had been attacked
by Soult but, after tremendous fighting, in which the French first
obtained great advantages, they had been at last beaten off by the
British troops; and it ended a drawn battle, the losses on both
sides being extraordinarily heavy. It was not until some time
afterwards that Terence learned the particulars of this desperate
engagement. Beresford had 30,000 infantry, 2000 cavalry, and 38
guns; but the British infantry did not exceed 7000. Soult had 4000
veteran cavalry, 19,000 infantry, and 40 guns.

The battle began badly. Blake with his Spaniards were soon disposed
of by the French and, in half an hour, the battle was all but lost;
a brigade of the British infantry being involved in the confusion
caused by the Spanish retreat, and two-thirds of its number being
destroyed. The whole brunt of the battle now fell upon the small
British force remaining. French columns pushed up the hill held by
them. The cannon on both sides swept the ground with grape. The
heavy French columns suffered terribly from the fire from the
English lines; but they pressed forward, gained the crest of the
rise and, confident of victory, were still advancing; when Cole and
Houghton's brigades came up and restored the battle, and the
British line, charging through a storm of grape and musketry, fell
upon the French columns and drove them down the hill again, in
confusion.

The Portuguese battalions had fought well, as had the German
regiment; but it was upon the British that the whole brunt of the
fight had fallen. In the four hours that the combat lasted, 7000 of
the allies and over 8000 of the French had been killed or wounded.
Of the 6000 British infantry, only 1800 remained standing when the
battle was over, 4200 being killed or wounded; 600 Germans and
Portuguese were placed hors de combat; while of the Spaniards, who
formed the great mass of the army, 2000 were killed or wounded by
the French artillery and musketry, or cut down while in disorder by
the French cavalry.

Never was the indomitable valour of British infantry more markedly
shown than at the battle of Albuera. The battle had been brought
on, in no small degree, by their anxiety for action. The regiments
had been disappointed that, while their comrades were sharing in
Wellington's pursuit of Massena, they were far away from the scene
of conflict; and when Beresford would have fallen back, as it would
have been prudent to do, they became so insubordinate that he gave
way to their desire to meet the French; and so fought a battle
where defeat would have upset all Wellington's plans for the
campaign, and victory would have brought no advantages with it.
Like Inkerman, it was a soldiers' battle. Beresford's dispositions
were faulty in the extreme and, tactically, the day was lost before
the fighting began.

The Spanish portion of the army did no real fighting and, in their
confusion, involved the loss of nearly the whole of a British
brigade; and it was only by the unconquerable valour of the
remainder of the British force that victory was gained, against
enormous odds, and that against some of the best troops of France.

Terence was in the habit of often going down and chatting with the
French guard at the gate. Their duties were tedious, and they were
glad of a talk with this young British officer, who was the only
prisoner in their keeping who spoke their language fluently; and
from them he obtained what news they had of what was going on. A
fortnight later, he gathered that the British force on the Aqueda
had been greatly weakened, that there was no intention of laying
siege to Ciudad, and it was believed that Wellington's main body
had marched south to join Beresford.

This was, indeed, the only operation left open to the British
general. Regnier's division of Marmont's army had joined Massena,
and it would be impossible to besiege Ciudad while a force, greatly
superior to his own, was within easy striking distance. On the
other hand, Beresford was in no position to fight another battle
and, as long as Badajoz remained in the hands of the French, they
could at any time advance into Portugal; and its possession was
therefore of paramount importance.

Marmont had succeeded Massena in command, the latter marshal having
been recalled to France; and the great bulk of the French army was
now concentrated round Salamanca, from which it could either march
against the British force at Ciudad; or unite with Soult and, in
overwhelming strength, either move against Cadiz or advance into
Portugal. Wellington therefore left Spencer to guard the line of
the Coa, and make demonstrations against Ciudad; while with the
main body of his army he marched south.

The news decided Terence to attempt to make his escape in that
direction. He did not know whether his own regiment would be with
Spencer, or Wellington; but it was clear that more important events
would be likely to take place near Badajoz than on the Coa. The
French would be unlikely to choose the latter route for an advance
into Portugal. The country had been stripped bare by the two armies
that had marched across it. The roads were extremely bad, and it
would be next to impossible for an army to carry with it sustenance
for the march; still less for maintaining itself after it had
traversed the passes. Moreover Spencer, falling back before them,
would retire to the lines of Torres Vedras; and the invaders would
find themselves, as Massena had done, baffled by that tremendous
line of fortifications, where they might find also Wellington and
his army, who would have shorter roads to follow, established
before they arrived.

Some of the townspeople were allowed to pass in and out of the
convent, to sell fruit and other articles to the British prisoners;
and Terence thought it better to open negotiations with one of
these, rather than one of the warders in French pay. He was not
long in fixing upon one of them as an ally. She was a good-looking
peasant girl, who came regularly with grapes and other fruit. From
the first, Terence had made his purchases from her, and had stood
chatting with her for some time.

"I want to get away from here, Nita," he said, on the day he
received the news of Wellington's march to the south.

"I dare say, senor," she laughed. "I suppose all the other
prisoners want the same."

"No doubt; but you see, they would not have much chance of getting
away, because none of them understand Spanish. I talk it a little,
as you see. So if I got out and had a disguise, I might very well
make my way across the country."

"There are many brigands about," she said, "and it is not safe for
a single man to travel anywhere. What do you want me to do?"

"I want a rope fifty feet long; not a very thick one, but strong
enough to bear my weight. That is the first thing. Then I want a
disguise; but that I could get, if a friend would be in readiness
to give it to me, after I had slid down the rope into the street."

"How could I give you a rope, senor, with all these people about?"

"You could put it into the bottom of your basket, and cover it over
with fruit. You could take your stand near the door, at the foot of
the stairs leading up to my room. Then I could, in the hearing of
the rest, say that it was my fete day; and that I was going to give
the others a treat, so that I would buy all your grapes. After we
had bargained for them, I could hand you the money and say:

"'Give me your basket. I will run upstairs, empty it, and bring it
down to you.'

"As this would save my making five or six journeys upstairs, there
would be nothing suspicious about that."

"I will think it over," the girl said, gravely. "I do not see that
there would be much danger. I will give you an answer tomorrow."

The next day she said, when Terence went up to her, "I will do it,
senor. I have a lover who is a muleteer. I spoke to him last night,
and he will help you. Tomorrow I will give you the rope. In the
afternoon you are to hang something out of your window; not far,
but so that it can be just seen from the street. That red sash of
yours will do very well. Do not let it go more than an inch or two
beyond the window sill, so that it will not attract any attention.

"When the clock strikes ten, Garcia and I will be in the street
below that window. This is a quiet neighbourhood, and no one is
likely to be about. Garcia will have a suit of muleteer's clothes
for you, and you can change at once. I will carry those you have on
to our house, and destroy them. Garcia will take you to his
lodging. He starts at daybreak with his mules, and you can travel
with them."

"Thank you most heartily, Nita. Here are five gold pieces, for the
purchase of the ropes and clothes."

"Oh, they will not cost anything like as much as that!" the girl
said.

"If they don't, you must buy yourself a little keepsake, Nita, in
remembrance of me; but I will send you something better worth
having, by Garcia, when I reach our army, and am able to get money
with which I can pay him for his labour and loss of time."

"I don't want money," the girl said, drawing herself up proudly. "I
am helping you because I like you, and because you have come here
to drive the French away."

"I should not think of offering you money, Nita. I know that it is
out of pure kindness that you are doing it; but you could not
refuse some little trinket to wear, on your wedding day."

"I may never get married," the girl said, with a pout.

"Oh, I know better than that, Nita! A girl with as pretty a face as
yours would never remain single, and I should not be surprised if
you were to tell me that the day is fixed already."

"It is not fixed, and is not likely to be, senor. I have told
Garcia that I will never marry, as long as the French are here. He
may go out with one of the partisan forces. He often talks about
doing so, and might get shot any day by these brigands. When I am
married, I am not going to stay at home by myself, while he is away
among the mountains."

"Ah! Well, the war cannot last for ever. You may have Wellington
here before the year is out. Give me your address, so that when we
come, I may find you out."

"Callao San Salvador, Number 10. It is one of my uncles I am living
with there. My home is in Burda, six miles away. It is a little
village, and there are so many French bands ranging over the
country that, a month ago, my father sent me in here to stay with
my uncle; thinking that I should be safer in the city than in a
little village. He brings fruit in for me to sell, twice a week."

"Very well. If we come here, I shall go to your uncle's and inquire
for you and, if you have left him, I will go out to your village
and find you."

All passed off as arranged, without the slightest hitch. Terence
took the girl's basket and ran upstairs with it, emptied the fruit
out on the table, thrust the rope under his bed, and ran down again
and gave Nita the basket. At ten o'clock at night he slung himself
from the window and after a hearty goodbye to his fellow
prisoners--several of whom, now that it was too late, would gladly
have shared in his adventure.

"I should be very glad if you were going with me, but at the same
time I own that I do not think we should get through. I question,
indeed, if the muleteer would take anyone who did not understand
enough Spanish to pass, if he were questioned by French soldiers;
and if he would do so, it would greatly increase the risk. At the
same time, if one of you would like to take my place, I will
relinquish it to you; and will, after you have gone off with the
muleteer, go in another direction, and take my chance of getting
hold of a disguise, somehow, and of making my way out."

None of the others would hear of this and, after extinguishing the
light, so as to obviate the risk of anyone noticing him getting out
of the window, Terence slipped down to the ground just as the clock
struck ten.

"Good evening, senor!" a voice said, as his feet touched the
ground. "Here is your disguise. Nita is watching a short distance
away, and will give us notice if anyone approaches. You had best
change, at once."

Terence took off his uniform and, with the assistance of the
muleteer, donned the garments that he had brought for him. Then he
rolled the others into a bundle, and the muleteer gave a low
whistle, whereupon Nita came running up.

"Thanks be to the saints that no one has come along!" she said, as
the rope, which Terence had forgotten, fell at their feet; his
companions having, as agreed, untied the upper end.

"That will come in useful," Garcia said, coiling it up on his arm.
"Now, senor, do not let us stand talking. Nita will take the
uniform and burn it."

"I will hide it, if you like," the girl said. "There can be no
reason for their searching our house."

"Thank you, Nita, but it would be better to destroy it, at once. It
may be a long time before I come this way again; besides, the
things have seen their best days, and I have another suit I can put
on, when I join my regiment. Thanks very much for your kindness,
which I shall always remember."

"Goodbye, senor! May the saints protect you!" and without giving
him time to say more, she took the bundle from Garcia's hand and
sped away down the street.

"Now, senor, follow me," he said, and turned to go in the other
direction.

"You had best call me Juan, and begin at once," Terence said. "If
by accident you were to say senor, in the hearing of anyone, there
would be trouble at once."

"I shall be careful, never fear," the man said. "However, there
would only be harm done if there happened to be a Frenchman--or one
of their Spaniards, who are worse--present. As to my own comrades,
it would not matter at all. We muleteers are all heart and soul
against the French, and will do anything to injure them. We are all
obliged to work for them; for all trade is at an end, and we must
live. Many have joined the partisans, but those who have good mules
cannot go away and give up their only means of earning a living;
for although the French pay for carriage by mules or carts, if they
come upon animals that are not being used, they take them without a
single scruple.

"Besides, there are not many partisans in this part of Spain. The
French have been too long in the valley here, and are too strong in
the Castiles for their operations. It is different in Navarre,
Aragon, and Catalonia; and in Valencia and Mercia. There the French
have never had a firm footing, and most of the strong places are
still in Spanish hands. In all the mountainous parts, in fact,
there are guerillas; but here it is too dangerous. There are bands
all over the country, but these are really but robbers, and no
honest man would join them.

"This is the house."

He turned in at a small doorway and unlocked the door, closing it
after them.

"Put your hand on my shoulder, Juan," he said. "I have a light
upstairs."

He led the way in darkness up a stone staircase, then unlocked
another door and entered a small room, where a candle was burning.

"This is my home, when I am here," he said. "Most of us sleep at
the stables where our mules are put up; but I like having a place
to myself, and my mate looks after the mules."

Nothing could have been simpler than the furniture of the room. It
consisted of a low pallet, a small table, and a single chair. In a
corner were a pair of saddlebags and two or three coloured
blankets. A thick coat, lined with sheepskin, hung against the
wall. In a corner was a brightly-coloured picture of a saint, with
two sconces for candles by the side of it. The muleteer had crossed
himself and bowed to it as he came in, and Terence doubted not that
it was the picture of a saint who was supposed to take a special
interest in muleteers.

From a small cupboard, the man brought out a flask of wine and two
drinking cups.

"It is good," he said, as he placed them on the table. "I go down
to Xeres sometimes, and always bring up a half octave of something
special for my friends, here."

After pouring out the two cups, he handed the chair politely to
Terence, and sat himself down on the edge of the pallet. Then,
taking out a tobacco bag and a roll of paper, he made a cigarette
and handed it to Terence, and then rolled one for himself.



Chapter 13: From Salamanca To Cadiz.


"Now, let us talk about our journey," the muleteer said, when he
had taken two or three whiffs at his cigarette. "Nita tells me that
you wish, if possible, to join your army near Badajoz. That suits
me well, for I have orders from a merchant here to fetch him twelve
mule loads of sherry from Xeres; and Badajoz is, therefore, on my
way. The merchant has a permit, signed by Marmont, for me to pass
unmolested by any French troops; saying that the wine is intended
for his use, and that of his staff. If it were not for that, there
would be small chance, indeed, of his ever getting it. There is so
little trade, now, that it is scarce possible to buy a flask of the
white wine of the south, here. Of course, the pass will be equally
useful going down to fetch it for, without it, my mules would be
certain to be impressed for service, by the French.

"So you see, nothing could have happened more fortunately for,
anywhere between the Tagus and Badajoz, we can turn off from
Estremadura into Portugal. It would not be safe to try near
Badajoz, for Soult's army is scattered all over there and, though
the pass would be doubtless respected by superior officers, if we
fell in with foraging parties they would have no hesitation in
shooting me, tearing up the pass, and carrying off my mules. For
your sake as well as my own, therefore, I would turn off and cross
the mountains--say, to Portalegre--and go down to Elvas. There you
would be with your friends; and I could cross again, further south,
and make my way down to Xeres."

"They say that two of Marmont's divisions started south,
yesterday."

"That is unfortunate, for they will leave little behind them in the
way of food and drink; and we shall find it better to travel by
by-roads. I should not mind being impressed, if it were only for
the march down to Badajoz; but once with an army, there is no
saying how long one may be kept."

"If we find any difficulty in crossing into Portugal this side of
Badajoz, I shall not mind going down to Cadiz. I should have no
difficulty, there, in getting a ship to Lisbon."

"Well, we shall see," the muleteer said. "We will go the short way,
if we can. I hate the Portuguese, and they are no fonder of us; but
with you with me, of course, I should not be afraid of interference
from them."

"But the Portuguese are fighting on our side, and aiding us to help
you."

"Yes, because they think it is better that the war should be
carried on here than in their own country. Besides, from what I
hear, it is with no goodwill that they fight under your British
general; but only because he tells them that, unless they furnish
so many troops, he will have nothing more to do with them, but will
sail away with his army to England."

"That may be true, Garcia; but you know that when we were here--for
I was with the British army that marched through Salamanca--the
Spanish authorities were no more willing to assist than were the
Portuguese; and not a single soldier--with the exception of two or
three thousand half-armed men under Romana--joined, from the day we
crossed the frontier to that on which we embarked to Corunna."

"The authorities are all bad," Garcia said scornfully. "They only
think of feathering their own nests, and of quarrelling among
themselves. The people are patriots, but what can they do when the
Juntas keep the arms the English have sent us in their magazines,
and divide the money among themselves? Then our generals know
nothing of their business, and have their own ambitions and
rivalries. We are all ready to fight; and when the drum is beaten
and we are called out, we go willingly enough. But what do we do
when we go out? We are marched backwards and forwards without
motive; the officers are no good; and when at last we do see the
French we are always beaten, and the generals and the officers are
the first to run away.

"We ought in the first place to rise, not against the French, but
against the Juntas, and the councillors, and the hidalgos. Then,
when we have done with them, we ought to choose officers from among
ourselves, men that have done good service as leaders of partisans.
Then we could meet the French. We are brave enough, when we are
well led. See how the people fought at Saragossa, and since then at
Gerona, and many other places. We are not afraid of being killed,
but we have no confidence in our chiefs."

"I have no doubt that is so, Garcia; and that, if the regiments
were trained by British officers, as some of the Portuguese now
are, you would fight well. Unfortunately, as you say, your generals
and officers are chosen, not for their merits, but from their
influence with the Juntas, whose object is to have the army filled
with men who will be subservient to their orders.

"Then there is another thing against you: that is, the jealousy of
the various provinces. There is no common effort. When Valencia is
invaded, for example, the Valencians fight; but they have no idea
of going out from their homes to assist Castile or Catalonia and
so, one after another, the provinces are conquered by the French."

"That is so," Garcia said thoughtfully. "If they were to rise here
I would fight, and take my chance of being killed; but I should not
care to risk my life in defence of Valencia, with which I have
nothing whatever to do. I don't see how you are to get over that,
so long as we are divided into provinces."

"Nor do I, Garcia. In times of peace these various governments may
work well enough; but nothing could be worse than the system, when
a country is invaded.

"What time do you start, tomorrow?"

"As soon as the gates are open. That will be at five o'clock. It is
eleven now, so we had better get some sleep. In the morning I must
see that your dress is all right. Nita has given me a bottle of
walnut juice, to stain your face and hands.

"Do you lie down on the bed, senor. I will wrap myself up in this
cloak. I am more accustomed to sleep on that than on the bed."

Terence removed his outer garments and, in a few minutes, was sound
asleep. At four o'clock Garcia roused him. The morning was breaking
and, with the assistance of the muleteer, he made his toilet and
stained his face, neck, and hands, and darkened his hair. Then they
each ate a piece of bread with a bunch of grapes, took a drink of
red wine, and then sallied out; Garcia carrying his sheepskin
cloak, and Terence the three coloured blankets. A quarter of a mile
farther, they came to an inn frequented by muleteers.

"I have told my mate about you," Garcia said, "so you need not be
afraid of him; nor indeed of any of us. There is not a muleteer who
would not do what he could to aid the escape of a British officer."

Most of the mules were already saddled, and Garcia went up with
Terence to a man who was buckling a strap.

"Sanchez," he said, "this is our new comrade, Juan, who I told you
would accompany us this journey."

The man nodded.

"It will be all the better," he said. "Twelve mules are rather too
much for two men to manage, when we get among the mountains."

Garcia and Terence at once set to work to assist, and in ten
minutes the cavalcade started. Garcia rode the leading mule, three
others being tied in single file behind it. Terence came next, and
Sanchez brought up the rear. The animals were fine ones, and Garcia
was evidently proud of them; showing their good points to Terence,
and telling him their names. The mules were all very fond of their
master, turning their heads at once when addressed by name; and
flapping their long ears in enjoyment, as he rubbed their heads or
patted their necks.

The town was already astir and, as they reached the gates, country
carts were pouring in, laden with fruits and vegetables for the
market. Garcia stopped for a moment, as an old man came along with
a cart.

"How are you, father?"

"How are you, Garcia? Off again?"

"Yes; I am going to Xeres for wine, for the French general."

"I see that you have got a new comrade."

"Yes; the journey is a long one, and I thought that it was as well
to have another mate."

"Yes, it is dangerous travelling," the old man said. "Well,
goodbye, and good fortune to you!"

Garcia put his mules in motion again, and they passed through the
gate and soon left Salamanca behind. There was little conversation
on the way. The two Spaniards made and smoked cigarettes
continually; and Terence endeavoured to imitate them, by addressing
the endearing words they used to their animals, having learned the
names of the four of which he was in charge. At first they did not
respond to this strange voice but, as they became accustomed to it,
each answered, when its name was called, by quickening its pace and
by a sharp whisk of the tail, that showed it understood that it was
addressed.

Terence knew that his escape would not be discovered until eight
o'clock, when the doors were opened and the prisoners assembled in
the yard for the roll call. Should any pursuit be organized, which
was unlikely, it would be in the direction of Ciudad; as it might
be supposed that an escaped prisoner would naturally make for the
nearest spot where he could join his friends. One prisoner more or
less would, however, make but little difference; and the
authorities would probably content themselves with sending a
message by a trooper, to all the towns and villages on that road,
to arrest any suspicious persons travelling without proper papers.

On the line they were pursuing, the risk of interference was very
small. The marshal's pass would be certainly respected by the
officers of the corps under his command; and it was not until they
fell in with parties of Soult's troops that any unpleasantness was
to be apprehended; though even here the worst that could be looked
for, if they met any large body of troops, would be that the mules
might be taken, for a time, for service in the army.

After a long day's journey they halted, for the night, at a
village. Here they found that the troops marching south had
encamped close at hand for the night, and the resources of the
place had been completely exhausted. This mattered but little, as
they carried a week's store of bread, black sausage, cheese,
onions, garlic, and capsicums. The landlord of the little inn
furnished them with a cooking pot; and a sort of stew, which
Terence found by no means unpalatable, was concocted. The mules
were hobbled and turned out on to the plain to graze; for the whole
of the forage of the village had been requisitioned, for the use of
the cavalry and baggage animals of the French column.

On the following morning they struck off from the road they had
been following and, travelling for sixteen hours, came down on it
again at the foot of the pass of Bejar; and learned from some
peasants that they had got ahead of the French column, which was
encamped two or three miles down the road. Before daybreak they
were on their way again, and reached Banos in the afternoon. There
were but few inhabitants remaining here; for the requisitions for
food and forage, made by the troops that had so frequently passed
through the defiles, were such that the position of the inhabitants
had become intolerable and, when they learned from Garcia that two
divisions of French troops would most probably arrive that evening,
and that Marmont's whole army would follow, most of the inhabitants
who remained hastily packed their most valuable belongings in
carts, and drove away into the hills.

The landlord of the largest inn, however, stood his ground. He was
doing well; and the principal officers of troops passing through
always took up their quarters with him, paid him fairly for their
meals and saw that, whatever exactions were placed upon the town,
he was exempted from them. Therefore the muleteers were able to
obtain a comfortable meal and, after resting their animals for
three hours, and giving them a good feed of corn, went on a few
miles farther; and then, turning off, encamped among the hills.
They were about to wrap themselves in their cloaks and blankets,
and to lie down for the night, when a number of armed men suddenly
appeared.

"Who are you, and whither are you going?" one, who appeared to be
their leader, asked.

"We are bound for Xeres," Garcia replied, rising to his feet. "We
are commissioned by Senor Moldeno, the well-known wine merchant of
Salamanca, to procure for him--as much good Xeres wine as our mules
will carry."

"It is a pity that we did not meet you on the way back, instead of
on your journey there. We should appreciate the wine quite as
thoroughly as his customers would do. But how do you propose to
bring your wine back, when the whole country south swarms with
Soult's cavalry?"

"Don Moldeno obtained a pass for us from Marmont; who, I suppose,
is one of his customers."

"We could not think of allowing wine to pass for the use of a
French marshal," the man said.

"It is not likely that he will drink it for some time," Garcia
said, carelessly; "for he is marching in this direction himself.
Two of his divisions have probably, by this time, reached Banos;
and we heard at Salamanca that he himself, with the rest of them,
will follow in a day or two."

"That is bad news," the man said. "There will be no travellers
along here, while the army is on its march. Are your mules carrying
nothing now?"

"Nothing at all. The mules would have been requisitioned two days
ago, as were most of the others in Salamanca; but Marmont's pass
saved us."

"Are you carrying the money to buy the wine with?"

"No, Don Moldeno knew better than that. I have only a letter from
him to the house of Simon Peron, at Xeres. He told me that that
would be sufficient, and they would furnish me with the wine, at
once, on my handing the letter to them."

"Well, comrades," the man said, to the others gathered round, "it
is evident that we shall get no booty tonight; and may as well be
off to our own fires, where supper is waiting for us; and move away
from here at daybreak. The French may have parties of horse all
over the hills, tomorrow, searching for provisions, cattle, and
sheep."

"That was a narrow escape," Garcia said, as the brigands moved off.
"I wonder they did not take our mules; but I suppose they had as
many as they want--three or four would be sufficient to carry their
food, and anything they may have stolen--more than that would only
be a hindrance to them in moving about, especially now they know
that the French may be in the neighbourhood in a few hours, if they
have not arrived already.

"Well, senor, what is the next thing to be done?"

Terence did not answer for some little time.

"It is not easy to say," he replied at length. "Seeing that Marmont
and Soult are practically united, there can be no doubt that our
troops will have to fall back again to Portugal. The whole country
is covered with French cavalry and, in addition, we have to run
risks from these brigands; who may not always prove so easy to deal
with as the men who have just left us. What do you think yourself?
You know the country, and can judge far better than I can as to our
chance of getting through."

"I don't think it will be possible, senor, to carry out the plan of
trying to cross into Portugal, in this direction. It seems to me,
now that Soult is engaged, and there can be no large bodies of
French near Seville, our best plan would be to make for that town;
whence, so far as we know, the country is clear of the enemy down
to Cadiz; and when we reach that port, you can take ship to
Lisbon."

"But in that case I shall not be able to get the money to pay you,
for I shall not be known; and although I could doubtless get a
passage, I do not think that I could obtain any funds."

"Do not speak of it, senor. The British will be in Salamanca one of
these days, and then you will be able to pay me; or, if I should
not be there at the time, you can leave the money for me with Nita,
or her father. It was for her sake that I undertook the business;
and I have no doubt, whatever, that you will discharge the debt
when you enter Salamanca."

"That I certainly will, and to make it more certain I will ask one
of the officers of my old regiment to undertake to find her out,
and to pay the money; in case I may be with my own men, in some
other part of the country."

"That will be quite enough, senor. Do not trouble yourself further
on the matter. We will start for Seville at daybreak."

Travelling rapidly, the little party kept along the range of the
sierras; and then proceeded by the valley of the Tagus and crossed
the river at Talavera; and then, keeping nearly due south, struck
the Guadiana at Ciudad Real and, crossing La Mancha, gained the
Sierra Morena; held west for some distance along the southern
slopes; and then turned south and struck the Guadalquivir between
Cordova and Seville, and arrived safely at the latter town. They
had been obliged to make a great number of detours, to avoid bodies
of the enemy; but the muleteer had no difficulty in obtaining
information, from the peasants, as to the whereabouts of the French
and, after reaching the plains, always travelled at night. They
fell in twice with large parties of guerillas; but these were not
brigands for, as the country was still unconquered, and the French
only held the ground they occupied, the bands had not degenerated
into brigandage; but were in communication with the local
authorities, and acted in conformity with their instructions, in
concert with the Spanish troops.

It was, however, nearly a month from the date of their leaving
Salamanca before they arrived at Cadiz. Terence had, during the
journey, greatly improved his knowledge of Spanish by his
conversation with the muleteers and, as the language was so similar
to the Portuguese, he soon acquired facility in speaking it. They
put up at a small fonda, or inn, frequented by muleteers; and
Terence at once made his way to the house where he heard that the
British agent resided. The latter, on hearing his story, was
surprised, indeed, that he should have made his way through Spain
from a point so far away as Salamanca; and occupied, for the
greater portion of the distance, by the French.

"A sloop-of-war is sailing tomorrow for the Tagus," he said, "and I
will give you a letter to her captain; who will, of course, give
you a passage."

Terence informed him of the great services the muleteer had
rendered him, and asked him if he could advance him sufficient
money to repay the man.

"I certainly have no funds at my disposal for such a purpose,
Captain O'Connor,"--for Terence had said nothing about his
Portuguese rank, finding that its announcement always caused a
certain amount of doubt--"but I will strain a point, and grant you
thirty pounds, on your bill upon your agent at Lisbon. I have no
doubt that it will be met on presentation. But should, for example,
your vessel be wrecked or captured, which I am by no means
contemplating as likely, the amount must go down among subsidies to
Spaniards who have rendered good service."

"Thank you, sir. That will be sufficient, not to reward the man for
the risk he has run and the fidelity that he has shown, but it will
at least pay him for the service of his mules. I do not suppose
that he would earn more, and it will be a satisfaction, to me, to
know that he is at least not out of pocket."

The agent at once handed him a bag of silver, together with a
letter to the officer in command of the Daphne. He hired a boat and
was rowed off to the ship; which was lying, with several other
small British warships, in the port. When he ascended the side the
officer on duty asked him somewhat roughly, in bad Spanish, what he
wanted.

"I have a letter for Captain Fry," he replied in English, to the
surprise of the lieutenant. "I am a British officer, who was taken
prisoner at the battle of Fuentes d'Onoro."

"You must not blame me for having taken you for a Spaniard," the
lieutenant said in surprise, as he handed the letter Terence held
out to the midshipman, with a request to deliver it to the captain.
"Your disguise is certainly excellent and, if you speak Spanish as
well as you look the part, I can quite understand your getting
safely through the country."

"Unfortunately, I do not. I speak it quite well enough for ordinary
purposes, but not well enough to pass as a native. I travelled with
a muleteer, who did all the talking that was necessary. I have been
a month on the journey, which has greatly improved my Spanish. I
knew little of it when I started, but I should not have got on so
quickly had I not been thoroughly up in Portuguese; which, of
course, helped me immensely."

The midshipman now came up and requested Terence to follow him to
the captain's cabin. The captain smiled as he entered.

"It is well that Mr. Bromhead vouched for you, Captain O'Connor;
for I certainly should have had difficulty in bringing myself to
believe that you were a British officer. I shall, of course, be
very glad to give you a passage; and to hear the story of your
adventures, which ought to be very interesting."

"I have had very few adventures," Terence replied. "The muleteer
knew the country perfectly; and had no difficulty in obtaining,
from the peasants, news of the movements of the French. When I
started I had no idea of making such a long journey; but had
intended to join Lord Beresford in front of Badajos, if I could not
manage to cross the frontier higher up; but Marmont's march south
rendered that impossible, and I thought that the safer plan would
be to keep well away from the frontier; as of course things are
much more settled in the interior, and two or three muleteers with
their animals would excite little attention, even if we passed
through a town with a large French garrison; except that the mules
might have been impressed and, as I had no means of recompensing my
guide in that case, I was anxious to avoid all risk.

"When do you sail, sir?"

"At eight o'clock tomorrow. You cannot very well go in that
attire," the captain said, smiling. "I shall be glad to advance any
sum that you may require to procure clothes. You can, no doubt, pay
me on your arrival at Lisbon."

Terence gladly accepted a loan of ten pounds and, with it, returned
to shore. On reaching the little inn, he at once handed thirty
pounds to Garcia. The man, however, absolutely refused to accept
it.

"No, senor; since you have got money, I will take fifty dollars to
pay for food and forage on my way back; although really you have
cost me nothing, for I had to make the journey on business. But
even did you owe me the money, I would not take it now. I may not
be so lucky on my way back as we have been in coming, and might be
seized by brigands; therefore I would, in any case, rather that you
left the matter until you come to Salamanca."

"But that may not be for a long time. It is quite as likely that we
may be obliged to quit Portugal, and embark for England, as that we
shall ever get to Salamanca."

"Who knows, senor! Luck may turn. However, I would rather that it
were so. I have had the pleasure of your having made the journey
with me, and I shall have pleased Nita. If you come, well and good.
If not, it cannot be helped, and I shall not grieve over it. If I
had money with me I might lose it, and it might cost me my life."

Terence had again gone out, and purchased a suit of clothes
befitting a Spanish gentleman. He took the muleteer with him. They
had no longer any reason for concealing their identity and, should
he find it necessary to announce himself to be a British officer,
it might be useful to have corroboration of his story. He also laid
in a fresh stock of linen, of which he was greatly in need and,
next morning, after a hearty farewell to Garcia, he went down to
the port in his new attire and, carrying a small valise containing
his purchases, took a boat to the ship.

The evening before he had called in at the agent's, to thank him
again, when the latter told him that he had some urgent despatches
from the junta of Cadiz to that of Seville; and some despatches of
his own to persons at Cordova, and others in Madrid, who were in
communication with the British government; and he offered a sum,
for their safe delivery, that would recompense the muleteer for the
whole of his journey. This Garcia had gladly acceded to, on
condition that he might stop for a day, to get the wine at Xeres.

The voyage to Lisbon lasted three days, and was a very pleasant one
to Terence. On his arrival there he at once repaid the captain the
loan he had received from him, having over thirty pounds still in
hand. He next saw the agent, and requested him to pay the bill when
presented and, after waiting three days to obtain a fresh uniform,
started up the country and rejoined Wellington, who had been
compelled to fall back again behind the Coa. He reported himself to
the adjutant general.

"You have just arrived in time, Captain O'Connor," the latter said,
"for your regiment is under orders to start, tomorrow, to join the
force of the guerilla Moras who, with two thousand men, is in the
mountains on our frontier near Miranda; and intends to threaten
Zamora, and so compel Marmont to draw off some of his troops facing
us here. Your regiment is at present on the Douro, fifteen miles
away. How have you come here?"

"I travelled by a country conveyance, sir. I am at present without
a horse, but no doubt I can pick one up, when I have obtained funds
from the paymaster."

"I will give you an order on him for fifty pounds," the adjutant
said. "Of course, there is a great deal more owing to you; but it
will save trouble to give you an order for that sum, on account. I
don't suppose you will want more. I will have inquiries made about
a horse. If you return here in an hour, I daresay I shall hear of
one for sale.

"Your regiment has not done much fighting since you left it, but they
behaved well at Banos, where we had a very sharp fight. They came up
just at the critical moment, and they materially assisted us in beating
off the attack of the French; who were in greatly superior force, and
nearly succeeded in capturing, or exterminating, the light division."

On his return, Terence found that one of the officers on the
adjutant general's staff knew of a horse that had been captured, by
a trooper, in a skirmish with French dragoons three days before. It
was a serviceable animal and, as the soldier was glad to take ten
pounds for it, Terence at once purchased it. The adjutant told him
that, on mentioning his return, Lord Wellington had requested him
to dine with him; and to come half an hour before the usual time,
as he wished to question him with reference to the state of the
country he had passed through, and of the strength and probable
movements of the French troops in those districts.

"I am glad to see you back again, Colonel O'Connor," the general
said, when he entered. "Of course, I heard how you had been captured,
and have regretted your absence. Colonel Herrara is a good officer
in many ways, and the regiment has maintained its state of efficiency;
but he does not possess your energy and enterprise, nor the readiness
to assume responsibilities and to act solely upon his own initiative--a
most valuable quality," he said, with one of his rare smiles, "when
combined with sound judgment, for an officer commanding a partisan
corps like your own; but which, if general, would in a very short time
put an end to all military combinations, and render the office of a
commander-in-chief a sinecure.

"Now, sir, will you be good enough to point out, on this map,
exactly the line you followed in travelling from Salamanca to
Cadiz: and give me any information you gained concerning the roads,
the disposition of the people, and the position and movements of
the French troops."

Terence had anticipated that such information would be required of
him; and had, every evening when they halted, jotted down every
fact that he thought could be useful and, on the voyage to Lisbon,
had written from them a full report, both of the matters which the
general now inquired about, and of the amount of supplies which
could probably be obtained in each locality, the number of houses
and accommodation available for troops, the state and strength of
the passes, and the information that Garcia had obtained for him of
mountain tracks by which these passes could be turned, by infantry
and cavalry in single file.

"I have brought my report, sir," he said, producing it. "I
endeavoured to make the most of my opportunities, to gain all the
information possible that might be useful to myself, or the
commander of any column moving across the same country. I fear that
it is far from being perfect but, as I wrote it from my notes, made
at the end of each day, I think it will answer its purpose, as far
as it goes."

Attached to each day's journey was a rough sketch map showing the
crossroads, rivers, bridges, and other particulars. The general
took the bulky report, sat down and read a page here and there, and
glanced at the maps. He looked up approvingly.

"Very good, indeed, Colonel O'Connor. If all officers would take
advantage of their opportunities, as you have done, the drudgery my
staff have to do would be very much lightened, and they would not
be constantly working in the dark."

He handed the report to the adjutant general.

"This may be of great utility when an advance begins," he said.
"You had better have two or three copies of it made. It will be
useful to the quartermaster's department, as well as to yourself;
and of great assistance to the officers in command of any detached
parties that may be despatched to gather in supplies, or to keep in
check an enemy advancing on our flank. Some day, when I can find
time, I will read the whole report myself.

"It will be well to have a dozen copies made of the first five or
six pages, and the maps, for the perusal of any officer sent out
with a detachment on scouting duty, as a model of the sort of
report that an officer should send in of his work, when on such
duty."

The party at dinner was a small one, consisting only of some five
or six officers of the headquarter staff, and two generals of
divisions. After dinner, Lord Wellington asked Terence how he
escaped from Salamanca, and the latter briefly related the
particulars of his evasion.

"This is the second time you have escaped from a French prison,"
Lord Wellington said, when he had finished. "The last time, if I
remember rightly, you escaped from Bayonne in a boat."

"But you did not get to England in that boat, surely, Colonel
O'Connor?" one of the generals laughed.

"No, sir; we were driven off shore by a gale, and picked up by a
French privateer. We escaped from her as she was lying in port at
Brest, made our way to the mouth of the river Sienne, about nine
miles north of Granville; and then, stealing another boat, started
for Jersey. We were chased by a French privateer but, before she
came up to us, a Jersey privateer arrived and engaged her. While
the fight was going on we got on board the Jersey boat, which
finally captured the Frenchman, and took her into port."

"And from there, I suppose, you found your way to England, and
enjoyed a short rest from your labours?"

"No, sir. The captain of the privateer, who thought that we had
rendered him valuable assistance in the fight, sailed out with us
on to the ship track, and put us on board a transport bound for
Lisbon."

"Well, you are more heart and soul in it than I am," the general
laughed. "I should not have been able to deny myself a short run in
England."

"I was anxious to get back to my regiment, sir, as I was afraid
that, if I did not return before the next campaign opened, some
other officer might be appointed to its command."

"You need not trouble yourself on that score, in future, Colonel
O'Connor," Lord Wellington said. "If you have the bad luck to be
captured again, I shall know that your absence will be temporary
and, if it became necessary to appoint anyone else to your command,
it would only be until your return."

On leaving the commander-in-chief's quarters, the adjutant general
asked Terence when he thought of rejoining his regiment.

"I am going to start at once, sir. I ordered my horse to be saddled
and in readiness, at ten o'clock."

"You must not think of doing so," the adjutant said. "The road is
very bad, and not at all fit to be traversed on a dark night like
this. Besides, you would really gain nothing by it. If you leave at
daybreak, you will overtake your regiment before it has marched
many miles."



Chapter 14: Effecting A Diversion.


At twelve o'clock the next day Terence rode up to his regiment,
just as it had halted for two hours' rest. As soon as he was
recognized the men leapt to their feet, cheering vociferously, and
gathered round him; while, a minute or two later, Herrara, Ryan and
the two majors ran up to greet him.

[Illustration: The men leapt to their feet, cheering vociferously.]

"I have been expecting you for the last month," Ryan exclaimed,
"though how you were to get through the French lines was more than
I could imagine. Still, I made sure you would do it, somehow."

"You gave me credit for more sharpness than I possess, Dick. I felt
sure it could not be done, and so I had to go right down to Cadiz,
and back to Lisbon by ship. It was a very much easier affair than
ours was, and I met with no adventures and no difficulties on the
way.

"Well, Herrara, I heard at headquarters that the regiment is going
on well, and they fought stoutly at Banos. Your loss was not heavy,
I hope?"

"We had fifty-three killed, and a hundred more or less seriously
wounded. More than half of them have rejoined. The vacancies have
been filled up, and the two battalions are both at their full
strength.

"Two of the captains, Fernandez and Panza, were killed. I have
appointed two of the sergeants temporarily, pending your
confirmation, on your return."

"It is well that it is no worse. They were both good men, and will
be a loss to us. Whom have you appointed in their places?"

"Gomes and Mendoza, the two sergeant majors. They are both men of
good family, and thoroughly know their duty. Of course I filled
their places, for the time, with two of the colour sergeants."

"I suppose you have ridden from headquarters, Terence," Ryan put
in, "and must be as hungry as a hunter. We were just going to sit
down to a couple of chickens and a ham, so come along."

While they were taking their meal, Terence gave them an account of
the manner in which he had escaped from Salamanca.

"So you were in our old quarters, Terence! Well, you certainly have
a marvellous knack of getting out of scrapes. When we saw your
horse carrying you into the middle of the French cavalry, I thought
for a moment that the Minho regiment had lost its colonel; but it
was not for long, and soon I was sure that, somehow or other, you
would give them the slip again. Of course I have been thinking of
you as a prisoner at Ciudad, and I was afraid that they would keep
a sharper watch over you, there, than they did at Bayonne. Still, I
felt sure that you would manage it somehow, even without the help
we had.

"What are your orders?"

"I have none, save that we are to march to Miranda, where we shall
find a guerilla force under Moras; and we are to operate with him,
and do all we can to attract the attention of the French. That is
all I know, for I have not had time to look at the written
instructions I received from the adjutant general when I said
goodbye to him, last night; but I don't think there are any precise
orders.

"What were yours, Herrara?"

"They are that I was to consult with Moras; to operate carefully,
and not to be drawn into any combat with superior or nearly equal
French forces; which I took to mean equal to the strength of the
regiment, for the guerillas are not to be depended upon, to the
smallest extent, in anything like a pitched combat."

"There is no doubt about that," Terence agreed. "For cutting off
small parties, harassing convoys, or anything of that sort, they
are excellent; but for down-right hard fighting, the guerillas are
not worth their salt. The great advantage of them is that they
render it necessary for the French to send very strong guards with
their baggage and convoys; and occasionally, when they are
particularly bold and numerous, to despatch columns in pursuit of
them. If it were not for these bands, they would be able to
concentrate all their troops, and would soon capture Andalusia and
Valencia, and then turn their attention to other work. As it is,
they have to keep the roads clear, to leave strong garrisons
everywhere, and to keep a sufficient force in each province to make
head against the guerillas; for if they did not do so, all their
friends would be speedily killed, and the peasantry be constantly
incited to rise."

"Do you know anything of this Moras?"

"He is said to be a good leader," Herrara replied, "and to have
gathered under him a number of other bands. He has the reputation
of being less savage and cruel than the greater part of these
partisan leaders; and though, no doubt, he kills prisoners--for in
that he could hardly restrain his men--he does not permit the
barbarous cruelties that are a disgrace to the Spanish people. In
fact, I believe his orders are that no prisoners are to be taken."

"I will look at my instructions," Terence said, drawing out the
paper he had received the night before.

"Yes," he said, when he had read them; "my instructions are a good
deal like yours, but they leave my hands somewhat more free. I am
to consult with Moras, to operate with him when I think it
advisable, and in all respects to act entirely upon my own judgment
and discretion; the main object being to compel the French to
detach as many men as possible from this neighbourhood, in order to
oppose me; and I am to take every advantage the nature of the
country may afford to inflict heavy blows upon them."

"That is all right," Ryan said cheerfully. "I had quite made up my
mind that we should always be dependent upon Moras; and be kept
inactive, owing to his refusal to carry out anything Herrara might
propose; but as you can act independently of him, we are sure to
have plenty of fun."

"We will make it as hot for them as we can, Dick; and if we cannot
do more, we can certainly oblige the French to keep something like
a division idle, to hold us in check. With the two battalions, and
Moras's irregulars, we ought to be able to harass them amazingly;
and to hold any of these mountain passes against a considerable
force."

After two hours' halt the march was renewed and, two days later,
the regiment arrived at Miranda. The frontier ran close to this
town, the Douro separating the two countries. They learned that
Moras was lying four miles farther to the north, and across the
frontier line; doubtless preferring to remain in Spain, in order to
prevent a quarrel between his followers and the Portuguese.

The next morning Terence, accompanied by Ryan and four mounted
orderlies, rode into the glen where he and his followers were
lying. They had erected a great number of small arbours of boughs
and bushes and, as Terence rode up to one of these, which was
larger and better finished than the rest, Moras himself came to the
entrance to meet them.

He did not at all correspond with Terence's ideas of a guerilla
chief. He was a young man, of three or four and twenty; of slim
figure and with a handsome, thoughtful face. He had been a student
of divinity at Salamanca, but had killed a French officer in a
duel, brought on by the insolence of the latter; and had been
compelled to fly. A few men had gathered round him, and he had at
once raised his standard as a guerilla chief.

At first his operations had been on a very small scale; but the
success that had attended these enterprises, and the reports of his
reckless bravery, had speedily swelled the number of his followers;
and although as a rule he kept only a hundred with him, he could at
any time, by sending round a summons, collect five times that
number, in a few hours.

When Terence introduced himself as the colonel of the two
battalions that had arrived, at Miranda, to operate in conjunction
with him, Moras held out his hand frankly.

"I am very glad indeed to meet you, Colonel O'Connor," he said. "I
received a despatch four days ago from your general, saying that
the Minho regiment would shortly arrive at Miranda, to act in
concert with me. I was glad indeed when I heard of this, for the
name of the regiment is well known, on this side of the frontier as
well as on the other, having been engaged in many gallant actions;
and your name is equally well known, in connection with it; but I
hardly expected to meet you, for the despatch said the Minho
regiment under Lieutenant Colonel Herrara."

"Yes. I only rejoined it two days ago, having been taken prisoner
at Fuentes d'Onoro, and having made my escape from Salamanca."

"Your aid will be invaluable, senor. My own men are brave enough,
but they are irregulars in the full sense of the word;" and he
smiled. "And although they can be relied upon for a sudden attack,
or for the defence of a pass, they could not stand against a French
force of a quarter of their strength, in the plain. We want a
backbone, and no better one could be found than your regiment.

"I am the more glad that you are in command, because you know,
unhappily, we and the Portuguese do not get on well together and,
while my men would hesitate to obey a Portuguese commander, and
would have no confidence in him, they would gladly accept your
leadership."

"I hope that there will be no difficulties on the ground of race,"
Terence said. "We are fighting in a common cause, against a common
enemy; and dissensions between ourselves are as absurd as they are
dangerous.

"Let me introduce Captain Ryan, adjutant of the regiment."

Moras shook hands with Ryan; who had been looking on, with some
surprise, at the colloquy between him and Terence. Moras then asked
them into his arbour.

"I have little to offer you," he said, with a smile, "save black
bread and wine. The latter, however, is good. I obtained a large
supply of it from a convoy we captured, a few days since."

The wine was indeed excellent and, accustomed as they were to the
coarse bread of the country, Terence and Ryan were able to eat it
with satisfaction.

"Now, Colonel," Moras said, "beyond the fact that we are to act in
concert, I know nothing of the plans. Please to remember that,
while it is said that we are to discuss our plans of operations
together, I place myself unreservedly under your orders. Of
irregular warfare I have learned something; but of military
science, and anything like extensive operations, I am as ignorant
as a child; while you have shown your capacity for command. I may
be of advantage to you, from my knowledge of the country; and
indeed, there is not a village track that someone or other of my
followers is not well acquainted with."

"That, of course, will be of great advantage to us," Terence
replied courteously, "and I thank you much for what you have said;
but I am sure, from what I have heard, you underrate your
abilities. Beyond regimental drill, I knew very little of warfare
until I, quite by an accident, came to assume the command of my
regiment; and it was only because I drilled and disciplined it
thoroughly that I had the good fortune to obtain some successes
with it. Your acquaintance with the country will be fully a set off
to any superior knowledge that I may have of military matters, and
I have no doubt that we shall get on well together.

"The instructions that I have received are to the effect that we
are to make incursions and attacks in various directions;
concealing, as far as possible, our strength; and so to oblige the
French to detach a considerable number of troops to hold us in
check. This would relieve the pressure upon Lord Wellington's army,
and would deter the enemy from making any offensive movement into
Portugal; until our general has received the reinforcements
expected shortly, and is in a position to take the offensive."

"It will be just the work to suit us," the guerilla chief said.
"And as I received a subsidy from your political agent at Lisbon, a
few days since, I am in a position to keep the whole force I have
together; which is more than I can do generally for, even if
successful in an attack on a convoy, the greater portion of the men
scatter and return to their homes and, as long as their share of
the booty lasts, they do not care to come out again."

Terence now produced a map with which he had been supplied, and a
considerable time was spent in obtaining full particulars of the
country through which the troops might have to march; ascertaining
the best spots for resistance when retreating, or for attacking
columns who might be despatched in pursuit of them; and in
discussing the manner and direction in which their operations would
most alarm and annoy the enemy.

It was finally agreed that Terence should break up his battalions
into three parties. Two of these consisted each of half a
battalion, 500 strong, and would be under the command of Bull and
Macwitty. Each of them would be accompanied by 300 guerillas, who
would act as scouts and, in case opportunity should offer, join in
any fighting that might take place.

The other two half battalions formed the third body, under the
command of Terence, himself; and would, with the main force of the
guerillas, occupy the roads between Zamora, Salamanca, and
Valladolid. In this way the French would be harassed at several
points, and would find it so difficult to obtain information as to
the real strength of the foe that was threatening them, that they
would be obliged to send up a considerable force to oppose them;
and would hesitate to undertake any serious advance into Portugal
until the question was cleared up, and their lines of communication
assured again.

It was agreed, in the first place, that the forces should unite in
the mountains west of Braganza, between the river Esla on the east
and Tera on the north; affording a strong position from which, in
case of any very large force mustering against them, they could
retire across the frontier into Portugal. Terence had been supplied
with money, and an authority to give orders on the paymaster's
department for such purchases as were absolutely necessary. Moras
was also well supplied, having not only the money that had been
sent him, but the proceeds of a successful attack upon a convoy
proceeding to Salamanca; in which he had captured a commissariat
chest, with a considerable sum of money, besides a large number of
cattle and several waggon loads of flour. All these provisions,
with some that Terence had authority to draw from the stores at
Miranda, were to be taken to the spot they had chosen as their
headquarters in the hills.

"You beat me altogether, Terence," Ryan said as, after all these
matters had been arranged, they rode out from the guerilla's camp.
"It is only about three months since I saw you. Then you could only
just get along in Spanish. Now you are chattering away in it as if
you had never spoken anything else, all your life."

"Well, you see, Dick, I knew just enough, when I was taken
prisoner, to be able to, as you say, get along in it; and that made
all the difference to me. If I had known nothing at all of it, I
should not have been able to benefit by my trip with the muleteers
in Spain. As it was, I was able to talk with them and, as we rode
side by side all day; and sat together by a fire for hours, after
we had halted when the day's journey was over, we did a tremendous
lot of talking; and as you see, I came out, at the end of the
month, able to get along really fluently. I, no doubt, make a good
many mistakes, and mix a good many Portuguese words with my
Spanish; but that does not matter in the least, so long as one is
with friends; although it would matter a good deal if I were trying
to pass as a Spaniard, among people who might betray me if they
found out that I was English.

"I see that you have improved in Portuguese almost as much as I
have in Spanish. It is really only the first drudgery that is
difficult, in learning a language. When once one makes a start one
gets on very fast; especially if one is not afraid of making
mistakes. I never care a rap whether I make blunders or not, so
that I can but make myself understood."

Three days later the two bodies were assembled in a valley, about
equally distant from Miranda and Braganza. It had the advantage of
being entered, from the east, only through a narrow gorge, which
could be defended against a very superior force; while there were
two mountain tracks leading from it, by which the force there could
be withdrawn, should the entrance be forced. A day was spent by the
leaders in making their final arrangements; while the men worked at
the erection of a great wall of rocks, twelve feet high and as many
thick, across the mouth of the gorge; collecting quantities of
stones and rocks, on the heights on either side, to roll down upon
any enemy who might endeavour to scale them; while another very
strong party built a wall, six feet high, in a great semicircle
round the upper mouth of the gorge, so that a column forcing its
way through, thus far, would be met by so heavy a fire that they
could only debouch into the valley with immense loss.

Two hundred men of the Minho regiment, drawn from Terence's party,
were to occupy the valley; with three hundred of the guerillas, who
would be able to do good service by occupying the heights, while
the regular infantry held the newly-erected walls. One of Moras'
most trusted lieutenants was to command them while, after some
discussion, it was arranged that Herrara should be in general
command of the garrison.

The brave fellow was reluctant to remain inactive; but he had been,
for some time, seriously unwell, having been laid up for a time
with a severe attack of dysentery; and was really unfit for any
continued exertion, although he had made light of his illness, and
refused to go on the sick list. Terence pointed out to him that the
command was a very important one. Here all the plunder that they
might obtain from the enemy would be carried; and if, by means of
spies or traitors, the French obtained news of the situation of the
post, he might be attacked in great force before the other
detachments could arrive to his assistance.

As there were four thousand French troops at Zamora, it was agreed
that no direct attack could be made upon the town. Bull with his
force was to watch the garrison, attack any detachments that might
be sent out--leaving them severely alone when they sallied out in
force, and to content himself with outmarching their infantry, and
beating off any cavalry attacks. He was, if necessary, to retreat
in the direction of their stronghold.

Macwitty was to occupy the road between Zamora and Valladolid,
while the main body held the roads between both the latter town,
and Zamora, to Salamanca. Frequent communication was to be kept up
between them, so that either column might speedily be reinforced,
if necessary.

In the course of a week, the whole country was in a state of alarm.
Bridges were broken down, roads blocked by deep cuttings across
them, convoys attacked, small French posts at Tordesillas,
Fuentelapena, and Valparaiso captured--the French soldiers being
disarmed, and then taken under an escort to within ten miles of
Salamanca. Toro was entered suddenly, and a garrison of three
hundred men taken by surprise, and forced to lay down their arms.
The powder, bullocks, and waggons with their stores were sent, by
circuitous routes, to the bridge across the Douro at Miranda, and
then up to their stronghold.

So vigilant a watch was kept on the roads that no single courier
was able to make his way from Valladolid to Salamanca or Zamora
and, beyond the fact that the whole country seemed swarming with
enemies, the French commanders were in absolute ignorance of the
strength of the force that had so suddenly invaded Leon.

One day a messenger rode in from Macwitty to Fuentelapena, where
Terence had his headquarters; saying that a body of 4000 French
infantry, with 1000 cavalry, were on the march from Valladolid
towards Zamora. Strong positions had already been selected for the
defence, and a bridge broken down at a point where the road crossed
a tributary of the Douro.

Terence at once sent Ryan with 200 men to reinforce Macwitty, and
despatched several mounted messengers to find Bull, and to tell him
to join him on the road, four miles to the east of the point where
Macwitty was defending the passage of the river. He himself marched
directly on that point, crossing the river at Tordesillas. He
arrived there early in the morning, and found that the French
column had passed, late the evening before.

At this point the road ran between two hills, several times
crossing a stream that wound along the valley. A large number of
men were at once set to work, breaking down the bridges and
throwing up a breastwork along the bank, where the river made a
sharp bend, crossing the valley from the foot of the hills on one
side to that of those on the other. While this work was being done
cannon shots were heard, then a distant rattle of musketry.

Terence knew that by this time Ryan would have joined Macwitty; and
Moras at once started, with his men and 400 of the Portuguese, to
threaten the French rear, and make a dash upon their baggage.
Terence's orders to the officers in command of these two companies
were that they were to keep their men well together, and to cover
the retreat of the guerillas from cavalry attacks. The firing
continued for the next hour and a half, then it suddenly swelled in
volume, and amid the rattle could be heard the sound of heavy
volleys of musketry.

Terence had, half an hour before, ridden forward at full speed with
four mounted orderlies. When he arrived at a spot where he could
survey the scene of combat, he saw that it was more serious than he
had anticipated. The guerillas were falling back rapidly, but as
soon as they gained the high ground they halted and opened fire
upon the cavalry who, scattered over the plain, were pursuing them.
His own men were retreating steadily and in good order, facing
round and pouring heavy volleys into the French cavalry, as they
charged them.

The French attack on Macwitty had ceased, and Terence saw bodies of
infantry moving towards the right where, on rising ground, a body
of troops about a thousand strong were showing themselves
menacingly. He had no doubt for a moment that this was Bull's
command who, hearing the firing, and supposing that Terence was
engaged there, had led his command straight to the scene of action.

He at once sent an orderly back, at full gallop, to order the men
in the valley to come on at the top of their speed; and then rode
along the hillside and joined Bull, who was now closely engaged
with the advancing columns of French. So hot was the fire, from
Bull's own men and the guerillas, that the two French battalions
wavered and came to a halt; and then, breaking into skirmishing
order, advanced up the hill.

"Don't wait too long, Bull," Terence said. "There is a steeper
slope behind you. However, I don't think they will come up very
far--not, at least, until they are reinforced. There is another
body just starting, and I think we can hold on here until they join
the skirmishing line. As soon as they do so, sound the order for
the men to fall back."

"Where are your men, sir?"

"They are four miles away, at the spot where I told you to join me.
However, the mistake is of no importance. I have sent off for them
and, as soon as they arrive and show themselves, I fancy the French
will retreat."

He tore out a leaf from his pocketbook, and wrote out an order to
Macwitty:

"Leave Captain Ryan with his command to hold the river; and march
at once, with the rest of your men, to the ford which we heard of,
a mile down the river. Cross there, and ascend the hills on the
French right; scattering your men so as to make as much show as
possible, and menacing the French with attack. Tell Captain Ryan to
redouble his fire, so as to prevent the French noticing the
withdrawal of your force."

This he gave to one of his orderlies, and told him to swim the
river and deliver it to Major Macwitty.

When Terence had done this, he was able to give his attention to
what was passing. Across the valley his men had now ascended the
hill, and joined the guerillas. The French cavalry, unable to
charge up the heights, had fallen back. A column of French, some
fifteen hundred strong, were marching in that direction.

As he had expected, the skirmishers in front of him were making but
little way; evidently halting for the arrival of the reinforcement,
which was still more than half a mile distant. The French gunners
had been withdrawn from the bank of the river, and were taking up
positions to cover the advance of their infantry; and their shot
presently came singing overhead--doing no harm, however, to the
Portuguese, who were lying down on the crest of the swell, and
keeping up a steady fire on the French skirmishers.

Ten minutes later the column was within a short distance of the
line of defenders. Terence gave the word, and his men retired up
another and steeper slope behind; while the guerillas were ordered
to remain to keep up a brisk fire, until the French were within
thirty yards of the crest, and were then to run back at full speed,
and join him above.

The Portuguese had scarcely taken up their position when a
tremendous fire broke out below. A minute later the guerillas were
seen rushing up the hill, and close behind them came the French
line, cheering loudly. As they appeared the Portuguese opened fire,
and with such steadiness and precision that the leading files of
the French were almost annihilated. But the wave swept upwards and,
encouraged by the shouts of their officers, they advanced against
the second position.

For half an hour an obstinate fight was maintained, the strength of
the position neutralizing the effect of the superior numbers of the
French. The Spaniards fought well, imitating the steadiness of the
Portuguese and, being for the most part good marksmen, their fire
was very deadly; and several determined attacks of the French were
beaten off with heavy loss.

Then, from the valley below, was heard the sound of a bugle. The
call was repeated by the bugles of the assailants and, slowly and
reluctantly, the French began to fall back.

Terence looked round. He had from time to time glanced across to
the hills opposite, and had seen his men there retiring steadily,
and in good order, before the assault of the French; and now he saw
that his force from the valley was marching rapidly along the
hilltop to their assistance; while away on the French right,
Macwitty's command, spread out to appear of much greater strength
than it really possessed, was moving down the slope, as if to the
assault.

Below, in the valley, a battalion of French infantry with their
cavalry and artillery were drawn up, and were evidently only
waiting for the return of the two assaulting columns, to join in
their retreat. The French commander doubtless supposed that he was
caught in a trap. Unable to effect the passage of the river, and
seeing the stubborn resistance his troops were meeting with on the
hills, the arrival of two fresh bodies of the enemy on the scene
induced him to believe that the foe were in great force; and that,
ere long, he might be completely surrounded. He moved forward
slowly, by the road he had come, and was presently joined by the
two detached parties.

As soon as they moved on, Terence sent an orderly at a gallop
across the valley, to order Macwitty and Moras to follow the French
along on the hills on their side of the valley, and to harass them
as much as possible; while he, with Bull's command, kept parallel
with them on his side.

The French cavalry kept ahead of their column. The leading
battalion was thrown out as skirmishers, on the lower slopes of the
hills; while the artillery, in the rear, kept up a heavy fire upon
the Portuguese and Spanish, as soon as they were made out on the
hills above them. Terence kept his men on the crest, and signalled
to Macwitty to do the same; but the guerillas swarmed down the
hillside, and maintained a galling fire on the French column.
Terence took his men along at the double and, heading the column,
descended into the valley at the point they had fortified.

Here there was a sharp fight. The French cavalry fell back, after
suffering heavily. Their infantry advanced gallantly and, after a
fierce fight, drove the Portuguese from their wall and up the
hillside. Here they maintained a heavy fire, until the column
opened out and the French artillery came to the front; when Terence
at once ordered the men to scatter, and climb the hill at full
speed.

Without attempting to repair the broken bridges, the French
infantry crossed the stream breast high, and the cavalry and
artillery followed; and Terence, seeing that their retreat could
not be seriously molested, and that if he attempted to do so, he
should suffer very heavily from their artillery, sounded a halt;
and the French continued their retreat to Valladolid, leaving
behind them all their baggage, which they had been unable to get
across the stream.

Terence's force came down from the hills and assembled in the
valley. Congratulations were exchanged on the success that had
attended their efforts. Then the roll was at once called, and it
was found that a hundred and three men of the Minho regiment were
missing. There was no roll among the guerillas; but Moras's
estimate, after counting the number assembled, was, that upwards of
two hundred were absent from the ranks, fully half of these having
been overtaken and killed by the French cavalry.

Terence at once sent off two parties of his own men, to the points
where the fight had been fiercest. They were to collect the
wounded, including those of the French, and to carry them down into
the valley; while parties of guerillas searched the hillsides, down
to the scene of action, for their comrades who had fallen from the
fire of the French artillery and musketry.

When the wounded were collected, it was found there were upwards of
two hundred French infantry, fifty-nine guerillas, and twenty-four
Portuguese. The smaller proportion of wounded of the latter being
accounted for by the fact that so many had been shot through the
head, while lying down to fire at the French as they climbed the
hill. Two hundred and thirty French soldiers had been killed.
Terence at once set his men to dig wide trenches, in which the
soldiers of the three nationalities were laid side by side.

A considerable amount of reserve ammunition being captured in the
waggons, the men's cartridge boxes were filled up again, and the
rest was packed in a waggon. Some of the drivers had cut their
traces, but others had neglected to do this, and there were
sufficient waggons to carry all the wounded, both friends and
enemies, together with a considerable amount of flour.

The French wounded were taken to the ford by which Macwitty had
crossed; and then some of them who had been wounded in the leg and,
although unable to walk, were fit to drive, were given the reins
and told to take the waggons to Zamora, a distance of twelve miles.
Fifty men were told off to march with them, until within sight of
the town; as otherwise they would have assuredly been attacked, and
the whole of the wounded massacred by the Spanish peasants.

The force then broke up again, each column taking as much flour and
meat as the men could carry. The remaining waggons and stores were
heaped together, and set on fire.

Long before this was done, they had been rejoined by Ryan and his
command. He had remained guarding the river until the French had
disappeared up the valley, and had then crossed at the ford but,
though using all haste, he did not rejoin the force until the whole
of the fighting was over.

"This has been a good day's work, Terence," he said when, that
evening, the force had entered Tordesillas and quartered themselves
there for the night. "You may be sure that the general at
Valladolid will send messengers to Salamanca, giving a greatly
exaggerated account of our force; and begging them to send down to
Marmont, at once, for a large reinforcement. If the couriers make a
detour, in the first place, we shall not be able to cut them off."

"No, Dick, and we wouldn't, if we could. I have no doubt that he
will report the force with which his column was engaged as being
nearly double what it really is. Besides, sharp as we have been, I
expect some messengers will, by this time, have got through from
Zamora. The commandant there will report that a large force is in
the neighbourhood of that town; and that, without leaving the place
entirely undefended, he has not strength enough to sally out
against them. They cannot know that this force and ours have joined
hands in the attack on the Valladolid column, nor that this
represented anything like the whole of the force that have been
harrying the country and cutting off detached posts. The fact, too,
that this gathering was not a mere collection of guerillas, or of
the revolted peasantry; but that there were regular troops among
them, in considerable numbers, will have a great effect; and
Marmont will feel himself obliged, when he gets the news, to send
some fifteen or twenty thousand troops up here to clear the
country.

"Now, the first thing to do is to draw up a report of the
engagement, and to send it off to Wellington. I think that it will
be a good thing, Dick, for you to carry it yourself. I don't think
that there is any fear of your being interrupted on your way to
Miranda, and as an officer you will be able to get fresh horses,
and take the news quicker than an orderly could do; and it is of
great importance that the chief should know, as soon as possible,
what has taken place here. I shall speak very strongly of your
services during the past week, and it is always a good thing for an
officer selected to carry the news of a success; and lastly, you
can give a much better account of our operations, since we crossed
the frontier, than an orderly could do, and Wellington may want to
send orders back for our future work."

"I am game," Ryan said, "and thank you for the offer. How long will
you be?"

"Well, it is eight o'clock now, and if you start at midnight it
will be soon enough; so if you have finished your supper, you had
better lie down on that bed in the next room and get a sleep; for
you were marching all last night, and will want some rest before
starting on such a journey."



Chapter 15: Dick Ryan's Capture.


Terence wrote two despatches, one giving a full account of the
engagement, the other a detail of the work that had been performed
since they crossed the frontier. He wrote them in duplicate, so
that he might send off another messenger, three hours later; in
case, by any chance, Ryan failed to reach Miranda. He carefully
abstained from giving any real account of the strength of the
various columns, in each case putting the number at five times
their actual strength so that, if the despatches should miscarry,
not only would no information be conveyed to the French, but they
would be led to believe that the invading force was vastly stronger
than they had hitherto supposed. Ryan was, of course, to explain,
when he delivered the despatches, that the figures must in all
cases be divided by five, and the reason why false numbers had been
inserted.

Terence let him sleep until one o'clock, and then roused him.
Several French horses had been found, straying riderless along the
valley; and the best of these was picked out for him. A few minutes
later, Dick was on his way to Miranda. The road by which he was to
travel would take him some six miles south of Zamora, and the
distance to be ridden was between fifty and sixty miles. He knew
that he could not do this at a gallop, and went along at a steady
pace, sometimes trotting and sometimes cantering. It was now late
in September and, at half-past five, it was still dark when Ryan
approached the spot where the road he was following crossed the
main road between Zamora and Salamanca.

He was riding at a canter, when suddenly, to his surprise and
consternation, he rode into the midst of a body of cavalry, halted
on the main road. The sound of his horse's feet had been heard and,
before he could even draw his sword, he was seized and taken
prisoner. A French officer rode down the line.

"What is the matter?" he asked.

"We have taken a prisoner, sir," the sergeant answered. "We heard
him coming by this crossroad, and seized him as he rode in among
us. He is a soldier--an officer, I should think, from what I can
see of him."

"Who are you, sir?" the French officer said to Ryan.

The latter saw that concealment was useless. It would soon be light
enough for his scarlet uniform to be seen. He therefore replied, in
broken French:

"My name is Ryan. I hold the rank of captain. I was riding to
Miranda when, unfortunately, I fell in with your troopers as they
were halted. I did not hear and, of course, could not see them
until I was among them."

[Illustration: 'Search him at once.']

"Riding with despatches, no doubt," the officer said. "Search him
at once, men. He might destroy them."

"Here they are, sir," Ryan said, taking the despatches from inside
his jacket. "You need not have me searched. I give you my word of
honour, as a British officer, that I have no others on me."

"Put him in the middle of the troop, sergeant," the officer said.
"Put a trooper in special charge of him, on each side. Unbuckle his
reins, and buckle them on to those of the troopers. Do you ride
behind him, and keep a sharp lookout upon him. It is an important
capture."

Five minutes later, the squadron again started on their way south.
Ryan, after silently cursing his bad luck at having arrived at the
spot just as this body of cavalry were crossing, wondered what evil
fortune had sent them there, at that precise moment. He was not
long in arriving at a conclusion. The convoy of the French wounded
had arrived at Zamora, late in the evening; and the commandant,
thinking it likely that the enemy, who had hitherto blocked the
roads, might have concentrated for the attack on the column, had
decided upon sending off a squadron of cavalry to carry the
important news he had learned, from the wounded, of the defeat of
the column, five thousand strong, coming to his relief from
Valladolid.

The party proceeded at a brisk trot, and, meeting with no
resistance, arrived at Salamanca by ten o'clock in the morning. The
officer in command at once rode with Ryan, the latter guarded by
four troopers, to the residence of the general. Leaving Dick with
his escort outside, he entered the house, and sent in his name, and
the duty with which he was charged, to the general. He was at once
shown into his room.

"I congratulate you on having got through, Captain D'Estrelles,"
the general said, as he entered. "It is ten days since we heard
from Zamora. We have sent off six messengers, I don't know whether
any of them have arrived."

"No, sir, none of them. The commandant sent off one or two, every
day; and I suppose they, like those you sent, were all stopped."

"The whole country seems on fire," the general said. "We have had
five or six parties come in here disarmed, who had been captured by
the enemy; and it would seem that all our posts on the road to
Zamora, and on that to Valladolid, have been captured. The men
could only report that they were suddenly attacked by such
overwhelming forces that resistance was impossible. They say that
the whole country seems to swarm with guerillas, but there are
certainly a considerable number of regular troops among them. What
has happened at Zamora?"

"These despatches will inform you, sir; but I may tell you that we
are virtually beleaguered. The country round swarms with the enemy.
Two or three reconnaissances in force met with the most determined
opposition."

"Are you in communication with Valladolid?"

"No, sir. Our communications were stopped at the same time as those
to this town; but I am sorry to say that you will see, by the
general's despatch, that a severe disaster has happened to the
column coming from Valladolid to our relief."

The general took the despatch and rapidly perused its contents.

"A column five thousand strong, with cavalry and guns, repulsed!
The enemy must be in force, indeed. From the estimates we have
received from prisoners they released, I thought they must be fully
ten thousand strong. I see that the wounded who were sent by Moras
estimate those engaged with him at twelve thousand; and it is
hardly probable that they could, at such short notice, have
assembled in anything like their full strength."

"I have also to report, general, that we, this morning before
daybreak, captured a British officer on his way to Miranda, with
despatches. We were fortunately halted for the moment, so that he
was unaware of our presence until he rode into the midst of us.
These are his despatches. I have not opened them."

"It is an important capture, indeed," the general said; "that is,
if the report contains details of the fighting. Its contents may
enable us to form a clearer idea than we can, at present, of their
numbers."

He broke the seal and read the account of the battle.

"It is signed T. O'Connor, colonel," he said. "The name is
well-known to us as that of a very active partisan leader. Three of
the columns appear to have been commanded by British officers. Here
we have them: Major Bull, Major Macwitty, and Captain Ryan."

"It is Captain Ryan whom we have made prisoner, sir."

"Their dispositions appear to have been good, and ably worked out.
The bridge across the river had been destroyed, and our crossing
was opposed by one column. While we were attempting to force the
passage, three more columns attacked us, one on each flank and
rear; while a fourth, composed of a portion of the force defending
the passage who, as soon as we were fairly engaged with the other
columns, crossed the ford lower down, leaving a thousand men to
face us on the river bank, advanced against our left. Finding
themselves thus greatly outnumbered, the column fell back, leaving
behind them some five hundred dead and wounded. Their passage was
closed by the enemy, who had broken down some bridges and thrown a
breastwork across the valley; but after sharp fighting they made
their way through."

He then turned to the other despatch.

"This is still more useful," he said. "It is a general report of
their proceedings since they crossed the frontier, and gives the
number of each column. They total up to twenty-five thousand men;
of which some ten thousand seem to be regular troops, the rest
guerillas."

"Do you wish to see the prisoner, sir? He is waiting with the
guard, outside."

"Yes, I might as well see him though, as a point of fact, he can
give us no more information than that contained in these reports,
which are very full and detailed."

"So, sir," he said when Ryan was brought in, "you are a British
officer."

"I am, sir," Dick replied quietly. "At present on detached duty,
serving on the staff of Colonel O'Connor."

"Who is with the guerilla chief, Moras," the general said.

"Yes, sir. The troops under Colonel O'Connor have been acting in
concert with Moras, and other forces; much to the advantage of such
of your soldiers as fell into our hands, not one of whom has
suffered insult or injury; and all have been permitted to go free,
after being deprived of their arms. Colonel O'Connor also sent away
all the French wounded who fell into our hands after the battle, in
waggons, escorted by a strong body of his troops to within a mile
of Zamora; in order to protect them from massacre by the peasants."

"He behaved, sir, as a British officer would be expected to
behave," the general said warmly. "Were the war always conducted on
the same principle, it would be better for both armies and for the
people of this country. I will place you on parole, if you choose."

"I thank you, General, but I would rather have my hands free,
should I see any opportunity of escaping."

"That you are not likely to do," the general said, "for if you
refuse to be bound by your parole, I must take measures against
your having any of these opportunities that you speak of, until the
country is cleared and you can be sent with a convoy to France. I
am sorry that you refuse but, as I should do so myself, under
similar circumstances, I cannot blame you."

Accordingly, Ryan was taken to a strong prison in the heart of the
city; where, however, he was assigned comfortable quarters, a
sentry being placed at his door and, as the window that looked into
the courtyard was strongly barred, his chances of escape seemed
slight, indeed; and he was almost inclined to regret that he had
not accepted the general's offer, and given his parole not to
attempt to escape.

Two days later one of Moras's men, who belonged to Salamanca, went
into the town to see some friends, and brought back the news that a
British officer had been captured by a party of French dragoons,
coming from Zamora. He had been seen by many of the townspeople as
he sat on his horse, with four troopers round him, at the door of
the governor's house. He had been lodged in the city prison. A
comparison of dates showed that there could be no doubt that the
prisoner was Dick Ryan, and Terence was greatly vexed at his loss.

"So far as the despatches go," he said to Herrara--who had, on the
day before, arrived from their stronghold, which was now safe from
attack, "there can be no doubt that it is fortunate rather than
otherwise that they have fallen into the hands of the French; for
they will give them an altogether exaggerated impression of our
strength, and I have no doubt that the orderly who left, two hours
later, has got through in safety. Still, I am greatly annoyed that
Ryan has been made prisoner. I miss his services and companionship
very much and, if I can possibly get him out, I will do so. I will
see Moras, and ask him to send the man who brought the news back
again, to gather further particulars. I would take the matter in
hand myself but, being in command here, I must consider the duty
with which I am intrusted before a question of private friendship."

Moras presently came in to see Terence and, when the latter told
him what he wanted, he undertook at once to obtain every detail
possible as to the place of Ryan's confinement.

"A number of my men come from the town," he said, "and I will cause
inquiries to be made among them, at once; and choose half a dozen,
with connections who may be able to assist, and send them into
Salamanca; with instructions to act in concert, to ascertain
whether it is possible to do anything by bribery, to endeavour to
communicate with the prisoner, and to devise some plan for his
escape from the gaol.

"It was a strong place before the French came. It was the city
prison; but they took it over, and have used it not only for
prisoners of war, but for persons suspected of being in
communication with your people, and even for officers of their own
army who have been convicted of insubordination or disobedience of
orders, or other offences. One of the men I will send, and to whom
I shall intrust the general arrangement of the matter, is one of my
lieutenants, Leon Gonzales. He has been a friend of mine since
boyhood, and entered as a law student when I went into the college
for divinity. He is daring and fearless. He has an excellent head,
and a large acquaintance among the young men at the university and,
indeed, in all classes of society. He belongs to one of our best
families."

"Yes, of course I know him," Terence said. "He has several times
come with you, when you have ridden over; and was in command of the
detachment that was with me, when we captured the French garrison
at Tordesillas. I was much pleased with him and, although too
occupied to see much of him, I conceived a great liking for him. I
should say that he is just the man to manage this business
successfully, if it is possible to do so."

"At all events, I will despatch him with six other men, whom he may
choose himself, this afternoon," Moras said. "I had intended him to
remain in command of the party we leave here when we march,
tonight; but I will hand that over to another."

That night the force, with the exception of 500 guerillas and as
many of the Minho regiment, marched away from the station they
occupied to take up a new position, between Valladolid and
Valencia. Herrara was to remain behind, in command of the 500
Portuguese. These, in conjunction with the guerillas, were to
occupy their old positions; stopping all lines of communication,
showing themselves in villages and towns hitherto unvisited and,
divided into parties of two or three hundred, march rapidly about
the country, so that the fact that the main body had moved
elsewhere should be unknown to the French authorities, who would
therefore believe that the force that was to cut the road north of
Valladolid was a newly-arrived one.

Thirty-six hours later Terence, with a battalion and a half of his
regiment and 1500 of Moras's guerillas, took up their position in
the mountains lying to the east of Valencia, between the rivers
Esqueva and Arlanza. From this position they could, with equal
facility, come down on the road between Valladolid and Valencia, or
between the latter town and Burgos. Here for some weeks they
maintained themselves, in the first place falling upon convoys from
Valladolid south and, when these only moved forward under escorts
too strong to be attacked, carrying on their operations on the road
to Burgos. In these raids they obtained an abundance of provisions,
a considerable number of arms and much ammunition and, in two or
three instances, a large amount of treasure that was being taken
forward for the payment of the troops.

The provisions and wine were amply sufficient for the support of
the force. Half the money was set aside for future needs, being
divided between the regimental chest of Moras and that of the Minho
regiment. The other half was similarly divided as prize money among
the men, a proportion being sent down to Herrara, for his command.

The operations of the band caused immense annoyance and difficulty
to the French. It was no longer possible to travel by the main road
from France between Burgos and Valladolid, and thence down to
Salamanca or Zamora, without the convoys being accompanied by
strong bodies of troops. Several incursions into the mountains were
organized from Burgos, which was always a great military centre,
aided by detachments from Valencia; but these met with no success
whatever. On entering the passes they were assailed by a heavy fire
from invisible foes. Great rocks were rolled down upon them; and
when, after much loss, they succeeded in forcing their way up to
the hills, no traces of their foe could be discovered.

As among Moras's guerillas were natives of both Burgos and
Valencia, and these had put themselves in communication with their
friends, the band was kept well informed of every movement of the
French, and received early intelligence when a convoy, or an
expedition into the hills, was on the point of setting out, and of
the exact strength of the military force employed. They were,
therefore, always prepared either to sally out for an attack on the
convoy, or to oppose an expedition as soon as it entered the
mountains. Their stores were hidden away among rocks, being divided
into several portions so that, should the French by fortune or
treachery discover one of these, the loss would not cripple them.

Their greatest enemy was cold. It was now the end of October, and
several times snow had fallen, and it was necessary to keep up
large fires. This was a double inconvenience. In the first place,
the smoke by day and the flames by night might betray the position
of their camp; and in the second place, their tracks in the snow,
which would speedily cover the hills, would enable the enemy to
follow them wherever they moved. It was therefore determined that
they could no longer maintain their position there, but must return
to the plains.

Frequent communication had been kept up with Herrara, who reported
that Salamanca was now occupied by so large a force that he was no
longer able to maintain his position; and that he had fallen back
across the Douro, and had established himself in the stronghold,
from which he made frequent excursions towards Zamora and
Benavente.

To Dick Ryan, in his prison, the first fortnight had passed slowly.
That Terence would, as soon as he learned of his capture, make
every effort to free him he knew well; but he could not see how he
could give him any material aid. The French force at Salamanca was
far too strong to admit of a possibility of any attempt to rescue
him by force, and the barred windows and the sentry seemed to close
every chance of communication from without. On the tenth day of his
imprisonment, he noticed that the sergeant who brought his food had
been changed.

"What has become of Sergeant Pipon?" he asked the non-commissioned
officer who filled his place.

"He was killed yesterday evening, in the streets," the man replied.
"It was not an ordinary broil, for he had half-a-dozen dagger
stabs. It is some time since those dogs of Spaniards have killed a
French soldier in the town, and there is a great fuss over it. The
municipality will have to pay 10,000 dollars, if they cannot
produce his murderer. It is curious, too, for Pipon was not a man
to get drunk. He did not speak a word of the language, and
therefore could not have had a dispute with a Spaniard.

"We have been ordered to be more vigilant than before. I suppose
the authorities think that perhaps there was some attempt to bribe
him and, on his seizing the man who made it, some of the fellow's
comrades rushed upon him, and killed him."

Ryan wondered whether the supposition was a correct one, and
whether the men concerned had been set at work by Terence, in order
to effect his release. Two days later, on cutting the loaf that
formed his day's ration of bread, he found a small piece of paper
in its centre. It had evidently been put there before the bread was
baked for, although he examined it very closely, he could find no
sign in the crust of an incision by which the note might have been
inserted. It contained only the words:

"Keep your eyes open, and be in readiness. Friends are working for
your release."

So Terence was at work. Evidently the baker had been gained over,
but how it had been contrived that this special loaf should have
been handed to him he could not imagine; unless one of the men in
charge of the distribution of the prison rations had been bribed.
That something of the sort must have taken place he was certain
and, although he was still unable to imagine how he could be got
out of the prison, he felt that, in some way or another, Terence
would manage it. He thought over the means by which the latter had
escaped from the convent, but the laxity that had there prevailed,
in allowing people to come in to sell their goods to the prisoners,
was not permitted in the prison where he was confined. The
prisoners were, indeed, allowed to take exercise for an hour in the
courtyard, but no civilian ever entered it, and twelve French
soldiers watched every movement of those in the yard, and did not
permit a single word to be exchanged.

Another week passed, and Ryan began to fear that his friends
outside had abandoned the scheme as impossible, when one day he
received another message:

"Do not undress tonight. On reaching the courtyard, take the first
passage to the right. Follow it to the end. The bars of the window
there have been nearly sawn through. Inclosed with this is a saw.
Finish the work on the middle bars. You will find a cord hanging
down outside. Friends will be awaiting you."

With the note was a very fine steel saw, coiled round and round,
and a tiny phial of oil. Ryan gave a cry of delight as he read it;
and then hid the saw and the oil bottle in his bed, made up the
tiny note into a pellet, and swallowed it. As he ate his dinner, he
pondered over how so much could have been managed. The courtyard of
the prison was, he knew, some ten feet higher than the ground
outside. Some one must, after nightfall, have climbed up to the
passage window and sawn the bars almost asunder, with a saw as fine
as the one he had received. The cuts could hardly have been
perceptible, and had probably been filled in with dust or black
lead, each night, after the work was done. The difficulty must have
been great, for he had learned that sentries patrolled the street
outside the prison, and the work could only have been carried on
for two or three minutes at a time. How he was to get down to the
courtyard he knew not, but probably a sentry had been found more
amenable to a bribe than the old sergeant had been.

To his bitter disappointment the night passed without anything
unusual taking place, and the scheme had evidently failed. He broke
up his loaf eagerly the next morning; and found, as he expected,
another message:

"Authorities suspicions. Sentries changed. Must wait till vigilance
subsides. Keep yourself in readiness."

A fortnight passed; and then, in the middle of the night, he leapt
suddenly from the bed on which he had thrown himself, without
undressing, as he heard the key grating in the door. For a minute
or two the sound continued, and his heart sank again.

"They have got a key, but it won't fit," he muttered.

Suddenly he heard the bolt shoot back, and the door quietly opened.

"Are you ready?" a voice asked in a whisper.

"Quite ready."

"Then follow me."

Ryan had caught up his boots as he leapt from the bed. The man
outside had evidently taken the precaution to remove his, for his
step was perfectly noiseless. Dick followed him downstairs and out
into the courtyard. He could then see that the man was not, as he
had expected, in uniform; but wore a long cloak and a sombrero,
like those in general use among the peasantry. He turned in at the
passage that had been indicated to Ryan, and stopped at the grated
opening at the end.

Ryan at once took out the saw, poured some oil on it, and passed
his nail down the bar until he found a fine nick. Clearing this out
with the saw, he began to cut. The task was far easier than he had
expected, for the bar had been already almost sawn through and, in
five minutes, the cut was completed. A couple of feet higher up he
found the other incision, and completed it as quietly as before.
Then he removed the piece cut out, and handed it to the man, who
laid it quietly down on the pavement of the passage.

In ten minutes the other bar was removed.

"I have the cord," the man said, and unwound some ten feet of stout
rope from his waist.

Ryan put his head out through the hole, and looked down. In the
darkness he could see nothing, but he heard the heavy tread of two
sentries. As the sound of their footsteps faded away in the
distance, he heard a sudden exclamation and a slight movement and,
a few seconds later, a voice below asked in a whisper:

"Are you there?"

"Yes," Ryan replied joyfully.

Putting a noose which was at one end of the rope over the stump of
one of the bars, he at once slid down. A moment later, the other
man descended after him.

"This way, senor," the voice said and, taking his hand, led him
across the street; and then, after a quarter of a mile's walk,
stopped at the door of a large house. He opened this with a key,
and led the way up the stairs to the second floor; opened another
door, and said:

"Enter, senor, you are at home."

Ryan had noticed that the man who had released him had not followed
them, but had turned away as soon as they left the prison.

"You are most welcome, senor," his guide said as, opening another
door, he led the way into a handsome apartment, where a lamp was
burning on the table.

"First let me introduce myself," he said. "My name is Alonzo
Santobel, by profession an advocate. I am a friend of Don Leon
Gonzales, one of Moras's officers, whom I believe you know. He will
be here in a minute or two. He has followed us at a distance, to be
sure that we were not watched. He enlisted me in this enterprise,
and I have gladly given my assistance, which indeed was confined to
bringing you here. All the rest he has managed himself, with the
aid of six of his men who accompanied him here. He has been longer
over it than he had expected, but we had difficulties that we did
not anticipate."

He spoke in French, but added: "I understand sufficient Portuguese
to follow anything that you say, senor."

"I am indeed grateful to you all," Ryan said warmly. "It is good of
you, indeed, to run so great a risk for a stranger."

"Not exactly a stranger, senor, since you are a friend of my
friend, Leon Gonzales."

At this moment the door of the room opened, and the officer named
entered and warmly shook hands with Ryan, and congratulated him
cordially on his release.

"Thanks to you, senor," Dick said gratefully.

"It has been a matter of duty, as well as pleasure," the other
replied courteously; "for Moras committed the task of freeing you
to my hands."

"I have just been telling Senor Ryan," the other said, "that you
found it somewhat more difficult than you expected."

"Yes, indeed. In the first place, my face is known to so many here
and, unhappily, so many Spaniards are friends of the French, that I
dared not show myself in the streets, in the daytime. And before I
tell my story, Alonzo, please open a bottle of wine, and produce a
box of cigars. Our friend has not had a chance of a decent smoke
since he has been shut up.

"Now, senor, I will tell you all about it," he went on, as soon as
the glasses were filled and the cigars lighted. "In the first
place, one of the men with me has a cousin who works for the baker
who contracts for the supply of bread to the prison and,
fortunately, it was one of his duties to go with the bread, to hand
it over and see it weighed. That simplified affairs amazingly. In
the next place, it was necessary to get hold of the soldier who
usually handed the bread to the non-commissioned officers, who each
took the rations for the prisoners under their special charge. I
had been well provided with money and, when the soldier came out
one evening, I got into conversation with him. He assented
willingly enough to my offer to have a bottle of good wine
together. Then I opened the subject.

"'I believe you distribute the bread rations to the prisoners?" I
said.

"He nodded.

"'I want one special loaf which is rather better bread than the
rest, though it looks the same, to reach a prisoner who is a friend
of mine. It may be that I shall want two or three such loaves to
reach him, and I will not mind paying a hundred francs for each
loaf.'

"'A hundred francs is a good sum,' he said, 'especially as our pay
is generally some months in arrear; and there can be no harm in a
prisoner getting one loaf, more than another. But how am I to know
which is the loaf?'

"'It will be the last the baker's man will deliver to you, my
friend. He will give you a wink as he hands it to you, and you will
only have to put it on the tray intended for the English prisoner,
Ryan, when the sergeant comes down to the kitchen for it. But mind,
don't make any mistake and put it on the wrong tray.'

"'I will be careful,' the soldier said, 'and I don't mind how many
loaves you send in, at the same price.'

"'Very well,' I said. 'Here are the hundred francs for the first
loaf, which will come not tomorrow morning, but the day after.'

"So that part of the business was arranged easily enough; but
another attempt, which I had set on foot at the same time, had
already failed. My men had discovered who was the sergeant under
whose charge you were. He was an old soldier, and I had my doubts
whether he could be bribed. One of the men who spoke a little
French undertook it, but took the precaution of having three of the
others near him, when he attempted it. It was two or three evenings
before he could get speech with him in a quiet place, but he
managed at last to do so.

"'Sergeant,' he said, 'do you want to earn as much money, in a day,
as your pay would amount to in a year?'

"'It depends how it would have to be earned,' the sergeant said
cautiously.

"'We want to get a friend of ours out of that prison,' the man
said, 'and would pay a thousand francs for your assistance.'

"The sergeant at once grasped him by the throat.

"'You attempt to bribe me!' he exclaimed. 'Parbleu! we will hear
what the governor says about it;' and he began to drag him along.

"There was nothing to be done, and the three other men, who had
been standing hidden in a doorway, ran out and poniarded the
Frenchman before he had time to give the alarm. It was unfortunate,
but it was unavoidable.

"However, two days later the loaf got safely to you; at least we
were assured that it had done so, by the soldier in the kitchen. In
the meantime I learned from a man who had been a warder in the
prison, before the French took possession of it, that the passage
close to the bottom of your staircase terminated at the barred
window in the street behind. Two of my men undertook to cut the
bars. It was no easy matter, for there were sentries outside, and
one came along the back every two or three minutes. The men had a
light ladder and, directly he had passed, ran across the street,
placed it in position, and fell to work. But the constant
interferences by the passing of the sentinel annoyed them, and
greatly hindered the work.

"You see, the sentry had to patrol the lane down one side of the
prison, then along behind, and back; so they had only the time
taken by him from the corner to the end of the lane, and back, to
work. They were so annoyed at this that one night, when the sentry
came to be relieved, he was found stabbed to the heart and, as this
misfortune happened just after he went on duty, the men managed to
file one of the bars that night. Curiously enough, the same
accident happened two nights later; just as I had arranged, with a
Spaniard who had enlisted in the French army, that he would aid you
to escape. He was a sharp fellow, and had managed to get the key of
your room from the peg where it hung, and to take an impression of
it in wax, from which we had a key made.

"Everything was now ready. The other bar was sawn on, the night the
accident happened to the second sentry. The next night the Spaniard
was to be on guard on your staircase, and I sent you a loaf with a
message to be in readiness. Unfortunately, the second accident
aroused the suspicion of the authorities that these affairs had
something to do with the escape of a prisoner. Accordingly, the
sentries outside were doubled, two men patrolling together and,
that evening, the guards were suddenly changed.

"It was evident that, for a time, nothing could be done. For nearly
a fortnight this dodging about of the guard continued; then, as all
was quiet, things went back to their old course. Four sentries were
taken off, the others going about two together, each pair taking
two sides of the prison. This morning my Spaniard who, as he was on
duty at night, was able to come out into the town early, told the
man who had arranged the affair with him that he would be on night
duty; and would manage to take his place among the guards so that,
when they arrived at your door, he should be the one to be left
there. As the bread had been already sent in, I had no opportunity
to warn you."

"I suppose the Spanish soldier you bribed has deserted?"

"Certainly. There was nothing else for him to do. He had that long
cloak under his military greatcoat, and the sombrero flattened
inside it so that, before opening your door, he had only to stand
his musket in the corner, laying his greatcoat and shako by it, and
he was in a position to go through the streets, anywhere, as a
civilian. He has been well paid and, as he was already heartily
tired of the French service, he jumped at the offer we made him."

After chatting for some time longer, and obtaining some more
details of the proceedings of the rescue party, Ryan and Gonzales
lay down for a few hours' sleep on the couches in the room; while
their host turned into his bed, which he had vainly attempted to
persuade one or other to accept.



Chapter 16: Back With The Army.


Ryan remained four days in the flat occupied by Don Alonzo
Santobel. Leon Gonzales had left, before daybreak, to regain the
house where he was staying, with one of his friends, before the
discovery of the escape of a prisoner was made. The affair was
certain to cause great excitement, and there was no doubt that
everyone leaving the town would be strictly examined at the gates
and, not improbably, every house would be searched, and an order
issued that no one would be allowed to be out at night, after ten
o'clock, without a military pass. Three soldiers had been in turn
assassinated, and one had deserted, a prisoner had been released;
and there were evidently several persons concerned in the matter,
and it would not improbably be guessed, by the authorities, that
the actors in the plot were agents of the British officer in
command of the troops that had given them such trouble over the
whole province between Burgos and Salamanca.

Don Alonzo gave his manservant, on whose fidelity he could rely,
permission to go into the country for ten days to visit his
relations; and Ryan was installed in his place, and dressed in a
suit of his clothes; but was not to open the door to visitors, the
Spaniard himself doing so, and mentioning to those who called that
his servant had gone on his holiday. The French, indeed, instituted
a strict search among the poorer quarters. But the men who had
accompanied Don Leon were all dressed as villagers, who had come
into the town from fear of being attacked by the guerillas and
their allies and, as the people with whom they stayed all vouched
for their story, and declared with truth that they were relatives,
none of them were molested. For four days all persons passing out
of the gates were examined but, at the end of that time, matters
resumed their ordinary course; and Don Leon and his followers all
quitted the town soon after the market closed, carrying with them
empty baskets, as if they were countrymen who had disposed of the
produce they had brought in.

Clothes of the same kind were procured for Ryan and, the day after
his friends had left he, too, went through the gate, going out with
several peasants who were returning home. One of Leon's followers
had taken out his uniform in his basket; with a cloth thrown over
it, on which were placed some articles of crockery which he had
apparently bought for his use at home. Ryan had been carefully
instructed as to the road he should follow and, four miles out from
the city, he turned down a by-path. He kept on for a mile and a
half, and then came to a farmhouse, standing alone. As he
approached, Leon came out to meet him, and shook him warmly by the
hand.

"I have been feeling very anxious about you," he said. "We got
through yesterday unquestioned, but the officer at the gate today
might have been a more particular sort of fellow, and might have
taken it into his head to question any of those who came out. The
others all went on at once, but we will keep quiet until nightfall.
I left my horse here when I came in; which I could do safely, for
the farm belongs to me, and the farmer has been our tenant for the
last thirty years. There is a horse for you here, also.

"I have got the latest intelligence as to where the French are
lying. They have a strong force at Tordesillas; but this won't
matter to us, for I got a message from Moras, yesterday, saying
that the hills are now all covered with snow, and that the whole
force would march, today, for their old quarters in the valley near
Miranda. So we sha'n't have to cross the river to the north, but
will keep on this side and cross it at Miranda, or at some ford
near. The column that was operating round Zamora fell back behind
the Esla, a fortnight since; for four thousand of the French
reinforcements from the south had reached Zamora, and strong
parties of their cavalry were scouting over the whole of the
country round."

Ryan had already heard how the road between Valladolid and Burgos
had been interrupted, and several convoys cut off and captured. He
was glad to find, however, that no serious fighting had taken place
while he had been a prisoner.

After nightfall they started on their journey. They travelled sixty
miles that night. The farmer's son, a young fellow of twenty, who
knew the country thoroughly, accompanied them on horseback for the
first twenty miles, to set them on their way. The road they
followed ran almost parallel to the Tormes, all the bridges over
that river being, as they learned, held by strong parties of French
troops; posted there to prevent any bodies of the Spaniards
crossing it, and placing themselves between Salamanca and Ciudad
Rodrigo.

When morning broke they were within five miles of the Douro, and
entered the wood where they intended to pass the day, as they were
unaware whether any French troops were stationed along the river.
Both were still dressed as countrymen, and Leon went in the
afternoon to a little hamlet, half a mile from the wood. There he
learned that 2000 French were encamped at a village, a mile from
the bridge at Miranda. But one of the peasants, on Leon's telling
him that he was a lieutenant of Moras, offered to guide them to a
ford, of whose existence he did not think the French were aware.

It was seldom used, as it could only be forded in very dry seasons;
but as the water now was, it would only be necessary to swim their
horses a distance of a few yards. The two friends slept a great
part of the day and, as the sun set, finished the provisions they
had brought with them, and were ready to start when, two hours
later, their guide arrived from the village. His information proved
correct. He led them straight to the ford, which they found
unguarded and, rewarding him handsomely for his trouble, swam
across and, an hour later, entered Miranda and put up at a small
inn.

They mounted early the next morning and, in the afternoon, after a
three hours' ride across the mountains, came down into the valley;
where their arrival excited much enthusiasm among the troops, the
garrison having been joined by Macwitty's column.

"I cannot say that I was not expecting to see you, Captain Ryan,"
Macwitty said, as he shook hands heartily; "for I heard, from the
colonel, that Don Leon had started with a party to try and get you
out of prison, and that he was sure he would accomplish it, if it
were at all possible. I am expecting him here in a day or two, with
the rest of the regiment; for I had a message two days ago from
him, saying that it was too cold to remain on the hills any longer,
and that he should start on the day after the messenger left. Of
course the messenger was mounted; but our men can march as far, in
a day, as a man can ride, and are sure to lose no time. They would
take the Leon road for some distance, then strike off and cross the
upper Esla at Maylorga, follow the road down, avoiding Benavente,
cross the Tera at Vega, take the track across the mountains, and
come down into the valley from above. He said that he should only
bring such stores as they would be able to carry on the march, and
that he hoped to get here before the French were aware that he had
left the mountains."

Late in the afternoon Leon's followers arrived. They had travelled
at night, so as to avoid being questioned by the French cavalry,
who were scattered all over the country. Ryan was glad to see the
men who had risked so much for him, and very pleased to be able to
exchange his peasant's clothes for his uniform. The next morning,
he and Leon mounted and rode by the track by which Terence would
arrive, and met him halfway between Vega and the camp. The greeting
was a hearty one, indeed and, as Ryan shook hands with Moras, he
said:

"I cannot tell you, senor, how much I am indebted to Don Leon for
the splendid way in which he managed my rescue. Nothing could have
been more admirably contrived, or better carried out. It certainly
seemed to me, after I had been there a day or two, that a rescue
was simply impossible; though I knew that Colonel O'Connor would do
his best to get me out, as soon as he learned that I was captured."

"I gave you credit for better sense, Dick, than to ride right into
the hands of the French," Terence said, as he and Ryan rode on
together at the head of the column.

"I think you would have done it yourself, Terence. The night was
dark, and I could not see ten yards ahead of me. If they had been
on the march, of course, I should have heard them; but by bad luck
they had halted just across the road I was following. It was very
fortunate that you put all the numbers wrong in your despatches,
and I can tell you it was a mighty comfort to me to know that you
had done so; for I should have been half mad at the thought that
they had got at your real strength, which would have entirely
defeated the object of our expedition. As it was, I had the
satisfaction of knowing that the capture of the despatches would do
more good than harm.

"Did the man who followed me get through?"

"Yes, he kept his eyes open, Dicky," Terence said. "He returned ten
days later, with a letter from the adjutant general, saying that
the commander-in-chief was highly satisfied with my reports; and
that the forward movement of the French had ceased and, at several
points, their advanced troops had been called in. Spies had brought
news that ten thousand men, under General Drouet, had marched for
Salamanca; and that reports were current in the French camp that a
very large force had crossed the frontier, at the northeastern
corner of Portugal, with the evident design of recovering the north
of Leon, and of cutting the main line of communication with France.

"He added that he trusted that I should be able to still further
harass the enemy, and cause him to send more reinforcements. He
said that, doubtless, I should be very shortly driven back into
Portugal again; but that he left the matter entirely to my
judgment, but pointed out that, if I could but maintain myself for
another fortnight, the winter would be at hand; when the passes
would be blocked with snow, and Marmont could no longer think of
invading Portugal in force. As it is now more than a month since
that letter was written, and certainly further reinforcements have
arrived, I think the chief will be well satisfied with what we have
done. I have sent off two letters since then, fully reporting on
the work we have been at between Burgos and Valladolid; but whether
they have reached him, I cannot tell."

"Macwitty has one despatch for you. He tells me it came nearly a
fortnight ago; but that he had, at that time, been compelled to
fall back behind the Esla; and that, as the country beyond swarmed
with parties of the French cavalry, he thought that no messenger
could get through, and that great harm might result were the
despatches to fall into the hands of the enemy."

"Well, I daresay it will keep, Dick, and that no harm will have
been done by my not receiving it sooner.

"Now, tell me all about your escape. Were you lodged in our old
convent?"

"I had no such luck, Terence. I was in the city prison, in the
centre of the town; and my window, instead of looking out into the
street, was on the side of the courtyard. The window was strongly
barred, no civilians were allowed to enter the prison, and I think
that even you, who have a sort of genius for escapes, would have
found it, as I did, simply impossible to get away."

"No, the lookout was certainly bad; and you had none of the
advantages we had, at Bayonne, of being guarded by friendly
soldiers. If I had, at Salamanca, not been able to make friends
with a Spanish girl--

"Well, tell me all about it."

Ryan gave full details of the manner in which Don Gonzales had
contrived his escape.

"That was well managed, indeed," Terence said. "Splendidly done.
Leon is a trump. He ought to have been born an Irishman, and to
have been in our regiment. I don't know that I can give him higher
praise than that."

On their arrival in the valley, they found that another courier had
returned, half an hour before. Both despatches expressed the
commander-in-chief's extreme satisfaction with the manner in which
Terence had carried out his instructions.

"The employment of your force in cutting the main road between
Valladolid and Valencia, and between the latter place and Burgos;
while at the same time you maintained a hold on the country south
of the Douro, thus blocking the roads from Salamanca both to Zamora
and Valladolid, was in the highest degree deserving of commendation.
The garrisons of all the towns named were kept in a state of constant
watchfulness, and so great was the alarm produced that another
division followed that of Drouet. This has paralyzed Marmont. As snow
has already begun to fall among the mountains, it is probable that he
will soon go into winter quarters. Your work, therefore, may be
considered as done and, as your position in the mountains must soon
become untenable, it would be well if you, at once, withdraw all your
forces into Portugal."

Moras also received a despatch signed by Lord Wellington himself,
thanking him warmly for the services he had rendered.

"I may say, sir, that yours is the first case, since I have had the
honour to command the British force in the Peninsula, that I have
received really valuable assistance from a body of irregular
troops; and that I am highly sensible of the zeal and ability which
you have shown in cooperating with Colonel O'Connor, a service
which has been of extreme value to my army. I must also express my
high gratification, not only with the conduct of the men under your
command when in action, but at the clemency shown to French
prisoners; a clemency, unfortunately, very rare during the present
war. I shall not fail to express, to the central Spanish
authorities, my high appreciation of your services. I have given
orders to the officer commanding the detachment of British troops
at Miranda that, should you keep your force together near the
frontier, he will, as far as possible, comply with any request you
may make for supplies for their use."

Moras was highly gratified with this despatch.

"I shall," he said, "stay in this valley for the winter; but I
shall not keep more than a hundred, or a hundred and fifty men with
me. The peasants will disperse to their homes. Those remaining with
me will be the inhabitants of the towns; who could not safely
return, as they might be denounced by the Spanish spies, in French
pay, as having been out with me. We have plenty of supplies stored
up here to last us through the winter."

Terence at once sent off a report of his return, and an
acknowledgment of the receipt of the despatches from headquarters
and, the next day, in obedience to his orders, marched with his
regiment across the frontier, and established himself in Miranda.

The answer came in five days. It was brief.

"On receipt of this Colonel O'Connor will march, with the regiment
under his command, to Pinhel; and there report himself to General
Crawford."

Terence had ridden over, the afternoon before, to the valley; where
he found that but two hundred of the guerillas remained. Fifty of
these were on the point of leaving, the rest would remain with
Moras through the winter.

On arrival at Pinhel after three days' marching, he reported
himself to General Crawford. The general himself was absent but,
from the head of his staff, he received an order on the
quartermaster's department. Tents for his men were at once given
him, and a spot pointed out for their encampment. Six regiments
were, he heard, in the immediate neighbourhood; and among them he
found, to his great joy, were the Mayo Fusiliers. As soon as the
tents were erected, rations drawn, and a party despatched to obtain
straw for bedding from the quartermaster's department, Terence left
Herrara and the two majors to see that the troops were made
comfortable, and then rode over with Ryan to the camp of the
Fusiliers.

They were received with the heartiest welcome by the colonel and
officers; in whose ranks, however, there were several gaps, for the
regiment had suffered heavily at Fuentes d'Onoro.

"So you have been taken prisoner again, Terence!" Captain O'Grady
exclaimed; "sure, it must be on purpose you did it. Anyone may get
taken prisoner once; but when it happens twice, it begins to look
as if he was fonder of French rations than of French guns."

"I didn't think of it in that light, O'Grady; but now you put it
so, I will try and not get caught for the third time."

"We heard of your return, of course, and that you had gone straight
with your regiment to Miranda. We had a line from Dicky, the day
before he started; and mighty unkind we have thought it that neither
of you have sent us a word since then, and you with nothing to do at
all, at all; while we have been marching and countermarching, now
here and now there, now backwards and now forwards, ever since
Fuentes d'Onoro, till one's legs were ready to drop off one."

"Give someone else a chance to put in a word, O'Grady," the colonel
said. "Here we are, all dying to know how O'Connor slipped through
the hands of the French again; and sorra a word can anyone get in,
when your tongue is once loosened. If you are not quiet, I will
take him away with me to my own quarters; and just ask two or three
men, who know how to hold their tongue, to come up and listen to
his story."

"I will be as silent as a mouse, colonel dear," O'Grady said,
humbly; "though I would point out that O'Connor, being a colonel
like yourself, and in no way under your orders, might take it into
his head to prefer to stop with us here, instead of going with you.

"Now, Terence, we are all waiting for your story. Why don't you go
on?"

"Because, as you see, I am hard at work eating, just at present. We
have marched twenty miles this morning, with nothing but a crust of
bread at starting; and the story will keep much better than
luncheon."

Terence did not hurry himself over his meal but, when he had
finished, he gave them particulars of his escape from Salamanca,
his journey down to Cadiz, and then round by Lisbon.

"I thought there would be a woman in it, Terence," O'Grady
exclaimed. "With a soft tongue, and a presentable sort of face, and
impudence enough for a whole regiment, it was aisy for you to put
the comhether on a poor Spanish girl, who had never had the good
luck to meet an officer of the Mayo Fusiliers before. Sure, I have
always said to meself that, if I was ever taken prisoner, it would
not be long before some good-looking girl would take a fancy to me,
and get me out of the French clutches. Sure, if a young fellow like
yourself, without any special recommendations except a bigger share
of impudence than usual, could manage it; it would be aisy, indeed,
for a man like meself, with all the advantages of having lost an
arm in battle, to get round them."

There was a shout of laughter round the table, for O'Grady had, as
usual, spoken with an air of earnest simplicity, as if the
propositions he was laying down were beyond question.

"You must have had a weary time at Miranda, since you came back,
O'Connor," the colonel said, "with no one there but a wing of the
65th."

"I don't suppose they were to be pitied, colonel," Doctor
O'Flaherty laughed. "You may be sure that they kept Miranda lively,
in some way or other. Trust them for getting into mischief of some
sort."

"There is no saying what we might have done if we had, as you
suppose, been staying for the last two months at Miranda; but in
point of fact that has not been the case. We have been across the
frontier, and have been having a pretty lively time of it--at least
I have, for Dick has spent a month of it inside a French prison."

"What!" the major exclaimed, "were you with that force that has
been puzzling us all, and has been keeping the French in such hot
water that, as we hear, Marmont was obliged to give up his idea of
invading Portugal, and had to hurry off twenty thousand men, to
save Salamanca and Valladolid from being captured? Nobody has been
able to understand where the army sprung from, or how it was
composed. The general idea was that a division from England must
have landed, at either Oporto or Vigo, or that it must have been
brought round from Sicily; for none of our letters or papers said a
word about any large force having sailed from England. Not a soul
seemed to know anything about it. I know a man on Crawford's staff,
and he assured me that none of them were in the secret.

"A French officer, who was brought in a prisoner a few days since,
put their numbers down at twenty-five thousand, at least;
including, he said, a large guerilla force. He said that Zamora had
been cut off for a long time, that the country had been ravaged,
and posts captured almost at the gates of Salamanca; and that
communications had been interrupted, and large convoys captured
between Burgos and Valladolid; and that one column, five thousand
strong, had been very severely mauled, and forced to fall back.
This confirmed the statements that we had before heard, from the
peasantry and the French deserters. Now there is a chance of
penetrating the mystery, which has been a profound puzzle to us
here, and indeed to the whole army.

"The officer taken seemed to consider that the regular soldiers
were Portuguese; but of course that was nonsense. Beresford's
troops were all with him down south and, as to any other Portuguese
army, unless Wellington has got one together as secretly as he got
up the lines of Torres Vedras, the thing is absurd. Besides, who
had ever heard of Portuguese carrying on such operations as these,
without having a lot of our men to stiffen them, and to set them a
good example?"

Terence did not, at once, answer. Looking round the table he saw
that, in place of the expressions of amusement with which the
previous conversation had been listened to, there was now, on every
face, a deep and serious interest. He glanced at Ryan, who was
apparently absorbed in the occupation of watching the smoke curling
up from his cigar. At last he said:

"I fear, major, that I cannot answer your question. I may say that
I have had no specific orders to keep silence but, as it seems that
the whole matter has been kept a profound secret, I do not think
that, unless it comes out in some other way, I should be justified
in saying anything about it.

"I think that you will agree with me, Ryan."

Dick nodded.

"Yes, I agree with you that it would be best to say nothing about
it, till we hear that the facts are known. What has been done once,
may be done again."

"Quite so, Dick. I am glad that you agree with me.

"However, there can be no objection to your giving an account of
your gallant charge into the middle of the French cavalry, and the
story of your imprisonment and escape.

"I am sure, colonel, that it will be a source of gratification to
you, to know that one of your officers dashed, single handed, right
into the midst of a French squadron."

Ryan laughed.

"I am afraid the interest in the matter will be diminished,
colonel, when I mention that the charge was executed at night, and
that I was ignorant of the vicinity of the French until I rode into
the middle of them."

There was again a general laugh.

"I was on my way with despatches for Lord Wellington," he went on,
"when this unfortunate business happened."

"That was unfortunate, indeed, Ryan," the colonel said. "They did
not capture your despatches, I hope?"

"Indeed and they did, colonel. They had fast hold of me before I
could as much as draw my sword. They, however, gained very little
by them for, knowing that it was possible I might be captured, the
despatches had been so worded that they would deceive, rather than
inform, anyone into whose hands they might fall; though of course,
I had instructions to explain the matter, when I delivered them
safely."

Then he proceeded to give a full account of his rescue from the
prison of Salamanca. This was listened to with great interest.

"It was splendidly managed," the colonel said, when he had brought
his story to an end. "It was splendidly managed. Terence himself
could not have done it better. Well, you are certainly wonderfully
handy at getting into scrapes. Why, you have both been captured
twice, and both times got away safely.

"When I gave you your commission, Terence, I thought that you and
Ryan would keep things alive; but I certainly did not anticipate
that you would be so successful, that way, as you have been."

"I have had very little to do with it, colonel," Ryan said.

"No, I know that at Athlone Terence was the ringleader of all the
mischief that went on. Still, you were a good second, Ryan; that
is, if that position does not really belong to O'Grady."

"Is it me, colonel?" O'Grady said, in extreme surprise, and looking
round the table with an air of earnest protest, "when I was always
lecturing the boys?"

"I think, O'Grady, your manner of lecturing was akin to the
well-known cry:

"'Don't throw him into the pond, boys.'"

At this moment there was a sound of horses drawing up in front of
the house.

"It is the general and his staff," one of the ensigns said, as he
glanced through the window.

The table had been cleared, but there was a sudden and instant rush
to carry away bottles and glasses to hiding places. Newspapers were
scattered along the table and, when the door opened half a minute
later and the general entered, followed by his staff, the officers
of the Mayo Fusiliers presented an orderly and even studious
appearance. They all rose and saluted, as the general entered.

"I hope I am not disturbing you, gentlemen," General Crawford said
gravely, but with a sly look of amusement stealing across his
rugged face; "I am glad to see you all so well employed. There is
no doubt that the Irish regiments are greatly maligned. On two or
three occasions, when I have happened to call upon their officers,
I have uniformly found them studying the contents of the
newspapers. Your cigars, too, must be of unusually good quality,
for their odour seems mingled with a faint scent of--what shall I
say? It certainly reminds me of whisky though, as I see, that must
be but fancy on my part. However, gentlemen, I have not come in to
inspect your mess room, but to speak to Colonel O'Connor," and he
looked inquiringly round.

Terence at once stepped forward, and again saluted. The general,
whom Terence had not before met, looked him up and down, and then
held out his hand.

"I have heard of you many times, Colonel O'Connor. General Hill has
talked to me frequently of you and, not long since, when I was at
headquarters, Lord Wellington himself spoke to me for some time
about you, and from his staff I learned other particulars. That you
were young, I knew; but I was not prepared to find one who might
well pass as a junior lieutenant, or even as an ensign. This was
the regiment that you formerly belonged to; and as, on sending
across to your corps, I learned that you were here, I thought it as
well to come myself to tell you, before your comrades and friends,
that I have received from headquarters this morning a request from
the adjutant general to tell you personally, when you arrived, the
extreme satisfaction that the commander-in-chief feels at the
services that you have rendered.

"When I was at headquarters the other day, I was shown the reports
that you have, during the last six weeks, sent in; and am therefore
in a position to appreciate the work you have done. It is not too
much to say that you have saved Portugal from invasion, have
paralyzed the movements of the French, and have given to the
commander-in-chief some months in which to make his preparations
for taking the field in earnest, in the spring.

"Has Colonel O'Connor told you what he has been doing?" he said
suddenly, turning to Colonel Corcoran.

"No, general. In answer to our questions he said that, as it seemed
the matter had been kept a secret, he did not feel justified in
saying anything on the subject, until he received a distinct
intimation that there was no further occasion for remaining
silent."

"You did well, sir," the general said, again turning to Terence,
"and acted with the prudence and discretion that has, with much
dash and bravery, distinguished your conduct. As, however, the
armies have now gone into winter quarters; and as a general order
will appear, today, speaking of your services, and I have been
commissioned purposely to convey to you Lord Wellington's approval,
there is no occasion for further mystery on the subject.

"The force whose doings have paralyzed the French, broken up their
communications, and compelled Marmont to detach twenty thousand men
to assist at least an equal force in Salamanca, Zamora, Valladolid,
and Valencia, has consisted solely of the men of Colonel O'Connor's
regiment; and about an equal number of guerillas, commanded by the
partisan Moras. I need not tell you that a supreme amount of
activity, energy, and prudence, united, must have been employed
thus to disarrange the plans of a French general, commanding an
army of one hundred thousand men, by a band of two battalions of
Portuguese, and a couple of thousand undisciplined guerillas. It is
a feat that I, myself, or any other general in the British army,
might well be proud to have performed; and too much praise cannot
be bestowed upon Colonel O'Connor, and the three British officers
acting under his command; of all whose services, together with
those of his Portuguese officers, he has most warmly spoken in his
reports.

"And now, colonel, I see that there are on your mess table some
dark rings that may, possibly, have been caused by glasses. These,
doubtless, are not very far away, and I have no doubt that, when I
have left, you will very heartily drink the health of your former
comrade--I should say comrades, for I hear that Captain Ryan is
among you.

"Which is he?"

Ryan stepped forward.

"I congratulate you also, sir," he said. "Colonel O'Connor has
reported that you have rendered great services, since you were
attached to him as adjutant; and have introduced many changes which
have added to the efficiency and discipline of the regiment. My
staff, as well as myself, will be very pleased to make the personal
acquaintance of Colonel O'Connor and yourself, and I shall be glad
if you will both dine with me today--

"And if you, Colonel Corcoran, will accompany them.

"Tomorrow I will inspect the Minho regiment, at eleven o'clock; and
you will then introduce to me your lieutenant colonel and your two
majors, who have all so well carried out your instructions."

So saying, he shook hands with the colonel, Terence, and Ryan and,
with an acknowledgment of the salutes of the other officers, left
the room with his staff.

"If a bullet does not cut short his career in some of his adventures,"
he said to Colonel Corcoran, who had accompanied him, "O'Connor has an
extraordinary future before him. His face is a singular mixture of
good temper, energy, and resolute determination. There are many
gallant young officers in the army, but it is seldom that reckless
bravery and enterprise are joined, as in his case, with prudence and a
head to plan. He cannot be more than one-and-twenty, so there is no
saying what he may be, when he reaches forty. Trant is an excellent
leader, but he has never accomplished a tithe of what has been done by
that lad."

The general having left the room, the officers crowded round
Terence. But few words were said, for they were still so surprised,
at what they had heard, as to be incapable of doing more than shake
him warmly by the hand, and pat him on the shoulder. Ryan came in
for a share in this demonstration.

The colonel returned at once, after having seen the general ride
off.

"Faith, Terence," he said, "if justice were done, they would make
me a general for putting you into the army. I have half a mind to
write to Lord Wellington, and put in a claim for promotion on that
ground.

"What are you doing, O'Grady?" he broke off, as that officer walked
round and round Terence, scrutinizing him attentively, as if he had
been some unknown animal.

"I am trying to make sure, colonel, that this is really Terence
O'Connor, whom I have cuffed many a time when he was a bit of a
spalpeen, with no respect for rank; as you yourself discovered,
colonel, in the matter of that bird he fastened in the plume of
your shako. He looks like him, and yet I have me doubts.

"Is it yerself, Terence O'Connor? Will you swear to it on the
testiments?"

"I think I can do that, O'Grady," Terence laughed. "You see, I have
done credit to your instructions."

"You have that. I always told you that I would make a man of you,
and it is my instruction that has done it.

"How I wish, lad," he went on, with a sudden change of voice, "that
your dear father had been here this day! Faith, he would have been
a proud man. Ah! It was a cruel bullet that hit him, at Vimiera."

"Ay, you may well say that, O'Grady," the colonel agreed.

"Have you heard from him lately, Terence?"

"No, colonel. It's more than four months since I have had a letter
from him. Of course, he always writes to me to headquarters but, as
I only stopped there a few hours, on my way from Lisbon to join the
regiment, I stupidly forgot to ask if there were any letters for
me; and of course there has been no opportunity for them to be
forwarded to me, since. However, they will know in a day or two
that I have arrived here, and will be sure to send them on, at
once."

"Now, let's hear all about it, O'Connor, for at present we have
heard nothing but vague rumours about the doings of this northern
army of yours, beyond what the general has just said."

"But first, colonel, if you will permit me to say so," O'Grady put
in, "I would propose that General Crawford's suggestion, as to the
first thing to be done, should be carried out; and that the whisky
keg should be produced again.

"We have a good stock, Terence, enough to carry us nearly through
the winter."

"Then it must be a good stock, indeed, O'Grady," Terence laughed.
"You see, the general was too sharp for us."

"That he was but, as a Scotchman, he has naturally a good nose for
whisky. He is a capital fellow. Hot tempered and obstinate as he
undoubtedly is, he is as popular with his division as any general
out here. They know that, if there is any fighting to be done, they
are sure to have their share and more and, except when roused, he
is cheery and pleasant. He takes a great interest in his men's
welfare, and does all that he can to make them as comfortable as
possible; though, as they generally form the advanced guard of the
army, they necessarily suffer more than the rest of us."

By this time the tumblers were brought out, from the cupboards into
which they had been so hastily placed on the general's arrival.
Half a dozen black bottles were produced, and some jugs of water,
and Terence's health was drunk with all the honours. Three cheers
were added for Dicky Ryan, and then all sat down to listen to
Terence's story.



Chapter 17: Ciudad Rodrigo.


"Before O'Connor begins," the colonel said, "you had better lay, on
the table in front of you, the pocket maps I got from Lisbon for
you last year, after O'Connor had lectured us on the advantages of
knowing the country.

"I can tell you, Terence, they have been of no small use to us
since we left Torres Vedras; and I think that even O'Grady could
pass an examination, as to the roads and positions along the
frontier, with credit to himself.

"I think, gentlemen, that you who have not got your maps with you
would do well to fetch them. You will then be able to follow
Colonel O'Connor's story, and get to know a good deal more about
the country where, I hope, we shall be fighting next spring, than
we should in any other way."

Several of the officers left the room, and soon returned with their
maps.

"I feel almost like a schoolmaster," Terence laughed. "But indeed,
as our work consisted almost entirely of rapid marching, which you
would scarcely be able to follow without maps, it may really be
useful, if we campaign across there, to know something of the
roads, and the position of the towns and villages."

Then he proceeded to relate all that had taken place, first
describing the incidents of the battle, and their work among the
mountains.

"You understand," he said, "that my orders were not so much to do
injury to the enemy, as to deceive him as to the amount of our
force, and to lead them to believe it to be very much stronger than
it really was. This could only be done by rapid marches and, as you
will see, the main object was to cut all his lines of communication,
and at the same time to show ourselves, in force, at points a
considerable distance apart. To effect this we, on several occasions,
marched upwards of sixty miles in a day; and upwards of forty,
several days in succession; a feat that could hardly be accomplished
except by men at once robust, and well accustomed to mountain work,
and trained to long marches; as those of my regiment have been, since
they were first raised."

Then taking out a copy of his report, he gave in much fuller detail
than in the report, itself, an account of the movements of the
various columns and flying parties, during the first ten days; and
then, more briefly, their operations between Burgos and Valladolid,
ending up by saying:

"You see, colonel, there was really nothing out of the way in all
this. We had the advantage of having a great number of men who knew
the country intimately; and the cutting of all their communications,
the exaggerated reports brought to them by the peasants, and the
maintenance of our posts round Salamanca and Zamora while we were
operating near Burgos and Valladolid, impressed the commanders of
these towns with such an idea of our strength, and such uneasiness
as to their communications that, after the reverse to their column,
none of them ever ventured to attack us in earnest."

"That is no doubt true," the colonel said, "but to have done all
this when--with the reinforcements sent up, and the very strong
garrison at four of the towns, to say nothing of the division of
Burgos--they had forty thousand men disposable, is a task that
wanted a head well screwed on. I can see how you did it; but that
would be a very different thing to doing it, oneself.

"However, you have taught us a great deal of the geography of the
country between the frontier and Burgos, and it ought to be useful.
If I had received an order, this afternoon, to march with the
regiment to Tordesillas, for example, I should have known no more
where the place stood, or by what road I was to go to it, than if
they had ordered me to march to Jericho. Now I should be able to go
straight for it, by the shortest line. I should cross the roads at
points at which we were not likely to be attacked, and throw out
strong parties to protect our flanks till we had passed; and should
feel that I was not stumbling along in the dark, and just trusting
to luck."

"Now, colonel, we must be off to our own quarters," Terence said.
"We have been too long away now and, if I had not known that
Herrara and the majors were to be trusted to do their work--and in
fact they did it well, without my assistance, all the time I was
away prisoner--I could not have left them, as I did, half an hour
after they had encamped."

The next morning Terence received a copy of the orders of the day
of the division, at present, under General Crawford's command;
together with the general orders of the whole army, from
headquarters. In the latter, to which Terence first turned, was a
paragraph:

"Lord Wellington expresses his great satisfaction at the
exceptional services rendered by the Minho Portuguese regiment,
under its commander Captain T. O'Connor, of the headquarter staff,
bearing the rank of colonel in the Portuguese army. He has had
great pleasure in recommending him to the commander-in-chief for
promotion in the British army. He has also to report very
favourably the conduct of Lieutenant Ryan, of the Mayo Fusiliers,
and Ensigns Bull and Macwitty, all attached for service to the
Minho regiment; and shall bring before General Lord Beresford that
of Lieutenant Colonel Herrara, of the same regiment."

In the divisional orders of the day appeared the words:

"In noticing the arrival of the Minho Portuguese regiment, under
the command of Colonel Terence O'Connor, to join the division
temporarily under his command, General Crawford takes this
opportunity of congratulating Colonel O'Connor on the most
brilliant services that his regiment has performed, in a series of
operations upon the Spanish side of the frontier."

Four days later, Terence received two letters from home. These were
written after the receipt of that sent off by him on his arrival at
Cadiz, narrating his escape. His father wrote:

"My dear Terence,

"Your letter, received this morning, has taken a heavy load off our
minds. Of course, we saw the despatches giving particulars of the
battle of Fuentes d'Onoro--which, by the way, seems to have been
rather a confused sort of affair, and the enemy must have blundered
into it just as we did; only as they were all there, and we only
came up piecemeal, they should have thrashed us handsomely, if they
had known their business. Well, luck is everything and, as you have
had a good deal more than your share of it since you joined, one
must not grumble if the jade has done you a bad turn this time.

"However, as you have got safely out of their hands, you have no
reason for complaint. Still, you had best not try the thing too
often. Next time you may not find a good-looking girl to help you
out. By the way, you don't tell us whether she was good looking.
Mention it in your next; Mary is very curious about it.

"We are getting on capitally here and, I can tell you, the old
place looks quite imposing, and I was never so comfortable in my
life. We have as much company as I care for, and scarce a day
passes but some young fellow or other rides over, on the pretence
of talking over the war news with me. But I am too old a soldier to
be taken in, and know well enough that Mary is the real attraction.

"My leg has now so far recovered that I can sit a horse; but though
I ride with your cousin, when the hounds meet anywhere near, I
cannot venture to follow; for if I got a spill, it might bring on
the old trouble again, and lay me up for a couple of years. I used
to hope that I should get well enough to be able to apply to be put
on full pay again. But I feel myself too comfortable, here, to
think of it; and indeed, until I have handed Mary to someone else's
keeping, it would of course be impossible, and I have quite made up
my mind to be moored here for the rest of my life. But to return.

"Of course, as soon as I saw you were missing, I wrote to an old
friend on the general staff at Dublin, and asked him to write to
the Horse Guards. The answer came back that it was known that you
had been taken prisoner, and that you were wounded, but not
severely. You were commanding the rear face of the square into
which your regiment had been thrown, when your horse, which was
probably hit by a bullet, ran away with you into the ranks of the
enemy's cavalry. After that we were, of course, more comfortable
about you, and Mary maintained that you would very soon be turning
up again, like a bad penny.

"I need not say that we are constantly talking about you. Now, take
care of yourself, Terence. Bear in mind that, if you get yourself
killed, there will be no more adventures for you--at least, none
over which you will have any control. Your cousin has just
expressed the opinion that she does not think you were born to be
shot; she thinks that a rope is more likely than a bullet to cut
short your career. She is writing to you herself; and as her tongue
runs a good deal faster than mine, I have no doubt that her pen
will do so, also. As you say, with your Portuguese pay and your
own, you are doing well; but if you should get pinched at any time,
be sure to draw on me, up to any reasonable amount.

"It seems to me that things are not going on very well, on the
frontier; and I should not be surprised to hear that Wellington is
in full retreat again, for Torres Vedras. Remember me to the
colonel, O'Driscoll, and all the others. I see, by the Gazette,
that Stokes, who was junior ensign when the regiment went into
action at Vimiera, has just got his step. That shows the changes
that have taken place, and how many good fellows have fallen out of
the ranks. Again I say, take care of yourself.

"Your affectionate Father."

His cousin's letter was, as usual, long and chatty; telling him
about his father, their pursuits and amusements, and their
neighbours.

"You don't deserve so long a letter," she said, when she was
approaching the conclusion, "for although I admit your letters are
long, you never seem to tell one just the things one wants to know.
For example, you tell us exactly the road you travelled down to
Cadiz, with the names of the villages and so on, just as if you
were writing an official report. Your father says it is very
interesting, and has been working it all out on the map. It is very
interesting to me to know that you have got safely to Cadiz but, as
there were no adventures by the way, I don't care a snap about the
names of the villages you passed through, or the exact road you
traversed.

"Now, on the other hand, I should like to know all about this young
woman who helped you to get out of prison. You don't say a word
about what she is like, whether she is pretty or plain. You don't
even mention her name, or say whether she fell in love with you, or
you with her; though I admit that you do say that she was engaged
to the muleteer Garcia. I think, if I had been in his place, I
should have managed to let you fall into the hands of the French
again. I should say a man was a great fool to help to rescue anyone
his girl had taken all sorts of pains to get out of prison.

"At any rate, sir, I expect you to give me a fair and honest
description of her the next time you write, for I consider your
silence about her to be, in the highest degree, suspicious.
However, I have the satisfaction of knowing that you are not likely
to be in Salamanca again, for a very long time. Your father says he
does not think anything will be done, until the present Ministry
are kicked out here; and Wellington hangs the principal members of
all the Juntas in Portugal, and all that he can get at, in Spain.

"He is the most bloodthirsty man that I have ever come across,
according to his own account, but in reality he would not hurt a
fly. He is always doing kind actions among the peasantry, and the
'Major' is quite the most popular man in this part of the country.

"I have not yet forgiven you for having gone straight back to
Spain, instead of running home for a short time when you were so
close to us, at Jersey. I told you when I wrote that I should never
forgive you, and I am still of the same opinion. It was too bad.

"Your father has just called to ask if I am going on writing all
night; and it is quite time to close, that it may go with his own
letter, which a boy is waiting to carry on horseback to the post
office, four miles away; so goodbye.

"Your very affectionate cousin, Mary."

The next two months passed quietly at Pinhel. Operations continued
to be carried on at various points but, although several encounters
of minor importance took place, the combatants were engaged rather
in endeavouring to feel each other's positions, and to divine each
other's intentions, than to bring about a serious battle. Marmont
believed Wellington to be stronger than he was, while the latter
rather underestimated the French strength. Thus there were, on both
sides, movements of advance and retirement.

During the time that had elapsed since the battles of Fuentes
d'Onoro and Albuera, Badajos had been again besieged by the
British, but ineffectually; and in August Wellington, taking
advantage of Marmont's absence in the south, advanced and
established a blockade of Ciudad Rodrigo. This had led to some
fighting. The activity of General Hill, and the serious menace to
the communications effected by Terence's Portuguese and the
guerillas, had prevented the French from gathering in sufficient
strength, either to drive the blockading force across the frontier
again, or from carrying out Napoleon's plans for the invasion of
Portugal. Wellington, on his part, was still unable to move; owing
to the absence of transport, and the manner in which the Portuguese
government thwarted him at every point: leaving all his demands
that the roads should be kept in good order, unattended to;
starving their own troops to such an extent that they were
altogether unfit for action; placing every obstacle to the calling
out of new levies; and in every way hindering his plans.

He obtained but little assistance or encouragement at home. His
military chest was empty. The muleteers, who kept up the supply of
food for the army, were six months in arrears of pay. The British
troops were also unpaid, badly supplied with clothes and shoes;
while money and stores were still being sent in unlimited
quantities to the Spanish Juntas, where they did no good whatever,
and might as well have been thrown into the sea. But in spite of
all these difficulties, the army was daily improving in efficiency.
The men were now inured to hardships of all kinds. They had, in
three pitched battles, proved themselves superior to the French;
and they had an absolute confidence in their commander.

Much was due to the efforts of Lord Fitzroy Somerset, Wellington's
military secretary who, by entering into communication with the
commanders of brigades and regiments, most of whom were quite young
men--for the greater part of the army was but of recent
creation--was enabled not only to learn something of the state of
discipline in each regiment, but greatly to encourage and stimulate
the efforts of its officers; who felt that the doings of their
regiment were observed at headquarters, that merit would be
recognized without favouritism, and that any failure in the
discipline or morale of those under their orders would be noted
against them. Twice, during the two months, Terence had been sent
for to headquarters, in order that he might give Lord Fitzroy
minute information concerning the various roads and localities,
point out natural obstacles where an obstinate defence might be
made by an enemy, or which could be turned to advantage by an
advancing army. The route maps that he had sent were frequently
turned to, and fully explained.

The second visit took place in the last week in November and, on
his arrival, the military secretary began the conversation by
handing a Gazette to him.

"This arrived yesterday, Colonel O'Connor; and I congratulate you
that, upon the very strong recommendation of Lord Wellington, you
are gazetted to a majority. Now that your position is so well
assured, there will be no longer occasion for you to remain
nominally attached to the headquarter staff. Of course, it was
before I came out that this was done; and I learned that the
intention was that you would not act upon the staff, but it was to
be merely an honorary position, without pay, in order to add to
your authority and independence, when you happen to come in contact
with Portuguese officers of a higher rank."

"That was so, sir. I was very grateful for the kindness that Lord
Wellington showed, in thus enabling me to wear the uniform of his
staff, which was of great assistance to me at the time; and indeed,
I am deeply conscious of the kindness with which he has, on every
occasion, treated me; and for his recommending me for promotion."

"I should have been personally glad," Lord Fitzroy went on, "to
have had you permanently attached to our staff; as your knowledge
of the country might, at times, be of great value, and of your zeal
and energy you have given more than ample proofs. I spoke of the
matter to the general, this morning. He agreed with me that you
would be a great addition to the staff but, upon the other hand,
such a step would very seriously diminish the efficiency of the
regiment that you raised, and have since commanded. The regiment
has lately rendered quite exceptional services and, under your
command, we reckon it to be as valuable in the fighting line as if
it were one of our own; which is more than can be said for any
other Portuguese battalion, although some of them have, of late,
fought remarkably well.

"I do not say that Colonel Herrara, aided by his three English
officers--who, by the way, are all promoted in this Gazette, the
two ensigns to the rank of lieutenants, and Mr. Ryan to that of
captain--would not keep the regiment in a state of efficiency, so
far as fighting is concerned; but without your leading, it could
not be relied upon to act for detached service such as it has
performed under you."

"Thank you, sir. Of course, it would be a great honour to me to be
on the general's staff, but I should be very sorry to leave the
regiment and, frankly, I do not think that it would get on well
without me. Colonel Herrara is ready to bestow infinite pains on
his work, but I do not think that he would do things on his own
responsibility. Bull and Macwitty have both proved themselves
zealous and active, and I can always rely upon them to carry out my
orders to the letter; but I doubt if they would get on as well,
with Herrara, as they do with me. I am very glad to hear that they
and Mr. Ryan have got their steps. The latter makes an admirable
adjutant, and if I had to choose one of the four for the command I
should select him; but he has not been very long with the regiment,
is not known personally, and would not, I think, have the same
influence with the Portuguese officers and men. Moreover I am
afraid that, having been in command so long, I should miss my
independence, if I had only to carry out the orders of others."

"I can quite understand that," the military secretary said, with a
smile. "I can quite realize the fascination of the life of a
partisan leader; especially when he has, which Trant and the others
have not, a body of men whom he has trained himself, and upon whom
he can absolutely rely. You can still, of course, wear the uniform
of a field officer on the general's staff, and so will have very
little alteration to make, save by adding the proper insignia of
your rank. I will write you a line, authorizing you to do so.

"Now, let us have a turn at your maps. I may tell you in confidence
that, if an opportunity offers, we shall at once convert the
blockade of Ciudad into a siege; and hope to carry it before the
enemy can march, with sufficient force, to its relief.

"To do so he would naturally collect all his available forces from
Salamanca, Zamora, and Valladolid, and would probably obtain
reinforcements from Madrid and Estremadura; and I want to
ascertain, as far as possible, the best means of checking the
advance of some of these troops, by the blowing up of bridges, or
the throwing forward of such a force as your regiment to seize any
defile, or other point, that could be held for a day or two, and an
enemy's column thus delayed. Even twenty-four hours might be of
importance."

"I understand, sir. Of course, the passes between Madrid and Avila
might be retained for some little time, especially if the defenders
had a few guns; but they would be liable to be taken in the rear by
a force at Avila, where there were, when I went down south, over
five thousand men. As to the troops coming from the north, they
would doubtless march on Salamanca. From that town they would cross
the Huebra and Yeltes so near their sources that no difficulty
would be caused by the blowing up of bridges, if any exist; but the
pass over the Sierra de Gatta, on the south of Ciudad, might be
defended by a small force, without difficulty."

The maps were now got out, and the matter gone into minutely. After
an hour's conversation, Lord Fitzroy said:

"Thank you, Colonel O'Connor. Some of the information that you have
given me will assuredly be very useful, if we besiege Ciudad. From
what we hear, there are a good many changes being made in the
French command. Napoleon seems about to engage in a campaign with
Russia, and is likely to draw off a certain portion of the forces
here and, while these changes are being made, it would seem to
offer a good opportunity for us to strike a blow."

On the last day of December, Terence received the following order:

"Colonel O'Connor will draw six days' rations from the commissariat
and, at daybreak tomorrow, march to the river Aqueda and, on the
following day, will ford that river and will post himself along the
line of the Yeltes, from its junction with the Huebra to the
mountains; and will prevent any person or parties crossing from
this side. It is of the highest importance that no intelligence of
the movements of the army should be sent, either by the garrison of
Ciudad or by the peasantry, to Salamanca. When his provisions are
exhausted, he is authorized to hire carts and send in to the army
round Ciudad but, if possible, he should obtain supplies from the
country near him, and is authorized to purchase provisions, and to
send in accounts and vouchers, for such purchases, to the
paymaster's department."

"Hurrah, Ryan," he exclaimed on reading the order, "things are
going to move, at last! This means, of course, that the army is
going to besiege Ciudad at once; and that we are to prevent the
French from getting any news of it, until it is too late for them
to relieve it. For the last month, guns and ammunition have been
arriving at Almeida; and I thought that this weary time of waiting
was drawing to an end."

"I am glad, indeed, Terence. I must say that I was afraid that we
should not be moving until the spring. Shall we go in and say
goodbye to our fellows?"

"Yes, we may as well; but mind, don't say where we are going to,
only that we are ordered away. I don't suppose that the regiments
will know anything about it, till within an hour of the time they
march. There can be no doubt that it is a serious business. Ciudad
held out for weeks against Massena; and with Marmont within a few
days' march, with an army at least as strong as ours, it will be a
tough business, indeed, to take it before he can come up to its
relief; and I can well understand that it is all important that he
shall know nothing about the siege, till it is too late for him to
arrive in time."

"We have come in to say goodbye, colonel," Terence said, as he and
Ryan entered the mess room of the Mayo Fusiliers that evening.

"And where are you off to, O'Connor?"

"Well, sir, I don't mind mentioning it in here, but it must go no
further. The chief, knowing what we are capable of, proposes that I
shall make a rapid march to Madrid, seize the city, and bring King
Joseph back a prisoner."

There was a roar of laughter.

"Terence, my boy," Captain O'Grady said, "that is hardly a mission
worthy of a fighting man like yourself. I expect that you are
hiding something from us, and that the real idea is that you should
traverse Spain and France, enter Germany, and seize Boney, and
carry him off with you to England."

"I dare not tell you whether you are right or not, O'Grady. Things
of this sort must not even be whispered about. It is a wonderfully
good guess that you have made and, when it is all over, you will be
able to take credit for having divined what was up; but for mercy's
sake don't talk about it. Keep as silent as the grave and, if
anyone should ask you what has become of us, pretend that you know
nothing about it."

"But you are going, O'Connor?" the colonel said, when the laughter
had subsided.

"Yes, colonel. We march tomorrow morning. I daresay you will hear
of us before many days are over; and may, perhaps, be able to make
even a closer guess than O'Grady as to what we are doing. I am
heartily glad that we are off. We are now at our full strength
again. Most of the wounded have rejoined, and I could have filled
up the vacancies a dozen times over. The Portuguese know that I
always manage to get food for my men, somehow; which is more than
can be said for the other Portuguese regiments, though those of
Trant and Pack are better off than Beresford's regulars. Then, too,
I think they like fighting, now that they feel that they are a
match for the French, man for man. They get a fair share of it, at
any rate. The three months that we have been idle have been useful,
as the new recruits know their work as well as the others."

"Then you don't know how much longer we are going to stop in this
bastely hole?" O'Grady asked.

"Well, I will tell you this much, O'Grady: I fancy that, before
this day week, you will all have work to do; and that it is likely
to be hot."

"That is a comfort, Terence. But, my dear boy, have a little pity
on us and don't finish off the business by yourselves. Remember
that we have come a long way, and that it will be mighty hard for
us if you were to clear the French out of Spain, and leave nothing
for us to do but to bury their dead and escort their army, as
prisoners, to the port."

"I will bear it in mind, O'Grady; but don't you forget the past.
You know how desperately you grumbled at Rolica, because the
regiment was not in it; and how you got your wish at Vimiera, and
lost an arm in consequence. So even if I do, as you say, push the
French out of Spain, you will have the consolation of knowing that
you will be able to go back to Ireland, without leaving any more
pieces of you behind."

"There is something in that, Terence," O'Grady said gravely. "I
think that when this is over I shall go on half pay, and there may
as well be as much of me left, as possible, to enjoy it. It's an
ungrateful country I am serving. In spite of all that I have done
for it, and the loss of my arm into the bargain; here am I, still a
captain, though maybe I am near the top of the list. Still, it is
but a captain I am, and here are two gossoons, like yourself and
Dick Ryan, the one of you marching about a field officer, and the
other a captain. It is heart-breaking entirely, and me one of the
most zealous officers in the service. But it is never any luck I
have had, from the day I was born."

"It will come some day, never fear, O'Grady; and perhaps it may not
be so far off as you fear.

"Well, colonel, we will just take a glass with you for luck, and
then say good night; for I have a good many things to see after,
and must be up very early, so as to get our tents packed and handed
over, to draw our rations, eat our breakfast, and be off by seven."

It was close upon that hour when the regiment marched. It was known
that there were no French troops west of the Huebra but, after
fording the Aqueda, the force halted until nightfall; and then
moved forward and reached the Huebra at midnight, lay down to sleep
until daybreak, and then extended along the bank of the Yeltes, as
far as its source among the mountains; thus cutting the roads from
Ciudad to Salamanca and the North. The distance to be watched was
some twenty miles but, as the river was in many places unfordable,
it was necessary only to place patrols here; while strong parties
were posted, not only on the main roads, but at all points where
by-roads or peasants' tracks led down to the bank.

On that day a bridge was thrown across the Aqueda, six miles below
Ciudad, for the passage of artillery but, owing to the difficulties
of carriage, it was five days later before the artillery and
ammunition could be brought over; and this was only done by the aid
of 800 carts, which Wellington had caused to be quietly constructed
during the preceding three months.

On the 8th, the light division and Pack's Portuguese contingent
forded the Aqueda three miles above Ciudad and, making a long
detour, took up their position behind a hill called the Great
Teson. They remained quiet during the day and, the garrison
believing that they had only arrived to enable the force that had
long blockaded the town to render the investment more complete, no
measures of defence were taken; but at night the light division
fell suddenly on the redoubt of San Francisco, on the Great Teson.

The assault was completely successful. The garrison was a small
one, and had not been reinforced. A few of them were killed, and
the remainder taken; with a loss, to the assailants, of only
twenty-four men and officers. A Portuguese regiment, commanded by
Colonel Elder, then set to work; and these--in spite of a heavy
fire, kept up all night by the French forts--completed a parallel,
600 yards in length, before day broke.



Chapter 18: The Sack Of A City.


For the next four days the troops worked night and day, the
operations being carried on under a tremendous fire from the French
batteries. The trenches being carried along the whole line of the
Small Teson, on the night of the 13th the convent of Santa Cruz was
captured and, on the 14th, the batteries opened fire against the
town and, before morning, the 40th regiment carried the convent of
San Francisco; and thus established itself within the suburb, which
was inclosed by an entrenchment that the Spanish had thrown up
there, during the last siege. The French artillery was very
powerful and, at times, overpowered that of the besiegers. Some
gallant sorties were also made but, by the 19th, two breaches were
effected in the ramparts, and preparations were made for an
assault.

That evening Terence received an order to march at once to the
place, and to join Pack's Portuguese. The assault was to be made by
the 3rd and light divisions, aided by Pack's command and Colonel
O'Toole's Portuguese riflemen. The main British army lay along the
Coa, in readiness to advance at once and give battle, should
Marmont come up to the assistance of the besieged town.

On the 19th both the breaches were pronounced practicable and,
during the day, the guns of the besiegers were directed against the
artillery on the ramparts, while the storming parties prepared for
their work. The third division was to attack the great breach. The
light division was to make for the small breach and, upon entering
the inclosure known as the fausse braye, a portion were to turn and
enter the town by the Salamanca gate; while the others were to
penetrate by the breach.

Colonel O'Toole, with his Portuguese, was to cross the river and to
aid the right attack; while Pack's Portuguese were to make a false
attack on the San Jago gate, on the other side of the town, and to
convert this into a real assault if the defence should prove
feeble.

The French scarcely appeared conscious that the critical moment was
at hand, but they had raised breastworks along the tops of both
breaches, and were perfectly prepared for the assault. When the
signal was given, the attack was begun on the right. The 5th, 77th,
and 94th Regiments rushed from the convent of Santa Cruz, leapt
down into the fausse braye, and made their way to the foot of the
great breach; which they reached at the same moment as the rest of
the third division, who had run down from the Small Teson. A
terrible fire was opened upon them but, undismayed by shell, grape,
and musketry from the ramparts and houses, they drove the French
behind their new work.

Here, however, the enemy stood so stoutly that no progress could be
made. Unable to cross the obstacle, the troops nevertheless
maintained their position, although suffering terrible losses from
the French fire.

Equally furious was the attack on the small breach, by the light
division. After a few minutes' fighting, they succeeded in bursting
through the ranks of the defenders; and then, turning to the right,
fought their way along the ramparts until they reached the top of
the great breach. The French there wavered, on finding that their
flank was turned; and the third division, seizing the opportunity,
hurled themselves upon them, and this breach was also won.

O'Toole's attack was successful and, on the other side of the town,
Pack's Portuguese, meeting with no resistance, had blown open the
gate of San Jago, and had also entered the town. Here a terrible
scene took place, and the British troops sullied their victory by
the wildest and most horrible excesses. They had neither forgotten
nor forgiven the treatment they had experienced at the hands of the
Spanish, both before and after the battle of Talavera; when they
were almost starved, while the Spaniards had abundant supplies, and
yet left the British wounded unattended, to die of starvation in
the hospitals, when they evacuated the city. From that time their
animosity against the Spaniards had been vastly greater than their
feeling against the French, who had always behaved as gallant
enemies, and had treated their wounded and prisoners with the
greatest kindness.

Now this long-pent-up feeling burst out, and murder, rapine, and
violence of all sorts raged for some hours, wholly without check.
Officers who endeavoured to protect the hapless inhabitants were
shot down, all commands were unheeded, and abominable atrocities
were perpetrated.

Some share of the blame rests with Wellington and his staff, who
had taken no measures whatever for maintaining order in the town,
when possession should be gained of it--a provision which should
never be omitted, in the case of an assault. The Portuguese, whose
animosity against the Spaniards was equally bitter, imitated the
example of their British comrades. Fires broke out in several
places, which added to the horror of the scene. The castle was
still held by the French, the troops having retreated there as soon
as the breach had been carried. There was not, therefore, even the
excuse of the excitement of street fighting to be made for the
conduct of the victors.

In vain, Terence and his officers endeavoured to keep their men
together. By threes and fours these scattered down the side
streets, to join the searchers for plunder; until at last, he
remained alone with his British and Portuguese officers.

"This is horrible," he said to Ryan, as the shouts, shrieks, and
screams told that the work of murder, as well as plunder, was being
carried on. "It is evident that, single handed, nothing can be
done. I propose that we divide into two parties, and take these two
houses standing together under our protection. We will have two
English officers with each, as there is no chance of the soldiers
listening to a Portuguese officer. How many are there of us?"

There were the twelve captains, and twenty subalterns.

"Bull and Macwitty, do you take half of them; Colonel Herrara,
Ryan, and I will take the other half. When you have once obtained
admission, barricade the door and lower windows with furniture.
When the rioters arrive, show yourselves at the windows, and say
that you have orders to protect the houses from insult and, if any
attack is made, you will carry out your orders at whatever cost.
When they see four British officers at the windows, they will
suppose that special instructions have been given us with respect
to these two houses.

"If they attack we must each defend ourselves to the last, holding
the stairs if they break in. If only our house is attacked, come
with half your force to our assistance; and we will do the same to
you. We can get along by those balconies, without coming down into
the street."

The force was at once divided. Terence knocked at the door of one
house, and his majors at that of the other. No answer was received
but, as they continued to knock with such violence that it seemed
as if they were about to break down the doors, these were presently
opened. Terence entered. A Spanish gentleman, behind whom stood a
number of trembling servants, advanced.

"What would you have, senor?" he asked. "I see that you are an
officer. Surely you cannot menace with violence those who are your
allies?"

"You are right, senor; but unfortunately our troops have shaken off
all discipline, and are pillaging and, I am afraid, murdering. The
men of my own regiment have joined the rest, and I with my
officers, finding ourselves powerless, have resolved at least to
protect your mansion, and the next, from our maddened troops. I can
give you my word of honour that I and these gentlemen, who are all
my officers, have come as friends, and are determined to defend
until the last your mansion, which happened to be the first we came
to. A similar party is taking charge of the next house and, if
necessary, we can join forces."

"I thank you indeed, sir. I am the Count de Montego. I have my wife
and daughters here and, in their name as well as my own, I thank
you most cordially. I have some twenty men, sir. Alone we could do
nothing, but they will aid you in every way, if you will but give
orders."

"In the first place, count, we will move as many articles of heavy
furniture as possible against the doors. I see that your lower
windows are all barred. We had better place mattresses behind them,
to prevent shot from penetrating. I hope, however, that it will not
come to that; and that I shall be able to persuade any that may
come along that these houses are under special protection."

The count at once ordered his servants to carry out the British
officer's instructions, and the whole party were soon engaged in
piling heavy furniture against the door. The count had gone up to
allay the fears of his wife and daughters who, with the female
servants, were gathered in terrible anxiety in the drawing room
above. As soon as the preparations were completed, Terence, Ryan,
and Herrara went upstairs and, after being introduced to the
ladies, who were now to some extent reassured, Terence went out on
to the balcony with Ryan; leaving Herrara in the drawing room, as
he thought it was best that only British officers should show
themselves.

Terrible as the scene had been before, it was even worse now. The
soldiers had everywhere broken into the cellars, and numbers of
them were already drunk. Many discharged their muskets recklessly,
some quarrelled among themselves as to the spoil they had taken,
and fierce fights occurred.

In two or three minutes Bull and Macwitty appeared on the balcony
of the next house.

"I see it is too far to get across," Terence said. "If you cannot
find a plank, set half a dozen men to prise up a couple from the
floor."

Presently a number of soldiers came running along down the street.

"Here are two big houses," one shouted. "There ought to be plenty
of plunder here."

"Halt!" Terence shouted. "These houses are under special protection
and, as you see, I myself and three other British officers are
placed here, to see that no one enters. I have a strong force under
my orders, and anyone attempting to break down the doors will be
shot instantly, and all who aid him will be subsequently tried and
hung."

The men, on seeing the four British officers--three of them in the
dress of field officers, and one, the speaker, in the uniform of
the staff--at once drew back.

"Come on, mates," one said, as they stood indecisive; "we shall
only lose time here, while others are getting as much plunder as
they can carry. Let us go on."

But as the wine took effect, others who came along were less
disposed to listen to orders. Gradually gathering, until they were
in considerable numbers, several shots were fired at the officers;
and one man, advancing up the steps, began to hammer at the door
with the butt end of his musket. Terence leaned over the balcony
and, drawing his pistol and taking a steady aim, fired, and the man
fell with a sharp cry. A number of shots were fired from below, but
the men were too unsteady to take aim, and Terence was uninjured.

[Illustration: The man fell, with a sharp cry.]

Again he stood up.

"Men," he shouted, "you have shown yourselves to be brave soldiers
today. Are you now going to disgrace yourselves, by mutiny against
officers who are doing their duty, thereby running the risk of
being tried and hung? I tell you again that these houses are both
defended by a strong force, and that we shall protect them at all
hazard. Go elsewhere, where booty is to be more easily obtained."

His words, however, were unheeded. Some more shots were fired, and
then there was a general rush at the doors; while another party
attacked that of the next house. The officers were all provided
with pistols, and Terence hurried below with Ryan.

"Do not fire," he said to the others, "until they break down the
door. It will take them some time and, at any moment, fresh troops
may be marched in to restore order."

The door was a strong one and, backed as it was, it resisted for a
considerable time. Those who first attacked it speedily broke the
stocks of their guns, and had to make way for others. Presently the
attack ceased suddenly.

"Run upstairs, Dicky, and see what they are doing, and how things
are going on next door."

Ryan soon returned.

"They are bringing furniture and a lot of straw from houses
opposite. They have broken down the next door, but they have not
got in yet."

"Let the servants at once set to work, to draw pails of water from
the well in the courtyard, and carry them upstairs.

"Ryan, you had better go into the next house and see if they are
pressed. Tell them that they must hold out without my help for a
short time. I am going to send six officers out by the back of the
house, to collect some of our men together. Another will be in
readiness to open the back door, as soon as they return.

"I shall keep them from firing the pile as long as I can. The count
has two double-barrelled guns. I don't want to use them, if I can
help it; but they shall not get in here. Do you stop, and help next
door. There can be no fighting here yet for, if they do burn the
door, it will be a long time before they can get in."

The native officers started at once. They were of opinion that they
would soon be able to bring in a good many of their men; for the
Portuguese are a sober race, and few would have got intoxicated.
Most of the men would soon find that there was not much booty to be
obtained, and that even what they got would probably be snatched
from them by the English soldiers; and would consequently be glad
to return to their duty again.

An officer took his place at the back door, in readiness to remove
the bars; another went up with Terence to the first floor; and the
remainder stopped in the hall, with six of the menservants.

Terence went upstairs and looked down into the street. There was a
lot of furniture, with bundles of faggots and straw, piled there.

"Now," he said to the officer, "empty these pails at once; the
servants will soon bring some more up. I will stand here with these
guns, and fire at any one who interferes with you. Just come out
into the balcony, empty your pails over, and go back at once. You
need scarcely show yourself, and there is not much chance of your
being hit by those drunken rascals."

Yells and shouts of rage were heard below, as the water was thrown
over. As fast as the pails were emptied, the servants carried them
off and refilled them. At last, two soldiers appeared from a house
opposite, with blazing torches.

The guns had been loaded by the count with small shot, as Terence
was anxious not to take life. As soon as the two men appeared, he
raised the fowling piece to his shoulder and fired both barrels, in
quick succession. With a yell of pain, the soldiers dropped their
torches. One fell to the ground, the other clapped his hands to his
face and ran down the street in an agony, as if half mad. Half a
dozen muskets were discharged, but Terence had stepped back the
moment he had fired, and handed the gun to the count, who was
standing behind him, to recharge.

Two other soldiers picked up the torches, but dropped them as
Terence again fired. Another man snatched up one of them, and flung
it across the street. It fell upon some straw that had been
thoroughly soaked by the water, and burned out there harmlessly.

It was not long before the servants began to arrive with the full
buckets and, when these also had been emptied, Terence, glancing
over, had little fear that the pile could now be lighted. The pails
were sent down again, and he waited for the next move.

The fighting had ceased at the other door. The soldiers having
drawn back from the barricade, to see the effect of the fire. Ryan
ran across the plank and rejoined Terence.

"Things are quiet there, for the present," he said. "There has not
been much harm done. When they had partly broken down the door,
they began firing through it. Bull and Macwitty kept the others
back from the line of fire, and not a pistol has been discharged
yet. Bull cut down one fellow who tried to climb over the
barricade, but otherwise no blood has been shed on either side."

Help was coming now. One of the Portuguese officers was admitted,
with twenty-four men that he had picked up. The others came in
rapidly and, within a quarter of an hour, three hundred men were
assembled. All were sober, and looked thoroughly ashamed of
themselves as they were formed up in the courtyard.

Terence went down to them. He said no word of blame.

"Now, men," he said, "you have to retrieve your characters. Half of
you will post yourselves at the windows, from the ground floor to
the top of the house. You are not to show yourselves, till you
receive orders to do so. You are not to load your guns but, as you
appear at the windows, point them down into the street. The
officers will post you, five at each window.

"The rest of you are at once to clear away the furniture in the
hall; and, when you receive the order, throw open the door and pour
out, forming across the street as you do so. Captain Ryan will be
in command of you. You are not to load, but to clear the street
with your bayonets. If any of the soldiers are too drunk to get out
of your way, knock them down with the butt end of your muskets; but
if they rush at you, use your bayonets."

He went round the house, and saw that five men were in readiness at
each window looking into the street. He ordered them to leave the
doors open.

"A pistol will be fired from the first landing," he said; "that
will be the signal, then show yourselves at once."

He waited until Ryan's party had cleared away the furniture. He
then went out on to the balcony, and addressed the crowd of
soldiers who were standing, uncertain what step to take next, many
of them having already gone off in search of plunder elsewhere.

"Listen to me, men," he shouted. "Hitherto I have refrained from
employing force against men who, after behaving as heroes, are now
acting like madmen; but I shall do so no longer. I will give you
two minutes to clear off, and anyone who remains at the end of that
time will have to take his chance."

Derisive shouts and threats arose in reply. He turned round and
nodded to the count, who was standing at the door of the room with
a pistol in his hand. He raised it and fired and, in a moment,
soldiers appeared at every window, menacing the crowd below with
their rifles. At the same moment the door opened, and the
Portuguese poured out, with Ryan at their head, trampling over the
pile raised in front of it.

There was a moment of stupefied dismay amongst the soldiers.
Hitherto none had believed that there were any in the houses, with
the exception of a few officers; and the sudden appearance of a
hundred men at the windows, and a number pouring out through the
door, took them so completely by surprise that there was not even a
thought of resistance.

Men who had faced the terrors of the deadly breaches turned and
fled and, save a few leaning stupidly against the opposite wall,
none remained by the time Ryan had formed up the two lines across
the street. Each of these advanced a short distance, and were at
once joined by the defenders of the other house, and by those at
the windows.

"Do you take command of one line, Bull; and you of the other,
Macwitty. I don't think that we shall be meddled with but, should
any of them return and attack you, you will first try and persuade
them to go away quietly. If they still attack, you will at once
fire upon them.

"Herrara, will you send out all your officers, and bring the men in
at the back doors, as before. We shall soon have the greater part
of the regiment here, and with them we can hold the street, if
necessary, against any force that is likely to attack it."

In half an hour, indeed, more than fifteen hundred men had been
rallied and, while two lines, each a hundred strong, were formed
across the street, some eighty yards apart, the rest were drawn up
in a solid body in the centre; Terence's order being that, if
attacked in force, half of them were to at once enter the houses on
both sides of the street, and to man the windows. He felt sure,
however, that the sight of so strong a force would be sufficient to
prevent the rioters interfering with them; the soldiers being, for
the most part, too drunk to act together, or with a common object.

This, indeed, proved to be the case. Parties at times came down the
street but, on seeing the dark lines of troops drawn up, they
retired immediately, on being hailed by the English officers, and
slunk off under the belief that a large body of fresh troops had
entered the town. An hour later a mounted officer, followed by some
five or six others and some orderlies, rode up.

"What troops are these?" the officer asked.

"The Minho Portuguese Regiment, general," Bull answered, "commanded
by Colonel O'Connor."

The general rode on, the line opened, and he and his staff passed
through. Terence, who had posted himself in the balcony so as to
have a view of the whole street, at once ran down. Two of the men
with torches followed him.

On approaching, he at once recognized the officer as General
Barnard, who commanded one of the brigades of the light division.

"So your regiment has remained firm, Colonel O'Connor?" the general
said.

"I am sorry to say, sir, that it did not, at first, but scattered
like the rest of the troops. My officers and myself, for some time,
defended these two large houses from the attack of the soldiery.
Matters became very serious, and I then sent out some of my
officers, who soon collected three hundred men, which sufficed to
disperse the rioters without our being obliged to fire a shot. The
officers then again went out, and now between fifteen and sixteen
hundred men are here.

"I am glad that you have come, sir, for I felt in a great
difficulty. It was hard to stay here inactive, when I was aware
that the town was being sacked, and atrocities of every kind
perpetrated but, upon the other hand, I dared not undertake the
responsibility of attempting to clear the streets. Such an attempt
would probably end in desperate fighting. It might have resulted in
heavy loss on both sides, and have caused such ill feeling between
the British and Portuguese troops as to seriously interfere with
the general dispositions for the campaign."

"No doubt you have taken the best course that could be pursued,
Colonel O'Connor; but I must take on myself the responsibility of
doing something. My appearance, at the head of your regiment, will
have some effect upon the men of the light division; and those who
are sober will, no doubt, rally round me, though hitherto my
efforts have been altogether powerless. All the officers will, of
course, join us at once. I fear that many have been killed in
trying to protect the inhabitants but, now that we have at least
got a nucleus of good troops, I have no doubt that we shall be
successful.

"Have you any torches?"

"There is a supply of them in the house, sir."

"Get them all lighted, and divide them among the men. As soon as
you have done this, form the regiment into column."

"Are they to load, sir?"

"Yes," the general said shortly; "but instruct your officers that
no one is to fire without orders, and that the sound of firing at
the head of the column is not to be considered as a signal for the
rest to open fire; though it may be necessary to shoot some of
these insubordinate scoundrels. By the way, I think it will be best
that only the leading company should load. The rest have their
bayonets, and can use them if attacked."

Some forty torches were handed over, by the count. These were
lighted and distributed along the line, ten being carried by the
leading company.

"You have bugles, colonel?"

"Yes, sir. There is one to each company."

"Let them all come to the front and play the Assembly, as they
march on.

"Now, will you ride at their head by my side, sir? Dismount one of
my orderlies, and take his horse."

By the time all the preparations were completed, they had been
joined by nearly two hundred more men. Just before they started,
Terence said:

"Would it not be well, general, if I were to tell off a dozen
parties of twenty men, each under the command of a steady
non-commissioned officer, to enter the houses on each side of the
road as we go along, and to clear out any soldiers they may find
there?"

"Certainly. But I think that when they see the regiment marching
along, and hear the bugles, they will clear out fast enough of
their own accord."

With bugles blowing, the regiment started. Twenty men, with an
officer, had been left behind at each of the houses they had
defended; in case parties of marauders should arrive, and endeavour
to obtain an entrance.

As they marched by, men appeared at the windows. Most of these were
soldiers who, with an exclamation of alarm when they saw the
general, followed by two battalions in perfect order, hastily ran
down and made their escape by the backs of the houses; or came
quietly out and, forming in some sort of order, accompanied the
regiment. Several shots were heard behind, as the search parties
cleared out those who had remained in the houses and, presently,
the force entered the main square of the town and halted in its
centre, the bugles still blowing the Assembly. Numbers of officers
at once ran up, and many of the more sober soldiers.

"Form them up as they arrive," the general said to the officers.

In a few minutes, some five hundred men had gathered.

"Do you break your regiment up into four columns, Colonel O'Connor.
A fourth of these men shall go with each, with a strong party of
officers. The soldiers will be the less inclined to resist, if they
see their own comrades and officers with your troops, than if the
latter were alone. I will take the command of one column myself, do
you take that of another.

"Colonel Strong, will you join one of the majors of Colonel
O'Connor's regiment; and will you, Major Hughes, join the other?

"All soldiers who do not, at once, obey your summons to fall in
will be taken prisoners; and those who use violence you will shoot,
without hesitation. All drunken men are to be picked up and sent
back here. Place a strong guard over them, and see that they do not
make off again."

Five minutes later, the four columns started in different
directions. A few soldiers who, inflamed by drink, fired at those
who summoned them to surrender, were instantly shot and, in half an
hour, the terrible din that had filled the air had quietened down.

Morning was breaking now. In the great square, officers were busy
drawing up the men who had been brought in, in order of their
regiments. The inhabitants issued from their houses, collected the
bodies of those who had been killed in the streets, and carried
them into their homes; and sounds of wailing and lamentation rose
from every house.

Lord Wellington now rode in, with his staff. The regiments that had
disgraced themselves were at once marched out of the town, and
their places taken by those of other divisions. But nothing could
repair the damage that had been done; and the doings of that night
excited, throughout Spain, a feeling of hostility to the British
that has scarcely subsided to this day; and was heightened by the
equally bad conduct of the troops at the storming of Badajoz.

Long before the arrival of Lord Wellington, the whole of the Minho
regiment had rejoined. Terence ordered that the late comers should
not be permitted to fall in with their companies, but should remain
as a separate body. He marched the regiment to a quiet spot in the
suburbs, and ordered them to form in a hollow square, with the men
who had last joined in the centre. These he addressed sternly.

"For the first time," he said, "since this regiment was formed, I
am ashamed of my men. I had thought that I could rely upon you
under all circumstances. I find that this is not so, and that the
greed for plunder has, at once, broken down the bonds of
discipline. Those who, the moment they were called upon, returned
to their colours, I can forgive, seeing that the British regiments
set them so bad an example; but you men, who to the last remained
insubordinate, I cannot forgive. You have disgraced not only
yourselves, but your regiment, and I shall request Lord Wellington
to attach you to some other force. I only want to command men I can
rely upon."

A loud chorus of lament and entreaty rose from the men.

"It is as painful to me as it is to you," Terence went on, raising
his hands for silence. "How proud I should have been if, this
morning, I could have met the general and said that the regiment he
had been good enough to praise so highly, several times, had proved
trustworthy; instead of having to report that every man deserted
his officers, and that many continued the evil work of pillage, and
worse, to the end."

Many of the men wept loudly, others dropped upon their knees and
implored Terence to forgive them. He had already instructed his two
majors what was to be done, and they and the twelve captains now
stepped forward.

"Colonel," Bull said, in a loud voice that could be heard all over
the square, "we, the officers of the Minho regiment, thoroughly
agree with you in all that you have said, and feel deeply the
disgrace the conduct of these men has brought upon it; but we trust
that you will have mercy on them, and we are ready to promise, in
their name, that never again will they so offend, and that their
future conduct will show how deeply they repent of their error."

There was a general cry from the men of:

"Indeed we do. Punish us as you like, colonel, but don't send us
away from the regiment!"

Terence stood as if hesitating, for some time; then he said:

"I cannot resist the prayer of your officers, men; and I am willing
to believe that you deeply regret the disgrace you have brought
upon us all. Of one thing I am determined upon; not one man in the
regiment shall be any the better for his share in this night's
work, and that this accursed plunder shall not be retained. A
blanket will be spread out here in front of me, and the regiment
will pass along before me by twos. Each man, as he files by, will
empty out the contents of his pockets, and swear solemnly that he
has retained no object of spoil, whatever. After that is over, I
shall have an inspection of kits and, if any article of value is
found concealed, I will hand over its owner to the provost marshal,
to be shot forthwith."

The operation took upwards of two hours. At Herrara's suggestion a
table was brought out, a crucifix placed upon it, and each man as
he came up, after emptying out his pockets, swore solemnly, laying
his hand upon the table, that he had given up all the spoil he had
collected.

Terence could not help smiling at the scene the regiment presented,
before the men began to file past. No small proportion of the men
stripped off their coats, and unwound from their bodies rolls of
silk, costly veils, and other stuffs of which they had taken
possession. All these were laid down by the side of the blanket, on
which a pile of gold and silver coins, a great number of rings,
brooches, and bracelets, had accumulated by the time the whole had
passed by.

"The money cannot be restored," Terence said to Herrara, "therefore
set four non-commissioned officers to count it out. Have the jewels
all placed in a bag. Let all the stuffs and garments be made into
bundles. I shall be obliged if you will take a sufficient number of
men to carry them, and go down yourself, with a guard of twenty
men, to the syndic, or whatever they call their head man, and hand
them over to him. Say that the Minho regiment returns the spoil it
had captured, and deeply regrets its conduct.

"Will you say that I beg him to divide the money among the
sufferers most in need of it, and to dispose the jewels and other
things where they can be seen, and to issue a notice to the
inhabitants that all can come and inspect them, and those who can
bring proof that any of the articles belong to them can take them
away."

The regiment was by this time formed up again, and Terence,
addressing them, told them of the orders that he had given; saying
that, as the regiment had made all the compensation in their power,
and had rid itself of the spoils of a people whom they had
professedly come to aid, it could now look the Spaniards in the
face again. Just as he had concluded, a staff officer rode up.

"Lord Wellington wishes to speak to you, colonel," he said. "We
have been looking about for you everywhere, but your regiment
seemed to have vanished."

"Then I must leave the work of inspecting the kits to you, Herrara.
You will see that every article is unfolded and closely examined,
and place every man in whose kit anything is discovered under
arrest, at once. I trust that you will not find anything but, if
you do, place a strong guard over the prisoners, with loaded
muskets, and orders to shoot any one of them who tries to escape."

Walking by the side of the staff officer--for he had returned the
horse lent him by General Barnard--he accompanied him to a house in
the great square, where Lord Wellington had taken up his quarters.



Chapter 19: Gratitude.


"Your regiment has been distinguishing itself again, Colonel
O'Connor, I have heard from three sources. First, General Barnard
reported to me that he, and the other officers, were wholly unable
to restrain the troops from their villainous work last night; until
he found you and your regiment drawn up in perfect order, and was
able, with it, to put an end to the disorder everywhere reigning.
In the second place, the Count de Montego and the Marquis de
Valoroso, two of the wealthiest nobles in the province, have called
upon me to return thanks for the inestimable service, as they
expressed it, rendered by Colonel O'Connor and his officers, in
defending their houses, and protecting the lives and honour of
their families, from the assaults of the soldiers. They said that
the defenders consisted entirely of officers. How was that?"

"I am sorry to say that my men were, at first, infected by the
general spirit of disorder. Left alone by ourselves, I thought that
we could not do anything better than save, from spoliation, two
fine mansions that happened to be at the spot where we had been
left. We had to stand a sharp siege for two or three hours; but we
abstained, as far as possible, from using our arms, and I think
that only two or three of the soldiers were wounded. However, we
should have had to use our pistols in earnest, in a short time, had
I not sent out several of my officers by the back entrance of the
house; and these were not long in finding, and persuading to return
to their duties, a couple of hundred men.

"As soon as we sallied out the affair was at an end, and the
soldiers fled. The officers were sent out again and when, an hour
later, General Barnard came up, we had some seventeen hundred in
readiness for action; and his arrival relieved me of the heavy
responsibility of deciding what course had better be adopted."

"Yes, he told me so, and I think that you acted very wisely in
holding your men back till he arrived; for nothing could have been
more unfortunate than a conflict in the streets between British and
Portuguese troops. There is no doubt that, had it not been for your
regiment, the disgraceful scenes of last night would have been very
much worse than they were. I should be glad if you will convey my
thanks to them."

"Thank you, sir; but I shall be obliged if you will allow me to say
that you regret to hear that a regiment, in which you placed
confidence, should have at first behaved so badly; but that they
had retrieved their conduct by their subsequent behaviour, and had
acted as you would have expected of them. I have been speaking very
severely to them, this morning; and I am afraid that the effect of
my words would be altogether lost, were I to report your
commendation of their conduct, without any expression of blame."

Lord Wellington smiled.

"Do it as you like, Colonel O'Connor. However, your regiment will
be placed in orders, today, as an exception to the severe censure
passed upon the troops who entered the town last night. And do you
really think that they will behave better, another time?"

"I am sure they will, sir. I threatened to have the three hundred,
who had not joined when General Barnard arrived, transferred to
another regiment; and it was only upon their solemn promise, and by
the whole of the officers guaranteeing their conduct in the future,
that I forgave them. Moreover, every article taken in money,
jewels, or dress has been given up; and I have sent them to the
syndic, the money for distribution among the sufferers, the
jewellery and other things to be reclaimed by those from whom they
were taken. Their kits were being examined thoroughly, when I came
away; but I think that I can say, with certainty, that no single
stolen article will be found in them."

"You have done very well, sir, very well, and your influence with
your men is surprising.

"Your regiment will be quartered in the convent of San Jose. Other
divisions will move in this afternoon, and take the place of the
1st and 3rd brigades. Your regiment, therefore, may consider it a
high honour that they will be retained here.

"I daresay that it will not be long before I find work for you to
do again. Lord Somerset will give you an order, at once, to take
possession of the convent."

Terence returned to the regiment in high spirits. The work of
inspection was still going on. At its conclusion, Colonel Herrara
reported that no single article of plunder had been found.

"I am gratified that it is so, Herrara," he said; "now let the
regiment form up in hollow square, again.

"Men," he went on, "I have a message for you from Lord Wellington;"
and he repeated that which he had suggested. "Thus you see, men,
that the conduct of those who at once obeyed orders, and returned
to their ranks, has caused the misconduct of the others to be
forgiven; and Lord Wellington has still confidence that the
regiment will behave well, in future. The fact that all plunder has
been given up to be restored to its owners had, of course, some
effect in inducing him to believe this. I hope that every man will
take the lesson to heart, that the misdeeds of a few may bring
disgrace on a whole regiment; and that you will, in future, do
nothing to forfeit the name that the Minho regiment has gained, for
good conduct as well as for bravery."

A loud cheer broke from the regiment, who then marched to the
convent of San Jose, and took up its quarters there. Two hours
later, the two Spanish nobles called upon Terence. The Count de
Montego introduced his companion.

"We have only just heard where you were quartered," he went on. "We
have both been trying in vain, all the morning, to find you; not a
soldier of your regiment was to be seen in the streets and,
although we questioned many officers, none could say where you
were.

"You went off so suddenly, last night, that I had no opportunity of
expressing our gratitude to you and your officers."

"You said enough, and more than enough, last night, count," Terence
replied; "and we are all glad, indeed, that we were able to protect
both your houses. Lord Wellington informed me that you had called
upon him, and spoken highly of the service we had been able to
render you. Pray say no more about it. I can quite understand what
you feel, and I can assure you that no thanks are due to me, for
having done my duty as a British officer and a gentleman on so
lamentable and, I admit, disgraceful an occasion."

"My wife and daughters, and those of the Marquis of Valoroso, are
all most anxious to see you, and thank you and your officers. They
were too frightened and agitated, last night, to say aught and,
indeed, as they say, they scarcely noticed your features. Can you
bring your officers round now?"

"I am sorry to say I cannot do that, senor. They have to see after
the arrangements and comfort of the men, the getting of the
rations, the cooking, and so on. Tomorrow they will, I am sure, be
glad to pay you a visit."

"But you can come, can you not, colonel?"

"Yes, I am at liberty now, count, and shall be happy to pay my
respects to the senoras."

"The more I hear," the marquis said, as they walked along together,
"of the events of last night, the more deeply I feel the service
that you have rendered us. I am unable to understand how it is that
your soldiers should behave with such outrageous violence to
allies."

"It is very disgraceful, and greatly to be regretted, senor; but I
am bound to say that, as I have now gone through four campaigns,
and remember the conduct of the Spanish authorities to our troops
during our march to Talavera, our stay there, and on our retreat, I
am by no means surprised that among the soldiers, who are unable to
draw a distinction between the people and the authorities, there
should be a deep and lasting hatred. There is no such hatred for
the French.

"Our men fought the battle of Talavera when weak with hunger; while
the Spaniards, who engaged to supply them with provisions, were
feasting. Our men were neglected and starved in the hospitals, and
would have died to a man had not, happily for them, the French
arrived, and treated them with the greatest humanity and kindness.
Soldiers do not forget this sort of thing. They know that, for the
last three years, the promises of the Spanish authorities have
never once been kept, and that they have had to suffer greatly from
the want of transport and stores promised. We can, of course,
discriminate between the people at large and their authorities; but
the soldiers can make no such distinction and, deeply as I deplore
what has happened here, I must own that the soldiers have at least
some excuse for their conduct."

The two Spaniards were silent.

"I cannot gainsay your statement," the Count de Montego said.
"Indeed, no words can be too strong for the conduct of both the
central, and all the provincial juntas."

"Then, senor, how is it that the people do not rise and sweep them
away, and choose honest and resolute men in their place?"

"That is a difficult question to answer, colonel. It may be said,
why do not all people, when ill governed, destroy their tyrants?"

"Possibly because, as a rule, the tyrants have armies at their
backs; but here such armies as there are, although nominally under
the orders of the juntas, are practically led by their own
generals, and would obey them rather than the juntas.

"However, that is a matter for the Spanish people alone. Although
we have suffered cruelly by the effects of your system, please
remember that I am not in the smallest degree defending the conduct
of our troops; but only trying to show that they had, at least,
some excuse for regarding the Spaniards as foes rather than as
allies; and that they had, as they considered, a long list of
wrongs to avenge."

"There is truth in all you say, colonel. Unfortunately, men like
ourselves, who are the natural leaders of the people, hold aloof
from these petty provincial struggles; and leave all the public
offices to be filled with greedy adventurers, and have been
accustomed to consider work of any kind beneath us. The country is
paying dearly for it, now. I trust, when the war is over, seeing
how the country has suffered by our abstention from politics, and
from the affairs of our provinces, we shall put ourselves forward
to aid in the regeneration of Spain."

By this time they had arrived at the door of the count's house. The
street had been to some extent cleared; but shattered doors, broken
windows, portions of costly furniture, and household articles of
all sorts still showed how terrible had been the destruction of the
previous night. Large numbers of the poorer class were at work
clearing the roads, as the city authorities had been ordered, by
Lord Wellington, to restore order in all the thoroughfares.

The count led the way up to the drawing room. The countess and her
three daughters rose.

"I introduced our brave defender to you last night," the count
said, "but in the half-darkened room, and in the confusion and
alarm that prevailed, you could have had but so slight a view of
him that I doubt whether you would know him again."

"I should not, indeed," the countess said. "We have been speaking
of him ever since, but could not agree as to his appearance.

"Oh, senor, no word can tell you how grateful we feel to you for
your defence of us, last night. What horrors we should have
suffered, had it not been for your interposition!"

"I am delighted to have been of service to you, senora. It was my
duty, and it was a very pleasurable one, I can assure you; and I
pray you to say no more about it."

"How is it that you speak Spanish so well, senor?" the countess
asked, after her daughters had shyly expressed their gratitude to
Terence.

"I owe it chiefly to a muleteer of Salamanca. I was a prisoner
there last year, and he accompanied me for a month, after I had
made my escape from the prison. Also, I owe much to the guerilla
chief Moras, with whom I acted for six weeks, last autumn. I had
learned a little of your language before and, speaking Portuguese
fluently, I naturally picked it up without any great difficulty."

"Your name is not unknown to us, colonel," the count said. "Living
so close to the frontier as we do, we naturally know much of what
passes in Portugal; and heard you spoken of as a famous leader of a
strong Portuguese regiment, that seems to have been in the thick of
all the fighting. But we heard that you had been taken prisoner by
the French, at the battle of Fuentes d'Onoro."

"Yes, I had the misfortune to be captured by them, and was sent to
Salamanca; but I escaped by the aid of a girl who sold fruit in the
prison. A muleteer took me with him on a journey to Cadiz, and
thence I came round to Lisbon by ship."

"You seem very young to have seen so much service, if you will
excuse my saying so, colonel."

Terence smiled.

"I have had great luck, senor; extraordinary luck."

"Ah, colonel! We know how well you have deserved that luck, as you
call it; and you would never have been in command of such a
regiment if you had not done something very much out of the way to
attract the attention of your commanders."

"I was not appointed to the regiment. I raised it myself; that is
to say, I came upon a number of Portuguese who had been called out
for service, but who had neither leader nor arms. Being anxious to
fight for their country, they asked me to be their leader, and I
accepted the offer. I found them docile and obedient and, with the
aid of two British troopers with me, a Spanish officer, and twelve
of his troopers, I established something like order and discipline
and, as we were fortunate in our first affair with the enemy, they
had faith in me, and I was able to raise them to a point of
discipline which is, I think, now quite equal to that of our own
regiments. Seeing that I had made myself useful with my corps, I
was confirmed in my command, and obtained the rank of colonel in
the Portuguese service; and am now a major in our own."

"I hope, senor, that later on you will tell us the story of some of
your adventures. Be assured that the house and all in it are yours,
and that it is not for mere curiosity that we would hear your
story; but that, as we shall ever retain a grateful memory of what
you have done for us, everything relating to you is of deep
interest to us."

After chatting for another quarter of an hour, Terence went with
the Count de Montego to the house next door. Here he received an
equally warm welcome from the wife and son and daughter of the
marquis.

At both houses, he was warmly urged to take up his quarters there
during his stay at Ciudad; but explained that his place was with
his regiment. He promised that he would call frequently, when his
duties permitted him to do so.

The next day the two Spanish noblemen came to him and, after parade
was over, carried off the greater portion of the officers to be
also introduced to their families. From that time, three or four of
the officers were always invited to dinner at each house. Terence
and Ryan frequently spent their evenings there, and their hosts
introduced them to many of the leading people in the town.

The Spanish general, Carlos d'Espagna, was appointed governor of
Ciudad. Papers having been discovered, showing that many of the
inhabitants had acted as French emissaries, these he executed
without mercy. So rigorous, however, were his measures that it was
felt that more than sufficient blood had been shed and,
accordingly, several British deserters found in the town were
pardoned. Many others of these men had fallen, fighting desperately
in the breach; believing that there was no hope of mercy being
extended to them, if taken prisoners.

In the siege the allies lost 1200 men and 90 officers; among whom
were Generals Crawford and MacKinnon, both killed, and General
Vandeleur, badly wounded. Lord Wellington was created Duke of
Ciudad Rodrigo by the Spaniards, and Earl of Wellington by the
English. The French loss was 300 killed and wounded, 1500
prisoners, an immense store of ammunition, and 150 guns.

Thanks to the vigilance with which the Minho regiment had guarded
the line of the fords of the Yeltes, no news of the siege was
received by Marmont in time for him to interfere with it. The
bridge over the Aqueda had been thrown across on the 1st of
January, and the siege began on the 8th but, even on the 12th,
nothing was known at Salamanca of the advance of the British army;
and it was not until the 15th, three days after the town had
fallen, that news that the siege had begun reached Marmont at
Valladolid. He had ordered his army to concentrate on Salamanca,
but it was not until the 25th that 35,000 men were collected there
and, on the following day, the news arrived of the fall of Ciudad.

In the meantime large numbers of labourers were being employed in
repairing and strengthening the fortifications of that town, while
Wellington laboured in making preparations for the siege of
Badajoz. These, however, progressed but slowly, owing to the
refusal of the Portuguese government to supply transport for the
guns; or to furnish any facilities, whatever, for the supply of
food for the army. Wellington maintained his headquarters on the
Coa until the first week in March, and then moved south with the
greater part of the army; Ciudad being left entirely in the hands
of the Spaniards, the general supplying the governor with
provisions and stores, and explaining to him the object and
intention of the new works.

A very strong force was left to guard the frontier of Portugal from
an invasion by Marmont; 50,000 men, of whom 20,000 were Portuguese,
being scattered along the line and guarding all the passes--the
Minho regiment being ordered to take post, again, at Pinhel.

Terence left Ciudad with reluctance. He had all along been treated
as a dear friend, in the houses of the two Spanish noblemen, and
spent most of his evenings at one or other of them. He had been
obliged to tell, in full detail, all his adventures since he joined
the army. The rescue of his cousin from the convent at Oporto had
particularly excited the interest of the ladies, who asked
innumerable questions about her.

Ryan frequently accompanied him, but his very slight knowledge of
Spanish prevented him from feeling the same pleasure at the
familiar intercourse. Bull and Macwitty were absolutely ignorant of
the language and, although Herrara now and then accepted
invitations to dinner, Terence and Ryan were the only two officers
of the regiment who felt at home among the Spaniards.

Before the regiment marched off, each of the Portuguese officers
was presented with a handsome gold watch bearing an inscription
expressing the gratitude of the two Spanish noblemen, and their
families. Bull, Macwitty, and Herrara received, in addition, heavy
gold chains. Ryan received a splendid horse, with saddle, holsters,
and a brace of finely-finished pistols; and a similar present was
made to Terence.

On the day when he went to say goodbye, he found the ladies of both
families assembled at the Count de Montego's. His host said:

"You must consider the horses and equipment as a special present
from myself and the marquis, Colonel O'Connor; but the ladies of
our two families wish to give you a little memorial of their
gratitude."

"They are memorials only," his wife said, "and are feeble
testimonies, indeed, of what we feel. These are the joint presents
of the marquise and her daughter, and of myself and my girls," and
she gave him a small case containing a superb diamond ring, of
great value; and then a large case containing a magnificent parure
of diamonds and emeralds.

"This, senor, is for your future wife. She will value it, I am
sure, not so much for what it may be worth; but as a testimony of
the gratitude, of six Spanish ladies, for the inestimable services
that you rendered them. Perhaps they will have a special value in
her eyes, inasmuch as the stones all formed a small part of the
jewels of the two families that you saved from plunder. We have, of
course, had them reset; and there was no difficulty in getting this
done, for at present ours are, I believe, the only jewels in
Ciudad."

"My dear countess," Terence said, much moved, "I do not like taking
so valuable a present."

"What is it, in comparison to what you have done for us, senor? And
please do not suppose that we have seriously diminished our store.
Nowhere, I believe, have ladies such jewels as they have in Spain;
and few families can boast of finer ones than those of the marquise
and myself. And I can assure you that we shall value our jewels all
the more, when we think that some of their companions will be worn
by the wife of the gentleman who has preserved more than our
lives."

"That is a royal gift, indeed," Herrara said, when Terence showed
him the jewels. "I should be afraid to say what they are worth.
Many of the old Spanish families possess marvellous jewels, relics
of the day when the Spaniards owned the wealth of the Indies and
the spoils of half Europe; and I should imagine that these must
have been among the finest stones in the possession of both
families. If I were you, colonel, I should take the very first
opportunity that occurs of sending them to England."

"You may be sure that I shall do so, Herrara. They are not the sort
of things to be carried about in a cavalry wallet, and I have no
other place to stow them. As soon as we arrive at Pinhel, I will
get a strong box made to hold the two cases, and hand them over to
the paymaster there, to be sent down to Lisbon by the next convoy.
He sent home all the money that I did not want to keep by me, when
we were at Pinhel last."

Two other Portuguese regiments, and a brigade of British infantry,
were stationed at Pinhel in readiness, at any moment, to march to
Almeida or Guarda, should Marmont make a forward movement; which
was probable enough, for it was evident, by the concentration of
his troops at Salamanca and Valladolid, that he had no intention of
marching south; but intended to leave it to Soult, with the armies
of Estremadura, Castile, and Andalusia, to relieve Badajoz.

From time to time, news came from that town. The siege had begun on
the 17th of March, the attack being made on a fortified hill called
the Picurina; but at first the progress was slow. Incessant rain
fell, the ground became a swamp, and all operations had, several
times, to be suspended; while Phillipon, the brave officer who
commanded the garrison, made numerous sorties from the town, with
more or less success.

On the night of the 25th, an assault was made on the strong fort on
the Picurina; which was captured after desperate fighting, and the
loss of 19 officers and 300 men, killed and wounded. On the
following day the trenches were opened for the attack upon the town
itself. The assailants laboured night and day and, on the 6th, a
breach had been effected in the work called the Trinidad; and this
was to be attacked by the 4th and light divisions. The castle was
at the same time to be assailed by Picton's division, while General
Power's Portuguese were to make a feint on the other side of the
Guadiana, and San Roque was to be stormed by the forces employed in
the trenches.

The enterprise was well-nigh desperate. The breaches had not been
sufficiently cleared, and it was known that the enemy had thrown up
strong intrenchments behind them. Most of the guns were still in
position to sweep the breaches, and another week, at least, should
have been occupied in preparing the way for an assault. But
Wellington was forced here, as at Ciudad, to fight against time.
Soult was close at hand, and the British had not sufficient force
to give him battle, and at the same time to continue the siege of
the town; and it was therefore necessary either to carry the place
at once, at whatever cost of life, or to abandon the fruits of all
the efforts that had been made.

Had Wellington's instructions been carried out, there would have
been no occasion, whatever, for the assault to have been delivered
until the breaches were greatly extended, the intrenchments
destroyed, and the guns silenced. The Portuguese ministry, however,
had thwarted him at every turn; and the siege could not be
commenced until a fortnight after the date fixed by Wellington.
This fortnight's delay cost the lives of 4000 British soldiers.

Four of the assaults on the breaches failed. On the crest of these
Phillipon had erected a massive stockade, thickly bristling with
sabre blades. On the upper part of the breach, planks, similarly
studded, had been laid; while on either side a vast number of
shells, barrels of powder, faggots soaked in oil, and other
missiles and combustibles were piled, in readiness for hurling down
on the assailants; while the soldiers behind the defences had been
supplied with four muskets each.

Never did British soldiers fight with such dogged bravery as was
here evinced. Again and again they dashed up the breach, the centre
of a volcano of fire; shells burst among them, cannon poured
volleys of grape through their ranks, the French plied them with
musketry, fireballs lit up the scene as if by day, mines exploded
under their feet; yet again and again, they reached the terrible
breastwork. But all efforts to climb it were fruitless. Numbers of
those in front were pressed to death against the sabres, by the
eager efforts of those behind to get up and, for hours, the assault
continued. At last, seeing the impossibility of success, and
scorning to retreat, the men gathered at the foot of the breach,
and there endured, sternly and silently, the murderous fire that
was maintained by the enemy.

Picton, however, had gained possession of the castle. Walker, with
his command, had captured the bastion of San Vincenti; and part of
his command fought their way along the battlement towards the
breaches, while another marched through the town. Finding that the
town had been entered at several points, the defenders of the
breach gave way, and the soldiers poured into the town.

Here even more hideous scenes of murder and rapine were perpetrated
than at Ciudad Rodrigo, and went on for two days and nights,
absolutely unchecked. It has never been satisfactorily explained
why, after the events in the former town, no precautions were
taken, by the general commanding, to prevent the recurrence of
scenes that brought disgrace on the British army, and for which he
cannot be held blameless. Five thousand men and officers were
killed or wounded in the siege; of these, three thousand five
hundred fell in the assault.

The next three months passed without any action of importance. The
discipline of the army had, as might have been expected,
deteriorated greatly as a consequence of the unbridled license
permitted to the soldiers after the capture of the two fortresses,
and the absence of any punishment, whatever, for the excesses there
committed. Lord Wellington complained bitterly, in his letters
home, of the insubordination of the troops; of the outrages
committed upon the peasantry, especially by detached parties; and
of the general disobedience of orders. But he who had permitted the
license and excesses to be carried on, unchecked and unpunished,
cannot but be considered largely responsible for the natural
consequences of such laxity.

In May, heavy rains prevented any movement on either side; except
that the town of Almaraz, a most important position at the bridge
across the Tagus, permitting Soult and Marmont to join hands, was
captured by surprise by General Hill; the works, which had been
considered almost impregnable, being carried by assault in the
course of an hour. This was one of the most brilliant exploits of
the war.

Wellington had moved north, and was again on the Aqueda and, on the
13th of June, rain having ceased, he crossed the river and, on the
16th, arrived within six miles of Salamanca, and drove a French
division across the Tormes. On the 17th the river was crossed, both
above and below the town, and the forts defending it were at once
invested. Marmont had, that day, retired with two divisions of
infantry and some cavalry; and was followed immediately by a strong
British division.

The Minho regiment had been one of the first to take post on the
Aqueda, after Wellington's arrival on the Coa; and moved forward in
advance of the army, which was composed of 24,000 British troops,
with a Spanish division and several Portuguese regiments.

As soon as Marmont had retired, Salamanca went wild with joy;
although the circle of forts still prevented the British from
entering. The chief of these was San Vincenti, which stood on a
perpendicular cliff, overhanging the Tormes. It was flanked by two
other strong forts; from which, however, it was divided by a
ravine. The battering train brought with the army was altogether
inadequate--only four eighteen-pounders and three twenty-four-pound
howitzers were available--and the forts were far stronger than
Wellington had been led to expect.

A few guns had been sent forward by General Hill and, on the 18th,
seven pieces opened fire on San Vincenti. The next day some more
howitzers arrived, and a breach was made in the wall of the
convent; but the ammunition was exhausted, and the fire ceased
until more could be brought up.

That day, however, Marmont, with a force of 20,000 men, was seen
advancing to the relief of the forts. The British army at once
withdrew from the neighbourhood of the convent, and took up its
position, in order of battle, on the heights of San Christoval.

On the 21st, three divisions of infantry and a brigade of cavalry
joined Marmont, raising his force to 40,000 men. The French, the
next night, sent a portion of their force across the Tormes and,
when daylight broke, the German cavalry, which had been placed to
guard the ford, was seen retiring before 12,000 French infantry,
with twenty guns. Graham was also sent across the Tormes with his
division, which was of about the same strength as the French force
and, as the light division was also following, the French retired,
recrossed the ford, and rejoined the main body of their army.

The next night the batteries again opened fire on San Vincenti and,
on the 27th, the fort and convent were in a blaze. One of the other
forts was breached, and both surrendered, just as the storming
parties were advancing to the assault; and Marmont retreated the
same night across the Douro, by the roads to Tordesillas and Toro.

As soon as it was possible to enter Salamanca, Terence rode down
into the town, accompanied by Ryan. The forts had not yet
surrendered, but their hands were so full that they had no time to
devote to annoying small parties of British officers passing into
the town. Terence had noted down the address that Nita had given
him, and at once rode there; after having, with some difficulty,
discovered the lane in which the house was situated. An old man
came to the door. Terence dismounted.

"What can I do for you, senor?"

"I wanted to ask you if your niece, Nita, is still staying with
you?"

The man looked greatly surprised at the question.

"She has done no harm, I hope?" he asked.

"Not at all, but I wish to speak to her. Is she married yet to
Garcia, the muleteer?"

The old man looked still more surprised.

"No, senor. Garcia is away, he is no longer a muleteer."

"Well, you have not answered me if your niece is here."

"She is here, senor, but she is not in the house at this moment.
She returned here from her father's, last autumn. The country was
so disturbed that it was not right that young women should remain
in the villages."

"Will you tell her that a British officer will call to see her, in
half an hour, and beg her to remain in until I come?"

"I will tell her, senor."

Terence went at once to a silversmith's, and bought the handsomest
set of silver jewelry, such as the peasants wore, that he had in
his shop; including bracelets, necklaces, large filigree hairpin
and earrings, and various other ornaments.



Chapter 20: Salamanca.


"She is a lucky girl, Terence," Ryan said, as they quitted the
shop. "She will be the envy of all the peasant girls in the
neighbourhood, when she goes to church in all that finery, to be
married to her muleteer."

"It has only cost about twenty pounds, and I value my freedom at a
very much higher price than that, Dick. If I had not escaped, I
should not have been in that affair with Moras that got me my
promotion and, at the present time, should be in some prison in
France."

"You would not have got your majority, I grant, Terence; but
wherever they shut you up, it is morally certain that you would
have been out of it, long before this. I don't think anything less
than being chained hand and foot, and kept in an underground
dungeon, would suffice to hold you."

"I hope that I shall never have to try that experiment, Dicky,"
Terence laughed; "and now, I think you had better go into this
hotel, and order lunch for us both. It is just as well not to
attract attention, by two of us riding to that lane. We have not
done with Marmont, yet, and it may be that the French will be
masters of Salamanca again, before long, and it is just as well not
to get the old man or the girl talked about. I will leave my horse
here, too. See that both of them get a good feed; they have not had
overmuch since we crossed the Aqueda."

As there were a good many British officers in the town, no special
attention was given to Terence as he walked along through the
street, which was gay with flags. When he reached the house in the
lane, the old man was standing at the door.

"Nita is in now, senor. She has not told me why you wanted to see
her. She said it was better that she should not do so, but she
thought she knew who it was."

The girl clapped her hands, as he entered the room to which the old
man pointed.

"Then it is you, Senor Colonello. I wondered, when we heard the
English were coming, if you would be with them. Of course, I heard
from Garcia that you had gone safely on board a ship at Cadiz. Then
I wondered whether, if you did come here, you would remember me."

"Then that was very bad of you, Nita. You ought to have been quite
sure that I should remember you. If I had not done so, I should
have been an ungrateful rascal, and should have deserved to die in
the next French prison I got into."

"How well you speak Spanish now, senor!"

"Yes; that was principally due to Garcia, but partly from having
been in Spain for six weeks, last autumn. I was with Moras, and we
gave the French a regular scare."

"Then it was you, senor! We heard that an English officer was in
command of the troops who cut all the roads, and took numbers of
French prisoners, and defeated 5000 of their troops and, as they
said, nearly captured Valladolid and Burgos."

"That was an exaggeration, Nita. Still, we managed to do them a
good deal of damage, and kept the French in this part of the
country pretty busy.

"And now, Nita, I have come to fulfil my promise," and he handed
her the box in which the jeweller had packed up his purchases.

"These are for your wedding, Nita, and if it comes off while we are
in this part of the country, I shall come and dance at it."

The girl uttered cries of delight, as she opened parcel after
parcel.

"Oh, senor, it is too much, too much altogether!" she cried, as she
laid them all out on the table before her.

"Not a bit of it," Terence said. "But for you, I should be in
prison now. If they had been ten times as many, and ten times as
costly, I should still have felt your debtor, all my life.

"And where is Garcia now?"

"He has gone to join Morillo," she said. "He always said that, as
soon as the English came to our help, he should go out; so, six
weeks ago, he sold all his mules and bought a gun, and went off."

"I am sorry not to have seen him," Terence said. "And now, Nita,
when he returns you are to give him this little box. It contains a
present to help you both to start housekeeping, in good style. You
see that I have put your name and his both on it. No one can say
what may happen in war. Remember that this is your joint property;
and if, by ill fortune, he should not come back again, then it
becomes yours."

"Oh, senor, you are altogether too good! Oh, I am a lucky girl! I
am sure that no maid ever went to church before with such splendid
ornaments. How envious all the girls will be of me!"

"And I expect the men will be equally envious of Garcia, Nita. Now,
if you will take my advice, you will not show these things to
anyone at present; but will hide them in the box, in some very safe
place, until you are quite sure that the French will never come
back again. If your neighbours saw them, some ill-natured person
might tell the French that you had received them from an English
officer, and then it might be supposed that you had been acting as
a spy for us; so it is better that you should tell no one, not even
your uncle--that is, if you have not already mentioned it to him."

"I have never told him," the girl said. "He is a good man and very
kind; but he is very timid, and afraid of getting into trouble. If
he asks me who you are and what you wanted, I shall tell him that
you are an English officer who was in prison, in the convent; that
you always bought your fruit of me, and said, if you ever came to
Salamanca again, you would find me out."

"That will do very well. Now I will say goodbye, Nita. If we remain
here after the French have retreated, I will come and see you
again; for there will be so many English officers here that I would
not be noticed. But there may be a battle any day; or Marmont may
fall back, and we should follow him; so that I may not get an
opportunity again."

"I hope you will come, I do hope you will come! I will bury all
these things, this evening, in the ground in the kitchen, after my
uncle has gone to bed."

"Well, goodbye, Nita. I must be off now, as I have a friend with
me. When you see Garcia, you can tell him that you have given me a
kiss. I am sure he won't mind."

"I should not care if he did," the girl said saucily, as she held
up her face. "Goodbye, senor. I shall always think of you, and pray
the Virgin to watch over you."

After Marmont fell back across the Douro there was a pause in the
operations and, as the British army was quartered in and around
Salamanca, the city soon swarmed with British soldiers; and
presented a scene exactly similar to that which it had worn when
occupied by Moore's army, nearly four years before.

"What fun it was, Terence," Ryan said, "when we frightened the
place out of its very senses, by the report that the French were
entering the town!"

"That is all very well, Dick; but I think that you and I were just
as much frightened as the Spaniards were, when we saw how the thing
had succeeded, and that all our troops were called out. There is no
saying what they would have done to us, had they found out who
started the report. The very least thing that would have happened
would have been to be tried by court martial, and dismissed from
the service; and I am by no means sure that worse than that would
not have befallen us."

"Yes, it would have been an awful business, if we had been found
out. Still, it was a game, wasn't it? What an awful funk they were
in! It was the funniest thing I ever saw. Things have changed since
then, Terence, and I am afraid we have quite done with jokes of
that sort."

"I should hope so, Dick. I think that I can answer for myself, but
I am by no means sure as to you."

"I like that," Ryan said indignantly. "You were always the leader
in mischief. I believe you would be, now, if you had the chance."

"I don't know," Terence replied, a little more seriously than he
had before spoken. "I have been through a wonderful number of
adventures, since then; and I don't pretend that I have not enjoyed
them in something of the same spirit in which we enjoyed the fun we
used to have together; but you see, I have had an immense deal of
responsibility. I have two thousand men under me and, though Bull
and Macwitty are good men, so far as the carrying out of an order
goes, they are still too much troopers, seldom make a suggestion,
and never really discuss any plan I suggest; so that the
responsibility of the lives of all these men really rests entirely
upon my shoulders. It has been only when I have been separated from
them, as when I was a prisoner, that I have been able to enjoy an
adventure in the same sort of way that we used to do, together."

"I little thought then, Terence, that in three years and a half,
for that is about what it is, I should be a captain and you a
major--for I don't count your Portuguese rank one, way or the
other."

"Of course, you have had two more years' regimental work than I
have had. It would have been much better for me if I had had a
longer spell of it, too. Of course, I have been extraordinarily
fortunate, and it has been very jolly; but I am sure it would have
been better for me to have had more experience as a subaltern,
before all this began."

"Well, I cannot say I see it, Terence. At any rate, you have had a
lot more regimental work than most officers; for you had to form
your regiment, teach them discipline, and everything else; and I
don't think that you would have done it so well, if you had been
ground down into the regular regimental pattern, and had come to
think that powder and pipe clay were actual indispensables in
turning out soldiers."

The quiet time at Salamanca lasted a little over a fortnight for,
in the beginning of July, Lord Wellington heard that, in obedience
to King Joseph's reiterated orders, Marmont, having received
reinforcements, was preparing to recross the Douro; that Soult was
on the point of advancing into Portugal; and that the king himself,
with a large army, was on the way to join Marmont.

The latter, indeed, was not to have moved till the king joined him
but, believing that his own army was ample for the purpose; and
eager to gain a victory, unhampered by the king's presence, he
suddenly crossed at Tordesillas, and it was only by his masterly
movements, and a sharp fight at Castile, that Wellington succeeded
in concentrating his army on the Aqueda. The British general drew
up his army in order of battle, on the heights of Vallesa; but the
position was a strong one, Marmont knew the country perfectly and,
instead of advancing to the attack, he started at daybreak on the
20th, marched rapidly up the river, and crossed it before any
opposition could be offered, and then marched for the Tormes. By
this movement he had turned Wellington's right flank, was as near
Salamanca as were the British, and had it in his power, unless
checked, to place himself on the road between Salamanca and Ciudad,
and so to cut their line of retreat.

Seeing his position thus turned, Wellington made a corresponding
movement, and the two armies marched along lines of hills parallel
with each other, the guns on both sides occasionally firing. All
day long they were but a short distance apart and, at any moment,
the battle might have been brought on. But Wellington had no
opportunity for fighting, except at a disadvantage; and Marmont,
having gained the object for which he had manoeuvred, was well
content to maintain his advantage. At nightfall the British were on
the heights of Cabeca and Aldea Rubia, and so secured their former
position at San Christoval.

Marmont, however, had reached a point that gave him the command of
the ford at Huerta; and had it in his power to cross the Tormes
when he pleased, and either to recross at Salamanca, or to cut the
road to Ciudad. He had proved, too, that his army could outmarch
the British for, although they had already made a march of some
distance, when the race began, he had gained ground throughout the
day, in spite of the efforts of the British to keep abreast of him.
Moreover, Marmont now had his junction with the king's army,
approaching from Madrid, securely established; and could either
wait for his arrival, or give battle if he saw a favourable
opportunity.

Wellington's position was grave. He had not only to consider his
adversary's force, but the whole course of the war, which a
disaster would imperil. He had the safety of the whole Peninsula to
consider, and a defeat would not only entail the loss of the
advantage he had gained in Spain, but would probably decide the
fate of Portugal, also. He determined, however, to cover Salamanca
till the last moment, in hopes that Marmont might make some error
that would afford him an opportunity of dealing a heavy blow.

The next morning the allies occupied their old position at San
Christoval, while the French took possession of Alba; whence the
Spaniards had been withdrawn, without notice, to Wellington. The
evening before, the British general had sent a despatch to the
Spanish commander, saying that he feared that he should be unable
to hold his position. The messenger was captured by the French
cavalry; and Marmont, believing that Wellington was about to
retreat, and fearing that he might escape him, determined to fight
rather than wait for the arrival of the king.

The French crossed the Tormes by the fords of Huerta and Alba, the
British by other fords above Salamanca. This movement was performed
while a terrible storm raged. Many men and horses of the 5th
Dragoon Guards were killed by the lightning; while hundreds of the
picketed horses broke their ropes, and galloped wildly about.

[Illustration: Plan of the Forts and Operations round Salamanca.]

The position of the British army in the morning was very similar to
that occupied by a portion of it, when besieging the forts of
Salamanca; extending from the ford of Santa Marta to the heights
near the village of Arapiles. This line covered Salamanca; but it
was open to Marmont to march round Wellington's right, and so cut
his communications with Ciudad. During the night, Wellington heard
that the French would be joined, in the course of two days, by
twenty guns and 2000 cavalry; and resolved to retire before these
came up, unless Marmont afforded him some opportunity of fighting
to advantage.

The latter, however, was too confident of victory to wait for the
arrival of this reinforcement, still less for that of the king and,
at daybreak, he took possession of a village close to the British,
thereby showing that he was resolved to force on a battle.

Near this were two detached hills, called the Arapiles or
Hermanitos. They were steep and rugged. As the French were seen
approaching, a Portuguese regiment was sent to seize them; and
these gained the one nearest to them, while the French took
possession of the second. The 7th division assailed the height
first, and gained and captured half of it.

Had Wellington now wished to retire, it would have been at once
difficult and dangerous to attempt the movement. His line was a
long one, and it would have been impossible to withdraw, without
running the risk of being attacked while in movement, and driven
back upon the Tormes. Ignorant of Marmont's precise intentions--for
the main body of the French army was almost hidden in the
woods--Wellington could only wait until their plans were developed.
He therefore contented himself with placing the 4th division on a
slope behind the village of Arapiles, which was held by the light
companies of the Guards. The 5th and 6th divisions were massed
behind the hill, where a deep depression hid them from the sight of
the enemy.

For some time things remained quiet, except that the French and
British batteries, on the top of the two Hermanitos, kept up a duel
with each other. During the pause, the French cavalry had again
crossed the Tormes, by one of the fords used in the night by the
British; and had taken post at Aldea Tejarda, thus placing
themselves between the British army and the road to Ciudad. This
movement, however, had been covered by the woods.

About twelve o'clock, fearing that Wellington would assail the
Hermanito held by him, Marmont brought up two divisions to that
point; and stood ready to oppose an attack which Wellington,
indeed, had been preparing--but had abandoned the idea, fearing
that such a movement would draw the whole army into a battle, on a
disadvantageous line. The French marshal, however, fearing that
Wellington would retreat by the Ciudad road, before he could place
a sufficient force on that line to oppose the movement, sent
General Maucune with two divisions, covered by fifty guns and
supported by cavalry, to move along the southern ridge of the basin
and menace that road; holding in hand six divisions, in readiness
to fall upon the village of Arapiles, should the British interfere
with Maucune's movement.

The British line had now pivoted round, until its position extended
from the Hermanito to near Aldea Tejarda.

In order to occupy the attention of the British, and prevent them
from moving, the French force attacked the village of Arapiles, and
a fierce struggle took place. Had Marmont waited until Clausel's
division, still behind, came up and occupied the ridge, so as to
connect the French main army with Maucune's division, their
position would have been unassailable; but the fear that Wellington
might escape had overcome his prudence and, as Maucune advanced, a
great gap was left between his division and that of Marmont.

As soon as Wellington perceived the mistake, he saw that his
opportunity had come. Orders were despatched in all directions and,
suddenly, the two divisions, hidden from the sight of the French
behind the Hermanito, dashed down into the valley; where two other
divisions joined them. The 4th and 5th were in front, with
Bradford's Portuguese; and the 6th and 7th formed the second line;
while the Spanish troops marched between them and the 3rd division,
forming the extreme right at Aldea Tejarda. The light divisions of
Pack's Portuguese and the heavy cavalry remained in reserve, on
high ground behind them. In spite of a storm of bullets from
Maucune's guns, the leading divisions marched steadily forward and,
while the third division dashed across the valley and, climbing the
ridge, barred his progress, the main line advanced to attack his
flank.

Marmont, seeing the terrible danger in which Maucune was involved,
sent officer after officer to hasten up the troops from the forest
and, with his centre, prepared to attack the English Hermanito, and
to drive them from that portion of the village they still held; but
as he was hurrying to join Maucune a shell exploded near him,
hurling him to the ground with a broken arm, and two deep wounds in
his side. This misfortune was fatal to the French chances.
Confusion ensued, and the movements of the troops were paralyzed.

It was about five o'clock when the 3rd division, under Pakenham,
fell upon Maucune's leading division; and two batteries of
artillery suddenly opened fire, on their flank, from the opposite
height. Having no expectation of such a stroke; and believing that
the British were, ere this, in full retreat along the Ciudad road,
the French were hurrying forward, lengthening out into a long,
straggling line.

The onslaught of Pakenham's division was irresistible, supported as
it was by guns and cavalry. Nevertheless, the French bore
themselves gallantly, forming line as they marched forward, while
their guns poured showers of grape into the approaching infantry.
Nothing, however, could stop them. Pressing forward, they broke the
half-formed lines into fragments, and drove them back in confusion
upon the columns behind. The French cavalry endeavoured to check
the British advance, by a charge on their flank; but were repulsed
by the infantry, and the British light horsemen charged, and drove
them off the field.

Pushing forward, Pakenham came upon the second half of the division
they had defeated, formed up on the wooded heights; one face being
opposed to him, and the other to the 5th division, Bradford's
Portuguese, and a mass of cavalry moving across the basin. The
French had been already driven out of Arapiles, and were engaged in
action with the 4th division; but the battle was to some extent
retrieved, for Clausel's division had arrived from the forest and
reinforced Maucune; and spread across the basin, joining hands with
the divisions massed near the French Hermanito.

Marmont had been carried off the field. Bonnet, who had succeeded
him, was disabled; and the chief command devolved on Clausel, a
general of talent, possessing great coolness and presence of mind.
His dispositions were excellent, but his troops were broken up into
lines, columns, and squares. A strong wind raised the sandy soil in
clouds of dust, the sinking sun shone full in the faces of his
troops and, at once, concealed the movements of their enemies from
them, and prevented them from acting with any unity.

Suddenly, two heavy bodies of light and heavy cavalry broke from
the cloud of dust and fell upon them. Twelve hundred Frenchmen were
trampled down and, as the cavalry rode on, the third division ran
forward, at the double, through the gap that they had formed. Line
after line of the French infantry was broken and scattered, and
five of their guns captured by one of the squadrons. Two thousand
prisoners were taken, and the three divisions that Maucune had
commanded were a mass of fugitives.

In the meantime, a terrible battle was raging in the centre. Here
Clausel had gathered three fresh divisions and, behind these, the
fugitives from the left rallied. He placed three others, supported
by the whole of the cavalry, to cover the retreat; while yet
another remained behind the French Hermanito. Pack's Portuguese
were advancing against it, and arrived nearly at the summit, when
the French reserves leapt from the rocks and opened a tremendous
fire on their front and left flank; and the Portuguese were driven
down the hill, with much loss. Almost at the same moment, one of
the regiments of the 4th division were suddenly charged by 1200
French soldiers, hidden behind a declivity, and driven back with
heavy loss.

For a moment, it seemed that the fate of the battle might yet be
changed; but Wellington had the strongest reserve, the sixth
division was brought up and, though the French fought obstinately,
Clausel was obliged to abandon the Hermanito; and the army began to
fall back, the movement being covered by their guns and the gallant
charges of their cavalry.

The whole of the British reserves were now brought into action, and
hotly pressed them; but, for the most part maintaining their order,
the French fell back into the woods and, favoured by the darkness,
and nobly covered by Maucune, who had been strongly reinforced,
they drew off with comparatively little loss, thanks to the
Spaniards' abandonment of the fort guarding the ford at Alba.

Believing that the French must make for the ford of Huerta,
Wellington had greatly strengthened his force on that side and,
after a long march to the ford, was bitterly disappointed, on
arriving there at midnight, to find that there was no sign of the
enemy; although it was not until morning that he learned that they
had passed unmolested over the ford of Alba. Had it not been for
the Spanish disobedience and folly, Marmont's whole army would have
had no resource but to surrender.

Marmont's strength when the fight began was 42,000 infantry and
cavalry, and 74 guns. Wellington had 46,000 infantry and cavalry,
and 60 pieces; but this included a considerable Spanish force and
one of their batteries, and 10,000 Portuguese who, however, could
not be reckoned as good troops. The pursuit of the French was taken
up hotly next morning, and they were chased for forty miles that
day but, the next morning, they eluded their pursuers, marched to
Valladolid, drew off the garrison there, and left it to be occupied
by the British the following day.

The Minho regiment had been, two days before the battle, attached
to the 6th division. For a time, being in the second line, they
looked on, impatient spectators of the fight; but, at the crisis of
the battle, they were brought up to check Clausel's impetuous
counter attack, and nowhere was the struggle fiercer. Hulse's
brigade, to which they were attached, bore more than its share of
the fighting; and the 11th and the 61st, together, had but 160 men
and officers left when the battle was over. The Portuguese fought
valiantly, and the fact that their countrymen had been defeated, in
their attempt to capture the French Hermanito, inspired them with a
fierce determination to show that Portuguese troops could fight as
well as their allies. They pushed forward well abreast of the other
regiments of the brigade, and suffered equally.

In vain the French attempted to check their advance. Showers of
grape swept their ranks; volleys of musketry, at a distance of but
a few yards, withered up their front lines and, for a time, a
hand-to-hand fight with bayonets raged. In the terrible roar of
artillery and musketry, words of command were unheard; but the men
mechanically filled up the gaps in their ranks, and the one thought
of all was to press forward until, at length, the French yielded
and fell sullenly back, disputing every yard of the ground, and a
fresh division took up the pursuit.

The order to halt was given. The men looked round, confused and
dazed, as if waking from a dream. Grimed with powder, soaked with
perspiration, breathless and haggard, many seemed scarcely able to
keep their feet; and every limb trembled at the sudden cessation of
the terrible strain. Then, as they looked round their ranks and to
the ground they had passed over, now so thickly dotted with the
dark uniforms, hoarse sobs broke from them; and men who had gone
unflinchingly through the terrible struggle burst into tears. The
regiment had gone into action over 2000 strong. Scarce 1200
remained unwounded. Of the officers, Bull had fallen, desperately
wounded; Macwitty had been shot through the head.

[Illustration: A shell had struck Terence's horse.]

A shell had struck Terence's horse and, bursting, had carried off
the rider's leg above the knee. The men near him uttered a
simultaneous cry as he fell and, regardless of the fight, oblivious
to the storm of shot and shell, had knelt beside him. Terence was
perfectly sensible.

"Do one of you give me my flask out of my holster," he said, "and
another cut off the leg of my trousers, as high as you can above
the wound. That is right. Now for the bandages."

As every soldier in the regiment carried one in his hat, half a
dozen of these were at once produced.

"Is it bleeding much?" he asked.

"Not much, colonel."

"That is fortunate. Now find a smooth round stone. Lay it on the
inside of the leg, just below where you have cut the trousers.

"Now put a bandage round and round, as tightly as you can do it.
That is right.

"Now take the ramrod of one of my pistols, put it through the
bandage, and then twist it. You need not be afraid of hurting me;
my leg is quite numbed, at present. That is right.

"Put another bandage on, so as to hold the ramrod in its place. Now
fetch a flannel shirt from my valise, fold it up so as to make a
pad that will go over the wound, and bandage it there firmly.

"Give me another drink, for I feel faint."

When all was done, he said:

"Put my valise under my head, and throw my cloak over me. Thank
you, I shall do very well now. Go forward and join the regiment.

"I am done for, this time," he thought to himself, when the men
left him. "Still, I may pull through. There are many who have had a
leg shot off and recovered, and there is no reason why I should not
do so. There has not been any great loss of blood. I suppose that
something has been smashed up, so that it cannot bleed.

"Ah, here comes the doctor!"

The doctor was one of several medical students who had enlisted in
the regiment, fighting and drilling with the rest but, when
occasion offered, acting as surgeons.

"I have just heard the news, Colonel. The regiment is heartbroken
but, in their fury, they went at the French facing them and
scattered them like sheep. Canovas, who told me, said that you were
not bleeding much, and that he and the others had bandaged you up
according to your instructions.

"Let me see. It could not have been better," he said.

He felt Terence's pulse.

"Wonderfully good, considering what a smash you have had. Your
vitality must be marvellous and, unless your wound breaks out
bleeding badly, I have every hope that you will get over it. Robas
and Salinas will be here in a minute, with a stretcher for you; and
we will get you to some quiet spot, out of the line of fire."

Almost immediately, four men came up with the stretcher and, by the
surgeon's orders, carried Terence to a quiet spot, sheltered by a
spur of the hill from the fire.

"There is nothing more you can do for me now, doctor?"

"Nothing. It would be madness to take the bandages off, at
present."

"Then please go back to the others. There must be numbers there who
want your aid far more than I do.

"You can stay with me, Leon; but first go back to where my horse is
lying, and bring here the saddle and the two blankets strapped
behind it. I don't feel any pain to speak of, but it seems to me
bitterly cold."

The man presently returned with the saddle and blankets. Two others
accompanied him. Both had been hit too seriously to continue with
the regiment. Their wounds had been already bandaged.

"We thought that we should like to be near you, colonel, if you do
not mind."

"Not at all. First, do each of you take a sip at my flask.

"Leon, I wish you would find a few sticks, and try to make a fire.
It would be cheerful, although it might not give much warmth."

It was dark now. It was five o'clock when the 3rd division threw
itself across Maucune's line of march, and the battle had begun. It
was dark long before it ended but, during the three hours it had
lasted, the French had lost a marshal, seven generals, and 12,500
men and officers, killed, wounded, or prisoners; while on the
British side a field marshal, four generals, and nearly 6000
officers and soldiers were killed or wounded. Indeed, the battle
itself was concentrated into an hour's hard fighting; and a French
officer, describing it, said that 40,000 men were defeated in forty
minutes.

Presently the din of battle died out and, as soon as it did so,
Herrara and Ryan both hurried to the side of Terence.

"My dear Terence," Ryan said, dropping on his knees beside him,
"this is terrible. When I heard the news I was almost beside
myself. As to the men, terrible as their loss is, they talk of no
one but you."

"I think I shall pull through all right, Ryan. At any rate, the
doctor says he thinks I shall, and I think so myself. I am heartily
glad that you and Herrara have gone through it all right. What are
our losses?"

"I don't know, yet. We have not had time to count, but not far from
half our number. Macwitty is killed, Bull desperately wounded.
Fully half the company officers are killed."

"That is terrible indeed, Ryan. Poor fellows! Poor fellows!

"Well, I should say, Herrara, that if you get no orders to join in
the pursuit, you had best get all the wounded collected and brought
here, and let the regiment light fires and bivouac. There is no
chance of getting medical assistance, outside the regiment,
tonight. Of course, all the British surgeons will have their hands
full with their own men. Still, I only suggest this, for of course
you are now in command."

The wounded had all fallen within a comparatively short distance,
and many were able to walk in. The rest were carried, each in a
blanket, with four men at the corners. Under Ryan's directions, the
unwounded scattered over the hillside and soon brought back a large
supply of bushes and faggots. A number of fires were lighted, and
the four surviving medical students, and one older surgeon, at once
began the work of attending the wounded; taking the more serious
cases first, leaving the less important ones to be bandaged by
their comrades. Many wounded men from other regiments, attracted by
the light of the fires, came up; and these, too, received what aid
the Portuguese could give them.

The next morning Terence was carried down, at daybreak, on a
stretcher to Salamanca; where the town was in a state of the
wildest excitement over the victory. As they entered the gates, an
officer asked the bearers:

"Who is it?"

"Colonel O'Connor, of the Minho regiment."

The officer knew Terence personally.

"I am sorry, indeed, to see you here, O'Connor. Not very serious, I
hope?"

"A leg cut clean off above the knee, with the fragment of a shell,
Percival; but I fancy that I am going to get over it."

"Carry him to the convent of Saint Bernard," the officer said, to
the Portuguese captain who was in command of the party, which
consisted of 400 men carrying 100 wounded. "All officers are to be
taken there, the others to the San Martin convent.

"I will look in and see you as soon as I can, O'Connor; and hope to
find you going on well."

But few wounded officers had as yet been brought in and, as soon as
Terence was carried into a ward, two of the staff surgeons examined
his wound.

"You are doing wonderfully well, colonel," the senior officer said.
"You must have received good surgical attention, immediately on
being wounded. Judging by your pulse, you can have lost but little
blood."

"It hardly bled at all, Doctor, and I had it bandaged up by two of
my own men. I have seen a good many serious wounds, in the course
of the last four years; and know pretty well what ought to be
done."

"It has been uncommonly well done, anyhow. I think we had better
not disturb the bandages, for a few days. If no bleeding sets in by
that time, clots of blood will have formed, and you will be
comparatively safe.

"Your pulse is very quiet. Your men must have carried you down very
carefully."

"If I had been a basket of eggs, they could not have taken more
care of me. I was scarcely conscious of any movement."

"Well, you have youth and good health and good spirits in your
favour. If all our patients took things as cheerfully as you do,
there would not be so many of them slip through our hands."

Bull, who had been brought in immediately after Terence, was next
attended to. He was unconscious. He had been struck by a round shot
in the shoulder, which had not only smashed the bone, but almost
carried away the upper part of the arm.

"An ugly wound," the surgeon said to his colleague. "At any rate,
we may as well take off the arm while he is unconscious. It will
save him a second shock, and we can better bandage the wound when
it is removed."

A low moan was the only sign that the wounded man had any
consciousness that the operation was being performed.

"Will he get over it, Doctor?" Terence asked, when the surgeon had
finished.

"There is just a chance, but it is a faint one. Has he been a sober
man?"

"Very; I can answer for the last four years, at any rate. All the
Portuguese officers were abstemious men; and I think that Bull felt
that it would not do for him, commanding a battalion, to be less
sober than they were."

"That increases his chance. Men who drink have everything against
them when they get a severe wound; but he has lost a great deal of
blood, and the shock has, of course, been a terrible one."

An orderly was told to administer a few spoonfuls of brandy and
water, and the surgeon then moved on to the next bed.



Chapter 21: Home Again.


The next morning, one of the surgeons brought a basketful of fruit
to Terence.

"There is a young woman outside, colonel," he said, with a slight
smile, "who was crying so bitterly that I was really obliged to
bring this fruit up to you. She said you would know who she was,
and was heartbroken that she could not be allowed to come up to
nurse you. She said that she had heard, from one of your men, of
your wound. I told her that it was quite impossible that any
civilian should enter the hospital, but said that I would take her
fruit up and, if she would come every day at five o'clock in the
afternoon, when we went off duty for an hour, I would tell her how
you were going on."

"She used to sell fruit to the prisoners here," Terence said, "and
it was entirely by her aid that I effected my escape, last year;
and she got a muleteer, to whom she is engaged, to take me down
from here to Cadiz. I bought her a present when we entered the town
and, the other day, told her I hoped to dance at her wedding before
long. However, that engagement will not come off. My dancing days
are over."

The surgeon felt his pulse.

"There is very little fever," he said. "So far you are going on
marvellously; but you must not be disappointed if you get a sharp
turn, presently. You can hardly expect to get through a wound like
this without having a touch, and perhaps a severe one, of fever."

"Is there any harm in my eating fruit?"

"I would not eat any, but you can drink some of the juice, mixed
with water. I hope we shall have everything comfortable by tonight;
of course, we are all in the rough, at present. Although many of
the doctors of the town have been helping us, I don't think there
is one medical officer in the army who has taken off his coat since
the wounded began to come in, yesterday morning."

That night Terence's wound became very painful. Inflammation,
accompanied of course with fever, set in and, for a fortnight, he
was very ill. At the end of that time matters began to mend, and
the wound soon assumed a healthy appearance. An operation had been
performed, and the projecting bone cut off.

There were dire sufferings in Salamanca. Six thousand wounded had
to be cared for, the French prisoners and their guards fed; and the
army had no organization to meet so great a strain. Numbers of
lives that might have been saved, by care and proper attention,
were lost; and the spirit of discontent and insubordination, which
had its origin in the excesses committed in the sack of the
fortresses, rapidly increased.

The news from the front, after a time, seemed more satisfactory.
Clausel had been hotly pursued. Had the king with his army joined
him, as he might have done, he would have been in a position to
again attack the enemy with greatly superior numbers; but Joseph
hesitated, and delayed until it was no longer possible. The British
army crossed the mountains, and the king was obliged to retire from
Madrid and evacuate the capital; which was entered by Wellington on
the 25th of August.

Early in September, the chief surgeon said to Terence:

"There is a convoy of sick going down, at the end of the week. I
think that it would be best for you to go with them. In the first
place, the air of this town is not favourable for recoveries. In
some of the hospitals a large number of men have been carried off
by the fever, which so often breaks out when the conditions are
bad. In the next place, I am privately informed, by the governor,
that he has received orders from the general to send all who are
capable of bearing the journey across the frontier, as soon as
possible. Another battle may be fought, at any moment. The
reinforcements that have come from England are nothing like
sufficient to replace the gaps in the army.

"The French generals are collecting their forces, and it is certain
that Wellington will not be able to withstand their combination
and, if he should be compelled to retreat, it is all important that
he should not be hampered by the necessity of carrying off huge
convoys of wounded. The difficulties of transport are already
enormous; and it is, therefore, for many reasons desirable that all
who are sufficiently convalescent to march, and all for whom
transport can be provided, should start without delay."

"I should be very glad, Doctor. I have not seemed to gain strength,
for the last week or ten days; but I believe that, if I were in the
open air, I should gain ground rapidly."

Nita had been allowed to come up several times to see Terence,
since his convalescence began; and the last time she had called had
told him that Garcia had returned, being altogether dissatisfied
with the feeble proceedings of the guerilla chief. She came up that
afternoon, soon after the doctor left, and he told her the news
that he had received. The next day she told Terence that Garcia had
arranged with her father for his waggon and two bullocks, and that
he himself would drive it to Lisbon, if necessary.

"They are fine bullocks, sir," she said, "and there is no fear of
their breaking down. Last night I was talking to one of your
sergeants, who comes to me every day for news of you. He says that
he and about forty of your men are going down with the convoy. All
are able to walk. It is so difficult to get carts that only
officers who cannot walk are to be taken, this time."

"It is very good of Garcia and your father, Nita, but I should
manage just as well as the others."

"That may be, senor, but it is better to have a friend with you who
knows the country. There may be difficulty in getting provisions,
and they say that there is a good deal of plundering along the
roads; for troops that have lately come up have behaved so badly
that the peasants declare they will have revenge, and treat them as
enemies if they have the opportunity. Altogether, it is as well to
have a friend with you."

Terence told the surgeon next morning what had been arranged, and
said:

"So we shall have room for one more, Doctor. Is Major Bull well
enough to go with me? He could travel in my waggon, which is sure
to be large enough for two to lie in, comfortably."

"Certainly he can. He is making a slow recovery, and I should be
glad to send him away, only I have no room for him. If he goes with
you, I can send another officer down, also, in the place you would
have had."

Accordingly, on the Saturday morning the convoy started. Bull and
Terence met for the first time, since the day of the battle; as the
former had been removed to another room, after the operation. He
was extremely weak, still, and had to be carried down and placed in
the waggon by the side of Terence. Garcia had been greatly affected
at the latter's appearance.

"I should scarce have known you again, senor."

"I am pulled down a bit, Garcia, but by the time we get to our
journey's end, you will see that I shall be a very different man.
How comfortable you have made the waggon!"

"I have done what I could, senor. At the bottom are six sacks of
corn, for it may be that forage will run short. Then I have filled
it with hay, and there are enough rugs to lie on, and to cover you
well over at night; and down among the sacks is a good-sized box
with some good wine, two hams of Nita's father's curing, and a
stock of sausages, and other things for the journey."

Nita came to say goodbye, and wept unrestrainedly at the parting.
She and Garcia had opened the little box, and found in it fifty
sovereigns; and had agreed to be married, as soon as Garcia
returned from his journey. As the train of thirty waggons--of which
ten contained provisions for use on the road--issued from the
gates, they were joined by the convalescents, four hundred in
number. All able to do so carried their arms, the muskets of the
remainder being placed on the provision waggons.

"Have you heard from the regiment, Bull?" Terence asked, after they
had talked over their time in hospital, and their comrades who had
fallen.

"No, sir. There is no one I should expect to write to me."

"I had a letter from Ryan, yesterday," Terence said. "He tells me
that they have had no fighting since we left. They form only one
battalion now, and he says the state of things in Madrid is
dreadful. The people are dying of hunger, and the British officers
have subscribed and started soup kitchens; and that he, with the
other Portuguese regiments, were to march the next day, with three
British divisions and the cavalry, to join General Clinton, who was
falling back before Clausel."

"'We all miss you horribly, Terence. Herrara does his best, but he
has not the influence over the men that you had. If we have to fall
back into Portugal again, which seems to me quite possible, for
little more than 20,000 men are fit to carry arms, I fancy that
there won't be a great many left round the colours by the spring.

"'Upon my word, I can hardly blame them, Terence. More than half of
those who originally joined have fallen and, no doubt, the poor
fellows think that they have done more than their share towards
defending their country.'"

By very short marches, the convoy made its way to the frontier. The
British convalescents remained at Guarda, the Portuguese marched
for Pinhel, and the carts with the wounded officers continued their
journey to Lisbon. The distance travelled had been over two hundred
and fifty miles and, including halts, they had taken five weeks to
perform it. Terence gained strength greatly during the journey, and
Bull had so far recovered that he was able to get out and walk,
sometimes, by the side of the waggon.

Garcia had been indefatigable in his efforts for their comfort.
Every day he formed an arbour over their waggon, with freshly-cut
boughs brought in by the soldiers of the regiment; and this kept
off the rays of the sun, and the flies. At the villages at which
they stopped, most of the wounded were accommodated in the houses;
but Terence and Bull preferred to sleep in the waggon, the hay
being always freshly shaken out for them, in the evening. The
supplies they carried were most useful in eking out the rations,
and Garcia proved himself an excellent cook. Altogether, the
journey had been a pleasant one.

On arriving at Lisbon, they were taken to the principal hospital.
Here the few who would be fit for service again were admitted,
while the rest were ordered to be taken down, at once, to a
hospital transport lying in the river. At the landing place they
said goodbye to Garcia, who refused firmly any remuneration for his
services, or for the hire of the waggon; and then Terence was
lifted into a boat and, with several other wounded, was taken on
board the transport.

The surgeon came at once to examine him.

"Do you wish to be taken below, colonel?" he asked Terence.

"Certainly not," Terence said. "I can sit up here, and can enjoy
myself as much as ever I could; and the air from the sea will do
more for me than any tonics you can give me, Doctor."

He was placed in a comfortable deck chair, and Bull had another
beside him. There were many officers already on board, and Terence
presently perceived, in one who was stumping about on a wooden leg,
a figure he recognized. He was passing on without recognition, when
Terence exclaimed:

"Why, O'Grady, is it yourself?"

"Terence O'Connor, by the powers!" O'Grady shouted. "Sure, I didn't
know you at first. It is meself, true enough, or what there is left
of me. It is glad I am to see you, though in a poor plight. The
news came to me that you had lost a leg. There was, at first, no
one in the hospital knew where you were, and I was not able to move
about, meself, to make inquiries; and when I found out, before I
came away, they said you were very bad, and that even if I could
get to you--which I could not, for I had not been fitted with a new
leg, then--I should not be able to see you.

"It is just like my luck. I was hit by one of the first shots
fired, and lost all the fun of the fight."

"Where were you hit, O'Grady?"

"Right in the shin. Faith, I went down so sudden that I thought I
had trod in a hole; and I was making a scramble to get up again,
when young Dawson said:

"'Lie still, O'Grady, they have shot the foot off ye.'

"And so they had, and divil a bit could I find where it had gone
to. As I was about the first man hit, they carried me off the field
at once, and put me in a waggon and, as soon as it was full, I was
taken down to Salamanca. I only stopped there three weeks, and I
have been here now more than two months, and my leg is all right
again. But I am a lop-sided creature, though it is lucky that it is
my left arm and leg that have gone. I was always a good hopper,
when I was a boy; so that, if this wooden thing breaks, I think I
should be able to get about pretty well."

"This is Major Bull, O'Grady. Don't you know him?"

"Faith, I did not know him; but now you tell me who it is, I
recognize him. How are you, major?"

"I am getting on, Captain O'Grady."

"Major," O'Grady corrected. "I got my step at Salamanca; both our
majors were killed. So I shall get a dacent pension: a major's
pension, and so much for a leg and arm. That is not so bad, you
know."

"Well, I have no reason to grumble," Bull said. "If I had been with
my old regiment and got this hurt, a shilling a day would have been
the outside. Now I shall get lieutenant's pension, and so much for
my arm and shoulder."

"I have no doubt you will get another step, Bull. After the way the
regiment suffered, and with poor Macwitty killed, and you and I
both badly wounded, they are sure to give you your step," and
indeed when, on their arrival, they saw the Gazette, they found
that both had been promoted.

"I suppose it is all for the best," O'Grady said. "At any rate, I
shall be able to drink dacent whisky for the rest of me life, and
not have to be fretting meself with Spanish spirit; though I don't
say there was no virtue in it, when you couldn't get anything
better."

Three days later, the vessel sailed for England. At Plymouth
Terence, O'Grady, and several other of the Irish officers left her;
Bull promising Terence that, when he was quite restored to health,
he would come and pay him a visit.

Terence and his companion sailed the next day for Dublin. O'Grady
had no relations whom he was particularly anxious to see and
therefore, at Terence's earnest invitation, he took a place with
him in a coach--to leave in three days, as both had to buy civilian
clothes, and to report themselves at headquarters.

"What are you going to do about a leg, Terence?"

"I can do nothing, at present. My stump is a great deal too tender,
still, for me to bear anything of that sort. But I will buy a pair
of crutches."

This was, indeed, the first thing done on landing, Terence finding
it inconvenient in the extreme to have to be carried whenever he
wanted to move, even a few yards. He had written home two or three
times from the hospital, telling them how he was getting on; for he
knew that when his name appeared among the list of dangerously
wounded, his father and cousin would be in a state of great anxiety
until they received news of him; and as soon as they had taken
their places in the coach he dropped them a line, saying when they
might expect him.

They had met with contrary winds on their voyage home, but the
three weeks at sea had done great things for Terence and, except
for the pinned-up trousers leg, he looked almost himself again.

"Be jabers, Terence," O'Grady said, as the coach drove into
Athlone, "one might think that it was only yesterday that we went
away. There are the old shops, and the same people standing at
their doors to see the coach come in; and I think I could swear
even to that cock, standing at the gate leading into the stables.
What games we had here. Who would have thought that, when we came
back, you would be my senior officer!"

When fifteen miles beyond Athlone there was a hail, and the coach
suddenly stopped. O'Grady looked out of the window.

"It's your father, Terence, and the prettiest girl I have seen
since we left the ould country."

He opened the door and got out.

"Hooroo, major! Here we are, safe and sound. We didn't expect to
meet you for another eight miles."

Major O'Connor was hurrying to the door, but the girl was there
before him.

"Welcome home, Terence! Welcome home!" she exclaimed, smiling
through her tears, as she leaned into the coach and held out both
her hands to him, and then drew aside to make room for his father.

"Welcome home, Terence!" the latter said, as he wrung his hand. "I
did not think it would have been like this, but it might have been
worse."

"A great deal worse, father. Now, will you and the guard help me
out? This is the most difficult business I have to do."

It was with some difficulty he was got out of the coach. As soon as
he had steadied himself on his crutches, Mary came up again, threw
her arms round his neck, and kissed him.

"We are cousins, you know, Terence," she said, "and as your arms
are occupied, I have to take the initiative."

She was half laughing and half crying.

The guard hurried to get the portmanteaus out of the boot. As soon
as he had placed them in the road he shouted to the coachman, and
climbed up on to his post as the vehicle drove on; the passengers
on the roof giving hearty cheers for the two disabled officers. By
this time, the major was heartily shaking hands with O'Grady.

"I saw in the Gazette that you were hit again, O'Grady."

"Yes. I left one little memento of meself in Portugal, and it was
only right that I should lave another in Spain. It has been
worrying me a good deal, because I should have liked to have
brought them home to be buried in the same grave with me, so as to
have everything handy together. How they are ever to be collected
when the time comes bothers me entirely, when I can't even point
out where they are to be found."

"You have not lost your good spirits anyhow, O'Grady."

"I never shall, I hope, O'Connor; and even if I had been inclined
to, Terence would have brought them back again."

As they stood chatting, a manservant had placed the portmanteaus on
the box of a pretty open carriage, drawn by two horses.

"This is our state carriage, Terence, though we don't use it very
often for, when I go about by myself, I ride. Mary has a pony
carriage, and drives herself about.

"You remember Pat Cassidy, don't you?"

"Of course I do, now I look at him," Terence said. "It's your old
soldier servant," and he shook hands with the man. "He did not come
home with you, did he, father?"

"No, he was badly wounded at Talavera, and invalided home. They
thought that he would not be fit for service again, and so
discharged him; and he found his way here, and glad enough I was to
have him."

Aided by his father and O'Grady, Terence took his place in the
carriage. His father seated himself by his side, while Mary and
O'Grady had the opposite seat.

"There is one advantage in losing legs," O'Grady said. "We can stow
away much more comfortably in a carriage. Is this the nearest point
to your place?"

"Yes. It is four miles nearer than Ballyhovey, so we thought that
we might as well meet you here, and more comfortably than meeting
you in the town. It was Mary's suggestion. I think she would not
have liked to have kissed Terence in the public street."

"Nonsense, uncle!" Mary said indignantly. "Of course I should have
kissed him, anywhere. Are we not cousins? And didn't he save me
from being shut up in a nunnery, all my life?"

"All right, Mary, it is quite right that you should kiss him;
still, I should say that it was pleasanter to do so when you had
not a couple of score of loafers looking on, who would not know
that he was your cousin, and had saved you from a convent."

"You are looking well, father," Terence said, to turn the
conversation.

"Never was better in my life, lad, except that I am obliged to be
careful with my leg; but after all, it may be that, though it
seemed hard to me at the time, it is as well that I left the
regiment when I did. Quite half the officers have been killed,
since then. Vimiera accounted for some of them. Major Harrison went
there, and gave me my step. Talavera made several more vacancies,
and Salamanca cost us ten officers, including poor O'Driscoll. I am
lucky to have come off as well as I did. It did not seem a very
cheerful lookout, at first; but since this young woman arrived, and
took possession of me, I am as happy and contented as a man can
be."

"I deny altogether having taken possession of you, uncle. I let you
have your way very much, and only interfere for your own good."

"You will have another patient to look after now, dear, and to fuss
over."

"I will do my best," she said softly, leaning forward and putting
her hand on that of Terence. "I know that it will be terribly dull
for you, at first--after being constantly on the move for the last
five years, and always full of excitement and adventure--to have to
keep quiet and do nothing."

"I shall get on very well," he said. "Just as first, of course, I
shall not be able to get about very much, but I shall soon learn to
use my crutches; and I hope, before very long, to get a leg of some
sort; and I don't see why I should not be able to ride again, after
a bit. If I cannot do it any other way, I must take to a side
saddle. I can have a leg made specially for riding, with a crook at
the knee."

Mary laughed, while the tears came in her eyes.

"Why, bless me, Mary," he went on, "the loss of a leg is nothing,
when you are accustomed to it. I shall be able, as I have said, to
ride, drive, shoot, fish, and all sorts of things. The only thing
that I shall be cut off from, as far as I can see, is dancing; but
as I have never had a chance of dancing, since the last ball the
regiment gave at Athlone, the loss will not be a very grievous one.

"Look at O'Grady. There he is, much worse off than I am, as he has
no one to make any particular fuss about him. He is getting on
capitally and, indeed, stumped about the deck so much, coming home,
that the captain begged him to have a pad of leather put on to the
bottom of his leg, to save the decks. O'Grady is a philosopher, and
I shall try to follow his example."

"Why should one bother oneself, Miss O'Connor, when bothering won't
help? When the war is over, I shall buy Tim Doolan, my soldier
servant, out. He is a vile, drunken villain; but I understand him,
and he understands me, and he blubbered so, when he carried me off
the field, that I had to promise him that, if a French bullet did
not carry him off, I would send for him when the war was over.

"'You know you can't do without me, yer honour,' the scoundrel
said.

"'I can do better without you than with you, Tim,' says I. 'Ye are
always getting me into trouble, with your drunken ways. Ye would
have been flogged a dozen times, if I hadn't screened you. Take up
your musket and join your regiment. You rascal, you are smelling of
drink now, and divil a drop, except water, is there in me flask.'

"'I did it for your own good,' says he. 'Ye know that spirits
always heats your blood, and water would be the best for you, when
the fighting began; so I just sacrificed meself.

"'"For," says I to meself, "if ye get fighting a little wild, Tim,
it don't matter a bit; but the captain will have to keep cool, so
it is best that you should drink up the spirits, and fill the flask
up with water to quench his thirst."'

"'Be off, ye black villain,' I said, 'or I will strike you.'

"'You will never be able to do without me, Captain,' says he,
picking up his musket; and with that he trudged away and, for aught
I know, he never came out of the battle alive."

The others laughed.

"They were always quarrelling, Mary," Terence said. "But I agree
with Tim that his master will find it very hard to do without him,
especially about one o'clock in the morning."

"I am ashamed of you, Terence," O'Grady said, earnestly; "taking
away me character, when I have come down here as your guest."

"It is too bad, O'Grady," Major O'Connor said, "but you know
Terence was always conspicuous for his want of respect towards his
elders."

"He was that same, O'Connor. I did me best for the boy, but there
are some on whom education and example are clean thrown away."

"You are looking pale, cousin Terence," Mary said.

"Am I? My leg is hurting me a bit. Ireland is a great country, but
its by-roads are not the best in the world, and this jolting shakes
me up a bit."

"How stupid I was not to think of it!" she said and, rising in her
seat, told Cassidy to drive at a walk.

They were now only half a mile from the house.

"You will hardly know the old place again, Terence," his father
said.

"And a very good thing too, father, for a more tumble-down old
shanty I never was in."

"It was the abode of our race, Terence."

"Well, then, it says mighty little for our race, father."

"Ah! But it did not fall into the state you saw it in till my
father died, a year after I got my commission."

"I won't blame them, then; but, at any rate, I am glad I am coming
home to a house and not to a ruin.

"Ah, that is more like a home!" he said, as a turn of the road
brought them in sight of the building. "You have done wonders,
Mary. That is a house fit for any Irish gentleman to live in."

"It has been altered so that it can be added to, Terence; but, at
any rate, it is comfortable. As it was before, it made one feel
rheumatic to look at it."

On arriving at the house, Terence refused all assistance.

"I am going to be independent, as far as I can," he said and,
slipping down from the seat into the bottom of the chaise, he was
able to put his foot on to the ground and, by the aid of his
crutches, to get out and enter the house unaided.

"That is the old parlour, I think," he said, glancing into one of
the rooms.

"Yes. It is your father's snuggery, now. There is scarcely any
alteration there, and he can mess about as he likes with his guns
and fishing tackle and swords.

"This is the dining room, now."

And she led the way along a wide passage to the new part of the
house, where a bright fire was blazing in a handsome and
well-furnished room. An invalid's chair had been placed by the
fire, and opposite it was a large, cosy armchair.

"That is for your use, Major O'Grady," she said. "Now, Terence, you
are to lay yourself up in that chair. I will bring a small table to
your side, and put your dinner there."

"I will lie down until the dinner is ready, Mary. But I am
perfectly capable of sitting at the table. I did so the last week
before leaving the ship."

"You shall do that tomorrow. You may say what you like, but I can
see that you are very tired and, for today, you will take it easy.
I am going to be your nurse, and I can assure you that you will
have to obey orders. You have been in independent command quite
long enough."

"It is of no use, Terence; you must do as you are told," his father
said. "The only way to get on with this young woman is to let her
have her own way. I have given up opposing her, long ago; and you
will have to do the same."

Terence did not find it unpleasant to be nursed and looked after,
and even to obey peremptory orders.

A month later, Mary came into the room quietly, one afternoon, when
he was sitting and looking into the fire; as his father and O'Grady
had driven over to Killnally. Absorbed in his own thoughts, he did
not hear her enter.

Thinking that he was asleep, she paused at the door. A moment later
she heard a deep sigh. She came forward at once.

"What are you sighing about, Terence? Your leg is not hurting you,
is it?"

"No, dear, it has pretty well given up hurting me."

"What were you sighing about, then?"

He was silent for a minute, and then said:

"Well you see, one cannot help sighing a little at the thought that
one is laid up, a useless man, when one is scarce twenty-one."

"You have done your work, Terence. You have made a name for
yourself, when others are just leaving college and thinking of
choosing a profession. You have done more, in five years, than most
men achieve in all their lifetime.

"This is the first time I have heard you grumble. I know it is
hard, but what has specially upset you, today?"

"I suppose I am a little out of sorts," he said. "I was thinking,
perhaps, how different it might have been, if it hadn't been for
that unlucky shell."

"You mean that you might have gone on to Burgos, and fallen in the
assault there; or shared in that dreadful retreat to the frontier
again."

"No. I was not thinking of Spain, nor even of the army. I was
thinking of here."

"But you said, over and over again, Terence, that you will be able
to ride, and drive, and get about like other people, in time."

"Yes, dear. In many respects it will be the same, but not in one
respect."

Then he broke off.

"I am an ungrateful brute. I have everything to make me happy--a
comfortable home, a good father, and a dear little sister to nurse
me."

"What did I tell you, sir," she said, after a pause, "when I said
goodbye to you at Coimbra? That I would rather be your cousin. You
were quite hurt, and I said that you were a silly boy, and would
understand better, some day."

"I have understood, since," he said, "and was glad that you were
not my sister; but now, you see, things have altogether changed,
and I must be content with sistership."

The girl looked in the fire, and then said, in a low voice:

"Why, Terence?"

"You know why," he said. "I have had no one to think of but you,
for the last four years. Your letters were the great pleasures of
my life. I thought over and over again of those last words of
yours, and I had some hope that, when I came back, I might say to
you:

"'Dear Mary, I am grateful, indeed, that you are my cousin, and not
my sister. A sister is a very dear relation, but there is one
dearer still.'

"Don't be afraid, dear; I am not going to say so now. Of course,
that is over, and I hope that I shall come, in time, to be content
to think of you as a sister."

"You are very foolish, Terence," she said, almost with a laugh, "as
foolish as you were at Coimbra. Do you think that I should have
said what I did, then, if I had not meant it? Did you not save me,
at the risk of your life, from what would have been worse than
death? Have you not been my hero, ever since? Have you not been the
centre of our thoughts here, the great topic of our conversation?
Have not your father and I been as proud as peacocks, when we read
of your rapid promotion, and the notices of your gallant conduct?
And do you think that it would make any difference to me, if you
had come back with both your legs and arms shot off?

"No, dear. I am just as dissatisfied with the relationship you
propose as I was three years ago, and it must be either cousin
or--" and she stopped.

She was standing up beside him, now.

"Or wife," he said, taking up her hand. "Is it possible you mean
wife?"

Her face was a sufficient answer, and he drew her down to him.

"You silly boy!" she said, five minutes afterwards. "Of course, I
thought of it all along. I never made any secret of it to your
father. I told him that our escape was like a fairy tale, and that
it must have the same ending: 'and they married, and lived happy
ever after.' He would never have let me have my way with the house,
had I not confided in him. He said that I could spend my money as I
pleased, on myself, but that not one penny should be laid out on
his house; and I was obliged to tell him.

"I am afraid I blushed furiously, as I did so, but I had to say:

"'Don't you see, Uncle?'--of course, I always called him uncle,
from the first, though he is only a cousin--'I have quite made up
my mind that it will be my house, some day; and the money may just
as well be laid out on it now, to make it comfortable; instead of
waiting till that time comes.'"

"What did my father say?"

"Oh, he said all sorts of nonsense, just the sort of thing that you
Irishmen always do say! That he had hoped, perhaps, it might be so,
from the moment he got your letter; and that the moment he saw me
he felt sure that it would be so, for it must be, if you had any
eyes in your head."

When Major O'Connor came home he was greatly pleased, but he took
the news as a matter of course.

"Faith," he said, "I would have disinherited the boy, if he had
been such a fool as not to appreciate you, Mary."

O'Grady was loud in his congratulations.

"It is just like your luck, Terence," he said. "Luck is everything.
Here am I, a battered hero, who has lost an arm and a foot in the
service of me country, and divil a girl has thrown herself upon me
neck. Here are you, a mere gossoon, fifteen years my junior in the
service, mentioned a score of times in despatches, promoted over my
head; and now you have won one of the prettiest creatures in
Ireland and, what is a good deal more to the point, though you may
not think of it at present, with a handsome fortune of her own. In
faith, there is no understanding the ways of Providence."

A week afterwards the whole party went up to Dublin, as Terence and
O'Grady had to go before a medical board. A fortnight later a
notice appeared, in the Gazette, that Lieutenant Colonel Terence
O'Connor had retired from the service, on half pay, with the rank
of colonel.

The marriage did not take place for another six months, by which
time Terence had thrown away his crutches and had taken to an
artificial leg--so well constructed that, were it not for a certain
stiffness in his walk, his loss would not have been suspected by a
casual observer. For three months previous to the event, a number
of men had been employed in building a small but pretty house, some
quarter of a mile from the mansion, intended for the occupation of
Majors O'Connor and O'Grady.

"It will be better, in every way, Terence," his father insisted,
when his son and Mary remonstrated against their thus proposing to
leave them. "O'Grady and I have been comrades for twenty years, and
we shall feel more at home, in bachelor quarters, than here. I can
run in three or four times a day, if I like, and I expect I shall
be as much here as over there; whereas if I lived here, I should
often be feeling myself in the way, though I know that you would
never say so. It is better for young people to be together and,
maybe some day, the house will be none too large for you."

The house was finished by the time the wedding took place, and the
two officers moved into it. The wedding was attended by all the
tenants, and half the country round; and it was agreed that the
bride's jewels were the most magnificent that had ever been seen in
that part of Ireland, though some objected that diamonds, alone,
would have been more suitable for the occasion than the emeralds.

Terence, on his return, had heard from his father that his Uncle,
Tim M'Manus, had called very soon after the major had returned to
his old home. He had been very friendly, and had been evidently
mollified by Terence's name appearing in general orders; but his
opinion that he would end his career by a rope had been in no way
shaken. He had, however, continued to pay occasional visits; and
the rapid rise of the scapegrace, and his frequent mention in
despatches, were evidently a source of much gratification to him;
and it was not long after his return that his uncle again came
over.

"We will let bygones be bygones, Terence," he said, as he shook
hands with him. "You have turned out a credit to your mother's
name, and I am proud of you; and I hold my head high when I say
Colonel Terence O'Connor, who was always playing mischief with the
French, is my great nephew, and the good M'Manus blood shines out
clearly in him."

There was no one who played a more conspicuous part at the wedding
than Uncle Tim. At his own request, he proposed the health of the
bride and bridegroom.

"I take no small credit to myself," he said, "that Colonel Terence
O'Connor is the hero of this occasion. Never was there a boy whose
destiny was so marked as his, and it is many a time I predicted
that it was not either by flood, or fire, or quietly in his bed
that he would die. If, when the regiment was ordered abroad, I had
offered him a home, I firmly believe that my prediction would be
verified before now; but I closed my doors to him, and the
consequence was that he expended his devilment upon the French; and
it is a deal better for him that it is only a leg that he has lost,
which is a much less serious matter than having his neck unduly
stretched. Therefore, ladies and gentlemen, I can say with pride
that I have had no small share in this matter, and it is glad I am
that, when I go, I can leave my money behind me, feeling that it
won't all go to the dogs before I have been twelve months in my
grave."

Another old friend was present at the wedding. Bull had made a slow
recovery, and had been some time before he regained his strength.
When he was gazetted out of the service, he secured a step in rank,
and retired as a major. In after years he made frequent visits to
Terence; to whom, as he always declared, he owed it that, instead
of being turned adrift on a nominal pension, he was now able to
live in comfort and ease.

When, four months later, Tim M'Manus was thrown out of his trap
when driving home late at night, and broke his neck, it was found
that he had left the whole of his property to Terence and, as the
rents of his estate amounted to 600 pounds a year, no inconsiderable
proportion of which had, for many years past, been accumulating, the
legacy placed Terence in a leading position among the gentry of Mayo.

For very many years the house was one of the most popular in the
county. It had been found necessary to make additions to it, and it
had now attained the dignity of a mansion. The three officers
followed, with the most intense interest, the bulletins and
despatches from the war and, on the day when the allies entered
Paris, the services of Tim Doolan, who had been invalided home a
year after the return of his master, and had been discharged as
unfit for further service, were called into requisition, for the
first time since his return, to assist his master back to the
house.

O'Grady, however, explained most earnestly to Mary O'Connor, the
next day, that it was not the whisky at all, at all, but his wooden
leg that had got out of order, and would not carry him straight.

Dick Ryan went through the war unscathed and, after Waterloo,
retired from the service with the rank of lieutenant colonel;
married, and settled at Athlone; and the closest intimacy, and very
frequent intercourse, were maintained between him and his comrades
of the Mayo Fusiliers.

Terence, in time, quite ceased to feel the loss of his leg; and was
able to join in all field sports, becoming in time master of the
hounds, and one of the most popular sportsmen in the county. His
wife always declared that his wound was the most fortunate thing
that ever happened to him for, had it not been for that, he would
most likely have fallen in some of the later battles in the
Peninsula.

"It is a good thing to have luck," she said, "and Terence had
plenty of it. But it does not do to tempt fortune too far. The
pitcher that goes too often to the well gets broken, in the end."





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