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Title: Charles O'Malley, The Irish Dragoon, Volume 1
Author: Lever, Charles James
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.

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CHARLES O’MALLEY


The Irish Dragoon


BY CHARLES LEVER.


WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY PHIZ.


IN TWO VOLUMES.

VOL. I.


[Illustration: THE SUNK FENCE]


TO THE

MOST NOBLE THE MARQUESS OF DOURO, M.P., D.C.L., ETC., ETC.

    MY DEAR LORD,--

    The imperfect attempt to picture forth some scenes of the most
    brilliant period of my country’s history might naturally suggest their
    dedication to the son of him who gave that era its glory. I feel,
    however, in the weakness of the effort, the presumption of such a
    thought, and would simply ask of you to accept these volumes as a
    souvenir of many delightful hours passed long since in your society,
    and a testimony of the deep pride with which I regard the honor of your
    friendship.

    Believe me, my dear Lord, with every respect and esteem,

    Yours, most sincerely,

    THE AUTHOR.

    BRUSSELS, November, 1841.



A WORD OF EXPLANATION.


KIND PUBLIC,--

Having so lately taken my leave of the stage, in a farewell benefit, it is
but fitting that I should explain the circumstances which once more bring
me before you,--that I may not appear intrusive, where I have met with but
too much indulgence.

A blushing _debutante_--_entre nous_, the most impudent Irishman that ever
swaggered down Sackville Street--has requested me to present him to
your acquaintance. He has every ambition to be a favorite with you; but
says--God forgive him--he is too bashful for the foot-lights.

He has remarked---as, doubtless, many others have done--upon what very
slight grounds, and with what slender pretension, _my_ Confessions have
met with favor at the hands of the press and the public; and the idea has
occurred to him to indite his _own_. Had his determination ended here,
I should have nothing to object to; but unfortunately, he expects me to
become his editor, and in some sort responsible for the faults of his
production. I have wasted much eloquence and more breath in assuring him
that I was no tried favorite of the public, who dared take liberties
with them; that the small rag of reputation I enjoyed, was a very scanty
covering for my own nakedness; that the plank which swam with one, would
most inevitably sink with two; and lastly, that the indulgence so often
bestowed upon a first effort is as frequently converted into censure on the
older offender. My arguments have, however, totally failed, and he remains
obdurate and unmoved. Under these circumstances I have yielded; and as,
happily for me, the short and pithy direction to the river Thames, in the
Critic, “to keep between its banks,” has been imitated by my friend, I find
all that is required of me is to write my name upon the title and go in
peace. Such, he informs me, is modern editorship.

In conclusion, I would beg, that if the debt he now incurs at your hands
remain unpaid, you would kindly bear in mind that your remedy lies against
the drawer of the bill and not against its mere humble indorser,

HARRY LORREQUER

BRUSSELS, March, 1840.



PREFACE

The success of Harry Lorrequer was the reason for writing Charles O’Malley.
That I myself was in no wise prepared for the favor the public bestowed on
my first attempt is easily enough understood. The ease with which I strung
my stories together,--and in reality the Confessions of Harry Lorrequer are
little other than a note-book of absurd and laughable incidents,--led me
to believe that I could draw on this vein of composition without any limit
whatever. I felt, or thought I felt, an inexhaustible store of fun and
buoyancy within me, and I began to have a misty, half-confused impression
that Englishmen generally labored under a sad-colored temperament, took
depressing views of life, and were proportionately grateful to any one who
would rally them even passingly out of their despondency, and give them a
laugh without much trouble for going in search of it.

When I set to work to write Charles O’Malley I was, as I have ever been,
very low with fortune, and the success of a new venture was pretty much as
eventful to me as the turn of the right color at _rouge-et-noir_. At the
same time I had then an amount of spring in my temperament, and a power of
enjoying life which I can honestly say I never found surpassed. The world
had for me all the interest of an admirable comedy, in which the part
allotted myself, if not a high or a foreground one, was eminently suited
to my taste, and brought me, besides, sufficiently often on the stage to
enable me to follow all the fortunes of the piece. Brussels, where I was
then living, was adorned at the period by a most agreeable English society.
Some leaders of the fashionable world of London had come there to refit and
recruit, both in body and estate. There were several pleasant and a great
number of pretty people among them; and so far as I could judge, the
fashionable dramas of Belgrave Square and its vicinity were being performed
in the Rue Royale and the Boulevard de Waterloo with very considerable
success. There were dinners, balls, déjeûners, and picnics in the Bois de
Cambre, excursions to Waterloo, and select little parties to Bois-fort,--a
charming little resort in the forest whose intense cockneyism became
perfectly inoffensive as being in a foreign land, and remote from the
invasion of home-bred vulgarity. I mention all these things to show the
adjuncts by which I was aided, and the rattle of gayety by which I was, as
it were, “accompanied,” when I next tried my voice.

The soldier element tinctured strongly our society, and I will say most
agreeably. Among those whom I remember best were several old Peninsulars.
Lord Combermere was of this number, and another of our set was an officer
who accompanied, if indeed he did not command, the first boat party who
crossed the Douro. It is needless to say how I cultivated a society so
full of all the storied details I was eager to obtain, and how generously
disposed were they to give me all the information I needed. On topography
especially were they valuable to me, and with such good result that I have
been more than once complimented on the accuracy of my descriptions of
places which I have never seen and whose features I have derived entirely
from the narratives of my friends.

When, therefore, my publishers asked me could I write a story in the
Lorrequer vein, in which active service and military adventure could figure
more prominently than mere civilian life, and where the achievements of a
British army might form the staple of the narrative,--when this question
was propounded me, I was ready to reply: Not one, but fifty. Do not mistake
me, and suppose that any overweening confidence in my literary powers would
have emboldened me to make this reply; my whole strength lay in the fact
that I could not recognize anything like literary effort in the matter. If
the world would only condescend to read that which I wrote precisely as I
was in the habit of talking, nothing could be easier than for me to occupy
them. Not alone was it very easy to me, but it was intensely interesting
and amusing to myself, to be so engaged.

The success of Harry Lorrequer had been freely wafted across the German
ocean, but even in its mildest accents it was very intoxicating incense to
me; and I set to work on my second book with a thrill of hope as regards
the world’s favor which--and it is no small thing to say it--I can yet
recall.

I can recall, too, and I am afraid more vividly still, some of the
difficulties of my task when I endeavored to form anything like an accurate
or precise idea of some campaigning incident or some passage of arms from
the narratives of two distinct and separate “eye-witnesses.” What mistrust
I conceived for all eye-witnesses from my own brief experience of their
testimonies! What an impulse did it lend me to study the nature and the
temperament of narrator, as indicative of the peculiar coloring he might
lend his narrative; and how it taught me to know the force of the French
epigram that has declared how it was entirely the alternating popularity of
Marshal Soult that decided whether he won or lost the battle of Toulouse.

While, however, I was sifting these evidences, and separating, as well as
I might, the wheat from the chaff, I was in a measure training myself for
what, without my then knowing it, was to become my career in life. This was
not therefore altogether without a certain degree of labor, but so light
and pleasant withal, so full of picturesque peeps at character and humorous
views of human nature, that it would be the very rankest ingratitude of me
if I did not own that I gained all my earlier experiences of the world in
very pleasant company,--highly enjoyable at the time, and with matter for
charming souvenirs long after.

That certain traits of my acquaintances found themselves embodied in some
of the characters of this story I do not to deny. The principal of natural
selection adapts itself to novels as to Nature, and it would have demanded
an effort above my strength to have disabused myself at the desk of all
the impressions of the dinner-table, and to have forgotten features which
interested or amused me.

One of the personages of my tale I drew, however, with very little aid from
fancy. I would go so far as to say that I took him from the life, if my
memory did not confront me with the lamentable inferiority of my picture to
the great original it was meant to portray.

With the exception of the quality of courage, I never met a man who
contained within himself so many of the traits of Falstaff as the
individual who furnished me with Major Monsoon. But the major--I must
call him so, though that rank was far beneath his own--was a man of
unquestionable bravery. His powers as a story-teller were to my thinking
unrivalled; the peculiar reflections on life which he would passingly
introduce, the wise apothegms, were after a morality essentially of his own
invention. Then he would indulge in the unsparing exhibition of himself in
situations such as other men would never have confessed to, all blended up
with a racy enjoyment of life, dashed occasionally with sorrow that our
tenure of it was short of patriarchal. All these, accompanied by a face
redolent of intense humor, and a voice whose modulations were managed with
the skill of a consummate artist,--all these, I say, were above me to
convey; nor indeed as I re-read any of the adventures in which he figures,
am I other than ashamed at the weakness of my drawing and the poverty of my
coloring.

That I had a better claim to personify him than is always the lot of a
novelist; that I possessed, so to say, a vested interest in his life and
adventures,--I will relate a little incident in proof; and my accuracy, if
necessary, can be attested by another actor in the scene, who yet survives.

I was living a bachelor life at Brussels, my family being at Ostende
for the bathing, during the summer of 1840. The city was comparatively
empty,--all the so-called society being absent at the various spas or baths
of Germany. One member of the British legation, who remained at his post to
represent the mission, and myself, making common cause of our desolation
and ennui, spent much of our time together, and dined _tête-à-tête_ every
day.

It chanced that one evening, as we were hastening through the park on
our way to dinner, we espied the major--for as major I must speak of
him--lounging along with that half-careless, half-observant air we had both
of us remarked as indicating a desire to be somebody’s, anybody’s guest,
rather than surrender himself to the homeliness of domestic fare.

“There’s that confounded old Monsoon,” cried my diplomatic friend. “It’s
all up if he sees us, and I can’t endure him.”

Now, I must remark that my friend, though very far from insensible to the
humoristic side of the major’s character, was not always in the vein to
enjoy it; and when so indisposed he could invest the object of his dislike
with something little short of antipathy. “Promise me,” said he, as Monsoon
came towards us,--“promise me, you’ll not ask him to dinner.” Before I
could make any reply, the major was shaking a hand of either of us, and
rapturously expatiating over his good luck at meeting us. “Mrs. M.,” said
he, “has got a dreary party of old ladies to dine with her, and I have come
out here to find some pleasant fellow to join me, and take our mutton-chop
together.”

“We’re behind our time, Major,” said my friend, “sorry to leave you
so abruptly, but must push on. Eh, Lorrequer,” added he, to evoke
corroboration on my part.

“Harry says nothing of the kind,” replied Monsoon, “he says, or he’s going
to say, ‘Major, I have a nice bit of dinner waiting for me at home, enough
for two, will feed three, or if there be a short-coming, nothing easier
than to eke out the deficiency by another bottle of Moulton; come along
with us then, Monsoon, and we shall be all the merrier for your company.’”

Repeating his last words, “Come along, Monsoon,” etc., I passed my arm
within his, and away we went. For a moment my friend tried to get free and
leave me, but I held him fast and carried him along in spite of himself. He
was, however, so chagrined and provoked that till the moment we reached my
door he never uttered a word, nor paid the slightest attention to
Monsoon, who talked away in a vein that occasionally made gravity all but
impossible.

Our dinner proceeded drearily enough, the diplomatist’s stiffness never
relaxed for a moment, and my own awkwardness damped all my attempts at
conversation. Not so, however, Monsoon, he ate heartily, approved of
everything, and pronounced my wine to be exquisite. He gave us a perfect
discourse on sherry and Spanish wines in general, told us the secret of the
Amontillado flavor, and explained that process of browning by boiling down
wine which some are so fond of in England. At last, seeing perhaps that the
protection had little charm for us, with his accustomed tact, he diverged
into anecdote. “I was once fortunate enough,” said he, “to fall upon some
of that choice sherry from the St. Lucas Luentas which is always reserved
for royalty. It was a pale wine, delicious in the drinking, and leaving no
more flavor in the mouth than a faint dryness that seemed to say, another
glass. Shall I tell you how I came by it?” And scarcely pausing for reply,
he told the story of having robbed his own convoy, and stolen the wine he
was in charge of for safe conveyance.

I wish I could give any, even the weakest idea of how he narrated that
incident,--the struggle that he portrayed between duty and temptation, and
the apologetic tone of his voice in which he explained that the frame of
mind that succeeds to any yielding to seductive influences, is often, in
the main, more profitable to a man than is the vain-glorious sense of
having resisted a temptation. “Meekness is the mother of all the virtues,”
 said he, “and there is no being meek without frailty.” The story, told as
he told it, was too much for the diplomatist’s gravity, he resisted all
signs of attention as long as he was able, and at last fairly roared out
with laughter.

As soon as I myself recovered from the effects of his drollery, I said,
“Major, I have a proposition to make you. Let me tell the story in print,
and I’ll give you five naps.”

“Are you serious, Harry?” asked he. “Is this on honor?”

“On honor, assuredly,” I replied.

“Let me have the money down, on the nail, and I’ll give you leave to have
me and my whole life, every adventure that ever befell me, ay, and if you
like, every moral reflection that my experiences have suggested.”

“Done!” cried I, “I agree.”

“Not so fast,” cried the diplomatist, “we must make a protocol of this; the
high contracting parties must know what they give and what they receive,
I’ll draw out the treaty.”

He did so at full length on a sheet of that solemn blue-tinted paper, so
dedicated to despatch purposes; he duly set fourth the concession and the
consideration. We each signed the document; he witnessed and sealed it; and
Monsoon pocketed my five napoleons, filling a bumper to any success the
bargain might bring me, and of which I have never had reason to express
deep disappointment.

This document, along with my university degree, my commission in a militia
regiment, and a vast amount of letters very interesting to me, was seized
by the Austrian authorities on the way from Como to Florence, in the August
of 1847, being deemed part of a treasonable correspondence,--probably
purposely allegorical in form,--and never restored to me. I fairly own that
I’d give all the rest willingly to repossess myself of the Monsoon treaty,
not a little for the sake of that quaint old autograph, faintly shaken by
the quiet laugh with which he wrote it.

That I did not entirely fail in giving my major some faint resemblance
to the great original from whom I copied him, I may mention that he was
speedily recognized in print by the Marquis of Londonderry, the well-known
Sir Charles Stuart of the Peninsular campaign. “I know that fellow well,”
 said he, “he once sent me a challenge, and I had to make him a very humble
apology. The occasion was this: I had been out with a single aide-de-camp
to make a reconnaissance in front of Victor’s division; and to avoid
attracting any notice, we covered over our uniform with two common gray
overcoats which reached to the feet, and effectually concealed our rank as
officers. Scarcely, however, had we topped a hill which commanded the view
of the French, than a shower of shells flew over and around us. Amazed to
think how we could have been so quickly noticed, I looked around me, and
discovered, quite close in my rear, your friend Monsoon with what he called
his staff,--a popinjay set of rascals dressed out in green and gold, and
with more plumes and feathers than the general staff ever boasted. Carried
away by momentary passion at the failure of my reconnaissance, I burst out
with some insolent allusion to the harlequin assembly which had drawn the
French fire upon us. Monsoon saluted me respectfully, and retired without a
word; but I had scarcely reached my quarters when a ‘friend’ of his waited
on me with a message, a very categorical message it was, too, ‘it must be a
meeting or an ample apology.’ I made the apology, a most full one, for the
major was right, and I had not a fraction of reason to sustain me in my
conduct, and we have been the best of friends ever since.”

I myself had heard the incident before this from Monsoon, but told among
other adventures whose exact veracity I was rather disposed to question,
and did not therefore accord it all the faith that was its due; and I admit
that the accidental corroboration of this one event very often served to
puzzle me afterwards, when I listened to stories in which the major seemed
a second Munchausen, but might, like in this of the duel, have been among
the truest and most matter-of-fact of historians. May the reader be not
less embarrassed than myself, is my sincere, if not very courteous, prayer.

I have no doubt myself, that often in recounting some strange incident,--a
personal experience it always was,--he was himself more amused by the
credulity of the hearers, and the amount of interest he could excite in
them, than were they by the story. He possessed the true narrative gusto,
and there was a marvellous instinct in the way in which he would vary a
tale to suit the tastes of an audience; while his moralizings were almost
certain to take the tone of a humoristic quiz on the company.

Though fully aware that I was availing myself of the contract that
delivered him into my hands, and dining with me two or three days a week,
he never lapsed into any allusion to his appearance in print; and the story
had been already some weeks published before he asked me to lend him “that
last thing--he forgot the name of it--I was writing.”

Of Frank Webber I have said, in a former notice, that he was one of my
earliest friends, my chum in college, and in the very chambers where I have
located Charles O’Malley, in Old Trinity. He was a man of the highest order
of abilities, and with a memory that never forgot, but ruined and run to
seed by the idleness that came of a discursive, uncertain temperament.
Capable of anything, he spent his youth in follies and eccentricities;
every one of which, however, gave indications of a mind inexhaustible in
resources, and abounding in devices and contrivances that none other but
himself would have thought of. Poor fellow, he died young; and perhaps it
is better it should have been so. Had he lived to a later day, he would
most probably have been found a foremost leader of Fenianism; and from
what I knew of him, I can say he would have been a more dangerous enemy to
English rule than any of those dealers in the petty larceny of rebellion we
have lately seen among us.

I have said that of Mickey Free I had not one but one thousand types.
Indeed, I am not quite sure that in my last visit to Dublin, I did not
chance on a living specimen of the “Free” family, much readier in repartée,
quicker with an apropos, and droller in illustration than my own Mickey.
This fellow was “boots” at a great hotel in Sackville Street; and I owe him
more amusement and some heartier laughs than it has been always my fortune
to enjoy in a party of wits. His criticisms on my sketches of Irish
character were about the shrewdest and the best I ever listened to; and
that I am not bribed to this by any flattery, I may remark that they were
more often severe than complimentary, and that he hit every blunder of
image, every mistake in figure, of my peasant characters, with an acuteness
and correctness which made me very grateful to know that his daily
occupations were limited to blacking boots, and not polishing off authors.

I believe I have now done with my confessions, except I should like to own
that this story was the means of according me a more heartfelt glow of
satisfaction, a more gratifying sense of pride, than anything I ever have
or ever shall write, and in this wise. My brother, at that time the rector
of an Irish parish, once forwarded to me a letter from a lady unknown to
him, but who had heard he was the brother of “Harry Lorrequer,” and who
addressed him not knowing where a letter might be directed to myself. The
letter was the grateful expression of a mother, who said, “I am the
widow of a field officer, and with an only son, for whom I obtained a
presentation to Woolwich; but seeing in my boy’s nature certain traits of
nervousness and timidity which induced me to hesitate on embarking him in
the career of a soldier, I became very unhappy and uncertain which course
to decide on.

“While in this state of uncertainty, I chanced to make him a birthday
present of ‘Charles O’Malley,’ the reading of which seemed to act like a
charm on his whole character, inspiring him with a passion for movement and
adventure, and spiriting him to an eager desire for a military life. Seeing
that this was no passing enthusiasm, but a decided and determined bent,
I accepted the cadetship for him; and his career has been not alone
distinguished as a student, but one which has marked him out for an almost
hare-brained courage, and for a dash and heroism that give high promise for
his future.

“Thank your brother for me,” wrote she, “a mother’s thanks for the welfare
of an only son; and say how I wish that my best wishes for him and his
could recompense him for what I owe him.”

I humbly hope that it may not be imputed to me as unpardonable vanity,--the
recording of this incident. It gave me an intense pleasure when I heard it;
and now, as I look back on it, it invests this story for myself with an
interest which nothing else that I have written can afford me.

I have now but to repeat what I have declared in former editions, my
sincere gratitude for the favor the public still continues to bestow
on me,--a favor which probably associates the memory of this book with
whatever I have since done successfully, and compels me to remember that
to the popularity of “Charles O’Malley” I am indebted for a great share of
that kindliness in criticism, and that geniality in judgment, which--for
more than a quarter of a century--my countrymen have graciously bestowed on
their faithful friend and servant,

CHARLES LEVER.

TRIESTE, 1872.



CONTENTS.


CHAPTER

I.       DALY’S CLUB-HOUSE
II.      THE ESCAPE
III.     MR. BLAKE
IV.      THE HUNT
V.       THE DRAWING-ROOM
VI.      THE DINNER
VII.     THE FLIGHT FROM GURT-NA-MORRA
VIII.    THE DUEL
IX.      THE RETURN
X.       THE ELECTION
XI.      AN ADVENTURE
XII.     MICKEY FREE
XIII.    THE JOURNEY
XIV.     DUBLIN
XV.      CAPTAIN POWER
XVI.     THE VICE-PROVOST
XVII.    TRINITY COLLEGE.--A LECTURE
XVIII.   THE INVITATION.--THE WAGER
XIX.     THE BALL
XX.      THE LAST NIGHT IN TRINITY
XXI.     THE PHOENIX PARK
XXII.    THE ROAD
XXIII.   CORK
XXIV.    THE ADJUTANT’S DINNER
XXV.     THE ENTANGLEMENT
XXVI.    THE PREPARATION
XXVII.   THE SUPPER
XXVIII.  THE VOYAGE
XXIX.    THE ADJUTANT’S STORY.--LIFE IN DERBY
XXX.     FRED POWER’S ADVENTURE IN PHILIPSTOWN
XXXI.    THE VOYAGE CONTINUED
XXXII.   MR. SPARKS’S STORY
XXXIII.  THE SKIPPER
XXXIV.   THE LAND
XXXV.    MAJOR MONSOON
XXXVI.   THE LANDING
XXXVII.  LISBON
XXXVIII. THE RUA NUOVA
XXXIX.   THE VILLA
XL.      THE DINNER
XLI.     THE ROUTE
XLII.    THE FAREWELL
XLIII.   THE MARCH
XLIV.    THE BIVOUAC
XLV.     THE DOURO
XLVI.    THE MORNING
XLVII.   THE REVIEW
XLVIII.  THE QUARREL
XLIX.    THE ROUTE CONTINUED
L.       THE WATCH-FIRE
LI.      THE MARCH
LII.     THE PAGE
LIII.    ALVAS
LIV.     THE SUPPER
LV.      THE LEGION
LVI.     THE DEPARTURE
LVII.    CUESTA
LVIII.   THE LETTER
LXIX.    MAJOR O’SHAUGHNESSY
LX.      PRELIMINARIES
LXI.     ALL RIGHT
LXII.    THE DUEL
LXIII.   NEWS FROM GALWAY
LXIV.    AN ADVENTURE WITH SIR ARTHUR
LXV.     TALAVERA
LXVI.    NIGHT AFTER TALAVERA
LXVII.   THE OUTPOST



ILLUSTRATIONS BY PHIZ IN VOL. I

Etchings
THE SUNK FENCE
THE RESCUE
CHARLES POPS THE QUESTION
THE SKIRMISH

Illustrations in the Text
MR. BLAKE’S DRESSING-ROOM
THE ELECTION
MR. CROW WELL PLUCKED
FRANK WEBBER AT HIS STUDIES
MISS JUDY MACAN
THE ADJUTANT’S AFTER-DINNER RIDE
THE RIVAL FLUNKIES
MAJOR MONSOON AND DONNA MARIA
THE SALUTATION
A TOUCH AT LEAP-FROG WITH NAPOLEON
MAJOR MONSOON TRYING TO CHARGE
MR. FREE’S SONG
THE COAT OF MAIL



CHARLES O’MALLEY.


THE IRISH DRAGOON.



CHAPTER I.


DALY’S CLUB-HOUSE.

The rain was dashing in torrents against the window-panes, and the wind
sweeping in heavy and fitful gusts along the dreary and deserted streets,
as a party of three persons sat over their wine, in that stately old pile
which once formed the resort of the Irish Members, in College Green,
Dublin, and went by the name of Daly’s Club-House. The clatter of falling
tiles and chimney-pots, the jarring of the window-frames, and howling of
the storm without seemed little to affect the spirits of those within as
they drew closer to a blazing fire before which stood a small table covered
with the remains of a dessert, and an abundant supply of bottles, whose
characteristic length of neck indicated the rarest wines of France and
Germany; while the portly magnum of claret--the wine _par excellence_ of
every Irish gentleman of the day--passed rapidly from hand to hand, the
conversation did not languish, and many a deep and hearty laugh followed
the stories which every now and then were told, as some reminiscence of
early days was recalled, or some trait of a former companion remembered.

One of the party, however, was apparently engrossed by other thoughts than
those of the mirth and merriment around; for in the midst of all he would
turn suddenly from the others, and devote himself to a number of scattered
sheets of paper, upon which he had written some lines, but whose crossed
and blotted sentences attested how little success had waited upon
his literary labors. This individual was a short, plethoric-looking,
white-haired man of about fifty, with a deep, round voice, and a chuckling,
smothering laugh, which, whenever he indulged not only shook his own ample
person, but generally created a petty earthquake on every side of him. For
the present, I shall not stop to particularize him more closely; but when I
add that the person in question was a well-known member of the Irish House
of Commons, whose acute understanding and practical good sense were veiled
under an affected and well-dissembled habit of blundering that did far
more for his party than the most violent and pointed attacks of his more
accurate associates, some of my readers may anticipate me in pronouncing
him to be Sir Harry Boyle. Upon his left sat a figure the most unlike him
possible. He was a tall, thin, bony man, with a bolt-upright air and a most
saturnine expression; his eyes were covered by a deep green shade, which
fell far over his face, but failed to conceal a blue scar that crossing his
cheek ended in the angle of his mouth, and imparted to that feature, when
he spoke, an apparently abortive attempt to extend towards his eyebrow; his
upper lip was covered with a grizzly and ill-trimmed mustache, which added
much to the ferocity of his look, while a thin and pointed beard on his
chin gave an apparent length to the whole face that completed its rueful
character. His dress was a single-breasted, tightly buttoned frock, in one
button-hole of which a yellow ribbon was fastened, the decoration of a
foreign service, which conferred upon its wearer the title of count; and
though Billy Considine, as he was familiarly called by his friends, was
a thorough Irishman in all his feelings and affections, yet he had no
objection to the designation he had gained in the Austrian army. The Count
was certainly no beauty, but somehow, very few men of his day had a fancy
for telling him so. A deadlier hand and a steadier eye never covered his
man in the Phoenix; and though he never had a seat in the House, he was
always regarded as one of the government party, who more than once had
damped the ardor of an opposition member by the very significant threat
of “setting Billy at him.” The third figure of the group was a large,
powerfully built, and handsome man, older than either of the others, but
not betraying in his voice or carriage any touch of time. He was attired in
the green coat and buff vest which formed the livery of the club; and in
his tall, ample forehead, clear, well-set eye, and still handsome mouth,
bore evidence that no great flattery was necessary at the time which called
Godfrey O’Malley the handsomest man in Ireland.

“Upon my conscience,” said Sir Harry, throwing down his pen with an air of
ill-temper, “I can make nothing of it! I have got into such an infernal
habit of making bulls, that I can’t write sense when I want it!”

“Come, come,” said O’Malley, “try again, my dear fellow. If you can’t
succeed, I’m sure Billy and I have no chance.”

“What have you written? Let us see,” said Considine, drawing the paper
towards him, and holding it to the light. “Why, what the devil is all this?
You have made him ‘drop down dead after dinner of a lingering illness
brought on by the debate of yesterday.’”

“Oh, impossible!”

“Well, read it yourself; there it is. And, as if to make the thing less
credible, you talk of his ‘Bill for the Better Recovery of Small Debts.’
I’m sure, O’Malley, your last moments were not employed in that manner.”

“Come, now,” said Sir Harry, “I’ll set all to rights with a postscript.
‘Any one who questions the above statement is politely requested to call on
Mr. Considine, 16 Kildare Street, who will feel happy to afford him every
satisfaction upon Mr. O’Malley’s decease, or upon miscellaneous matters.”

“Worse and worse,” said O’Malley. “Killing another man will never persuade
the world that I’m dead.”

“But we’ll wake you, and have a glorious funeral.”

“And if any man doubt the statement, I’ll call him out,” said the Count.

“Or, better still,” said Sir Harry, “O’Malley has his action at law for
defamation.”

“I see I’ll never get down to Galway at this rate,” said O’Malley; “and as
the new election takes place on Tuesday week, time presses. There are more
writs flying after me this instant than for all the government boroughs.”

“And there will be fewer returns, I fear,” said Sir Harry.

“Who is the chief creditor?” asked the Count.

“Old Stapleton, the attorney in Fleet Street, has most of the mortgages.”

“Nothing to be done with him in this way?” said Considine, balancing the
corkscrew like a hair trigger.

“No chance of it.”

“May be,” said Sir Harry, “he might come to terms if I were to call and
say, ‘You are anxious to close accounts, as your death has just taken
place.’ You know what I mean.”

“I fear so should he, were you to say so. No, no, Boyle, just try a plain,
straightforward paragraph about my death; we’ll have it in Falkner’s paper
to-morrow. On Friday the funeral can take place, and, with the blessing
o’ God, I’ll come to life on Saturday at Athlone, in time to canvass the
market.”

“I think it wouldn’t be bad if your ghost were to appear to old Timins the
tanner, in Naas, on your way down. You know he arrested you once before.”

“I prefer a night’s sleep,” said O’Malley. “But come, finish the squib for
the paper.”

“Stay a little,” said Sir Harry, musing; “it just strikes me that if ever
the matter gets out I may be in some confounded scrape. Who knows if it is
not a breach of privilege to report the death of a member? And to tell you
truth, I dread the Sergeant and the Speaker’s warrant with a very lively
fear.”

“Why, when did you make his acquaintance?” said the Count.

“Is it possible you never heard of Boyle’s committal?” said O’Malley. “You
surely must have been abroad at the time. But it’s not too late to tell it
yet.”

“Well, it’s about two years since old Townsend brought in his Enlistment
Bill, and the whole country was scoured for all our voters, who were
scattered here and there, never anticipating another call of the House, and
supposing that the session was just over. Among others, up came our friend
Harry, here, and the night he arrived they made him a ‘Monk of the Screw,’
and very soon made him forget his senatorial dignities. On the evening
after his reaching town, the bill was brought in, and at two in the morning
the division took place,--a vote was of too much consequence not to look
after it closely,--and a Castle messenger was in waiting in Exchequer
Street, who, when the debate was closing, put Harry, with three others,
into a coach, and brought them down to the House. Unfortunately, however,
they mistook their friends, voted against the bill, and amidst the loudest
cheering of the opposition, the government party were defeated. The rage of
the ministers knew no bounds, and looks of defiance and even threats were
exchanged between the ministers and the deserters. Amidst all this poor
Harry fell fast asleep and dreamed that he was once more in Exchequer
Street, presiding among the monks, and mixing another tumbler. At length he
awoke and looked about him. The clerk was just at the instant reading out,
in his usual routine manner, a clause of the new bill, and the remainder
of the House was in dead silence. Harry looked again around on every side,
wondering where was the hot water, and what had become of the whiskey
bottle, and above all, why the company were so extremely dull and ungenial.
At length, with a half-shake, he roused up a little, and giving a look
of unequivocal contempt on every side, called out, ‘Upon my soul, you’re
pleasant companions; but I’ll give you a chant to enliven you!’ So saying,
he cleared his throat with a couple of short coughs, and struck up, with
the voice of a Stentor, the following verse of a popular ballad:--

    ‘And they nibbled away, both night and day,
      Like mice in a round of Glo’ster;
    Great rogues they were all, both great and small,
      From Flood to Leslie Foster.
           Great rogues all.

Chorus, boys!’ If he was not joined by the voices of his friends in the
song, it was probably because such a roar of laughing never was heard since
the walls were roofed over. The whole House rose in a mass, and my friend
Harry was hurried over the benches by the sergeant-at-arms, and left for
three weeks in Newgate to practise his melody.”

“All true,” said Sir Harry; “and worse luck to them for not liking music.
But come, now, will this do? ‘It is our melancholy duty to announce the
death of Godfrey O’Malley, Esq., late member for the county of Galway,
which took place on Friday evening, at Daly’s Club-House. This esteemed
gentleman’s family--one of the oldest in Ireland, and among whom it was
hereditary not to have any children--’”

Here a burst of laughter from Considine and O’Malley interrupted the
reader, who with the greatest difficulty could be persuaded that he was
again bulling it.

“The devil fly away with it,” said he; “I’ll never succeed.”

“Never mind,” said O’Malley, “the first part will do admirably; and let us
now turn our attention to other matters.”

A fresh magnum was called for, and over its inspiring contents all the
details of the funeral were planned; and as the clock struck four the party
separated for the _night_, well satisfied with the result of their labors.



CHAPTER II.


THE ESCAPE.

When the dissolution of Parliament was announced the following morning in
Dublin, its interest in certain circles was manifestly increased by the
fact that Godfrey O’Malley was at last open to arrest; for as in olden
times certain gifted individuals possessed some happy immunity against
death by fire or sword, so the worthy O’Malley seemed to enjoy a no less
valuable privilege, and for many a year had passed among the myrmidons of
the law as writ-proof. Now, however, the charm seemed to have yielded; and
pretty much with the same feeling as a storming party may be supposed to
experience on the day that a breach is reported as practicable, did the
honest attorneys retained in the various suits against him rally round each
other that morning in the Four Courts.

Bonds, mortgages, post-obits, promissory notes--in fact, every imaginable
species of invention for raising the O’Malley exchequer for the preceding
thirty years--were handed about on all sides, suggesting to the mind of an
uninterested observer the notion that had the aforesaid O’Malley been an
independent and absolute monarch, instead of merely being the member for
Galway, the kingdom over whose destinies he had been called to preside
would have suffered not a little from a depreciated currency and an
extravagant issue of paper. Be that as it might, one thing was clear,--the
whole estates of the family could not possibly pay one fourth of the debt;
and the only question was one which occasionally arises at a scanty dinner
on a mail-coach road,--who was to be the lucky individual to carve the
joint, where so many were sure to go off hungry?

It was now a trial of address between these various and highly gifted
gentlemen who should first pounce upon the victim; and when the skill of
their caste is taken into consideration, who will doubt that every feasible
expedient for securing him was resorted to? While writs were struck against
him in Dublin, emissaries were despatched to the various surrounding
counties to procure others in the event of his escape. _Ne exeats_ were
sworn, and water-bailiffs engaged to follow him on the high seas; and as
the great Nassau balloon did not exist in those days, no imaginable mode of
escape appeared possible, and bets were offered at long odds that within
twenty-four hours the late member would be enjoying his _otium cum
dignitate_ in his Majesty’s jail of Newgate.

Expectation was at the highest, confidence hourly increasing, success all
but certain, when in the midst of all this high-bounding hope the dreadful
rumor spread that O’Malley was no more. One had seen it just five minutes
before in the evening edition of Falkner’s paper; another heard it in the
courts; a third overheard the Chief-Justice stating it to the Master of the
Rolls; and lastly, a breathless witness arrived from College Green with
the news that Daly’s Club-House was shut up, and the shutters closed.
To describe the consternation the intelligence caused on every side is
impossible; nothing in history equals it,--except, perhaps, the entrance
of the French army into Moscow, deserted and forsaken by its former
inhabitants. While terror and dismay, therefore, spread amidst that wide
and respectable body who formed O’Malley’s creditors, the preparations
for his funeral were going on with every rapidity. Relays of horses were
ordered at every stage of the journey, and it was announced that, in
testimony of his worth, a large party of his friends were to accompany his
remains to Portumna Abbey,--a test much more indicative of resistance
in the event of any attempt to arrest the body, than of anything like
reverence for their departed friend.

Such was the state of matters in Dublin when a letter reached me one
morning at O’Malley Castle, whose contents will at once explain the
writer’s intention, and also serve to introduce my unworthy self to my
reader. It ran thus:--

                                  DALY’S, about eight in the evening.
    Dear Charley,--Your uncle Godfrey, whose debts (God pardon
    him!) are more numerous than the hairs of his wig, was obliged to
    die here last night. We did the thing for him completely; and all
    doubts as to the reality of the event are silenced by the
    circumstantial detail of the newspaper, “that he was confined six
    weeks to his bed from a cold he caught, ten days ago, while on guard.”
     Repeat this; for it is better we had all the same story till he
    comes to life again, which, may be, will not take place before
    Tuesday or Wednesday. At the same time, canvass the county for him,
    and say he’ll be with his friends next week, and up in Woodford and
    the Scariff barony. Say he died a true Catholic; it will serve him on
    the hustings. Meet us in Athlone on Saturday, and bring your uncle’s
    mare with you. He says he’d rather ride home. And tell Father Mac
    Shane, to have a bit of dinner ready about four o’clock, for the corpse
    can get nothing after he leaves Mountmellick. No more now, from
    Yours ever,
    HARRY BOYLE

    To CHARLES O’MALLEY, Esq.,
    O’Malley Castle, Galway.


When this not over-clear document reached me I was the sole inhabitant of
O’Malley Castle,--a very ruinous pile of incongruous masonry, that stood in
a wild and dreary part of the county of Galway, bordering on the Shannon.
On every side stretched the property of my uncle, or at least what had once
been so; and indeed, so numerous were its present claimants that he would
have been a subtle lawyer who could have pronounced upon the rightful
owner. The demesne around the castle contained some well-grown and handsome
timber, and as the soil was undulating and fertile, presented many features
of beauty; beyond it, all was sterile, bleak, and barren. Long tracts of
brown heath-clad mountain or not less unprofitable valleys of tall and
waving fern were all that the eye could discern, except where the broad
Shannon, expanding into a tranquil and glassy lake, lay still and
motionless beneath the dark mountains, a few islands, with some ruined
churches and a round tower, alone breaking the dreary waste of water.

Here it was that I passed my infancy and my youth; and here I now stood,
at the age of seventeen, quite unconscious that the world contained aught
fairer and brighter than that gloomy valley with its rugged frame of
mountains.

When a mere child, I was left an orphan to the care of my worthy uncle. My
father, whose extravagance had well sustained the family reputation, had
squandered a large and handsome property in contesting elections for his
native county, and in keeping up that system of unlimited hospitality for
which Ireland in general, and Galway more especially, was renowned. The
result was, as might be expected, ruin and beggary. He died, leaving every
one of his estates encumbered with heavy debts, and the only legacy he left
to his brother was a boy four years of age, entreating him with his last
breath, “Be anything you like to him, Godfrey, but a father, or at least
such a one as I have proved.”

Godfrey O’Malley some short time previous had lost his wife, and when this
new trust was committed to him he resolved never to remarry, but to rear
me up as his own child and the inheritor of his estates. How weighty and
onerous an obligation this latter might prove, the reader can form some
idea. The intention was, however, a kind one; and to do my uncle justice,
he loved me with all the affection of a warm and open heart.

From my earliest years his whole anxiety was to fit me for the part of a
country gentleman, as he regarded that character,--namely, I rode boldly
with fox-hounds; I was about the best shot within twenty miles of us; I
could swim the Shannon at Holy Island; I drove four-in-hand better than the
coachman himself; and from finding a hare to hooking a salmon, my equal
could not be found from Killaloe to Banagher. These were the staple of my
endowments. Besides which, the parish priest had taught me a little Latin,
a little French, a little geometry, and a great deal of the life and
opinions of Saint Jago, who presided over a holy well in the neighborhood,
and was held in very considerable repute.

When I add to this portraiture of my accomplishments that I was nearly six
feet high, with more than a common share of activity and strength for my
years, and no inconsiderable portion of good looks, I have finished my
sketch, and stand before my reader.

It is now time I should return to Sir Harry’s letter, which so completely
bewildered me that, but for the assistance of Father Roach, I should have
been totally unable to make out the writer’s intentions. By his advice, I
immediately set out for Athlone, where, when I arrived, I found my
uncle addressing the mob from the top of the hearse, and recounting his
miraculous escapes as a new claim upon their gratitude.

“There was nothing else for it, boys; the Dublin people insisted on
my being their member, and besieged the club-house. I refused; they
threatened. I grew obstinate; they furious. ‘I’ll die first,’ said I.
‘Galway or nothing!’”

“Hurrah!” from the mob. “O’Malley forever!”

“And ye see, I kept my word, boys,--I did die; I died that evening at a
quarter past eight. There, read it for yourselves; there’s the paper. Was
waked and carried out, and here I am after all, ready to die in earnest for
you, but never to desert you.”

The cheers here were deafening, and my uncle was carried through the market
down to the mayor’s house, who, being a friend of the opposite party, was
complimented with three groans; then up the Mall to the chapel, beside
which father Mac Shane resided. He was then suffered to touch the earth
once more; when, having shaken hands with all of his constituency within
reach, he entered the house, to partake of the kindest welcome and best
reception the good priest could afford him.

My uncle’s progress homeward was a triumph. The real secret of his escape
had somehow come out, and his popularity rose to a white heat. “An’ it’s
little O’Malley cares for the law,--bad luck to it; it’s himself can laugh
at judge and jury. Arrest him? Nabocklish! Catch a weasel asleep!” etc.
Such were the encomiums that greeted him as he passed on towards home;
while shouts of joy and blazing bonfires attested that his success was
regarded as a national triumph.

The west has certainly its strong features of identity. Had my uncle
possessed the claims of the immortal Howard; had he united in his person
all the attributes which confer a lasting and an ennobling fame upon
humanity,--he might have passed on unnoticed and unobserved; but for
the man that had duped a judge and escaped the sheriff, nothing was
sufficiently flattering to mark their approbation. The success of the
exploit was twofold; the news spread far and near, and the very story
canvassed the county better than Billy Davern himself, the Athlone
attorney.

This was the prospect now before us; and however little my readers may
sympathize with my taste, I must honestly avow that I looked forward to
it with a most delighted feeling. O’Malley Castle was to be the centre
of operations, and filled with my uncle’s supporters; while I, a mere
stripling, and usually treated as a boy, was to be intrusted with an
important mission, and sent off to canvass a distant relation, with whom
my uncle was not upon terms, and who might possibly be approachable by a
younger branch of the family, with whom he had never any collision.



CHAPTER III.


MR. BLAKE.

Nothing but the exigency of the case could ever have persuaded my uncle to
stoop to the humiliation of canvassing the individual to whom I was now
about to proceed as envoy-extraordinary, with full powers to make any or
every _amende_, provided only his interest and that of his followers should
be thereby secured to the O’Malley cause. The evening before I set out was
devoted to giving me all the necessary instructions how I was to proceed,
and what difficulties I was to avoid.

“Say your uncle’s in high feather with the government party,” said Sir
Harry, “and that he only votes against them as a _ruse de guerre_, as the
French call it.”

“Insist upon it that I am sure of the election without him; but that for
family reasons he should not stand aloof from me; that people are talking
of it in the country.”

“And drop a hint,” said Considine, “that O’Malley is greatly improved in
his shooting.”

“And don’t get drunk too early in the evening, for Phil Blake has beautiful
claret,” said another.

“And be sure you don’t make love to the red-headed girls,” added a third;
“he has four of them, each more sinfully ugly than the other.”

“You’ll be playing whist, too,” said Boyle; “and never mind losing a few
pounds. Mrs. B., long life to her, has a playful way of turning the king.”

“Charley will do it all well,” said my uncle; “leave him alone. And now let
us have in the supper.”

It was only on the following morning, as the tandem came round to the door,
that I began to feel the importance of my mission, and certain misgivings
came over me as to my ability to fulfil it. Mr. Blake and his family,
though estranged from my uncle for several years past, had been always most
kind and good-natured to me; and although I could not, with propriety, have
cultivated any close intimacy with them, I had every reason to suppose that
they entertained towards me nothing but sentiments of good-will. The head
of the family was a Galway squire of the oldest and most genuine stock, a
great sportsman, a negligent farmer, and most careless father; he looked
upon a fox as an infinitely more precious part of the creation than a
French governess, and thought that riding well with hounds was a far better
gift than all the learning of a Parson. His daughters were after his
own heart,--the best-tempered, least-educated, most high-spirited, gay,
dashing, ugly girls in the county, ready to ride over a four-foot paling
without a saddle, and to dance the “Wind that shakes the barley” for four
consecutive hours, against all the officers that their hard fate, and the
Horse Guards, ever condemned to Galway.

The mamma was only remarkable for her liking for whist, and her invariable
good fortune thereat,--a circumstance the world were agreed in ascribing
less to the blind goddess than her own natural endowments.

Lastly, the heir of the house was a stripling of about my own age, whose
accomplishments were limited to selling spavined and broken-winded horses
to the infantry officers, playing a safe game at billiards, and acting as
jackal-general to his sisters at balls, providing them with a sufficiency
of partners, and making a strong fight for a place at the supper-table for
his mother. These fraternal and filial traits, more honored at home than
abroad, had made Mr. Matthew Blake a rather well-known individual in the
neighborhood where he lived.

Though Mr. Blake’s property was ample, and strange to say for his county,
unencumbered, the whole air and appearance of his house and grounds
betrayed anything rather than a sufficiency of means. The gate lodge was a
miserable mud-hovel with a thatched and falling roof; the gate itself, a
wooden contrivance, one half of which was boarded and the other railed; the
avenue was covered with weeds, and deep with ruts; and the clumps of young
plantation, which had been planted and fenced with care, were now open to
the cattle, and either totally uprooted or denuded of their bark and dying.
The lawn, a handsome one of some forty acres, had been devoted to an
exercise-ground for training horses, and was cut up by their feet beyond
all semblance of its original destination; and the house itself, a large
and venerable structure of above a century old, displayed every variety of
contrivance, as well as the usual one of glass, to exclude the weather. The
hall-door hung by a single hinge, and required three persons each morning
and evening to open and shut it; the remainder of the day it lay pensively
open; the steps which led to it were broken and falling; and the whole
aspect of things without was ruinous in the extreme. Within, matters were
somewhat better, for though the furniture was old, and none of it clean,
yet an appearance of comfort was evident; and the large grate, blazing with
its pile of red-hot turf, the deep-cushioned chairs, the old black mahogany
dinner-table, and the soft carpet, albeit deep with dust, were not to be
despised on a winter’s evening, after a hard day’s run with the “Blazers.”
 Here it was, however, that Mr. Philip Blake had dispensed his hospitalities
for above fifty years, and his father before him; and here, with a retinue
of servants as _gauches_ and ill-ordered as all about them, was he
accustomed to invite all that the county possessed of rank and wealth,
among which the officers quartered in his neighborhood were never
neglected, the Miss Blakes having as decided a taste for the army as any
young ladies of the west of Ireland; and while the Galway squire, with
his cords and tops, was detailing the latest news from Ballinasloe in one
corner, the dandy from St. James’s Street might be seen displaying more
arts of seductive flattery in another than his most accurate _insouciane_
would permit him to practise in the elegant salons of London or Paris, and
the same man who would have “cut his brother,” for a solecism of dress or
equipage, in Bond Street, was now to be seen quietly domesticated, eating
family dinners, rolling silk for the young ladies, going down the middle
in a country dance, and even descending to the indignity of long whist at
“tenpenny” points, with only the miserable consolation that the company
were not honest.

It was upon a clear frosty morning, when a bright blue sky and a sharp but
bracing air seem to exercise upon the feelings a sense no less pleasurable
than the balmiest breeze and warmest sun of summer, that I whipped my
leader short round, and entered the precincts of “Gurt-na-Morra.” As I
proceeded along the avenue, I was struck by the slight traces of repairs
here and there evident,--a gate or two that formerly had been parallel to
the horizon had been raised to the perpendicular; some ineffectual efforts
at paint were also perceptible upon the palings; and, in short, everything
seemed to have undergone a kind of attempt at improvement.

When I reached the door, instead of being surrounded, as of old, by a tribe
of menials frieze-coated, bare-headed, and bare-legged, my presence was
announced by a tremendous ringing of bells from the hands of an old
functionary in a very formidable livery, who peeped at me through the
hall-window, and whom, with the greatest difficulty, I recognized as my
quondam acquaintance, the butler. His wig alone would have graced a king’s
counsel; and the high collar of his coat, and the stiff pillory of his
cravat denoted an eternal adieu to so humble a vocation as drawing a cork.
Before I had time for any conjecture as to the altered circumstances about,
the activity of my friend at the bell had surrounded me with “four others
worse than himself,” at least they were exactly similarly attired; and
probably from the novelty of their costume, and the restraints of so
unusual a thing as dress, were as perfectly unable to assist themselves
or others as the Court of Aldermen would be were they to rig out in plate
armor of the fourteenth century. How much longer I might have gone on
conjecturing the reasons for the masquerade around, I cannot say; but my
servant, an Irish disciple of my uncle’s, whispered in my ear, “It’s a
red-breeches day, Master Charles,--they’ll have the hoith of company in the
house.” From the phrase, it needed little explanation to inform me that it
was one of those occasions on which Mr. Blake attired all the hangers-on
of his house in livery, and that great preparations were in progress for a
more than usually splendid reception.

In the next moment I was ushered into the breakfast-room, where a party of
above a dozen persons were most gayly enjoying all the good cheer for which
the house had a well-deserved repute. After the usual shaking of hands and
hearty greetings were over, I was introduced in all form to Sir George
Dashwood, a tall and singularly handsome man of about fifty, with an
undress military frock and ribbon. His reception of me was somewhat
strange; for as they mentioned my relationship to Godfrey O’Malley, he
smiled slightly, and whispered something to Mr. Blake, who replied, “Oh,
no, no; not the least. A mere boy; and besides--” What he added I lost, for
at that moment Nora Blake was presenting me to Miss Dashwood.

If the sweetest blue eyes that ever beamed beneath a forehead of snowy
whiteness, over which dark brown and waving hair fell less in curls than
masses of locky richness, could only have known what wild work they were
making of my poor heart, Miss Dashwood, I trust, would have looked at her
teacup or her muffin rather than at me, as she actually did on that fatal
morning. If I were to judge from her costume, she had only just arrived,
and the morning air had left upon her cheek a bloom that contributed
greatly to the effect of her lovely countenance. Although very young, her
form had all the roundness of womanhood; while her gay and sprightly manner
indicated all the _sans gêne_ which only very young girls possess, and
which, when tempered with perfect good taste, and accompanied by beauty and
no small share of talent, forms an irresistible power of attraction.

Beside her sat a tall, handsome man of about five-and-thirty or perhaps
forty years of age, with a most soldierly air, who as I was presented to
him scarcely turned his head, and gave me a half-nod of very unequivocal
coldness. There are moments in life in which the heart is, as it were, laid
bare to any chance or casual impression with a wondrous sensibility of
pleasure or its opposite. This to me was one of those; and as I turned from
the lovely girl, who had received me with a marked courtesy, to the cold
air and repelling _hauteur_ of the dark-browed captain, the blood rushed
throbbing to my forehead; and as I walked to my place at the table, I
eagerly sought his eye, to return him a look of defiance and disdain,
proud and contemptuous as his own. Captain Hammersley, however, never took
further notice of me, but continued to recount, for the amusement of those
about him, several excellent stories of his military career, which, I
confess, were heard with every test of delight by all save me. One thing
galled me particularly,--and how easy is it, when you have begun by
disliking a person, to supply food for your antipathy,--all his allusions
to his military life were coupled with half-hinted and ill-concealed
sneers at civilians of every kind, as though every man not a soldier were
absolutely unfit for common intercourse with the world, still more for any
favorable reception in ladies’ society.

The young ladies of the family were a well-chosen auditory, for their
admiration of the army extended from the Life Guards to the Veteran
Battalion, the Sappers and Miners included; and as Miss Dashwood was the
daughter of a soldier, she of course coincided in many of, if not all, his
opinions. I turned towards my neighbor, a Clare gentleman, and tried to
engage him in conversation, but he was breathlessly attending to the
captain. On my left sat Matthew Blake, whose eyes were firmly riveted
upon the same person, and who heard his marvels with an interest scarcely
inferior to that of his sisters. Annoyed and in ill-temper, I ate my
breakfast in silence, and resolved that the first moment I could obtain a
hearing from Mr. Blake I would open my negotiation, and take my leave at
once of Gurt-na-Morra.

We all assembled in a large room, called by courtesy the library, when
breakfast was over; and then it was that Mr. Blake, taking me aside,
whispered, “Charley, it’s right I should inform you that Sir George
Dashwood there is the Commander of the Forces, and is come down here at
this moment to--” What for, or how it should concern me, I was not to
learn; for at that critical instant my informant’s attention was called off
by Captain Hammersley asking if the hounds were to hunt that day.

“My friend Charley here is the best authority upon that matter,” said Mr.
Blake, turning towards me.

“They are to try the Priest’s meadows,” said I, with an air of some
importance; “but if your guests desire a day’s sport, I’ll send word over
to Brackely to bring the dogs over here, and we are sure to find a fox in
your cover.”

“Oh, then, by all means,” said the captain, turning towards Mr. Blake, and
addressing himself to him,--“by all means; and Miss Dashwood, I’m sure,
would like to see the hounds throw off.”

Whatever chagrin the first part of his speech caused me, the latter set my
heart a-throbbing; and I hastened from the room to despatch a messenger to
the huntsman to come over to Gurt-na-Morra, and also another to O’Malley
Castle to bring my best horse and my riding equipments as quickly as
possible.

“Matthew, who is this captain?” said I, as young Blake met me in the hall.

“Oh, he is the aide-de-camp of General Dashwood. A nice fellow, isn’t he?”

“I don’t know what you may think,” said I, “but I take him for the most
impertinent, impudent, supercilious--”

The rest of my civil speech was cut short by the appearance of the very
individual in question, who, with his hands in his pockets and a cigar in
his mouth, sauntered forth down the steps, taking no more notice of Matthew
Blake and myself than the two fox-terriers that followed at his heels.

However anxious I might be to open negotiations on the subject of my
mission, for the present the thing was impossible; for I found that Sir
George Dashwood was closeted closely with Mr. Blake, and resolved to wait
till evening, when chance might afford me the opportunity I desired.

As the ladies had retired to dress for the hunt, and as I felt no peculiar
desire to ally myself with the unsocial captain, I accompanied Matthew to
the stable to look after the cattle, and make preparations for the coming
sport.

“There’s Captain Hammersley’s mare,” said Matthew, as he pointed out a
highly bred but powerful English hunter. “She came last night; for as he
expected some sport, he sent his horses from Dublin on purpose. The others
will be here to-day.”

“What is his regiment?” said I, with an appearance of carelessness, but in
reality feeling curious to know if the captain was a cavalry or infantry
officer.

“The --th Light Dragoons,”

“You never saw him ride?” said I.

“Never; but his groom there says he leads the way in his own country.”

“And where may that be?”

“In Leicestershire, no less,” said Matthew.

“Does he know Galway?”

“Never was in it before. It’s only this minute he asked Moses Daly if the
ox-fences were high here.”

“Ox-fences! Then he does not know what a wall is?”

“Devil a bit; but we’ll teach him.”

“That we will,” said I, with as bitter a resolution to impart the
instruction as ever schoolmaster did to whip Latin grammar into one of the
great unbreeched.

“But I had better send the horses down to the Mill,” said Matthew; “we’ll
draw that cover first.”

So saying, he turned towards the stable, while I sauntered alone towards
the road by which I expected the huntsman. I had not walked half a mile
before I heard the yelping of the dogs, and a little farther on I saw old
Brackely coming along at a brisk trot, cutting the hounds on each side, and
calling after the stragglers.

“Did you see my horse on the road, Brackely?” said I.

“I did, Misther Charles; and troth, I’m sorry to see him. Sure yerself
knows better than to take out the Badger, the best steeple-chaser in
Ireland, in such a country as this,--nothing but awkward stone-fences, and
not a foot of sure ground in the whole of it.”

“I know it well, Brackely; but I have my reasons for it.”

“Well, may be you have; what cover will your honor try first?”

“They talk of the Mill,” said I; “but I’d much rather try Morran-a-Gowl.”

“Morran-a-Gowl! Do you want to break your neck entirely?”

“No, Brackely, not mine.”

“Whose, then, alannah?”

“An English captain’s, the devil fly away with him! He’s come down here
to-day, and from all I can see is a most impudent fellow; so, Brackely--”

“I understand. Well, leave it to me; and though I don’t like the only
deer-park wall on the hill, we’ll try it this morning with the blessing.
I’ll take him down by Woodford, over the Devil’s Mouth,--it’s eighteen foot
wide this minute with the late rains,--into the four callows; then over the
stone-walls, down to Dangan; then take a short cast up the hill, blow him
a bit, and give him the park wall at the top. You must come in then fresh,
and give him the whole run home over Sleibhmich. The Badger knows it all,
and takes the road always in a fly,--a mighty distressing thing for the
horse that follows, more particularly if he does not understand a stony
country. Well, if he lives through this, give him the sunk fence and the
stone wall at Mr. Blake’s clover-field, for the hounds will run into the
fox about there; and though we never ride that leap since Mr. Malone broke
his neck at it, last October, yet upon an occasion like this, and for the
honor of Galway--”

“To be sure, Brackely; and here’s a guinea for you, and now trot on towards
the house. They must not see us together, or they might suspect something.
But, Brackely,” said I, calling out after him, “if he rides at all fair,
what’s to be done?”

“Troth, then, myself doesn’t know. There is nothing so bad west of Athlone.
Have ye a great spite again him?”

“I have,” said I, fiercely.

“Could ye coax a fight out of him?”

“That’s true,” said I; “and now ride on as fast as you can.”

Brackely’s last words imparted a lightness to my heart and my step, and I
strode along a very different man from what I had left the house half an
hour previously.



CHAPTER IV.


THE HUNT.

Although we had not the advantages of a southerly wind and cloudy sky, the
day towards noon became strongly over-cast, and promised to afford us good
scenting weather; and as we assembled at the meet, mutual congratulations
were exchanged upon the improved appearance of the day. Young Blake had
provided Miss Dashwood with a quiet and well-trained horse, and his sisters
were all mounted as usual upon their own animals, giving to our turnout
quite a gay and lively aspect. I myself came to cover upon a hackney,
having sent Badger with a groom, and longed ardently for the moment when,
casting the skin of my great-coat and overalls, I should appear before the
world in my well-appointed “cords and tops.” Captain Hammersley had not as
yet made his appearance, and many conjectures were afloat as to whether “he
might have missed the road, or changed his mind,” or “forgot all about it,”
 as Miss Dashwood hinted.

“Who, pray, pitched upon this cover?” said Caroline Blake, as she looked
with a practised eye over the country on either side.

“There is no chance of a fox late in the day at the Mill,” said the
huntsman, inventing a lie for the occasion.

“Then of course you never intend us to see much of the sport; for after you
break cover, you are entirely lost to us.”

“I thought you always followed the hounds,” said Miss Dashwood, timidly.

“Oh, to be sure we do, in any common country, but here it is out of the
question; the fences are too large for any one, and if I am not mistaken,
these gentlemen will not ride far over this. There, look yonder, where
the river is rushing down the hill: that stream, widening as it advances,
crosses the cover nearly midway,--well, they must clear that; and then you
may see these walls of large loose stones nearly five feet in height. That
is the usual course the fox takes, unless he heads towards the hills and
goes towards Dangan, and then there’s an end of it; for the deer-park wall
is usually a pull up to every one except, perhaps, to our friend Charley
yonder, who has tried his fortune against drowning more than once there.”

“Look, here he comes,” said Matthew Blake, “and looking splendidly too,--a
little too much in flesh perhaps, if anything.”

“Captain Hammersley!” said the four Miss Blakes, in a breath. “Where is
he?”

“No; it’s the Badger I’m speaking of,” said Matthew, laughing, and pointing
with his finger towards a corner of the field where my servant was
leisurely throwing down a wall about two feet high to let him pass.

“Oh, how handsome! What a charger for a dragoon!” said Miss Dashwood.

Any other mode of praising my steed would have been much more acceptable.
The word “dragoon” was a thorn in my tenderest part that rankled and
lacerated at every stir. In a moment I was in the saddle, and scarcely
seated when at once all the _mauvais honte_ of boyhood left me, and I
felt every inch a man. I often look back to that moment of my life, and
comparing it with similar ones, cannot help acknowledging how purely is the
self-possession which so often wins success the result of some slight and
trivial association. My confidence in my horsemanship suggested moral
courage of a very different kind; and I felt that Charles O’Malley
curvetting upon a thorough-bred, and the same man ambling upon a shelty,
were two and very dissimilar individuals.

“No chance of the captain,” said Matthew, who had returned from a
_reconnaissance_ upon the road; “and after all it’s a pity, for the day is
getting quite favorable.”

While the young ladies formed pickets to look out for the gallant
_militaire_, I seized the opportunity of prosecuting my acquaintance with
Miss Dashwood, and even in the few and passing observations that fell from
her, learned how very different an order of being she was from all I had
hitherto seen of country belles. A mixture of courtesy with _naïveté;_ a
wish to please, with a certain feminine gentleness, that always flatters a
man, and still more a boy that fain would be one,--gained momentarily
more and more upon me, and put me also on my mettle to prove to my fair
companion that I was not altogether a mere uncultivated and unthinking
creature, like the remainder of those about me.

“Here he is at last,” said Helen Blake, as she cantered across a field
waving her handkerchief as a signal to the captain, who was now seen
approaching at a brisk trot.

As he came along, a small fence intervened; he pressed his horse a little,
and as he kissed hands to the fair Helen, cleared it in a bound, and was in
an instant in the midst of us.

“He sits his horse like a man, Misther Charles,” said the old huntsman;
“troth, we must give him the worst bit of it.”

Captain Hammersley was, despite all the critical acumen with which I
canvassed him, the very beau-ideal of a gentleman rider; indeed, although a
very heavy man, his powerful English thorough-bred, showing not less bone
than blood, took away all semblance of overweight; his saddle was well
fitting and well placed, as also was his large and broad-reined snaffle;
his own costume of black coat, leathers, and tops was in perfect keeping,
and even to his heavy-handled hunting-whip I could find nothing to cavil
at. As he rode up he paid his respects to the ladies in his usual free and
easy manner, expressed some surprise, but no regret, at hearing that he was
late, and never deigning any notice of Matthew or myself, took his place
beside Miss Dashwood, with whom he conversed in a low undertone.

“There they go!” said Matthew, as five or six dogs, with their heads up,
ran yelping along a furrow, then stopped, howled again, and once more set
off together. In an instant all was commotion in the little valley
below us. The huntsman, with his hand to his mouth, was calling off the
stragglers, and the whipper-in followed up the leading dogs with the rest
of the pack. “They’ve found! They’re away!” said Matthew; and as he spoke
a yell burst from the valley, and in an instant the whole pack were off at
full speed. Rather more intent that moment upon showing off my horsemanship
than anything else, I dashed spurs into Badger’s sides, and turned him
towards a rasping ditch before me; over we went, hurling down behind us a
rotten bank of clay and small stones, showing how little safety there had
been in topping instead of clearing it at a bound. Before I was well-seated
again the captain was beside me. “Now for it, then,” said I; and away we
went. What might be the nature of his feelings I cannot pretend to state,
but my own were a strange _mélange_ of wild, boyish enthusiasm, revenge,
and recklessness. For my own neck I cared little,--nothing; and as I led
the way by half a length, I muttered to myself, “Let him follow me fairly
this day, and I ask no more.”

The dogs had got somewhat the start of us; and as they were in full cry,
and going fast, we were a little behind. A thought therefore struck me
that, by appearing to take a short cut upon the hounds, I should come down
upon the river where its breadth was greatest, and thus, at one coup, might
try my friend’s mettle and his horse’s performance at the same time. On
we went, our speed increasing, till the roar of the river we were now
approaching was plainly audible. I looked half around, and now perceived
the captain was standing in his stirrups, as if to obtain a view of what
was before him; otherwise his countenance was calm and unmoved, and not
a muscle betrayed that he was not cantering on a parade. I fixed myself
firmly in my seat, shook my horse a little together, and with a shout whose
import every Galway hunter well knows rushed him at the river. I saw the
water dashing among the large stones; I heard it splash; I felt a bound
like the _ricochet_ of a shot; and we were over, but so narrowly that the
bank had yielded beneath his hind legs, and it needed a bold effort of the
noble animal to regain his footing. Scarcely was he once more firm, when
Hammersley flew by me, taking the lead, and sitting quietly in his saddle,
as if racing. I know of little in my after-life like the agony of that
moment; for although I was far, very far, from wishing real ill to him, yet
I would gladly have broken my leg or my arm if he could not have been
able to follow me. And now, there he was, actually a length and a half in
advance! and worse than all, Miss Dashwood must have witnessed the whole,
and doubtless his leap over the river was better and bolder than mine.
One consolation yet remained, and while I whispered it to myself I felt
comforted again. “His is an English mare. They understand these leaps; but
what can he make of a Galway wall?” The question was soon to be solved.
Before us, about three fields, were the hounds still in full cry; a large
stone-wall lay between, and to it we both directed our course together.
“Ha!” thought I, “he is floored at last,” as I perceived that the captain
held his course rather more in hand, and suffered me to lead. “Now, then,
for it!” So saying, I rode at the largest part I could find, well knowing
that Badger’s powers were here in their element. One spring, one plunge,
and away we were, galloping along at the other side. Not so the captain;
his horse had refused the fence, and he was now taking a circuit of the
field for another trial of it.

“Pounded, by Jove!” said I, as I turned round in my saddle to observe him.
Once more she came at it, and once more balked, rearing up, at the same
time, almost so as to fall backward.

My triumph was complete; and I again was about to follow the hounds, when,
throwing a look back, I saw Hammersley clearing the wall in a most splendid
manner, and taking a stretch of at least thirteen feet beyond it. Once
more he was on my flanks, and the contest renewed. Whatever might be the
sentiments of the riders (mine I confess to), between the horses it now
became a tremendous struggle. The English mare, though evidently superior
in stride and strength, was slightly overweighted, and had not, besides,
that cat-like activity an Irish horse possesses; so that the advantages and
disadvantages on either side were about equalized. For about half an hour
now the pace was awful. We rode side by side, taking our leaps at
exactly the same instant, and not four feet apart. The hounds were still
considerably in advance, and were heading towards the Shannon, when
suddenly the fox doubled, took the hillside, and made for Dangan. “Now,
then, comes the trial of strength,” I said, half aloud, as I threw my eye
up a steep and rugged mountain, covered with wild furze and tall heath,
around the crest of which ran, in a zigzag direction, a broken and
dilapidated wall, once the enclosure of a deer park. This wall, which
varied from four to six feet in height, was of solid masonry, and would, in
the most favorable ground, have been a bold leap. Here, at the summit of a
mountain, with not a yard of footing, it was absolutely desperation.

By the time that we reached the foot of the hill, the fox, followed closely
by the hounds, had passed through a breach in the wall; while Matthew
Blake, with the huntsmen and whipper-in, was riding along in search of a
gap to lead the horses through. Before I put spurs to Badger to face the
hill, I turned one look towards Hammersley. There was a slight curl,
half-smile, half-sneer, upon his lip that actually maddened me, and had a
precipice yawned beneath my feet, I should have dashed at it after that.
The ascent was so steep that I was obliged to take the hill in a slanting
direction; and even thus, the loose footing rendered it dangerous in the
extreme.

At length I reached the crest, where the wall, more than five feet in
height, stood frowning above and seeming to defy me. I turned my horse full
round, so that his very chest almost touched the stones, and with a bold
cut of the whip and a loud halloo, the gallant animal rose, as if rearing,
pawed for an instant to regain his balance, and then, with a frightful
struggle, fell backwards, and rolled from top to bottom of the hill,
carrying me along with him; the last object that crossed my sight, as I lay
bruised and motionless, being the captain as he took the wall in a flying
leap, and disappeared at the other side. After a few scrambling efforts to
rise, Badger regained his legs and stood beside me; but such was the shock
and concussion of my fall that all the objects around seemed wavering and
floating before me, while showers of bright sparks fell in myriads before
my eyes. I tried to rise, but fell back helpless. Cold perspiration broke
over my forehead, and I fainted. From that moment I can remember nothing,
till I felt myself galloping along at full speed upon a level table-land,
with the hounds about three fields in advance, Hammersley riding foremost,
and taking all his leaps coolly as ever. As I swayed to either side upon my
saddle, from weakness, I was lost to all thought or recollection, save a
flickering memory of some plan of vengeance, which still urged me forward.
The chase had now lasted above an hour, and both hounds and horses began to
feel the pace at which they were going. As for me, I rode mechanically; I
neither knew nor cared for the dangers before me. My eye rested on but one
object; my whole being was concentrated upon one vague and undefined sense
of revenge. At this instant the huntsman came alongside of me.

“Are you hurted, Misther Charles? Did you fall? Your cheek is all blood,
and your coat is torn in two; and, Mother o’ God! his boot is ground to
powder; he does not hear me! Oh, pull up! pull up, for the love of the
Virgin! There’s the clover-field and the sunk fence before you, and you’ll
be killed on the spot!”

“Where?” cried I, with the cry of a madman. “Where’s the clover-field;
where’s the sunk fence? Ha! I see it; I see it now.”

So saying, I dashed the rowels into my horse’s flanks, and in an instant
was beyond the reach of the poor fellow’s remonstances. Another moment I
was beside the captain. He turned round as I came up; the same smile was
upon his mouth; I could have struck him. About three hundred yards before
us lay the sunk fence; its breadth was about twenty feet, and a wall of
close brickwork formed its face. Over this the hounds were now clambering;
some succeeded in crossing, but by far the greater number fell back,
howling, into the ditch.

I turned towards Hammersley. He was standing high in his stirrups, and as
he looked towards the yawning fence, down which the dogs were tumbling in
masses, I thought (perhaps it was but a thought) that his cheek was paler.
I looked again; he was pulling at his horse. Ha! it was true then; he would
not face it. I turned round in my saddle, looked him full in the face, and
as I pointed with my whip to the leap, called out in a voice hoarse with
passion, “Come on!” I saw no more. All objects were lost to me from that
moment. When next my senses cleared, I was standing amidst the dogs, where
they had just killed. Badger stood blown and trembling beside me, his head
drooping and his flanks gored with spur-marks. I looked about, but all
consciousness of the past had fled; the concussion of my fall had shaken
my intellect, and I was like one but half-awake. One glimpse, short and
fleeting, of what was taking place shot through my brain, as old Brackely
whispered to me, “By my soul, ye did for the captain there.” I turned a
vague look upon him, and my eyes fell upon the figure of a man that lay
stretched and bleeding upon a door before me. His pale face was crossed
with a purple stream of blood that trickled from a wound beside his
eyebrow; his arms lay motionless and heavily at either side. I knew him
not. A loud report of a pistol aroused me from my stupor; I looked back. I
saw a crowd that broke suddenly asunder and fled right and left. I heard
a heavy crash upon the ground; I pointed with my finger, for I could not
utter a word.

“It is the English mare, yer honor; she was a beauty this morning, but
she’s broke her shoulder-bone and both her legs, and it was best to put her
out of pain.”



CHAPTER V.


THE DRAWING-ROOM.

On the fourth day following the adventure detailed in the last chapter, I
made my appearance in the drawing-room, my cheek well blanched by copious
bleeding, and my step tottering and uncertain. On entering the room, I
looked about in vain for some one who might give me an insight into the
occurrences of the four preceding days; but no one was to be met with. The
ladies, I learned, were out riding; Matthew was buying a new setter, Mr.
Blake was canvassing, and Captain Hammersley was in bed. Where was Miss
Dashwood?--in her room; and Sir George?--he was with Mr. Blake.

“What! Canvassing, too?”

“Troth, that same was possible,” was the intelligent reply of the old
butler, at which I could not help smiling. I sat down, therefore, in the
easiest chair I could find, and unfolding the county paper, resolved upon
learning how matters were going on in the political world. But somehow,
whether the editor was not brilliant or the fire was hot or that my own
dreams were pleasanter to indulge in than his fancies, I fell sound asleep.

How differently is the mind attuned to the active, busy world of thought
and action when awakened from sleep by any sudden and rude summons to arise
and be stirring, and when called into existence by the sweet and silvery
notes of softest music stealing over the senses, and while they impart
awakening thoughts of bliss and beauty, scarcely dissipating the dreamy
influence of slumber! Such was my first thought, as, with closed lids, the
thrilling chords of a harp broke upon my sleep and aroused me to a feeling
of unutterable pleasure. I turned gently round in my chair and beheld Miss
Dashwood. She was seated in a recess of an old-fashioned window; the pale
yellow glow of a wintry sun at evening fell upon her beautiful hair, and
tinged it with such a light as I have often since then seen in Rembrandt’s
pictures; her head leaned upon the harp, and as she struck its chords at
random, I saw that her mind was far away from all around her. As I looked,
she suddenly started from her leaning attitude, and parting back her curls
from her brow, she preluded a few chords, and then sighed forth, rather
than sang, that most beautiful of Moore’s melodies,--

    “She is far from the land where her young hero sleeps.”

Never before had such pathos, such deep utterance of feeling, met my
astonished sense; I listened breathlessly as the tears fell one by one down
my cheek; my bosom heaved and fell; and when she ceased, I hid my head
between my hands and sobbed aloud. In an instant, she was beside me, and
placing her hand upon my shoulder, said,--

“Poor dear boy, I never suspected you of being there, or I should not have
sung that mournful air.”

I started and looked up; and from what I know not, but she suddenly
crimsoned to her very forehead, while she added in a less assured tone,--

“I hope, Mr. O’Malley, that you are much better; and I trust there is no
imprudence in your being here.”

“For the latter, I shall not answer,” said I, with a sickly smile; “but
already I feel your music has done me service.”

“Then let me sing more for you.”

“If I am to have a choice, I should say, Sit down, and let me hear you talk
to me. My illness and the doctor together have made wild work of my poor
brain; but if you will talk to me--”

“Well, then, what shall it be about? Shall I tell you a fairy tale?”

“I need it not; I feel I am in one this instant.”

“Well, then, what say you to a legend; for I am rich in my stores of them?”

“The O’Malleys have their chronicles, wild and barbarous enough without the
aid of Thor and Woden.”

“Then, shall we chat of every-day matters? Should you like to hear how the
election and the canvass go on?”

“Yes; of all things.”

“Well, then, most favorably. Two baronies, with most unspeakable names,
have declared for us, and confidence is rapidly increasing among our party.
This I learned, by chance, yesterday; for papa never permits us to know
anything of these matters,--not even the names of the candidates.”

“Well, that was the very point I was coming to; for the government were
about to send down some one just as I left home, and I am most anxious to
learn who it is.”

“Then am I utterly valueless; for I really can’t say what party the
government espouses, and only know of our own.”

“Quite enough for me that you wish it success,” said I, gallantly. “Perhaps
you can tell me if my uncle has heard of my accident?”

“Oh, yes; but somehow he has not been here himself, but sent a friend,--a
Mr. Considine, I think; a very strange person he seemed. He demanded to see
papa, and it seems, asked him if your misfortune had been a thing of his
contrivance, and whether he was ready to explain his conduct about it; and,
in fact, I believe he is mad.”

“Heaven confound him!” I muttered between my teeth.

“And then he wished to have an interview with Captain Hammersley. However,
he is too ill; but as the doctor hoped he might be down-stairs in a week,
Mr. Considine kindly hinted that he should wait.”

“Oh, then, do tell me how is the captain.”

“Very much bruised, very much disfigured, they say,” said she, half
smiling; “but not so much hurt in body as in mind.”

“As how, may I ask?” said I, with an appearance of innocence.

“I don’t exactly understand it; but it would appear that there was
something like rivalry among you gentlemen _chasseurs_ on that luckless
morning, and that while you paid the penalty of a broken head, he was
destined to lose his horse and break his arm.”

“I certainly am sorry,--most sincerely sorry for any share I might have had
in the catastrophe; and my greatest regret, I confess, arises from the fact
that I should cause _you_ unhappiness.”

“_Me_? Pray explain.”

“Why, as Captain Hammersley--”

“Mr. O’Malley, you are too young now to make me suspect you have an
intention to offend; but I caution you, never repeat this.”

I saw that I had transgressed, but how, I most honestly confess, I could
not guess; for though I certainly was the senior of my fair companion in
years, I was most lamentably her junior in tact and discretion.

The gray dusk of evening had long fallen as we continued to chat together
beside the blazing wood embers,--she evidently amusing herself with the
original notions of an untutored, unlettered boy, and I drinking deep
those draughts of love that nerved my heart through many a breach and
battlefield.

Our colloquy was at length interrupted by the entrance of Sir George, who
shook me most cordially by the hand, and made the kindest inquiries about
my health.

“They tell me you are to be a lawyer. Mr. O’Malley,” said he; “and if so, I
must advise you to take better care of your headpiece.”

“A lawyer, Papa; oh dear me! I should never have thought of his being
anything so stupid.”

“Why, silly girl, what would you have a man be?”

“A dragoon, to be sure, Papa,” said the fond girl, as she pressed her arm
around his manly figure, and looked up in his face with an expression of
mingled pride and affection.

That word sealed my destiny.



CHAPTER VI.


THE DINNER.

When I retired to my room to dress for dinner, I found my servant waiting
with a note from my uncle, to which, he informed me, the messenger expected
an answer.

I broke the seal and read:--


    DEAR CHARLEY,--Do not lose a moment in securing old Blake,--if
    you have not already done so,--as information has just reached
    me that the government party has promised a cornetcy to young
    Matthew if he can bring over his father. And these are the people
    I have been voting with--a few private cases excepted--for thirty
    odd years!

    I am very sorry for your accident. Considine informs me that it
    will need explanation at a later period. He has been in Athlone
    since Tuesday, in hopes to catch the new candidate on his way down,
    and get him into a little private quarrel before the day; if he
    succeeds, it will save the county much expense, and conduce greatly to
    the peace and happiness of all parties. But “these things,” as Father
    Roach says, “are in the hands of Providence.” You must also persuade
    old Blake to write a few lines to Simon Mallock, about the
    Coolnamuck mortgage. We can give him no satisfaction at present,
    at least such as he looks for; and don’t be philandering any longer
    where you are, when your health permits a change of quarters.

    Your affectionate uncle,
    GODFREY O’MALLEY.

    P.S. I have just heard from Considine. He was out this morning
    and shot a fellow in the knee; but finds that after all he was
    not the candidate, but a tourist that was writing a book about
    Connemara.

    P.S. No. 2. Bear the mortgage in mind, for old Mallock is a
    spiteful fellow, and has a grudge against me, since I horsewhipped
    his son in Banagher. Oh, the world, the world! G. O’M.


Until I read this very clear epistle to the end, I had no very precise
conception how completely I had forgotten all my uncle’s interests, and
neglected all his injunctions. Already five days had elapsed, and I had not
as much as mooted the question to Mr. Blake, and probably all this time my
uncle was calculating on the thing as concluded; but, with one hole in my
head and some half-dozen in my heart, my memory was none of the best.

Snatching up the letter, therefore, I resolved to lose no more time, and
proceeded at once to Mr. Blake’s room, expecting that I should, as the
event proved, find him engaged in the very laborious duty of making his
toilet.

[Illustration: MR. BLAKE’S DRESSING ROOM.]

“Come in, Charley,” said he, as I tapped gently at the door. “It’s only
Charley, my darling. Mrs. B. won’t mind you.”

“Not the least in life,” responded Mrs. B., disposing at the same time a
pair of her husband’s corduroys tippet fashion across her ample shoulders,
which before were displayed in the plenitude and breadth of coloring we
find in a Rubens. “Sit down, Charley, and tell us what’s the matter.”

As until this moment I was in perfect ignorance of the Adam-and-Eve-like
simplicity in which the private economy of Mr. Blake’s household was
conducted, I would have gladly retired from what I found to be a mutual
territory of dressing-room had not Mr. Blake’s injunctions been issued
somewhat like an order to remain.

“It’s only a letter, sir,” said I, stuttering, “from my uncle about the
election. He says that as his majority is now certain, he should feel
better pleased in going to the poll with all the family, you know, sir,
along with him. He wishes me just to sound your intentions,--to make out
how you feel disposed towards him; and--and, faith, as I am but a poor
diplomatist, I thought the best way was to come straight to the point and
tell you so.”

“I perceive,” said Mr. Blake, giving his chin at the moment an awful gash
with the razor,--“I perceive; go on.”

“Well, sir, I have little more to say. My uncle knows what influence you
have in Scariff, and expects you’ll do what you can there.”

“Anything more?” said Blake, with a very dry and quizzical expression I
didn’t half like,--“anything more?”

“Oh, yes; you are to write a line to old Mallock.”

“I understand; about Coolnamuck, isn’t it?”

“Exactly; I believe that’s all.”

“Well, now, Charley, you may go down-stairs, and we’ll talk it over after
dinner.”

“Yes, Charley dear, go down, for I’m going to draw on my stockings,” said
the fair Mrs. Blake, with a look of very modest consciousness.

When I had left the room I couldn’t help muttering a “Thank God!” for the
success of a mission I more than once feared for, and hastened to despatch
a note to my uncle, assuring him of the Blake interest, and adding that for
propriety’s sake I should defer my departure for a day or two longer.

This done, with a heart lightened of its load and in high spirits at my
cleverness, I descended to the drawing-room. Here a very large party were
already assembled, and at every opening of the door a new relay of Blakes,
Burkes, and Bodkins was introduced. In the absence of the host, Sir George
Dashwood was “making the agreeable” to the guests, and shook hands with
every new arrival with all the warmth and cordiality of old friendship.
While thus he inquired for various absent individuals, and asked most
affectionately for sundry aunts and uncles not forthcoming, a slight
incident occurred which by its ludicrous turn served to shorten the long
half-hour before dinner. An individual of the party, a Mr. Blake, had, from
certain peculiarities of face, obtained in his boyhood the sobriquet of
“Shave-the-wind.” This hatchet-like conformation had grown with his growth,
and perpetuated upon him a nickname by which alone was he ever spoken of
among his friends and acquaintances; the only difference being that as he
came to man’s estate, brevity, that soul of wit, had curtailed the epithet
to mere “Shave.” Now, Sir George had been hearing frequent reference made
to him always by this name, heard him ever so addressed, and perceived him
to reply to it; so that when he was himself asked by some one what sport he
had found that day among the woodcocks, he answered at once, with a bow of
very grateful acknowledgment, “Excellent, indeed; but entirely owing to
where I was placed in the copse. Had it not been for Mr. Shave there--”

I need not say that the remainder of his speech, being heard on all sides,
became one universal shout of laughter, in which, to do him justice, the
excellent Shave himself heartily joined. Scarcely were the sounds of mirth
lulled into an apparent calm, when the door opened and the host and hostess
appeared. Mrs. Blake advanced in all the plenitude of her charms, arrayed
in crimson satin, sorely injured in its freshness by a patch of grease
upon the front about the same size and shape as the continent of Europe in
Arrowsmith’s Atlas. A swan’s-down tippet covered her shoulders; massive
bracelets ornamented her wrists; while from her ears descended two Irish
diamond ear-rings, rivalling in magnitude and value the glass pendants of
a lustre. Her reception of her guests made ample amends, in warmth and
cordiality, for any deficiency of elegance; and as she disposed her ample
proportions upon the sofa, and looked around upon the company, she appeared
the very impersonation of hospitality.

After several openings and shuttings of the drawing-room door, accompanied
by the appearance of old Simon the butler, who counted the party at least
five times before he was certain that the score was correct, dinner was
at length announced. Now came a moment of difficulty, and one which, as
testing Mr. Blake’s tact, he would gladly have seen devolve upon some other
shoulders; for he well knew that the marshalling a room full of mandarins,
blue, green, and yellow, was “cakes and gingerbread” to ushering a Galway
party in to dinner.

First, then, was Mr. Miles Bodkin, whose grandfather would have been a lord
if Cromwell had not hanged him one fine morning. Then Mrs. Mosey Blake’s
first husband was promised the title of Kilmacud if it was ever restored;
whereas Mrs. French of Knocktunmor’s mother was then at law for a title.
And lastly, Mrs. Joe Burke was fourth cousin to Lord Clanricarde, as is or
will be every Burke from this to the day of judgment. Now, luckily for her
prospects, the lord was alive; and Mr. Blake, remembering a very sage adage
about “dead lions,” etc., solved the difficulty at once by gracefully
tucking the lady under his arm and leading the way. The others soon
followed, the priest of Portumna and my unworthy self bringing up the rear.

When, many a year afterwards, the hard ground of a mountain bivouac,
with its pitiful portion of pickled cork-tree yclept mess-beef, and that
pyroligneous aquafortis they call corn-brandy have been my hard fare,
I often looked back to that day’s dinner with a most heart-yearning
sensation,--a turbot as big as the Waterloo shield, a sirloin that seemed
cut from the sides of a rhinoceros, a sauce-boat that contained an
oyster-bed. There was a turkey, which singly would have formed the main
army of a French dinner, doing mere outpost duty, flanked by a picket of
ham and a detached squadron of chickens carefully ambushed in a forest
of greens; potatoes, not disguised _à la maître d’hôtel_ and tortured to
resemble bad macaroni, but piled like shot in an ordnance-yard, were posted
at different quarters; while massive decanters of port and sherry stood
proudly up like standard bearers amidst the goodly array. This was none
of your austere “great dinners,” where a cold and chilling _plateau_ of
artificial nonsense cuts off one-half of the table from intercourse with
the other; when whispered sentences constitute the conversation, and all
the friendly recognition of wine-drinking, which renews acquaintance and
cements an intimacy, is replaced by the ceremonious filling of your glass
by a lackey; where smiles go current in lieu of kind speeches, and epigram
and smartness form the substitute for the broad jest and merry story. Far
from it. Here the company ate, drank, talked, laughed,--did all but sing,
and certainly enjoyed themselves heartily. As for me, I was little more
than a listener; and such was the crash of plates, the jingle of glasses,
and the clatter of voices, that fragments only of what was passing
around reached me, giving to the conversation of the party a character
occasionally somewhat incongruous. Thus such sentences as the following ran
foul of each other every instant:--

“No better land in Galway”--“where could you find such facilities”--“for
shooting Mr. Jones on his way home”--“the truth, the whole truth, and
nothing but the truth”--“kiss”--“Miss Blake, she’s the girl with a foot and
ankle”--“Daly has never had wool on his sheep”--“how could he”--“what
does he pay for the mountain”--“four and tenpence a yard”--“not a penny
less”--“all the cabbage-stalks and potato-skins”--“with some bog stuff
through it”--“that’s the thing to”--“make soup, with a red herring in it
instead of salt”--“and when he proposed for my niece, ma’am, says he”--“mix
a strong tumbler, and I’ll make a shake-down for you on the floor”--“and
may the Lord have mercy on your soul”--“and now, down the middle and
up again”--“Captain Magan, my dear, he is the man”--“to shave a pig
properly”--“it’s not money I’m looking for, says he, the girl of my
heart”--“if she had not a wind-gall and two spavins”--“I’d have given her
the rights of the church, of coorse,” said Father Roach, bringing up the
rear of this ill-assorted jargon.

Such were the scattered links of conversation I was condemned to listen to,
till a general rise on the part of the ladies left us alone to discuss our
wine and enter in good earnest upon the more serious duties of the evening.

Scarcely was the door closed when one of the company, seizing the
bell-rope, said, “With your leave, Blake, we’ll have the ‘dew’ now.”

“Good claret,--no better,” said another; “but it sits mighty cold on the
stomach.”

“There’s nothing like the groceries, after all,--eh, Sir George?” said an
old Galway squire to the English general, who acceded to the fact, which he
understood in a very different sense.

“Oh, punch, you are my darlin’,” hummed another, as a large, square,
half-gallon decanter of whiskey was placed on the table, the various
decanters of wine being now ignominiously sent down to the end of the board
without any evidence of regret on any face save Sir George Dashwood’s, who
mixed his tumbler with a very rebellious conscience.

Whatever were the noise and clamor of the company before, they were nothing
to what now ensued. As one party were discussing the approaching contest,
another was planning a steeple-chase, while two individuals, unhappily
removed from each other the entire length of the table, were what is called
“challenging each other’s effects” in a very remarkable manner,--the
process so styled being an exchange of property, when each party, setting
an imaginary value upon some article, barters it for another, the amount
of boot paid and received being determined by a third person, who is the
umpire. Thus a gold breast-pin was swopped, as the phrase is, against a
horse; then a pair of boots, then a Kerry bull, etc.,--every imaginable
species of property coming into the market. Sometimes, as matters of very
dubious value turned up, great laughter was the result. In this very
national pastime, a Mr. Miles Bodkin, a noted fire-eater of the west, was
a great proficient; and it is said he once so completely succeeded in
despoiling an uninitiated hand, that after winning in succession his horse,
gig, harness, etc., he proceeded _seriatim_ to his watch, ring, clothes,
and portmanteau, and actually concluded by winning all he possessed, and
kindly lent him a card-cloth to cover him on his way to the hotel.
His success on the present occasion was considerable, and his spirits
proportionate. The decanter had thrice been replenished, and the flushed
faces and thickened utterance of the guests evinced that from the cold
properties of the claret there was but little to dread. As for Mr. Bodkin,
his manner was incapable of any higher flight, when under the influence of
whiskey, than what it evinced on common occasions; and as he sat at the end
of the table fronting Mr. Blake, he assumed all the dignity of the ruler of
the feast, with an energy no one seemed disposed to question. In answer to
some observations of Sir George, he was led into something like an oration
upon the peculiar excellences of his native country, which ended in a
declaration that there was nothing like Galway.

“Why don’t you give us a song, Miles? And may be the general would learn
more from it than all your speech-making.”

“To be sure,” cried the several voices together,--“to be sure; let us hear
the ‘Man for Galway’!”

Sir George having joined most warmly in the request, Mr. Bodkin filled up
his glass to the brim, bespoke a chorus to his chant, and clearing his
voice with a deep hem, began the following ditty, to the air which Moore
has since rendered immortal by the beautiful song, “Wreath the Bowl,” etc.
And, although the words are well known in the west, for the information of
less-favored regions, I here transcribe--

                 THE MAN FOR GALWAY.

              To drink a toast,
              A proctor roast,
                Or bailiff as the case is;
              To kiss your wife,
              Or take your life
                At ten or fifteen paces;
              To keep game-cocks, to hunt the fox,
                To drink in punch the Solway,
              With debts galore, but fun far more,--
                Oh, that’s “the man for Galway.”
                           CHORUS: With debts, etc.

              The King of Oude
              Is mighty proud,
                And so were onst the _Caysars_;
              But ould Giles Eyre
              Would make them stare,
                Av he had them with the Blazers.
              To the devil I fling--ould Runjeet Sing,
                He’s only a prince in a small way,
              And knows nothing at all of a six-foot wall;
                Oh, he’d never “do for Galway.”
                           CHORUS: With debts, etc.

              Ye think the Blakes
              Are no “great shakes;”
                 They’re all his blood relations.
              And the Bodkins sneeze
              At the grim Chinese,
                For they come from the _Phenaycians_.
              So fill the brim, and here’s to him
                Who’d drink in punch the Solway,
              With debts galore, but fun far more,--
                Oh, that’s “the man for Galway.”
                           CHORUS: With debts, etc.

I much fear that the reception of this very classic ode would not be as
favorable in general companies as it was on the occasion I first heard it;
for certainly the applause was almost deafening, and even Sir George, the
defects of whose English education left some of the allusions out of his
reach, was highly amused, and laughed heartily.

The conversation once more reverted to the election; and although I was too
far from those who seemed best informed on the matter to hear much, I could
catch enough to discover that the feeling was a confident one. This was
gratifying to me, as I had some scruples about my so long neglecting my
uncle’s cause.

“We have Scariff to a man,” said Bodkin.

“And Mosey’s tenantry,” said another. “I swear, though there’s not a
freehold registered on the estate, that they’ll vote, every mother’s son
of them, or devil a stone of the court-house they’ll leave standing on
another.”

“And may the Lord look to the returning officer!” said a third, throwing up
his eyes.

“Mosey’s tenantry are droll boys; and like their landlord, more by token,
they never pay any rent.”

“And what for shouldn’t they vote?” said a dry-looking little old fellow in
a red waistcoat; “when I was the dead agent--”

“The dead agent!” interrupted Sir George, with a start.

“Just so,” said the old fellow, pulling down his spectacles from his
forehead, and casting a half-angry look at Sir George, for what he had
suspected to be a doubt of his veracity.

“The general does not know, may be, what that is,” said some one.

“You have just anticipated me,” said Sir George; “I really am in most
profound ignorance.”

“It is the dead agent,” says Mr. Blake, “who always provides substitutes
for any voters that may have died since the last election. A very important
fact in statistics may thus be gathered from the poll-books of this county,
which proves it to be the healthiest part of Europe,--a freeholder has not
died in it for the last fifty years.”

“The ‘Kiltopher boys’ won’t come this time; they say there’s no use trying
to vote when so many were transported last assizes for perjury.”

“They’re poor-spirited creatures,” said another.

“Not they,--they are as decent boys as any we have; they’re willing to
wreck the town for fifty shillings’ worth of spirits. Besides, if they
don’t vote for the county, they will for the borough.”

This declaration seemed to restore these interesting individuals to favor;
and now all attention was turned towards Bodkin, who was detailing the plan
of a grand attack upon the polling-booths, to be headed by himself. By this
time, all the prudence and guardedness of the party had given way; whiskey
was in the ascendant, and every bold stroke of election policy, every
cunning artifice, every ingenious device, was detailed and applauded in
a manner which proved that self-respect was not the inevitable gift of
“mountain dew.”

The mirth and fun grew momentarily more boisterous, and Miles Bodkin, who
had twice before been prevented proposing some toast by a telegraphic
signal from the other end of the table, now swore that nothing should
prevent him any longer, and rising with a smoking tumbler in his hand,
delivered himself as follows:--

“No, no, Phil Blake, ye needn’t be winkin’ at me that way; it’s little I
care for the spawn of the ould serpent. [Here great cheers greeted the
speaker, in which, without well knowing why, I heartily joined.] I’m going
to give a toast, boys,--a real good toast, none of your sentimental things
about wall-flowers or the vernal equinox, or that kind of thing, but a
sensible, patriotic, manly, intrepid toast,--toast you must drink in the
most universal, laborious, and awful manner: do ye see now? [Loud cheers.]
If any man of you here present doesn’t drain this toast to the bottom [here
the speaker looked fixedly at me, as did the rest of the company]--then, by
the great-gun of Athlone, I’ll make him eat the decanter, glass-stopper and
all, for the good of his digestion: d’ye see now?”

The cheering at this mild determination prevented my hearing what followed;
but the peroration consisted in a very glowing eulogy upon some person
unknown, and a speedy return to him as member for Galway. Amidst all the
noise and tumult at this critical moment, nearly every eye at the table was
turned upon me; and as I concluded that they had been drinking my uncle’s
health, I thundered away at the mahogany with all my energy. At length the
hip-hipping over, and comparative quiet restored, I rose from my seat to
return thanks; but, strange enough, Sir George Dashwood did so likewise.
And there we both stood, amidst an uproar that might well have shaken the
courage of more practised orators; while from every side came cries of
“Hear, hear!”--“Go on, Sir George!”--“Speak out, General!”--“Sit down,
Charley!”--“Confound the boy!”--“Knock the legs from under him!” etc. Not
understanding why Sir George should interfere with what I regarded as my
peculiar duty, I resolved not to give way, and avowed this determination in
no very equivocal terms. “In that case,” said the general, “I am to suppose
that the young gentleman moves an amendment to your proposition; and as the
etiquette is in his favor, I yield.” Here he resumed his place amidst a
most terrific scene of noise and tumult, while several humane proposals as
to my treatment were made around me, and a kind suggestion thrown out to
break my neck by a near neighbor. Mr. Blake at length prevailed upon the
party to hear what I had to say,--for he was certain I should not detain
them above a minute. The commotion having in some measure subsided, I
began: “Gentlemen, as the adopted son of the worthy man whose health you
have just drunk--” Heaven knows how I should have continued; but here my
eloquence was met by such a roar of laughing as I never before listened to.
From one end of the board to the other it was one continued shout, and went
on, too, as if all the spare lungs of the party had been kept in reserve
for the occasion. I turned from one to the other; I tried to smile, and
seemed to participate in the joke, but failed; I frowned; I looked savagely
about where I could see enough to turn my wrath thitherward,--and, as it
chanced, not in vain; for Mr. Miles Bodkin, with an intuitive perception of
my wishes, most suddenly ceased his mirth, and assuming a look of frowning
defiance that had done him good service upon many former occasions, rose
and said:--

“Well, sir, I hope you’re proud of yourself. You’ve made a nice beginning
of it, and a pretty story you’ll have for your uncle. But if you’d like to
break the news by a letter the general will have great pleasure in franking
it for you; for, by the rock of Cashel, we’ll carry him in against all the
O’Malley’s that ever cheated the sheriff.”

Scarcely were the words uttered, when I seized my wineglass, and hurled it
with all my force at his head; so sudden was the act, and so true the aim,
that Mr. Bodkin measured his length upon the floor ere his friends could
appreciate his late eloquent effusion. The scene now became terrific;
for though the redoubted Miles was _hors-de-combat_, his friends made a
tremendous rush at, and would infallibly have succeeded in capturing me,
had not Blake and four or five others interposed. Amidst a desperate
struggle, which lasted for some minutes, I was torn from the spot, carried
bodily up-stairs, and pitched headlong into my own room; where, having
doubly locked the door on the outside, they left me to my own cool and not
over-agreeable reflections.



CHAPTER VII.


THE FLIGHT FROM GURT-NA-MORRA.

It was by one of those sudden and inexplicable revulsions which
occasionally restore to sense and intellect the maniac of years standing,
that I was no sooner left alone in my chamber than I became perfectly
sober. The fumes of the wine--and I had drunk deeply--were dissipated at
once; my head, which but a moment before was half wild with excitement, was
now cool, calm, and collected; and stranger than all, I, who had only an
hour since entered the dining-room with all the unsuspecting freshness of
boyhood, became, by a mighty bound, a man,--a man in all my feelings of
responsibility, a man who, repelling an insult by an outrage, had resolved
to stake his life upon the chance. In an instant a new era in life had
opened before me; the light-headed gayety which fearlessness and youth
impart was replaced by one absorbing thought,--one all-engrossing,
all-pervading impression, that if I did not follow up my quarrel with
Bodkin, I was dishonored and disgraced, my little knowledge of such matters
not being sufficient to assure me that I was now the aggressor, and that
any further steps in the affair should come from his side.

So thoroughly did my own griefs occupy me, that I had no thought for the
disappointment my poor uncle was destined to meet with in hearing that the
Blake interest was lost to him, and the former breach between the families
irreparably widened by the events of the evening. Escape was my first
thought; but how to accomplish it? The door, a solid one of Irish oak,
doubly locked and bolted, defied all my efforts to break it open; the
window was at least five-and-twenty feet from the ground, and not a tree
near to swing into. I shouted, I called aloud, I opened the sash, and tried
if any one outside were within hearing; but in vain. Weary and exhausted,
I sat down upon my bed and ruminated over my fortunes. Vengeance--quick,
entire, decisive vengeance--I thirsted and panted for; and every moment
I lived under the insult inflicted on me seemed an age of torturing and
maddening agony. I rose with a leap; a thought had just occurred to me.
I drew the bed towards the window, and fastening the sheet to one of the
posts with a firm knot, I twisted it into a rope, and let myself down to
within about twelve feet of the ground, when I let go my hold, and dropped
upon the grass beneath safe and uninjured. A thin, misty rain was falling,
and I now perceived, for the first time, that in my haste I had forgotten
my hat; this thought, however, gave me little uneasiness, and I took my way
towards the stable, resolving, if I could, to saddle my horse and get off
before any intimation of my escape reached the family.

When I gained the yard, all was quiet and deserted; the servants were
doubtless enjoying themselves below stairs, and I met no one on the way. I
entered the stable, threw the saddle upon “Badger,” and before five minutes
from my descent from the window, was galloping towards O’Malley Castle at a
pace that defied pursuit, had any one thought of it.

It was about five o’clock on a dark, wintry morning as I led my horse
through the well-known defiles of out-houses and stables which formed the
long line of offices to my uncle’s house. As yet no one was stirring; and
as I wished to have my arrival a secret from the family, after
providing for the wants of my gallant gray, I lifted the latch of the
kitchen-door--no other fastening being ever thought necessary, even at
night--and gently groped my way towards the stairs; all was perfectly
still, and the silence now recalled me to reflection as to what course I
should pursue. It was all-important that my uncle should know nothing of my
quarrel, otherwise he would inevitably make it his own, and by treating
me like a boy in the matter, give the whole affair the very turn I most
dreaded. Then, as to Sir Harry Boyle, he would most certainly turn the
whole thing into ridicule, make a good story, perhaps a song out of it, and
laugh at my notions of demanding satisfaction. Considine, I knew, was my
man; but then he was at Athlone,--at least so my uncle’s letter mentioned.
Perhaps he might have returned; if not, to Athlone I should set off at
once. So resolving, I stole noiselessly up-stairs, and reached the door of
the count’s chamber; I opened it gently and entered; and though my step
was almost imperceptible to myself, it was quite sufficient to alarm the
watchful occupant of the room, who, springing up in his bed, demanded
gruffly, “Who’s there?”

“Charles, sir,” said I, shutting the door carefully, and approaching his
bedside. “Charles O’Malley, sir. I’m come to have a bit of your advice; and
as the affair won’t keep, I have been obliged to disturb you.”

“Never mind, Charley,” said the count; “sit down, there’s a chair somewhere
near the bed,--have you found it? There! Well now, what is it? What news of
Blake?”

“Very bad; no worse. But it is not exactly _that_ I came about; I’ve got
into a scrape, sir.”

“Run off with one of the daughters,” said Considine. “By jingo, I knew what
those artful devils would be after.”

“Not so bad as that,” said I, laughing. “It’s just a row, a kind of
squabble; something that must come--”

“Ay, ay,” said the count, brightening up; “say you so, Charley? Begad, the
young ones will beat us all out of the field. Who is it with,--not old
Blake himself; how was it? Tell me all.”

I immediately detailed the whole events of the preceding chapter, as well
as his frequent interruptions would permit, and concluded by asking what
farther step was now to be taken, as I was resolved the matter should be
concluded before it came to my uncle’s ears.

“There you are all right; quite correct, my boy. But there are many points
I should have wished otherwise in the conduct of the affair hitherto.”

Conceiving that he was displeased at my petulance and boldness, I was about
to commence a kind of defence, when he added,--

“Because, you see,” said he, assuming an oracular tone of voice, “throwing
a wine-glass, with or without wine, in a man’s face is merely, as you may
observe, a mark of denial and displeasure at some observation he may have
made,--not in any wise intended to injure him, further than in the wound to
his honor at being so insulted, for which, of course, he must subsequently
call you out. Whereas, Charley, in the present case, the view I take
is different; the expression of Mr. Bodkin, as regards your uncle, was
insulting to a degree,--gratuitously offensive,--and warranting a blow.
Therefore, my boy, you should, under such circumstances, have preferred
aiming at him with a decanter: a cut-glass decanter, well aimed and low, I
have seen do effective service. However, as you remark it was your first
thing of the kind, I am pleased with you--very much pleased with you. Now,
then, for the next step.” So saying, he arose from his bed, and striking a
light with a tinder-box, proceeded to dress himself as leisurely as if for
a dinner party, talking all the while.

“I will just take Godfrey’s tax-cart and the roan mare on to Meelish, put
them up at the little inn,--it is not above a mile from Bodkin’s; and I’ll
go over and settle the thing for you. You must stay quiet till I come
back, and not leave the house on any account. I’ve got a case of old broad
barrels there that will answer you beautifully; if you were anything of
a shot, I’d give you my own cross handles, but they’d only spoil your
shooting.”

“I can hit a wine-glass in the stem at fifteen paces,” said I, rather
nettled at the disparaging tone in which he spoke of my performance.

“I don’t care sixpence for that; the wine-glass had no pistol in his hand.
Take the old German, then; see now, hold your pistol thus,--no finger on
the guard there, these two on the trigger. They are not hair-triggers; drop
the muzzle a bit; bend your elbow a trifle more; sight your man outside
your arm,--outside, mind,--and take him in the hip, and if anywhere higher,
no matter.”

By this time the count had completed his toilet, and taking the small
mahogany box which contained his peace-makers under his arm, led the way
towards the stables. When we reached the yard, the only person stirring
there was a kind of half-witted boy, who, being about the house, was
employed to run of messages from the servants, walk a stranger’s horse, or
to do any of the many petty services that regular domestics contrive always
to devolve upon some adopted subordinate. He was seated upon a stone step
formerly used for mounting, and though the day was scarcely breaking, and
the weather severe and piercing, the poor fellow was singing an Irish song,
in a low monotonous tone, as he chafed a curb chain between his hands with
some sand. As we came near he started up, and as he pulled off his cap to
salute us, gave a sharp and piercing glance at the count, then at me,
then once more upon my companion, from whom his eyes were turned to the
brass-bound box beneath his arm,--when, as if seized with a sudden impulse,
he started on his feet, and set off towards the house with the speed of a
greyhound, not, however, before Considine’s practised eye had anticipated
his plan; for throwing down the pistol-case, he dashed after him, and in an
instant had seized him by the collar.

“It won’t do, Patsey,” said the count; “you can’t double on me.”

“Oh, Count, darlin’, Mister Considine avick, don’t do it, don’t now,” said
the poor fellow, falling on his knees, and blubbering like an infant.

“Hold your tongue, you villain, or I’ll cut it out of your head,” said
Considine.

“And so I will; but don’t do it, don’t for the love of--”

“Don’t do what, you whimpering scoundrel? What does he think I’ll do?”

“Don’t I know very well what you’re after, what you’re always after too?
Oh, wirra, wirra!” Here he wrung his hands, and swayed himself backwards
and forwards, a true picture of Irish grief.

“I’ll stop his blubbering,” said Considine, opening the box and taking out
a pistol, which he cocked leisurely, and pointed at the poor fellow’s head;
“another syllable now, and I’ll scatter your brains upon that pavement.”

“And do, and divil thank you; sure, it’s your trade.”

The coolness of the reply threw us both off our guard so completely that we
burst out into a hearty fit of laughing.

“Come, come,” said the count, at last, “this will never do; if he goes on
this way, we’ll have the whole house about us. Come, then, harness the roan
mare; and here’s half a crown for you.”

“I wouldn’t touch the best piece in your purse,” said the poor boy; “sure
it’s blood-money, no less.”

The words were scarcely spoken, when Considine seized him by the collar
with one hand, and by the wrist with the other, and carried him over the
yard to the stable, where, kicking open the door, he threw him on a heap of
stones, adding, “If you stir now, I’ll break every bone in your body;” a
threat that seemed certainly considerably increased in its terrors, from
the rough gripe he had already experienced, for the lad rolled himself up
like a ball, and sobbed as if his heart were breaking.

Very few minutes sufficed us now to harness the mare in the tax-cart, and
when all was ready, Considine seized the whip, and locking the stable-door
upon Patsey, was about to get up, when a sudden thought struck him.
“Charley,” said he, “that fellow will find some means to give the alarm; we
must take him with us.” So saying, he opened the door, and taking the poor
fellow by the collar, flung him at my feet in the tax-cart.

We had already lost some time, and the roan mare was put to her fastest
speed to make up for it. Our pace became, accordingly, a sharp one; and as
the road was bad, and the tax-cart no “patent inaudible,” neither of us
spoke. To me this was a great relief. The events of the last few days had
given them the semblance of years, and all the reflection I could muster
was little enough to make anything out of the chaotic mass,--love,
mischief, and misfortune,--in which I had been involved since my leaving
O’Malley Castle.

“Here we are, Charley,” said Considine, drawing up short at the door of a
little country ale-house, or, in Irish parlance, _shebeen_, which stood at
the meeting of four bleak roads, in a wild and barren mountain tract beside
the Shannon. “Here we are, my boy! Jump out and let us be stirring.”

“Here, Patsey, my man,” said the count, unravelling the prostrate and
doubly knotted figure at our feet; “lend a hand, Patsey.” Much to my
astonishment, he obeyed the summons with alacrity, and proceeded to
unharness the mare with the greatest despatch. My attention was, however,
soon turned from him to my own more immediate concerns, and I followed my
companion into the house.

“Joe,” said the count to the host, “is Mr. Bodkin up at the house this
morning?”

“He’s just passed this way, sir, with Mr. Malowney of Tillnamuck, in the
gig, on their way from Mr. Blake’s. They stopped here to order horses to go
over to O’Malley Castle, and the gossoon is gone to look for a pair.”

“All right,” said Considine, and added, in a whisper, “we’ve done it well,
Charley, to be beforehand, or the governor would have found it all out and
taken the affair into his own hands. Now all you have to do is to stay
quietly here till I come back, which will not be above an hour at farthest.
Joe, send me the pony; keep an eye on Patsey, that he doesn’t play us a
trick. The short way to Mr. Bodkin’s is through Scariff. Ay, I know it
well; good-by, Charley. By the Lord, we’ll pepper him!”

These were the last words of the worthy count as he closed the door behind
him, and left me to my own not very agreeable reflections. Independently of
my youth and perfect ignorance of the world, which left me unable to form
any correct judgment on my conduct, I knew that I had taken a great deal
of wine, and was highly excited when my unhappy collision with Mr. Bodkin
occurred. Whether, then, I had been betrayed into anything which could
fairly have provoked his insulting retort or not, I could not remember; and
now my most afflicting thought was, what opinion might be entertained of me
by those at Blake’s table; and above all, what Miss Dashwood herself would
think, and what narrative of the occurrence would reach her. The great
effort of my last few days had been to stand well in her estimation, to
appear something better in feeling, something higher in principle, than the
rude and unpolished squirearchy about me; and now here was the end of
it! What would she, what could she, think, but that I was the same
punch-drinking, rowing, quarrelling bumpkin as those whom I had so lately
been carefully endeavoring to separate myself from? How I hated myself for
the excess to which passion had betrayed me, and how I detested my opponent
as the cause of all my present misery. “How very differently,” thought
I, “her friend the captain would have conducted himself. His quiet and
gentlemanly manner would have done fully as much to wipe out any insult on
his honor as I could do, and after all, would neither have disturbed the
harmony of a dinner-table, nor made himself, as I shuddered to think I
had, a subject of rebuke, if not of ridicule.” These harassing, torturing
reflections continued to press on me, and I paced the room with my hands
clasped and the perspiration upon my brow. “One thing is certain,--I can
never see her again,” thought I; “this disgraceful business must, in some
shape or other, become known to her, and all I have been saying these
last three days rise up in judgment against this one act, and stamp me an
impostor! I that decried--nay, derided--our false notion of honor. Would
that Considine were come! What can keep him now?” I walked to the door; a
boy belonging to the house was walking the roan before the door. “What had,
then, become of Pat?” I inquired; but no one could tell. He had disappeared
shortly after our arrival, and had not been seen afterwards. My own
thoughts were, however, too engrossing to permit me to think more of this
circumstance, and I turned again to enter the house, when I saw Considine
advancing up the road at the full speed of his pony.

“Out with the mare, Charley! Be alive, my boy!--all’s settled.” So saying,
he sprang from the pony and proceeded to harness the roan with the greatest
haste, informing me in broken sentences, as he went on with all the
arrangements.

“We are to cross the bridge of Portumna. They won the ground, and it seems
Bodkin likes the spot; he shot Peyton there three years ago. Worse luck
now, Charley, you know; by all the rule of chance, he can’t expect the same
thing twice,--never four by honors in two deals. Didn’t say that, though. A
sweet meadow, I know it well; small hillocks, like molehills; all over it.
Caught him at breakfast; I don’t think he expected the message to come from
us, but said it was a very polite attention,--and so it was, you know.”

So he continued to ramble on as we once more took our seats in the tax-cart
and set out for the ground.

“What are you thinking of, Charley?” said the count, as I kept silent for
some minutes.

“I’m thinking, sir, if I were to kill him, what I must do after.”

“Right, my boy; nothing like that, but I’ll settle all for you. Upon my
conscience, if it wasn’t for the chance of his getting into another quarrel
and spoiling the election, I’d go back for Godfrey; he’d like to see you
break ground so prettily. And you say you’re no shot?”

“Never could do anything with the pistol to speak of, sir,” said I,
remembering his rebuke of the morning.

“I don’t mind that. You’ve a good eye; never take it off him after you’re
on the ground,--follow him everywhere. Poor Callaghan, that’s gone, shot
his man always that way. He had a way of looking without winking that was
very fatal at a short distance; a very good thing to learn, Charley, when
you have a little spare time.”

Half-an-hour’s sharp driving brought us to the river side, where a boat
had been provided by Considine to ferry us over. It was now about eight
o’clock, and a heavy, gloomy morning. Much rain had fallen overnight, and
the dark and lowering atmosphere seemed charged with more. The mountains
looked twice their real size, and all the shadows were increased to
an enormous extent. A very killing kind of light it was, as the count
remarked.



CHAPTER VIII.


THE DUEL.

As the boatmen pulled in towards the shore we perceived, a few hundred
yards off, a group of persons standing, whom we soon recognized as our
opponents. “Charley,” said the count, grasping my arm tightly, as I stood
up to spring on the land,--“Charley, although you are only a boy, as I may
say, I have no fear for your courage; but still more than that is needful
here. This Bodkin is a noted duellist, and will try to shake your nerve.
Now, mind that you take everything that happens quite with an air of
indifference; don’t let him think that he has any advantage over you, and
you’ll see how the tables will be turned in your favor.”

“Trust to me, Count” said I; “I’ll not disgrace you.”

He pressed my hand tightly, and I thought that I discerned something like
a slight twitch about the corners of his grim mouth, as if some sudden and
painful thought had shot across his mind; but in a moment he was calm, and
stern-looking as ever.

“Twenty minutes late, Mr. Considine,” said a short, red-faced little
man, with a military frock and foraging cap, as he held out his watch in
evidence.

“I can only say, Captain Malowney, that we lost no time since we parted. We
had some difficulty in finding a boat; but in any case, we are here _now_,
and that, I opine, is the important part of the matter.”

“Quite right,--very just indeed. Will you present me to your young friend.
Very proud to make your acquaintance, sir; your uncle and I met more than
once in this kind of way. I was out with him in ‘92,--was it? no, I think
it was ‘93,--when he shot Harry Burgoyne, who, by-the-bye, was called the
crack shot of our mess; but, begad, your uncle knocked his pistol hand to
shivers, saying, in his dry way, ‘He must try the left hand this morning.’
Count, a little this side, if you please.”

While Considine and the captain walked a few paces apart from where I
stood, I had leisure to observe my antagonist, who stood among a group of
his friends, talking and laughing away in great spirits. As the tone they
spoke in was not of the lowest, I could catch much of their conversation at
the distance I was from them. They were discussing the last occasion that
Bodkin had visited this spot, and talking of the fatal event which happened
then.

“Poor devil,” said Bodkin, “it wasn’t his fault; but you see some of the
--th had been showing white feathers before that, and he was obliged to go
out. In fact, the colonel himself said, ‘Fight, or leave the corps.’ Well,
out he came; it was a cold morning in February, with a frost the night
before going off in a thin rain. Well, it seems he had the consumption or
something of that sort, with a great cough and spitting of blood, and this
weather made him worse; and he was very weak when he came to the ground.
Now, the moment I got a glimpse of him, I said to myself, ‘He’s pluck
enough, but as nervous as a lady;’ for his eye wandered all about, and his
mouth was constantly twitching. ‘Take off your great-coat, Ned,’ said one
of his people, when they were going to put him up; ‘take it off, man.’ He
seemed to hesitate for an instant, when Michael Blake remarked, ‘Arrah, let
him alone; it’s his mother makes him wear it, for the cold he has.’ They
all began to laugh at this; but I kept my eye upon him, and I saw that his
cheek grew quite livid and a kind of gray color, and his eyes filled up. ‘I
have you now,’ said I to myself, and I shot him through the lung.”

“And this poor fellow,” thought I, “was the only son of a widowed mother.”
 I walked from the spot to avoid hearing further, and felt, as I did so,
something like a spirit of vengeance rising within me, for the fate of one
so untimely cut off.

“Here we are, all ready,” said Malowney, springing over a small fence into
the adjoining field. “Take your ground, gentlemen.”

Considine took my arm and walked forward. “Charley,” said he, “I am to give
the signal; I’ll drop my glove when you are to fire, but don’t look at me
at all. I’ll manage to catch Bodkin’s eye; and do you watch him steadily,
and fire when he does.”

“I think that the ground we are leaving behind us is rather better,” said
some one.

“So it is,” said Bodkin; “but it might be troublesome to carry the young
gentleman down that way,--here all is fair and easy.”

The next instant we were placed; and I well remember the first thought that
struck me was, that there could be no chance of either of us escaping.

“Now then,” said the count, “I’ll walk twelve paces, turn and drop this
glove; at which signal you fire, and _together_ mind. The man who reserves
his shot falls by my hand.” This very summary denunciation seemed to meet
general approbation, and the count strutted forth. Notwithstanding the
advice of my friend, I could not help turning my eyes from Bodkin to watch
the retiring figure of the count. At length he stopped; a second or two
elapsed; he wheeled rapidly round, and let fall the glove. My eye glanced
towards my opponent; I raised my pistol and fired. My hat turned half round
upon my head, and Bodkin fell motionless to the earth. I saw the people
around me rush forward; I caught two or three glances thrown at me with an
expression of revengeful passion; I felt some one grasp me round the waist,
and hurry me from the spot; and it was at least ten minutes after, as we
were skimming the surface of the broad Shannon, before I could well collect
my scattered faculties to remember all that was passing, as Considine,
pointing to the two bullet-holes in my hat, remarked, “Sharp practice,
Charley; it was the overcharge saved you.”

“Is he killed, sir?” I asked.

“Not quite, I believe, but as good. You took him just above the hip.”

“Can he recover?” said I, with a voice tremulous from agitation, which I
vainly endeavored to conceal from my companion.

“Not if the doctor can help it,” said Considine; “for the fool keeps poking
about for the ball. But now let’s think of the next step,--you’ll have to
leave this, and at once, too.”

Little more passed between us. As we rowed towards the shore, Considine
was following up his reflections, and I had mine,--alas! too many and too
bitter to escape from.

As we neared the land a strange spectacle caught our eye. For a
considerable distance along the coast crowds of country people were
assembled, who, forming in groups and breaking into parties of two and
three, were evidently watching with great anxiety what was taking place at
the opposite side. Now, the distance was at least a mile, and therefore any
part of the transaction which had been enacting there must have been quite
beyond their view. While I was wondering at this, Considine cried out
suddenly, “Too infamous, by Jove! We’re murdered men!”

“What do you mean?” said I.

“Don’t you see that?” said he, pointing to something black which floated
from a pole at the opposite side of the river.

“Yes; what is it?”

“It’s his coat they’ve put upon an oar to show the people he’s
killed,--that’s all. Every man here’s his tenant; and look--there! They’re
not giving us much doubt as to their intention.”

Here a tremendous yell burst forth from the mass of people along the shore,
which rising to a terrific cry sunk gradually down to a low wailing, then
rose and fell again several times as the Irish death-cry filled the air and
rose to Heaven, as if imploring vengeance on a murderer.

The appalling influence of the _keen_, as it is called, had been familiar
to me from my infancy; but it needed the awful situation I was placed in to
consummate its horrors. It was at once my accusation and my doom. I knew
well--none better--the vengeful character of the Irish peasant of the west,
and that my death was certain I had no doubt. The very crime that sat upon
my heart quailed its courage and unnerved my arm. As the boatmen
looked from us towards the shore and again at our faces, they, as if
instinctively, lay upon their oars, and waited for our decision as to what
course to pursue.

“Rig the spritsail, my boys,” said Considine, “and let her head lie up the
river; and be alive, for I see they’re bailing a boat below the little reef
there, and will be after us in no time.”

The poor fellows, who, although strangers to us, sympathizing in what they
perceived to be our imminent danger, stepped the light spar which acted
as mast, and shook out their scanty rag of canvas in a minute. Considine
meanwhile went aft, and steadying her head with an oar, held the small
craft up to the wind till she lay completely over, and as she rushed
through the water, ran dipping her gun-wale through the white foam.

“Where can we make without tacking, boys?” inquired the count.

“If it blows on as fresh, sir, we’ll run you ashore within half a mile of
the Castle.”

“Put an oar to leeward,” said Considine, “and keep her up more to the wind,
and I promise you, my lads, you will not go home fresh and fasting if you
land us where you say.”

“Here they come,” said the other boatman, as he pointed back with his
finger towards a large yawl which shot suddenly from the shore, with six
sturdy fellows pulling at their oars, while three or four others were
endeavoring to get up their rigging, which appeared tangled and confused at
the bottom of the boat; the white splash of water which fell each moment
beside her showing that the process of bailing was still continued.

“Ah, then, may I never--av it isn’t the ould ‘Dolphin’ they have launched
for the cruise,” said one of our fellows.

“What’s the ‘Dolphin,’ then?”

“An ould boat of the Lord’s [Lord Clanricarde’s] that didn’t see water,
except when it rained, these four years, and is sun-cracked from stem to
stern.”

“She can sail, however,” said Considine, who watched with a painful anxiety
the rapidity of her course through the water.

“Nabocklish, she was a smuggler’s jolly-boat, and well used to it. Look
how they’re pulling. God pardon them, but they’re in no blessed humor this
morning.”

“Lay out upon your oars, boys; the wind’s failing us,” cried the count, as
the sail flapped lazily against the mast.

“It’s no use, yer honor,” said the elder. “We’ll be only breaking our
hearts to no purpose. They’re sure to catch us.”

“Do as I bade you, at all events. What’s that ahead of us there?”

“The Oat Rock, sir. A vessel with grain struck there and went down with
all aboard, four years last winter. There’s no channel between it and the
shore,--all sunk rocks, every inch of it. There’s the breeze.”

The canvas fell over as he spoke, and the little craft lay down to it till
the foaming water bubbled over her lee bow.

“Keep her head up, sir; higher--higher still.”

But Considine little heeded the direction, steering straight for the narrow
channel the man alluded to.

“Tear and ages, but you’re going right for the cloch na quirka!”

“Arrah, an’ the devil a taste I’ll be drowned for your devarsion!” said the
other, springing up.

“Sit down there, and be still,” roared Considine, as he drew a pistol from
the case at his feet, “if you don’t want some leaden ballast to keep you
so! Here, Charley, take this, and if that fellow stirs hand or foot--you
understand me.”

The two men sat sulkily in the bottom of the boat, which now was actually
flying through the water. Considine’s object was a clear one. He saw that
in sailing we were greatly overmatched, and that our only chance lay in
reaching the narrow and dangerous channel between Oat Rock and the shore,
by which we should distance the pursuit, the long reef of rocks that ran
out beyond requiring a wide berth to escape from. Nothing but the danger
behind us could warrant so rash a daring. The whole channel was dotted with
patches of white and breaking foam,--the sure evidence of the mischief
beneath,--while here and there a dash of spurting spray flew up from the
dark water, where some cleft rock lay hid below the flood. Escape seemed
impossible; but who would not have preferred even so slender a chance with
so frightful an alternative behind him? As if to add terror to the scene,
Considine had scarcely turned the boat ahead of the channel when a
tremendous blackness spread over all around, the thunder pealed forth, and
amidst the crashing of the hail and the bright glare of lightning a squall
struck us and laid us nearly keel uppermost for several minutes. I well
remember we rushed through the dark and blackened water, our little craft
more than half filled, the oars floating off to leeward, and we ourselves
kneeling on the bottom planks for safety. Roll after roll of loud thunder
broke, as it were, just above our heads; while in the swift dashing rain
that seemed to hiss around us every object was hidden, and even the other
boat was lost to our view. The two poor fellows--I shall never forget their
expression. One, a devout Catholic, had placed a little leaden image of a
saint before him in the bow, and implored its intercession with a torturing
agony of suspense that wrung my very heart. The other, apparently less
alive to such consolations as his Church afforded, remained with his hands
clasped, his mouth compressed, his brows knitted, and his dark eyes bent
upon me with the fierce hatred of a deadly enemy; his eyes were sunken and
bloodshot, and all told of some dreadful conflict within. The wild ferocity
of his look fascinated my gaze, and amidst all the terrors of the scene I
could not look from him. As I gazed, a second and more awful squall struck
the boat; the mast went over, and with a loud report like a pistol-shot
smashed at the thwart and fell over, trailing the sail along the milky sea
behind us. Meanwhile the water rushed clean over us, and the boat seemed
settling. At this dreadful moment the sailor’s eye was bent upon me, his
lips parted, and he muttered, as if to himself, “This it is to go to sea
with a murderer.” Oh, God! the agony of that moment! the heartfelt and
accusing conscience that I was judged and doomed! that the brand of Cain
was upon my brow! that my fellow-men had ceased forever to regard me as a
brother! that I was an outcast and a wanderer forever! I bent forward till
my forehead fell upon my knees, and I wept. Meanwhile the boat flew through
the water, and Considine, who alone among us seemed not to lose his
presence of mind, cut away the mast and sent it overboard. The storm began
now to abate; and as the black mass of cloud broke from around us we beheld
the other boat, also dismasted, far behind us, while all on board of
her were employed in bailing out the water with which she seemed almost
sinking. The curtain of mist that had hidden us from each other no sooner
broke than they ceased their labors for a moment, and looking towards us,
burst forth into a yell so wild, so savage, so dreadful, my very heart
quailed as its cadence fell upon my ear.

“Safe, my boy,” said Considine, clapping me on the shoulder, as he steered
the boat forth from its narrow path of danger, and once more reached the
broad Shannon,--“safe, Charley; though we’ve had a brush for it.” In a
minute more we reached the land, and drawing our gallant little craft on
shore, set out for O’Malley Castle.



CHAPTER IX.


THE RETURN.

O’Malley Castle lay about four miles from the spot we landed at, and
thither accordingly we bent our steps without loss of time. We had not,
however, proceeded far, when, before us on the road, we perceived a mixed
assemblage of horse and foot, hurrying along at a tremendous rate. The mob,
which consisted of some hundred country people, were armed with sticks,
scythes, and pitchforks, and although not preserving any very military
aspect in their order of march, were still a force quite formidable enough
to make us call a halt, and deliberate upon what we were to do.

“They’ve outflanked us, Charley,” said Considine; “however, all is not yet
lost. But see, they’ve got sight of us; here they come.”

At these words, the vast mass before us came pouring along, splashing the
mud on every side, and huzzaing like so many Indians. In the front ran a
bare-legged boy, waving his cap to encourage the rest, who followed him at
about fifty yards behind.

“Leave that fellow for me,” said the count, coolly examining the lock of
his pistol; “I’ll pick him out, and load again in time for his friends’
arrival. Charley, is that a gentleman I see far back in the crowd? Yes,
to be sure it is? He’s on a large horse--now he’s pressing forward; so
let--no--oh--ay, it’s Godfrey O’Malley himself, and these are our own
people.” Scarcely were the words out when a tremendous cheer arose from
the multitude, who, recognizing us at the same instant, sprang from their
horses and ran forward to welcome us. Among the foremost was the scarecrow
leader, whom I at once perceived as poor Patsey, who, escaping in the
morning, had returned at full speed to O’Malley Castle, and raised the
whole country to my rescue. Before I could address one word to my faithful
followers I was in my uncle’s arms.

“Safe, my boy, quite safe?”

“Quite safe, sir.”

“No scratch anywhere?”

“Nothing but a hat the worse, sir,” said I, showing the two bullet-holes in
my headpiece.

His lip quivered as he turned and whispered something into Considine’s ear,
which I heard not; but the count’s reply was, “Devil a bit, as cool as you
see him this minute.”

“And Bodkin, what of him?”

“This day’s work’s his last,” said Considine; “the ball entered here. But
come along, Godfrey; Charley’s new at this kind of thing, and we had better
discuss matters in the house.”

Half-an-hour’s brisk trot--for we were soon supplied with horses--brought
us back to the Castle, much to the disappointment of our cortege, who had
been promised a _scrimmage_, and went back in very ill-humor at the breach
of contract.

The breakfast-room, as we entered, was filled with my uncle’s supporters,
all busily engaged over poll-books and booth tallies, in preparation for
the eventful day of battle. These, however, were immediately thrown aside
to hasten round me and inquire all the details of my duel. Considine,
happily for me, however, assumed all the dignity of an historian, and
recounted the events of the morning so much to my honor and glory, that I,
who only a little before felt crushed and bowed down by the misery of my
late duel, began, amidst the warm congratulations and eulogiums about me,
to think I was no small hero, and in fact, something very much resembling
“the man for Galway.” To this feeling a circumstance that followed assisted
in contributing. While we were eagerly discussing the various results
likely to arise from the meeting, a horse galloped rapidly to the door and
a loud voice called out, “I can’t get off, but tell him to come here.” We
rushed out and beheld Captain Malowney, Mr. Bodkin’s second, covered with
mud from head to foot, and his horse reeking with foam and sweat. “I am
hurrying on to Athlone for another doctor; but I’ve called to tell you
that the wound is not supposed to be mortal,--he may recover yet.” Without
waiting for another word, he dashed spurs into his nag and rattled down the
avenue at full gallop. Mr. Bodkin’s dearest friend on earth could not have
received the intelligence with more delight; and I now began to listen to
the congratulations of my friends with a more tranquil spirit. My uncle,
too, seemed much relieved by the information, and heard with great good
temper my narrative of the few days at Gurt-na-Morra. “So then,” said he,
as I concluded, “my opponent is at least a gentleman; that is a comfort.”

“Sir George Dashwood,” said I, “from all I have seen, is a remarkably nice
person, and I am certain you will meet with only the fair and legitimate
opposition of an opposing candidate in him,--no mean or unmanly
subterfuge.”

“All right, Charley. Well, now, your affair of this morning must keep you
quiet for a few days, come what will; by Monday next, when the election
takes place, Bodkin’s fate will be pretty clear, one way or the other, and
if matters go well, you can come into town; otherwise, I have arranged with
Considine to take you over to the Continent for a year or so; but we’ll
discuss all this in the evening. Now I must start on a canvass. Boyle
expects to meet you at dinner to-day; he is coming from Athlone on purpose.
Now, good-by!”

When my uncle had gone, I sank into a chair and fell into a musing fit over
all the changes a few hours had wrought in me. From a mere boy whose most
serious employment was stocking the house with game or inspecting the
kennel, I had sprung at once into man’s estate, was complimented for my
coolness, praised for my prowess, lauded for my discretion, by those
who were my seniors by nearly half a century; talked to in a tone of
confidential intimacy by my uncle, and, in a word, treated in all respects
as an equal,--and such was all the work of a few hours. But so it is; the
eras in life are separated by a narrow boundary,--some trifling accident,
some casual _rencontre_ impels us across the Rubicon, and we pass from
infancy to youth, from youth to manhood, from manhood to age, less by
the slow and imperceptible step of time than by some one decisive act
or passion which, occurring at a critical moment, elicits a long latent
feeling, and impresses our existence with a color that tinges us for many
a long year. As for me, I had cut the tie which bound me to the careless
gayety of boyhood with a rude gash. In three short days I had fallen
deeply, desperately in love, and had wounded, if not killed, an antagonist
in a duel. As I meditated on these things, I was aroused by the noise of
horses’ feet in the yard beneath. I opened the window and beheld no less a
person than Captain Hammersley. He was handing a card to a servant, which
he was accompanying by a verbal message; the impression of something like
hostility on the part of the captain had never left my mind, and I hastened
down-stairs just in time to catch him as he turned from the door.

“Ah, Mr. O’Malley!” said he, in a most courteous tone. “They told me you
were not at home.”

I apologized for the blunder, and begged of him to alight and come in.

“I thank you very much, but, in fact, my hours are now numbered here. I
have just received an order to join my regiment; we have been ordered for
service, and Sir George has most kindly permitted my giving up my staff
appointment. I could not, however, leave the country without shaking hands
with you. I owe you a lesson in horsemanship, and I’m only sorry that we
are not to have another day together.”

“Then you are going out to the Peninsula?” said I.

“Why, we hope so; the commander-in-chief, they say, is in great want of
cavalry, and we scarcely less in want of something to do. I’m sorry you are
not coming with us.”

“Would to Heaven I were!” said I, with an earnestness that almost made my
brain start.

“Then, why not?”

“Unfortunately, I am peculiarly situated. My worthy uncle, who is all to me
in this world, would be quite alone if I were to leave him; and although he
has never said so, I know he dreads the possibility of my suggesting such
a thing to him: so that, between his fears and mine, the matter is never
broached by either party, nor do I think ever can be.”

“Devilish hard--but I believe you are right; something, however, may turn
up yet to alter his mind, and if so, and if you do take to dragooning,
don’t forget George Hammersley will be always most delighted to meet you;
and so good-by, O’Malley, good-by.”

He turned his horse’s head and was already some paces off, when he returned
to my side, and in a lower tone of voice said,--

“I ought to mention to you that there has been much discussion on your
affair at Blake’s table, and only one opinion on the matter among all
parties,--that you acted perfectly right. Sir George Dashwood,--no mean
judge of such things,--quite approves of your conduct, and, I believe,
wishes you to know as much; and now, once more, good-by.”



CHAPTER X.


THE ELECTION.

The important morning at length arrived, and as I looked from my bed-room
window at daybreak, the crowd of carriages of all sorts and shapes
decorated with banners and placards; the incessant bustle; the hurrying
hither and thither; the cheering as each new detachment of voters came up,
mounted on jaunting-cars, or on horses whose whole caparison consisted in
a straw rope for a bridle, and a saddle of the same frail material,--all
informed me that the election day was come. I lost no further time, but
proceeded to dress with all possible despatch. When I appeared in the
breakfast-room, it was already filled with some seventy or eighty persons
of all ranks and ages, mingled confusedly together, and enjoying the
hospitable fare of my uncle’s house, while they discussed all the details
and prospects of the election. In the hall, the library, the large
drawing-room, too, similar parties were also assembled, and as newcomers
arrived, the servants were busy in preparing tables before the door and up
the large terrace that ran the entire length of the building. Nothing could
be more amusing than the incongruous mixture of the guests, who, with every
variety of eatable that chance or inclination provided, were thus thrown
into close contact, having only this in common,--the success of the cause
they were engaged in. Here was the old Galway squire, with an ancestry that
reached to Noah, sitting side by side with the poor cotter, whose whole
earthly possession was what, in Irish phrase, is called a “potato
garden,”--meaning the exactly smallest possible patch of ground out of
which a very Indian-rubber conscience could presume to vote. Here sat the
old simple-minded, farmer-like man, in close conversation with a little
white-foreheaded, keen-eyed personage, in a black coat and eye-glass,--a
flash attorney from Dublin, learned in flaws of the registry, and deep in
the subtleties of election law. There was an Athlone horse-dealer, whose
habitual daily practices in imposing the halt, the lame, and the blind upon
the unsuspecting, for beasts of blood and mettle, well qualified him for
the trickery of a county contest. Then there were scores of squireen
gentry, easily recognized on common occasions by a green coat, brass
buttons, dirty cords, and dirtier top-boots, a lash-whip, and a half-bred
fox-hound; but now, fresh-washed for the day, they presented something the
appearance of a swell mob, adjusted to the meridian of Galway. A mass of
frieze-coated, brow-faced, bullet-headed peasantry filled up the large
spaces, dotted here and there with a sleek, roguish-eyed priest, or some
low electioneering agent detailing, for the amusement of the company, some
of those cunning practices of former times which if known to the proper
authorities would in all likelihood cause the talented narrator to be
improving the soil of Sidney, or fishing on the banks of the Swan river;
while at the head and foot of each table sat some personal friend of my
uncle, whose ready tongue, and still readier pistol, made him a personage
of some consequence, not more to his own people than to the enemy. While of
such material were the company, the fare before them was no less varied:
here some rubicund squire was deep in amalgamating the contents of a
venison pasty with some of Sneyd’s oldest claret; his neighbor, less
ambitious, and less erudite in such matters, was devouring rashers of
bacon, with liberal potations of potteen; some pale-cheeked scion of the
law, with all the dust of the Four Courts in his throat, was sipping
his humble beverage of black tea beside four sturdy cattle-dealers from
Ballinasloe, who were discussing hot whiskey punch and _spoleaion_ (boiled
beef) at the very primitive hour of eight in the morning. Amidst the clank
of decanters, the crash of knives and plates, and the jingling of glasses,
the laughter and voices of the guests were audibly increasing; and the
various modes of “running a buck” (_Anglicé_, substituting a vote), or
hunting a badger, were talked over on all sides, while the price of a
_veal_ (a calf), or a voter, was disputed with all the energy of debate.

Refusing many an offered place, I went through the different rooms in
search of Considine, to whom circumstances of late had somehow greatly
attached me.

“Here, Charley,” cried a voice I was very familiar with,--“here’s a place
I’ve been keeping for you.”

“Ah, Sir Harry, how do you do? Any of that grouse-pie to spare?”

“Abundance, my boy; but I’m afraid I can’t say as much for the liquor.
I have been shouting for claret this half-hour in vain,--do get us some
nutriment down here, and the Lord will reward you. What a pity it is,” he
added, in a lower tone, to his neighbor--“what a pity a quart-bottle won’t
hold a quart; but I’ll bring it before the House one of these days.” That
he kept his word in this respect, a motion on the books of the Honorable
House will bear me witness.

“Is this it?” said he, turning towards a farmer-like old man, who had put
some question to him across the table; “is it the apple-pie you’ll have?”

“Many thanks to your honor,--I’d like it, av it was wholesome.”

“And why shouldn’t it be wholesome?” said Sir Harry.

“Troth, then, myself does not know; but my father, I heerd tell, died of an
apple-plexy, and I’m afeerd of it.”

I at length found Considine, and learned that, as a very good account of
Bodkin had arrived, there was no reason why I should not proceed to the
hustings; but I was secretly charged not to take any prominent part in the
day’s proceedings. My uncle I only saw for an instant,--he begged me to
be careful, avoid all scrapes, and not to quit Considine. It was past ten
o’clock when our formidable procession got under way, and headed towards
the town of Galway. The road was, for miles, crowded with our followers;
banners flying and music playing, we presented something of the spectacle
of a very ragged army on its march. At every cross-road a mountain-path
reinforcement awaited us, and as we wended along, our numbers were
momentarily increasing; here and there along the line, some energetic
and not over-sober adherent was regaling his auditory with a speech in
laudation of the O’Malleys since the days of Moses, and more than one
priest was heard threatening the terrors of his Church in aid of a cause
to whose success he was pledged and bound. I rode beside the count, who,
surrounded by a group of choice spirits, recounted the various happy
inventions by which he had, on divers occasions, substituted a personal
quarrel for a contest. Boyle also contributed his share of election
anecdote, and one incident he related, which, I remember, amused me much at
the time.

[Illustration: THE ELECTION.]

“Do you remember Billy Calvert, that came down to contest Kilkenny?”
 inquired Sir Harry.

“What, ever forget him!” said Considine, “with his well-powdered wig and
his hessians. There never was his equal for lace ruffles and rings.”

“You never heard, may be, how he lost the election?”

“He resigned, I believe, or something of that sort.”

“No, no,” said another; “he never came forward at all. There’s some secret
in it; for Tom Butler was elected without a contest.”

“Jack, I’ll tell you how it happened. I was on my way up from Cork, having
finished my own business, and just carried the day, not without a push for
it. When we reached,--Lady Mary was with me,--when we reached Kilkenny, the
night before the election, I was not ten minutes in town till Butler
heard of it, and sent off express to see me; I was at my dinner when the
messenger came, and promised to go over when I’d done. But faith, Tom
didn’t wait, but came rushing up-stairs himself, and dashed into the room
in the greatest hurry.

“‘Harry,’ says he, ‘I’m done for; the corporation of free smiths, that were
always above bribery, having voted for myself and my father before, for
four pounds ten a man, won’t come forward under six guineas and whiskey.
Calvert has the money; they know it. The devil a farthing we have; and
we’ve been paying all our fellows that can’t read in Hennesy’s notes, and
you know the bank’s broke this three weeks.’

“On he went, giving me a most disastrous picture of his cause, and
concluded by asking if I could suggest anything under the circumstances.

“‘You couldn’t get a decent mob and clear the poll?’

“‘I am afraid not,’ said he, despondingly.

“‘Then I don’t see what’s to be done, if you can’t pick a fight with
himself. Will he go out?’

“‘Lord knows! They say he’s so afraid of that, that it has prevented him
coming down till the very day. But he is arrived now; he came in the
evening, and is stopping at Walsh’s in Patrick Street.’

“‘Then I’ll see what can be done,’ said I.

“‘Is that Calvert, the little man that blushes when the Lady-Lieutenant
speaks to him?’ said Lady Mary.

“‘The very man.’

“‘Would it be of any use to you if he could not come on the hustings
to-morrow?’ said she, again.

“‘‘Twould gain us the day. Half the voters don’t believe he’s here at all,
and his chief agent cheated all the people on the last election; and if
Calvert didn’t appear, he wouldn’t have ten votes to register. But why do
you ask?’

“‘Why, that, if you like, I’ll bet you a pair of diamond ear-rings he
sha’n’t show.’

“‘Done!’ said Butler. ‘And I promise a necklace into the bargain, if you
win; but I’m afraid you’re only quizzing me.’

“‘Here’s my hand on it,’ said she. ‘And now let’s talk of something else.’”

As Lady Mary never asked my assistance, and as I knew she was very well
able to perform whatever she undertook, you may be sure I gave myself very
little trouble about the whole affair; and when they came, I went off to
breakfast with Tom’s committee, not knowing anything that was to be done.

Calvert had given orders that he was to be called at eight o’clock, and so
a few minutes before that time a gentle knock came to the door.

‘Come in,’ said he, thinking it was the waiter, and covering himself up in
the clothes; for he was the most bashful creature ever was seen,--‘come
in.’

The door opened, and what was his horror to find that a lady entered in her
dressing-gown, her hair on her shoulders, very much tossed and dishevelled.
The moment she came in, she closed the door and locked it, and then sat
leisurely down upon a chair.

Billy’s teeth chattered, and his limbs trembled; for this was an adventure
of a very novel kind for him. At last he took courage to speak.

‘I am afraid, madam,’ said he, ‘that you are under some unhappy mistake,
and that you suppose this chamber is--’

‘Mr. Calvert’s,’ said the lady, with a solemn voice, ‘is it not?’

‘Yes, madam, I am that person.’

‘Thank God!’ said the lady, with a very impressive tone. ‘Here I am safe.’

Billy grew very much puzzled at these words; but hoping that by his silence
the lady would proceed to some explanation, he said no more. She, however,
seemed to think that nothing further was necessary, and sat still and
motionless, with her hands before her and her eyes fixed on Billy.

“‘You seem to forget me, sir?’ said she, with a faint smile.

“‘I do, indeed, madam; the half-light, the novelty of your costume, and the
strangeness of the circumstance altogether must plead for me, if I appear
rude enough.’

“‘I am Lady Mary Boyle,’ said she.

“‘I do remember you, madam; but may I ask--’

“‘Yes, yes; I know what you would ask. You would say, Why are you here? How
comes it that you have so far outstepped the propriety of which your whole
life is an example, that alone, at such a time, you appear in the chamber
of a man whose character for gallantry--’

“‘Oh, indeed--indeed, my lady, nothing of the kind!’

“‘Ah, alas! poor defenceless women learn, too late, how constantly
associated is the retiring modesty which decries, with the pleasing powers
which ensure success--’

“Here she sobbed, Billy blushed, and the clock struck nine.

“‘May I then beg, madam--’

“‘Yes, yes, you shall hear it all; but my poor scattered faculties will
not be the clearer by your hurrying me. You know, perhaps,’ continued
she, ‘that my maiden name was Rogers?’ He of the blankets bowed, and she
resumed, ‘It is now eighteen years since, that a young, unsuspecting, fond
creature, reared in all the care and fondness of doting parents, tempted
her first step in life, and trusted her fate to another’s keeping. I am
that unhappy person; the other, that monster in human guise that smiled but
to betray, that won but to ruin and destroy, is he whom you know as Sir
Harry Boyle.’

“Here she sobbed for some minutes, wiped her eyes, and resumed her
narrative. Beginning at the period of her marriage, she detailed a number
of circumstances in which poor Calvert, in all his anxiety to come _au
fond_ at matters, could never perceive bore upon the question in any way;
but as she recounted them all with great force and precision, entreating
him to bear in mind certain circumstances to which she should recur by and
by, his attention was kept on the stretch, and it was only when the clock
struck ten that he was fully aware how his morning was passing, and what
surmises his absence might originate.

“‘May I interrupt you for a moment, dear madam? Was it nine or ten o’clock
which struck last?’

“‘How should I know?’ said she, frantically. ‘What are hours and minutes to
her who has passed long years of misery?’

“‘Very true, very true,’ replied he, timidly, and rather fearing for the
intellect of his fair companion.

She continued. The narrative, however, so far from becoming clearer, grew
gradually more confused and intricate; and as frequent references were made
by the lady to some previous statement, Calvert was more than once rebuked
for forgetfulness and inattention, where in reality nothing less than
short-hand could have borne him through.

“‘Was it in ‘93 I said that Sir Harry left me at Tuam?’

“‘Upon my life, madam, I am afraid to aver; but it strikes me--’

“‘Gracious powers! and this is he whom I fondly trusted to make the
depository of my woes! Cruel, cruel man!’

“Here she sobbed considerably for several minutes, and spoke not. A loud
cheer of ‘Butler forever!’ from the mob without now burst upon their
hearing, and recalled poor Calvert at once to the thought that the hours
were speeding fast and no prospect of the everlasting tale coming to an
end.

“‘I am deeply, most deeply grieved, my dear madam,’ said the little man,
sitting up in a pyramid of blankets; ‘but hours, minutes, are most precious
to me this morning. I am about to be proposed as member for Kilkenny.’

“At these words the lady straightened her figure out, threw her arms at
either side, and burst into a fit of laughter which poor Calvert knew
at once to be hysterics. Here was a pretty situation! The bell-rope lay
against the opposite wall; and even if it did not, would he be exactly
warranted in pulling it?

“‘May the devil and all his angels take Sir Harry Boyle and his whole
connection to the fifth generation!’ was his sincere prayer as he sat like
a Chinese juggler under his canopy.

“At length the violence of the paroxysm seemed to subside; the sobs became
less frequent, the kicking less forcible, and the lady’s eyes closed, and
she appeared to have fallen asleep.

“‘Now is the moment,’ said Billy. ‘If I could only get as far as my
dressing-gown.’ So saying, he worked himself down noiselessly to the foot
of his bed, looked fixedly at the fallen lids of the sleeping lady, and
essayed one leg from the blanket. ‘Now or never,’ said he, pushing aside
the curtain and preparing for a spring. One more look he cast at his
companion, and then leaped forth; but just as he lit upon the floor she
again roused herself, screaming with horror. Billy fell upon the bed, and
rolling himself in the bedclothes, vowed never to rise again till she was
out of the visible horizon.

“‘What is all this? What do you mean, sir?’ said the lady, reddening with
indignation.

“‘Nothing, upon my soul, madam; it was only my dressing-gown.’

“‘Your dressing-gown!’ said she, with an emphasis worthy of Siddons; ‘a
likely story for Sir Harry to believe, sir! Fie, fie, sir!’

“This last allusion seemed a settler; for the luckless Calvert heaved a
profound sigh, and sunk down as if all hope had left him. ‘Butler forever!’
roared the mob. ‘Calvert forever!’ cried a boy’s voice from without. ‘Three
groans for the runaway!’ answered this announcement; and a very tender
inquiry of, ‘Where is he?’ was raised by some hundred mouths.

“‘Madam,’ said the almost frantic listener,--‘madam, I must get up! I must
dress! I beg of you to permit me!’

“‘I have nothing to refuse, sir. Alas, disdain has long been my only
portion! Get up, if you will.’

“‘But,’ said the astonished man, who was well-nigh deranged at the coolness
of this reply,--‘but how am I to do so if you sit there?’

“‘Sorry for any inconvenience I may cause you; but in the crowded state of
the hotel I hope you see the impropriety of my walking about the passages
in this costume?’

“‘And, great God! madam, why did you come out in it?’

“A cheer from the mob prevented her reply being audible. One o’clock tolled
out from the great bell of the cathedral.

“‘There’s one o’clock, as I live!’

“‘I heard it,’ said the lady.

“‘The shouts are increasing. What is that I hear? “Butler is in!” Gracious
mercy! is the election over?’

“The lady stepped to the window, drew aside the curtain, and said, ‘Indeed,
it would appear so. The mob are cheering Mr. Butler.’ A deafening shout
burst from the street. ‘Perhaps you’d like to see the fun, so I’ll not
detain you any longer. So, good-by, Mr. Calvert; and as your breakfast will
be cold, in all likelihood, come down to No. 4, for Sir Harry’s a late man,
and will be glad to see you.’”



CHAPTER XI.


AN ADVENTURE.

As thus we lightened the road with chatting, the increasing concourse of
people, and the greater throng of carriages that filled the road, announced
that we had nearly reached our destination.

“Considine,” said my uncle, riding up to where we were, “I have just got a
few lines from Davern. It seems Bodkin’s people are afraid to come in; they
know what they must expect, and if so, more than half of that barony is
lost to our opponent.”

“Then he has no chance whatever.”

“He never had, in my opinion,” said Sir Harry.

“We’ll see soon,” said my uncle, cheerfully, and rode to the post.

The remainder of the way was occupied in discussing the various
possibilities of the election, into which I was rejoiced to find that
defeat never entered.

In the goodly days I speak of, a county contest was a very different thing
indeed from the tame and insipid farce that now passes under that name:
where a briefless barrister, bullied by both sides, sits as assessor; a few
drunken voters, a radical O’Connellite grocer, a demagogue priest, a deputy
grand-purple-something from the Trinity College lodge, with some half-dozen
followers, shouting, “To the Devil with Peel!” or “Down with Dens!” form
the whole _corp-de-ballet_. No, no; in the times I refer to the voters were
some thousands in number, and the adverse parties took the field, far less
dependent for success upon previous pledge or promise made them than upon
the actual stratagem of the day. Each went forth, like a general to battle,
surrounded by a numerous and well-chosen staff,--one party of friends,
acting as commissariat, attended to the victualling of the voters, that
they obtained a due, or rather undue allowance of liquor, and came properly
drunk to the poll; others, again, broke into skirmishing parties, and
scattered over the country, cut off the enemy’s supplies, breaking
down their post-chaises, upsetting their jaunting-cars, stealing their
poll-books, and kidnapping their agents. Then there were secret-service
people, bribing the enemy and enticing them to desert; and lastly, there
was a species of sapper-and-miner force, who invented false documents,
denied the identity of the opposite party’s people, and when hard pushed,
provided persons who took bribes from the enemy, and gave evidence
afterwards on a petition. Amidst all these encounters of wit and ingenuity,
the personal friends of the candidate formed a species of rifle brigade,
picking out the enemy’s officers, and doing sore damage to their tactics
by shooting a proposer or wounding a seconder,--a considerable portion of
every leading agent’s fee being intended as compensation for the duels he
might, could, would, should, or ought to fight during the election. Such,
in brief, was a contest in the olden time. And when it is taken into
consideration that it usually lasted a fortnight or three weeks; that a
considerable military force was always engaged (for our Irish law permits
this), and which, when nothing pressing was doing, was regularly assailed
by both parties; that far more dependence was placed in a bludgeon than a
pistol; and that the man who registered a vote without a cracked pate was
regarded as a kind of natural phenomenon,--some faint idea may be formed
how much such a scene must have contributed to the peace of the county, and
the happiness and welfare of all concerned in it.

As we rode along, a loud cheer from a road that ran parallel to the one we
were pursuing attracted our attention, and we perceived that the cortége of
the opposite party was hastening on to the hustings. I could distinguish
the Blake girls on horseback among a crowd of officers in undress, and
saw something like a bonnet in the carriage-and-four which headed the
procession, and which I judged to be that of Sir George Dashwood. My heart
beat strongly as I strained my eyes to see if Miss Dashwood was there; but
I could not discern her, and it was with a sense of relief that I reflected
on the possibility of our not meeting under circumstances wherein our
feelings and interests were so completely opposed. While I was engaged in
making this survey, I had accidentally dropped behind my companions; my
eyes were firmly fixed upon that carriage, and in the faint hope that it
contained the object of all my wishes, I forgot everything else. At length
the cortége entered the town, and passing beneath a heavy stone gateway,
was lost to my view. I was still lost in revery, when an under-agent of my
uncle’s rode up.

“Oh, Master Charles!” said he, “what’s to be done? They’ve forgotten Mr.
Holmes at Woodford, and we haven’t a carriage, chaise, or even a car left
to send for him.”

“Have you told Mr. Considine?” inquired I.

“And sure you know yourself how little Mr. Considine thinks of a lawyer.
It’s small comfort he’d give me if I went to tell him. If it was a case of
pistols or a bullet mould he’d ride back the whole way himself for them.”

“Try Sir Harry Boyle, then.”

“He’s making a speech this minute before the court-house.”

This had sufficed to show me how far behind my companions I had been
loitering, when a cheer from the distant road again turned my eyes in that
direction; it was the Dashwood carriage returning after leaving Sir George
at the hustings. The head of the britska, before thrown open, was now
closed, and I could not make out if any one were inside.

“Devil a doubt of it,” said the agent, in answer to some question of a
farmer who rode beside him; “will you stand to me?”

“Troth, to be sure I will.”

“Here goes, then,” said he, gathering up his reins and turning his horse
towards the fence at the roadside; “follow me now, boys.”

The order was well obeyed; for when he had cleared the ditch, a dozen
stout country fellows, well mounted, were beside him. Away they went, at a
hunting pace, taking every leap before them, and heading towards the road
before us.

Without thinking further of the matter, I was laughing at the droll effect
the line of frieze coats presented as they rode side by side over the
stone-walls, when an observation near me aroused my attention.

“Ah, then, av they know anything of Tim Finucane, they’ll give it up
peaceably; it’s little he’d think of taking the coach from under the judge
himself.”

“What are they about, boys?” said I.

“Goin’ to take the chaise-and-four forninst ye, yer honor,” said the man.

I waited not to hear more, but darting spurs into my horse’s sides, cleared
the fence in one bound. My horse, a strong-knit half-breed, was as fast as
a racer for a short distance; so that when the agent and his party had come
up with the carriage, I was only a few hundred yards behind. I shouted out
with all my might, but they either heard not or heeded not, for scarcely
was the first man over the fence into the road when the postilion on the
leader was felled to the ground, and his place supplied by his slayer; the
boy on the wheeler shared the same fate, and in an instant, so well managed
was the attack, the carriage was in possession of the assailants. Four
stout fellows had climbed into the box and the rumble, and six others were
climbing to the interior, regardless of the aid of steps. By this time the
Dashwood party had got the alarm, and returned in full force, not, however,
before the other had laid whip to the horses and set out in full gallop;
and now commenced the most terrific race I ever witnessed.

The four carriage-horses, which were the property of Sir George, were
English thorough-breds of great value, and, totally unaccustomed to the
treatment they experienced, dashed forward at a pace that threatened
annihilation to the carriage at every bound. The pursuers, though well
mounted, were speedily distanced, but followed at a pace that in the end
was certain to overtake the carriage. As for myself, I rode on beside
the road at the full speed of my horse, shouting, cursing, imploring,
execrating, and beseeching at turns, but all in vain; the yells and shouts
of the pursuers and pursued drowned all other sounds, except when the
thundering crash of the horses’ feet rose above all. The road, like most
western Irish roads until the present century, lay straight as an arrow
for miles, regardless of every opposing barrier, and in the instance in
question, crossed a mountain at its very highest point. Towards this
pinnacle the pace had been tremendous; but owing to the higher breeding of
the cattle, the carriage party had still the advance, and when they reached
the top they proclaimed the victory by a cheer of triumph and derision. The
carriage disappeared beneath the crest of the mountain, and the pursuers
halted as if disposed to relinquish the chase.

“Come on, boys; never give up,” cried I, springing over into the road, and
heading the party to which by every right I was opposed.

It was no time for deliberation, and they followed me with a hearty cheer
that convinced me I was unknown. The next instant we were on the mountain
top, and beheld the carriage half way down beneath us, still galloping at
full stretch.

“We have them now,” said a voice behind me; “they’ll never turn Lurra
Bridge, if we only press on.”

The speaker was right; the road at the mountain foot turned at a perfect
right angle, and then crossed a lofty one-arched bridge over a mountain
torrent that ran deep and boisterously beneath. On we went, gaining at
every stride; for the fellows who rode postilion well knew what was before
them, and slackened their pace to secure a safe turning. A yell of victory
arose from the pursuers, but was answered by the others with a cheer of
defiance. The space was now scarcely two hundred yards between us, when the
head of the britska was flung down, and a figure that I at once recognized
as the redoubted Tim Finucane, one of the boldest and most reckless fellows
in the county, was seen standing on the seat, holding,--gracious Heavens!
it was true,--holding in his arms the apparently lifeless figure of Miss
Dashwood.

“Hold in!” shouted the ruffian, with a voice that rose high above all the
other sounds. “Hold in! or by the Eternal, I’ll throw her, body and bones,
into the Lurra Gash!” for such was the torrent called that boiled and
foamed a few yards before us.

[Illustration: THE RESCUE.]

He had by this time got firmly planted on the hind seat, and held the
drooping form on one arm with all the ease of a giant’s grasp.

“For the love of God!” said I, “pull up. I know him well; he’ll do it to a
certainty if you press on.”

“And we know you, too,” said a ruffianly fellow, with a dark whisker
meeting beneath his chin, “and have some scores to settle ere we part--”

But I heard no more. With one tremendous effort I dashed my horse forward.
The carriage turned an angle of the road, for an instant was out of sight,
another moment I was behind it.

“Stop!” I shouted, with a last effort, but in vain. The horses, maddened
and infuriated, sprang forward, and heedless of all efforts to turn them
the leaders sprang over the low parapet of the bridge, and hanging for a
second by the traces, fell with a crash into the swollen torrent beneath.
By this time I was beside the carriage. Finucane had now clambered to the
box, and regardless of the death and ruin around, bent upon his murderous
object, he lifted the light and girlish form above his head, bent backwards
as if to give greater impulse to his effort, when, twining my lash around
my wrist, I levelled my heavy and loaded hunting-whip at his head. The
weighted ball of lead struck him exactly beneath his hat; he staggered, his
hands relaxed, and he fell lifeless to the ground; the same instant I was
felled to the earth by a blow from behind, and saw no more.



CHAPTER XII.


MICKEY FREE.

Nearly three weeks followed the event I have just narrated ere I again was
restored to consciousness. The blow by which I was felled--from what hand
coming it was never after discovered--had brought on concussion of the
brain, and for several days my life was despaired of. As by slow steps I
advanced towards recovery, I learned from Considine that Miss Dashwood,
whose life was saved by my interference, had testified, in the warmest
manner, her gratitude, and that Sir George had, up to the period of his
leaving the country, never omitted a single day to ride over and inquire
for me.

“You know, of course,” said the count, supposing such news was the most
likely to interest me,--“you know we beat them?”

“No. Pray tell me all. They’ve not let me hear anything hitherto.”

“One day finished the whole affair. We polled man for man till past two
o’clock, when our fellows lost all patience and beat their tallies out
of the town. The police came up, but they beat the police; then they got
soldiers, but, begad, they were too strong for them, too. Sir George
witnessed it all, and knowing besides how little chance he had of success,
deemed it best to give in; so that a little before five o’clock he
resigned. I must say no man could behave better. He came across the
hustings and shook hands with Godfrey; and as the news of the _scrimmage_
with his daughter had just arrived, said that he was sorry his prospect of
success had not been greater, that in resigning he might testify how deeply
he felt the debt the O’Malleys had laid him under.”

“And my uncle, how did he receive his advances?”

“Like his own honest self,--grasped his hand firmly; and upon my soul, I
think he was half sorry that he gained the day. Do you know, he took a
mighty fancy to that blue-eyed daughter of the old general’s. Faith,
Charley, if he was some twenty years younger, I would not say but--Come,
come, I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings; but I have been staying here too
long. I’ll send up Mickey to sit with you. Mind and don’t be talking too
much to him.”

So saying, the worthy count left the room fully impressed that in hinting
at the possibility of my uncle’s marrying again, he had said something to
ruffle my temper.

For the next two or three weeks my life was one of the most tiresome
monotony. Strict injunctions had been given by the doctors to avoid
exciting me; and consequently, every one that came in walked on tiptoe,
spoke in whispers, and left me in five minutes. Reading was absolutely
forbidden; and with a sombre half-light to sit in, and chicken broth to
support nature, I dragged out as dreary an existence as any gentleman west
of Athlone.

Whenever my uncle or Considine were not in the room, my companion was my
own servant, Michael, or as he was better known, “Mickey Free.” Now, had
Mickey been left to his own free and unrestricted devices, the time would
not have hung so heavily; for among Mike’s manifold gifts he was possessed
of a very great flow of gossiping conversation. He knew all that was
doing in the county, and never was barren in his information wherever his
imagination could come into play. Mickey was the best hurler in the barony,
no mean performer on the violin, could dance the national bolero of “Tatter
Jack Walsh” in a way that charmed more than one soft heart beneath a red
woolsey bodice, and had, withal, the peculiar free-and-easy devil-may-care
kind of off-hand Irish way that never deserted him in the midst of his
wiliest and most subtle moments, giving to a very deep and cunning fellow
all the apparent frankness and openness of a country lad.

He had attached himself to me as a kind of sporting companion; and growing
daily more and more useful, had been gradually admitted to the honors of
the kitchen and the prerogatives of cast clothes, without ever having been
actually engaged as a servant; and while thus no warrant officer, as, in
fact, he discharged all his duties well and punctually, was rated among the
ship’s company, though no one could say at what precise period he changed
his caterpillar existence and became the gay butterfly with cords and
tops, a striped vest, and a most knowing jerry hat who stalked about
the stable-yard and bullied the helpers. Such was Mike. He had made his
fortune, such as it was, and had a most becoming pride in the fact that he
made himself indispensable to an establishment which, before he entered
it, never knew the want of him. As for me, he was everything to me. Mike
informed me what horse was wrong, why the chestnut mare couldn’t go out,
and why the black horse could. He knew the arrival of a new covey of
partridge quicker than the “Morning Post” does of a noble family from the
Continent, and could tell their whereabouts twice as accurately. But
his talents took a wider range than field sports afford, and he was the
faithful chronicler of every wake, station, wedding, or christening for
miles round; and as I took no small pleasure in those very national
pastimes, the information was of great value to me. To conclude this
brief sketch, Mike was a devout Catholic in the same sense that he was
enthusiastic about anything,--that is, he believed and obeyed exactly as
far as suited his own peculiar notions of comfort and happiness. Beyond
_that_, his scepticism stepped in and saved him from inconvenience; and
though he might have been somewhat puzzled to reduce his faith to a rubric,
still it answered his purpose, and that was all he wanted. Such, in short,
was my valet, Mickey Free, and who, had not heavy injunctions been laid on
him as to silence and discretion, would well have lightened my weary hours.

“Ah, then, Misther Charles!” said he, with a half-suppressed yawn at the
long period of probation his tongue had been undergoing in silence,--“ah,
then, but ye were mighty near it!”

“Near what?” said I.

“Faith, then, myself doesn’t well know. Some say it’s purgathory; but it’s
hard to tell.”

“I thought you were too good a Catholic, Mickey, to show any doubts on the
matter?”

“May be I am; may be I ain’t,” was the cautious reply.

“Wouldn’t Father Roach explain any of your difficulties for you, if you
went over to him?”

“Faix, it’s little I’d mind his explainings.”

“And why not?”

“Easy enough. If you ax ould Miles there, without, what does he be doing
with all the powther and shot, wouldn’t he tell you he’s shooting the
rooks, and the magpies, and some other varmint? But myself knows he sells
it to Widow Casey, at two-and-fourpence a pound; so belikes, Father Roach
may be shooting away at the poor souls in purgathory, that all this time
are enjoying the hoith of fine living in heaven, ye understand.”

“And you think that’s the way of it, Mickey?”

“Troth, it’s likely. Anyhow, I know its not the place they make it out.”

“Why, how do you mean?”

“Well, then, I’ll tell you, Misther Charles; but you must not be saying
anything about it afther, for I don’t like to talk about these kind of
things.”

Having pledged myself to the requisite silence and secrecy, Mickey began:--

“May be you heard tell of the way my father, rest his soul wherever he is,
came to his end. Well, I needn’t mind particulars, but, in short, he was
murdered in Ballinasloe one night, when he was baitin’ the whole town with
a blackthorn stick he had; more by token, a piece of a scythe was stuck at
the end of it,--a nate weapon, and one he was mighty partial to; but those
murdering thieves, the cattle-dealers, that never cared for diversion of
any kind, fell on him and broke his skull.

“Well, we had a very agreeable wake, and plenty of the best of everything,
and to spare, and I thought it was all over; but somehow, though I paid
Father Roach fifteen shillings, and made him mighty drunk, he always gave
me a black look wherever I met him, and when I took off my hat, he’d turn
away his head displeased like.

“‘Murder and ages,’ says I, ‘what’s this for?’ But as I’ve a light heart,
I bore up, and didn’t think more about it. One day, however, I was coming
home from Athlone market, by myself on the road, when Father Roach overtook
me. ‘Devil a one a me ‘ill take any notice of you now,’ says I, ‘and we’ll
see what’ll come out of it.’ So the priest rid up and looked me straight in
the face.

“‘Mickey,’ says he,--‘Mickey.’

“‘Father,’ says I.

“‘Is it that way you salute your clargy,’ says he, ‘with your caubeen on
your head?’

“‘Faix,’ says I, ‘it’s little ye mind whether it’s an or aff; for you never
take the trouble to say, “By your leave,” or “Damn your soul!” or any other
politeness when we meet.’

“‘You’re an ungrateful creature,’ says he; ‘and if you only knew, you’d be
trembling in your skin before me, this minute.’

“‘Devil a tremble,’ says I, ‘after walking six miles this way.’

“‘You’re an obstinate, hard-hearted sinner,’ says he; ‘and it’s no use in
telling you.’

“‘Telling me what?’ says I; for I was getting curious to make out what he
meant.

“‘Mickey,’ says he, changing his voice, and putting his head down close to
me,--‘Mickey, I saw your father last night.’

“‘The saints be merciful to us!’ said I, ‘did ye?’

“‘I did,’ says he.

“‘Tear an ages,’ says I, ‘did he tell you what he did with the new
corduroys he bought in the fair?’

“‘Oh, then, you are a could-hearted creature!’ says he, ‘and I’ll not lose
time with you.’ With that he was going to ride away, when I took hold of
the bridle.

“‘Father, darling,’ says I, ‘God pardon me, but them breeches is goin’
between me an’ my night’s rest; but tell me about my father?’

“‘Oh, then, he’s in a melancholy state!’

“‘Whereabouts is he?’ says I.

“‘In purgathory,’ says he; ‘but he won’t be there long.’

“‘Well,’ says I, ‘that’s a comfort, anyhow.’

“‘I am glad you think so,’ says he; ‘but there’s more of the other
opinion.’

“‘What’s _that?_’ says I.

“‘That hell’s worse.’

“‘Oh, melia-murther!’ says I, ‘is that it?’

“‘Ay, that’s it.’

“Well, I was so terrified and frightened, I said nothing for some time, but
trotted along beside the priest’s horse.

“‘Father,’ says I, ‘how long will it be before they send him where you
know?’

“‘It will not be long now,’ says he, ‘for they’re tired entirely with him;
they’ve no peace night or day,’ says he. ‘Mickey, your father is a mighty
hard man.’

“‘True for you, Father Roach,’ says I to myself; ‘av he had only the ould
stick with the scythe in it, I wish them joy of his company.’

“‘Mickey,’ says he, ‘I see you’re grieved, and I don’t wonder; sure, it’s a
great disgrace to a decent family.’

“‘Troth, it is,’ says I; ‘but my father always liked low company. Could
nothing be done for him now, Father Roach?’ says I, looking up in the
priest’s face.

“‘I’m greatly afraid, Mickey, he was a bad man, a very bad man.’

“‘And ye think he’ll go there?’ says I.

“‘Indeed, Mickey, I have my fears.’

“‘Upon my conscience,’ says I, ‘I believe you’re right; he was always a
restless crayture.’

“‘But it doesn’t depind on him,’ says the priest, crossly.

“‘And, then, who then?’ says I.

“‘Upon yourself, Mickey Free,’ says he, ‘God pardon you for it, too!’

“‘Upon me?’ says I.

“‘Troth, no less,’ says he; ‘how many Masses was said for your father’s
soul; how many Aves; how many Paters? Answer me.’

“‘Devil a one of me knows!--may be twenty.’

“‘Twenty, twenty!--no, nor one.’

“‘And why not?’ says I; ‘what for wouldn’t you be helping a poor crayture
out of trouble, when it wouldn’t cost you more nor a handful of prayers?’

“‘Mickey, I see,’ says he, in a solemn tone, ‘you’re worse nor a haythen;
but ye couldn’t be other, ye never come to yer duties.’

“‘Well, Father,’ says I, Looking very penitent, ‘how many Masses would get
him out?’

“‘Now you talk like a sensible man,’ says he. ‘Now, Mickey, I’ve hopes for
you. Let me see,’ here he went countin’ upon his fingers, and numberin’ to
himself for five minutes. ‘Mickey,’ says he, ‘I’ve a batch coming out on
Tuesday week, and if you were to make great exertions, perhaps your father
could come with them; that is, av they have made no objections.’

“‘And what for would they?’ says I; ‘he was always the hoith of company,
and av singing’s allowed in them parts--’

“‘God forgive you, Mickey, but yer in a benighted state,’ says he, sighing.

“‘Well,’ says I, ‘how’ll we get him out on Tuesday week? For that’s
bringing things to a focus.’

“‘Two Masses in the morning, fastin’,’ says Father Roach, half aloud, ‘is
two, and two in the afternoon is four, and two at vespers is six,’ says he;
‘six Masses a day for nine days is close by sixty Masses,--say sixty,’ says
he; ‘and they’ll cost you--mind, Mickey, and don’t be telling it again, for
it’s only to yourself I’d make them so cheap--a matter of three pounds.’

“‘Three pounds!’ says I; ‘be-gorra ye might as well ax me to give you the
rock of Cashel.’

“‘I’m sorry for ye, Mickey,’ says he, gatherin’ up the reins to ride
off,--‘I’m sorry for ye; and the time will come when the neglect of your
poor father will be a sore stroke agin yourself.’

“‘Wait a bit, your reverence,’ says I,--‘wait a bit. Would forty shillings
get him out?’

“‘Av course it wouldn’t,’ says he.

“‘May be,’ says I, coaxing,--‘may be, av you said that his son was a poor
boy that lived by his indhustry, and the times was bad--’

“‘Not the least use,’ says he.

“‘Arrah, but it’s hard-hearted they are,’ thinks I. ‘Well, see now, I’ll
give you the money, but I can’t afford it all at onst; but I’ll pay five
shillings a week. Will that do?’

“‘I’ll do my endayvors,’ says Father Roach; ‘and I’ll speak to them to
treat him peaceably in the meantime.’

“‘Long life to yer reverence, and do. Well, here now, here’s five hogs to
begin with; and, musha, but I never thought I’d be spending my loose change
that way.’

“Father Roach put the six tinpinnies in the pocket of his black leather
breeches, said something in Latin, bid me good-morning, and rode off.

“Well, to make my story short, I worked late and early to pay the five
shillings a week, and I did do it for three weeks regular; then I brought
four and fourpence; then it came down to one and tenpence halfpenny, then
ninepence, and at last I had nothing at all to bring.

“‘Mickey Free,’ says the priest, ‘ye must stir yourself. Your father is
mighty displeased at the way you’ve been doing of late; and av ye kept yer
word, he’d be near out by this time.’

“‘Troth,’ says I, ‘it’s a very expensive place.’

“‘By coorse it is,’ says he; ‘sure all the quality of the land’s there.
But, Mickey, my man, with a little exertion, your father’s business is
done. What are you jingling in your pocket there?’

“‘It’s ten shillings, your reverence, I have to buy seed potatoes.’

“‘Hand it here, my son. Isn’t it better your father would be enjoying
himself in paradise, than if ye were to have all the potatoes in Ireland?’

“‘And how do ye know,’ says I, ‘he’s so near out?’

“‘How do I know,--how do I know, is it? Didn’t I see him?’

“‘See him! Tear an ages, was you down there again?’

“‘I was,’ says he; ‘I was down there for three quarters of an hour
yesterday evening, getting out Luke Kennedy’s mother. Decent people the
Kennedy’s; never spared expense.’

“‘And ye seen my father?’ says I.

“‘I did,’ says he; ‘he had an ould flannel waistcoat on, and a pipe
sticking out of the pocket av it.’

“‘That’s him,’ says I. ‘Had he a hairy cap?’

“‘I didn’t mind the cap,’ says he; ‘but av coorse he wouldn’t have it on
his head in that place.’

“‘Thrue for you,’ says I. ‘Did he speak to you?’

“‘He did,’ says Father Roach; ‘he spoke very hard about the way he was
treated down there; that they was always jibin’ and jeerin’ him about
_drink_, and fightin’, and the course he led up here, and that it was a
queer thing, for the matter of ten shillings, he was to be kept there so
long.’

“‘Well,’ says I, taking out the ten shillings and counting it with one
hand, ‘we must do our best, anyhow; and ye think this’ll get him out
surely?’

“‘I know it will,’ says he; ‘for when Luke’s mother was leaving the place,
and yer father saw the door open, he made a rush at it, and, be-gorra,
before it was shut he got his head and one shoulder outside av it,--so
that, ye see, a thrifle more’ll do it.’

“‘Faix, and yer reverence,’ says I, ‘you’ve lightened my heart this
morning.’ And I put my money back again in my pocket.

“‘Why, what do you mean?’ says he, growing very red, for he was angry.

“‘Just this,’ says I, ‘that I’ve saved my money; for av it was my father
you seen, and that he got his head and one shoulder outside the door, oh,
then, by the powers!’ says I, ‘the devil a jail or jailer from hell to
Connaught id hould him. So, Father Roach, I wish you the top of the
morning.’ And I went away laughing; and from that day to this I never heard
more of purgathory; and ye see, Master Charles, I think I was right.”

Scarcely had Mike concluded when my door was suddenly burst open, and Sir
Harry Boyle, without assuming any of his usual precautions respecting
silence and quiet, rushed into the room, a broad grin upon his honest
features, and his eyes twinkling in a way that evidently showed me
something had occurred to amuse him.

“By Jove, Charley, I mustn’t keep it from you; it’s too good a thing not
to tell you. Do you remember that very essenced young gentleman who
accompanied Sir George Dashwood from Dublin, as a kind of electioneering
friend?”

“Do you mean Mr. Prettyman?”

“The very man; he was, you are aware, an under-secretary in some government
department. Well, it seems that he had come down among us poor savages as
much from motives of learned research and scientific inquiry, as though we
had been South Sea Islanders; report had gifted us humble Galwayans with
some very peculiar traits, and this gifted individual resolved to record
them. Whether the election week might have sufficed his appetite for
wonders I know not; but he was peaceably taking his departure from the west
on Saturday last, when Phil Macnamara met him, and pressed him to dine that
day with a few friends at his house. You know Phil; so that when I tell you
Sam Burke, of Greenmount, and Roger Doolan were of the party, I need
not say that the English traveller was not left to his own unassisted
imagination for his facts. Such anecdotes of our habits and customs as they
crammed him with, it would appear, never were heard before; nothing was
too hot or too heavy for the luckless cockney, who, when not sipping
his claret, was faithfully recording in his tablet the mems. for a very
brilliant and very original work on Ireland.

“Fine country, splendid country; glorious people,--gifted, brave,
intelligent, but not happy,--alas! Mr. Macnamara, not happy. But we don’t
know you, gentlemen,--we don’t indeed,--at the other side of the Channel.
Our notions regarding you are far, very far from just.”

“I hope and trust,” said old Burke, “you’ll help them to a better
understanding ere long.”

“Such, my dear sir, will be the proudest task of my life. The facts I have
heard here this evening have made so profound an impression upon me that I
burn for the moment when I can make them known to the world at large. To
think--just to think that a portion of this beautiful island should be
steeped in poverty; that the people not only live upon the mere potatoes,
but are absolutely obliged to wear the skins for raiment, as Mr. Doolan has
just mentioned to me!”

“‘Which accounts for our cultivation of lumpers,’ added Mr. Doolan, ‘they
being the largest species of the root, and best adapted for wearing
apparel.’

“‘I should deem myself culpable--indeed I should--did I not inform my
countrymen upon the real condition of this great country.’

“‘Why, after your great opportunities for judging,’ said Phil, ‘you ought
to speak out. You’ve seen us in a way, I may fairly affirm, few Englishmen
have, and heard more.’

“‘That’s it,--that’s the very thing, Mr. Macnamara. I’ve looked at you more
closely; I’ve watched you more narrowly; I’ve witnessed what the French
call your _vie intime_.’

“‘Begad you have,’ said old Burke, with a grin, ‘and profited by it to the
utmost.’

“‘I’ve been a spectator of your election contests; I’ve partaken of your
hospitality; I’ve witnessed your popular and national sports; I’ve
been present at your weddings, your fairs, your wakes; but no,--I was
forgetting,--I never saw a wake.’

“‘Never saw a wake?’ repeated each of the company in turn, as though the
gentleman was uttering a sentiment of very dubious veracity.

“‘Never,’ said Mr. Prettyman, rather abashed at this proof of his
incapacity to instruct his English friends upon _all_ matters of Irish
interest.

“‘Well, then,’ said Macnamara, ‘with a blessing, we’ll show you one.
Lord forbid that we shouldn’t do the honors of our poor country to an
intelligent foreigner when he’s good enough to come among us.’

“‘Peter,’ said he, turning to the servant behind him, ‘who’s dead
hereabouts?’

“‘Sorra one, yer honor. Since the scrimmage at Portumna the place is
peaceable.’

“‘Who died lately in the neighborhood?’

“‘The widow Macbride, yer honor.’

“‘Couldn’t they take her up again, Peter? My friend here never saw a wake.’

“‘I’m afeered not; for it was the boys roasted her, and she wouldn’t be a
decent corpse for to show a stranger,’ said Peter, in a whisper.

“Mr. Prettyman shuddered at these peaceful indications of the neighborhood,
and said nothing.

“‘Well, then, Peter, tell Jimmy Divine to take the old musket in my
bedroom, and go over to the Clunagh bog,--he can’t go wrong. There’s twelve
families there that never pay a halfpenny rent; and _when it’s done_, let
him give notice to the neighborhood, and we’ll have a rousing wake.’

“‘You don’t mean, Mr. Macnamara,--you don’t mean to say--’ stammered out
the cockney, with a face like a ghost.

“‘I only mean to say,’ said Phil, laughing, ‘that you’re keeping the
decanter very long at your right hand.’

“Burke contrived to interpose before the Englishman could ask any
explanation of what he had just heard,--and for some minutes he could only
wait in impatient anxiety,--when a loud report of a gun close beside the
house attracted the attention of the guests. The next moment old Peter
entered, his face radiant with smiles.

“‘Well, what’s that?’ said Macnamara.

“‘‘T was Jimmy, yer honor. As the evening was rainy, he said he’d take one
of the neighbors; and he hadn’t to go far, for Andy Moore was going home,
and he brought him down at once.’

“‘Did he shoot him?’ said Mr. Prettyman, while cold perspiration broke over
his forehead. ‘Did he murder the man?’

“‘Sorra murder,’ said Peter, disdainfully. ‘But why shouldn’t he shoot him
when the master bid him?’

“I needn’t tell you more, Charley; but in ten minutes after, feigning some
excuse to leave the room, the terrified cockney took flight, and offering
twenty guineas for a horse to convey him to Athlone, he left Galway, fully
convinced that they don’t yet know us on the other side of the Channel.”



CHAPTER XIII.


THE JOURNEY.

The election concluded, the turmoil and excitement of the contest over, all
was fast resuming its accustomed routine around us, when one morning my
uncle informed me that I was at length to leave my native county and enter
upon the great world as a student of Trinity College, Dublin. Although long
since in expectation of this eventful change, it was with no slight feeling
of emotion I contemplated the step which, removing me at once from all my
early friends and associations, was to surround me with new companions and
new influences, and place before me very different objects of ambition from
those I had hitherto been regarding.

My destiny had been long ago decided. The army had had its share of the
family, who brought little more back with them from the wars than a short
allowance of members and shattered constitutions; the navy had proved, on
more than one occasion, that the fate of the O’Malleys did not incline to
hanging; so that, in Irish estimation, but one alternative remained, and
that was the bar. Besides, as my uncle remarked, with great truth and
foresight, “Charley will be tolerably independent of the public, at all
events; for even if they never send him a brief, there’s law enough in the
family to last _his_ time,”--a rather novel reason, by-the-bye, for making
a man a lawyer, and which induced Sir Harry, with his usual clearness, to
observe to me:--

“Upon my conscience, boy, you are in luck. If there had been a Bible in the
house, I firmly believe he’d have made you a parson.”

Considine alone, of all my uncle’s advisers, did not concur in this
determination respecting me. He set forth, with an eloquence that certainly
converted _me_, that my head was better calculated for bearing hard knocks
than unravelling knotty points, that a shako would become it infinitely
better than a wig; and declared, roundly, that a boy who began so well and
had such very pretty notions about shooting was positively thrown away
in the Four Courts. My uncle, however, was firm, and as old Sir Harry
supported him, the day was decided against us, Considine murmuring as he
left the room something that did not seem quite a brilliant anticipation of
the success awaiting me in my legal career. As for myself, though only a
silent spectator of the debate, all my wishes were with the count. From my
earliest boyhood a military life had been my strongest desire; the roll of
the drum, and the shrill fife that played through the little village,
with its ragged troop of recruits following, had charms for me I cannot
describe; and had a choice been allowed me, I would infinitely rather have
been a sergeant in the dragoons than one of his Majesty’s learned in the
law. If, then, such had been the cherished feeling of many a year, how much
more strongly were my aspirations heightened by the events of the last few
days. The tone of superiority I had witnessed in Hammersley, whose conduct
to me at parting had placed him high in my esteem; the quiet contempt of
civilians implied in a thousand sly ways; the exalted estimate of his own
profession,--at once wounded my pride and stimulated my ambition; and
lastly, more than all, the avowed preference that Lucy Dashwood evinced for
a military life, were stronger allies than my own conviction needed to make
me long for the army. So completely did the thought possess me that I felt,
if I were not a soldier, I cared not what became of me. Life had no other
object of ambition for me than military renown, no other success for
which I cared to struggle, or would value when obtained. “_Aut Caesar aut
nullus_,” thought I; and when my uncle determined I should be a lawyer,
I neither murmured nor objected, but hugged myself in the prophecy of
Considine that hinted pretty broadly, “the devil a stupider fellow ever
opened a brief; but he’d have made a slashing light dragoon.”

The preliminaries were not long in arranging. It was settled that I should
be immediately despatched to Dublin to the care of Dr. Mooney, then a
junior fellow in the University, who would take me into his especial
charge; while Sir Harry was to furnish me with a letter to his old friend,
Doctor Barret, whose advice and assistance he estimated at a very high
price. Provided with such documents I was informed that the gates of
knowledge were more than half ajar for me, without an effort upon my
part. One only portion of all the arrangements I heard with anything like
pleasure; it was decided that my man Mickey was to accompany me to Dublin,
and remain with me during my stay.

It was upon a clear, sharp morning in January, of the year 18--, that I
took my place upon the box-seat of the old Galway mail and set out on my
journey. My heart was depressed, and my spirits were miserably low. I had
all that feeling of sadness which leave-taking inspires, and no sustaining
prospect to cheer me in the distance. For the first time in my life, I had
seen a tear glisten in my poor uncle’s eye, and heard his voice falter as
he said, “Farewell!” Notwithstanding the difference of age, we had been
perfectly companions together; and as I thought now over all the thousand
kindnesses and affectionate instances of his love I had received, my heart
gave way, and the tears coursed slowly down my cheeks. I turned to give one
last look at the tall chimneys and the old woods, my earliest friends; but
a turn of the road had shut out the prospect, and thus I took my leave of
Galway.

My friend Mickey, who sat behind with the guard, participated but little in
my feelings of regret. The potatoes in the metropolis could scarcely be as
wet as the lumpers in Scariff; he had heard that whiskey was not dearer,
and looked forward to the other delights of the capital with a longing
heart. Meanwhile, resolved that no portion of his career should be lost, he
was lightening the road by anecdote and song, and held an audience of four
people, a very crusty-looking old guard included, in roars of laughter.
Mike had contrived, with his usual _savoir faire_, to make himself very
agreeable to an extremely pretty-looking country girl, around whose waist
he had most lovingly passed his arm under pretence of keeping her from
falling, and to whom, in the midst of all his attentions to the party at
large, he devoted himself considerably, pressing his suit with all the aid
of his native minstrelsy.

“Hould me tight, Miss Matilda, dear.”

“My name’s Mary Brady, av ye plase.”

“Ay, and I do plase.

    ‘Oh, Mary Brady, you are my darlin’,
    You are my looking-glass from night till morning;
    I’d rayther have ye without one farthen,
    Nor Shusey Gallagher and her house and garden.’

May I never av I wouldn’t then; and ye needn’t be laughing.”

“Is his honor at home?”

This speech was addressed to a gaping country fellow that leaned on his
spade to see the coach pass.

“Is his honor at home? I’ve something for him from Mr. Davern.”

Mickey well knew that few western gentlemen were without constant
intercourse with the Athlone attorney. The poor countryman accordingly
hastened through the fence and pursued the coach with all speed for above
a mile, Mike pretending all the time to be in the greatest anxiety for his
overtaking them, until at last, as he stopped in despair, a hearty roar of
laughter told him that, in Mickey’s _parlance_, he was “sould.”

“Taste it, my dear; devil a harm it’ll do ye. It never paid the king
sixpence.”

Here he filled a little horn vessel from a black bottle he carried,
accompanying the action with a song, the air to which, if any of my
readers feel disposed to sing it, I may observe, bore a resemblance to the
well-known, “A Fig for Saint Denis of France.”

    POTTEEN, GOOD LUCK TO YE, DEAR.

    Av I was a monarch in state,
      Like Romulus or Julius Caysar,
    With the best of fine victuals to eat,
      And drink like great Nebuchadnezzar,
    A rasher of bacon I’d have,
      And potatoes the finest was seen, sir,
    And for drink, it’s no claret I’d crave,
      But a keg of ould Mullens’s potteen, sir,
               With the smell of the smoke on it still.

    They talk of the Romans of ould,
      Whom they say in their own times was frisky;
    But trust me, to keep out the cowld,
      The Romans at home here like whiskey.
    Sure it warms both the head and the heart,
      It’s the soul of all readin’ and writin’;
    It teaches both science and art,
      And disposes for love or for fightin’.
               Oh, potteen, good luck to ye, dear.

This very classic production, and the black bottle which accompanied it,
completely established the singer’s pre-eminence in the company; and I
heard sundry sounds resembling drinking, with frequent good wishes to the
provider of the feast,--“Long life to ye, Mr. Free,” “Your health and
inclinations, Mr. Free,” etc.; to which Mr. Free responded by drinking
those of the company, “av they were vartuous.” The amicable relations thus
happily established promised a very lasting reign, and would doubtless have
enjoyed such, had not a slight incident occurred which for a brief season
interrupted them. At the village where we stopped to breakfast, three very
venerable figures presented themselves for places in the inside of the
coach; they were habited in black coats, breeches, and gaiters, wore hats
of a very ecclesiastic breadth in their brim, and had altogether the
peculiar air and bearing which distinguishes their calling, being no less
than three Roman Catholic prelates on their way to Dublin to attend a
convocation. While Mickey and his friends, with the ready tact which every
low Irishman possesses, immediately perceived who and what these worshipful
individuals were, another traveller who had just assumed his place on the
outside participated but little in the feelings of reverence so manifestly
displayed, but gave a sneer of a very ominous kind as the skirt of the
last black coat disappeared within the coach. This latter individual was a
short, thick-set, bandy-legged man of about fifty, with an enormous nose,
which, whatever its habitual coloring, on the morning in question was of a
brilliant purple. He wore a blue coat with bright buttons, upon which some
letters were inscribed; and around his neck was fastened a ribbon of the
same color, to which a medal was attached. This he displayed with something
of ostentation whenever an opportunity occurred, and seemed altogether a
person who possessed a most satisfactory impression of his own importance.
In fact, had not this feeling been participated in by others, Mr. Billy
Crow would never have been deputed by No. 13,476 to carry their warrant
down to the west country, and establish the nucleus of an Orange Lodge in
the town of Foxleigh; such being, in brief, the reason why he, a very well
known manufacturer of “leather continuations” in Dublin, had ventured upon
the perilous journey from which he was now returning. Billy was going on
his way to town rejoicing, for he had had most brilliant success: the
brethren had feasted and fêted him; he had made several splendid orations,
with the usual number of prophecies about the speedy downfall of Romanism,
the inevitable return of Protestant ascendancy, the pleasing prospect that
with increased effort and improved organization they should soon be able
to have everything their own way, and clear the Green Isle of the horrible
vermin Saint Patrick forgot when banishing the others; and that if Daniel
O’Connell (whom might the Lord confound!) could only be hanged, and Sir
Harcourt Lees made Primate of all Ireland, there were still some hopes of
peace and prosperity to the country.

Mr. Crow had no sooner assumed his place upon the coach than he saw that he
was in the camp of the enemy. Happily for all parties, indeed, in Ireland,
political differences have so completely stamped the externals of each
party that he must be a man of small penetration who cannot, in the first
five minutes he is thrown among strangers, calculate with considerable
certainty whether it will be more conducive to his happiness to sing,
“Croppies Lie Down,” or “The Battle of Ross.” As for Billy Crow, long life
to him! you might as well attempt to pass a turkey upon M. Audubon for a
giraffe, as endeavor to impose a Papist upon him for a true follower of
King William. He could have given you more generic distinctions to guide
you in the decision than ever did Cuvier to designate an antediluvian
mammoth; so that no sooner had he seated himself upon the coach than he
buttoned up his great-coat, stuck his hands firmly in his side-pockets,
pursed up his lips, and looked altogether like a man that, feeling himself
out of his element, resolves to “bide his time” in patience until chance
may throw him among more congenial associates. Mickey Free, who was himself
no mean proficient in reading a character, at one glance saw his man, and
began hammering his brains to see if he could not overreach him. The
small portmanteau which contained Billy’s wardrobe bore the conspicuous
announcement of his name; and as Mickey could read, this was one important
step already gained.

He accordingly took the first opportunity of seating himself beside him,
and opened the conversation by some very polite observation upon the
other’s wearing apparel, which is always in the west considered a piece of
very courteous attention. By degrees the dialogue prospered, and Mickey
began to make some very important revelations about himself and his master,
intimating that the “state of the country” was such that a man of his way
of thinking had no peace or quiet in it.

“That’s him there, forenent ye,” said Mickey, “and a better Protestant
never hated Mass. Ye understand.”

“What!” said Billy, unbuttoning the collar of his coat to get a fairer view
at his companion; “why, I thought you were--”

Here he made some resemblance of the usual manner of blessing oneself.

“Me, devil a more nor yourself, Mr. Crow.”

“Why, do you know me, too?”

“Troth, more knows you than you think.”

Billy looked very much puzzled at all this; at last he said,--

“And ye tell me that your master there’s the right sort?”

“Thrue blue,” said Mike, with a wink, “and so is his uncles.”

“And where are they, when they are at home?”

“In Galway, no less; but they’re here now.”

“Where?”

“Here.”

At these words he gave a knock of his heel to the coach, as if to intimate
their “whereabouts.”

“You don’t mean in the coach, do ye?”

“To be sure I do; and troth you can’t know much of the west, av ye don’t
know the three Mr. Trenches of Tallybash!--them’s they.”

“You don’t say so?”

“Faix, but I do.”

“May I never drink the 12th of July if I didn’t think they were priests.”

“Priests!” said Mickey, in a roar of laughter,--“priests!”

“Just priests!”

“Be-gorra, though, ye had better keep that to yourself; for they’re not the
men to have that same said to them.”

“Of course I wouldn’t offend them,” said Mr. Crow; “faith, it’s not me
would cast reflections upon such real out-and-outers as they are. And where
are they going now?”

“To Dublin straight; there’s to be a grand lodge next week. But sure Mr.
Crow knows better than me.”

Billy after this became silent. A moody revery seemed to steal over him;
and he was evidently displeased with himself for his want of tact in not
discovering the three Mr. Trenches of Tallybash, though he only caught
sight of their backs.

Mickey Free interrupted not the frame of mind in which he saw conviction
was slowly working its way, but by gently humming in an undertone the loyal
melody of “Croppies Lie Down,” fanned the flame he had so dexterously
kindled. At length they reached the small town of Kinnegad. While the coach
changed horses, Mr. Crow lost not a moment in descending from the top, and
rushing into the little inn, disappeared for a few moments. When he again
issued forth, he carried a smoking tumbler of whiskey punch, which he
continued to stir with a spoon. As he approached the coach-door he tapped
gently with his knuckles; upon which the reverend prelate of Maronia, or
Mesopotamia, I forget which, inquired what he wanted.

“I ask your pardon, gentlemen,” said Billy, “but I thought I’d make bold to
ask you to take something warm this cold day.”

“Many thanks, my good friend; but we never do,” said a bland voice from
within.

“I understand,” said Billy, with a sly wink; “but there are circumstances
now and then,--and one might for the honor of the cause, you know. Just put
it to your lips, won’t you?”

“Excuse me,” said a very rosy-cheeked little prelate, “but nothing stronger
than water--”

“Botheration,” thought Billy, as he regarded the speaker’s nose. “But I
thought,” said he, aloud, “that you would not refuse this.”

Here he made a peculiar manifestation in the air, which, whatever respect
and reverence it might carry to the honest brethren of 13,476, seemed only
to increase the wonder and astonishment of the bishops.

“What does he mean?” said one.

“Is he mad?” said another.

“Tear and ages,” said Mr. Crow, getting quite impatient at the slowness of
his friends’ perception,--“tear and ages, I’m one of yourselves.”

“One of us,” said the three in chorus,--“one of us?”

“Ay, to be sure,” here he took a long pull at the punch,--“to be sure I am;
here’s ‘No surrender,’ your souls! whoop--” a loud yell accompanying the
toast as he drank it.

“Do you mean to insult us?” said Father P------. “Guard, take the fellow.”

“Are we to be outraged in this manner?” chorussed the priests.

“‘July the 1st, in Oldbridge town,’” sang Billy, “and here it is, ‘The
glorious, pious, and immortal memory of the great and good--’”

“Guard! Where is the guard?”

“‘And good King William, that saved us from Popery--’”

“Coachman! Guard!” screamed Father ------.

“‘Brass money--’”

“Policeman! policeman!” shouted the priests.

“‘Brass money and wooden shoes;’ devil may care who hears me!” said Billy,
who, supposing that the three Mr. Trenches were skulking the avowal of
their principles, resolved to assert the pre-eminence of the great cause
single-handed and alone.

[Illustration: MR. CROW WELL PLUCKED.]

“‘Here’s the Pope in the pillory, and the Devil pelting him with priests.’”

At these words a kick from behind apprised the loyal champion that a very
ragged auditory, who for some time past had not well understood the gist of
his eloquence, had at length comprehended enough to be angry. _Ce n’est que
le premier pas qui coûte_, certainly, in an Irish row. “The merest urchin
may light the train; one handful of mud often ignites a shindy that ends in
a most bloody battle.”

And here, no sooner did the _vis-a-tergo_ impel Billy forward than a severe
rap of a closed fist in the eye drove him back, and in one instant he
became the centre to a periphery of kicks, cuffs, pullings, and haulings
that left the poor deputy-grand not only orange, but blue.

He fought manfully, but numbers carried the day; and when the coach drove
off, which it did at last without him, the last thing visible to the
outsides was the figure of Mr. Crow,--whose hat, minus the crown, had been
driven over his head down upon his neck, where it remained like a dress
cravat,--buffeting a mob of ragged vagabonds who had so completely
metamorphosed the unfortunate man with mud and bruises that a committee of
the grand lodge might actually have been unable to identify him.

As for Mickey and his friends behind, their mirth knew no bounds; and
except the respectable insides, there was not an individual about the coach
who ceased to think of and laugh at the incident till we arrived in Dublin
and drew up at the Hibernian in Dawson Street.



CHAPTER XIV.


DUBLIN.

No sooner had I arrived in Dublin than my first care was to present myself
to Dr. Mooney, by whom I was received in the most cordial manner. In fact,
in my utter ignorance of such persons, I had imagined a college fellow to
be a character necessarily severe and unbending; and as the only two very
great people I had ever seen in my life were the Archbishop of Tuam and the
chief-baron when on circuit, I pictured to myself that a university
fellow was, in all probability, a cross between the two, and feared him
accordingly.

The doctor read over my uncle’s letter attentively, invited me to partake
of his breakfast, and then entered upon something like an account of the
life before me; for which Sir Harry Boyle had, however, in some degree
prepared me.

“Your uncle, I find, wishes you to live in college,--perhaps it is better,
too,--so that I must look out for chambers for you. Let me see: it will be
rather difficult, just now, to find them.” Here he fell for some moments
into a musing fit, and merely muttered a few broken sentences, as: “To be
sure, if other chambers could be had--but then--and after all, perhaps, as
he is young--besides, Frank will certainly be expelled before long, and
then he will have them all to himself. I say, O’Malley, I believe I must
quarter you for the present with a rather wild companion; but as your uncle
says you’re a prudent fellow,”--here he smiled very much, as if my uncle
had not said any such thing,--“why, you must only take the better care of
yourself until we can make some better arrangement. My pupil, Frank Webber,
is at this moment in want of a ‘chum,’ as the phrase is,--his last three
having only been domesticated with him for as many weeks; so that until we
find you a more quiet resting-place, you may take up your abode with him.”

During breakfast, the doctor proceeded to inform me that my destined
companion was a young man of excellent family and good fortune who, with
very considerable talents and acquirements, preferred a life of rackety and
careless dissipation to prospects of great success in public life, which
his connection and family might have secured for him. That he had been
originally entered at Oxford, which he was obliged to leave; then tried
Cambridge, from which he escaped expulsion by being rusticated,--that
is, having incurred a sentence of temporary banishment; and lastly, was
endeavoring, with what he himself believed to be a total reformation, to
stumble on to a degree in the “silent sister.”

“This is his third year,” said the doctor, “and he is only a freshman,
having lost every examination, with abilities enough to sweep the
university of its prizes. But come over now, and I’ll present you to him.”

I followed him down-stairs, across the court to an angle of the old square
where, up the first floor left, to use the college direction, stood the
name of Mr. Webber, a large No. 2 being conspicuously painted in the middle
of the door and not over it, as is usually the custom. As we reached the
spot, the observations of my companion were lost to me in the tremendous
noise and uproar that resounded from within. It seemed as if a number of
people were fighting pretty much as a banditti in a melodrama do, with
considerable more of confusion than requisite; a fiddle and a French horn
also lent their assistance to shouts and cries which, to say the best, were
not exactly the aids to study I expected in such a place.

Three times was the bell pulled with a vigor that threatened its downfall,
when at last, as the jingle of it rose above all other noises, suddenly
all became hushed and still; a momentary pause succeeded, and the door was
opened by a very respectable looking servant who, recognizing the doctor,
at once introduced us into the apartment where Mr. Webber was sitting.

In a large and very handsomely furnished room, where Brussels carpeting and
softly cushioned sofas contrasted strangely with the meagre and comfortless
chambers of the doctor, sat a young man at a small breakfast-table beside
the fire. He was attired in a silk dressing-gown and black velvet slippers,
and supported his forehead upon a hand of most lady-like whiteness, whose
fingers were absolutely covered with rings of great beauty and price. His
long silky brown hair fell in rich profusion upon the back of his neck and
over his arm, and the whole air and attitude was one which a painter might
have copied. So intent was he upon the volume before him that he never
raised his head at our approach, but continued to read aloud, totally
unaware of our presence.

“Dr. Mooney, sir,” said the servant.

_“Ton dapamey bominos, prosephe, crione Agamemnon”_ repeated the student,
in an ecstasy, and not paying the slightest attention to the announcement.

“Dr. Mooney, sir,” repeated the servant, in a louder tone, while the doctor
looked around on every side for an explanation of the late uproar, with a
face of the most puzzled astonishment.

_“Be dakiown para thina dolekoskion enkos”_ said Mr. Webber, finishing a
cup of coffee at a draught.

“Well, Webber, hard at work I see,” said the doctor.

“Ah, Doctor, I beg pardon! Have you been long here?” said the most soft and
insinuating voice, while the speaker passed his taper fingers across his
brow, as if to dissipate the traces of deep thought and study.

While the doctor presented me to my future companion, I could perceive, in
the restless and searching look he threw around, that the fracas he had so
lately heard was still an unexplained and _vexata questio_ in his mind.

“May I offer you a cup of coffee, Mr. O’Malley?” said the youth, with an
air of almost timid bashfulness. “The doctor, I know, breakfasts at a very
early hour.”

“I say, Webber,” said the doctor, who could no longer restrain his
curiosity, “what an awful row I heard here as I came up to the door. I
thought Bedlam was broke loose. What could it have been?”

“Ah, you heard it too, sir,” said Mr. Webber, smiling most benignly.

“Hear it? To be sure I did. O’Malley and I could not hear ourselves talking
with the uproar.”

“Yes, indeed, it is very provoking; but then, what’s to be done? One can’t
complain, under the circumstances.”

“Why, what do you mean?” said Mooney, anxiously.

“Nothing, sir; nothing. I’d much rather you’d not ask me; for after all,
I’ll change my chambers.”

“But why? Explain this at once. I insist upon it.”

“Can I depend upon the discretion of your young friend?” said Mr. Webber,
gravely.

“Perfectly,” said the doctor, now wound up to the greatest anxiety to learn
a secret.

“And you’ll promise not to mention the thing except among your friends?”

“I do,” said the doctor.

“Well, then,” said he, in a low and confident whisper, “it’s the dean.”

“The dean!” said Mooney, with a start. “The dean! Why, how can it be the
dean?”

“Too true,” said Mr. Webber, making a sign of drinking,--“too true, Doctor.
And then, the moment he is so, he begins smashing the furniture. Never was
anything heard like it. As for me, as I am now become a reading man, I must
go elsewhere.”

Now, it so chanced that the worthy dean, who albeit a man of most
abstemious habits, possessed a nose which, in color and development, was a
most unfortunate witness to call to character, and as Mooney heard Webber
narrate circumstantially the frightful excesses of the great functionary, I
saw that something like conviction was stealing over him.

“You’ll, of course, never speak of this except to your most intimate
friends,” said Webber.

“Of course not,” said the doctor, as he shook his hand warmly, and prepared
to leave the room. “O’Malley, I leave you here,” said he; “Webber and you
can talk over your arrangements.”

Webber followed the doctor to the door, whispered something in his ear, to
which the other replied, “Very well, I will write; but if your father
sends the money, I must insist--” The rest was lost in protestations and
professions of the most fervent kind, amidst which the door was shut, and
Mr. Webber returned to the room.

Short as was the interspace from the door without to the room within, it
was still ample enough to effect a very thorough and remarkable change in
the whole external appearance of Mr. Frank Webber; for scarcely had the
oaken panel shut out the doctor, when he appeared no longer the shy, timid,
and silvery-toned gentleman of five minutes before, but dashing boldly
forward, he seized a key-bugle that lay hid beneath a sofa-cushion and blew
a tremendous blast.

[Illustration: FRANK WEBBER AT HIS STUDIES.]

“Come forth, ye demons of the lower world,” said he, drawing a cloth from
a large table, and discovering the figures of three young men coiled up
beneath. “Come forth, and fear not, most timorous freshmen that ye are,”
 said he, unlocking a pantry, and liberating two others. “Gentlemen, let
me introduce to your acquaintance Mr. O’Malley. My chum, gentlemen. Mr.
O’Malley, that is Harry Nesbitt, who has been in college since the days of
old Perpendicular, and numbers more cautions than any man who ever had his
name on the books. Here is my particular friend, Cecil Cavendish, the only
man who could ever devil kidneys. Captain Power, Mr. O’Malley, a dashing
dragoon, as you see; aide-de-camp to his Excellency the Lord Lieutenant,
and love-maker-general to Merrion Square West. These,” said he, pointing to
the late denizens of the pantry, “are jibs whose names are neither known to
the proctor nor the police-office; but with due regard to their education
and morals, we don’t despair.”

“By no means,” said Power; “but come, let us resume our game.” At these
words he took a folio atlas of maps from a small table, and displayed
beneath a pack of cards, dealt as if for whist. The two gentlemen to whom
I was introduced by name returned to their places; the unknown two put on
their boxing gloves, and all resumed the hilarity which Dr. Mooney’s advent
had so suddenly interrupted.

“Where’s Moore?” said Webber, as he once more seated himself at his
breakfast.

“Making a spatch-cock, sir,” said the servant.

At the same instant, a little, dapper, jovial-looking personage appeared
with the dish in question.

“Mr. O’Malley, Mr. Moore, the gentleman who, by repeated remonstrances to
the board, has succeeded in getting eatable food for the inhabitants of
this penitentiary, and has the honored reputation of reforming the commons
of college.”

“Anything to Godfrey O’Malley, may I ask, sir?” said Moore.

“His nephew,” I replied.

“Which of you winged the gentleman the other day for not passing the
decanter, or something of that sort?”

“If you mean the affair with Mr. Bodkin, it was I.”

“Glorious, that; begad, I thought you were one of us. I say, Power, it was
he pinked Bodkin.”

“Ah, indeed,” said Power, not turning his head from his game, “a pretty
shot, I heard,--two by honors,--and hit him fairly,--the odd trick.
Hammersley mentioned the thing to me.”

“Oh, is he in town?” said I.

“No; he sailed for Portsmouth yesterday. He is to join the llth--game. I
say, Webber, you’ve lost the rubber.”

“Double or quit, and a dinner at Dunleary,” said Webber. “We must show
O’Malley,--confound the Mister!--something of the place.”

“Agreed.”

The whist was resumed; the boxers, now refreshed by a leg of the
spatch-cock, returned to their gloves; Mr. Moore took up his violin; Mr.
Webber his French horn; and I was left the only unemployed man in the
company.

“I say, Power, you’d better bring the drag over here for us; we can all go
down together.”

“I must inform you,” said Cavendish, “that, thanks to your philanthropic
efforts of last night, the passage from Grafton Street to Stephen’s
Green is impracticable.” A tremendous roar of laughter followed this
announcement; and though at the time the cause was unknown to me, I may as
well mention it here, as I subsequently learned it from my companions.

Among the many peculiar tastes which distinguished Mr. Francis Webber was
an extraordinary fancy for street-begging. He had, over and over, won large
sums upon his success in that difficult walk; and so perfect were his
disguises,--both of dress, voice, and manner,--that he actually at one time
succeeded in obtaining charity from his very opponent in the wager. He
wrote ballads with the greatest facility, and sang them with infinite
pathos and humor; and the old woman at the corner of College Green was
certain of an audience when the severity of the night would leave all other
minstrelsy deserted. As these feats of _jonglerie_ usually terminated in a
row, it was a most amusing part of the transaction to see the singer’s part
taken by the mob against the college men, who, growing impatient to carry
him off to supper somewhere, would invariably be obliged to have a fight
for the booty.

Now it chanced that a few evenings before, Mr. Webber was returning with a
pocket well lined with copper from a musical _reunion_ he had held at the
corner of York Street, when the idea struck him to stop at the end of
Grafton Street, where a huge stone grating at that time exhibited--perhaps
it exhibits still--the descent to one of the great main sewers of the city.

The light was shining brightly from a pastrycook’s shop, and showed the
large bars of stone between which the muddy water was rushing rapidly down
and plashing in the torrent that ran boisterously several feet beneath.

To stop in the street of any crowded city is, under any circumstances, an
invitation to others to do likewise which is rarely unaccepted; but when
in addition to this you stand fixedly in one spot and regard with stern
intensity any object near you, the chances are ten to one that you have
several companions in your curiosity before a minute expires.

Now, Webber, who had at first stood still without any peculiar thought in
view, no sooner perceived that he was joined by others than the idea of
making something out of it immediately occurred to him.

“What is it, agra?” inquired an old woman, very much in his own style of
dress, pulling at the hood of his cloak. “And can’t you see for yourself,
darling?” replied he, sharply, as he knelt down and looked most intensely
at the sewer.

“Are ye long there, avick?” inquired he of an imaginary individual below,
and then waiting as if for a reply, said,

“Two hours! Blessed Virgin, he’s two hours in the drain!”

By this time the crowd had reached entirely across the street, and the
crushing and squeezing to get near the important spot was awful.

“Where did he come from?” “Who is he?” “How did he get there?” were
questions on every side; and various surmises were afloat till Webber,
rising from his knees, said, in a mysterious whisper, to those nearest him,
“He’s made his escape to-night out o’ Newgate by the big drain, and lost
his way; he was looking for the Liffey, and took the wrong turn.”

To an Irish mob what appeal could equal this? A culprit at any time has
his claim upon their sympathy; but let him be caught in the very act of
cheating the authorities and evading the law, and his popularity knows
no bounds. Webber knew this well, and as the mob thickened around him
sustained an imaginary conversation that Savage Landor might have envied,
imparting now and then such hints concerning the runaway as raised their
interest to the highest pitch, and fifty different versions were related on
all sides,--of the crime he was guilty of, the sentence that was passed on
him, and the day he was to suffer.

“Do you see the light, dear?” said Webber, as some ingeniously benevolent
individual had lowered down a candle with a string,--“do ye see the light?
Oh, he’s fainted, the creature!” A cry of horror burst forth from the crowd
at these words, followed by a universal shout of, “Break open the street.”

Pickaxes, shovels, spades, and crowbars seemed absolutely the walking
accompaniments of the crowd, so suddenly did they appear upon the field of
action; and the work of exhumation was begun with a vigor that speedily
covered nearly half of the street with mud and paving-stones. Parties
relieved each other at the task, and ere half an hour a hole capable
of containing a mail-coach was yawning in one of the most frequented
thoroughfares of Dublin. Meanwhile, as no appearance of the culprit could
be had, dreadful conjectures as to his fate began to gain ground. By this
time the authorities had received intimation of what was going forward, and
attempted to disperse the crowd; but Webber, who still continued to conduct
the prosecution, called on them to resist the police and save the poor
creature. And now began a most terrific fray: the stones, forming a ready
weapon, were hurled at the unprepared constables, who on their side fought
manfully, but against superior numbers; so that at last it was only by the
aid of a military force the mob could be dispersed, and a riot which had
assumed a very serious character got under. Meanwhile Webber had reached
his chambers, changed his costume, and was relating over a supper-table the
narrative of his philanthropy to a very admiring circle of his friends.

Such was my chum, Frank Webber; and as this was the first anecdote I had
heard of him, I relate it here that my readers may be in possession of the
grounds upon which my opinion of that celebrated character was founded,
while yet our acquaintance was in its infancy.



CHAPTER XV.


CAPTAIN POWER.

Within a few weeks after my arrival in town I had become a matriculated
student of the university, and the possessor of chambers within its walls
in conjunction with the sage and prudent gentleman I have introduced to my
readers in the last chapter. Had my intentions on entering college been of
the most studious and regular kind, the companion into whose society I
was then immediately thrown would have quickly dissipated them. He voted
morning chapels a bore, Greek lectures a humbug, examinations a farce,
and pronounced the statute-book, with its attendant train of fines
and punishment, an “unclean thing.” With all my country habits and
predilections fresh upon me, that I was an easily-won disciple to his code
need not be wondered at; and indeed ere many days had passed over, my
thorough indifference to all college rules and regulations had given me a
high place in the esteem of Webber and his friends. As for myself, I was
most agreeably surprised to find that what I had looked forward to as a
very melancholy banishment, was likely to prove a most agreeable sojourn.
Under Webber’s directions there was no hour of the day that hung heavily
upon our hands. We rose about eleven and breakfasted, after which succeeded
fencing, sparring, billiards, or tennis in the park; about three, got on
horseback, and either cantered in the Phoenix or about the squares till
visiting time; after which, made our calls, and then dressed for
dinner, which we never thought of taking at commons, but had it from
Morrison’s,--we both being reported sick in the dean’s list, and thereby
exempt from the routine fare of the fellows’ table. In the evening our
occupations became still more pressing; there were balls, suppers, whist
parties, rows at the theatre, shindies in the street, devilled drumsticks
at Hayes’s, select oyster parties at the Carlingford,--in fact, every known
method of remaining up all night, and appearing both pale and penitent the
following morning.

Webber had a large acquaintance in Dublin, and soon made me known to them
all. Among others, the officers of the --th Light Dragoons, in which
regiment Power was captain, were his particular friends; and we had
frequent invitations to dine at their mess. There it was first that
military life presented itself to me in its most attractive possible form,
and heightened the passion I had already so strongly conceived for
the army. Power, above all others, took my fancy. He was a gay,
dashing-looking, handsome fellow of about eight-and-twenty, who had already
seen some service, having joined while his regiment was in Portugal; was in
heart and soul a soldier; and had that species of pride and enthusiasm in
all that regarded a military career that forms no small part of the charm
in the character of a young officer.

I sat near him the second day we dined at the mess, and was much pleased at
many slight attentions in his manner towards me.

“I called on you to-day, Mr. O’Malley,” said he, “in company with a friend
who is most anxious to see you.”

“Indeed,” said I, “I did not hear of it.”

“We left no cards, either of us, as we were determined to make you out on
another day; my companion has most urgent reasons for seeing you. I see you
are puzzled,” said he; “and although I promised to keep his secret, I must
blab. It was Sir George Dashwood was with me; he told us of your most
romantic adventure in the west,--and faith there is no doubt you saved the
lady’s life.”

“Was she worth the trouble of it?” said the old major, whose conjugal
experiences imparted a very crusty tone to the question.

“I think,” said I, “I need only tell her name to convince you of it.”

“Here’s a bumper to her,” said Power, filling his glass; “and every true
man will follow my example.”

When the hip-hipping which followed the toast was over, I found myself
enjoying no small share of the attention of the party as the deliverer of
Lucy Dashwood.

“Sir George is cudgelling his brain to show his gratitude to you,” said
Power.

“What a pity, for the sake of his peace of mind, that you’re not in the
army,” said another; “it’s so easy to show a man a delicate regard by a
quick promotion.”

“A devil of a pity for his own sake, too,” said Power, again; “they’re
going to make a lawyer of as strapping a fellow as ever carried a
sabretasche.”

“A lawyer!” cried out half a dozen together, pretty much with the same tone
and emphasis as though he had said a twopenny postman; “the devil they
are.”

“Cut the service at once; you’ll get no promotion in it,” said the colonel;
“a fellow with a black eye like you would look much better at the head of
a squadron than of a string of witnesses. Trust me, you’d shine more in
conducting a picket than a prosecution.”

“But if I can’t?” said I.

“Then take my plan,” said Power, “and make it cut _you_.”

“Yours?” said two or three in a breath,--“yours?”

“Ay, mine; did you never know that I was bred to the bar? Come, come, if
it was only for O’Malley’s use and benefit, as we say in the parchments, I
must tell you the story.”

The claret was pushed briskly round, chairs drawn up to fill any vacant
spaces, and Power began his story.

“As I am not over long-winded, don’t be scared at my beginning my
history somewhat far back. I began life that most unlucky of all earthly
contrivances for supplying casualties in case anything may befall the heir
of the house,--a species of domestic jury-mast, only lugged out in a gale
of wind,--a younger son. My brother Tom, a thick-skulled, pudding-headed
dog, that had no taste for anything save his dinner, took it into his wise
head one morning that he would go into the army, and although I had been
originally destined for a soldier, no sooner was his choice made than
all regard for my taste and inclination was forgotten; and as the family
interest was only enough for one, it was decided that I should be put in
what is called a ‘learned profession,’ and let push my fortune. ‘Take
your choice, Dick,’ said my father, with a most benign smile,--‘take your
choice, boy: will you be a lawyer, a parson, or a doctor?’

“Had he said, ‘Will you be put in the stocks, the pillory, or publicly
whipped?’ I could not have looked more blank than at the question.

“As a decent Protestant, he should have grudged me to the Church; as a
philanthropist, he might have scrupled at making me a physician; but as he
had lost deeply by law-suits, there looked something very like a lurking
malice in sending me to the bar. Now, so far, I concurred with him; for
having no gift for enduring either sermons or senna, I thought I’d make a
bad administrator of either, and as I was ever regarded in the family as
rather of a shrewd and quick turn, with a very natural taste for roguery, I
began to believe he was right, and that Nature intended me for the circuit.

“From the hour my vocation was pronounced, it had been happy for the family
that they could have got rid of me. A certain ambition to rise in my
profession laid hold on me, and I meditated all day and night how I was to
get on. Every trick, every subtle invention to cheat the enemy that I could
read of, I treasured up carefully, being fully impressed with the notion
that roguery meant law, and equity was only another name for odd and even.

“My days were spent haranguing special juries of housemaids and
laundresses, cross-examining the cook, charging the under-butler, and
passing sentence of death upon the pantry boy, who, I may add, was
invariably hanged when the court rose.

“If the mutton were overdone, or the turkey burned, I drew up an indictment
against old Margaret, and against the kitchen-maid as accomplice, and the
family hungered while I harangued; and, in fact, into such disrepute did I
bring the legal profession, by the score of annoyance of which I made
it the vehicle, that my father got a kind of holy horror of law courts,
judges, and crown solicitors, and absented himself from the assizes the
same year, for which, being a high sheriff, he paid a penalty of five
hundred pounds.

“The next day I was sent off in disgrace to Dublin to begin my career in
college, and eat the usual quartos and folios of beef and mutton which
qualify a man for the woolsack.

“Years rolled over, in which, after an ineffectual effort to get through
college, the only examination I ever got being a jubilee for the king’s
birthday, I was at length called to the Irish bar, and saluted by my
friends as Counsellor Power. The whole thing was so like a joke to me that
it kept me in laughter for three terms; and in fact it was the best thing
could happen me, for I had nothing else to do. The hall of the Four Courts
was a very pleasant lounge; plenty of agreeable fellows that never earned
sixpence or were likely to do so. Then the circuits were so many country
excursions, that supplied fun of one kind or other, but no profit. As for
me, I was what was called a good junior. I knew how to look after the
waiters, to inspect the decanting of the wine and the airing of the claret,
and was always attentive to the father of the circuit,--the crossest old
villain that ever was a king’s counsel. These eminent qualities, and my
being able to sing a song in honor of our own bar, were recommendations
enough to make me a favorite, and I was one.

“Now, the reputation I obtained was pleasant enough at first, but I began
to wonder that I never got a brief. Somehow, if it rained civil bills or
declarations, devil a one would fall upon my head; and it seemed as if
the only object I had in life was to accompany the circuit, a kind of
deputy-assistant commissary-general, never expected to come into action.
To be sure, I was not alone in misfortune; there were several promising
youths, who cut great figures in Trinity, in the same predicament, the only
difference being, that they attributed to jealousy what I suspected was
forgetfulness, for I don’t think a single attorney in Dublin knew one of
us.

“Two years passed over, and then I walked the hall with a bag filled with
newspapers to look like briefs, and was regularly called by two or three
criers from one court to the other. It never took. Even when I used to
seduce a country friend to visit the courts, and get him into an animated
conversation in a corner between two pillars, devil a one would believe him
to be a client, and I was fairly nonplussed.

“‘How is a man ever to distinguish himself in such a walk as this?’ was my
eternal question to myself every morning, as I put on my wig. ‘My face is
as well known here as Lord Manners’s.’ Every one says, ‘How are you, Dick?’
‘How goes it, Power?’ But except Holmes, that said one morning as he passed
me, ‘Eh, always busy?’ no one alludes to the possibility of my having
anything to do.

“‘If I could only get a footing,’ thought I, ‘Lord, how I’d astonish them!
As the song says:--

    “Perhaps a recruit
    Might chance to shoo
      Great General Buonaparté.”

So,’ said I to myself, ‘I’ll make these halls ring for it some day or
other, if the occasion ever present itself.’ But, faith, it seemed as if
some cunning solicitor overheard me and told his associates, for they
avoided me like a leprosy. The home circuit I had adopted for some time
past, for the very palpable reason that being near town it was least
costly, and it had all the advantages of any other for me in getting me
nothing to do. Well, one morning we were in Philipstown; I was lying awake
in bed, thinking how long it would be before I’d sum up resolution to cut
the bar, where certainly my prospects were not the most cheering, when some
one tapped gently at my door.

“‘Come in,’ said I.

“The waiter opened gently, and held out his hand with a large roll of paper
tied round with a piece of red tape.

“‘Counsellor,’ said he, ‘handsel.’

“‘What do you mean?’ said I, jumping out of bed. ‘What is it, you villain?’

“‘A brief.’

“‘A brief. So I see; but it’s for Counsellor Kinshella, below stairs.’ That
was the first name written on it.

“‘Bethershin,’ said he, ‘Mr. M’Grath bid me give it to you carefully.’

“By this time I had opened the envelope and read my own name at full length
as junior counsel in the important case of Monaghan _v_. M’Shean, to be
tried in the Record Court at Ballinasloe. ‘That will do,’ said I, flinging
it on the bed with a careless air, as if it were a very every-day matter
with me.

“‘But Counsellor, darlin’, give us a thrifle to dhrink your health with
your first cause, and the Lord send you plenty of them!’

“‘My first,’ said I, with a smile of most ineffable compassion at his
simplicity; ‘I’m worn out with them. Do you know, Peter, I was thinking
seriously of leaving the bar, when you came into the room? Upon my
conscience, it’s in earnest I am.’

“Peter believed me, I think, for I saw him give a very peculiar look as he
pocketed his half-crown and left the room.

“The door was scarcely closed when I gave way to the free transport of my
ecstasy; there it lay at last, the long looked-for, long wished-for object
of all my happiness, and though I well knew that a junior counsel has about
as much to do in the conducting of a case as a rusty handspike has in a
naval engagement, yet I suffered not such thoughts to mar the current of my
happiness. There was my name in conjunction with the two mighty leaders on
the circuit; and though they each pocketed a hundred, I doubt very much if
they received their briefs with one half the satisfaction. My joy at length
a little subdued, I opened the roll of paper and began carefully to peruse
about fifty pages of narrative regarding a watercourse that once had turned
a mill; but, from some reasons doubtless known to itself or its friends,
would do so no longer, and thus set two respectable neighbors at
loggerheads, and involved them in a record that had been now heard three
several times.

“Quite forgetting the subordinate part I was destined to fill, I opened
the case in a most flowery oration, in which I descanted upon the benefits
accruing to mankind from water-communication since the days of Noah;
remarking upon the antiquity of mills, and especially of millers, and
consumed half an hour in a preamble of generalities that I hoped would make
a very considerable impression upon the court. Just at the critical moment
when I was about to enter more particularly into the case, three or four
of the great unbriefed came rattling into my room, and broke in upon the
oration.

“‘I say, Power,’ said one, ‘come and have an hour’s skating on the canal;
the courts are filled, and we sha’n’t be missed.’

“‘Skate, my dear friend,’ said I, in a most dolorous tone, ‘out of the
question; see, I am chained to a devilish knotty case with Kinshella and
Mills.’

“‘Confound your humbugging,’ said another, ‘that may do very well in Dublin
for the attorneys, but not with us.’

“‘I don’t well understand you,’ I replied; ‘there is the brief. Hennesy
expects me to report upon it this evening, and I am so hurried.’

“Here a very chorus of laughing broke forth, in which, after several vain
efforts to resist, I was forced to join, and kept it up with the others.

“When our mirth was over, my friends scrutinized the red-tape-tied packet,
and pronounced it a real brief, with a degree of surprise that certainly
augured little for their familiarity with such objects of natural history.

“When they had left the room, I leisurely examined the all-important
document, spreading it out before me upon the table, and surveying it as
a newly-anointed sovereign might be supposed to contemplate a map of his
dominions.

“‘At last,’ said I to myself,--‘at last, and here is the footstep to the
woolsack.’ For more than an hour I sat motionless, my eyes fixed upon
the outspread paper, lost in a very maze of revery. The ambition which
disappointments had crushed, and delay had chilled, came suddenly back, and
all my day-dreams of legal success, my cherished aspirations after silk
gowns and patents of precedence, rushed once more upon me, and I was
resolved to do or die. Alas, a very little reflection showed me that the
latter was perfectly practicable; but that, as a junior counsel, five
minutes of very common-place recitation was all my province, and with the
main business of the day I had about as much to do as the call-boy of a
playhouse has with the success of a tragedy.

“‘My Lord, this is an action brought by Timothy Higgin,’ etc., and down I
go, no more to be remembered and thought of than if I had never existed.
How different it would be if I were the leader! Zounds, how I would worry
the witnesses, browbeat the evidence, cajole the jury, and soften the
judges! If the Lord were, in His mercy, to remove old Mills and Kinshella
before Tuesday, who knows but my fortune might be made? This supposition
once started, set me speculating upon all the possible chances that might
cut off two king’s counsel in three days, and left me fairly convinced that
my own elevation was certain, were they only removed from my path.

“For two whole days the thought never left my mind; and on the evening of
the second day, I sat moodily over my pint of port, in the Clonbrock Arms,
with my friend Timothy Casey, Captain in the North Cork Militia, for my
companion.

“‘Dick,’ said Tim, ‘take off your wine, man. When does this confounded
trial come on?’

“‘To-morrow,’ said I, with a deep groan.

“‘Well, well, and if it does, what matter?’ he said; ‘you’ll do well
enough, never be afraid.’

“‘Alas!’ said I, ‘you don’t understand the cause of my depression.’ I here
entered upon an account of my sorrows, which lasted for above an hour, and
only concluded just as a tremendous noise in the street without announced
an arrival. For several minutes such was the excitement in the house, such
running hither and thither, such confusion, and such hubbub, that we could
not make out who had arrived.

“At last a door opened quite near us, and we saw the waiter assisting a
very portly-looking gentleman off with his great-coat, assuring him the
while that if he would only walk into the coffee-room for ten minutes, the
fire in his apartment should be got ready. The stranger accordingly entered
and seated himself at the fireplace, having never noticed that Casey and
myself, the only persons there, were in the room.

“‘I say, Phil, who is he?’ inquired Casey of the waiter.

“‘Counsellor Mills, Captain,’ said the waiter, and left the room.

“‘That’s your friend,’ said Casey.

“‘I see,’ said I; ‘and I wish with all my heart he was at home with his
pretty wife, in Leeson Street.’

“‘Is she good-looking?’ inquired Tim.

“‘Devil a better,’ said I; ‘and he’s as jealous as old Nick.’

“‘Hem,’ said Tim, ‘mind your cue, and I’ll give him a start.’ Here he
suddenly changed his whispering tone for one in a louder key, and resumed:
‘I say, Power, it will make some work for you lawyers. But who can she be?
that’s the question.’ Here he took a much crumpled letter from his pocket,
and pretended to read: ‘“A great sensation was created in the neighborhood
of Merrion Square, yesterday, by the sudden disappearance from her house of
the handsome Mrs. ------.” Confound it!--what’s the name? What a hand he
writes! Hill, or Miles, or something like that,--“the lady of an eminent
barrister, now on circuit. The gay Lothario is, they say, the Hon. George
------.”’ I was so thunderstruck at the rashness of the stroke, I could say
nothing; while the old gentleman started as if he had sat down on a pin.
Casey, meanwhile, went on.

“‘Hell and fury!’ said the king’s counsel, rushing over, ‘what is it you’re
saying?’

“‘You appear warm, old gentleman,’ said Casey, putting up the letter and
rising from the table.

“‘Show me that letter!--show me that infernal letter, sir, this instant!’

“‘Show you my letter,’ said Casey; ‘cool, that, anyhow. You are certainly a
good one.’

“‘Do you know me, sir? Answer me that,’ said the lawyer, bursting with
passion.

“‘Not at present,’ said Tim, quietly; ‘but I hope to do so in the morning
in explanation of your language and conduct.’ A tremendous ringing of the
bell here summoned the waiter to the room.

“‘Who is that--’ inquired the lawyer. The epithet he judged it safe to
leave unsaid, as he pointed to my friend Casey.

“‘Captain Casey, sir, the commanding officer here.’

“‘Just so,’ said Casey. ‘And very much, at your service any hour after five
in the morning.’

“‘Then you refuse, sir, to explain the paragraph I have just heard you
read?’

“‘Well done, old gentleman; so you have been listening to a private
conversation I held with my friend here. In that case we had better retire
to our room.’ So saying, he ordered the waiter to send a fresh bottle
and glasses to No. 14, and taking my arm, very politely wished Mr. Mills
good-night, and left the coffee-room.

“Before we had reached the top of the stairs the house was once more in
commotion. The new arrival had ordered out fresh horses, and was hurrying
every one in his impatience to get away. In ten minutes the chaise rolled
off from the door; and Casey, putting his head out of the window, wished
him a pleasant journey; while turning to me, he said,--

“‘There’s one of them out of the way for you, if we are even obliged to
fight the other.’

“The port was soon despatched, and with it went all the scruples of
conscience I had at first felt for the cruel _ruse_ we had just practised.
Scarcely was the other bottle called for when we heard the landlord calling
out in a stentorian voice,--

“‘Two horses for Goran Bridge to meet Counsellor Kinshella.’

“‘That’s the other fellow?’ said Casey.

“‘It is,’ said I.

“‘Then we must be stirring,’ said he. ‘Waiter, chaise and pair in five
minutes,--d’ye hear? Power, my boy, I don’t want you; stay here and study
your brief. It’s little trouble Counsellor Kinshella will give you in the
morning.’

“All he would tell me of his plans was that he didn’t mean any serious
bodily harm to the counsellor, but that certainly he was not likely to be
heard of for twenty-four hours.

“‘Meanwhile, Power, go in and win, my boy,’ said he; ‘such another walk
over may never occur.’

“I must not make my story longer. The next morning the great record of
Monaghan _v_. M’Shean was called on; and as the senior counsel were not
present, the attorney wished a postponement. I, however, was firm; told
the court I was quite prepared, and with such an air of assurance that I
actually puzzled the attorney. The case was accordingly opened by me in a
very brilliant speech, and the witnesses called; but such was my unlucky
ignorance of the whole matter that I actually broke down the testimony of
our own, and fought like a Trojan, for the credit and character of the
perjurers against us! The judge rubbed his eyes; the jury looked amazed;
and the whole bar laughed outright. However, on I went, blundering,
floundering, and foundering at every step; and at half-past four, amidst
the greatest and most uproarious mirth of the whole court, heard the jury
deliver a verdict against us, just as old Kinshella rushed into the court
covered with mud and spattered with clay. He had been sent for twenty miles
to make a will for Mr. Daly, of Daly’s Mount, who was supposed to be at
the point of death, but who, on his arrival, threatened to shoot him for
causing an alarm to his family by such an imputation.

“The rest is soon told. They moved for a new trial, and I moved out of the
profession. I cut the bar, for it cut me. I joined the gallant 14th as a
volunteer; and here I am without a single regret, I must confess, that I
didn’t succeed in the great record of Monaghan _v_. M’Shean.”

Once more the claret went briskly round, and while we canvassed Power’s
story, many an anecdote of military life was told, as every instant
increased the charm of that career I longed for.

“Another cooper, Major,” said Power.

“With all my heart,” said the rosy little officer, as he touched the bell
behind him; “and now let’s have a song.”

“Yes, Power,” said three or four together; “let us have ‘The Irish
Dragoon,’ if it’s only to convert your friend O’Malley there.”

“Here goes, then,” said Dick, taking off a bumper as he began the following
chant to the air of “Love is the Soul of a gay Irishman”:--

    THE IRISH DRAGOON.

    Oh, love is the soul of an Irish dragoon
    In battle, in bivouac, or in saloon,
      From the tip of his spur to his bright sabretasche.
    With his soldierly gait and his bearing so high,
    His gay laughing look and his light speaking eye,
    He frowns at his rival, he ogles his wench,
    He springs in his saddle and _chasses_ the French,
      With his jingling spur and his bright sabretasche.

    His spirits are high, and he little knows care,
    Whether sipping his claret or charging a square,
      With his jingling spur and his bright sabretasche.
    As ready to sing or to skirmish he’s found,
    To take off his wine or to take up his ground;
    When the bugle may call him, how little he fears
    To charge forth in column and beat the Mounseers,
      With his jingling spur and his bright sabretasche.

    When the battle is over, he gayly rides back
    To cheer every soul in the night bivouac,
      With his jingling spur and his bright sabretasche.
    Oh, there you may see him in full glory crowned,
    As he sits ‘midst his friends on the hardly won ground,
    And hear with what feeling the toast he will give,
    As he drinks to the land where all Irishmen live,
      With his jingling spur and his bright sabretasche.

It was late when we broke up; but among all the recollections of that
pleasant evening none clung to me so forcibly, none sank so deeply in my
heart, as the gay and careless tone of Power’s manly voice; and as I fell
asleep towards morning, the words of “The Irish Dragoon” were floating
through my mind and followed me in my dreams.



CHAPTER XVI.


THE VICE-PROVOST.

I had now been for some weeks a resident within the walls of the
university, and yet had never presented my letter of introduction to Dr.
Barret. Somehow, my thoughts and occupations had left me little leisure to
reflect upon my college course, and I had not felt the necessity suggested
by my friend Sir Harry, of having a supporter in the very learned and
gifted individual to whom I was accredited. How long I might have continued
in this state of indifference it is hard to say, when chance brought about
my acquaintance with the doctor.

Were I not inditing a true history in this narrative of my life, to the
events and characters of which so many are living witnesses, I should
certainly fear to attempt anything like a description of this very
remarkable man; so liable would any sketch, however faint and imperfect, be
to the accusation of caricature, when all was so singular and so eccentric.

Dr. Barret was, at the time I speak of, close upon seventy years of age,
scarcely five feet in height, and even that diminutive stature lessened
by a stoop. His face was thin, pointed, and russet-colored; his nose so
aquiline as nearly to meet his projecting chin, and his small gray eyes,
red and bleary, peered beneath his well-worn cap with a glance of mingled
fear and suspicion. His dress was a suit of the rustiest black, threadbare,
and patched in several places, while a pair of large brown leather
slippers, far too big for his feet, imparted a sliding motion to his walk
that added an air of indescribable meanness to his appearance; a gown that
had been worn for twenty years, browned and coated with the learned dust of
the _Fagel_, covered his rusty habiliments, and completed the equipments of
a figure that it was somewhat difficult for the young student to recognize
as the vice-provost of the university. Such was he in externals. Within, a
greater or more profound scholar never graced the walls of the college;
a distinguished Grecian, learned in all the refinements of a hundred
dialects; a deep Orientalist, cunning in all the varieties of Eastern
languages, and able to reason with a Moonshee, or chat with a Persian
ambassador. With a mind that never ceased acquiring, he possessed a memory
ridiculous for its retentiveness, even of trifles; no character in history,
no event in chronology was unknown to him, and he was referred to by his
contemporaries for information in doubtful and disputed cases, as men
consult a lexicon or dictionary. With an intellect thus stored with deep
and far-sought knowledge, in the affairs of the world he was a child.
Without the walls of the college, for above forty years, he had not
ventured half as many times, and knew absolutely nothing of the busy,
active world that fussed and fumed so near him; his farthest excursion was
to the Bank of Ireland, to which he made occasional visits to fund the
ample income of his office, and add to the wealth which already had
acquired for him a well-merited repute of being the richest man in college.

His little intercourse with the world had left him, in all his habits and
manners, in every respect exactly as when he entered college nearly half
a century before; and as he had literally risen from the ranks in the
university, all the peculiarities of voice, accent, and pronunciation which
distinguished him as a youth, adhered to him in old age. This was singular
enough, and formed a very ludicrous contrast with the learned and deep-read
tone of his conversation; but another peculiarity, still more striking,
belonged to him. When he became a fellow, he was obliged, by the rules of
the college, to take holy orders as a _sine qua non_ to his holding his
fellowship. This he did, as he would have assumed a red hood or blue one,
as bachelor of laws or doctor of medicine, and thought no more of it;
but frequently, in his moments of passionate excitement, the venerable
character with which he was invested was quite forgotten, and he would
utter some sudden and terrific oath, more productive of mirth to his
auditors than was seemly, and for which, once spoken, the poor doctor felt
the greatest shame and contrition. These oaths were no less singular than
forcible; and many a trick was practised, and many a plan devised, that the
learned vice-provost might be entrapped into his favorite exclamation of,
“May the devil admire me!” which no place or presence could restrain.

My servant, Mike, who had not been long in making himself acquainted with
all the originals about him, was the cause of my first meeting the doctor,
before whom I received a summons to appear on the very serious charge of
treating with disrespect the heads of the college.

The circumstances were shortly these: Mike had, among the other gossip of
the place, heard frequent tales of the immense wealth and great parsimony
of the doctor, and of his anxiety to amass money on all occasions, and the
avidity with which even the smallest trifle was added to his gains. He
accordingly resolved to amuse himself at the expense of this trait, and
proceeded thus. Boring a hole in a halfpenny, he attached a long string to
it, and having dropped it on the doctor’s step stationed himself on the
opposite side of the court, concealed from view by the angle of the
Commons’ wall. He waited patiently for the chapel bell, at the first toll
of which the door opened, and the doctor issued forth. Scarcely was his
foot upon the step, when he saw the piece of money, and as quickly stooped
to seize it; but just as his finger had nearly touched it, it evaded his
grasp and slowly retreated. He tried again, but with the like success. At
last, thinking he had miscalculated the distance, he knelt leisurely down,
and put forth his hand, but lo! it again escaped him; on which, slowly
rising from his posture, he shambled on towards the chapel, where, meeting
the senior lecturer at the door, he cried out, “H------ to my soul, Wall,
but I saw the halfpenny walk away!”

For the sake of the grave character whom he addressed, I need not recount
how such a speech was received; suffice it to say, that Mike had been seen
by a college porter, who reported him as my servant.

I was in the very act of relating the anecdote to a large party at
breakfast in my rooms, when a summons arrived, requiring my immediate
attendance at the board, then sitting in solemn conclave at the examination
hall.

I accordingly assumed my academic costume as speedily as possible, and
escorted by that most august functionary, Mr. M’Alister, presented myself
before the seniors.

The members of the board, with the provost at their head, were seated at a
long oak table covered with books, papers, etc., and from the silence they
maintained as I walked up the hall, I augured that a very solemn scene was
before me.

“Mr. O’Malley,” said the dean, reading my name from a paper he held in his
hand, “you have been summoned here at the desire of the vice-provost, whose
questions you will reply to.”

I bowed. A silence of a few minutes followed, when, at length, the learned
doctor, hitching up his nether garments with both hands, put his old and
bleary eyes close to my face, while he croaked out, with an accent that no
hackney-coachman could have exceeded in vulgarity,--

“Eh, O’Malley, you’re _quartus_, I believe; a’n’t you?”

“I believe not. I think I am the only person of that name now on the
books.”

“That’s thrue; but there were three O’Malleys before you. Godfrey O’Malley,
that construed _Calve Neroni_ to Nero the Calvinist,--ha! ha! ha!--was
cautioned in 1788.”

“My uncle, I believe, sir.”

“More than likely, from what I hear of you,--_Ex uno_, etc. I see your name
every day on the punishment roll. Late hours, never at chapel, seldom at
morning lecture. Here ye are, sixteen shillings, wearing a red coat.”

“Never knew any harm in that, Doctor.”

“Ay, but d’ye see me, now? ‘Grave raiment,’ says the statute. And then, ye
keep numerous beasts of prey, dangerous in their habits, and unseemly to
behold.”

“A bull terrier, sir, and two game-cocks, are, I assure you, the only
animals in my household.”

“Well. I’ll fine you for it.”

“I believe, Doctor,” said the dean, interrupting in an undertone, “that you
cannot impose a penalty in this matter.”

“Ay, but I can. ‘Singing-birds,’ says the statute, ‘are forbidden within
the wall.’”

“And then, ye dazzled my eyes at Commons with a bit of looking-glass, on
Friday. I saw you. May the devil!--ahem! As I was saying, that’s casting
_reflections_ on the heads of the college; and your servant it was,
_Michaelis Liber_, Mickey Free,--may the flames of!--ahem!--an insolent
varlet! called me a sweep.”

“You, Doctor; impossible!” said I, with pretended horror.

“Ay, but d’ye see me, now? It’s thrue, for I looked about me at the time,
and there wasn’t another sweep in the place but myself. Hell to!--I
mean--God forgive me for swearing! but I’ll fine you a pound for this.”

As I saw the doctor was getting on at such a pace, I resolved,
notwithstanding the august presence of the board, to try the efficacy of
Sir Harry’s letter of introduction, which I had taken in my pocket in the
event of its being wanted.

“I beg your pardon, sir, if the time be an unsuitable one; but may I take
the opportunity of presenting this letter to you?”

“Ha! I know the hand--Boyle’s. _Boyle secundus_. Hem, ha, ay! ‘My young
friend; and assist him by your advice.’ To be sure! Oh, of course. Eh, tell
me, young man, did Boyle say nothing to you about the copy of Erasmus,
bound in vellum, that I sold him in Trinity term, 1782?”

“I rather think not, sir,” said I, doubtfully.

“Well, then, he might. He owes me two-and-fourpence of the balance.”

“Oh, I beg pardon, sir; I now remember he desired me to repay you that sum;
but he had just sealed the letter when he recollected it.”

“Better late than never,” said the doctor, smiling graciously. “Where’s the
money? Ay! half-a-crown. I haven’t twopence--never mind. Go away, young
man; the case is dismissed. _Vehementer miror quare hue venisti_. You’re
more fit for anything than a college life. Keep good hours; mind the terms;
and dismiss _Michaelis Liber_. Ha, ha, ha! May the devil!--hem!--that is
do--” So saying, the little doctor’s hand pushed me from the hall, his mind
evidently relieved of all the griefs from which he had been suffering, by
the recovery of his long-lost two-and-four-pence.

Such was my first and last interview with the vice-provost, and it made an
impression upon me that all the intervening years have neither dimmed nor
erased.



CHAPTER XVII.


TRINITY COLLEGE.--A LECTURE.

I had not been many weeks a resident of Old Trinity ere the flattering
reputation my chum, Mr. Francis Webber, had acquired, extended also to
myself; and by universal consent, we were acknowledged the most riotous,
ill-conducted, disorderly men on the books of the university. Were the
lamps of the squares extinguished, and the college left in total darkness,
we were summoned before the dean; was the vice-provost serenaded with
a chorus of trombones and French horns, to our taste in music was the
attention ascribed; did a sudden alarm of fire disturb the congregation
at morning chapel, Messrs. Webber and O’Malley were brought before the
board,--and I must do them the justice to say that the most trifling
circumstantial evidence was ever sufficient to bring a conviction. Reading
men avoided the building where we resided as they would have done the
plague. Our doors, like those of a certain classic precinct commemorated by
a Latin writer, lay open night and day, while mustached dragoons, knowingly
dressed four-in-hand men, fox-hunters in pink, issuing forth to the
Dubber or returning splashed from a run with the Kildare hounds, were
everlastingly seen passing and repassing. Within, the noise and confusion
resembled rather the mess-room of a regiment towards eleven at night
than the chambers of a college student; while, with the double object of
affecting to be in ill-health, and to avoid the reflections that daylight
occasionally inspires, the shutters were never opened, but lamps and
candles kept always burning. Such was No. 2, Old Square, in the goodly days
I write of. All the terrors of fines and punishments fell scathless on the
head of my worthy chum. In fact, like a well-known political character,
whose pleasure and amusement it has been for some years past to drive
through acts of Parliament and deride the powers of the law, so did Mr.
Webber tread his way, serpenting through the statute-book, ever grazing,
but rarely trespassing upon some forbidden ground which might involve the
great punishment of expulsion. So expert, too, had he become in his special
pleadings, so dexterous in the law of the university, that it was no easy
matter to bring crime home to him; and even when this was done, his pleas
of mitigation rarely failed of success.

There was a sweetness of demeanor, a mild, subdued tone about him, that
constantly puzzled the worthy heads of the college how the accusations
ever brought against him could be founded on truth; that the pale,
delicate-looking student, whose harsh, hacking cough terrified the hearers,
could be the boisterous performer upon a key-bugle, or the terrific
assailant of watchmen, was something too absurd for belief. And when Mr.
Webber, with his hand upon his heart, and in his most dulcet accents,
assured them that the hours he was not engaged in reading for the medal
were passed in the soothing society of a few select and intimate friends
of literary tastes and refined minds, who, knowing the delicacy of his
health,--here he would cough,--were kind enough to sit up with him for an
hour or so in the evening, the delusion was perfect; and the story of the
dean’s riotous habits having got abroad, the charge was usually suppressed.

Like most idle men, Webber never had a moment to spare. Except read, there
was nothing he did not do; training a hack for a race in the Phoenix,
arranging a rowing-match, getting up a mock duel between two white-feather
acquaintances, were his almost daily avocations. Besides that, he was at
the head of many organized societies, instituted for various benevolent
purposes. One was called “The Association for Discountenancing Watchmen;”
 another, “The Board of Works,” whose object was principally devoted to the
embellishment of the university, in which, to do them justice, their labors
were unceasing, and what with the assistance of some black paint, a ladder,
and a few pounds of gunpowder, they certainly contrived to effect many
important changes. Upon an examination morning, some hundred luckless
“jibs” might be seen perambulating the courts, in the vain effort to
discover their tutors’ chambers, the names having undergone an alteration
that left all trace of their original proprietors unattainable: Doctor
Francis Mooney having become Doctor Full Moon; Doctor Hare being, by the
change of two letters, Doctor Ape; Romney Robinson, Romulus and Remus, etc.
While, upon occasions like these, there could be but little doubt of Master
Frank’s intentions, upon many others, so subtle were his inventions, so
well-contrived his plots, it became a matter of considerable difficulty to
say whether the mishap which befell some luckless acquaintance were the
result of design or mere accident; and not unfrequently well-disposed
individuals were found condoling with “Poor Frank” upon his ignorance of
some college rule or etiquette, his breach of which had been long and
deliberately planned. Of this latter description was a circumstance which
occurred about this time, and which some who may throw an eye over these
pages will perhaps remember.

The dean, having heard (and, indeed, the preparations were not intended to
secure secrecy) that Webber destined to entertain a party of his friends
at dinner on a certain day, sent a peremptory order for his appearance at
Commons, his name being erased from the sick list, and a pretty strong hint
conveyed to him that any evasion upon his part would be certainly followed
by an inquiry into the real reasons for his absence. What was to be done?
That was the very day he had destined for his dinner. To be sure, the
majority of his guests were college men, who would understand the
difficulty at once; but still there were some others, officers of the 14th,
with whom he was constantly dining, and whom he could not so easily
put off. The affair was difficult, but still Webber was the man for a
difficulty; in fact, he rather liked one. A very brief consideration
accordingly sufficed, and he sat down and wrote to his friends at the Royal
Barracks thus:--

                                                               Saturday.
    DEAR POWER,--I have a better plan for Tuesday than that I
    had proposed. Lunch here at three (we’ll call it dinner), in the hall
    with the great guns. I can’t say much for the grub; but the
    company--glorious!
    After that we’ll start for Lucan in the drag; take
    our coffee, strawberries, etc., and return to No. 2 for supper at ten.
    Advertise your fellows of this change, and believe me,

    Most unchangeably yours, FRANK WEBBER.

Accordingly, as three o’clock struck, six dashing-looking light dragoons
were seen slowly sauntering up the middle of the dining-hall, escorted
by Webber, who, in full academic costume, was leisurely ciceroning his
friends, and expatiating upon the excellences of the very remarkable
portraits which graced the walls.

The porters looked on with some surprise at the singular hour selected
for sight-seeing; but what was their astonishment to find that the party,
having arrived at the end of the hall, instead of turning back again, very
composedly unbuckled their belts, and having disposed of their sabres in a
corner, took their places at the Fellows’ table, and sat down amidst the
collective wisdom of Greek lecturers and Regius professors, as though they
had been mere mortals like themselves.

Scarcely was the long Latin grace concluded, when Webber, leaning forward,
enjoined his friends, in a very audible whisper, that if they intended to
dine no time was to be lost.

“We have but little ceremony here, gentlemen, and all we ask is a fair
start,” said he, as he drew over the soup, and proceeded to help himself.

The advice was not thrown away; for each man, with an alacrity a campaign
usually teaches, made himself master of some neighboring dish, a very quick
interchange of good things speedily following the appropriation. It was
in vain that the senior lecturer looked aghast, that the professor of
astronomy frowned. The whole table, indeed, were thunderstruck, even to the
poor vice-provost himself, who, albeit given to the comforts of the table,
could not lift a morsel to his mouth, but muttered between his teeth, “May
the devil admire me, but they’re dragoons!” The first shock of surprise
over, the porters proceeded to inform them that except Fellows of the
University or Fellow-commoners, none were admitted to the table. Webber
however assured them that it was a mistake, there being nothing in the
statute to exclude the 14th Light Dragoons, as he was prepared to prove.
Meanwhile dinner proceeded, Power and his party performing with great
self-satisfaction upon the sirloins and saddles about them, regretting
only, from time to time, that there was a most unaccountable absence of
wine, and suggesting the propriety of napkins whenever they should dine
there again. Whatever chagrin these unexpected guests caused among their
entertainers of the upper table, in the lower part of the hall the laughter
was loud and unceasing; and long before the hour concluded, the Fellows
took their departure, leaving to Master Frank Webber the task of doing the
honors alone and unassisted. When summoned before the board for the offence
on the following morning, Webber excused himself by throwing the blame upon
his friends, with whom, he said, nothing short of a personal quarrel--a
thing for a reading man not to be thought of--could have prevented
intruding in the manner related. Nothing less than _his_ tact could have
saved him on this occasion, and at last he carried the day; while by an
act of the board the 14th Light Dragoons were pronounced the most insolent
corps in the service.

An adventure of his, however, got wind about this time, and served to
enlighten many persons as to his real character, who had hitherto been most
lenient in their expressions about him. Our worthy tutor, with a zeal for
our welfare far more praiseworthy than successful, was in the habit of
summoning to his chambers, on certain mornings of the week, his various
pupils, whom he lectured in the books for the approaching examinations.
Now, as these séances were held at six o’clock in winter as well as summer,
in a cold fireless chamber,--the lecturer lying snug amidst his blankets,
while we stood shivering around the walls,--the ardor of learning must
indeed have proved strong that prompted a regular attendance. As to Frank,
he would have as soon thought of attending chapel as of presenting himself
on such an occasion. Not so with me. I had not yet grown hackneyed enough
to fly in the face of authority, and I frequently left the whist-table, or
broke off in a song, to hurry over to the doctor’s chambers and spout Homer
and Hesiod. I suffered on in patience, till at last the bore became so
insupportable that I told my sorrows to my friend, who listened to me out,
and promised me succor.

It so chanced that upon some evening in each week Dr. Mooney was in the
habit of visiting some friends who resided a short distance from town,
and spending the night at their house. He, of course, did not lecture the
following morning,--a paper placard, announcing no lecture, being affixed
to the door on such occasions. Frank waited patiently till he perceived the
doctor affixing this announcement upon his door one evening; and no sooner
had he left the college than he withdrew the paper and departed.

On the next morning he rose early, and concealing himself on the staircase,
waited the arrival of the venerable damsel who acted as servant to the
doctor. No sooner had she opened the door and groped her way into the
sitting-room than Frank crept forward, and stealing gently into the
bedroom, sprang into the bed and wrapped himself up in the blankets. The
great bell boomed forth at six o’clock, and soon after the sounds of the
feet were heard upon the stairs. One by one they came along, and gradually
the room was filled with cold and shivering wretches, more than half
asleep, and trying to arouse themselves into an approach to attention.

“Who’s there?” said Frank, mimicking the doctor’s voice, as he yawned three
or four times in succession and turned in the bed.

“Collisson, O’Malley, Nesbitt,” etc., said a number of voices, anxious to
have all the merit such a penance could confer.

“Where’s Webber?”

“Absent, sir,” chorussed the whole party.

“Sorry for it,” said the mock doctor. “Webber is a man of first-rate
capacity; and were he only to apply, I am not certain to what eminence his
abilities might raise him. Come, Collisson, any three angles of a triangle
are equal to--are equal to--what are they equal to?” Here he yawned as
though he would dislocate his jaw.

“Any three angles of a triangle are equal to two right angles,” said
Collisson, in the usual sing-song tone of a freshman.

As he proceeded to prove the proposition, his monotonous tone seemed to
have lulled the doctor into a doze, for in a few minutes a deep, long-drawn
snore announced from the closed curtains that he listened no longer. After
a little time, however, a short snort from the sleeper awoke him suddenly,
and he called out, “Go on, I’m waiting. Do you think I can arouse at this
hour of the morning for nothing but to listen to your bungling? Can no one
give me a free translation of the passage?”

This digression from mathematics to classics did not surprise the hearers,
though it somewhat confused them, no one being precisely aware what the
line in question might be.

“Try it, Nesbitt,--you, O’Malley. Silent all? Really this is too bad!” An
indistinct muttering here from the crowd was followed by an announcement
from the doctor that the speaker was an ass, and his head a turnip! “Not
one of you capable of translating a chorus from Euripides,--‘Ou, ou, papai,
papai,’ etc.; which, after all, means no more than, ‘Oh, whilleleu, murder,
why did you die!’ etc. What are you laughing at, gentlemen? May I ask, does
it become a set of ignorant, ill-informed savages--yes, savages, I repeat
the word--to behave in this manner? Webber is the only man I have with
common intellect,--the only man among you capable of distinguishing
himself. But as for you, I’ll bring you before the board; I’ll write to
your friends; I’ll stop your college indulgences; I’ll confine you to the
walls; I’ll be damned, eh--”

This lapse confused him. He stammered, stuttered, endeavored to recover
himself; but by this time we had approached the bed, just at the moment
when Master Frank, well knowing what he might expect if detected, had
bolted from the blankets and rushed from the room. In an instant we were in
pursuit; but he regained his chambers, and double-locked the door before we
could overtake him, leaving us to ponder over the insolent tirade we had so
patiently submitted to.

That morning the affair got wind all over college. As for us, we were
scarcely so much laughed at as the doctor; the world wisely remembering,
if such were the nature of our morning’s orisons, we might nearly as
profitably have remained snug in our quarters.

Such was our life in Old Trinity; and strange enough it is that one should
feel tempted to the confession, but I really must acknowledge these were,
after all, happy times, and I look back upon them with mingled pleasure and
sadness. The noble lord who so pathetically lamented that the devil was not
so strong in him as he used to be forty years before, has an echo in my
regrets that the student is not as young in me as when these scenes were
enacting of which I write.



CHAPTER XVIII.


THE INVITATION.--THE WAGER.

I was sitting at breakfast with Webber, a few mornings after the mess
dinner I have spoken of, when Power came in hastily.

“Ha, the very man!” said he. “I say, O’Malley, here’s an invitation for you
from Sir George, to dine on Friday. He desired me to say a thousand civil
things about his not having made you out, regrets that he was not at home
when you called yesterday, and all that. By Jove, I know nothing like the
favor you stand in; and as for Miss Dashwood, faith! the fair Lucy blushed,
and tore her glove in most approved style, when the old general began his
laudation of you.”

“Pooh, nonsense,” said I; “that silly affair in the west.”

“Oh, very probably; there’s reason the less for you looking so excessively
conscious. But I must tell you, in all fairness, that you have no chance;
nothing short of a dragoon will go down.”

“Be assured,” said I, somewhat nettled, “my pretensions do not aspire to
the fair Miss Dashwood.”

“_Tant mieux et tant pis, mon cher_. I wish to Heaven mine did; and, by
Saint Patrick, if I only played the knight-errant half as gallantly
as yourself, I would not relinquish my claims to the Secretary at War
himself.”

“What the devil brought the old general down to your wild regions?”
 inquired Webber.

“To contest the county.”

“A bright thought, truly. When a man was looking for a seat, why not try a
place where the law is occasionally heard of?”

“I’m sure I can give you no information on that head; nor have I ever heard
how Sir George came to learn that such a place as Galway existed.”

“I believe I can enlighten you,” said Power. “Lady Dashwood--rest her
soul!--came west of the Shannon; she had a large property somewhere in
Mayo, and owned some hundred acres of swamp, with some thousand starving
tenantry thereupon, that people dignified as an estate in Connaught. This
first suggested to him the notion of setting up for the county, probably
supposing that the people who never paid in rent might like to do so in
gratitude. How he was undeceived, O’Malley there can inform us. Indeed, I
believe the worthy general, who was confoundedly hard up when he married,
expected to have got a great fortune, and little anticipated the three
chancery suits he succeeded to, nor the fourteen rent-charges to his wife’s
relatives that made up the bulk of the dower. It was an unlucky hit for him
when he fell in with the old ‘maid’ at Bath; and had she lived, he must
have gone to the colonies. But the Lord took her one day, and Major
Dashwood was himself again. The Duke of York, the story goes, saw him at
Hounslow during a review, was much struck with his air and appearance, made
some inquiries, found him to be of excellent family and irreproachable
conduct, made him an aide-de-camp, and, in fact, made his fortune. I do not
believe that, while doing so kind, he could by possibility have done a more
popular thing. Every man in the army rejoiced at his good fortune; so that,
after all, though he has had some hard rubs, he has come well through,
the only vestige of his unfortunate matrimonial connection being a
correspondence kept up by a maiden sister of his late wife’s with him. She
insists upon claiming the ties of kindred upon about twenty family eras
during the year, when she regularly writes a most loving and ill-spelled
epistle, containing the latest information from Mayo, with all particulars
of the Macan family, of which she is a worthy member. To her constant hints
of the acceptable nature of certain small remittances, the poor general is
never inattentive; but to the pleasing prospect of a visit in the flesh
from Miss Judy Macan, the good man is dead. In fact, nothing short of being
broke by general court-martial could complete his sensations of horror at
such a stroke of fortune; and I am not certain, if choice were allowed him,
that he would not prefer the latter.”

“Then he has never yet seen her?” said Webber.

“Never,” replied Power; “and he hopes to leave Ireland without that
blessing, the prospect of which, however remote and unlikely, has, I know
well, more than once terrified him since his arrival.”

“I say, Power, and has your worthy general sent me a card for his ball?”

“Not through me, Master Frank.”

“Well, now, I call that devilish shabby, do you know. He asks O’Malley
there from _my_ chambers, and never notices the other man, the superior in
the firm. Eh, O’Malley, what say you?”

“Why, I didn’t know you were acquainted.”

“And who said we were? It was his fault, though, entirely, that we were
not. I am, as I have ever been, the most easy fellow in the world on
that score, never give myself airs to military people, endure anything,
everything, and you see the result; hard, ain’t it?”

“But, Webber, Sir George must really be excused in this matter. He has
a daughter, a most attractive, lovely daughter, just at that budding,
unsuspecting age when the heart is most susceptible of impressions; and
where, let me ask, could she run such a risk as in the chance of a casual
meeting with the redoubted lady-killer, Master Frank Webber? If he has not
sought you out, then here be his apology.”

“A very strong case, certainly,” said Frank; “but, still, had he confided
his critical position to my honor and secrecy, he might have depended on
me; now, having taken the other line--”

“Well, what then?”

“Why, he must abide the consequences. I’ll make fierce love to Louisa;
isn’t that the name?”

“Lucy, so please you.”

“Well, be it so,--to Lucy,--talk the little girl into a most deplorable
attachment for me.”

“But, how, may I ask, and when?”

“I’ll begin at the ball, man.”

“Why, I thought you said you were not going?”

“There you mistake seriously. I merely said that I had not been invited.”

“Then, of course,” said I, “Webber, you can’t think of going, in any case,
on _my_ account.”

“My very dear friend, I go entirely upon my own. I not only shall go, but
I intend to have most particular notice and attention paid me. I shall be
prime favorite with Sir George, kiss Lucy--”

“Come, come, this is too strong.”

“What do you bet I don’t? There, now, I’ll give you a pony apiece, I do. Do
you say done?”

“That you kiss Miss Dashwood, and are not kicked down-stairs for your
pains; are those the terms of the wager?” inquired Power.

“With all my heart. That I kiss Miss Dashwood, and am not kicked
down-stairs for my pains.”

“Then, I say, done.”

“And with you, too, O’Malley?”

“I thank you,” said I, coldly; “I am not disposed to make such a return for
Sir George Dashwood’s hospitality as to make an insult to his family the
subject of a bet.”

“Why, man, what are you dreaming of? Miss Dashwood will not refuse my
chaste salute. Come, Power, I’ll give you the other pony.”

“Agreed,” said he. “At the same time, understand me distinctly, that I hold
myself perfectly eligible to winning the wager by my own interference; for
if you do kiss her, by Jove! I’ll perform the remainder of the compact.”

“So I understand the agreement,” said Webber, arranging his curls before
the looking-glass. “Well, now, who’s for Howth? The drag will be here in
half an hour.”

“Not I,” said Power; “I must return to the barracks.”

“Nor I,” said I, “for I shall take this opportunity of leaving my card at
Sir George Dashwood’s.”

“I have won my fifty, however,” said Power, as we walked out in the courts.

“I am not quite certain--”

“Why, the devil, he would not risk a broken neck for that sum; besides, if
he did, he loses the bet.”

“He’s a devilish keen fellow.”

“Let him be. In any case I am determined to be on my guard here.”

So chatting, we strolled along to the Royal Hospital, when, having dropped
my pasteboard, I returned to the college.



CHAPTER XIX


THE BALL.

I have often dressed for a storming party with less of trepidation than I
felt on the evening of Sir George Dashwood’s ball. Since the eventful day
of the election I had never seen Miss Dashwood; therefore, as to what
precise position I might occupy in her favor was a matter of great doubt in
my mind, and great import to my happiness. That I myself loved her, was
a matter of which all the badinage of my friends regarding her made
me painfully conscious; but that, in our relative positions, such an
attachment was all but hopeless, I could not disguise from myself. Young as
I was, I well knew to what a heritage of debt, lawsuit, and difficulty I
was born to succeed. In my own resources and means of advancement I had no
confidence whatever, had even the profession to which I was destined been
more of my choice. I daily felt that it demanded greater exertions, if not
far greater abilities, than I could command, to make success at all likely;
and then, even if such a result were in store, years, at least, must elapse
before it could happen; and where would she then be, and where should I?
Where the ardent affection I now felt and gloried in,--perhaps all the more
for its desperate hopelessness,--when the sanguine and buoyant spirit to
combat with difficulties which youth suggests, and which, later, manhood
refuses, should have passed away? And even if all these survived the toil
and labor of anxious days and painful nights, what of her? Alas, I now
reflected that, although only of my own age, her manner to me had taken all
that tone of superiority and patronage which an elder assumes towards
one younger, and which, in the spirit of protection it proceeds upon,
essentially bars up every inlet to a dearer or warmer feeling,--at least,
when the lady plays the former part. “What, then, is to be done?” thought
I. “Forget her?--but how? How shall I renounce all my plans, and unweave
the web of life I have been spreading around me for many a day, without
that one golden thread that lent it more than half its brilliancy and all
its attraction? But then the alternative is even worse, if I encourage
expectations and nurture hopes never to be realized. Well, we meet
to-night, after a long and eventful absence; let my future fate be ruled by
the results of this meeting. If Lucy Dashwood does care for me, if I can
detect in her manner enough to show me that my affection may meet a return,
the whole effort of my life shall be to make her mine; if not, if my
own feelings be all that I have to depend upon to extort a reciprocal
affection, then shall I take my last look of her, and with it the first and
brightest dream of happiness my life has hitherto presented.”

       *       *       *       *       *

It need not be wondered at if the brilliant _coup d’oeil_ of the ball-room,
as I entered, struck me with astonishment, accustomed as I had hitherto
been to nothing more magnificent than an evening party of squires and
their squiresses or the annual garrison ball at the barracks. The glare of
wax-lights, the well-furnished saloons, the glitter of uniforms, and the
blaze of plumed and jewelled dames, with the clang of military music, was a
species of enchanted atmosphere which, breathing for the first time, rarely
fails to intoxicate. Never before had I seen so much beauty. Lovely faces,
dressed in all the seductive flattery of smiles, were on every side; and as
I walked from room to room, I felt how much more fatal to a man’s peace and
heart’s ease the whispered words and silent glances of those fair damsels,
than all the loud gayety and boisterous freedom of our country belles, who
sought to take the heart by storm and escalade.

As yet I had seen neither Sir George nor his daughter, and while I looked
on every side for Lucy Dashwood, it was with a beating and anxious heart
I longed to see how she would bear comparison with the blaze of beauty
around.

Just at this moment a very gorgeously dressed hussar stepped from a doorway
beside me, as if to make a passage for some one, and the next moment she
appeared leaning upon the arm of another lady. One look was all that I had
time for, when she recognized me.

“Ah, Mr. O’Malley, how happy--has Sir George--has my father seen you?”

“I have only arrived this moment; I trust he is quite well?”

“Oh, yes, thank you--”

“I beg your pardon with all humility, Miss Dashwood,” said the hussar, in a
tone of the most knightly courtesy, “but they are waiting for us.”

“But, Captain Fortescue, you must excuse me one moment more. Mr. Lechmere,
will you do me the kindness to find out Sir George? Mr. O’Malley--Mr.
Lechmere.” Here she said something in French to her companion, but so
rapidly that I could not detect what it was, but merely heard the reply,
_“Pas mal!”_--which, as the lady continued to canvass me most deliberately
through her eye-glass, I supposed referred to me. “And now, Captain
Fortescue--” And with a look of most courteous kindness to me she
disappeared in the crowd.

The gentleman to whose guidance I was entrusted was one of the
aides-de-camp, and was not long in finding Sir George. No sooner had the
good old general heard my name, than he held out both his hands and shook
mine most heartily.

“At last, O’Malley; at last I am able to thank you for the greatest
service ever man rendered me. He saved Lucy, my Lord; rescued her under
circumstances where anything short of his courage and determination must
have cost her her life.”

“Ah, very pretty indeed,” said a stiff old gentleman addressed, as he
bowed a most superbly powdered scalp before me; “most happy to make your
acquaintance.”

“Who is he?” added he, in nearly as loud a tone to Sir George.

“Mr. O’Malley, of O’Malley Castle.”

“True, I forgot; why is he not in uniform?”

“Because, unfortunately, my Lord, we don’t own him; he’s not in the army.”

“Ha! ha! thought he was.”

“You dance, O’Malley, I suppose? I’m sure you’d rather be over there than
hearing all my protestations of gratitude, sincere and heartfelt as they
really are.”

“Lechmere, introduce my friend, Mr. O’Malley; get him a partner.”

I had not followed my new acquaintance many steps, when Power came up to
me. “I say, Charley,” cried he, “I have been tormented to death by half the
ladies in the room to present you to them, and have been in quest of you
this half-hour. Your brilliant exploit in savage land has made you a
regular _preux chevalier_; and if you don’t trade on that adventure to your
most lasting profit, you deserve to be--a lawyer. Come along here! Lady
Muckleman, the adjutant-general’s lady and chief, has four Scotch daughters
you are to dance with; then I am to introduce you in all form to the Dean
of Something’s niece,--she is a good-looking girl, and has two livings in
a safe county. Then there’s the town-major’s wife; and, in fact, I have
several engagements from this to supper-time.”

“A thousand thanks for all your kindness in prospective, but I think,
perhaps, it were right I should ask Miss Dashwood to dance, if only as a
matter of form,--you understand?”

“And if Miss Dashwood should say, ‘With pleasure, sir,’ only as a matter of
form,--you understand?” said a silvery voice beside me. I turned, and saw
Lucy Dashwood, who, having overheard my free-and-easy suggestion, replied
to me in this manner.

I here blundered out my excuses. What I said, and what I did not say, I do
not now remember; but certainly, it was her turn now to blush, and her arm
trembled within mine as I led her to the top of the room. In the little
opportunity which our quadrille presented for conversation, I could not
help remarking that, after the surprise of her first meeting with me, Miss
Dashwood’s manner became gradually more and more reserved, and that there
was an evident struggle between her wish to appear grateful for what had
occurred, with a sense of the necessity of not incurring a greater degree
of intimacy. Such was my impression, at least, and such the conclusion I
drew from a certain quiet tone in her manner that went further to wound my
feelings and mar my happiness than any other line of conduct towards me
could possibly have effected.

Our quadrille over, I was about to conduct her to a seat, when Sir George
came hurriedly up, his face greatly flushed, and betraying every semblance
of high excitement.

“Dear Papa, has anything occurred? Pray what is it?” inquired she.

He smiled faintly, and replied, “Nothing very serious, my dear, that
I should alarm you in this way; but certainly, a more disagreeable
_contretemps_ could scarcely occur.”

“Do tell me: what can it be?”

“Read this,” said he, presenting a very dirty-looking note which bore the
mark of a red wafer most infernally plain upon its outside.

Miss Dashwood unfolded the billet, and after a moment’s silence, instead of
participating, as he expected, in her father’s feeling of distress, burst
out a-laughing, while she said: “Why, really, Papa, I do not see why this
should put you out much, after all. Aunt may be somewhat of a character, as
her note evinces, but after a few days--”

“Nonsense, child; there’s nothing in this world I have such a dread of as
that confounded woman,--and to come at such a time.”

“When does she speak of paying her visit?”

“I knew you had not read the note,” said Sir George, hastily; “she’s coming
here to-night,--is on her way this instant, perhaps. What is to be done? If
she forces her way in here, I shall go deranged outright; O’Malley, my boy,
read this note, and you will not feel surprised if I appear in the humor
you see me.”

I took the billet from the hands of Miss Dashwood, and read as follows:--

    DEAR BROTHER,--When this reaches your hand, I’ll not be far
    off. I’m on my way up to town, to be under Dr. Dease for the ould
    complaint. Cowley mistakes my case entirely; he says it’s nothing
    but religion and wind. Father Magrath, who understands a good
    deal about females, thinks otherwise; but God knows who’s right.
    Expect me to tea, and, with love to Lucy,
    Believe me, yours in haste,
    JUDITH MACAN.

_Let the sheets be well aired in my room; and if you have a spare bed,
perhaps we could prevail upon Father Magrath to stop too._


I scarcely could contain my laughter till I got to the end of this very
free-and-easy epistle; when at last I burst forth in a hearty fit, in which
I was joined by Miss Dashwood.

From the account Power had given me in the morning, I had no difficulty in
guessing that the writer was the maiden sister of the late Lady Dashwood;
and for whose relationship Sir George had ever testified the greatest
dread, even at the distance of two hundred miles; and for whom, in any
nearer intimacy, he was in no wise prepared.

“I say, Lucy,” said he, “there’s only one thing to be done: if this horrid
woman does arrive, let her be shown to her room; and for the few days of
her stay in town, we’ll neither see nor be seen by any one.”

Without waiting for a reply, Sir George was turning away to give the
necessary instructions, when the door of the drawing-room was flung open,
and the servant announced, in his loudest voice, “Miss Macan.” Never shall
I forget the poor general’s look of horror as the words reached him; for as
yet, he was too far to catch even a glimpse of its fair owner. As for me, I
was already so much interested in seeing what she was like, that I made my
way through the crowd towards the door. It is no common occurrence that can
distract the various occupations of a crowded ball-room, where, amidst the
crash of music and the din of conversation, goes on the soft, low voice
of insinuating flattery, or the light flirtation of a first acquaintance;
every clique, every coterie, every little group of three or four has its
own separate and private interests, forming a little world of its own, and
caring for and heeding nothing that goes on around; and even when some
striking character or illustrious personage makes his _entrée_, the
attention he attracts is so momentary, that the buzz of conversation is
scarcely, if at all, interrupted, and the business of pleasure continues
to flow on. Not so now, however. No sooner had the servant pronounced the
magical name of Miss Macan, than all seemed to stand still. The spell thus
exercised over the luckless general seemed to have extended to his company;
for it was with difficulty that any one could continue his train of
conversation, while every eye was directed towards the door. About two
steps in advance of the servant, who still stood door in hand, was a tall,
elderly lady, dressed in an antique brocade silk, with enormous flowers
gaudily embroidered upon it. Her hair was powdered and turned back in the
fashion of fifty years before; while her high-pointed and heeled shoes
completed a costume that had not been seen for nearly a century. Her short,
skinny arms were bare and partly covered by a falling flower of old point
lace, while on her hands she wore black silk mittens; a pair of green
spectacles scarcely dimmed the lustre of a most piercing pair of eyes, to
whose effect a very palpable touch of rouge on the cheeks certainly added
brilliancy. There stood this most singular apparition, holding before her
a fan about the size of a modern tea-tray; while at each repetition of her
name by the servant, she curtesied deeply, bestowing the while upon the gay
crowd before her a very curious look of maidenly modesty at her solitary
and unprotected position.

[Illustration: MISS JUDY MACAN.]

As no one had ever heard of the fair Judith, save one or two of Sir
George’s most intimate friends, the greater part of the company were
disposed to regard Miss Macan as some one who had mistaken the character of
the invitation, and had come in a fancy dress. But this delusion was but
momentary, as Sir George, armed with the courage of despair, forced his way
through the crowd, and taking her hand affectionately, bid her welcome to
Dublin. The fair Judy, at this, threw her arms about his neck, and saluted
him with a hearty smack that was heard all over the room.

“Where’s Lucy, Brother? Let me embrace my little darling,” said the lady,
in an accent that told more of Miss Macan than a three-volume biography
could have done. “There she is, I’m sure; kiss me, my honey.”

This office Miss Dashwood performed with an effort at courtesy really
admirable; while, taking her aunt’s arm, she led her to a sofa.

It needed all the poor general’s tact to get over the sensation of this
most _malapropos_ addition to his party; but by degrees the various groups
renewed their occupations, although many a smile, and more than one
sarcastic glance at the sofa, betrayed that the maiden aunt had not escaped
criticism.

Power, whose propensity for fun very considerably out-stripped his sense of
decorum to his commanding officer, had already made his way towards Miss
Dashwood, and succeeded in obtaining a formal introduction to Miss Macan.

“I hope you will do me the favor to dance next set with me, Miss Macan?”

“Really, Captain, it’s very polite of you, but you must excuse me. I was
never anything great in quadrilles; but if a reel or a jig--”

“Oh, dear Aunt, don’t think of it, I beg of you.”

“Or even Sir Roger de Coverley,” resumed Miss Macan.

“I assure you, quite equally impossible.”

“Then I’m certain you waltz,” said Power.

“What do you take me for, young man? I hope I know better. I wish Father
Magrath heard you ask me that question, and for all your laced jacket--”

“Dearest Aunt, Captain Power didn’t mean to offend you; I’m certain he--”

“Well, why did he dare to [_sob, sob_]--did he see anything light about me,
that he [_sob, sob, sob_]--oh, dear! oh, dear! is it for this I came up
from my little peaceful place in the west [_sob, sob, sob_]?--General,
George, dear; Lucy, my love, I’m taken bad. Oh, dear! oh, dear! is there
any whiskey negus?”

Whatever sympathy Miss Macan’s sufferings might have excited in the crowd
about her before, this last question totally routed them, and a most hearty
fit of laughter broke forth from more than one of the bystanders.

At length, however, she was comforted, and her pacification completely
effected by Sir George setting her down to a whist-table. From this moment
I lost sight of her for above two hours. Meanwhile I had little opportunity
of following up my intimacy with Miss Dashwood, and as I rather suspected
that, on more than one occasion, she seemed to avoid our meeting, I took
especial care on my part, to spare her the annoyance.

For one instant only had I any opportunity of addressing her, and then
there was such an evident embarrassment in her manner that I readily
perceived how she felt circumstanced, and that the sense of gratitude to
one whose further advances she might have feared, rendered her constrained
and awkward. “Too true,” said I, “she avoids me. My being here is only a
source of discomfort and pain to her; therefore, I’ll take my leave, and
whatever it may cost me, never to return.” With this intention, resolving
to wish Sir George a very good night, I sought him out for some minutes. At
length I saw him in a corner, conversing with the old nobleman to whom he
had presented me early in the evening.

“True, upon my honor, Sir George,” said he; “I saw it myself, and she did
it just as dexterously as the oldest blackleg in Paris.”

“Why, you don’t mean to say that she cheated?”

“Yes, but I do, though,--turned the ace every time. Lady Herbert said to
me, ‘Very extraordinary it is,--four by honors again.’ So I looked, and
then I perceived it,--a very old trick it is; but she did it beautifully.
What’s her name?”

“Some western name; I forget it,” said the poor general, ready to die with
shame.

“Clever old woman, very!” said the old lord, taking a pinch of snuff; “but
revokes too often.”

Supper was announced at this critical moment, and before I had further
thought of my determination to escape, I felt myself hurried along in the
crowd towards the staircase. The party immediately in front of me were
Power and Miss Macan, who now appeared reconciled, and certainly testified
most openly their mutual feelings of good-will.

“I say, Charley,” whispered Power, as I came along, “it is capital
fun,--never met anything equal to her; but the poor general will never
live through it, and I’m certain of ten day’s arrest for this night’s
proceeding.”

“Any news of Webber?” I inquired.

“Oh, yes, I fancy I can tell something of him; for I heard of some one
presenting himself, and being refused the _entrée_, so that Master Frank
has lost his money. Sit near us, I pray you, at supper. We must take care
of the dear aunt for the niece’s sake, eh?”

Not seeing the force of this reasoning, I soon separated myself from them,
and secured a corner at a side-table. Every supper on such an occasion as
this is the same scene of solid white muslin, faded flowers, flushed faces,
torn gloves, blushes, blanc-mange, cold chicken, jelly, sponge cakes,
spooney young gentlemen doing the attentive, and watchful mammas
calculating what precise degree of propinquity in the crush is safe or
seasonable for their daughters to the mustached and unmarrying lovers
beside them. There are always the same set of gratified elders, like the
benchers in King’s Inn, marched up to the head of the table, to eat, drink,
and be happy, removed from the more profane looks and soft speeches of the
younger part of the creation. Then there are the _hoi polloi_ of outcasts,
younger sons of younger brothers, tutors, governesses, portionless cousins,
and curates, all formed in phalanx round the side-tables, whose primitive
habits and simple tastes are evinced by their all eating off the same plate
and drinking from nearly the same wine-glass,--too happy if some better-off
acquaintance at the long table invites them to “wine,” though the ceremony
on their part is limited to the pantomime of drinking. To this miserable
_tiers etat_ I belonged, and bore my fate with unconcern; for, alas, my
spirits were depressed and my heart heavy. Lucy’s treatment of me was every
moment before me, contrasted with her gay and courteous demeanor to all
save myself, and I longed for the moment to get away.

Never had I seen her looking so beautiful; her brilliant eyes were lit with
pleasure, and her smile was enchantment itself. What would I not have given
for one moment’s explanation, as I took my leave forever!--one brief avowal
of my unalterable, devoted love; for which I sought not nor expected
return, but merely that I might not be forgotten.

Such were my thoughts, when a dialogue quite near me aroused me from my
revery. I was not long in detecting the speakers, who, with their backs
turned to us, were seated at the great table discussing a very liberal
allowance of pigeon-pie, a flask of champagne standing between them.

“Don’t now! don’t I tell ye; it’s little ye know Galway, or ye wouldn’t
think to make up to me, squeezing my foot.”

“Upon my soul, you’re an angel, a regular angel. I never saw a woman suit
my fancy before.”

“Oh, behave now. Father Magrath says--”

“Who’s he?”

“The priest; no less.”

“Oh, confound him!”

“Confound Father Magrath, young man?”

“Well, then, Judy, don’t be angry; I only meant that a dragoon knows rather
more of these matters than a priest.”

“Well, then, I’m not so sure of that. But anyhow, I’d have you to remember
it ain’t a Widow Malone you have beside you.”

“Never heard of the lady,” said Power.

“Sure, it’s a song,--poor creature,--it’s a song they made about her in the
North Cork, when they were quartered down in our county.”

“I wish to Heaven you’d sing it.”

“What will you give me, then, if I do?”

“Anything,--everything; my heart, my life.”

“I wouldn’t give a trauneen for all of them. Give me that old green ring on
your finger, then.”

“It’s yours,” said Power, placing it gracefully upon Miss Macan’s finger;
“and now for your promise.”

“May be my brother might not like it.”

“He’d be delighted,” said Power; “he dotes on music.”

“Does he now?”

“On my honor, he does.”

“Well, mind you get up a good chorus, for the song has one, and here it
is.”

“Miss Macan’s song!” said Power, tapping the table with his knife.

“Miss Macan’s song!” was re-echoed on all sides; and before the luckless
general could interfere, she had begun. How to explain the air I know not,
for I never heard its name; but at the end of each verse a species of echo
followed the last word that rendered it irresistibly ridiculous.

    THE WIDOW MALONE.

    Did ye hear of the Widow Malone,
                                 Ohone!
    Who lived in the town of Athlone,
                                 Alone?
    Oh, she melted the hearts
    Of the swains in them parts,
    So lovely the Widow Malone,
                                 Ohone!
    So lovely the Widow Malone.

    Of lovers she had a full score,
                                 Or more;
    And fortunes they all had galore,
                                 In store;
    From the minister down
    To the clerk of the crown,
    All were courting the Widow Malone,
                                 Ohone!
    All were courting the Widow Malone.

    But so modest was Mrs. Malone,
                                 ‘T was known
    No one ever could see her alone,
                                 Ohone!
    Let them ogle and sigh,
    They could ne’er catch her eye,
    So bashful the Widow Malone,
                                 Ohone!
    So bashful the Widow Malone.

    Till one Mister O’Brien from Clare,
                                 How quare!
    It’s little for blushin’ they care
                                 Down there;
    Put his arm round her waist,
    Gave ten kisses at laste,
    “Oh,” says he, “you’re my Molly Malone,
                                 My own;
    Oh,” says he, “you’re my Molly Malone.”

    And the widow they all thought so shy,
                                 My eye!
    Ne’er thought of a simper or sigh,
                                 For why?
    But “Lucius,” says she,
    “Since you’ve made now so free,
    You may marry your Mary Malone,
                                 Ohone!
    You may marry your Mary Malone.”

    There’s a moral contained in my song,
                                 Not wrong;
    And one comfort it’s not very long,
                                 But strong;
    If for widows you die,
    Larn to _kiss, not_ to _sigh_,
    For they’re all like sweet Mistress Malone,
                                 Ohone!
    Oh, they’re very like Mistress Malone.

Never did song create such a sensation as Miss Macan’s; and certainly
her desires as to the chorus were followed to the letter, for “The Widow
Malone, ohone!” resounded from one end of the table to the other, amidst
one universal shout of laughter. None could resist the ludicrous effect of
her melody; and even poor Sir George, sinking under the disgrace of his
relationship, which she had contrived to make public by frequent allusions
to her “dear brother the general,” yielded at last, and joined in the mirth
around him.

“I insist upon a copy of ‘The Widow,’ Miss Macan,” said Power.

“To be sure; give me a call to-morrow,--let me see,--about two. Father
Magrath won’t be at home,” said she, with a coquettish look.

“Where, pray, may I pay my respects?”

“No. 22 South Anne Street,--very respectable lodgings. I’ll write the
address in your pocket-book.”

Power produced a card and pencil, while Miss Macan wrote a few lines,
saying, as she handed it:--

“There, now, don’t read it here before the people; they’ll think it mighty
indelicate in me to make an appointment.”

Power pocketed the card, and the next minute Miss Macan’s carriage was
announced.

Sir George Dashwood, who little flattered himself that his fair guest
had any intention of departure, became now most considerately attentive,
reminded her of the necessity of muffling against the night air, hoped she
would escape cold, and wished her a most cordial good-night, with a promise
of seeing her early the following day.

Notwithstanding Power’s ambition to engross the attention of the lady, Sir
George himself saw her to her carriage, and only returned to the room as a
group was collecting around the gallant captain, to whom he was relating
some capital traits of his late conquest,--for such he dreamed she was.

“Doubt it who will,” said he, “she has invited me to call on her to-morrow,
written her address on my card, told me the hour she is certain of being
alone. See here!” At these words he pulled forth the card, and handed it to
Lechmere.

Scarcely were the eyes of the other thrown upon the writing, when he said,
“So, this isn’t it, Power.”

“To be sure it is, man,” said Power. “Anne Street is devilish seedy, but
that’s the quarter.”

“Why, confound it, man!” said the other; “there’s not a word of that here.”

“Read it out,” said Power. “Proclaim aloud my victory.”

Thus urged, Lechmere read:--


    DEAR P.,--

    Please pay to my credit,--and soon, mark ye!--the two ponies
    lost this evening. I have done myself the pleasure of enjoying your
    ball, kissed the lady, quizzed the papa, and walked into the cunning
    Fred Power.               Yours,
                                 FRANK WEBBER.
    “The Widow Malone, ohone!” is at your service.


Had a thunderbolt fallen at his feet, his astonishment could not have
equalled the result of this revelation. He stamped, swore, raved, laughed,
and almost went deranged. The joke was soon spread through the room, and
from Sir George to poor Lucy, now covered with blushes at her part in the
transaction, all was laughter and astonishment.

“Who is he? That is the question,” said Sir George, who, with all the
ridicule of the affair hanging over him, felt no common relief at the
discovery of the imposition.

“A friend of O’Malley’s,” said Power, delighted, in his defeat, to involve
another with himself.

“Indeed!” said the general, regarding me with a look of a very mingled
cast.

“Quite true, sir,” said I, replying to the accusation that his manner
implied; “but equally so, that I neither knew of his plot nor recognized
him when here.”

“I am perfectly sure of it, my boy,” said the general; “and, after all, it
was an excellent joke,--carried a little too far, it’s true; eh, Lucy?”

But Lucy either heard not, or affected not to hear; and after some little
further assurance that he felt not the least annoyed, the general turned to
converse with some other friends; while I, burning with indignation against
Webber, took a cold farewell of Miss Dashwood, and retired.



CHAPTER XX.


THE LAST NIGHT IN TRINITY.

How I might have met Master Webber after his impersonation of Miss Macan, I
cannot possibly figure to myself. Fortunately, indeed, for all parties, he
left town early the next morning; and it was some weeks ere he returned.
In the meanwhile I became a daily visitor at the general’s, dined there
usually three or four times a week, rode out with Lucy constantly, and
accompanied her every evening either to the theatre or into society. Sir
George, possibly from my youth, seemed to pay little attention to an
intimacy which he perceived every hour growing closer, and frequently gave
his daughter into my charge in our morning excursions on horseback. As for
me, my happiness was all but perfect. I loved, and already began to hope
that I was not regarded with indifference; for although Lucy’s manner never
absolutely evinced any decided preference towards me, yet many slight and
casual circumstances served to show me that my attentions to her were
neither unnoticed nor uncared for. Among the many gay and dashing
companions of our rides, I remarked that, however anxious for such a
distinction, none ever seemed to make any way in her good graces; and I had
already gone far in my self-deception that I was destined for good fortune,
when a circumstance which occurred one morning at length served to open my
eyes to the truth, and blast by one fatal breath the whole harvest of my
hopes.

We were about to set out one morning on a long ride, when Sir George’s
presence was required by the arrival of an officer who had been sent from
the Horse Guards on official business. After half an hour’s delay, Colonel
Cameron, the officer in question, was introduced, and entered into
conversation with our party. He had only landed in England from the
Peninsula a few days before, and had abundant information of the stirring
events enacting there. At the conclusion of an anecdote,--I forget
what,--he turned suddenly round to Miss Dashwood, who was standing beside
me, and said in a low voice:--

“And now, Miss Dashwood, I am reminded of a commission I promised a very
old brother officer to perform. Can I have one moment’s conversation with
you in the window?”

As he spoke, I perceived that he crumpled beneath his glove something like
a letter.

“To me?” said Lucy, with a look of surprise that sadly puzzled me whether
to ascribe it to coquetry or innocence,--“to me?”

“To you,” said the colonel, bowing; “and I am sadly deceived by my friend
Hammersley--”

“Captain Hammersley?” said she, blushing deeply as she spoke.

I heard no more. She turned towards the window with the colonel, and all I
saw was that he handed her a letter, which, having hastily broken open and
thrown her eyes over, she grew at first deadly pale, then red, and while
her eyes filled with tears, I heard her say, “How like him! How truly
generous this is!” I listened for no more; my brain was wheeling round and
my senses reeling. I turned and left the room; in another moment I was on
my horse, galloping from the spot, despair, in all its blackness, in my
heart, and in my broken-hearted misery, wishing for death.

I was miles away from Dublin ere I remembered well what had occurred, and
even then not over clearly. The fact that Lucy Dashwood, whom I imagined
to be my own in heart, loved another, was all that I really knew. That
one thought was all my mind was capable of, and in it my misery, my
wretchedness were centred.

Of all the grief my life has known, I have had no moments like the long
hours of that dreary night. My sorrow, in turn, took every shape and
assumed every guise. Now I remembered how the Dashwoods had courted my
intimacy and encouraged my visits,--how Lucy herself had evinced in a
thousand ways that she felt a preference for me. I called to mind the many
unequivocal proofs I had given her that my feeling at least was no common
one; and yet, how had she sported with my affections, and jested with my
happiness! That she loved Hammersley I had now a palpable proof. That this
affection must have been mutual, and prosecuted at the very moment I was
not only professing my own love for her, but actually receiving all but an
avowal of its return,--oh, it was too, too base! and in my deepest heart I
cursed my folly, and vowed never to see her more.

It was late on the next day ere I retraced my steps towards town, my heart
sad and heavy, careless what became of me for the future, and pondering
whether I should not at once give up my college career and return to my
uncle. When I reached my chambers, all was silent and comfortless; Webber
had not returned; my servant was from home; and I felt myself more than
ever wretched in the solitude of what had been so oft the scene of noisy
and festive gayety. I sat some hours in a half-musing state, every sad
depressing thought that blighted hopes can conjure up rising in turn before
me. A loud knocking at the door at length aroused me. I got up and opened
it. No one was there. I looked around as well as the coming gloom of
evening would permit, but saw nothing. I listened, and heard, at some
distance off, my friend Power’s manly voice as he sang,--

    “Oh, love is the soul of an Irish dragoon!”

I hallooed out, “Power!”

“Eh, O’Malley, is that you?” inquired he. “Why, then, it seems it required
some deliberation whether you opened your door or not. Why, man, you can
have no great gift of prophecy, or you wouldn’t have kept me so long
there.”

“And have you been so?”

“Only twenty minutes; for as I saw the key in the lock, I had determined to
succeed if noise would do it.”

“How strange! I never heard it.”

“Glorious sleeper you must be; but come, my dear fellow, you don’t appear
altogether awake yet.”

“I have not been quite well these few days.”

“Oh, indeed! The Dashwoods thought there must have been something of that
kind the matter by your brisk retreat. They sent me after you yesterday;
but wherever you went, Heaven knows. I never could come up with you; so
that your great news has been keeping these twenty-four hours longer than
need be.”

“I am not aware what you allude to.”

“Well, you are not over likely to be the wiser when you hear it, if you can
assume no more intelligent look than that. Why, man, there’s great luck in
store for you.”

“As how, pray? Come, Power, out with it; though I can’t pledge myself to
feel half as grateful for my good fortune as I should do. What is it?”

“You know Cameron?”

“I have seen him,” said I, reddening.

“Well, old Camy, as we used to call him, has brought over, among his other
news, your gazette.”

“My gazette! What do you mean?”

“Confound your uncommon stupidity this evening! I mean, man, that you are
one of us,--gazetted to the 14th Light,--the best fellows for love, war,
and whiskey that ever sported a sabretasche.

    ‘Oh, love is the soul of an Irish dragoon!’

By Jove, I am as delighted to have rescued you from the black harness of
the King’s Bench as though you had been a prisoner there! Know, then,
friend Charley, that on Wednesday we proceed to Fermoy, join some score
of gallant fellows,--all food for powder,--and, with the aid of a rotten
transport and the stormy winds that blow, will be bronzing our beautiful
faces in Portugal before the month’s out. But come, now, let’s see about
supper. Some of ours are coming over here at eleven, and I promised them a
devilled bone; and as it’s your last night among these classic precincts,
let us have a shindy of it.”

While I despatched Mike to Morrison’s to provide supper, I heard from Power
that Sir George Dashwood had interested himself so strongly for me that I
had obtained my cornetcy in the 14th; that, fearful lest any disappointment
might arise, he had never mentioned the matter to me, but that he had
previously obtained my uncle’s promise to concur in the arrangement if his
negotiation succeeded. It had so done, and now the long-sought-for object
of many days was within my grasp. But, alas, the circumstance which lent it
all its fascinations was a vanished dream; and what but two days before had
rendered my happiness perfect, I listened to listlessly and almost without
interest. Indeed, my first impulse at finding that I owed my promotion to
Sir George was to return a positive refusal of the cornetcy; but then I
remembered how deeply such conduct would hurt my poor uncle, to whom I
never could give an adequate explanation. So I heard Power in silence to
the end, thanked him sincerely for his own good-natured kindness in the
matter, which already, by the interest he had taken in me, went far to heal
the wounds that my own solitary musings were deepening in my heart. At
eighteen, fortunately, consolations are attainable that become more
difficult at eight-and-twenty, and impossible at eight-and-thirty.

While Power continued to dilate upon the delights of a soldier’s life--a
theme which many a boyish dream had long since made hallowed to my
thoughts--I gradually felt my enthusiasm rising, and a certain throbbing at
my heart betrayed to me that, sad and dispirited as I felt, there was still
within that buoyant spirit which youth possesses as its privilege, and
which answers to the call of enterprise as the war-horse to the trumpet.
That a career worthy of manhood, great, glorious, and inspiriting, opened
before me, coming so soon after the late downfall of my hopes, was in
itself a source of such true pleasure that ere long I listened to my
friend, and heard his narrative with breathless interest. A lingering sense
of pique, too, had its share in all this. I longed to come forward in some
manly and dashing part, where my youth might not be ever remembered against
me, and when, having brought myself to the test, I might no longer be
looked upon and treated as a boy.

We were joined at length by the other officers of the 14th, and, to the
number of twelve, sat down to supper.

It was to be my last night in Old Trinity, and we resolved that the
farewell should be a solemn one. Mansfield, one of the wildest young
fellows in the regiment, had vowed that the leave-taking should be
commemorated by some very decisive and open expressions of our feelings,
and had already made some progress in arrangements for blowing up the great
bell, which had more than once obtruded upon our morning convivialities;
but he was overruled by his more discreet associates, and we at length
assumed our places at table, in the midst of which stood a _hecatomb_
of all my college equipments, cap, gown, bands, etc. A funeral pile of
classics was arrayed upon the hearth, surmounted by my “Book on the
Cellar,” and a punishment-roll waved its length, like a banner, over the
doomed heroes of Greece and Rome.

It is seldom that any very determined attempt to be gay _par excellence_
has a perfect success, but certainly upon this evening ours had. Songs,
good stories, speeches, toasts, high visions of the campaign before us, the
wild excitement which such a meeting cannot be free from, gradually, as
the wine passed from hand to hand, seized upon all, and about four in the
morning, such was the uproar we caused, and so terrific the noise of our
proceedings, that the accumulated force of porters, sent one by one to
demand admission, was now a formidable body at the door, and Mike at last
came in to assure us that the bursar,--the most dread official of all
collegians,--was without, and insisted, with a threat of his heaviest
displeasure in case of refusal, that the door should be opened.

A committee of the whole house immediately sat upon the question; and it
was at length resolved, _nemine contradicente_, that the request should be
complied with. A fresh bowl of punch, in honor of our expected guest, was
immediately concocted, a new broil put on the gridiron, and having seated
ourselves with as great a semblance of decorum as four bottles a man admits
of, Curtis the junior captain, being most drunk, was deputed to receive the
bursar at the door, and introduce him to our august presence.

Mike’s instructions were, that immediately on Dr. Stone the bursar
entering, the door was to be slammed to, and none of his followers
admitted. This done, the doctor was to be ushered in and left to our polite
attentions.

A fresh thundering from without scarcely left time for further
deliberation; and at last Curtis moved towards the door in execution of his
mission.

“Is there any one there?” said Mike, in a tone of most unsophisticated
innocence, to a rapping that, having lasted three quarters of an hour,
threatened now to break in the panel. “Is there any one there?”

“Open the door this instant,--the senior bursar desires you,--this
instant.”

“Sure it’s night, and we’re all in bed,” said Mike.

“Mr. Webber, Mr. O’Malley,” said the bursar, now boiling with indignation,
“I summon you, in the name of the board, to admit me.”

“Let the gemman in,” hiccoughed Curtis; and at the same instant the
heavy bars were withdrawn, and the door opened, but so sparingly as with
difficulty to permit the passage of the burly figure of the bursar.

Forcing his way through, and regardless of what became of the rest, he
pushed on vigorously through the antechamber, and before Curtis could
perform his functions of usher, stood in the midst of us. What were his
feelings at the scene before him, Heaven knows. The number of figures in
uniform at once betrayed how little his jurisdiction extended to the great
mass of the company, and he immediately turned towards me.

“Mr. Webber--”

“O’Malley, if you please, Mr. Bursar,” said I, bowing with, most
ceremonious politeness.

“No matter, sir; _arcades ambo_, I believe.”

“Both archdeacons,” said Melville, translating, with a look of withering
contempt upon the speaker.

The doctor continued, addressing me,--

“May I ask, sir, if you believe yourself possessed of any privilege for
converting this university into a common tavern?”

“I wish to Heaven he did,” said Curtis; “capital tap your old commons would
make.”

“Really, Mr. Bursar,” replied I, modestly, “I had begun to flatter myself
that our little innocent gayety had inspired you with the idea of joining
our party.”

“I humbly move that the old cove in the gown do take the chair,” sang
out one. “All who are of this opinion say, ‘Ay.’” A perfect yell of ayes
followed this. “All who are of the contrary say, ‘No.’ The ayes have it.”

Before the luckless doctor had a moment for thought, his legs were lifted
from under him, and he was jerked, rather than placed, upon a chair, and
put sitting upon the table.

“Mr. O’Malley, your expulsion within twenty-four hours--”

“Hip, hip, hurra, hurra, hurra!” drowned the rest, while Power, taking off
the doctor’s cap, replaced it by a foraging cap, very much to the amusement
of the party.

“There is no penalty the law permits of that I shall not--”

“Help the doctor,” said Melville, placing a glass of punch in his
unconscious hand.

“Now for a ‘Viva la Compagnie!’” said Telford, seating himself at the
piano, and playing the first bars of that well-known air, to which, in our
meetings, we were accustomed to improvise a doggerel in turn.

    “I drink to the graces, Law, Physic, Divinity,
                                 Viva la Compagnie!
    And here’s to the worthy old Bursar of Trinity,
                                 Viva la Compagnie!”

“Viva, viva la va!” etc., were chorussed with a shout that shook the old
walls, while Power took up the strain:

    “Though with lace caps and gowns they look so like asses,
                                 Viva la Compagnie!”
     They’d rather have punch than the springs of Parnassus,
                                 Viva la Compagnie!
    What a nose the old gentleman has, by the way,
                                 Viva la Compagnie!
    Since he smelt out the Devil from Botany Bay,[1]
                                 Viva la Compagnie!

[Footnote:1 Botany Bay was the slang name given by college men to a new
square rather remotely situated from the remainder of the college.]

Words cannot give even the faintest idea of the poor bursar’s feelings
while these demoniacal orgies were enacting around him. Held fast in his
chair by Lechmere and another, he glowered on the riotous mob around like a
maniac, and astonishment that such liberties could be taken with one in his
situation seemed to have surpassed even his rage and resentment; and every
now and then a stray thought would flash across his mind that we were
mad,--a sentiment which, unfortunately, our conduct was but too well
calculated to inspire.

“So you’re the morning lecturer, old gentleman, and have just dropped in
here in the way of business; pleasant life you must have of it,” said
Casey, now by far the most tipsy man present.

“If you think, Mr. O’Malley, that the events of this evening are to end
here--”

“Very far from it, Doctor,” said Power; “I’ll draw up a little account of
the affair for ‘Saunders.’ They shall hear of it in every corner and nook
of the kingdom.”

“The bursar of Trinity shall be a proverb for a good fellow that loveth his
lush,” hiccoughed out Fegan.

“And if you believe that such conduct is academical,” said the doctor, with
a withering sneer.

“Perhaps not,” lisped Melville, tightening his belt; “but it’s devilish
convivial,--eh, Doctor?”

“Is that like him?” said Moreton, producing a caricature which he had just
sketched.

“Capital,--very good,--perfect. M’Cleary shall have it in his window by
noon to-day,” said Power.

At this instant some of the combustibles disposed among the rejected
habiliments of my late vocation caught fire, and squibs, crackers, and
detonating shots went off on all sides. The bursar, who had not been deaf
to several hints and friendly suggestions about setting fire to him,
blowing him up, etc., with one vigorous spring burst from his antagonists,
and clearing the table at a bound, reached the floor. Before he could be
seized, he had gained the door, opened it, and was away. We gave chase,
yelling like so many devils. But wine and punch, songs and speeches, had
done their work, and more than one among the pursuers measured his length
upon the pavement; while the terrified bursar, with the speed of terror,
held on his way, and gained his chambers by about twenty yards in advance
of Power and Melville, whose pursuit only ended when the oaken panel of the
door shut them out from their victim. One loud cheer beneath his window
served for our farewell to our friend, and we returned to my rooms. By
this time a regiment of those classic functionaries ycleped porters had
assembled around the door, and seemed bent upon giving battle in honor
of their maltreated ruler; but Power explained to them, in a neat speech
replete with Latin quotations, that their cause was a weak one, that we
were more than their match, and finally proposed to them to finish the
punch-bowl, to which we were really incompetent,--a motion that met
immediate acceptance; and old Duncan, with his helmet in one hand and a
goblet in the other, wished me many happy days and every luck in this life
as I stepped from the massive archway, and took my last farewell of Old
Trinity.

Should any kind reader feel interested as to the ulterior course assumed by
the bursar, I have only to say that the terrors of the “Board” were never
fulminated against me, harmless and innocent as I should have esteemed
them. The threat of giving publicity to the entire proceedings by the
papers, and the dread of figuring in a sixpenny caricature in M’Cleary’s
window, were too much for the worthy doctor, and he took the wiser course
under the circumstances, and held his peace about the matter. I, too, have
done so for many a year, and only now recall the scene among the wild
transactions of early days and boyish follies.



CHAPTER XXI


THE PHOENIX PARK.

What a glorious thing it is when our first waking thoughts not only dispel
some dark, depressing dream, but arouse us to the consciousness of a new
and bright career suddenly opening before us, buoyant in hope, rich in
promise for the future! Life has nothing better than this. The bold spring
by which the mind clears the depth that separates misery from happiness is
ecstasy itself; and then what a world of bright visions come teeming before
us,--what plans we form; what promises we make to ourselves in our own
hearts; how prolific is the dullest imagination; how excursive the tamest
fancy, at such a moment! In a few short and fleeting seconds, the events of
a whole life are planned and pictured before us. Dreams of happiness
and visions of bliss, of which all our after-years are insufficient to
eradicate the _prestige_, come in myriads about us; and from that narrow
aperture through which this new hope pierces into our heart, a flood of
light is poured that illumines our path to the very verge of the grave. How
many a success in after-days is reckoned but as one step in that ladder of
ambition some boyish review has framed, perhaps, after all, destined to be
the first and only one! With what triumph we hail some goal attained, some
object of our wishes gained, less for its present benefit, than as the
accomplishment of some youthful prophecy, when picturing to our hearts all
that we would have in life, we whispered within us the flattery of success.

Who is there who has not had some such moment; and who would exchange
it, with all the delusive and deceptive influences by which it comes
surrounded, for the greatest actual happiness he has partaken of? Alas,
alas, it is only in the boundless expanse of such imaginations, unreal and
fictitious as they are, that we are truly blessed! Our choicest blessings
in life come even so associated with some sources of care that the cup of
enjoyment is not pure but dregged in bitterness.

To such a world of bright anticipation did I awake on the morning after the
events I have detailed in the last chapter. The first thing my eyes fell
upon was an official letter from the Horse Guards:--

    “The commander of the forces desires that Mr. O’Malley will report
    himself, immediately on the receipt of this letter, at the headquarters
    of the regiment to which he is gazetted.”

Few and simple as the lines were, how brimful of pleasure they sounded to
my ears. The regiment to which I was gazetted! And so I was a soldier at
last! The first wish of my boyhood was then really accomplished. And my
uncle, what will he say; what will he think?

“A letter, sir, by the post,” said Mike, at the moment.

I seized it eagerly; it came from home, but was in Considine’s handwriting.
How my heart failed me as I turned to look at the seal. “Thank God!” said
I, aloud, on perceiving that it was a red one. I now tore it open and
read:--

    My Dear Charley,--Godfrey, being laid up with the gout, has
    desired me to write to you by this day’s post. Your appointment to
    the 14th, notwithstanding all his prejudices about the army, has
    given him sincere pleasure. I believe, between ourselves, that your
    college career, of which he has heard something, convinced him that
    your forte did not lie in the classics; you know I said so always, but
    nobody minded me. Your new prospects are all that your best friends
    could wish for you: you begin early; your corps is a crack one; you
    are ordered for service. What could you have more?

    Your uncle hopes, if you can get a few days’ leave, that you will
    come down here before you join, and I hope so too; for he is unusually
    low-spirited, and talks about his never seeing you again, and
    all that sort of thing.

    I have written to Merivale, your colonel, on this subject, as well
    as generally on your behalf. We were cornets together forty years
    ago. A strict fellow you’ll find him, but a trump on service. If
    you can’t manage the leave, write a long letter home at all events.
    And so, God bless you, and all success!
    Yours sincerely,
    W. Considine.

    I had thought of writing you a long letter of advice for your new
    career; and, indeed, half accomplished one. After all, however, I
    can tell you little that your own good sense will not teach you as you
    go on; and experience is ever better than precept. I know of but
    one rule in life which admits of scarcely any exception, and having
    followed it upwards of sixty years, approve of it only the more:
    Never quarrel when you can help it; but meet any man,--your
    tailor, your hairdresser,--if he wishes to have you out.
    W. C.

I had scarcely come to the end of this very characteristic epistle, when
two more letters were placed upon my table. One was from Sir George
Dashwood, inviting me to dinner to meet some of my “brother officers.”
 How my heart beat at the expression. The other was a short note, marked
“Private,” from my late tutor, Dr. Mooney, saying, “that if I made a
suitable apology to the bursar for the late affair at my room, he might
probably be induced to abandon any further step; otherwise--” then followed
innumerable threats about fine, penalties, expulsion, etc., that fell most
harmlessly upon my ears. I accepted the invitation; declined the apology;
and having ordered my horse, cantered off to the barracks to consult my
friend Power as to all the minor details of my career.

As the dinner hour grew near, my thoughts became again fixed upon Miss
Dashwood; and a thousand misgivings crossed my mind as to whether I should
have nerve enough to meet her, without disclosing in my manner the altered
state of my feelings; a possibility which I now dreaded fully as much as I
had longed some days before to avow my affection for her, however slight
its prospect of return. All my valiant resolves and well-contrived plans
for appearing unmoved and indifferent in her presence, with which I stored
my mind while dressing and when on the way to dinner, were, however,
needless, for it was a party exclusively of men; and as the coffee was
served in the dining-room, no move was made to the drawing-room by any of
the company. “Quite as well as it is!” was my muttered opinion, as I got
into my cab at the door. “All is at an end as regards me in her esteem, and
I must not spend my days sighing for a young lady that cares for another.”
 Very reasonable, very proper resolutions these; but, alas! I went home to
bed, only to think half the night long of the fair Lucy, and dream of her
the remainder of it.

When morning dawned my first thought was, Shall I see her once more? Shall
I leave her forever thus abruptly? Or, rather, shall I not unburden my
bosom of its secret, confess my love, and say farewell? I felt such a
course much more in unison with my wishes than the day before; and as Power
had told me that before a week we should present ourselves at Fermoy, I
knew that no time was to be lost.

My determination was taken. I ordered my horse, and early as it was, rode
out to the Royal Hospital. My heart beat so strongly as I rode up to the
door that I half resolved to return. I rang the bell. Sir George was in
town. Miss Dashwood had just gone, five minutes before, to spend some days
at Carton. “It is fate!” thought I as I turned from the spot and walked
slowly beside my horse towards Dublin.

In the few days that intervened before my leaving town, my time was
occupied from morning to night; the various details of my uniform, outfit,
etc., were undertaken for me by Power. My horses were sent for to Galway;
and I myself, with innumerable persons to see, and a mass of business to
transact, contrived at least three times a day to ride out to the Royal
Hospital, always to make some trifling inquiry for Sir George, and always
to hear repeated that Miss Dashwood had not returned.

Thus passed five of my last six days in Dublin; and as the morning of
the last opened, it was with a sorrowing spirit that I felt my hour of
departure approach without one only opportunity of seeing Lucy, even to
say good-by. While Mike was packing in one corner, and I in another was
concluding a long letter to my poor uncle, my door opened and Webber
entered.

“Eh, O’Malley, I’m only in time to say adieu, it seems. To my surprise this
morning I found you had cut the ‘Silent Sister.’ I feared I should be too
late to catch one glimpse of you ere you started for the wars.”

“You are quite right, Master Frank, and I scarcely expected to have seen
you. Your last brilliant achievement at Sir George’s very nearly involved
me in a serious scrape.”

“A mere trifle. How confoundedly silly Power must have looked, eh? Should
like so much to have seen his face. He booked up next day,--very proper
fellow. By-the-bye, O’Malley, I rather like the little girl; she is
decidedly pretty, and her foot,--did you remark her foot?--capital.”

“Yes, she’s very good-looking,” said I, carelessly.

“I’m thinking of cultivating her a little,” said Webber, pulling up his
cravat and adjusting his hair at the glass. “She’s spoiled by all the
tinsel vaporing of her hussar and aide-de-camp acquaintances; but something
may be done for her, eh?”

“With your most able assistance and kind intentions.”

“That’s what I mean exactly. Sorry you’re going,--devilish sorry. You
served out Stone gloriously: perhaps it’s as well, though,--you know they’d
have expelled you; but still something might turn up. Soldiering is a
bad style of thing, eh? How the old general did take his sister-in-law’s
presence to heart! But he must forgive and forget, for I am going to be
very great friends with him and Lucy. Where are you going now?”

“I am about to try a new horse before troops,” said I. “He’s stanch enough
with the cry of the fox-pack in his ears; but I don’t know how he’ll stand
a peal of artillery.”

“Well, come along,” said Webber; “I’ll ride with you.” So saying, we
mounted and set off to the Park, where two regiments of cavalry and some
horse artillery were ordered for inspection.

The review was over when we reached the exercising ground, and we slowly
walked our horses towards the end of the Park, intending to return to
Dublin by the road. We had not proceeded far, when, some hundred yards in
advance, we perceived an officer riding with a lady, followed by an orderly
dragoon.

“There he goes,” said Webber; “I wonder if he’d ask me to dinner, if I were
to throw myself in his way?”

“Who do you mean?” said I.

“Sir George Dashwood, to be sure, and, _la voilà_, Miss Lucy. The little
darling rides well, too; how squarely she sits her horse. O’Malley, I’ve a
weakness there; upon my soul I have.”

“Very possible,” said I; “I am aware of another friend of mine
participating in the sentiment.”

“One Charles O’Malley, of his Majesty’s--”

“Nonsense, man; no, no. I mean a very different person, and, for all I can
see, with some reason to hope for success.”

“Oh, as to that, we flatter ourselves the thing does not present any very
considerable difficulties.”

“As how, pray?”

“Why, of course, like all such matters, a very decisive determination to
be, to do, and to suffer, as Lindley Murray says, carries the day. Tell her
she’s an angel every day for three weeks. She may laugh a little at first,
but she’ll believe it in the end. Tell her that you have not the slightest
prospect of obtaining her affections, but still persist in loving her.
That, finally, you must die from the effects of despair, etc., but rather
like the notion of it than otherwise. That you know she has no fortune;
that you haven’t a sixpence; and who should marry, if people whose position
in the world was similar did not?”

“But halt; pray, how are you to get time and place for all such interesting
conversations?”

“Time and place! Good Heavens, what a question! Is not every hour of the
twenty-four the fittest? Is not every place the most suitable? A sudden
pause in the organ of St. Patrick’s did, it is true, catch me once in a
declaration of love, but the choir came in to my aid and drowned the lady’s
answer. My dear O’Malley, what could prevent you this instant, if you are
so disposed, from doing the amiable to the darling Lucy there?”

“With the father for an umpire in case we disagreed,” said I.

“Not at all. I should soon get rid of him.”

“Impossible, my dear friend.”

“Come now, just for the sake of convincing your obstinacy. If you like
to say good-by to the little girl without a witness, I’ll take off the
he-dragon.”

“You don’t mean--”

“I do, man; I do mean it.” So saying, he drew a crimson silk handkerchief
from his pocket, and fastened it round his waist like an officer’s sash.
This done, and telling me to keep in their wake for some minutes, he turned
from me, and was soon concealed by a copse of white-thorn near us.

I had not gone above a hundred yards farther when I heard Sir George’s
voice calling for the orderly. I looked and saw Webber at a considerable
distance in front, curvetting and playing all species of antics. The
distance between the general and myself was now so short that I overheard
the following dialogue with his sentry:--

“He’s not in uniform, then?”

“No, sir; he has a round hat.”

“A round hat!”

“His sash--”

“A sword and sash. This is too bad. I’m determined to find him out.”

“How d’ye do, General?” cried Webber, as he rode towards the trees.

“Stop, sir!” shouted Sir George.

“Good-day, Sir George,” replied Webber, retiring.

“Stay where you are, Lucy,” said the general as, dashing spurs into his
horse, he sprang forward at a gallop, incensed beyond endurance that his
most strict orders should be so openly and insultingly transgressed.

Webber led on to a deep hollow, where the road passed between two smooth
slopes, covered with furze-trees, and from which it emerged afterwards in
the thickest and most intricate part of the Park. Sir George dashed boldly
after, and in less than half a minute both were lost to my view, leaving me
in breathless amazement at Master Frank’s ingenuity, and some puzzle as to
my own future movements.

“Now then, or never!” said I, as I pushed boldly forward, and in an instant
was alongside of Miss Dashwood. Her astonishment at seeing me so suddenly
increased the confusion from which I felt myself suffering, and for some
minutes I could scarcely speak. At last I plucked up courage a little, and
said:--

“Miss Dashwood, I have looked most anxiously, for the last four days, for
the moment which chance has now given me. I wished, before I parted forever
with those to whom I owe already so much, that I should at least speak my
gratitude ere I said good-by.”

“But when do you think of going?”

“To-morrow. Captain Power, under whose command I am, has received orders to
embark immediately for Portugal.”

I thought--perhaps it was but a thought--that her cheek grew somewhat paler
as I spoke; but she remained silent; and I, scarcely knowing what I had
said, or whether I had finished, spoke not either.

“Papa, I’m sure, is not aware,” said she, after a long pause, “of your
intention of leaving so soon, for only last night he spoke of some letters
he meant to give you to some friends in the Peninsula; besides, I know,”
 here she smiled faintly,--“that he destined some excellent advice for your
ears, as to your new path in life, for he has an immense opinion of the
value of such to a young officer.”

“I am, indeed, most grateful to Sir George, and truly never did any one
stand more in need of counsel than I do.” This was said half musingly, and
not intended to be heard.

“Then, pray, consult papa,” said she, eagerly; “he is much attached to you,
and will, I am certain, do all in his power--”

“Alas! I fear not, Miss Dashwood.”

“Why, what can you mean. Has anything so serious occurred?”

“No, no; I’m but misleading you, and exciting your sympathy with false
pretences. Should I tell you all the truth, you would not pardon, perhaps
not hear me.”

“You have, indeed, puzzled me; but if there is anything in which my
father--”

“Less him than his daughter,” said I, fixing my eyes full upon her as I
spoke. “Yes, Lucy, I feel I must confess it, cost what it may; I love you.
Stay, hear me out; I know the fruitlessness, the utter despair, that awaits
such a sentiment. My own heart tells me that I am not, cannot be, loved in
return; yet would I rather cherish in its core my affection, slighted and
unblessed, such as it is, than own another heart. I ask for nothing, I hope
for nothing; I merely entreat that, for my truth, I may meet belief, and
for my heart’s worship of her whom alone I can love, compassion. I see that
you at least pity me. Nay, one word more; I have one favor more to ask,--it
is my last, my only one. Do not, when time and distance may have separated
us, perhaps forever, think that the expressions I now use are prompted by
a mere sudden ebullition of boyish feeling; do not attribute to the
circumstance of my youth alone the warmth of the attachment I profess,--for
I swear to you, by every hope that I have, that in my heart of hearts my
love to you is the source and spring of every action in my life, of every
aspiration in my heart; and when I cease to love you, I shall cease to
feel.”

“And now, farewell,--farewell forever!” I pressed her hand to my lips, gave
one long, last look, turned my horse rapidly away, and ere a minute was far
out of sight of where I had left her.



CHAPTER XXII.


THE ROAD.

Power was detained in town by some orders from the adjutant-general, so
that I started for Cork the next morning with no other companion than my
servant Mike. For the first few stages upon the road, my own thoughts
sufficiently occupied me to render me insensible or indifferent to all
else. My opening career, the prospects my new life as a soldier held out,
my hopes of distinction, my love of Lucy with all its train of doubts and
fears, passed in review before me, and I took no note of time till far past
noon. I now looked to the back part of the coach, where Mike’s voice had
been, as usual, in the ascendant for some time, and perceived that he was
surrounded by an eager auditory of four raw recruits, who, under the care
of a sergeant, were proceeding to Cork to be enrolled in their regiment.
The sergeant, whose minutes of wakefulness were only those when the coach
stopped to change horses, and when he got down to mix a “summat hot,” paid
little attention to his followers, leaving them perfectly free in all their
movements, to listen to Mike’s eloquence and profit by his suggestions,
should they deem fit. Master Michael’s services to his new acquaintances,
I began to perceive, were not exactly of the same nature as Dibdin is
reported to have rendered to our navy in the late war. Far from it. His
theme was no contemptuous disdain for danger; no patriotic enthusiasm
to fight for home and country; no proud consciousness of British valor,
mingled with the appropriate hatred of our mutual enemies,--on the
contrary, Mike’s eloquence was enlisted for the defendant. He detailed,
and in no unimpressive way either, the hardships of a soldier’s life,--its
dangers, its vicissitudes, its chances, its possible penalties, its
inevitably small rewards; and, in fact, so completely did he work on the
feelings of his hearers that I perceived more than one glance exchanged
between the victims that certainly betokened anything save the resolve to
fight for King George. It was at the close of a long and most powerful
appeal upon the superiority of any other line in life, petty larceny and
small felony inclusive, that he concluded with the following quotation:--

“Thrue for ye, boys!

    ‘With your red scarlet coat,
    You’re as proud as a goat,
      And your long cap and feather.’

But, by the piper that played before Moses! it’s more whipping nor
gingerbread is going on among them, av ye knew but all, and heerd the
misfortune that happened to my father.”

“And was he a sodger?” inquired one.

“Troth was he, more sorrow to him; and wasn’t he a’most whipped one day for
doing what he was bid?”

“Musha, but that was hard!”

“To be sure it was hard; but faix, when my father seen that they didn’t
know their own minds, he thought, anyhow, he knew his, so he ran away,--and
devil a bit of him they ever cotch afther. May be ye might like to hear the
story; and there’s instruction in it for yez, too.”

A general request to this end being preferred by the company, Mike took a
shrewd look at the sergeant, to be sure that he was still sleeping, settled
his coat comfortably across his knees, and began:--

Well, it’s a good many years ago my father ‘listed in the North Cork, just
to oblige Mr. Barry, the landlord there. For,’ says he, ‘Phil,’ says he,
‘it’s not a soldier ye’ll be at all, but my own man, to brush my clothes
and go errands, and the like o’ that; and the king, long life to him! will
help to pay ye for your trouble. Ye understand me?’ Well, my father agreed,
and Mr. Barry was as good as his word. Never a guard did my father mount,
nor as much as a drill had he, nor a roll-call, nor anything at all, save
and except wait on the captain, his master, just as pleasant as need be,
and no inconvenience in life.

“Well, for three years this went on as I am telling, and the regiment was
ordered down to Bantry, because of a report that the ‘boys’ was rising
down there; and the second evening there was a night party patrolling with
Captain Barry for six hours in the rain, and the captain, God be marciful
to him! tuk could and died. More by token, they said it was drink, but
my father says it wasn’t: ‘for’ says he, ‘after he tuk eight tumblers
comfortable,’ my father mixed the ninth, and the captain waived his hand
this way, as much as to say he’d have no more. ‘Is it that ye mean?’ says
my father; and the captain nodded. ‘Musha, but it’s sorry I am,’ says my
father, ‘to see you this way; for ye must be bad entirely to leave off in
the beginning of the evening.’ And thrue for him, the captain was dead in
the morning.

“A sorrowful day it was for my father when he died. It was the finest
place in the world; little to do, plenty of divarsion, and a kind man he
was,--when he was drunk. Well, then, when the captain was buried and all
was over, my father hoped they’d be for letting him away, as he said,
‘Sure, I’m no use in life to anybody, save the man that’s gone, for his
ways are all I know, and I never was a sodger.’ But, upon my conscience,
they had other thoughts in their heads, for they ordered him into the ranks
to be drilled just like the recruits they took the day before.

“‘Musha, isn’t this hard?’ said my father. ‘Here I am, an ould vitrin that
ought to be discharged on a pension with two-and-sixpence a day, obliged
to go capering about the barrack-yard, practising the goose-step, or some
other nonsense not becoming my age nor my habits.’ But so it was. Well,
this went on for some time, and sure, if they were hard on my father,
hadn’t he his revenge; for he nigh broke their hearts with his stupidity.
Oh, nothing in life could equal him! Devil a thing, no matter how easy, he
could learn at all; and so far from caring for being in confinement, it was
that he liked best. Every sergeant in the regiment had a trial of him, but
all to no good; and he seemed striving so hard to learn all the while that
they were loath to punish him, the ould rogue!

“This was going on for some time, when, one day, news came in that a
body of the rebels, as they called them, was coming down from the Gap of
Mulnavick to storm the town and burn all before them. The whole regiment
was of coorse under arms, and great preparations was made for a battle.
Meanwhile patrols were ordered to scour the roads, and sentries posted at
every turn of the way and every rising ground to give warning when the boys
came in sight; and my father was placed at the Bridge of Drumsnag, in the
wildest and bleakest part of the whole country, with nothing but furze
mountains on every side, and a straight road going over the top of them.

“‘This is pleasant,’ says my father, as soon as they left him there alone
by himself, with no human creature to speak to, nor a whiskey-shop within
ten miles of him; ‘cowld comfort,’ says he, ‘on a winter’s day; and faix,
but I have a mind to give ye the slip.’

“Well, he put his gun down on the bridge, and he lit his pipe, and he sat
down under an ould tree and began to ruminate upon his affairs.

“‘Oh, then, it’s wishing it well I am,’ says he, ‘for sodgering; and bad
luck to the hammer that struck the shilling that ‘listed me, that’s all,’
for he was mighty low in his heart.

“Just then a noise came rattling down near him. He listened, and before
he could get on his legs, down comes’ the general, ould Cohoon, with an
orderly after him.

“‘Who goes there?’ says my father.

“‘The round,’ says the general, looking about all the time to see where was
the sentry, for my father was snug under the tree.

“‘What round?’ says my father.

“‘The grand round,’ says the general, more puzzled than afore.

“‘Pass on, grand round, and God save you kindly!’ says my father, putting
his pipe in his mouth again, for he thought all was over.

“‘D--n your soul, where are you?’ says the general, for sorrow bit of my
father could he see yet.

“‘It’s here I am,’ says he, ‘and a cowld place I have of it; and if it
wasn’t for the pipe I’d be lost entirely.’

“The words wasn’t well out of his mouth when the general began laughing,
till ye’d think he’d fall off his horse; and the dragoon behind him--more
by token, they say it wasn’t right for him--laughed as loud as himself.

“‘Yer a droll sentry,’ says the general, as soon as he could speak.

“‘Be-gorra, it’s little fun there’s left in me,’ says my father, ‘with this
drilling, and parading, and blackguarding about the roads all night.’

“‘And is this the way you salute your officer?’ says the general.

“‘Just so,’ says my father; ‘devil a more politeness ever they taught me.’

“‘What regiment do you belong to?’ says the general.

“‘The North Cork, bad luck to them!’ says my father, with a sigh.

“‘They ought to be proud of ye,’ says the general.

“‘I’m sorry for it,’ says my father, sorrowfully, ‘for may be they’ll keep
me the longer.’

“‘Well, my good fellow,’ says the general, ‘I haven’t more time to waste
here; but let me teach you something before I go. Whenever your officer
passes, it’s your duty to present to him.’

“‘Arrah, it’s jokin’ ye are,’ says my father.

“‘No, I’m in earnest,’ says he, ‘as ye might learn, to your cost, if I
brought you to a court-martial.’

“‘Well, there’s no knowing,’ says my father, ‘what they’d be up to; but
sure, if that’s all, I’ll do it, with all “the veins,” whenever yer coming
this way again.’

“The general began to laugh again here; but said,--

‘I’m coming back in the evening,’ says he, ‘and mind you don’t forget your
respect to your officer.’

“‘Never fear, sir,’ says my father; ‘and many thanks to you for your
kindness for telling me.’

“Away went the general, and the orderly after him, and in ten minutes they
were out of sight.

“The night was falling fast, and one half of the mountain was quite dark
already, when my father began to think they were forgetting him entirely.
He looked one way, and he looked another, but sorra bit of a sergeant’s
guard was coming to relieve him. There he was, fresh and fasting, and
daren’t go for the bare life. ‘I’ll give you a quarter of an hour more,’
says my father, ‘till the light leaves that rock up there; after that,’
says he, ‘by the Mass! I’ll be off, av it cost me what it may.’

“Well, sure enough, his courage was not needed this time; for what did
he see at the same moment but a shadow of something coming down the road
opposite the bridge. He looked again; and then he made out the general
himself, that was walking his horse down the steep part of the mountain,
followed by the orderly. My father immediately took up his musket off the
wall, settled his belts, shook the ashes out of his pipe and put it into
his pocket, making himself as smart and neat-looking as he could be,
determining, when ould Cohoon came up, to ask him for leave to go home, at
least for the night. Well, by this time the general was turning a sharp
part of the cliff that looks down upon the bridge, from where you might
look five miles round on every side. ‘He sees me,’ says my father; ‘but
I’ll be just as quick as himself.’ No sooner said than done; for coming
forward to the parapet of the bridge, he up with his musket to his
shoulder, and presented it straight at the general. It wasn’t well there,
when the officer pulled up his horse quite short, and shouted out, ‘Sentry!
sentry!’

“‘Anan?’ says my father, still covering him.

“‘Down with your musket you rascal. Don’t you see it’s the grand round?’

“‘To be sure I do,’ says my father, never changing for a minute.

“‘The ruffian will shoot me,’ says the general.

“‘Devil a fear,’ says my father, ‘av it doesn’t go off of itself.’

“‘What do you mean by that, you villian?’ says the general, scarcely able
to speak with fright, for every turn he gave on his horse, my father
followed with the gun,--what do you mean?’

“‘Sure, ain’t I presenting?’ says my father. ‘Blood an ages! do you want me
to fire next?’

“With that the general drew a pistol from his holster, and took deliberate
aim at my father; and there they both stood for five minutes, looking at
each other, the orderly all the while breaking his heart laughing behind a
rock; for, ye see, the general knew av he retreated that my father might
fire on purpose, and av he came on, that he might fire by chance,--and
sorra bit he knew what was best to be done.

“‘Are ye going to pass the evening up there, grand round?’ says my father;
‘for it’s tired I’m getting houldin’ this so long.’

“‘Port arms!’ shouted the general, as if on parade.

“‘Sure I can’t, till yer past,’ says my father, angrily; ‘and my hands
trembling already.’

“‘By Heavens! I shall be shot,’ says the general.

“‘Be-gorra, it’s what I’m afraid of,’ says my father; and the words wasn’t
out of his mouth before off went the musket, bang!--and down fell the
general, smack on the ground, senseless. Well the orderly ran out at this,
and took him up and examined his wound; but it wasn’t a wound at all, only
the wadding of the gun. For my father--God be kind to him!--ye see, could
do nothing right; and so he bit off the wrong end of the cartridge when he
put it in the gun, and, by reason, there was no bullet in it. Well, from
that day after they never got a sight of him; for the instant that the
general dropped, he sprang over the bridge-wall and got away; and
what, between living in a lime-kiln for two months, eating nothing but
blackberries and sloes, and other disguises, he never returned to the army,
but ever after took to a civil situation, and drive a hearse for many
years.”

How far Mike’s narrative might have contributed to the support of his
theory, I am unable to pronounce; for his auditory were, at some distance
from Cork, made to descend from their lofty position and join a larger body
of recruits, all proceeding to the same destination, under a strong escort
of infantry. For ourselves, we reached the “beautiful city” in due time,
and took up our quarters at the Old George Hotel.



CHAPTER XXIII.


CORK.

The undress rehearsal of a new piece, with its dirty-booted actors, its
cloaked and hooded actresses _en papillote_, bears about the same relation
to the gala, wax-lit, and bespangled ballet, as the raw young gentleman
of yesterday to the epauletted, belted, and sabretasched dragoon, whose
transformation is due to a few hours of head-quarters, and a few interviews
with the adjutant.

So, at least, I felt it; and it was with a very perfect concurrence in his
Majesty’s taste in a uniform, and a most entire approval of the regimental
tailor, that I strutted down George’s Street a few days after my arrival in
Cork. The transports had not as yet come round; there was a great doubt of
their doing so for a week or so longer; and I found myself as the
dashing cornet, the centre of a thousand polite attentions and most kind
civilities.

The officer under whose orders I was placed for the time was a great friend
of Sir George Dashwood’s, and paid me, in consequence, much attention.
Major Dalrymple had been on the staff from the commencement of his military
career, had served in the commissariat for some time, was much on foreign
stations; but never, by any of the many casualties of his life, had he seen
what could be called service. His ideas of the soldier’s profession were,
therefore, what might almost be as readily picked up by a commission in the
battle-axe guards, as one in his Majesty’s Fiftieth. He was now a species
of district paymaster, employed in a thousand ways, either inspecting
recruits, examining accounts, revising sick certificates, or receiving
contracts for mess beef. Whether the nature of his manifold occupations had
enlarged the sphere of his talents and ambition, or whether the abilities
had suggested the variety of his duties, I know not, but truly the major
was a man of all work. No sooner did a young ensign join his regiment at
Cork, than Major Dalrymple’s card was left at his quarters; the next day
came the major himself; the third brought an invitation to dinner; on the
fourth he was told to drop in, in the evening; and from thenceforward,
he was the _ami de la maison_, in company with numerous others as
newly-fledged and inexperienced as himself.

One singular feature of the society at the house was that although the
major was as well known as the flag on Spike Island, yet somehow, no
officer above the rank of an ensign was ever to be met with there. It
was not that he had not a large acquaintance; in fact, the “How are you,
Major?” “How goes it, Dalrymple?” that kept everlastingly going on as
he walked the streets, proved the reverse; but strange enough, his
predilections leaned towards the newly gazetted, far before the bronzed
and seared campaigners who had seen the world, and knew more about it. The
reasons for this line of conduct were twofold. In the first place, there
was not an article of outfit, from a stock to a sword-belt, that he could
not and did not supply to the young officer,--from the gorget of the
infantry to the shako of the grenadier, all came within his province;
not that he actually kept a _magasin_ of these articles, but he had so
completely interwoven his interests with those of numerous shopkeepers in
Cork that he rarely entered a shop over whose door Dalrymple & Co. might
not have figured on the sign-board. His stables were filled with a perfect
infirmary of superannuated chargers, fattened and conditioned up to a
miracle, and groomed to perfection. He could get you--_only you_--about
three dozen of sherry to take out with you as sea-store; he knew of such a
servant; he chanced upon such a camp-furniture yesterday in his walks; in
fact, why want for anything? His resources were inexhaustible; his kindness
unbounded.

Then money was no object,--hang it, you could pay when you liked; what
signified it? In other words, a bill at thirty-one days, cashed and
discounted by a friend of the major’s, would always do. While such were the
unlimited advantages his acquaintance conferred, the sphere of his benefits
took another range. The major had two daughters; Matilda and Fanny were as
well known in the army as Lord Fitzroy Somerset, or Picton, from the Isle
of Wight to Halifax, from Cape Coast to Chatham, from Belfast to the
Bermudas. Where was the subaltern who had not knelt at the shrine of one
or the other, if not of both, and vowed eternal love until a change of
quarters? In plain words, the major’s solicitude for the service was such,
that, not content with providing the young officer with all the necessary
outfit of his profession, he longed also to supply him with a comforter for
his woes, a charmer for his solitary hours, in the person of one of his
amiable daughters. Unluckily, however, the necessity for a wife is not
enforced by “general orders,” as is the cut of your coat, or the length of
your sabre; consequently, the major’s success in the home department of his
diplomacy was not destined for the same happy results that awaited it when
engaged about drill trousers and camp kettles, and the Misses Dalrymple
remained misses through every clime and every campaign. And yet, why was
it so? It is hard to say. What would men have? Matilda was a dark-haired,
dark-eyed, romantic-looking girl, with a tall figure and a slender waist,
with more poetry in her head than would have turned any ordinary brain;
always unhappy, in need of consolation, never meeting with the kindred
spirit that understood her, destined to walk the world alone, her fair
thoughts smothered in the recesses of her own heart. Devilish hard to stand
this, when you began in a kind of platonic friendship on both sides. More
than one poor fellow nearly succumbed, particularly when she came to quote
Cowley, and told him, with tears in her eyes,--

    “There are hearts that live and love alone,” etc.

I’m assured that this _coup-de-grace_ rarely failed in being followed by
a downright avowal of open love, which, somehow, what between the route
coming, what with waiting for leave from home, etc., never got further than
a most tender scene, and exchange of love tokens; and, in fact, such became
so often the termination, that Power swears Matty had to make a firm
resolve about cutting off any more hair, fearing a premature baldness
during the recruiting season.

Now, Fanny had selected another arm of the service. Her hair was fair; her
eyes blue, laughing, languishing,--mischief-loving blue, with long lashes,
and a look in them that was wont to leave its impression rather longer than
you exactly knew of; then, her figure was _petite_, but perfect; her feet
Canova might have copied; and her hand was a study for Titian; her voice,
too, was soft and musical, but full of that _gaiété de coeur_ that never
fails to charm. While her sister’s style was _il penserono_, hers was
_l’allegro_; every imaginable thing, place, or person supplied food for her
mirth, and her sister’s lovers all came in for their share. She hunted
with Smith Barry’s hounds; she yachted with the Cove Club; she coursed,
practised at a mark with a pistol, and played chicken hazard with all
the cavalry,--for, let it be remarked as a physiological fact, Matilda’s
admirers were almost invariably taken from the infantry, while Fanny’s
adorers were as regularly dragoons. Whether the former be the romantic
arm of the service, and the latter be more adapted to dull realities, or
whether the phenomenon had any other explanation, I leave to the curious.
Now, this arrangement, proceeding upon that principle which has wrought
such wonders in Manchester and Sheffield,--the division of labor,--was a
most wise and equitable one, each having her one separate and distinct
field of action, interference was impossible; not but that when, as in the
present instance, cavalry was in the ascendant, Fanny would willingly spare
a dragoon or two to her sister, who likewise would repay the debt when
occasion offered.

The mamma--for it is time I should say something of the head of the
family--was an excessively fat, coarse-looking, dark-skinned personage, of
some fifty years, with a voice like a boatswain in a quinsy. Heaven can
tell, perhaps, why the worthy major allied his fortunes with hers, for she
was evidently of a very inferior rank in society, could never have been
aught than downright ugly, and I never heard that she brought him any
money. “Spoiled five,” the national amusement of her age and sex in Cork,
scandal, the changes in the army list, the failures in speculation of her
luckless husband, the forlorn fortunes of the girls, her daughters, kept
her in occupation, and her days were passed in one perpetual, unceasing
current of dissatisfaction and ill-temper with all around, that formed a
heavy counterpoise to the fascinations of the young ladies. The repeated
jiltings to which they had been subject had blunted any delicacy upon the
score of their marriage; and if the newly-introduced cornet or ensign was
not coming forward, as became him, at the end of the requisite number
of days, he was sure of receiving a very palpable admonition from Mrs.
Dalrymple. Hints, at first dimly shadowed, that Matilda was not in spirits
this morning; that Fanny, poor child, had a headache,--directed especially
at the culprit in question,--grew gradually into those little motherly
fondnesses in mamma, that, like the fascination of the rattlesnake, only
lure on to ruin. The doomed man was pressed to dinner when all others were
permitted to take their leave; he was treated like one of the family, God
help him! After dinner, the major would keep him an hour over his wine,
discussing the misery of an ill-assorted marriage; detailing his own
happiness in marrying a woman like the Tonga Islander I have mentioned;
hinting that girls should be brought up, not only to become companions to
their husbands, but with ideas fitting their station; if his auditor were
a military man, that none but an old officer (like him) could know how to
educate girls (like his); and that feeling he possessed two such treasures,
his whole aim in life was to guard and keep them,--a difficult task, when
proposals of the most flattering kind were coming constantly before him.
Then followed a fresh bottle, during which the major would consult his
young friend upon a very delicate affair,--no less than a proposition for
the hand of Miss Matilda, or Fanny, whichever he was supposed to be soft
upon. This was generally a _coup-de-maître_; should he still resist, he was
handed over to Mrs. Dalrymple, with a strong indictment against him, and
rarely did he escape a heavy sentence. Now, is it not strange that two
really pretty girls, with fully enough of amiable and pleasing qualities
to have excited the attention and won the affections of many a man, should
have gone on for years,--for, alas! they did so in every climate, under
every sun,--to waste their sweetness in this miserable career of intrigue
and man-trap, and yet nothing come of it? But so it was. The first question
a newly-landed regiment was asked, if coming from where they resided, was,
“Well, how are the girls?” “Oh, gloriously. Matty is there.” “Ah, indeed!
poor thing.” “Has Fan sported a new habit?” “Is it the old gray with the
hussar braiding? Confound it, that was seedy when I saw them in Corfu. And
Mother Dal as fat and vulgar as ever?” “Dawson of ours was the last,
and was called up for sentence when we were ordered away; of course,
he bolted,” etc. Such was the invariable style of question and answer
concerning them; and although some few, either from good feeling or
fastidiousness, relished but little the mode in which it had become
habitual to treat them, I grieve to say that, generally, they were
pronounced fair game for every species of flirtation and love-making
without any “intentions” for the future. I should not have trespassed so
far upon my readers’ patience, were I not, in recounting these traits of
my friends above, narrating matters of history. How many are there who may
cast their eyes upon these pages, that will say, “Poor Matilda! I knew her
at Gibraltar. Little Fanny was the life and soul of us all in Quebec.”

“Mr. O’Malley,” said the adjutant, as I presented myself in the afternoon
of my arrival in Cork to a short, punchy, little red-faced gentleman, in a
short jacket and ducks, “you are, I perceive, appointed to the 14th;
you will have the goodness to appear on parade to-morrow morning. The
riding-school hours are----. The morning drill is----; evening drill----.
Mr. Minchin, you are a 14th man, I believe? No, I beg pardon! a carbineer;
but no matter. Mr. O’Malley, Mr. Minchin; Captain Dounie, Mr. O’Malley.
You’ll dine with us to-day, and to-morrow you shall be entered at the
mess.”

“Yours are at Santarem, I believe?” said an old, weather-beaten looking
officer with one arm.

“I’m ashamed to say, I know nothing whatever of them; I received my gazette
unexpectedly enough.”

“Ever in Cork before, Mr. O’Malley?”

“Never,” said I.

“Glorious place,” lisped a white-eyelashed, knocker-kneed ensign; “splendid
_gals_, eh?”

“Ah, Brunton,” said Minchin, “you may boast a little; but we poor devils--”

“Know the Dals?” said the hero of the lisp, addressing me.

“I haven’t that honor,” I replied, scarcely able to guess whether what he
alluded to were objects of the picturesque or a private family.

“Introduce him, then, at once,” said the adjutant; “we’ll all go in the
evening. What will the old squaw think?”

“Not I,” said Minchin. “She wrote to the Duke of York about my helping
Matilda at supper, and not having any honorable intentions afterwards.”

“We dine at ‘The George’ to-day, Mr. O’Malley, sharp seven. Until then--”

So saying, the little man bustled back to his accounts, and I took my leave
with the rest, to stroll about the town till dinner-time.



CHAPTER XXIV.


THE ADJUTANT’S DINNER.

The adjutant’s dinner was as professional an affair as need be. A circuit
or a learned society could not have been more exclusively devoted to
their own separate and immediate topics than were we. Pipeclay in all its
varieties came on the _tapis_; the last regulation cap, the new button,
the promotions, the general orders, the colonel and the colonel’s wife,
stoppages, and the mess fund were all well and ably discussed; and strange
enough, while the conversation took this wide range, not a chance allusion,
not one stray hint ever wandered to the brave fellows who were covering the
army with glory in the Peninsula, nor one souvenir of him that, was even
then enjoying a fame as a leader second to none in Europe. This surprised
me not a little at the time; but I have since that learned how little
interest the real services of an army possess for the ears of certain
officials, who, stationed at home quarters, pass their inglorious lives in
the details of drill, parade, mess-room gossip, and barrack scandal. Such,
in fact, were the dons of the present dinner. We had a commissary-general,
an inspecting brigade-major of something, a physician to the forces, the
adjutant himself, and Major Dalrymple; the _hoi polloi_ consisting of the
raw ensign, a newly-fledged cornet (Mr. Sparks), and myself.

The commissary told some very pointless stories about his own department;
the doctor read a dissertation upon Walcheren fever; the adjutant got very
stupidly tipsy; and Major Dalrymple succeeded in engaging the three juniors
of the party to tea, having previously pledged us to purchase nothing
whatever of outfit without his advice, he well knowing (which he did) how
young fellows like us were cheated, and resolving to be a father to us
(which he certainly tried to be).

As we rose from the table, about ten o’clock, I felt how soon a few such
dinners would succeed in disenchanting me of all my military illusions;
for, young as I was, I saw that the commissary was a vulgar bore, the
doctor a humbug, the adjutant a sot, and the major himself I greatly
suspected to be an old rogue.

“You are coming with us, Sparks?” said Major Dalrymple, as he took me by
one arm and the ensign by the other. “We are going to have a little tea
with the ladies; not five minutes’ walk.”

“Most happy, sir,” said Mr. Sparks, with a very flattered expression of
countenance.

“O’Malley, you know Sparks, and Burton too.”

This served for a species of triple introduction, at which we all bowed,
simpered, and bowed again. We were very happy to have the pleasure, etc.

“How pleasant to get away from these fellows!” said the major, “they are so
uncommonly prosy! That commissary, with his mess beef, and old Pritchard,
with black doses and rigors,--nothing so insufferable! Besides, in
reality, a young officer never needs all that nonsense. A little medicine
chest--I’ll get you one each to-morrow for five pounds--no, five pounds
ten--the same thing--that will see you all through the Peninsula. Remind me
of it in the morning.” This we all promised to do, and the major resumed:
“I say, Sparks, you’ve got a real prize in that gray horse,--such a trooper
as he is! O’Malley, you’ll be wanting something of that kind, if we can
find it for you.”

“Many thanks, Major; but my cattle are on the way here already. I’ve only
three horses, but I think they are tolerably good ones.”

The major now turned to Burton and said something in a low tone, to which
the other replied, “Well, if you say so, I’ll get it; but it’s devilish
dear.”

“Dear, my young friend! Cheap, dog cheap.”

“Only think, O’Malley, a whole brass bed, camp-stool, basin-stand, all
complete, for sixty pounds! If it was not that a widow was disposing of
it in great distress, one hundred could not buy it. Here we are; come
along,--no ceremony. Mind the two steps; that’s it, Mrs. Dalrymple, Mr.
O’Malley; Mr. Sparks, Mr. Burton, my daughters. Is tea over, girls?”

“Why, Papa, it’s nearly eleven o’clock,” said Fanny, as she rose to ring
the bell, displaying in so doing the least possible portion of a very
well-turned ankle.

Miss Matilda Dal laid down her book, but seemingly lost in abstraction, did
not deign to look at us. Mrs. Dalrymple, however, did the honors with much
politeness, and having by a few adroit and well-put queries ascertained
everything concerning our rank and position, seemed perfectly satisfied
that our intrusion was justifiable.

While my _confrère_, Mr. Sparks, was undergoing his examination I had time
to look at the ladies, whom I was much surprised at finding so very
well looking; and as the ensign had opened a conversation with Fanny, I
approached my chair towards the other, and having carelessly turned over
the leaves of the book she had been reading, drew her on to talk of it. As
my acquaintance with young ladies hitherto had been limited to those who
had “no soul,” I felt some difficulty at first in keeping up with the
exalted tone of my fair companion, but by letting her take the lead for
some time, I got to know more of the ground. We went on tolerably together,
every moment increasing my stock of technicals, which were all that was
needed to sustain the conversation. How often have I found the same plan
succeed, whether discussing a question of law or medicine, with a learned
professor of either! or, what is still more difficult, canvassing the
merits of a preacher or a doctrine with a serious young lady, whose
“blessed privileges” were at first a little puzzling to comprehend.

I so contrived it, too, that Miss Matilda should seem as much to be making
a convert to her views as to have found a person capable of sympathizing
with her; and thus, long before the little supper, with which it was the
major’s practice to regale his friends every evening, made its appearance,
we had established a perfect understanding together,--a circumstance that,
a bystander might have remarked, was productive of a more widely diffused
satisfaction than I could have myself seen any just cause for. Mr. Burton
was also progressing, as the Yankees say, with the sister; Sparks had
booked himself as purchaser of military stores enough to make the campaign
of the whole globe; and we were thus all evidently fulfilling our various
vocations, and affording perfect satisfaction to our entertainers.

Then came the spatch-cock, and the sandwiches, and the negus, which Fanny
first mixed for papa, and subsequently, with some little pressing, for Mr.
Burton; Matilda the romantic assisted _me_; Sparks helped himself. Then we
laughed, and told stories; pressed Sparks to sing, which, as he declined,
we only pressed the more. How, invariably, by-the-bye, is it the custom to
show one’s appreciation of anything like a butt by pressing him for a song!
The major was in great spirits; told us anecdotes of his early life in
India, and how he once contracted to supply the troops with milk, and made
a purchase, in consequence, of some score of cattle, which turned out to be
bullocks. Matilda recited some lines from Pope in my ear. Fanny challenged
Burton to a rowing match. Sparks listened to all around him, and Mrs.
Dalrymple mixed a very little weak punch, which Dr. Lucas had recommended
to her to take the last thing at night,--_Noctes coenoeque_ etc. Say
what you will, these were very jovial little _réunions_. The girls were
decidedly very pretty. We were in high favor; and when we took leave at the
door, with a very cordial shake hands, it was with no _arrière pensée_ we
promised to see them in the morning.



CHAPTER XXV.


THE ENTANGLEMENT.

When we think for a moment over all the toils, all the anxieties, all the
fevered excitement of a _grande passion_, it is not a little singular that
love should so frequently be elicited by a state of mere idleness; and yet
nothing, after all, is so predisposing a cause as this. Where is the man
between eighteen and eight-and-thirty--might I not say forty--who,
without any very pressing duns, and having no taste for strong liquor and
_rouge-et-noir_, can possibly lounge through the long hours of his day
without at least fancying himself in love? The thousand little occupations
it suggests become a necessity of existence; its very worries are like the
wholesome opposition that purifies and strengthens the frame of a free
state. Then, what is there half so sweet as the reflective flattery which
results from our appreciation of an object who in return deems us the _ne
plus ultra_ of perfection? There it is, in fact; that confounded bump of
self-esteem does it all, and has more imprudent matches to answer for than
all the occipital protuberances that ever scared poor Harriet Martineau.

Now, to apply my moralizing. I very soon, to use the mess phrase, got
“devilish spooney” about the “Dals.” The morning drill, the riding-school,
and the parade were all most fervently consigned to a certain military
character that shall be nameless, as detaining me from some appointment
made the evening before; for as I supped there each night, a party of one
kind or another was always planned for the day following. Sometimes we had
a boating excursion to Cove, sometimes a picnic at Foaty; now a rowing
party to Glanmire, or a ride, at which I furnished the cavalry. These
doings were all under my especial direction, and I thus became speedily
the organ of the Dalrymple family; and the simple phrase, “It was Mr.
O’Malley’s arrangement,” “Mr. O’Malley wished it,” was like the _Moi le
roi_ of Louis XIV.

Though all this while we continued to carry on most pleasantly, Mrs.
Dalrymple, I could perceive, did not entirely sympathize with our projects
of amusement. As an experienced engineer might feel when watching the
course of some storming projectile--some brilliant congreve--flying over
a besieged fortress, yet never touching the walls nor harming the
inhabitants, so she looked on at all these demonstrations of attack with
no small impatience, and wondered when would the breach be reported
practicable. Another puzzle also contributed its share of anxiety,--which
of the girls was it? To be sure, he spent three hours every morning with
Fanny; but then, he never left Matilda the whole evening. He had given his
miniature to one; a locket with his hair was a present to the sister.
The major thinks he saw his arm round Matilda’s waist in the garden; the
housemaid swears she saw him kiss Fanny in the pantry. Matilda smiles when
we talk of his name with her sister’s; Fanny laughs outright, and
says, “Poor Matilda! the man never dreamed of her.” This is becoming
uncomfortable. The major must ask his intentions. It is certainly one
or the other; but then, we have a right to know which. Such was a very
condensed view of Mrs. Dalrymple’s reflections on this important topic,--a
view taken with her usual tact and clear-sightedness.

Matters were in this state when Power at length arrived in Cork, to
take command of our detachment and make the final preparations for our
departure. I had been, as usual, spending the evening at the major’s, and
had just reached my quarters, when I found my friend sitting at my fire,
smoking his cigar and solacing himself with a little brandy-and-water.

“At last,” said he, as I entered,--“at last! Why, where the deuce have you
been till this hour,--past two o’clock? There is no ball, no assembly going
on, eh?”

“No,” said I, half blushing at the eagerness of the inquiry; “I’ve been
spending the evening with a friend.”

“Spending the evening! Say, rather, the night! Why, confound you, man, what
is there in Cork to keep you out of bed till near three?”

“Well, if you must know, I have been supping at a Major Dalrymple’s,--a
devilish good fellow, with two such daughters!”

“Ahem!” said Power, shutting one eye knowingly, and giving a look like a
Yorkshire horse-dealer. “Go on.”

“Why, what do you mean?”

“Go on; continue.”

“I’ve finished; I’ve nothing more to tell.”

“So, they’re here, are they?” said he, reflectingly.

“Who?” said I.

“Matilda and Fanny, to be sure.”

“Why, you know them, then?”

“I should think I do.”

“Where have you met them?”

“Where have I not? When I was in the Rifles they were quartered at Zante.
Matilda was just then coming it rather strong with Villiers, of ours, a
regular greenhorn. Fanny, also, nearly did for Harry Nesbitt, by riding a
hurdle race. Then they left for Gibraltar, in the year,--what year was it?”

“Come, come,” said I, “this is a humbug; the girls are quite young; you
just have heard their names.”

“Well, perhaps so; only tell me which is your peculiar weakness, as they
say in the west, and may be I’ll convince you.”

“Oh, as to that,” said I, laughing, “I’m not very far gone on either side.”

“Then, Matilda, probably, has not tried you with Cowley, eh?--you look a
little pink--‘There are hearts that live and love alone.’ Oh, poor fellow,
you’ve got it! By Jove, how you’ve been coming it, though, in ten days! She
ought not to have got to that for a month, at least; and how like a young
one it was, to be caught by the poetry. Oh, Master Charley, I thought that
the steeple-chaser might have done most with your Galway heart,--the girl
in the gray habit, that sings ‘Moddirederoo,’ ought to have been the prize!
Halt! by Saint George, but that tickles you also! Why, zounds, if I go on,
probably, at this rate, I’ll find a tender spot occupied by the ‘black
lady’ herself.”

It was no use concealing, or attempting to conceal, anything from my
inquisitive friend; so I mixed my grog, and opened my whole heart; told how
I had been conducting myself for the entire preceding fortnight; and when
I concluded, sat silently awaiting Power’s verdict, as though a jury were
about to pronounce upon my life.

“Have you ever written?”

“Never; except, perhaps, a few lines with tickets for the theatre, or
something of that kind.”

“Have you copies of your correspondence?”

“Of course not. Why, what do you mean?”

“Has Mrs. Dal ever been present; or, as the French say, has she assisted at
any of your tender interviews with the young ladies?”

“I’m not aware that one kisses a girl before mamma.”

“I’m not speaking of that; I merely allude to an ordinary flirtation.”

“Oh, I suppose she has seen me attentive.”

“Very awkward, indeed! There is only one point in your favor; for as your
attentions were not decided, and as the law does not, as yet, permit
polygamy--”

“Come, come, you know I never thought of marrying.”

“Ah, but they did.”

“Not a bit of it.”

“Ay, but they did. What do you wager but that the major asks your
intentions, as he calls it, the moment he hears the transport has arrived?”

“By Jove! now you remind me, he asked this evening, when he could have a
few minutes’ private conversation with me to-morrow, and I thought it was
about some confounded military chest or sea-store, or one of his infernal
contrivances that he every day assures me are indispensable; though, if
every officer had only as much baggage as I have got, under his directions,
it would take two armies, at least, to carry the effects of the fighting
one.”

“Poor fellow!” said he, starting upon his legs; “what a burst you’ve made
of it!” So saying, he began in a nasal twang,--

“I publish the banns of marriage between Charles O’Malley, late of his
Majesty’s 14th Dragoons, and ------ Dalrymple, spinster, of this city--”

“I’ll be hanged if you do, though,” said I, seeing pretty clearly, by this
time, something of the estimation my friends were held in. “Come, Power,
pull me through, like a good fellow,--pull me through, without doing
anything to hurt the girls’ feelings.”

“Well, we’ll see about it,” said he,--“we’ll see about it in the morning;
but, at the same time, let me assure you, the affair is not so easy as
you may at first blush suppose. These worthy people have been so often
‘done’--to use the cant phrase--before, that scarcely a _ruse_ remains
untried. It is of no use pleading that your family won’t consent; that your
prospects are null; that you are ordered for India; that you are engaged
elsewhere; that you have nothing but your pay; that you are too young or
too old,--all such reasons, good and valid with any other family, will
avail you little here. Neither will it serve your cause that you may
be warranted by a doctor as subject to periodical fits of insanity;
monomaniacal tendencies to cut somebody’s throat, etc. Bless your heart,
man, they have a soul above such littlenesses! They care nothing for
consent of friends, means, age, health, climate, prospects, or temper.
Firmly believing matrimony to be a lottery, they are not superstitious
about the number they pitch upon; provided only that they get a ticket,
they are content.”

“Then it strikes me, if what you say is correct, that I have no earthly
chance of escape, except some kind friend will undertake to shoot me.”

“That has been also tried.”

“Why, how do you mean?”

“A mock duel, got up at mess,--we had one at Malta. Poor Vickers was the
hero of that affair. It was right well planned, too. One of the letters
was suffered, by mere accident, to fall into Mrs. Dal’s hands, and she was
quite prepared for the event when he was reported shot the next morning.
Then the young lady, of course, whether she cared or not, was obliged to be
perfectly unconcerned, lest the story of engaged affections might get wind
and spoil another market. The thing went on admirably, till one day, some
few months later, they saw, in a confounded army-list, that the late
George Vickers was promoted to the 18th Dragoons, so that the trick was
discovered, and is, of course, stale at present.”

“Then could I not have a wife already, and a large family of interesting
babies?”

“No go,--only swell the damages, when they come to prosecute. Besides, your
age and looks forbid the assumption of such a fact. No, no; we must go
deeper to work.”

“But where shall we go?” said I, impatiently; “for it appears to me these
good people have been treated to every trick and subterfuge that ever
ingenuity suggested.”

“Come, I think I have it; but it will need a little more reflection.
So, now, let us to bed. I’ll give you the result of my lucubrations at
breakfast; and, if I mistake not, we may get you through this without any
ill-consequences. Good-night, then, old boy; and now dream away of your
lady-love till our next meeting.”



CHAPTER XXVI.


THE PREPARATION.

To prevent needless repetitions in my story, I shall not record here the
conversation which passed between my friend Power and myself on the morning
following at breakfast. Suffice it to say, that the plan proposed by him
for my rescue was one I agreed to adopt, reserving to myself, in case
of failure, a _pis aller_ of which I knew not the meaning, but of whose
efficacy Power assured me I need not doubt.

“If all fail,” said he,--“if every bridge break down beneath you, and no
road of escape be left, why, then, I believe you must have recourse to
another alternative. Still I should wish to avoid it, if possible, and I
put it to you, in honor, not to employ it unless as a last expedient. You
promise me this?”

“Of course,” said I, with great anxiety for the dread final measure. “What
is it?”

He paused, smiled dubiously, and resumed,--

“And, after all,--but, to be sure, there will not be need for it,--the
other plan will do,--must do. Come, come, O’Malley, the admiralty say that
nothing encourages drowning in the navy like a life-buoy. The men have such
a prospect of being picked up that they don’t mind falling overboard; so,
if I give you this life-preserver of mine, you’ll not swim an inch. Is it
not so, eh?”

“Far from it,” said I. “I shall feel in honor bound to exert myself the
more, because I now see how much it costs you to part with it.”

“Well, then, hear it. When everything fails; when all your resources are
exhausted; when you have totally lost your memory, in fact, and your
ingenuity in excuses say,--but mind, Charley, not till then,--say that you
must consult your friend, Captain Power, of the 14th; that’s all.”

“And is this it?” said I, quite disappointed at the lame and impotent
conclusion to all the high-sounding exordium; “is this all?”

“Yes,” said he, “that is all. But stop, Charley; is not that the major
crossing the street there? Yes, to be sure it is; and, by Jove! he has got
on the old braided frock this morning. Had you not told me one word of your
critical position, I should have guessed there was something in the wind
from that. That same vestment has caused many a stout heart to tremble that
never quailed before a shot or shell.”

“How can that be? I should like to hear.”

“Why, my dear boy, that’s his explanation coat, as we called it at
Gibraltar. He was never known to wear it except when asking some poor
fellow’s ‘intentions.’ He would no more think of sporting it as an
every-day affair, than the chief-justice would go cook-shooting in his
black cap and ermine. Come, he is bound for your quarters, and as it
will not answer our plans to let him see you now, you had better hasten
down-stairs, and get round by the back way into George’s Street, and you’ll
be at his house before he can return.”

Following Power’s directions, I seized my foraging-cap and got clear out of
the premises before the major had reached them. It was exactly noon as I
sounded my loud and now well-known summons at the major’s knocker. The door
was quickly opened; but instead of dashing up-stairs, four steps at a time,
as was my wont, to the drawing-room, I turned short into the dingy-looking
little parlor on the right, and desired Matthew, the venerable servitor of
the house, to say that I wished particularly to see Mrs. Dalrymple for a
few minutes, if the hour were not inconvenient.

There was something perhaps of excitement in my manner, some flurry in my
look, or some trepidation in my voice, or perhaps it was the unusual hour,
or the still more remarkable circumstance of my not going at once to the
drawing-room, that raised some doubts in Matthew’s mind as to the object of
my visit; and instead of at once complying with my request to inform Mrs.
Dalrymple that I was there, he cautiously closed the door, and taking a
quick but satisfactory glance round the apartment to assure himself that we
were alone, he placed his back against it and heaved a deep sigh.

We were both perfectly silent: I in total amazement at what the old man
could possibly mean; he, following up the train of his own thoughts,
comprehended little or nothing of my surprise, and evidently was so
engrossed by his reflections that he had neither ears nor eyes for aught
around him. There was a most singular semi-comic expression in the old
withered face that nearly made me laugh at first; but as I continued to
look steadily at it, I perceived that, despite the long-worn wrinkles that
low Irish drollery and fun had furrowed around the angles of his mouth, the
real character of his look was one of sorrowful compassion.

Doubtless, my readers have read many interesting narratives wherein the
unconscious traveller in some remote land has been warned of a plan to
murder him, by some mere passing wink, a look, a sign, which some one, less
steeped in crime, less hardened in iniquity than his fellows, has ventured
for his rescue. Sometimes, according to the taste of the narrator, the
interesting individual is an old woman, sometimes a young one, sometimes
a black-bearded bandit, sometimes a child; and not unfrequently, a dog is
humane enough to do this service. One thing, however, never varies,--be the
agent biped or quadruped, dumb or speechful, young or old, the stranger
invariably takes the hint, and gets off scott free for his sharpness. This
never-varying trick on the doomed man, I had often been sceptical enough to
suspect; however, I had not been many minutes a spectator of the old man’s
countenance, when I most thoroughly recanted my errors, and acknowledged
myself wrong. If ever the look of a man conveyed a warning, his did; but
there was more in it than even that,--there was a tone of sad and pitiful
compassion, such as an old gray-bearded rat might be supposed to put on at
seeing a young and inexperienced one opening the hinge of an iron trap,
to try its efficacy upon his neck. Many a little occasion had presented
itself, during my intimacy with the family, of doing Matthew some small
services, of making him some trifling presents; so that, when he assumed
before me the gesture and look I have mentioned, I was not long in
deciphering his intentions.

“Matthew!” screamed a sharp voice which I recognized at once for that of
Mrs. Dalrymple. “Matthew! Where is the old fool?”

But Matthew heard not, or heeded not.

“Matthew! Matthew! I say.”

“I’m comin’, ma’am,” said he, with a sigh, as, opening the parlor-door, he
turned upon me one look of such import that only the circumstances of my
story can explain its force, or my reader’s own ingenious imagination can
supply.

“Never fear, my good old friend,” said I, grasping his hand warmly, and
leaving a guinea in the palm,--“never fear.”

“God grant it, sir!” said he, setting on his wig in preparation for his
appearance in the drawing-room.

“Matthew! The old wretch!”

“Mr. O’Malley,” said the often-called Matthew, as opening the door, he
announced me unexpectedly among the ladies there assembled, who, not
hearing of my approach, were evidently not a little surprised and
astonished. Had I been really the enamored swain that the Dalrymple family
were willing to believe, I half suspect that the prospect before me might
have cured me of my passion. A round bullet-head, _papilloté_, with
the “Cork Observer,” where still-born babes and maids-of-all-work were
descanted upon in very legible type, was now the substitute for the classic
front and Italian ringlets of _la belle_ Matilda; while the chaste Fanny
herself, whose feet had been a fortune for a statuary, was, in the most
slatternly and slipshod attire, pacing the room in a towering rage, at
some thing, place, or person, unknown (to me). If the ballet-master at the
_Académie_ could only learn to get his imps, demons, angels, and goblins
“off” half as rapidly as the two young ladies retreated on my being
announced, I answer for the piece so brought out having a run for half the
season. Before my eyes had regained their position parallel to the plane of
the horizon, they were gone, and I found myself alone with Mrs. Dalrymple.
Now, she stood her ground, partly to cover the retreat of the main body,
partly, too, because--representing the baggage wagons, ammunition stores,
hospital, staff, etc.--her retirement from the field demanded more time and
circumspection than the light brigade.

Let not my readers suppose that the _mère_ Dalrymple was so perfectly
faultless in costume that her remaining was a matter of actual
indifference; far from it. She evidently had a struggle for it; but a sense
of duty decided her, and as Ney doggedly held back to cover the retreating
forces on the march from Moscow, so did she resolutely lurk behind till
the last flutter of the last petticoat assured her that the fugitives were
safe. Then did she hesitate for a moment what course to take; but as I
assumed my chair beside her, she composedly sat down, and crossing her
hands before her, waited for an explanation of this ill-timed visit.

Had the Horse Guards, in the plenitude of their power and the perfection of
their taste, ordained that the 79th and 42d Regiments should in future,
in lieu of their respective tartans, wear flannel kilts and black worsted
hose, I could readily have fallen into the error of mistaking Mrs.
Dalrymple for a field officer in the new regulation dress; the philabeg
finding no mean representation in a capacious pincushion that hung down
from her girdle, while a pair of shears, not scissors, corresponded to the
dirk. After several ineffectual efforts on her part to make her vestment (I
know not its fitting designation) cover more of her legs than its length
could possibly effect, and after some most bland smiles and half blushes at
_dishabille_, etc., were over, and that I had apologized most humbly for
the unusually early hour of my call, I proceeded to open my negotiations,
and unfurl my banner for the fray.

“The old ‘Racehorse’ has arrived at last,” said I, with a half-sigh, “and I
believe that we shall not obtain a very long time for our leave-taking; so
that, trespassing upon your very great kindness, I have ventured upon an
early call.”

“The ‘Racehorse,’ surely can’t sail to-morrow,” said Mrs. Dalrymple, whose
experience of such matters made her a very competent judge; “her stores--”

“Are taken in already,” said I; “and an order from the Horse Guards
commands us to embark in twenty-four hours; so that, in fact, we scarcely
have time to look about us.”

“Have you seen the major?” inquired Mrs. Dalrymple, eagerly.

“Not to-day,” I replied, carelessly; “but, of course, during the morning we
are sure to meet. I have many thanks yet to give him for all his most kind
attentions.”

“I know he is most anxious to see you,” said Mrs. Dalrymple, with a very
peculiar emphasis, and evidently desiring that I should inquire the
reasons of this anxiety. I, however, most heroically forbore indulging my
curiosity, and added that I should endeavor to find him on my way to the
barracks; and then, hastily looking at my watch, I pronounced it a full
hour later than it really was, and promising to spend the evening--my last
evening--with them, I took my leave and hurried away, in no small flurry to
be once more out of reach of Mrs. Dalrymple’s fire, which I every moment
expected to open upon me.



CHAPTER XXVII.


THE SUPPER.

Power and I dined together _tête-à-tête_ at the hotel, and sat chatting
over my adventures with the Dalrymples till nearly nine o’clock.

“Come, Charley,” said he, at length, “I see your eye wandering very often
towards the timepiece; another bumper, and I’ll let you off. What shall it
be?”

“What you like,” said I, upon whom a share of three bottles of strong
claret had already made a very satisfactory impression.

“Then champagne for the _coup-de-grace_. Nothing like your _vin mousseux_
for a critical moment,--every bubble that rises sparkling to the surface
prompts some bright thought, or elicits some brilliant idea, that would
only have been drowned in your more sober fluids. Here’s to the girl you
love, whoever she be.”

“To her bright eyes, then, be it,” said I, clearing off a brimming goblet
of nearly half the bottle, while my friend Power seemed multiplied into
any given number of gentlemen standing amidst something like a glass
manufactory of decanters.

“I hope you feel steady enough for this business,” said my friend,
examining me closely with the candle.

“I’m an archdeacon,” muttered I, with one eye involuntarily closing.

“You’ll not let them double on you!”

“Trust me, old boy,” said I, endeavoring to look knowing.

“I think you’ll do,” said he, “so now march. I’ll wait for you here,
and we’ll go on board together; for old Bloater the skipper says he’ll
certainly weigh by daybreak.”

“Till then,” said I, as opening the door, I proceeded very cautiously to
descend the stairs, affecting all the time considerable _nonchalance_, and
endeavoring, as well as my thickened utterance would permit, to hum:--

    “Oh, love is the soul of an Irish dragoon.”

If I was not in the most perfect possession of my faculties in the house,
the change to the open air certainly but little contributed to their
restoration; and I scarcely felt myself in the street when my brain became
absolutely one whirl of maddened and confused excitement. Time and space
are nothing to a man thus enlightened, and so they appeared to me; scarcely
a second had elapsed when I found myself standing in the Dalrymples’
drawing-room.

If a few hours had done much to metamorphose _me_, certes, they had done
something for my fair friends also; anything more unlike what they appeared
in the morning can scarcely be imagined. Matilda in black, with her hair in
heavy madonna bands upon her fair cheek, now paler even than usual, never
seemed so handsome; while Fanny, in a light-blue dress, with blue flowers
in her hair, and a blue sash, looked the most lovely piece of coquetry ever
man set his eyes upon. The old major, too, was smartened up, and put into
an old regimental coat that he had worn during the siege of Gibraltar; and
lastly, Mrs. Dalrymple herself was attired in a very imposing costume that
made her, to my not over-accurate judgment, look very like an elderly
bishop in a flame-colored cassock. Sparks was the only stranger, and
wore upon his countenance, as I entered, a look of very considerable
embarrassment that even my thick-sightedness could not fail of detecting.

_Parlez-moi de l’amitié_, my friends. Talk to me of the warm embrace of
your earliest friend, after years of absence; the cordial and heartfelt
shake hands of your old school companion, when in after years, a chance
meeting has brought you together, and you have had time and opportunity for
becoming distinguished and in repute, and are rather a good hit to be known
to than otherwise; of the close grip you give your second when he comes up
to say, that the gentleman with the loaded detonator opposite won’t fire,
that he feels he’s in the wrong. Any or all of these together, very
effective and powerful though they be, are light in the balance when
compared with the two-handed compression you receive from the gentleman
that expects you to marry one of his daughters.

“My dear O’Malley, how goes it? Thought you’d never come,” said he, still
holding me fast and looking me full in the face, to calculate the extent to
which my potations rendered his flattery feasible.

“Hurried to death with preparations, I suppose,” said Mrs. Dalrymple,
smiling blandly. “Fanny dear, some tea for him.”

“Oh, Mamma, he does not like all that sugar; surely not,” said she, looking
up with a most sweet expression, as though to say, “I at least know his
tastes.”

“I believed you were going without seeing us,” whispered Matilda, with a
very glassy look about the corner of her eyes.

Eloquence was not just then my forte, so that I contented myself with a
very intelligible look at Fanny, and a tender squeeze of Matilda’s hand, as
I seated myself at the table.

Scarcely had I placed myself at the tea-table, with Matilda beside and
Fanny opposite me, each vying with the other in their delicate and kind
attentions, when I totally forgot all my poor friend Power’s injunctions
and directions for my management. It is true, I remembered that there was
a scrape of some kind or other to be got out of, and one requiring some
dexterity, too; but what or with whom I could not for the life of me
determine. What the wine had begun, the bright eyes completed; and amidst
the witchcraft of silky tresses and sweet looks, I lost all my reflection,
till the impression of an impending difficulty remained fixed in my mind,
and I tortured my poor, weak, and erring intellect to detect it. At last,
and by a mere chance, my eyes fell upon Sparks; and by what mechanism I
contrived it, I know not, but I immediately saddled him with the whole of
my annoyances, and attributed to him and to his fault any embarrassment I
labored under.

The physiological reason of the fact I’m very ignorant of, but for the
truth and frequency I can well vouch, that there are certain people,
certain faces, certain voices, certain whiskers, legs, waistcoats, and
guard-chains, that inevitably produce the most striking effects upon the
brain of a gentleman already excited by wine, and not exactly cognizant of
his own peculiar fallacies.

These effects are not produced merely among those who are quarrelsome in
their cups, for I call the whole 14th to witness that I am not such; but to
any person so disguised, the inoffensiveness of the object is no security
on the other hand,--for I once knew an eight-day clock kicked down a
barrack stairs by an old Scotch major, because he thought it was laughing
at him. To this source alone, whatever it be, can I attribute the feeling
of rising indignation with which I contemplated the luckless cornet, who,
seated at the fire, unnoticed and uncared for, seemed a very unworthy
object to vent anger or ill-temper upon.

“Mr. Sparks, I fear,” said I, endeavoring at the time to call up a look of
very sovereign contempt,--“Mr. Sparks, I fear, regards my visit here in the
light of an intrusion.”

Had poor Mr. Sparks been told to proceed incontinently up the chimney
before him, he could not have looked more aghast. Reply was quite out of
his power. So sudden and unexpectedly was this charge of mine made that he
could only stare vacantly from one to the other; while I, warming with
my subject, and perhaps--but I’ll not swear it--stimulated by a gentle
pressure from a soft hand near me, continued:--

“If he thinks for one moment that my attentions in this family are in any
way to be questioned by him, I can only say--”

“My dear O’Malley, my dear boy!” said the major, with the look of a
father-in-law in his eye.

“The spirit of an officer and a gentleman spoke there,” said Mrs.
Dalrymple, now carried beyond all prudence by the hope that my attack might
arouse my dormant friend into a counter-declaration; nothing, however, was
further from poor Sparks, who began to think he had been unconsciously
drinking tea with five lunatics.

“If he supposes,” said I, rising from my chair, “that his silence will pass
with me as any palliation--”

“Oh, dear! oh, dear! there will be a duel. Papa, dear, why don’t you speak
to Mr. O’Malley?”

“There now, O’Malley, sit down. Don’t you see he is quite in error?”

“Then let him say so,” said I, fiercely.

“Ah, yes, to be sure,” said Fanny. “Do say it; say anything he likes, Mr.
Sparks.”

“I must say,” said Mrs. Dalrymple, “however sorry I may feel in my own
house to condemn any one, that Mr. Sparks is very much in the wrong.”

Poor Sparks looked like a man in a dream.

“If he will tell Charles,--Mr. O’Malley, I mean,” said Matilda, blushing
scarlet, “that he meant nothing by what he said--”

“But I never spoke, never opened my lips!” cried out the wretched man, at
length sufficiently recovered to defend himself.

“Oh, Mr. Sparks!”

“Oh, Mr. Sparks!”

“Oh, Mr. Sparks!” chorussed the three ladies.

While the old major brought up the rear with an “Oh, Sparks, I must say--”

“Then, by all the saints in the calendar, I must be mad,” said he; “but if
I have said anything to offend you, O’Malley, I am sincerely sorry for it.”

“That will do, sir,” said I, with a look of royal condescension at the
_amende_ I considered as somewhat late in coming, and resumed my seat.

This little _intermezzo_, it might be supposed, was rather calculated to
interrupt the harmony of our evening. Not so, however. I had apparently
acquitted myself like a hero, and was evidently in a white heat, in which I
could be fashioned into any shape. Sparks was humbled so far that he would
probably feel it a relief to make any proposition; so that by our opposite
courses we had both arrived at a point at which all the dexterity and
address of the family had been long since aiming without success.
Conversation then resumed its flow, and in a few minutes every trace of our
late _fracas_ had disappeared.

By degrees I felt myself more and more disposed to turn my attention
towards Matilda, and dropping my voice into a lower tone, opened a
flirtation of a most determined kind. Fanny had, meanwhile, assumed a place
beside Sparks, and by the muttered tones that passed between them, I could
plainly perceive they were similarly occupied. The major took up the
“Southern Reporter,” of which he appeared deep in the contemplation, while
Mrs. Dal herself buried her head in her embroidery and neither heard nor
saw anything around her.

I know, unfortunately, but very little what passed between myself and my
fair companion; I can only say that when supper was announced at twelve (an
hour later than usual), I was sitting upon the sofa with my arm round
her waist, my cheek so close that already her lovely tresses brushed my
forehead, and her breath fanned my burning brow.

“Supper, at last,” said the major, with a loud voice, to arouse us from
our trance of happiness without taking any mean opportunity of looking
unobserved. “Supper, Sparks, O’Malley; come now, it will be some time
before we all meet this way again.”

“Perhaps not so long, after all,” said I, knowingly.

“Very likely not,” echoed Sparks, in the same key.

“I’ve proposed for Fanny,” said he, whispering in my ear.

“Matilda’s mine,” replied I, with the look of an emperor.

“A word with you, Major,” said Sparks, his eye flashing with enthusiasm,
and his cheek scarlet. “One word,--I’ll not detain you.”

They withdrew into a corner for a few seconds, during which Mrs. Dalrymple
amused herself by wondering what the secret could be, why Mr. Sparks
couldn’t tell her, and Fanny meanwhile pretended to look for something at a
side table, and never turned her head round.

“Then give me your hand,” said the major, as he shook Sparks’s with a
warmth of whose sincerity there could be no question. “Bess, my love,” said
he, addressing his wife. The remainder was lost in a whisper; but whatever
it was, it evidently redounded to Sparks’s credit, for the next moment a
repetition of the hand-shaking took place, and Sparks looked the happiest
of men.

“_A mon tour_,” thought I, “now,” as I touched the major’s arm, and led him
towards the window. What I said may be one day matter for Major Dalrymple’s
memoirs, if he ever writes them; but for my part I have not the least idea.
I only know that while I was yet speaking he called over Mrs. Dal, who,
in a frenzy of joy, seized me in her arms and embraced me. After which, I
kissed her, shook hands with the major, kissed Matilda’s hand, and laughed
prodigiously, as though I had done something confoundedly droll,--a
sentiment evidently participated in by Sparks, who laughed too, as did the
others; and a merrier, happier party never sat down to supper.

“Make your company pleased with themselves,” says Mr. Walker, in his
_Original_ work upon dinner-giving, “and everything goes on well.” Now,
Major Dalrymple, without having read the authority in question, probably
because it was not written at the time, understood the principle fully
as well as the police-magistrate, and certainly was a proficient in the
practice of it.

To be sure, he possessed one grand requisite for success,--he seemed most
perfectly happy himself. There was that _air dégagé_ about him which, when
an old man puts it on among his juniors, is so very attractive. Then the
ladies, too, were evidently well pleased; and the usually austere mamma had
relaxed her “rigid front” into a smile in which any _habitué_ of the house
could have read our fate.

We ate, we drank, we ogled, smiled, squeezed hands beneath the table,
and, in fact, so pleasant a party had rarely assembled round the major’s
mahogany. As for me, I made a full disclosure of the most burning love,
backed by a resolve to marry my fair neighbor, and settle upon her a
considerably larger part of my native county than I had ever even rode
over. Sparks, on the other side, had opened his fire more cautiously,
but whether taking courage from my boldness, or perceiving with envy the
greater estimation I was held in, was now going the pace fully as fast as
myself, and had commenced explanations of his intentions with regard to
Fanny that evidently satisfied her friends. Meanwhile the wine was passing
very freely, and the hints half uttered an hour before began now to be more
openly spoken and canvassed.

Sparks and I hob-nobbed across the table and looked unspeakable things at
each other; the girls held down their heads; Mrs. Dal wiped her eyes; and
the major pronounced himself the happiest father in Europe.

It was now wearing late, or rather early; some gray streaks of dubious
light were faintly forcing their way through the half-closed curtains, and
the dread thought of parting first presented itself. A cavalry trumpet,
too, at this moment sounded a call that aroused us from our trance of
pleasure, and warned us that our moments were few. A dead silence crept
over all; the solemn feeling which leave-taking ever inspires was
uppermost, and none spoke. The major was the first to break it.

“O’Malley, my friend, and you, Mr. Sparks; I must have a word with you,
boys, before we part.”

“Here let it be, then, Major,” said I, holding his arm as he turned to
leave the room,--“here, now; we are all so deeply interested, no place is
so fit.”

“Well, then,” said the major, “as you desire it, now that I’m to regard
you both in the light of my sons-in-law,--at least, as pledged to become
so,--it is only fair as respects--”

“I see,--I understand perfectly,” interrupted I, whose passion for
conducting the whole affair myself was gradually gaining on me. “What
you mean is, that we should make known our intentions before some mutual
friends ere we part; eh, Sparks? eh, Major?”

“Right, my boy,--right on every point.”

“Well, then, I thought of all that; and if you’ll just send your servant
over to my quarters for our captain,--he’s the fittest person, you know, at
such a time--”

“How considerate!” said Mrs. Dalrymple.

“How perfectly just his idea is!” said the major.

“We’ll then, in his presence, avow our present and unalterable
determination as regards your fair daughters; and as the time is short--”

Here I turned towards Matilda, who placed her arm within mine; Sparks
possessed himself of Fanny’s hand, while the major and his wife consulted
for a few seconds.

“Well, O’Malley, all you propose is perfect. Now, then, for the captain.
Who shall he inquire for?”

[Illustration: CHARLES POPS THE QUESTION.]

“Oh, an old friend of yours,” said I, jocularly; “you’ll be glad to see
him.”

“Indeed!” said all together.

“Oh, yes, quite a surprise, I’ll warrant it.”

“Who can it be? Who on earth is it?”

“You can’t guess,” added I, with a very knowing look. “Knew you at Corfu; a
very intimate friend, indeed, if he tell the truth.”

A look of something like embarrassment passed around the circle at these
words, while I, wishing to end the mystery, resumed:--

“Come, then, who can be so proper for all parties, at a moment like this,
as our mutual friend Captain Power?”

Had a shell fallen into the cold grouse pie in the midst of us, scattering
death and destruction on every side, the effect could scarcely have been
more frightful than that my last words produced. Mrs. Dalrymple fell with
a sough upon the floor, motionless as a corpse; Fanny threw herself,
screaming, upon a sofa; Matilda went off into strong hysterics upon the
hearth-rug; while the major, after giving me a look a maniac might have
envied, rushed from the room in search of his pistols with a most terrific
oath to shoot somebody, whether Sparks or myself, or both of us, on his
return, I cannot say. Fanny’s sobs and Matilda’s cries, assisted by a
drumming process by Mrs. Dal’s heels upon the floor, made a most infernal
concert and effectually prevented anything like thought or reflection; and
in all probability so overwhelmed was I at the sudden catastrophe I had so
innocently caused, I should have waited in due patience for the major’s
return, had not Sparks seized my arm, and cried out,--

“Run for it, O’Malley; cut like fun, my boy, or we’re done for.”

“Run; why? What for? Where?” said I, stupefied by the scene before me.

“Here he is!” called out Sparks, as throwing up the window, he sprang out
upon the stone sill, and leaped into the street. I followed mechanically,
and jumped after him, just as the major had reached the window. A ball
whizzed by me, that soon determined my further movements; so, putting on
all speed, I flew down the street, turned the corner, and regained the
hotel breathless and without a hat, while Sparks arrived a moment later,
pale as a ghost, and trembling like an aspen-leaf.

“Safe, by Jove!” said Sparks, throwing himself into a chair, and panting
for breath.

“Safe, at last,” said I, without well knowing why or for what.

“You’ve had a sharp run of it, apparently,” said Power, coolly, and without
any curiosity as to the cause; “and now, let us on board; there goes the
trumpet again. The skipper is a surly old fellow, and we must not lose his
tide for him.” So saying, he proceeded to collect his cloaks, cane, etc.,
and get ready for departure.



CHAPTER XXVIII


THE VOYAGE.

When I awoke from the long, sound sleep which succeeded my last adventure,
I had some difficulty in remembering where I was or how I had come there.
From my narrow berth I looked out upon the now empty cabin, and at length
some misty and confused sense of my situation crept slowly over me. I
opened the little shutter beside me and looked out. The bold headlands of
the southern coast were frowning in sullen and dark masses about a couple
of miles distant, and I perceived that we were going fast through the
water, which was beautifully calm and still. I now looked at my watch;
it was past eight o’clock; and as it must evidently be evening, from the
appearance of the sky, I felt that I had slept soundly for above twelve
hours.

In the hurry of departure the cabin had not been set to rights, and there
lay every species of lumber and luggage in all imaginable confusion.
Trunks, gun-cases, baskets of eggs, umbrellas, hampers of sea-store,
cloaks, foraging-caps, maps, and sword-belts were scattered on every
side,--while the _débris_ of a dinner, not over-remarkable for its
propriety in table equipage, added to the ludicrous effect. The heavy tramp
of a foot overhead denoted the step of some one taking his short walk of
exercise; while the rough voice of the skipper, as he gave the word to “Go
about!” all convinced me that we were at last under way, and off to “the
wars.”

The confusion our last evening on shore produced in my brain was such
that every effort I made to remember anything about it only increased my
difficulty, and I felt myself in a web so tangled and inextricable that
all endeavor to escape free was impossible. Sometimes I thought that I had
really married Matilda Dalrymple; then, I supposed that the father had
called me out, and wounded me in a duel; and finally, I had some confused
notion about a quarrel with Sparks, but what for, when, and how it ended, I
knew not. How tremendously tipsy I must have been! was the only conclusion
I could draw from all these conflicting doubts; and after all, it was the
only thing like fact that beamed upon my mind. How I had come on board and
reached my berth was a matter I reserved for future inquiry, resolving that
about the real history of my last night on shore I would ask no questions,
if others were equally disposed to let it pass in silence.

I next began to wonder if Mike had looked after all my luggage, trunks,
etc., and whether he himself had been forgotten in our hasty departure.
About this latter point I was not destined for much doubt; for a well-known
voice, from the foot of the companion-ladder, at once proclaimed my
faithful follower, and evidenced his feelings at his departure from his
home and country.

Mr. Free was, at the time I mention, gathered up like a ball opposite a
small, low window that looked upon the bluff headlands now fast becoming
dim and misty as the night approached. He was apparently in low spirits,
and hummed in a species of low, droning voice, the following ballad, at the
end of each verse of which came an Irish chorus which, to the erudite in
such matters, will suggest the air of Moddirederoo:--

    MICKEY FREE’S LAMENT.

    Then fare ye well, ould Erin dear;
      To part, my heart does ache well:
    From Carrickfergus to Cape Clear,
      I’ll never see your equal.
    And though to foreign parts we’re bound,
      Where cannibals may ate us,
    We’ll ne’er forget the holy ground
      Of potteen and potatoes.
               Moddirederoo aroo, aroo, etc.

    When good Saint Patrick banished frogs,
      And shook them from his garment,
    He never thought we’d go abroad,
      To live upon such varmint;
    Nor quit the land where whiskey grew
      To wear King George’s button,
    Take vinegar for mountain dew,
      And toads for mountain mutton.
               Moddirederoo aroo, aroo, etc.

“I say, Mike, stop that confounded keen, and tell me where are we?”

“Off the ould head of Kinsale, sir.”

“Where is Captain Power?”

“Smoking a cigar on deck, with the captain, sir.”

“And Mr. Sparks?”

“Mighty sick in his own state-room. Oh, but it’s himself has enough of
glory--bad luck to it!--by this time. He’d make your heart break to look at
him.”

“Who have you got on board besides?”

“The adjutant’s here, sir; and an old gentleman they call the major.”

“Not Major Dalrymple?” said I, starting up with terror at the thought, “eh,
Mike?”

“No, sir, another major; his name is Mulroon, or Mundoon, or something like
that.”

“Monsoon, you son of a lumper potato,” cried out a surly, gruff voice from
a berth opposite. “Monsoon. Who’s at the other side?”

“Mr. O’Malley, 14th,” said I, by way of introduction.

“My service to you, then,” said the voice. “Going to join your regiment?”

“Yes; and you, are you bound on a similar errand?”

“No, Heaven be praised! I’m attached to the commissariat, and only going to
Lisbon. Have you had any dinner?”

“Not a morsel; have you?”

“No more than yourself; but I always lie by for three or four days this
way, till I get used to the confounded rocking and pitching, and with
a little grog and some sleep, get over the time gayly enough. Steward,
another tumbler like the last; there--very good--that will do. Your good
health, Mr.--what was it you said?”

“O’Malley.”

“O’Malley--your good health! Good-night.” And so ended our brief colloquy,
and in a few minutes more, a very decisive snore pronounced my friend to be
fulfilling his precept for killing the hours.

I now made the effort to emancipate myself from my crib, and at last
succeeded in getting on the floor, where, after one _chassez_ at a small
looking-glass opposite, followed by a very impetuous rush at a little brass
stove, in which I was interrupted by a trunk and laid prostrate, I finally
got my clothes on, and made my way to the deck. Little attuned as was my
mind at the moment to admire anything like scenery, it was impossible to be
unmoved by the magnificent prospect before me. It was a beautiful evening
in summer; the sun had set above an hour before, leaving behind him in the
west one vast arch of rich and burnished gold, stretching along the whole
horizon, and tipping all the summits of the heavy rolling sea, as it rolled
on, unbroken by foam or ripple, in vast moving mountains, from the far
coast of Labrador. We were already in blue water, though the bold cliffs
that were to form our departing point were but a few miles to leeward.
There lay the lofty bluff of Old Kinsale, whose crest, overhanging, peered
from a summit of some hundred feet into the deep water that swept its rocky
base, many a tangled lichen and straggling bough trailing in the flood
beneath. Here and there upon the coast a twinkling gleam proclaimed the hut
of the fisherman, whose swift hookers had more than once shot by us and
disappeared in a moment. The wind, which began to fall at sunset, freshened
as the moon rose; and the good ship, bending to the breeze, lay gently
over, and rushed through the waters with a sound of gladness. I was alone
upon the deck. Power and the captain, whom I expected to have found, had
disappeared somehow, and I was, after all, not sorry to be left to my own
reflections uninterrupted.

My thoughts turned once more to my home,--to my first, my best, earliest
friend, whose hearth I had rendered lonely and desolate, and my heart
sank within me as I remembered it. How deeply I reproached myself for the
selfish impetuosity with which I had ever followed any rising fancy, any
new and sudden desire, and never thought of him whose every hope was in,
whose every wish was for me. Alas! alas, my poor uncle! how gladly would
I resign every prospect my soldier’s life may hold out, with all its
glittering promise, and all the flattery of success, to be once more beside
you; to feel your warm and manly grasp; to see your smile; to hear your
voice; to be again where all our best feelings are born and nurtured, our
cares assuaged, our joys more joyed in, and our griefs more wept,--at home!
These very words have more music to my ears than all the softest strains
that ever siren sung. They bring us back to all we have loved, by ties that
are never felt but through such simple associations. And in the earlier
memories called up, our childish feelings come back once more to visit us
like better spirits, as we walk amidst the dreary desolation that years of
care and uneasiness have spread around us.

Wretched must he be who ne’er has felt such bliss; and thrice happy he who,
feeling it, knows that still there lives for him that same early home, with
all its loved inmates, its every dear and devoted object waiting his coming
and longing for his approach.

Such were my thoughts as I stood gazing at the bold line of coast now
gradually growing more and more dim while evening fell, and we continued
to stand farther out to sea. So absorbed was I all this time in my
reflections, that I never heard the voices which now suddenly burst upon my
ears quite close beside me. I turned, and saw for the first time that at
the end of the quarter-deck stood what is called a roundhouse, a small
cabin, from which the sounds in question proceeded. I walked gently forward
and peeped in, and certainly anything more in contrast with my late revery
need not be conceived. There sat the skipper, a bluff, round-faced,
jolly-looking little tar, mixing a bowl of punch at a table, at which sat
my friend Power, the adjutant, and a tall, meagre-looking Scotchman, whom
I once met in Cork, and heard that he was the doctor of some infantry
regiment. Two or three black bottles, a paper of cigars, and a tallow
candle were all the table equipage; but certainly the party seemed not to
want for spirits and fun, to judge from the hearty bursts of laughing that
every moment pealed forth, and shook the little building that held them.
Power, as usual with him, seemed to be taking the lead, and was evidently
amusing himself with the peculiarities of his companions.

“Come, Adjutant, fill up; here’s to the campaign before us. We, at least,
have nothing but pleasure in the anticipation; no lovely wife behind; no
charming babes to fret and be fretted for, eh?”

“Vara true,” said the doctor, who was mated with a _tartar_, “ye maun have
less regrets at leaving hame; but a married man is no’ entirely denied his
ain consolations.”

“Good sense in that,” said the skipper; “a wide berth and plenty of sea
room are not bad things now and then.”

“Is that your experience also?” said Power, with a knowing look. “Come,
come, Adjutant, we’re not so ill off, you see; but, by Jove, I can’t
imagine how it is a man ever comes to thirty without having at least one
wife,--without counting his colonial possessions of course.”

“Yes,” said the adjutant, with a sigh, as he drained his glass to the
bottom. “It is devilish strange,--woman, lovely woman!” Here he filled and
drank again, as though he had been proposing a toast for his own peculiar
drinking.

“I say, now,” resumed Power, catching at once that there was something
working in his mind,--“I say, now, how happened it that you, a right
good-looking, soldier-like fellow, that always made his way among the fair
ones, with that confounded roguish eye and slippery tongue,--how the deuce
did it come to pass that you never married?”

“I’ve been more than once on the verge of it,” said the adjutant, smiling
blandly at the flattery.

“And nae bad notion yours just to stay there,” said the doctor, with a very
peculiar contortion of countenance.

“No pleasing you, no contenting a fellow like you,” said Power, returning
to the charge; “that’s the thing; you get a certain ascendancy; you have a
kind of success that renders you, as the French say, _téte montée_, and you
think no woman rich enough or good-looking enough or big enough.”

“No; by Jove you’re wrong,” said the adjutant, swallowing the bait, hook
and all,--“quite wrong there; for some how, all my life, I was decidedly
susceptible. Not that I cared much for your blushing sixteen, or budding
beauties in white muslin, fresh from a back-board and a governess; no, my
taste inclined rather to the more sober charms of two or three-and-thirty,
the _embonpoint_, a good foot and ankle, a sensible breadth about the
shoulders--”

“Somewhat Dutch-like, I take it,” said the skipper, puffing out a volume of
smoke; “a little bluff in the bows, and great stowage, eh?”

“You leaned then towards the widows?” said Power.

“Exactly; I confess, a widow always was my weakness. There was something
I ever liked in the notion of a woman who had got over all the awkward
girlishness of early years, and had that self-possession which habit and
knowledge of the world confer, and knew enough of herself to understand
what she really wished, and where she would really go.”

“Like the trade winds,” puffed the skipper.

“Then, as regards fortune, they have a decided superiority over
the spinster class. I defy any man breathing,--let him be half
police-magistrate, half chancellor,--to find out the figure of a young
lady’s dower. On your first introduction to the house, some kind friend
whispers, ‘Go it, old boy; forty thousand, not a penny less.’ A few weeks
later, as the siege progresses, a maiden aunt, disposed to puffing, comes
down to twenty; this diminishes again one half, but then ‘the money is in
bank stock, hard Three-and-a-Half.’ You go a little farther, and as you sit
one day over your wine with papa, he certainly promulgates the fact that
his daughter has five thousand pounds, two of which turn out to be in
Mexican bonds, and three in an Irish mortgage.”

“Happy for you,” interrupted Power, “that it be not in Galway, where a
proposal to foreclose, would be a signal for your being called out and shot
without benefit of clergy.”

“Bad luck to it, for Galway,” said the adjutant. “I was nearly taken in
there once to marry a girl that her brother-in-law swore had eight hundred
a year; and it came out afterwards that so she had, but it was for one year
only; and he challenged me for doubting his word too.”

“There’s an old formula for finding out an Irish fortune,” says Power,
“worth, all the algebra they ever taught in Trinity. Take the half of the
assumed sum, and divide it by three; the quotient will be a flattering
representative of the figure sought for.”

“Not in the north,” said the adjutant, firmly,--“not in the north, Power.
They are all well off there. There’s a race of canny, thrifty, half-Scotch
niggers,--your pardon, Doctor, they are all Irish,--linen-weaving,
Presbyterian, yarn-factoring, long-nosed, hard-drinking fellows, that lay
by rather a snug thing now and then. Do you know, I was very near it once
in the north. I’ve half a mind to tell you the story; though, perhaps,
you’ll laugh at me.”

The whole party at once protested that nothing could induce them to deviate
so widely from the line of propriety; and the skipper having mixed a fresh
bowl and filled all the glasses round, the cigars were lighted, and the
adjutant began.



CHAPTER XXIX.


THE ADJUTANT’S STORY.--LIFE IN DERBY.

“It is now about eight, may be ten, years since we were ordered to march
from Belfast and take up our quarters in Londonderry. We had not been more
than a few weeks altogether in Ulster when the order came; and as we had
been, for the preceding two years, doing duty in the south and west, we
concluded that the island was tolerably the same in all parts. We opened
our campaign in the maiden city exactly as we had been doing with
‘unparalleled success’ in Cashel, Fermoy, Tuam, etc.,--that is to say, we
announced garrison balls and private theatricals; offered a cup to be run
for in steeple-chase; turned out a four-in-hand drag, with mottled grays;
and brought over two Deal boats to challenge the north.”

“The 18th found the place stupid,” said his companions.

“To be sure, they did; slow fellows like them must find any place stupid.
No dinners; but they gave none. No fun; but they had none in themselves.
In fact, we knew better; we understood how the thing was to be done, and
resolved that, as a mine of rich ore lay unworked, it was reserved for us
to produce the shining metal that others, less discerning, had failed to
discover. Little we knew of the matter; never was there a blunder like
ours. Were you ever in Derry?”

“Never,” said the three listeners.

“Well, then, let me inform you that the place has its own peculiar
features. In the first place, all the large towns in the south and west
have, besides the country neighborhood that surrounds them, a certain
sprinkling of gentlefolk, who, though with small fortunes and not much
usage of the world, are still a great accession to society, and make up the
blank which, even in the most thickly peopled country, would be sadly
felt without them. Now, in Derry, there is none of this. After the great
guns--and, _per Baccho!_ what great guns they are!--you have nothing but
the men engaged in commerce,--sharp, clever, shrewd, well-informed fellows;
they are deep in flax-seed, cunning in molasses, and not to be excelled
in all that pertains to coffee, sassafras, cinnamon, gum, oakum, and
elephants’ teeth. The place is a rich one, and the spirit of commerce is
felt throughout it. Nothing is cared for, nothing is talked of, nothing
alluded to, that does not bear upon this; and, in fact, if you haven’t a
venture in Smyrna figs, Memel timber, Dutch dolls, or some such commodity,
you are absolutely nothing, and might as well be at a ball with a cork leg,
or go deaf to the opera.”

“Now, when I’ve told thus much, I leave you to guess what impression our
triumphal entry into the city produced. Instead of the admiring crowds
that awaited us elsewhere, as we marched gayly into quarters, here we saw
nothing but grave, sober-looking, and, I confess it, intelligent-looking
faces, that scrutinized our appearance closely enough, but evidently with
no great approval and less enthusiasm. The men passed on hurriedly to the
counting-houses and wharves; the women, with almost as little interest,
peeped at us from the windows, and walked away again. Oh, how we wished for
Galway, glorious Galway, that paradise of the infantry that lies west of
the Shannon! Little we knew, as we ordered the band, in lively anticipation
of the gayeties before us, to strike up ‘Payne’s first set,’ that, to the
ears of the fair listeners in Ship Quay Street, the rumble of a sugar
hogshead or the crank of a weighing crane were more delightful music.”

“By Jove!” interrupted Power, “you are quite right. Women are strongly
imitative in their tastes. The lovely Italian, whose very costume is a
natural following of a Raphael, is no more like the pretty Liverpool damsel
than Genoa is to Glasnevin; and yet what the deuce have they, dear souls,
with their feet upon a soft carpet and their eyes upon the pages of Scott
or Byron, to do with all the cotton or dimity that ever was printed? But
let us not repine; that very plastic character is our greatest blessing.”

“I’m not so sure that it always exists,” said the doctor, dubiously, as
though his own experience pointed otherwise.

“Well, go ahead!” said the skipper, who evidently disliked the digression
thus interrupting the adjutant’s story.

“Well, we marched along, looking right and left at the pretty faces--and
there were plenty of them, too--that a momentary curiosity drew to the
windows; but although we smiled and ogled and leered as only a newly
arrived regiment can smile, ogle, or leer, by all that’s provoking we might
as well have wasted our blandishments upon the Presbyterian meeting-house,
that frowned upon us with its high-pitched roof and round windows.

“‘Droll people, these,’ said one; ‘Rayther rum ones,’ cried another; ‘The
black north, by Jove!’ said a third: and so we went along to the barracks,
somewhat displeased to think that, though the 18th were slow, they might
have met their match.

“Disappointed, as we undoubtedly felt, at the little enthusiasm that marked
our _entrée_, we still resolved to persist in our original plan, and
accordingly, early the following morning, announced our intention of giving
amateur theatricals. The mayor, who called upon our colonel, was the first
to learn this, and received the information with pretty much the same
kind of look the Archbishop of Canterbury might be supposed to assume if
requested by a a friend to ride ‘a Derby.’ The incredulous expression of
the poor man’s face, as he turned from one of us to the other, evidently
canvassing in his mind whether we might not, by some special dispensation
of Providence, be all insane, I shall never forget.

“His visit was a very short one; whether concluding that we were not quite
safe company, or whether our notification was too much for his nerves, I
know not.

“We were not to be balked, however. Our plans for gayety, long planned and
conned over, were soon announced in all form; and though we made efforts
almost super-human in the cause, our plays were performed to empty benches,
our balls were unattended, our picnic invitations politely declined, and,
in a word, all our advances treated with a cold and chilling politeness
that plainly said, ‘We’ll none of you.’

“Each day brought some new discomfiture, and as we met at mess, instead
of having, as heretofore, some prospect of pleasure and amusement to chat
over, it was only to talk gloomily over our miserable failures, and lament
the dreary quarters that our fates had doomed us to.

“Some months wore on in this fashion, and at length--what will not time
do?--we began, by degrees, to forget our woes. Some of us took to late
hours and brandy-and-water; others got sentimental, and wrote journals and
novels and poetry; some made acquaintances among the townspeople, and out
in to a quiet rubber to pass the evening; while another detachment, among
which I was, got up a little love affair to while away the tedious hours,
and cheat the lazy sun.

“I have already said something of my taste in beauty; now, Mrs. Boggs
was exactly the style of woman I fancied. She was a widow; she had black
eyes,--not your jet-black, sparkling, Dutch-doll eyes, that roll about and
twinkle, but mean nothing; no, hers had a soft, subdued, downcast, pensive
look about them, and were fully as melting a pair of orbs as any blue eyes
you ever looked at.

“Then, she had a short upper lip, and sweet teeth; by Jove, they were
pearls! and she showed them too, pretty often. Her figure was well-rounded,
plump, and what the French call _nette_. To complete all, her instep and
ankle were unexceptional; and lastly, her jointure was seven hundred pounds
per annum, with a trifle of eight thousand more that the late lamented
Boggs bequeathed, when, after four months of uninterrupted bliss, he left
Derry for another world.

“When chance first threw me in the way of the fair widow, some casual
coincidence of opinion happened to raise me in her estimation, and I soon
afterwards received an invitation to a small evening party at her house, to
which I alone of the regiment was asked.

“I shall not weary you with the details of my intimacy; it is enough that I
tell you I fell desperately in love. I began by visiting twice or thrice a
week, and in less than two months, spent every morning at her house, and
rarely left it till the ‘Roast beef’ announced mess.

“I soon discovered the widow’s cue; she was serious. Now, I had conducted
all manner of flirtatious in my previous life; timid young ladies, manly
young ladies, musical, artistical, poetical, and hysterical,--bless you, I
knew them all by heart; but never before had I to deal with a serious one,
and a widow to boot. The case was a trying one. For some weeks it was all
very up-hill work; all the red shot of warm affection I used to pour in on
other occasions was of no use here. The language of love, in which I was
no mean proficient, availed me not. Compliments and flattery, those rare
skirmishers before the engagement, were denied me; and I verily think that
a tender squeeze of the hand would have cost me my dismissal.

“‘How very slow, all this!’ thought I, as, at the end of two months siege,
I still found myself seated in the trenches, and not a single breach in the
fortress; ‘but, to be sure, it’s the way they have in the north, and one
must be patient.’

“While thus I was in no very sanguine frame of mind as to my prospects, in
reality my progress was very considerable. Having become a member of Mr.
M’Phun’s congregation, I was gradually rising in the estimation of the
widow and her friends, whom my constant attendance at meeting, and my very
serious demeanor had so far impressed that very grave deliberation was held
whether I should not be made an elder at the next brevet.

“If the widow Boggs had not been a very lovely and wealthy widow; had she
not possessed the eyes, lips, hips, ankles, and jointure aforesaid,--I
honestly avow that neither the charms of that sweet man Mr. M’Phun’s
eloquence, nor even the flattering distinction in store for me, would have
induced me to prolong my suit. However, I was not going to despair when in
sight of land. The widow was evidently softened. A little time longer, and
the most scrupulous moralist, the most rigid advocate for employing time
wisely, could not have objected to my daily system of courtship. I was
none of your sighing, dying, ogling, hand-squeezing, waist-pressing,
oath-swearing, everlasting-adoring affairs, with an interchange of rings
and lockets; not a bit of it. It was confoundedly like a controversial
meeting at the Rotundo, and I myself had a far greater resemblance to
Father Tom Maguire than a gay Lothario.

“After all, when mess-time came, when the ‘Roast beef’ played, and we
assembled at dinner, and the soup and fish had gone round, with two glasses
of sherry in, my spirits rallied, and a very jolly evening consoled me for
all my fatigues and exertions, and supplied me with energy for the morrow;
for, let me observe here, that I only made love before dinner. The evenings
I reserved for myself, assuring Mrs. Boggs that my regimental duties
required all my time after mess hour, in which I was perfectly correct:
for at six we dined; at seven I opened the claret No. 1; at eight I had
uncorked my second bottle; by half-past eight I was returning to the
sherry; and at ten, punctual to the moment, I was repairing to my quarters
on the back of my servant, Tim Daly, who had carried me safely for eight
years, without a single mistake, as the fox-hunters say. This was a way we
had in the --th. Every man was carried away from mess, some sooner, some
later. I was always an early riser, and went betimes.

“Now, although I had very abundant proof, from circumstantial evidence,
that I was nightly removed from the mess-room to my bed in the mode I
mention, it would have puzzled me sorely to prove the fact in any direct
way; inasmuch as by half-past nine, as the clock chimed, and Tim entered to
take me, I was very innocent of all that was going on, and except a certain
vague sense of regret at leaving the decanter, felt nothing whatever.

“It so chanced--what mere trifles are we ruled by in our destiny!--that
just as my suit with the widow had assumed its most favorable footing, old
General Hinks, that commanded the district, announced his coming over to
inspect our regiment. Over he came accordingly, and to be sure, we had a
day of it. We were paraded for six mortal hours; then we were marching and
countermarching, moving into line, back again into column, now forming open
column, then into square; till at last, we began to think that the old
general was like the Flying Dutchman, and was probably condemned to keep on
drilling us to the day of judgment. To be sure, he enlivened the proceeding
to me by pronouncing the regiment the worst-drilled and appointed corps in
the service, and the adjutant (me!) the stupidest dunderhead--these were
his words--he had ever met with.

“‘Never mind,’ thought I; ‘a few days more, and it’s little I’ll care for
the eighteen manoeuvres. It’s small trouble your eyes right or your left,
shoulders forward, will give me. I’ll sell out, and with the Widow Boggs
and seven hundred a year,--but no matter.’

“This confounded inspection lasted till half-past five in the afternoon; so
that our mess was delayed a full hour in consequence, and it was past seven
as we sat down to dinner. Our faces were grim enough as we met together at
first; but what will not a good dinner and good wine do for the surliest
party? By eight o’clock we began to feel somewhat more convivially
disposed; and before nine, the decanters were performing a quick-step round
the table, in a fashion very exhilarating and very jovial to look at.

“‘No flinching to-night,’ said the senior major. ‘We’ve had a severe day;
let us also have a merry evening.’

“‘By Jove! Ormond,’ cried another, ‘we must not leave this to-night.
Confound the old humbugs and their musty whist party; throw them over.’

“‘I say, Adjutant,’ said Forbes; addressing me, ‘you’ve nothing particular
to say to the fair widow this evening? You’ll not bolt, I hope?’

“‘That he sha’n’t,’ said one near me; ‘he must make up for his absence
to-morrow, for to-night we all stand fast.’

“‘Besides,’ said another, ‘she’s at meeting by this.
Old--what-d’ye-call-him?--is at fourteenthly before now.’

“‘A note for you, sir,’ said the mess waiter, presenting me with a
rose-colored three-cornered billet. It was from _la chère_ Boggs herself,
and ran thus:--

    DEAR SIR,--Mr. M’Phun and a few friends are coming to tea at
    my house after meeting; perhaps you will also favor us with your
    company.
    Yours truly,
    ELIZA BOGGS.

“What was to be done? Quit the mess; leave a jolly party just at the
jolliest moment; exchange Lafitte and red hermitage for a _soirée_ of
elders, presided over by that sweet man, Mr. M’Phun! It was too bad!--but
then, how much was in the scale! What would the widow say if I declined?
What would she think? I well knew that the invitation meant nothing less
than a full-dress parade of me before her friends, and that to decline was
perhaps to forfeit all my hopes in that quarter forever.

“‘Any answer, sir?’ said the waiter.

“‘Yes,’ said I, in a half-whisper, ‘I’ll go,--tell the servant, I’ll go.’

“At this moment my tender epistle was subtracted from before me, and ere I
had turned round, had made the tour of half the table. I never perceived
the circumstance, however, and filling my glass, professed my resolve to
sit to the last, with a mental reserve to take my departure at the very
first opportunity. Ormond and the paymaster quitted the room for a moment,
as if to give orders for a broil at twelve, and now all seemed to promise a
very convivial and well-sustained party for the night.

“‘Is that all arranged?’ inquired the major, as Ormond entered.

“‘All right,’ said he; ‘and now let us have a bumper and a song. Adjutant,
old boy, give us a chant.’

“‘What shall it be, then?’ inquired I, anxious to cover my intended retreat
by any appearance of joviality.

“‘Give us--

    “When I was in the Fusiliers
    Some fourteen years ago.”’

“‘No, no; confound it! I’ve heard nothing else since I joined the regiment.
Let us have the “Paymaster’s Daughter.”’

“‘Ah! that’s pathetic; I like that,’ lisped a young ensign.

“‘If I’m to have a vote,’ grunted out the senior major, ‘I pronounce for
“West India Quarters.”’

“‘Yes, yes,’ said half-a-dozen voices together; ‘let’s have “West India
Quarters.” Come, give him a glass of sherry, and let him begin.’

“I had scarcely finished off my glass, and cleared my throat for my song,
when the clock on the chimney-piece chimed half-past nine, and the same
instant I felt a heavy hand fall upon my shoulder. I turned and beheld my
servant Tim. This, as I have already mentioned, was the hour at which Tim
was in the habit of taking me home to my quarters; and though we had dined
an hour later, he took no notice of the circumstance, but true to his
custom, he was behind my chair. A very cursory glance at my ‘familiar’ was
quite sufficient to show me that we had somehow changed sides; for Tim, who
was habitually the most sober of mankind, was, on the present occasion,
exceedingly drunk, while I, a full hour before that consummation, was
perfectly sober.

“‘What d’ye want, sir?’ inquired I, with something of severity in my
manner.

“‘Come home,’ said Tim, with a hiccough that set the whole table in a roar.

“‘Leave the room this instant,’ said I, feeling wrath at being thus made
a butt of for his offences. ‘Leave the room, or I’ll kick you out of it.’
Now, this, let me add in a parenthesis, was somewhat of a boast, for Tim
was six feet three, and strong in proportion, and when in liquor, fearless
as a tiger.

“‘You’ll kick me out of the room, eh, will you? Try, only try it, that’s
all.’ Here a new roar of laughter burst forth, while Tim, again placing an
enormous paw upon my shoulder, continued, ‘Don’t be sitting there, making a
baste of yourself, when you’ve got enough. Don’t you see you’re drunk?’

“I sprang to my legs on this, and made a rush to the fireplace to secure
the poker; but Tim was beforehand with me, and seizing me by the waist with
both hands, flung me across his shoulders as though I were a baby, saying,
at the same time, ‘I’ll take you away at half-past eight to-morrow, as
you’re as rampageous again.’ I kicked, I plunged, I swore, I threatened, I
even begged and implored to be set down; but whether my voice was lost in
the uproar around me, or that Tim only regarded my denunciations in the
light of cursing, I know not, but he carried me bodily down the stairs,
steadying himself by one hand on the banisters, while with the other he
held me as in a vice. I had but one consolation all this while; it was
this, that as my quarters lay immediately behind the mess-room, Tim’s
excursion would soon come to an end, and I should be free once more; but
guess my terror to find that the drunken scoundrel, instead of going as
usual to the left, turned short to the right hand, and marched boldly
into Ship Quay Street. Every window in the mess-room was filled with our
fellows, absolutely shouting with laughter. ‘Go it Tim! That’s the fellow!
Hold him tight! Never let go!’ cried a dozen voices; while
the wretch, with the tenacity of drunkenness, gripped me still harder, and
took his way down the middle of the street.

[Illustration: THE ADJUTANT’S AFTER DINNER RIDE.]

“It was a beautiful evening in July, a soft summer night, as I made this
pleasing excursion down the most frequented thoroughfare in the maiden
city, my struggles every moment exciting roars of laughter from an
increasing crowd of spectators, who seemed scarcely less amused than
puzzled at the exhibition. In the midst of a torrent of imprecations
against my torturer, a loud noise attracted me. I turned my head, and
saw,--horror of horrors!--the door of the meeting-house just flung open,
and the congregation issuing forth _en masse_. Is it any wonder if I
remember no more? There I was, the chosen one of the widow Boggs, the elder
elect, the favored friend and admired associate of Mr. M’Phun, taking an
airing on a summer’s evening on the back of a drunken Irishman. Oh, the
thought was horrible! and certainly the short and pithy epithets by which I
was characterized in the crowd, neither improved my temper nor assuaged my
wrath, and I feel bound to confess that my own language was neither serious
nor becoming. Tim, however, cared little for all this, and pursued the even
tenor of his way through the whole crowd, nor stopped till, having made
half the circuit of the wall, he deposited me safe at my own door; adding,
as he set me down, ‘Oh, av you’re as throublesome every evening, it’s a
wheelbarrow I’ll be obleeged to bring for you!’

“The next day I obtained a short leave of absence, and ere a fortnight
expired, exchanged into the --th, preferring Halifax itself to the ridicule
that awaited me in Londonderry.”



CHAPTER XXX.


FRED POWER’S ADVENTURE IN PHILIPSTOWN.

The lazy hours of the long summer day crept slowly over. The sea, unbroken
by foam or ripple, shone like a broad blue mirror, reflecting here and
there some fleecy patches of snow-white cloud as they stood unmoved in the
sky. The good ship rocked to and fro with a heavy and lumbering motion, the
cordage rattled, the bulkheads creaked, the sails flapped lazily against
the masts, the very sea-gulls seemed to sleep as they rested on the long
swell that bore them along, and everything in sea and sky bespoke the calm.
No sailor trod the deck; no watch was stirring; the very tiller ropes were
deserted; and as they traversed backwards and forwards with every roll of
the vessel, told that we had no steerage-way, and lay a mere log upon the
water.

I sat alone in the bow, and fell into a musing fit upon the past and
the future. How happily for us is it ordained that in the most stirring
existences there are every here and there such little resting-spots of
reflection, from which, as from some eminence, we look back upon the road
we have been treading in life, and cast a wistful glance at the dark vista
before us! When first we set out upon our worldly pilgrimage, these are
indeed precious moments, when with buoyant heart and spirit high, believing
all things, trusting all things, our very youth comes back to us, reflected
from every object we meet; and like Narcissus, we are but worshipping our
own image in the water. As we go on in life, the cares, the anxieties, and
the business of the world engross us more and more, and such moments become
fewer and shorter. Many a bright dream has been dissolved, many a fairy
vision replaced, by some dark reality; blighted hopes, false friendships
have gradually worn callous the heart once alive to every gentle feeling,
and time begins to tell upon us,--yet still, as the well-remembered melody
to which we listened with delight in infancy brings to our mature age a
touch of early years, so will the very association of these happy moments
recur to us in our revery, and make us young again in thought. Then it is
that, as we look back upon our worldly career, we become convinced how
truly is the child the father of the man, how frequently are the projects
of our manhood the fruit of some boyish predilection; and that in the
emulative ardor that stirs the schoolboy’s heart, we may read the
_prestige_ of that high daring that makes a hero of its possessor.

These moments, too, are scarcely more pleasurable than they are salutary to
us. Disengaged for the time from every worldly anxiety, we pass in review
before our own selves, and in the solitude of our own hearts are we judged.
That still small voice of conscience, unheard and unlistened to amidst the
din and bustle of life, speaks audibly to us now; and while chastened
on one side by regrets, we are sustained on the other by some approving
thought; and with many a sorrow for the past, and many a promise for the
future, we begin to feel “how good it is for us to be here.”

The evening wore later; the red sun sank down upon the sea, growing larger
and larger; the long line of mellow gold that sheeted along the distant
horizon grew first of a dark ruddy tinge, then paler and paler, till it
became almost gray; a single star shone faintly in the east, and darkness
soon set in. With night came the wind, for almost imperceptibly the sails
swelled slowly out, a slight rustle at the bow followed, the ship lay
gently over, and we were once more in motion. It struck four bells; some
casual resemblance in the sound of the old pendulum that marked the hour at
my uncle’s house startled me so that I actually knew not where I was. With
lightning speed my once home rose up before me with its happy hearts; the
old familiar faces were there; the gay laugh was in my ears; there sat
my dear old uncle, as with bright eye and mellow voice he looked a very
welcome to his guests; there Boyle; there Considine; there the grim-visaged
portraits that graced the old walls whose black oak wainscot stood in broad
light and shadow, as the blazing turf fire shone upon it; there was my own
place, now vacant; methought my uncle’s eye was turned towards it and that
I heard him say, “My poor boy! I wonder where is he now!” My heart swelled,
my chest heaved, the tears coursed slowly down my cheeks, as I asked
myself, “Shall I ever see them more?” Oh, how little, how very little to us
are the accustomed blessings of our life till some change has robbed us of
them, and how dear are they when lost to us! My uncle’s dark foreboding
that we should never meet again on earth, came for the first time forcibly
to my mind, and my heart was full to bursting. What could repay me for
the agony of that moment as I thought of him, my first, my best, my only
friend, whom I had deserted? And how gladly would I have resigned my bright
day-dawn of ambition to be once more beside his chair, to hear his voice,
to see his smile, to feel his love for me! A loud laugh from the cabin
roused me from my sad, depressing revery, and at the same instant
Mike’s well-known voice informed me that the captain was looking for me
everywhere, as supper was on the table. Little as I felt disposed to join
the party at such a moment, as I knew there was no escaping Power, I
resolved to make the best of matters; so after a few minutes I followed
Mickey down the companion and entered the cabin.

The scene before me was certainly not calculated to perpetuate depressing
thoughts. At the head of a rude old-fashioned table, upon which figured
several black bottles and various ill-looking drinking vessels of every
shape and material, sat Fred Power; on his right was placed the skipper, on
his left the doctor,--the bronzed, merry-looking, weather-beaten features
of the one contrasting ludicrously with the pale, ascetic, acute-looking
expression of the other. Sparks, more than half-drunk, with the mark of a
red-hot cigar upon his nether lip, was lower down; while Major Monsoon, to
preserve the symmetry of the party, had protruded his head, surmounted by a
huge red nightcap, from the berth opposite, and held out his goblet to be
replenished from the punch-bowl.

“Welcome, thrice welcome, thou man of Galway!” cried out Power, as he
pointed to a seat, and pushed a wine-glass towards me. “Just in time, too,
to pronounce upon a new brewery. Taste that; a little more of the lemon you
would say, perhaps? Well, I agree with you. Rum and brandy, glenlivet
and guava jelly, limes, green tea, and a slight suspicion of preserved
ginger,--nothing else, upon honor,--and the most simple mixture for the
cure, the radical cure, of blue devils and debt I know of; eh, Doctor? You
advise it yourself, to be taken before bed-time; nothing inflammatory in
it, nothing pugnacious; a mere circulation of the better juices and more
genial spirits of the marly clay, without arousing any of the baser
passions; whiskey is the devil for that.”

“I canna say that I dinna like whiskey toddy,” said the doctor; “in the
cauld winter nights it’s no sae bad.”

“Ah, that’s it,” said Power; “there’s the pull you Scotch have upon us poor
Patlanders,--cool, calculating, long-headed fellows, you only come up to
the mark after fifteen tumblers; whereas we hot-brained devils, with a
blood at 212 degrees of Fahrenheit and a high-pressure engine of good
spirits always ready for an explosion, we go clean mad when tipsy; not but
I am fully convinced that a mad Irishman is worth two sane people of any
other country under heaven.”

“If you mean by that insin--insin--sinuation to imply any disrespect to the
English,” stuttered out Sparks, “I am bound to say that I for one, and the
doctor, I am sure, for another--”

“Na, na,” interrupted the doctor, “ye mauna coont upon me; I’m no disposed
to fetch ower our liquor.”

“Then, Major Monsoon, I’m certain--”

“Are ye, faith?” said the major, with a grin; “blessed are they who expect
nothing,--of which number you are not,--for most decidedly you shall be
disappointed.”

“Never mind, Sparks, take the whole fight to your own proper self, and
do battle like a man; and here I stand, ready at all arms to prove my
position,--that we drink better, sing better, court better, fight better,
and make better punch than every John Bull, from Berwick to the Land’s
End.”

Sparks, however, who seemed not exactly sure how far his antagonist was
disposed to quiz, relapsed into a half-tipsy expression of contemptuous
silence, and sipped his liquor without reply.

“Yes,” said Power, after a pause, “bad luck to it for whiskey; it nearly
got me broke once, and poor Tom O’Reilly of the 5th, too, the best-tempered
fellow in the service. We were as near it as touch and go; and all for some
confounded Loughrea spirits that we believed to be perfectly innocent, and
used to swill away freely without suspicion of any kind.”

“Let’s hear the story,” said I, “by all means.”

“It’s not a long one,” said Power, “so I don’t care if I tell it; and
besides, if I make a clean breast of my own sins, I’ll insist upon
Monsoon’s telling you afterwards how he stocked his cellar in Cadiz. Eh,
Major; there’s worse tipple than the King of Spain’s sherry?”

“You shall judge for yourself, old boy,” said Monsoon, good-humoredly; “and
as for the narrative, it is equally at your service. Of course it goes no
further. The commander-in-chief, long life to him! is a glorious fellow;
but he has no more idea of a joke than the Archbishop of Canterbury, and it
might chance to reach him.”

“Recount, and fear not!” cried Power; “we are discreet as the worshipful
company of apothecaries.”

“But you forget you are to lead the way.”

“Here goes, then,” said the jolly captain; “not that the story has any
merit in it, but the moral is beautiful.

“Ireland, to be sure, is a beautiful country; but somehow it would prove a
very dull one to be quartered in, if it were not that the people seem to
have a natural taste for the army. From the belle of Merrion Square down
to the inn-keeper’s daughter in Tralee, the loveliest part of the
creation seem to have a perfect appreciation of our high acquirements and
advantages; and in no other part of the globe, the Tonga Islands included,
is a red-coat more in favor. To be sure, they would be very ungrateful if
it were not the case; for we, upon our side, leave no stone unturned to
make ourselves agreeable. We ride, drink, play, and make love to the ladies
from Fairhead to Killarney, in a way greatly calculated to render us
popular; and as far as making the time pass pleasantly, we are the boys for
the ‘greatest happiness’ principle. I repeat it; we deserve our popularity.
Which of us does not get head and ears in debt with garrison balls and
steeple-chases, picnics, regattas, and the thousand-and-one inventions to
get rid of one’s spare cash,--so called for being so sparingly dealt out
by our governors? Now and then, too, when all else fails, we take a
newly-joined ensign and make him marry some pretty but penniless lass in
a country town, just to show the rest that we are not joking, but have
serious ideas of matrimony in the midst of all our flirtations. If it were
all like this, the Green Isle would be a paradise; but unluckily every now
and then one is condemned to some infernal place where there is neither a
pretty face nor tight ankle, where the priest himself is not a good fellow,
and long, ill-paved, straggling streets, filled on market days with booths
of striped calico and soapy cheese, is the only promenade, and a ruinous
barrack, with mouldy walls and a tumbling chimney, the only quarters.

“In vain, on your return from your morning stroll or afternoon canter, you
look on the chimney-piece for a shower of visiting-cards and pink notes of
invitation; in vain you ask your servant, ‘Has any one called.’ Alas,
your only visitor has been the ganger, to demand a party to assist in
still-hunting amidst that interesting class of the population who, having
nothing to eat, are engaged in devising drink, and care as much for the
life of a red-coat as you do for that of a crow or a curlew. This may seem
overdrawn; but I would ask you, Were you ever for your sins quartered in
that capital city of the Bog of Allen they call Philipstown? Oh, but it is
a romantic spot! They tell us somewhere that much of the expression of the
human face divine depends upon the objects which constantly surround us.
Thus the inhabitants of mountain districts imbibe, as it were, a certain
bold and daring character of expression from the scenery, very different
from the placid and monotonous look of those who dwell in plains and
valleys; and I can certainly credit the theory in this instance, for every
man, woman, and child you meet has a brown, baked, scruffy, turf-like face,
that fully satisfies you that if Adam were formed of clay the Philipstown
people were worse treated and only made of bog mould.

“Well, one fine morning poor Tom and myself were marched off from Birr,
where one might ‘live and love forever,’ to take up our quarters at this
sweet spot. Little we knew of Philipstown; and like my friend the adjutant
there, when he laid siege to Derry, we made our _entrée_ with all the pomp
we could muster, and though we had no band, our drums and fifes did duty
for it; and we brushed along through turf-creels and wicker-baskets of new
brogues that obstructed the street till we reached the barrack,--the only
testimony of admiration we met with being, I feel bound to admit, from a
ragged urchin of ten years, who, with a wattle in his hand, imitated me as
I marched along, and when I cried halt, took his leave of us by dexterously
fixing his thumb to the side of his nose and outstretching his fingers, as
if thus to convey a very strong hint that we were not half so fine fellows
as we thought ourselves. Well, four mortal summer months of hot sun and
cloudless sky went over, and still we lingered in that vile village, the
everlasting monotony of our days being marked by the same brief morning
drill, the same blue-legged chicken dinner, the same smoky Loughrea
whiskey, and the same evening stroll along the canal bank to watch for
the Dublin packet-boat, with its never-varying cargo of cattle-dealers,
priests, and peelers on their way to the west country, as though the demand
for such colonial productions in these parts was insatiable. This was
pleasant, you will say; but what was to be done? We had nothing else. Now,
nothing saps a man’s temper like _ennui_. The cranky, peevish people one
meets with would be excellent folk, if they only had something to do. As
for us, I’ll venture to say two men more disposed to go pleasantly down
the current of life it were hard to meet with; and yet, such was the
consequence of these confounded four months’ sequestration from all other
society, we became sour and cross-grained, everlastingly disputing
about trifles, and continually arguing about matters which neither were
interested in, nor, indeed, knew anything about. There were, it is true,
few topics to discuss; newspapers we never saw; sporting there was
none,--but then, the drill, the return of duty, the probable chances of our
being ordered for service, were all daily subjects to be talked over, and
usually with considerable asperity and bitterness. One point, however,
always served us when hard pushed for a bone of contention; and which,
begun by a mere accident at first, gradually increased to a sore and
peevish subject, and finally led to the consequences which I have hinted at
in the beginning. This was no less than the respective merits of our mutual
servants; each everlastingly indulging in a tirade against the other for
awkwardness, incivility, unhandiness,--charges, I am bound to confess, most
amply proved on either side.

“‘Well, I am sure, O’Reilly, if you can stand that fellow, it’s no affair
of mine; but such an ungainly savage I never met,’ I would say.

“To which he would reply, ‘Bad enough he is, certainly; but, by Jove! when
I only think of your Hottentot, I feel grateful for what I’ve got.’

“Then ensued a discussion, with attack, rejoinder, charge, and
recrimination till we retired for the night, wearied with our exertions,
and not a little ashamed of ourselves at bottom for our absurd warmth and
excitement. In the morning the matter would be rigidly avoided by each
party until some chance occasion had brought it on the _tapis_, when
hostilities would be immediately renewed, and carried on with the same
vigor, to end as before.

“In this agreeable state of matters we sat one warm summer evening before
the mess-room, under the shade of a canvas awning, discussing, by way of
refrigerant, our eighth tumbler of whiskey punch. We had, as usual, been
jarring away about everything under heaven. A lately arrived post-chaise,
with an old, stiff-looking gentleman in a queue, had formed a kind of
‘godsend’ for debate, as to who he was, whither he was going, whether
he really had intended to spend the night there, or that he only put up
because the chaise was broken; each, as was customary, maintaining his own
opinion with an obstinacy we have often since laughed at, though, at the
time, we had few mirthful thoughts about the matter.

“As the debate waxed warm, O’Reilly asserted that he positively knew
the individual in question to be a United Irishman, travelling with
instructions from the French government; while I laughed him to scorn by
swearing that he was the rector of Tyrrell’s Pass, that I knew him well,
and, moreover, that he was the worst preacher in Ireland. Singular enough
it was that all this while the disputed identity was himself standing
coolly at the inn window, with his snuff-box in his hand, leisurely
surveying us as we sat, appearing, at least, to take a very lively interest
in our debate.

“‘Come, now,’ said O’Reilly, ‘there’s only one way to conclude this, and
make you pay for your obstinacy. What will you bet that he’s the rector of
Tyrrell’s Pass?’

“‘What odds will you take that he’s Wolfe Tone?’ inquired I, sneeringly.

“‘Five to one against the rector,’ said he, exultingly.

“‘An elephant’s molar to a toothpick against Wolfe Tone,’ cried I.

“‘Ten pounds even that I’m nearer the mark than you,’ said Tom, with a
smash of his fist upon the table.

“‘Done,’ said I,--‘done. But how are we to decide the wager?’

“‘That’s soon done,’ said he. At the same instant he sprang to his legs and
called out: ‘Pat, I say, Pat, I want you to present my respects to--’

“‘No, no, I bar that; no _ex parte_ statements. Here, Jem, do you simply
tell that--’

“‘That fellow can’t deliver a message. Do come here, Pat. Just beg of--’

“‘He’ll blunder it, the confounded fool; so, Jem, do you go.’

“The two individuals thus addressed were just in the act of conveying a
tray of glasses and a spiced round of beef for supper into the mess-room;
and as I may remark that they fully entered into the feelings of jealousy
their respective masters professed, each eyed the other with a look of very
unequivocal dislike.

“‘Arrah! you needn’t be pushing me that way,’ said Pat, ‘an’ the round o’
beef in my hands.’

“‘Devil’s luck to ye, it’s the glasses you’ll be breaking with your awkward
elbow!’

“‘Then, why don’t ye leave the way? Ain’t I your suparior?’

“‘Ain’t I the captain’s own man?’

“‘Ay, and if you war. Don’t I belong to his betters? Isn’t my master the
two liftenants?’

“This, strange as it may sound, was so far true, as I held a commission in
an African corps, with my lieutenancy in the 5th.

“‘Be-gorra, av he was six--There now, you done it!’

“At the same moment, a tremendous crash took place and the large dish
fell in a thousand pieces on the pavement, while the spiced round rolled
pensively down the yard.

[Illustration: THE RIVAL FLUNKIES.]

“Scarcely was the noise heard when, with one vigorous kick, the tray of
glasses was sent spinning into the air, and the next moment the disputants
were engaged in bloody battle. It was at this moment that our attention was
first drawn towards them, and I need not say with what feelings of interest
we looked on.

“‘Hit him, Pat--there, Jem, under the guard! That’s it--go in! Well done,
left hand! By Jove! that was a facer! His eye’s closed--he’s down! Not a
bit of it--how do you like that? Unfair, unfair! No such thing! I say it
was! Not at all--I deny it!’

“By this time we had approached the combatants, each man patting his own
fellow on the back, and encouraging him by the most lavish promises. Now it
was, but in what way I never could exactly tell, that I threw out my right
hand to stop a blow that I saw coming rather too near me, when, by some
unhappy mischance, my doubled fist lighted upon Tom O’Reilly’s nose. Before
I could express my sincere regret for the accident, the blow was returned
with double force, and the next moment we were at it harder than the
others. After five minutes’ sharp work, we both stopped for breath, and
incontinently burst out a-laughing. There was Tom, with a nose as large as
three, a huge cheek on one side, and the whole head swinging round like a
harlequin’s; while I, with one eye closed, and the other like a half-shut
cockle-shell, looked scarcely less rueful. We had not much time for mirth,
for at the same instant a sharp, full voice called out close beside us--

“To your quarters, sirs. I put you both under arrest, from which you are
not to be released until the sentence of a court-martial decide if conduct
such as this becomes officers and gentlemen.’

“I looked round, and saw the old fellow in the queue.

“‘Wolfe Tone, by all that’s unlucky!’ said I, with an attempt at a smile.

“‘The rector of Tyrrell’s Pass,’ cried out Tom, with a snuffle; ‘the worst
preacher in Ireland--eh, Fred?’

“We had not much time for further commentaries upon our friend, for he at
once opened his frock coat, and displayed to our horrified gaze the uniform
of a general officer.

“‘Yes, sir, General Johnson, if you will allow me to present him to your
acquaintance; and now, guard, turn out.’

“In a few minutes more the orders were issued, and poor Tom and myself
found ourselves fast confined to our quarters, with a sentinel at the door,
and the pleasant prospect that, in the space of about ten days, we should
be broke, and dismissed the service; which verdict, as the general order
would say, the commander of the forces has been graciously pleased to
approve.

“However, when morning came the old general, who was really a trump,
inquired a little further into the matter, saw it was partly accidental,
and after a severe reprimand, and a caution about Loughrea whiskey after
the sixth tumbler, released us from arrest, and forgave the whole affair.”



CHAPTER XXXI.


THE VOYAGE CONTINUED.

Ugh, what a miserable thing is a voyage! Here we are now eight days at sea,
the eternal sameness of all around growing every hour less supportable.
Sea and sky are beautiful things when seen from the dark woods and waving
meadows on shore; but their picturesque effect is sadly marred from want
of contrast. Besides that, the “_toujours_ pork,” with crystals of salt as
long as your wife’s fingers; the potatoes that seemed varnished in French
polish; the tea seasoned with geological specimens from the basin of
London, ycleped maple sugar; and the butter--ye gods, the butter! But why
enumerate these smaller features of discomfort and omit the more glaring
ones?--the utter selfishness which blue water suggests, as inevitably as
the cold fit follows the ague. The good fellow that shares his knapsack
or his last guinea on land, here forages out the best corner to hang his
hammock; jockeys you into a comfortless crib, where the uncalked deck-butt
filters every rain from heaven on your head; votes you the corner
at dinner, not only that he may place you with your back to the
thorough-draught of the gangway ladder, but that he may eat, drink, and lie
down before you have even begun to feel the qualmishness that the dinner of
a troop-ship is well calculated to suggest; cuts his pencil with your best
razor; wears your shirts, as washing is scarce; and winds up all by having
a good story of you every evening for the edification of the other “sharp
gentlemen,” who, being too wide awake to be humbugged themselves, enjoy his
success prodigiously. This, gentle reader, is neither confession nor avowal
of mine. The passage I have here presented to you I have taken from
the journal of my brother officer, Mr. Sparks, who, when not otherwise
occupied, usually employed his time in committing to paper his thoughts
upon men, manners, and things at sea in general; though, sooth to say, his
was not an idle life. Being voted by unanimous consent “a junior,” he was
condemned to offices that the veriest fag in Eton or Harrow had rebelled
against. In the morning, under the pseudonym of _Mrs_. Sparks, he presided
at breakfast, having previously made tea, coffee, and chocolate for the
whole cabin, besides boiling about twenty eggs at various degrees of
hardness; he was under heavy recognizances to provide a plate of buttered
toast of very alarming magnitude, fried ham, kidneys, etc., to no end.
Later on, when others sauntered about the deck, vainly endeavoring to fix
their attention upon a novel or a review, the poor cornet might be seen
with a white apron tucked gracefully round his spare proportions, whipping
eggs for pancakes, or, with upturned shirt-sleeves, fashioning dough for
a pudding. As the day waned, the cook’s galley became his haunt, where,
exposed to a roasting fire, he inspected the details of a _cuisine_; for
which, whatever his demerits, he was sure of an ample remuneration in abuse
at dinner. Then came the dinner itself, that dread ordeal, where nothing
was praised and everything censured. This was followed by the punch-making,
where the tastes of six different and differing individuals were to be
exclusively consulted in the self-same beverage; and lastly, the supper at
night, when Sparkie, as he was familiarly called, towards evening grown
quite exhausted, became the subject of unmitigated wrath and most
unmeasured reprobation.

“I say, Sparks, it’s getting late. The spatch-cock, old boy. Don’t be
slumbering.”

“By-the-bye, Sparkie, what a mess you made of that pea-soup to-day! By
Jove, I never felt so ill in my life!”

“Na, na; it was na the soup. It was something he pit in the punch, that’s
burning me ever since I tuk it. Ou, man, but ye’re an awfu’ creture wi’
vittals!”

“He’ll improve, Doctor; he’ll improve. Don’t discourage him; the boy’s
young. Be alive now, there. Where’s the toast?--confound you, where’s the
toast?”

“There, Sparks, you like a drumstick, I know. Mustn’t muzzle the ox, eh?
Scripture for you, old boy. Eat away; hang the expense. Hand him over the
jug. Empty--eh, Charley? Come, Sparkie, bear a hand; the liquor’s out.”

“But won’t you let me eat?”

“Eat! Heavens, what a fellow for eating! By George, such an appetite is
clean against the articles of war! Come, man, it’s drink we’re thinking of.
There’s the rum, sugar, limes; see to the hot water. Well, Skipper, how are
we getting on?”

“Lying our course; eight knots off the log. Pass the rum. Why, Mister
Sparks!”

“Eh, Sparks, what’s this?”

“Sparks, my man, confound it!”

And then, _omnes_ chorussing “Sparks!” in every key of the gamut, the
luckless fellow would be obliged to jump up from his meagre fare and set to
work at a fresh brewage of punch for the others. The bowl and the glasses
filled, by some little management on Power’s part our friend the cornet
would be _drawn out_, as the phrase is, into some confession of his
early years, which seemed to have been exclusively spent in
love-making,--devotion to the fair being as integral a portion of his
character as tippling was of the worthy major’s.

Like most men who pass their lives in over-studious efforts to
please,--however ungallant the confession be,--the amiable Sparks had
had little success. His love, if not, as it generally happened, totally
unrequited, was invariably the source of some awkward catastrophe, there
being no imaginable error he had not at some time or other fallen into, nor
any conceivable mischance to which he had not been exposed. Inconsolable
widows, attached wives, fond mothers, newly-married brides, engaged
young ladies were by some _contretemps_ continually the subject of his
attachments; and the least mishap which followed the avowal of his passion
was to be heartily laughed at and obliged to leave the neighborhood.
Duels, apologies, actions at law, compensations, etc., were of every-day
occurrence, and to such an extent, too, that any man blessed with a smaller
bump upon the occiput would eventually have long since abandoned the
pursuit, and taken to some less expensive pleasure. But poor Sparks, in the
true spirit of a martyr, only gloried the more, the more he suffered; and
like the worthy man who continued to purchase tickets in the lottery for
thirty years, with nothing but a succession of blanks, he ever imagined
that Fortune was only trying his patience, and had some cool forty thousand
pounds of happiness waiting his perseverance in the end. Whether this prize
ever did turn up in the course of years, I am unable to say; but certainly,
up to the period of his history I now speak of, all had been as gloomy
and unrequiting as need be. Power, who knew something of every man’s
adventures, was aware of so much of poor Sparks’s career, and usually
contrived to lay a trap for a confession that generally served to amuse us
during an evening,--as much, I acknowledge, from the manner of the recital
as anything contained in the story. There was a species of serious
matter-of-fact simplicity in his detail of the most ridiculous scenes that
left you convinced that his bearing upon the affair in question must have
greatly heightened the absurdity,--nothing, however comic or droll in
itself, ever exciting in him the least approach to a smile. He sat with his
large light-blue eyes, light hair, long upper lip, and retreating chin,
lisping out an account of an adventure, with a look of Listen about him
that was inconceivably amusing.

“Come, Sparks,” said Power, “I claim a promise you made me the other night,
on condition we let you off making the oyster-patties at ten o’clock; you
can’t forget what I mean.” Here the captain knowingly touched the tip of
his ear, at which signal the cornet colored slightly, and drank off his
wine in a hurried, confused way. “He promised to tell us, Major, how
he lost the tip of his left ear. I have myself heard hints of the
circumstance, but would much rather hear Sparks’s own version of it.”

“Another love story,” said the doctor, with a grin, “I’ll be bound.”

“Shot off in a duel?” said I, inquiringly. “Close work, too.”

“No such thing,” replied Power; “but Sparks will enlighten you. It is,
without exception, the most touching and beautiful thing I ever heard. As a
simple story, it beats the ‘Vicar of Wakefield’ to sticks.”

“You don’t say so?” said poor Sparks, blushing.

“Ay, that I do; and maintain it, too. I’d rather be the hero of that little
adventure, and be able to recount it as you do,--for, mark me, that’s no
small part of the effect,--than I’d be full colonel of the regiment. Well,
I am sure I always thought it affecting. But, somehow, my dear friend, you
don’t know your powers; you have that within you would make the fortune of
half the periodicals going. Ask Monsoon or O’Malley there if I did not say
so at breakfast, when you were grilling the old hen,--which, by-the-bye,
let me remark, was not one of your _chefs-d’oeuvre_.”

“A tougher beastie I never put a tooth in.”

“But the story, the story,” said I.

“Yes,” said Power, with a tone of command, “the story, Sparks.”

“Well, if you really think it worth telling, as I have always felt it a
very remarkable incident, here goes.”



CHAPTER XXXII


MR. SPARKS’S STORY.

“I sat at breakfast one beautiful morning at the Goat Inn at Barmouth,
looking out of a window upon the lovely vale of Barmouth, with its tall
trees and brown trout-stream struggling through the woods, then turning
to take a view of the calm sea, that, speckled over with white-sailed
fishing-boats, stretched away in the distance. The eggs were fresh; the
trout newly caught; the cream delicious. Before me lay the ‘Plwdwddlwn
Advertiser,’ which, among the fashionable arrivals at the seaside, set
forth Mr. Sparks, nephew of Sir Toby Sparks, of Manchester,--a paragraph,
by the way, I always inserted. The English are naturally an aristocratic
people, and set a due value upon a title.”

“A very just observation,” remarked Power, seriously, while Sparks
continued.

“However, as far as any result from the announcement, I might as well have
spared myself the trouble, for not a single person called. Not one solitary
invitation to dinner, not a picnic, not a breakfast, no, nor even a
tea-party, was heard of. Barmouth, at the time I speak of, was just in that
transition state at which the caterpillar may be imagined, when, having
abandoned his reptile habits, he still has not succeeded in becoming a
butterfly. In fact, it had ceased to be a fishing village, but had not
arrived at the dignity of a watering-place. Now, I know nothing as bad as
this. You have not, on one hand, the quiet retirement of a little peaceful
hamlet, with its humble dwellings and cheap pleasures, nor have you the gay
and animated tableau of fashion in miniature, on the other; but you have
noise, din, bustle, confusion, beautiful scenery and lovely points of view
marred and ruined by vulgar associations. Every bold rock and jutting
promontory has its citizen occupants; every sandy cove or tide-washed bay
has its myriads of squalling babes and red baize-clad bathing women,--those
veritable descendants of the nymphs of old. Pink parasols, donkey-carts,
baskets of bread-and-butter, reticules, guides to Barmouth, specimens of
ore, fragments of gypsum meet you at every step, and destroy every illusion
of the picturesque.”

“‘I shall leave this,’ thought I. ‘My dreams, my long-cherished dreams of
romantic walks upon the sea-shore, of evening strolls by moonlight, through
dell and dingle, are reduced to a short promenade through an alley of
bathing-boxes, amidst a screaming population of nursery-maids and sick
children, with a thorough-bass of “Fresh shrimps!” discordant enough to
frighten the very fish from the shores. There is no peace, no quiet, no
romance, no poetry, no love.’ Alas, that most of all was wanting! For,
after all, what is it which lights up the heart, save the flame of a mutual
attachment? What gilds the fair stream of life, save the bright ray of warm
affection? What--”

“In a word,” said Power, “it is the sugar in the punch-bowl of our
existence. _Perge_, Sparks; push on.”

“I was not long in making up my mind. I called for my bill; I packed my
clothes; I ordered post-horses; I was ready to start; one item in the bill
alone detained me. The frequent occurrence of the enigmatical word ‘crw,’
following my servant’s name, demanded an explanation, which I was in the
act of receiving, when a chaise-and-four drove rapidly up to the house. In
a moment the blinds were drawn up, and such a head appeared at the window!
Let me pause for one moment to drink in the remembrance of that lovely
being,--eyes where heaven’s own blue seemed concentrated were shaded by
long, deep lashes of the darkest brown; a brow fair, noble, and expansive,
at each side of which masses of dark-brown hair waved half in ringlets,
half in loose falling bands, shadowing her pale and downy cheek, where one
faint rosebud tinge seemed lingering; lips slightly parted, as though to
speak, gave to the features all the play of animation which completed this
intellectual character, and made up--”

“What I should say was a devilish pretty girl,” interrupted Power.

“Back the widow against her at long odds, any day,” murmured the adjutant.

“She was an angel! an angel!” cried Sparks with enthusiasm.

“So was the widow, if you go to that,” said the adjutant, hastily.

“And so is Matilda Dalrymple,” said Power, with a sly look at me. “We are
all honorable men; eh, Charley?”

“Go ahead with the story,” said the skipper; “I’m beginning to feel an
interest in it.”

“‘Isabella,’ said a man’s voice, as a large, well-dressed personage
assisted her to alight,--‘Isabella, love, you must take a little rest here
before we proceed farther.’

“‘I think she had better, sir,’ said a matronly-looking woman, with a plaid
cloak and a black bonnet.

“They disappeared within the house, and I was left alone. The bright dream
was past: she was there no longer; but in my heart her image lived, and I
almost felt she was before me. I thought I heard her voice, I saw her move;
my limbs trembled; my hands tingled; I rang the bell, ordered my trunks
back again to No. 5, and as I sank upon the sofa, murmured to myself, ‘This
is indeed love at first sight.’”

“How devilish sudden it was,” said the skipper.

“Exactly like camp fever,” responded the doctor. “One moment ye are vara
well; the next ye are seized wi’ a kind of shivering; then comes a kind of
mandering, dandering, travelling a’overness.”

“D---- the camp fever,” interrupted Power.

“Well, as I observed, I fell in love; and here let me take the opportunity
of observing that all that we are in the habit of hearing about single or
only attachments is mere nonsense. No man is so capable of feeling deeply
as he who is in the daily practice of it. Love, like everything else in
this world, demands a species of cultivation. The mere tyro in an affair of
the heart thinks he has exhausted all its pleasures and pains; but only
he who has made it his daily study for years, familiarizing his mind with
every phase of the passion, can properly or adequately appreciate it. Thus,
the more you love, the better you love; the more frequently has your heart
yielded--”

“It’s vara like the mucous membrane,” said the doctor.

“I’ll break your neck with the decanter if you interrupt him again!”
 exclaimed Power.

“For days I scarcely ever left the house,” resumed Sparks, “watching to
catch one glance of the lovely Isabella. My farthest excursion was to the
little garden of the inn, where I used to set every imaginable species of
snare, in the event of her venturing to walk there. One day I would leave a
volume of poetry; another, a copy of Paul and Virginia with a marked page;
sometimes my guitar, with a broad, blue ribbon, would hang pensively from a
tree,--but, alas! all in vain; she never appeared. At length I took courage
to ask the waiter about her. For some minutes he could not comprehend what
I meant; but, at last, discovering my object, he cried out, ‘Oh, No. 8,
sir; it is No. 8 you mean?’

“‘It may be,’ said I. ‘What of her, then?’

“‘Oh, sir, she’s gone these three days.’

“‘Gone!’ said I, with a groan.

“‘Yes, sir; she left this early on Tuesday with the same old gentleman and
the old woman in a chaise-and-four. They ordered horses at Dolgelly to meet
them; but I don’t know which road they took afterwards.’

“I fell back on my chair unable to speak. Here was I enacting Romeo for
three mortal days to a mere company of Welsh waiters and chamber-maids,
sighing, serenading, reciting, attitudinizing, rose-plucking,
soliloquizing, half-suiciding, and all for the edification of a set of
savages, with about as much civilization as their own goats.

“‘The bill,’ cried I, in a voice of thunder; ‘my bill this instant.’

“I had been imposed upon shamefully, grossly imposed upon, and would not
remain another hour in the house. Such were my feelings at least, and so
thinking, I sent for my servant, abused him for not having my clothes ready
packed. He replied; I reiterated, and as my temper mounted, vented every
imaginable epithet upon his head, and concluded by paying him his wages and
sending him about his business. In one hour more I was upon the road.

“‘What road, sir,’ said the postilion, as he mounted into the saddle.

“‘To the devil, if you please,’ said I, throwing myself back in the
carriage.

“‘Very well, sir,’ replied the boy, putting spurs to his horse.

“That evening I arrived in Bedgellert.

“The little humble inn of Bedgellert, with its thatched roof and earthen
floor, was a most welcome sight to me, after eleven hours’ travelling on a
broiling July day. Behind the very house itself rose the mighty Snowdon,
towering high above the other mountains, whose lofty peaks were lost amidst
the clouds; before me was the narrow valley--”

“Wake me up when he’s under way again,” said the skipper, yawning
fearfully.

“Go on, Sparks,” said Power, encouragingly; “I was never more interested in
my life; eh, O’Malley?”

“Quite thrilling,” responded I, and Sparks resumed.

“Three weeks did I loiter about that sweet spot, my mind filled with images
of the past and dreams of the future, my fishing-rod my only companion.
Not, indeed, that I ever caught anything; for, somehow, my tackle was
always getting foul of some willow-tree or water-lily, and at last, I gave
up even the pretence of whipping the streams. Well, one day--I remember it
as well as though it were but yesterday, it was the 4th of August--I had
set off upon an excursion to Llanberris. I had crossed Snowdon early, and
reached the little lake on the opposite side by breakfast time. There I sat
down near the ruined tower of Dolbadern, and opening my knapsack, made a
hearty meal. I have ever been a day-dreamer; and there are few things I
like better than to lie, upon some hot and sunny day, in the tall grass
beneath the shade of some deep boughs, with running water murmuring near,
hearing the summer bee buzzing monotonously, and in the distance, the
clear, sharp tinkle of the sheep-bell. In such a place, at such a time,
one’s fancy strays playfully, like some happy child, and none but pleasant
thoughts present themselves. Fatigued by my long walk, and overcome by
heat, I fell asleep. How long I lay there I cannot tell, but the deep
shadows were half way down the tall mountain when I awoke. A sound had
startled me; I thought I heard a voice speaking close to me. I looked up,
and for some seconds I could not believe that I was not dreaming. Beside
me, within a few paces, stood Isabella, the beautiful vision that I had
seen at Barmouth, but far, a thousand times, more beautiful. She was
dressed in something like a peasant’s dress, and wore the round hat which,
in Wales at least, seems to suit the character of the female face so well;
her long and waving ringlets fell carelessly upon her shoulders, and her
cheek flushed from walking. Before I had a moment’s notice to recover my
roving thought, she spoke; her voice was full and round, but soft and
thrilling, as she said,--

“‘I beg pardon, sir, for having disturbed you unconsciously; but, having
done so, may I request you will assist me to fill this pitcher with water?’

“She pointed at the same time to a small stream which trickled down a
fissure in the rock, and formed a little well of clear water beneath. I
bowed deeply, and murmuring something, I know not what, took the pitcher
from her hand, and scaling the rocky cliff, mounted to the clear source
above, where having filled the vessel, I descended. When I reached the
ground beneath, I discovered that she was joined by another person whom,
in an instant, I recognized to be the old gentleman I had seen with her at
Barmouth, and who in the most courteous manner apologized for the trouble I
had been caused, and informed me that a party of his friends were enjoying
a little picnic quite near, and invited me to make one of them.

“I need not say that I accepted the invitation, nor that with delight I
seized the opportunity of forming an acquaintance with Isabella, who, I
must confess, upon her part showed no disinclination to the prospect of my
joining the party.

“After a few minutes’ walking, we came to a small rocky point which
projected for some distance into the lake, and offered a view for several
miles of the vale of Llanberris. Upon this lovely spot we found the party
assembled; they consisted of about fourteen or fifteen persons, all busily
engaged in the arrangement of a very excellent cold dinner, each individual
having some peculiar province allotted to him or her, to be performed by
their own hands. Thus, one elderly gentlemen was whipping cream under a
chestnut-tree, while a very fashionably-dressed young man was washing
radishes in the lake; an old lady with spectacles was frying salmon over a
wood-fire, opposite to a short, pursy man with a bald head and drab shorts,
deep in the mystery of a chicken salad, from which he never lifted his eyes
when I came up. It was thus I found how the fair Isabella’s lot had been
cast, as a drawer of water; she, with the others, contributing her share of
exertion for the common good. The old gentleman who accompanied her seemed
the only unoccupied person, and appeared to be regarded as the ruler of the
feast; at least, they all called him general, and implicitly followed every
suggestion he threw out. He was a man of a certain grave and quiet manner,
blended with a degree of mild good-nature and courtesy, that struck me much
at first, and gained greatly on me, even in the few minutes I conversed
with him as we came along. Just before he presented me to his friends, he
gently touched my arm, and drawing me aside, whispered in my ear:--

“‘Don’t be surprised at anything you may hear to-day here; for I must
inform you this is a kind of club, as I may call it, where every one
assumes a certain character, and is bound to sustain it under a penalty. We
have these little meetings every now and then; and as strangers are never
present, I feel some explanation necessary, that you may be able to enjoy
the thing,--you understand?’

“‘Oh, perfectly,’ said I, overjoyed at the novelty of the scene, and
anticipating much pleasure from my chance meeting with such very original
characters.

“‘Mr. Sparks, Mrs. Winterbottom. Allow me to present Mr. Sparks.’

“‘Any news from Batavia, young gentleman?’ said the sallow old lady
addressed. ‘How is coffee!’

“The general passed on, introducing me rapidly as he went.

“‘Mr. Doolittle, Mr. Sparks.’

“‘Ah, how do you do, old boy?’ said Mr. Doolittle; ‘sit down beside me. We
have forty thousand acres of pickled cabbage spoiling for want of a little
vinegar.’

“‘Fie, fie, Mr. Doolittle,’ said the general, and passed on to another.

“‘Mr. Sparks, Captain Crosstree.’

“‘Ah, Sparks, Sparks! son of old Blazes! ha, ha, ha!’ and the captain fell
back into an immoderate fit of laughter.

“_‘Le Rio est serci_,’ said the thin meagre figure in nankeens, bowing, cap
in hand, before the general; and accordingly, we all assumed our places
upon the grass.

“‘Say it again! Say it again, and I’ll plunge this dagger in your heart!’
said a hollow voice, tremulous with agitation and rage, close beside me. I
turned my head, and saw an old gentleman with a wart on his nose, sitting
opposite a meat-pie, which he was contemplating with a look of fiery
indignation. Before I could witness the sequel of the scene, I felt a soft
hand pressed upon mine. I turned. It was Isabella herself, who, looking at
me with an expression I shall never forget, said:--

“‘Don’t mind poor Faddy; he never hurts any one.’

“Meanwhile the business of dinner went on rapidly. The servants, of whom
enormous numbers were now present, ran hither and thither; and duck, ham,
pigeon-pie, cold veal, apple tarts, cheese, pickled salmon, melon, and rice
pudding, flourished on every side. As for me, whatever I might have gleaned
from the conversation around under other circumstances, I was too much
occupied with Isabella to think of any one else. My suit--for such it
was--progressed rapidly. There was evidently something favorable in the
circumstances we last met under; for her manner had all the warmth and
cordiality of old friendship. It is true that, more than once, I caught the
general’s eye fixed upon us with anything but an expression of pleasure,
and I thought that Isabella blushed and seemed confused also. ‘What care
I?’ however, was my reflection; ‘my views are honorable; and the nephew and
heir of Sir Toby Sparks--’ Just in the very act of making this reflection,
the old man in the shorts hit me in the eye with a roasted apple, calling
out at the moment:--

“‘When did you join, thou child of the pale-faces?’

“‘Mr. Murdocks!’ cried the general, in a voice of thunder; and the little
man hung down his head, and spoke not.

“‘A word with you, young gentleman,’ said a fat old lady, pinching my arm
above the elbow.

“‘Never mind her,’ said Isabella, smiling; ‘poor dear old Dorking, she
thinks she’s an hour-glass. How droll, isn’t it?’

“‘Young man, have you any feelings of humanity?’ inquired the old lady,
with tears in her eyes as she spoke; ‘will you, dare you assist a
fellow-creature under my sad circumstances?’

“‘What can I do for you, Madam?’ said I, really feeling for her distress.

“‘Just like a good dear soul, just turn me up, for I’m nearly run out.’

“Isabella burst out a laughing at the strange request,--an excess which, I
confess, I was unable myself to repress; upon which the old lady, putting
on a frown of the most ominous blackness, said:--

“‘You may laugh, Madam; but first before you ridicule the misfortunes of
others, ask yourself are you, too, free from infirmity? When did you see
the ace of spades, Madam? Answer me that.’

“Isabella became suddenly pale as death; her very lips blanched, and her
voice, almost inaudible, muttered:--

“‘Am I, then, deceived? Is not this he?’ So saying, she placed her hand
upon my shoulder.

“‘That the ace of spades?’ exclaimed the old lady, with a sneer,--‘that the
ace of spades!’

“‘Are you, or are you not, sir?’ said Isabella, fixing her deep and languid
eyes upon me. ‘Answer me, as you are honest; are you the ace of spades?’

“‘He is the King of Tuscarora. Look at his war paint!’ cried an elderly
gentleman, putting a streak of mustard across my nose and cheek.

“‘Then am I deceived,’ said Isabella. And flying at me, she plucked a
handful of hair out of my whiskers.

“‘Cuckoo, cuckoo!’ shouted one; ‘Bow-wow-wow!’ roared another; ‘Phiz!’ went
a third; and in an instant, such a scene of commotion and riot ensued.
Plates, dishes, knives, forks, and decanters flew right and left; every
one pitched into his neighbor with the most fearful cries, and hell itself
seemed broke loose. The hour-glass and the Moulah of Oude had got me down
and were pummelling me to death, when a short, thickset man came on all
fours slap down upon them shouting out, ‘Way, make way for the royal Bengal
tiger!’ at which they both fled like lightning, leaving me to the encounter
single-handed. Fortunately, however, this was not of very long duration,
for some well-disposed Christians pulled him from off me; not, however,
before he had seized me in his grasp, and bitten off a portion of my left
ear, leaving me, as you see, thus mutilated for the rest of my days.”

“What an extraordinary club,” broke in the doctor.

“Club, sir, club! it was a lunatic asylum. The general was no other than
the famous Dr. Andrew Moorville, that had the great madhouse at Bangor, and
who was in the habit of giving his patients every now and then a kind of
country party; it being one remarkable feature of their malady that when
one takes to his peculiar flight, whatever it be, the others immediately
take the hint and go off at score. Hence my agreeable adventure: the Bengal
tiger being a Liverpool merchant, and the most vivacious madman in England;
while the hour-glass and the Moulah were both on an experimental tour to
see whether they should not be pronounced totally incurable for life.”

“And Isabella?” inquired Power.

“Ah, poor Isabella had been driven mad by a card-playing aunt at Bath, and
was in fact the most hopeless case there. The last words I heard her speak
confirmed my mournful impression of her case,--

“‘Yes,’ said she, as they removed her to her carriage, ‘I must, indeed,
have but a weak intellect, when I could have taken the nephew of a
Manchester cotton-spinner, with a face like a printed calico, for a trump
card, and the best in the pack!’”

Poor Sparks uttered these last words with a faltering accent, and finishing
his glass at one draught withdrew without wishing us good-night.



CHAPTER XXXIII.


THE SKIPPER.

In such like gossipings passed our days away, for our voyage itself had
nothing of adventure or incident to break its dull monotony; save some few
hours of calm, we had been steadily following our seaward track with a fair
breeze, and the long pennant pointed ever to the land where our ardent
expectations were hurrying before it.

The latest accounts which had reached us from the Peninsula told that our
regiment was almost daily engaged; and we burned with impatience to share
with the others the glory they were reaping. Power, who had seen service,
felt less on this score than we who had not “fleshed our maiden swords;”
 but even he sometimes gave way, and when the wind fell toward sunset, he
would break out into some exclamation of discontent, half fearing we should
be too late. “For,” said he, “if we go on in this way the regiment will be
relieved and ordered home before we reach it.”

“Never fear, my boys, you’ll have enough of it. Both sides like the work
too well to give in; they’ve got a capital ground and plenty of spare
time,” said the major.

“Only to think,” cried Power, “that we should be lounging away our idle
hours when these gallant fellows are in the saddle late and early. It is
too bad; eh, O’Malley? You’ll not be pleased to go back with the polish on
your sabre? What will Lucy Dashwood say?”

This was the first allusion Power had ever made to her, and I became red to
the very forehead.

“By-the-bye,” added he, “I have a letter for Hammersley, which should
rather have been entrusted to your keeping.”

At these words I felt cold as death, while he continued:--

“Poor fellow! certainly he is most desperately smitten; for, mark me, when
a man at his age takes the malady, it is forty times as severe as with a
younger fellow, like you. But then, to be sure, he began at the wrong end
in the matter; why commence with papa? When a man has his own consent for
liking a girl, he must be a contemptible fellow if he can’t get her; and as
to anything else being wanting, I don’t understand it. But the moment you
begin by influencing the heads of the house, good-by to your chances with
the dear thing herself, if she have any spirit whatever. It is, in fact,
calling on her to surrender without the honors of war; and what girl would
stand that?”

“It’s vara true,” said the doctor; “there’s a strong speerit of opposition
in the sex, from physiological causes.”

“Curse your physiology, old Galen; what you call opposition, is that
piquant resistance to oppression that makes half the charm of the sex.
It is with them--with reverence be it spoken--as with horses: the dull,
heavy-shouldered ones, that bore away with the bit in their teeth, never
caring whether you are pulling to the right or to the left, are worth
nothing; the real luxury is in the management of your arching-necked
curvetter, springing from side to side with every motion of your wrist,
madly bounding at restraint, yet, to the practised hand, held in check with
a silk tread. Eh, Skipper, am I not right?”

“Well, I can’t say I’ve had much to do with horse-beasts, but I believe
you’re not far wrong. The lively craft that answers the helm quick, goes
round well in stays, luffs up close within a point or two, when you want
her, is always a good sea-boat, even though she pitches and rolls a bit;
but the heavy lugger that never knows whether your helm is up or down,
whether she’s off the wind or on it, is only fit for firewood,--you can do
nothing with a ship or a woman if she hasn’t got steerage way on her.”

“Come, Skipper, we’ve all been telling our stories; let us hear one of
yours?”

“My yarn won’t come so well after your sky-scrapers of love and courting
and all that. But if you like to hear what happened to me once, I have no
objection to tell you.

“I often think how little we know what’s going to happen to us any minute
of our lives. To-day we have the breeze fair in our favor, we are going
seven knots, studding-sails set, smooth water, and plenty of sea-room;
to-morrow the wind freshens to half a gale, the sea gets up, a rocky coast
is seen from the lee bow, and may be--to add to all--we spring a leak
forward; but then, after all, bad as it looks, mayhap, we rub through even
this, and with the next day, the prospect is as bright and cheering as
ever. You’ll perhaps ask me what has all this moralizing to do with women
and ships at sea? Nothing at all with them, except that I was a going to
say, that when matters look worst, very often the best is in store for us,
and we should never say strike when there is a timber together. Now for my
story:--

“It’s about four years ago, I was strolling one evening down the side of
the harbor at Cove, with my hands in my pocket, having nothing to do, nor
no prospect of it, for my last ship had been wrecked off the Bermudas, and
nearly all the crew lost; and somehow, when a man is in misfortune, the
underwriters won’t have him at no price. Well, there I was, looking about
me at the craft that lay on every side waiting for a fair wind to run down
channel. All was active and busy; every one getting his vessel ship-shape
and tidy,--tarring, painting, mending sails, stretching new bunting, and
getting in sea-store; boats were plying on every side, signals flying, guns
firing from the men-of-war, and everything was lively as might be,--all but
me. There I was, like an old water-logged timber ship, never moving a spar,
but looking for all the world as though I were a settling fast to go down
stern foremost: may be as how I had no objection to that same; but that’s
neither here nor there. Well, I sat down on the fluke of an anchor, and
began a thinking if it wasn’t better to go before the mast than live on
that way. Just before me, where I sat down, there was an old schooner that
lay moored in the same place for as long as I could remember. She was there
when I was a boy, and never looked a bit the fresher nor newer as long as I
recollected; her old bluff bows, her high poop, her round stern, her flush
deck, all Dutch-like, I knew them well, and many a time I delighted to
think what queer kind of a chap he was that first set her on the stocks,
and pondered in what trade she ever could have been. All the sailors about
the port used to call her Noah’s Ark, and swear she was the identical craft
that he stowed away all the wild beasts in during the rainy season. Be that
as it might, since I fell into misfortune, I got to feel a liking for the
old schooner; she was like an old friend; she never changed to me, fair
weather or foul; there she was, just the same as thirty years before, when
all the world were forgetting and steering wide away from me. Every morning
I used to go down to the harbor and have a look at her, just to see that
all was right and nothing stirred; and if it blew very hard at night, I’d
get up and go down to look how she weathered it, just as if I was at sea in
her. Now and then I’d get some of the watermen to row me aboard of her, and
leave me there for a few hours; when I used to be quite happy walking the
deck, holding the old worm-eaten wheel, looking out ahead, and going down
below, just as though I was in command of her. Day after day this habit
grew on me, and at last my whole life was spent in watching her and looking
after her,---there was something so much alike in our fortunes, that
I always thought of her. Like myself, she had had her day of life and
activity; we had both braved the storm and the breeze; her shattered
bulwarks and worn cutwater attested that she had, like myself, not escaped
her calamities. We both had survived our dangers, to be neglected and
forgotten, and to lie rotting on the stream of life till the crumbling hand
of Time should break us up, timber by timber. Is it any wonder if I loved
the old craft; nor if by any chance the idle boys would venture aboard
of her to play and amuse themselves that I hallooed them away; or when a
newly-arrived ship, not caring for the old boat, would run foul of her, and
carry away some spar or piece of running rigging, I would suddenly call out
to them to sheer off and not damage us? By degrees, they came all to notice
this; and I found that they thought me out of my senses, and many a trick
was played off upon old Noah, for that was the name the sailors gave me.

“Well, this evening, as I was saying, I sat upon the fluke of the anchor,
waiting for a chance boat to put me aboard. It was past sunset, the tide
was ebbing, and the old craft was surging to the fast current that ran by
with a short, impatient jerk, as though she were well weary, and wished to
be at rest; her loose stays creaked mournfully, and as she yawed over, the
sea ran from many a breach in her worn sides, like blood trickling from a
wound. ‘Ay, ay,’ thought I, ‘the hour is not far off; another stiff gale,
and all that remains of you will be found high and dry upon the shore.’ My
heart was very heavy as I thought of this; for in my loneliness, the old
Ark--though that was not her name, as I’ll tell you presently--was all
the companion I had. I’ve heard of a poor prisoner who, for many and many
years, watched a spider that wove his web within his window, and never lost
sight of him from morning till night; and somehow, I can believe it well.
The heart will cling to something, and if it has no living object to press
to, it will find a lifeless one,--it can no more stand alone than the
shrouds can without the mast. The evening wore on, as I was thinking thus;
the moon shone out, but no boat came, and I was just determining to go home
again for the night, when I saw two men standing on the steps of the wharf
below me, and looking straight at the Ark. Now, I must tell you I always
felt uneasy when any one came to look at her; for I began to fear that some
shipowner or other would buy her to break up, though, except the copper
fastenings, there was little of any value about her. Now, the moment I saw
the two figures stop short, and point to her, I said to myself, ‘Ah, my old
girl, so they won’t even let the blue water finish you, but they must
set their carpenters and dockyard people to work upon you.’ This thought
grieved me more and more. Had a stiff sou’-wester laid her over, I should
have felt it more natural, for her sand was run out; but just as this
passed through my mind, I heard a voice from one of the persons, that I at
once knew to be the port admiral’s:--

“‘Well, Dawkins,’ said he to the other, ‘if you think she’ll hold together,
I’m sure I’ve no objection. I don’t like the job, I confess; but still the
Admiralty must be obeyed.’

“‘Oh, my lord,’ said the other, ‘she’s the very thing; she’s a
rakish-looking craft, and will do admirably. Any repair we want, a few days
will effect; secrecy is the great thing.’

“‘Yes,’ said the admiral, after a pause, ‘as you observed, secrecy is the
great thing.’

“‘Ho! ho!’ thought I, ‘there’s something in the wind, here;’ so I laid
myself out upon the anchor-stock, to listen better, unobserved.

“‘We must find a crew for her, give her a few carronades, make her as
ship-shape as we can, and if the skipper--’

“‘Ay, but there is the real difficulty,’ said the admiral, hastily; ‘where
are we to find a fellow that will suit us? We can’t every day find a man
willing to jeopardize himself in such a cause as this, even though the
reward be a great one.’

“‘Very true, my lord; but I don’t think there is any necessity for our
explaining to him the exact nature of the service.’

“‘Come, come, Dawkins, you can’t mean that you’ll lead a poor fellow into
such a scrape blindfolded?’

“‘Why, my lord, you never think it requisite to give a plan of your cruise
to your ship’s crew before clearing out of harbor.’

“‘This may be perfectly just, but I don’t like it,’ said the admiral.

“‘In that case, my lord, you are imparting the secrets of the Admiralty to
a party who may betray the whole plot.’

“‘I wish, with all my soul, they’d given the order to any one else,’ said
the admiral, with a sigh; and for a few moments neither spoke a word.

“‘Well, then, Dawkins, I believe there is nothing for it but what you say;
meanwhile, let the repairs be got in hand, and see after a crew.’

“‘Oh, as to that,’ said the other, ‘there are plenty of scoundrels in the
fleet here fit for nothing else. Any fellow who has been thrice up for
punishment in six months, we’ll draft on board of her; the fellows who have
only been once to the gangway, we’ll make the officers.’

“‘A pleasant ship’s company,’ thought I, ‘if the Devil would only take the
command.

“‘And with a skipper proportionate to their merit,’ said Dawkins.

“‘Begad, I’ll wish the French joy of them,’ said the admiral.

“‘Ho, ho!’ thought I, ‘I’ve found you out at last; so this is a secret
expedition. I see it all; they’re fitting her out as a fire-ship, and going
to send her slap in among the French fleet at Brest. Well,’ thought I,
‘even that’s better; that, at least, is a glorious end, though the poor
fellows have no chance of escape.’

“‘Now, then,’ said the admiral, ‘to-morrow you’ll look out for the fellow
to take the command. He must be a smart seaman, a bold fellow, too,
otherwise the ruffianly crew will be too much for him; he may bid high,
we’ll come to his price.’

“‘So you may,’ thought I, ‘when you’re buying his life.’

“‘I hope sincerely,’ continued the admiral, ‘that we may light upon some
one without wife or child; I never could forgive myself--’

“‘Never fear, my lord,’ said the other; ‘my care shall be to pitch upon one
whose loss no one would feel; some one without friend or home, who, setting
his life for nought, cares less for the gain than the very recklessness of
the adventure.’

“‘That’s me,’ said I, springing up from the anchor-stock, and springing
between them; ‘I’m that man.’

“Had the very Devil himself appeared at the moment, I doubt if they would
have been more scared. The admiral started a pace or two backwards, while
Dawkins, the first surprise over, seized me by the collar, and hold me
fast.

“‘Who are you, scoundrel, and what brings you here?’ said he, in a voice
hoarse with passion.

“‘I’m old Noah,’ said I; for somehow, I had been called by no other name
for so long, I never thought of my real one.

“‘Noah!’ said the admiral,--‘Noah! Well, but Noah, what were you doing here
at this time of night?’

“‘I was a watching the Ark, my lord,’ said I, bowing, as I took off my hat.

“‘I’ve heard of this fellow before, my lord,’ said Dawkins; ‘he’s a poor
lunatic that is always wandering about the harbor, and, I believe, has no
harm in him.’

“‘Yes, but he has been listening, doubtless, to our conversation,’ said the
admiral. ‘Eh, have you heard all we have been saying?’

“‘Every word of it, my lord.’

“At this the admiral and Dawkins looked steadfastly at each other for some
minutes, but neither spoke; at last Dawkins said, ‘Well, Noah, I’ve been
told you are a man to be depended on; may we rely upon your not repeating
anything you overheard this evening,--at least, for a year to come?’

“‘You may,’ said I.

“‘But, Dawkins,’ said the admiral, in a half-whisper, ‘if the poor fellow
be mad?’

“‘My lord,’ said I, boldly, ‘I am not mad. Misfortune and calamity I have
had enough of to make me so; but, thank God, my brain has been tougher than
my poor heart. I was once the part-owner and commander of a goodly craft,
that swept the sea, if not with a broad pennon at her mast-head, with as
light a spirit as ever lived beneath one. I was rich, I had a home and a
child; I am now poor, houseless, childless, friendless, and an outcast. If
in my solitary wretchedness I have loved to look upon that old bark, it is
because its fortune seemed like my own. It had outlived all that needed or
cared for it. For this reason have they thought me mad, though there are
those, and not few either, who can well bear testimony if stain or reproach
lie at my door, and if I can be reproached with aught save bad luck. I have
heard by chance what you have said this night. I know that you are fitting
out a secret expedition; I know its dangers, its inevitable dangers, and I
here offer myself to lead it. I ask no reward; I look for no price. Alas,
who is left to me for whom I could labor now? Give me but the opportunity
to end my days with honor on board the old craft, where my heart still
clings; give me but that. Well, if you will not do so much, let me serve
among the crew; put me before the mast. My lord, you’ll not refuse this.
It is an old man asks; one whose gray hairs have floated many a year ago
before the breeze.’

“‘My poor fellow, you know not what you ask; this is no common case of
danger.’

“‘I know it all, my lord; I have heard it all.’

“‘Dawkins, what is to be done here?’ inquired the admiral.

“‘I say, friend,’ inquired Dawkins, laying his hand upon my arm, ‘what is
your real name? Are you he who commanded the “Dwarf” privateer in the Isle
of France?’

“‘The same.’

“‘Then you are known to Lord Collingwood?’

“‘He knows me well, and can speak to my character.’

“‘What he says of himself is all true, my lord.’

“‘True,’ said I, ‘true! You did not doubt it, did you?’

“‘We,’ said the admiral, ‘must speak together again. Be here to-morrow
night at this hour; keep your own counsel of what has passed, and now
good-night.’ So saying, the admiral took Dawkins by the arm and returned
slowly towards the town, leaving me where I stood, meditating on this
singular meeting and its possible consequences.

“The whole of the following day was passed by me in a state of feverish
excitement which I cannot describe; this strange adventure breaking in so
suddenly upon the dull monotony of my daily existence had so aroused and
stimulated me that I could neither rest nor eat. How I longed for night to
come; for sometimes, as the day wore later, I began to fear that the whole
scene of my meeting with the admiral had been merely some excited dream of
a tortured and fretted mind; and as I stood examining the ground where
I believed the interview to have occurred, I endeavored to recall the
position of different objects as they stood around, to corroborate my own
failing remembrance.

“At last the evening closed in; but unlike the preceding one, the sky
was covered with masses of dark and watery cloud that drifted hurriedly
across; the air felt heavy and thick, and unnaturally still and calm; the
water of the harbor looked of a dull, leaden hue, and all the vessels
seemed larger than they were, and stood out from the landscape more clearly
than usual; now and then a low rumbling noise was heard, somewhat alike in
sound, but far too faint for distant thunder, while occasionally the boats
and smaller craft rocked to and fro, as though some ground swell stirred
them without breaking the languid surface of the sea above.

“A few drops of thick, heavy rain fell just as the darkness came on, and
then all felt still and calm as before. I sat upon the anchor-stock, my
eyes fixed upon the old Ark, until gradually her outline grew fainter
and fainter against the dark sky, and her black hull could scarcely be
distinguished from the water beneath. I felt that I was looking towards
her; for long after I had lost sight of the tall mast and high-pitched
bowsprit, I feared to turn away my head lest I should lose the place where
she lay.

“The time went slowly on, and although in reality I had not been long
there, I felt as if years themselves had passed over my head. Since I
had come there my mind brooded over all the misfortunes of my life; as I
contrasted its outset, bright with hope and rich in promise, with the sad
reality, my heart grew heavy and my chest heaved painfully. So sunk was I
in my reflections, so lost in thought, that I never knew that the storm had
broken loose, and that the heavy rain was falling in torrents. The very
ground, parched with long drought, smoked as it pattered upon it; while the
low, wailing cry of the sea-gull, mingled with the deep growl of far-off
thunder, told that the night was a fearful one for those at sea. Wet
through and shivering, I sat still, now listening amidst the noise of the
hurricane and the creaking of the cordage for any footstep to approach, and
now relapsing back into half-despairing dread that my heated brain
alone had conjured up the scene of the day before. Such were my dreary
reflections when a loud crash aboard the schooner told me that some old
spar had given way. I strained my eyes through the dark to see what had
happened, but in vain; the black vapor, thick with falling rain, obscured
everything, and all was hid from view. I could hear that she worked
violently as the waves beat against her worn sides, and that her iron
cable creaked as she pitched to the breaking sea. The wind was momentarily
increasing, and I began to fear lest I should have taken my last look at
the old craft, when my attention was called off by hearing a loud voice cry
out, ‘Halloo there! Where are you?’

“‘Ay, ay, sir, I’m here.’ In a moment the admiral and his friend were
beside me.

“‘What a night!’ exclaimed the admiral, as he shook the rain from the heavy
boat-cloak and cowered in beneath some tall blocks of granite near. ‘I
began half to hope that you might not have been here, my poor fellow,’ said
the admiral; ‘it’s a dreadful time for one so poorly clad for a storm. I
say, Dawkins, let him have a pull at your flask.’ The brandy rallied me a
little, and I felt that it cheered my drooping courage.

“‘This is not a time nor is it a place for much parley,’ said the admiral,
‘so that we must even make short work of it. Since we met here last night I
have satisfied myself that you are to be trusted, that your character
and reputation have nothing heavier against them than misfortune, which
certainly, if I have been rightly informed, has been largely dealt out to
you. Now, then, I am willing to accept of your offer of service if you
are still of the same mind as when you made it, and if you are willing to
undertake what we have to do without any question and inquiry as to points
on which we must not and dare not inform you. Whatever you may have
overheard last night may or may not have put you in possession of our
secret. If the former, your determination can be made at once; if the
latter, you have only to decide whether you are ready to go blindfolded in
the business.’

“‘I am ready, my lord,’ said I.

“‘You perhaps are then aware what is the nature of the service?’

“‘I know it not,’ said I. ‘All that I heard, sir, leads me to suppose it
one of danger, but that’s all.’

“‘I think, my lord,’ said Dawkins, ‘that no more need now be said. Cupples
is ready to engage, we are equally so to accept; the thing is pressing.
When can you sail?’

“‘To-night,’ said I, ‘if you will.’

“‘Really, Dawkins,’ said the admiral, ‘I don’t see why--’

‘“My lord, I beg of you,’ said the other, interrupting, ‘let me now
complete the arrangement. This is the plan,’ said he, turning towards me
as he spoke: ‘As soon as that old craft can be got ready for sea, or some
other if she be not worth, it, you will sail from this port with a strong
crew, well armed and supplied with ammunition. Your destination is Malta,
your object to deliver to the admiral stationed there the despatches
with which you will be entrusted; they contain information of immense
importance, which for certain reasons cannot be sent through a ship of war,
but must be forwarded by a vessel that may not attract peculiar notice. If
you be attacked, your orders are to resist; if you be taken, on no account
destroy the papers, for the French vessel can scarcely escape capture from
our frigates, and it is of great consequence these papers should remain.
Such is a brief sketch of our plan; the details can be made known to you
hereafter.’

“‘I am quite ready, my lord. I ask for no terms; I make no stipulations. If
the result be favorable it will be time enough to speak of that. When am I
to sail?’

“As I spoke, the admiral turned suddenly round and said something in a
whisper to Dawkins, who appeared to overrule it, whatever it might be, and
finally brought him over to his own opinion.

“‘Come, Cupples,’ said Dawkins, ‘the affair is now settled; to-morrow a
boat will be in waiting for you opposite Spike Island to convey you on
board the “Semiramis,” where every step in the whole business shall be
explained to you; meanwhile you have only to keep your own counsel and
trust the secret to no one.’

“‘Yes, Cupples,’ said the admiral, ‘we rely upon you for that, so
good-night.’ As he spoke he placed within my hands a crumpled note for ten
pounds, and squeezing my fingers, departed.

“My yarn is spinning out to a far greater length than I intended, so I’ll
try and shorten it a bit. The next day I went aboard the ‘Semiramis,’
where, when I appeared upon the quarter-deck, I found myself an object
of some interest. The report that I was the man about to command the
‘Brian,’--that was the real name of the old craft,--had caused some
curiosity among the officers, and they all spoke to me with great courtesy.
After waiting a short time I was ordered to go below, where the admiral,
his flag-captain, Dawkins, and the others were seated. They repeated at
greater length the conversation of the night before, and finally decided
that I was to sail in three weeks; for although the old schooner was sadly
damaged, they had lost no time, but had her already high in dock, with two
hundred ship-carpenters at work upon her.


“I do not shorten sail here to tell you what reports were circulated about
Cove as to my extraordinary change in circumstances, nor how I bore my
altered fortunes. It is enough if I say that in less than three weeks I
weighed anchor and stood out to sea one beautiful morning in autumn, and
set out upon my expedition.

“I have already told you something of the craft. Let me complete the
picture by informing you that before twenty-four hours passed over I
discovered that so ungainly, so awkward, so unmanageable a vessel never
put to sea. In light winds she scarcely stirred or moved, as if she were
waterlogged; if it came to blow upon the quarter, she fell off from her
helm at a fearful rate; in wearing, she endangered every spar she had; and
when you put her in stays, when half round she would fall back and nearly
carry away every stitch of canvas with the shock. If the ship was bad, the
crew was ten times worse. What Dawkins said turned out to be literally
true. Every ill-conducted, disorderly fellow who had been up the gangway
once a week or so, every unreclaimed landsman of bad character and no
seamanship, was sent on board of us: and in fact, except that there was
scarcely any discipline and no restraint, we appeared like a floating
penitentiary of convicted felons.

So long as we ran down channel with a slack sea and fair wind, so long all
went on tolerably well; to be sure they only kept watch when they were
tired below, when they came up, reeled about the deck, did all just as they
pleased, and treated me with no manner of respect. After some vain efforts
to repress their excesses,--vain, for I had but one to second me,--I
appeared to take no notice of their misconduct, and contented myself with
waiting for the time when, my dreary voyage over, I should quit the command
and part company with such associates forever. At last, however, it came on
to blow, and the night we passed the Lizard was indeed a fearful one.
As morning broke, a sea running mountains high, a wind strong from
the northwest, was hurrying the old craft along at a rate I believed
impossible. I shall not stop to recount the frightful scenes of anarchy,
confusion, drunkenness, and insubordination which our crew exhibited,--the
recollection is too bad already, and I would spare you and myself the
recital; but on the fourth day from the setting in of the gale, as we
entered the Bay of Biscay, some one aloft descried a strange sail to
windward bearing down as if in pursuit of us. Scarcely did the news reach
the deck when, bad as it was before, matters became now ten times worse,
some resolving to give themselves up if the chase happened to be French,
and vowing that before surrendering the spirit-room should be forced, and
every man let drink as he pleased. Others proposed if there were anything
like equality in the force, to attack, and convert the captured vessel, if
they succeeded, into a slaver, and sail at once for Africa. Some were for
blowing up the old ‘Brian’ with all on board; and in fact every counsel
that drunkenness, insanity, and crime combined could suggest was offered
and descanted on. Meanwhile the chase gained rapidly upon us, and before
noon we discovered her to be a French letter-of-marque with four guns and a
long brass swivel upon the poop deck. As for us, every sheet of canvas we
could crowd was crammed on, but in vain. And as we labored through the
heavy sea, our riotous crew grew every moment worse, and sitting down
sulkily in groups upon the deck, declared that, come what might, they would
neither work the ship nor fight her; that they had been sent to sea in a
rotten craft merely to effect their destruction; and that they cared little
for the disgrace of a flag they detested. Half furious with the taunting
sarcasm I heard on every side, and nearly mad from passion, and bewildered,
my first impulse was to run among them with my drawn cutlass, and ere I
fell their victim, take heavy vengeance upon the ringleaders, when suddenly
a sharp booming noise came thundering along, and a round shot went flying
over our heads.

“‘Down with the ensign; strike at once!’ cried eight or ten voices
together, as the ball whizzed through the rigging. Anticipating this, and
resolving, whatever might happen, to fight her to the last, I had made the
mate, a staunch-hearted, resolute fellow, to make fast the signal sailyard
aloft, so that it was impossible for any one on deck to lower the bunting.
Bang! went another gun; and before the smoke cleared away, a third, which,
truer in its aim than the rest, went clean through the lower part of our
mainsail.

“‘Steady, then, boys, and clear for action,’ said the mate.

‘She’s a French smuggling craft that will sheer off when we show fight, so
that we must not fire a shot till she comes alongside.’

“‘And harkee, lads,’ said I, taking up the tone of encouragement he spoke
with, ‘if we take her, I promise to claim nothing of the prize. Whatever we
capture you shall divide among yourselves.’

“‘It’s very easy to divide what we never had,’ said one; ‘Nearly as easy as
to give it,’ cried another; ‘I’ll never light match or draw cutlass in the
cause,’ said a third.

“‘Surrender!’ ‘Strike the flag!’ ‘Down with the colors!’ roared several
voices together.

“By this time the Frenchman was close up, and ranging his long gun to
sweep our decks; his crew were quite perceptible,--about twenty bronzed,
stout-looking follows, stripped to the waist, and carrying pistols in broad
flat belts slung over the shoulder.

“‘Come, my lads,’ said I, raising my voice, as I drew a pistol from my side
and cocked it, ‘our time is short now; I may as well tell you that the
first shot that strikes us amidship blows up the whole craft and every man
on board. We are nothing less than a fireship, destined for Brest harbor
to blow up the French fleet. If you are willing to make an effort for your
lives, follow me!’

“The men looked aghast. Whatever recklessness crime and drunkenness had
given them, the awful feeling of inevitable death at once repelled.
Short as was the time for reflection, they felt that there were many
circumstances to encourage the assertion,--the nature of the vessel, her
riotous, disorderly crew, the secret nature of the service, all confirmed
it,--and they answered with a shout of despairing vengeance, ‘We’ll board
her; lead us on!’ As the cry rose up, the long swivel from the chase rang
sharply in our ears, and a tremendous discharge of grape flew through our
rigging. None of our men, however, fell; and animated now with the desire
for battle, they sprang to the binnacle, and seized their arms.

“In an instant the whole deck became a scene of excited bustle; and
scarcely was the ammunition dealt out, and the boarding party drawn up,
when the Frenchman broached to and lashed his bowsprit to our own.

“One terrific yell burst from our fellows as they sprang from the rigging
and the poop upon the astonished Frenchmen, who thought that the victory
was already their own; with death and ruin behind, their only hope before,
they dashed forward like madmen to the fray.

“The conflict was bloody and terrific, though not a long one. Nearly equal
in number, but far superior in personal strength, and stimulated by their
sense of danger, our fellows rushed onward, carrying all before them to the
quarter-deck. Here the Frenchmen rallied, and for some minutes had rather
the advantage, until the mate, turning one of their guns against them,
prepared to sweep them down in a mass. Then it was that they ceased their
fire and cried out for quarter,--all save their captain, a short, thick-set
fellow, with a grizzly beard and mustache, who, seeing his men fall back,
turned on them one glance of scowling indignation, and rushing forward,
clove our boatswain to the deck with one blow. Before the example could
have been followed, he lay a bloody corpse upon the deck; while our
people, roused to madness by the loss of a favorite among the men, dashed
impetuously forward, and dealing death on every side, left not one man
living among their unresisting enemies. My story is soon told now. We
brought our prize safe into Malta, which we reached in five days. In less
than a week our men were drafted into different men-of-war on the station.
I was appointed a warrant officer in the ‘Sheerwater,’ forty-four guns; and
as the admiral opened the despatch, the only words he spoke puzzled me for
many a day after.

“‘You have accomplished your orders too well,’ said he; ‘that privateer is
but a poor compensation for the whole French navy.’”

“Well,” inquired Power, “and did you never hear the meaning of the words?”

“Yes,” said he; “many years after I found out that our despatches were
false ones, intended to have fallen into the hands of the French and
mislead them as to Lord Nelson’s fleet, which at that time was cruising
to the southward to catch them. This, of course, explained what fate was
destined for us,--a French prison, if not death; and after all, either was
fully good enough for the crew that sailed in the old ‘Brian.’”



CHAPTER XXXIV.


THE LAND.

It was late when we separated for the night, and the morning was already
far advanced ere I awoke; the monotonous tramp overhead showed me that the
others were stirring, and I gently moved the shutter of the narrow window
beside me to look out.

The sea, slightly rippled upon its surface, shone like a plate of fretted
gold,--not a wave, not a breaker appeared; but the rushing sound close by
showed that we were moving fast through the water.

“Always calm hereabouts,” said a gruff voice on deck, which I soon
recognized as the skipper’s; “no sea whatever.”

“I can make nothing of it,” cried out Power, from the forepart of the
vessel. “It appears to me all cloud.”

“No, no, sir, believe me; it’s no fog-bank, that large dark mass to leeward
there,--that’s Cintra.”

“Land!” cried I, springing up, and rushing upon deck; “where,
Skipper,--where is the land?”

“I say, Charley,” said Power, “I hope you mean to adopt a little more
clothing on reaching Lisbon; for though the climate is a warm one--”

“Never mind, O’Malley,” said the major, “the Portuguese will only be
flattered by the attention, if you land as you are.”

“Why, how so?”

“Surely, you remember what the niggers said when they saw the 79th
Highlanders landing at St. Lucie. They had never seen a Scotch regiment
before, and were consequently somewhat puzzled at the costume; till at
last, one more cunning than the rest explained it by saying: ‘They are in
such a hurry to kill the poor black men that they came away without their
breeches.’”

“Now, what say you?” cried the skipper, as he pointed with his telescope to
a dark-blue mass in the distance; “see there!”

“Ah, true enough; that’s Cintra!”

“Then we shall probably be in the Tagus River before morning?”

“Before midnight, if the wind holds,” said the skipper. We breakfasted on
deck beneath an awning. The vessel scarcely seemed to move as she cut her
way through the calm water.

The misty outline of the coast grew gradually more defined, and at length
the blue mountains could be seen; at first but dimly, but as the day wore
on, their many-colored hues shone forth, and patches of green verdure,
dotted with sheep or sheltered by dark foliage, met the eye. The bulwarks
were crowded with anxious faces; each looked pointedly towards the shore,
and many a stout heart beat high, as the land drew near, fated to cover
with its earth more than one among us.

“And that’s Portingale, Mister Charles,” said a voice behind me. I turned
and saw my man Mike, as with anxious joy, he fixed his eyes upon the shore.

“They tell me it’s a beautiful place, with wine for nothing and spirits for
less. Isn’t it a pity they won’t be raisonable and make peace with us?”

“Why, my good fellow, we are excellent friends; it’s the French who want to
beat us all.”

“Upon my conscience, that’s not right. There’s an ould saying in Connaught,
‘It’s not fair for one to fall upon twenty.’ Sergeant Haggarty says that
I’ll see none of the divarsion at all.”

“I don’t well understand--”

“He does be telling me that, as I’m only your footboy, he’ll send me away
to the rear, where there’s nothing but wounded and wagons and women.”

“I believe the sergeant is right there; but after all, Mike, it’s a safe
place.”

“Ah, then, musha for the safety! I don’t think much of it. Sure, they might
circumvint us. And av it wasn’t displazing to you, I’d rather list.”

“Well, I’ve no objection, Mickey. Would you like to join my regiment?”

“By coorse, your honor. I’d like to be near yourself; bekase, too, if
anything happens to you,--the Lord be betune us and harm,” here he crossed
himself piously,--“sure, I’d like to be able to tell the master how you
died; and sure, there’s Mr. Considine--God pardon him! He’ll be beating my
brains out av I couldn’t explain it all.”

“Well, Mike, I’ll speak to some of my friends here about you, and we’ll
settle it all properly. Here’s the doctor.”

“Arrah, Mr. Charles, don’t mind him. He’s a poor crayture entirely. Devil a
thing he knows.”

“Why, what do you mean, man? He’s physician to the forces.”

“Oh, be-gorra, and so he may be!” said Mike, with a toss of his head.
“Those army docthers isn’t worth their salt. It’s thruth I’m telling you.
Sure, didn’t he come to see me when I was sick below in the hould?

“‘How do you feel?’ says he.

“‘Terribly dhry in the mouth,’ says I.

“‘But your bones,’ says he; ‘how’s them?’

“‘As if cripples was kicking me,’ says I.

“Well, with that he wint away, and brought back two powders.

“‘Take them,’ says he, ‘and you’ll be cured in no time.’

“‘What’s them?’ says I.

“‘They’re ematics,’ says he.

“‘Blood and ages!’ says I, ‘are they?’

“‘Devil a lie,’ says he; ‘take them immediately.’

“And I tuk them; and would you believe me, Mister Charles?--it’s thruth I’m
telling you,--devil a one o’ them would stay on my stomach. So you see what
a docther he is!”

I could not help smiling at Mike’s ideas of medicine, as I turned away
to talk to the major, who was busily engaged beside me. His occupation
consisted in furbishing up a very tarnished and faded uniform, whose white
seams and threadbare lace betokened many years of service.

“Getting up our traps, you see, O’Malley,” said he, as he looked with no
small pride at the faded glories of his old vestment. “Astonish them at
Lisbon, we flatter ourselves. I say, Power, what a bad style of dress
they’ve got into latterly, with their tight waist and strapped trousers;
nothing free, nothing easy, nothing _dégagé_ about it. When in a campaign,
a man ought to be able to stow prog for twenty-four hours about his person,
and no one the wiser. A very good rule, I assure you, though it sometimes
leads to awkward results. At Vimeira, I got into a sad scrape that way. Old
Sir Harry, that commanded there, sent for the sick return. I was at dinner
when the orderly came, so I packed up the eatables about me, and rode off.
Just, however, as I came up to the quarters, my horse stumbled and threw me
slap on my head.

“‘Is he killed?’ said Sir Harry.

“‘Only stunned, your Excellency,’ said some one.

“‘Then he’ll come to, I suppose. Look for the papers in his pocket.’

“So they turned me on my back, and plunged a hand into my side-pocket;
but, the devil take it! they pulled out a roast hen. Well, the laugh was
scarcely over at this, when another fellow dived into my coat behind, and
lugged out three sausages; and so they went on, till the ground was covered
with ham, pigeon-pie, veal, kidney, and potatoes; and the only thing like a
paper was a mess-roll of the 4th, with a droll song about Sir Harry written
in pencil on the back of it. Devil of a bad affair for me! I was nearly
broke for it; but they only reprimanded me a little, and I was afterwards
attached to the victualling department.”

What an anxious thing is the last day of a voyage! How slowly creep the
hours, teeming with memories of the past and expectations of the future!

Every plan, every well-devised expedient to cheat the long and weary
days is at once abandoned; the chess-board and the new novel are alike
forgotten, and the very quarter-deck walk, with its merry gossip and
careless chit-chat, becomes distasteful. One blue and misty mountain, one
faint outline of the far-off shore, has dispelled all thought of these; and
with straining eye and anxious heart, we watch for land.

As the day wears on apace, the excitement increases; the faint and shadowy
forms of distant objects grow gradually clearer. Where before some tall and
misty mountain peak was seen, we now descry patches of deepest blue and
sombre olive; the mellow corn and the waving woods, the village spire and
the lowly cot, come out of the landscape; and like some well-remembered
voice, they speak of home. The objects we have seen, the sounds we have
heard a hundred times before without interest, become to us now things that
stir the heart.

For a time the bright glare of the noonday sun dazzles the view and renders
indistinct the prospect; but as evening falls, once more is all fair and
bright and rich before us. Rocked by the long and rolling swell, I lay
beside the bowsprit, watching the shore-birds that came to rest upon the
rigging, or following some long and tangled seaweed as it floated by; my
thoughts now wandering back to the brown hills and the broad river of my
early home, now straying off in dreary fancies of the future.

How flat and unprofitable does all ambition seem at such moments as these;
how valueless, how poor, in our estimation, those worldly distinctions
we have so often longed and thirsted for, as with lowly heart and simple
spirit we watch each humble cottage, weaving to ourselves some story of its
inmates as we pass!

The night at length closed in, but it was a bright and starry one, lending
to the landscape a hue of sombre shadow, while the outlines of the objects
were still sharp and distinct as before. One solitary star twinkled near
the horizon. I watched it as, at intervals disappearing, it would again
shine out, marking the calm sea with a tall pillar of light.

“Come down, Mr. O’Malley,” cried the skipper’s well-known voice,--“come
down below and join us in a parting glass; that’s the Lisbon light to
leeward, and before two hours we drop our anchor in the Tagus.”



CHAPTER XXXV.


MAJOR MONSOON.

Of my travelling companions I have already told my readers something. Power
is now an old acquaintance; to Sparks I have already presented them; of the
adjutant they are not entirely ignorant; and it therefore only remains for
me to introduce to their notice Major Monsoon. I should have some scruple
for the digression which this occasions in my narrative, were it not that
with the worthy major I was destined to meet subsequently; and indeed
served under his orders for some months in the Peninsula. When Major
Monsoon had entered the army or in what precise capacity, I never yet met
the man who could tell. There were traditionary accounts of his having
served in the East Indies and in Canada in times long past. His own
peculiar reminiscences extended to nearly every regiment in the service,
“horse, foot, and dragoons.” There was not a clime he had not basked in;
not an engagement he had not witnessed. His memory, or, if you will, his
invention, was never at fault; and from the siege of Seringapatam to
the battle of Corunna he was perfect. Besides this, he possessed a mind
retentive of even the most trifling details of his profession,--from the
formation of a regiment to the introduction of a new button, from the
laying down of a parallel to the price of a camp-kettle, he knew it all. To
be sure, he had served in the commissary-general’s department for a number
of years, and nothing instils such habits as this.

“The commissaries are to the army what the special pleaders are to the
bar,” observed my friend Power,--“dry dogs, not over creditable on the
whole, but devilish useful.”

The major had begun life a two-bottle man; but by a studious cultivation of
his natural gifts, and a steady determination to succeed, he had, at the
time I knew him, attained to his fifth. It need not be wondered at, then,
that his countenance bore some traces of his habits. It was of a deep
sunset-purple, which, becoming tropical, at the tip of the nose verged
almost upon a plum-color; his mouth was large, thick-lipped, and
good-humored; his voice rich, mellow, and racy, and contributed, with the
aid of a certain dry, chuckling laugh, greatly to increase the effect of
the stories which he was ever ready to recount; and as they most frequently
bore in some degree against some of what he called his little failings,
they were ever well received, no man being so popular with the world as he
who flatters its vanity at his own expense. To do this the major was ever
ready, but at no time more so than when the evening wore late, and the last
bottle of his series seemed to imply that any caution regarding the
nature of his communication was perfectly unnecessary. Indeed, from the
commencement of his evening to the close, he seemed to pass through a
number of mental changes, all in a manner preparing him for this final
consummation, when he confessed anything and everything; and so well
regulated had those stages become, that a friend dropping in upon him
suddenly could at once pronounce from the tone of his conversation on what
precise bottle the major was then engaged.

Thus, in the outset he was gastronomic,--discussed the dinner from the soup
to the Stilton; criticised the cutlets; pronounced upon the merits of the
mutton; and threw out certain vague hints that he would one day astonish
the world by a little volume upon cookery.

With bottle No. 2 he took leave of the _cuisine_, and opened his battery
upon the wine. Bordeaux, Burgundy, hock, and hermitage, all passed in
review before him,--their flavor discussed, their treatment descanted
upon, their virtues extolled; from humble port to imperial tokay, he was
thoroughly conversant with all, and not a vintage escaped as to when the
sun had suffered eclipse, or when a comet had wagged his tail over it.

With No. 3 he became pipeclay,--talked army list and eighteen manoeuvres,
lamented the various changes in equipments which modern innovation had
introduced, and feared the loss of pigtails might sap the military spirit
of the nation.

With No. 4 his anecdotic powers came into play,--he recounted various
incidents of the war with his own individual adventures and experience,
told with an honest _naïveté_, that proved personal vanity; indeed,
self-respect never marred the interest of the narrative, besides, as he had
ever regarded a campaign something in the light of a foray, and esteemed
war as little else than a pillage excursion, his sentiments were singularly
amusing.

With his last bottle, those feelings that seemed inevitably connected
with whatever is last appeared to steal over him,--a tinge of sadness for
pleasures fast passing and nearly passed, a kind of retrospective glance at
the fallacy of all our earthly enjoyments, insensibly suggesting moral and
edifying reflections, led him by degrees to confess that he was not quite
satisfied with himself, though “not very bad for a commissary;” and
finally, as the decanter waxed low, he would interlard his meditations by
passages of Scripture, singularly perverted by his misconception from
their true meaning, and alternately throwing out prospects of censure or
approval. Such was Major Monsoon; and to conclude in his own words this
brief sketch, he “would have been an excellent officer if Providence had
not made him such a confounded, drunken, old scoundrel.”

“Now, then, for the King of Spain’s story. Out with it, old boy; we are all
good men and true here,” cried Power, as we slowly came along upon the tide
up the Tagus, “so you’ve nothing to fear.”

“Upon my life,” replied the major, “I don’t half like the tone of our
conversation. There is a certain freedom young men affect now a-days
regarding morals that is not at all to my taste. When I was five or six and
twenty--”

“You were the greatest scamp in the service,” cried Power.

“Fie, fie, Fred. If I was a little wild or so,”--here the major’s eyes
twinkled maliciously,--“it was the ladies that spoiled me; I was always
something of a favorite, just like our friend Sparks there. Not that we
fared very much alike in our little adventures; for somehow, I believe I
was generally in fault in most of mine, as many a good man and many an
excellent man has been before.” Here his voice dropped into a moralizing
key, as he added, “David, you know, didn’t behave well to old Uriah. Upon
my life he did not, and he was a very respectable man.”

“The King of Spain’s sherry! the sherry!” cried I, fearing that the major’s
digression might lose us a good story.

“You shall not have a drop of it,” replied the major.

“But the story, Major, the story!”

“Nor the story, either.”

“What,” said Power, “will you break faith with us?”

“There’s none to be kept with reprobates like you. Fill my glass.”

“Hold there! stop!” cried Power. “Not a spoonful till he redeems his
pledge.”

“Well, then, if you must have a story,--for most assuredly I must drink,--I
have no objection to give you a leaf from my early reminiscences; and in
compliment to Sparks there, my tale shall be of love.”

“I dinna like to lose the king’s story. I hae my thoughts it was na a bad
ane.”

“Nor I neither, Doctor; but--”

“Come, come, you shall have that too, the first night we meet in a bivouac,
and as I fear the time may not be very far distant, don’t be impatient;
besides a love-story--”

“Quite true,” said Power, “a love-story claims precedence; _place aux
dames_. There’s a bumper for you, old wickedness; so go along.”

The major cleared off his glass, refilled it, sipped twice, and ogled it as
though he would have no peculiar objection to sip once more, took a long
pinch of snuff from a box nearly as long as, and something the shape of a
child’s coffin, looked around to see that we were all attention, and thus
began:--

“When I have been in a moralizing mood, as I very frequently am about this
hour in the morning, I have often felt surprised by what little, trivial,
and insignificant circumstances our lot in life seems to be cast; I mean
especially as regards the fair sex. You are prospering, as it were, to-day;
to-morrow a new cut of your whiskers, a novel tie of your cravat, mars your
destiny and spoils your future, _varium et mutabile_, as Horace has it.
On the other hand, some equally slight circumstance will do what all your
ingenuity may have failed to effect. I knew a fellow who married the
greatest fortune in Bath, from the mere habit he had of squeezing one’s
hand. The lady in question thought it particular, looked conscious, and all
that; he followed up the blow; and, in a word, they were married in a week.
So a friend of mine, who could not help winking his left eye, once opened
a flirtation with a lively widow which cost him a special license and a
settlement. In fact you are never safe. They are like the guerillas, and
they pick you off when you least expect it, and when you think there is
nothing to fear. Therefore, as young fellows beginning life, I would
caution you. On this head you can never be too circumspect. Do you know, I
was once nearly caught by so slight a habit as sitting thus, with my legs
across.”

Here the major rested his right foot on his left knee, in illustration, and
continued:--

“We were quartered in Jamaica. I had not long joined, and was about as raw
a young gentleman as you could see; the only very clear ideas in my head
being that we were monstrous fine fellows in the 50th, and that the
planters’ daughters were deplorably in love with us. Not that I was much
wrong on either side. For brandy-and-water, sangaree, Manilla cigars, and
the ladies of color, I’d have backed the corps against the service.
Proof was, of eighteen only two ever left the island; for what with the
seductions of the coffee plantations, the sugar canes, the new rum, the
brown skins, the rainy season, and the yellow fever, most of us settled
there.”

“It’s very hard to leave the West Indies if once you’ve been quartered
there.”

“So I have heard,” said Power.

“In time, if you don’t knock under to the climate, you become soon totally
unfit for living anywhere else. Preserved ginger, yams, flannel jackets,
and grog won’t bear exportation; and the free-and-easy chuck under the
chin, cherishing, waist-pressing kind of way we get with the ladies would
be quite misunderstood in less favored regions, and lead to very unpleasant
consequences.”

“It is a curious fact how much climate has to do with love-making. In our
cold country the progress is lamentably slow. Fogs, east winds, sleet,
storms, and cutting March weather nip many a budding flirtation; whereas
warm, sunny days and bright moonlight nights, with genial air and balmy
zephyrs, open the heart like the cup of a camelia, and let us drink in the
soft dew of--”

“Devilish poetical, that,” said Power, evolving a long blue line of smoke
from the corner of his mouth.

“Isn’t it, though?” said the major, smiling graciously. “‘Pon my life, I
thought so myself. Where was I?”

“Out of my latitude altogether,” said the poor skipper, who often found it
hard to follow the thread of a story.

“Yes, I remember. I was remarking that sangaree and calipash, mangoes and
guava jelly, dispose the heart to love, and so they do. I was not more than
six weeks in Jamaica when I felt it myself. Now, it was a very dangerous
symptom, if you had it strong in you, for this reason. Our colonel, the
most cross-grained old crabstick that ever breathed, happened himself to be
taken in when young, and resolving, like the fox who lost his tail and said
it was not the fashion to wear one, to pretend he did the thing for fun,
determined to make every fellow marry upon the slightest provocation.
Begad, you might as well enter a powder magazine with a branch of candles
in your hand, as go into society in the island with a leaning towards the
fair sex. Very hard this was for me particularly; for like poor Sparks
there, my weakness was ever for the petticoats. I had, besides, no
petty, contemptible prejudices as to nation, habits, language, color, or
complexion; black, brown, or fair, from the Muscovite to the Malabar, from
the voluptuous _embonpoint_ of the adjutant’s widow,--don’t be angry old
boy,--to the fairy form of Isabella herself, I loved them all round. But
were I to give a preference anywhere I should certainly do so to the West
Indians, if it were only for the sake of the planters’ daughters. I say it
fearlessly, these colonies are the brightest jewels in the crown. Let’s
drink their health, for I’m as husky as a lime-kiln.”

This ceremony being performed with suitable enthusiasm, the major cried
out, “Another cheer for Polly Hackett, the sweetest girl in Jamaica. By
Jove, Power, if you only saw her as I did five and forty years ago, with
eyes black as jet, twinkling, ogling, leering, teasing, and imploring,
all at once, do you mind, and a mouthful of downright pearls pouting
and smiling at you, why, man, you’d have proposed for her in the first
half-hour, and shot yourself the next, when she refused you. She was,
indeed, a perfect little beauty, _rayther_ dark, to be sure,--a little upon
the rosewood tinge, but beautifully polished, and a very nice piece of
furniture for a cottage _orné_, as the French call it. Alas, alas, how
these vanities do catch hold of us! My recollections have made me quite
feverish and thirsty. Is there any cold punch in the bowl? Thank you,
O’Malley, that will do,--merely to touch my lips. Well, well, it’s all past
and gone now; but I was very fond of Polly Hackett, and she was of me.
We used to take our little evening walks together through the coffee
plantation: very romantic little strolls they were, she in white muslin
with a blue sash and blue shoes; I in a flannel jacket and trousers, straw
hat and cravat, a Virginia cigar as long as a walking-stick in my
mouth, puffing and courting between times; then we’d take a turn to the
refining-house, look in at the big boilers, quiz the niggers, and come back
to Twangberry Moss to supper, where old Hackett, the father, sported a
glorious table at eleven o’clock. Great feeding it was; you were always
sure of a preserved monkey, a baked land-crab, or some such delicacy. And
such Madeira; it makes me dry to think of it.

“Talk of West India slavery, indeed. It’s the only land of liberty.
There is nothing to compare with the perfect free-and-easy,
devil-may-care-kind-of-a-take-yourself way that every one has there. If it
would be any peculiar comfort for you to sit in the saddle of mutton, and
put your legs in a soup tureen at dinner, there would be found very few to
object to it. There is no nonsense of any kind about etiquette. You eat,
drink, and are merry, or, if you prefer, are sad; just as you please. You
may wear uniform, or you may not, it’s your own affair; and consequently,
it may be imagined how insensibly such privileges gain upon one, and how
very reluctant we become ever to resign or abandon them.

“I was the man to appreciate it all. The whole course of proceeding seemed
to have been invented for my peculiar convenience, and not a man in the
island enjoyed a more luxurious existence than myself, not knowing all the
while how dearly I was destined to pay for my little comforts. Among my
plenary after-dinner indulgences I had contracted an inveterate habit of
sitting cross-legged, as I showed you. Now, this was become a perfect
necessity of existence to me. I could have dispensed with cheese, with my
glass of port, my pickled mango, my olive, my anchovy toast, my nutshell of
curaçoa, but not my favorite lounge. You may smile; but I’ve read of a man
who could never dance except in a room with an old hair-brush. Now, I’m
certain my stomach would not digest if my legs were perpendicular. I
don’t mean to defend the thing. The attitude was not graceful, it was not
imposing; but it suited me somehow, and I liked it.

“From what I have already mentioned, you may suppose that West India habits
exercised but little control over my favorite practice, which I indulged
in every evening of my life. Well, one day old Hackett gave us a great
blow-out,--a dinner of two-and-twenty souls; six days’ notice; turtle from
St. Lucie, guinea-fowl, claret of the year forty, Madeira _à discrétion_,
and all that. Very well done the whole thing; nothing wrong, nothing
wanting. As for me, I was in great feather. I took Polly in to dinner,
greatly to the discomfiture of old Belson, our major, who was making up in
that quarter; for you must know, she was an only daughter, and had a very
nice thing of it in molasses and niggers. The papa preferred the major,
but Polly looked sweetly upon me. Well, down we went, and really a most
excellent feed we had. Now, I must mention here that Polly had a favorite
Blenheim spaniel the old fellow detested; it was always tripping him up and
snarling at him,--for it was, except to herself, a beast of rather vicious
inclinations. With a true Jamaica taste, it was her pleasure to bring the
animal always into the dinner-room, where, if papa discovered him, there
was sure to be a row. Servants sent in one direction to hunt him out,
others endeavoring to hide him, and so on; in fact, a tremendous hubbub
always followed his introduction and accompanied his exit, upon which
occasions I invariably exercised my gallantry by protecting the beast,
although I hated him like the devil all the time.

“To return to our dinner. After two mortal hours of hard eating, the pace
began to slacken, and as evening closed in, a sense of peaceful repose
seemed to descend upon our labors. Pastels shed an aromatic vapor
through the room. The well-iced decanters went with measured pace along;
conversation, subdued to the meridian of after-dinner comfort, just
murmured; the open _jalousies_ displayed upon the broad veranda the
orange-tree in full blossom, slightly stirring with the cool sea-breeze.”

“And the piece of white muslin beside you, what of her?”

“Looked twenty times more bewitching than ever. Well, it was just the hour
when, opening the last two buttons of your white waistcoat (remember we
were in Jamaica), you stretch your legs to the full extent, throw your arm
carelessly over the back of your chair, look contemplatively towards the
ceiling, and wonder, within yourself, why it is not all ‘after dinner’ in
this same world of ours. Such, at least, were my reflections as I assumed
my attitude of supreme comfort, and inwardly ejaculated a health to Sneyd
and Barton. Just at this moment I heard Polly’s voice gently whisper,--

“‘Isn’t he a love? Isn’t he a darling?’

“‘Zounds!’ thought I, as a pang of jealousy shot through my heart, ‘is it
the major she means?’ For old Belson, with his bag wig and rouged cheeks,
was seated on the other side of her.

“‘What a dear thing it is!’ said Polly.

“‘Worse and worse,’ said I; ‘it must be him.’

“‘I do so love his muzzy face.’

“‘It is him!’ said I, throwing off a bumper, and almost boiling over with
passion at the moment.

“‘I wish I could take one look at him,’ said she, laying down her head as
she spoke.

“The major whispered something in her ear, to which she replied,--

“‘Oh, I dare not; papa will see me at once.’

“‘Don’t be afraid, Madam,’ said I, fiercely; ‘your father perfectly
approves of your taste.’

“‘Are you sure of it?’ said she, giving me such a look.

“‘I know it,’ said I, struggling violently with my agitation.

“The major leaned over as if to touch her hand beneath the cloth. I almost
sprang from my chair, when Polly, in her sweetest accents, said,--

“‘You must be patient, dear thing, or you may be found out, and then there
will be such a piece of work. Though I’m sure, Major, you would not betray
me.’ The major smiled till he cracked the paint upon his cheeks. ‘And I am
sure that Mr. Monsoon--’

“‘You may rely upon me,’ said I, half sneeringly.

“The major and I exchanged glances of defiance, while Polly continued,--

“‘Now, come, don’t be restless. You are very comfortable there. Isn’t he,
Major?’ The major smiled again more graciously than before, as he added,--

“‘May I take a look?’

“‘Just one peep, then, no more!’ said she, coquettishly; ‘poor dear Wowski
is so timid.’

“Scarcely had these words borne balm and comfort to my heart,--for I
now knew that to the dog, and not to my rival, were all the flattering
expressions applied,--when a slight scream from Polly, and a tremendous
oath from the major, raised me from my dream of happiness.

“‘Take your foot down, sir. Mr. Monsoon, how could you do so?’ cried Polly.

“‘What the devil, sir, do you mean?’ shouted the major.

“‘Oh, I shall die of shame,’ sobbed she.

“‘I’ll shoot him like a riddle,’ muttered old Belson.

“By this time the whole table had got at the story, and such peals of
laughter, mingled with suggestions for my personal maltreatment, I never
heard. All my attempts at explanation were in vain. I was not listened to,
much less believed; and the old colonel finished the scene by ordering me
to my quarters, in a voice I shall never forget, the whole room being, at
the time I made my exit, one scene of tumultuous laughter from one end to
the other. Jamaica after this became too hot for me. The story was repeated
on every side; for, it seems, I had been sitting with my foot on Polly’s
lap; but so occupied was I with my jealous vigilance of the major I was not
aware of the fact until she herself discovered it.

“I need not say how the following morning brought with it every possible
offer of _amende_ upon my part; anything from a written apology to a
proposition to marry the lady I was ready for, and how the matter might
have ended I know not; for in the middle of the negotiations, we were
ordered off to Halifax where, be assured, I abandoned my Oriental attitude
for many a long day after.”



CHAPTER XXXVI.


THE LANDING.

What a contrast to the dull monotony of our life at sea did the scene
present which awaited us on landing in Lisbon. The whole quay was crowded
with hundreds of people eagerly watching the vessel which bore from her
mast the broad ensign of Britain. Dark-featured, swarthy, mustached faces,
with red caps rakishly set on one side, mingled with the Saxon faces and
fair-haired natives of our own country. Men-of-war boats plied unceasingly
to and fro across the tranquil river, some slender reefer in the
stern-sheets, while behind him trailed the red pennon of some “tall
admiral.”

The din and clamor of a mighty city mingled with the far-off sounds of
military music; and in the vistas of the opening street, masses of troops
might be seen in marching order; and all betokened the near approach of
war.

Our anchor had scarcely been dropped, when an eight-oar gig, with a
midshipman steering, came alongside.

“Ship ahoy, there! You’ve troops on board?”

“Ay, ay, sir.”

Before the answer could be spoken, he was on the deck.

“May I ask,” said he, touching his cap slightly, “who is the officer in
command of the detachment?”

“Captain Power; very much at your service,” said Fred, returning the
salute.

“Rear-Admiral Sir Edward Douglas requests that you will do him the favor to
come on board immediately, and bring your despatches with you.”

“I’m quite ready,” said Power, as he placed his papers in his sabretasche;
“but first tell us what’s doing here. Anything new lately?”

“I have heard nothing, except of some affair with the Portuguese,--they’ve
been drubbed again; but our people have not been engaged. I say, we had
better get under way; there’s our first lieutenant with his telescope up;
he’s looking straight at us. So, come along. Good-evening, gentlemen.” And
in another moment the sharp craft was cutting the clear water, while Power
gayly waved us a good-by.

“Who’s for shore?” said the skipper, as half-a-dozen boats swarmed around
the side, or held on by their boat-hooks to the rigging.

“Who is not?” said Monsoon, who now appeared in his old blue frock covered
with tarnished braiding, and a cocked hat that might have roofed a pagoda.
“Who is not, my old boy? Is not every man among us delighted with the
prospect of fresh prog, cool wine, and a bed somewhat longer than four feet
six? I say, O’Malley! Sparks! Where’s the adjutant? Ah, there he is! We’ll
not mind the doctor,--he’s a very jovial little fellow, but a damned bore,
_entre nous_; and we’ll have a cosy little supper at the Rue di Toledo. I
know the place well. Whew, now! Get away, boy. Sit steady, Sparks; she’s
only a cockleshell. There; that’s the Plaza de la Regna,--there, to
the left. There’s the great cathedral,--you can’t see it now. Another
seventy-four! Why there’s a whole fleet here! I wish old Power joy of his
afternoon with old Douglas.”

“Do you know him then, Major?”

“Do I?--I should rather think I do. He was going to put me in irons here in
this river once. A great shame it was; but I’ll tell you the story another
time. There, gently now; that’s it. Thank God! once more upon land. How I
do hate a ship; upon my life, a sauce-boat is the only boat endurable in
this world.”

We edged our way with difficulty through the dense crowd, and at last
reached the Plaza. Here the numbers were still greater, but of a different
class: several pretty and well-dressed women, with their dark eyes
twinkling above their black mantillas as they held them across their faces,
watched with an intense curiosity one of the streets that opened upon the
square.

In a few moments the band of a regiment was heard, and very shortly after
the regular tramp of troops followed, as the Eighty-seventh marched into
the Plaza, and formed a line.

The music ceased; the drums rolled along the line; and the next moment
all was still. It was really an inspiriting sight to one whose heart was
interested in the career, to see those gallant fellows, as, with their
bronzed faces and stalwart frames, they stood motionless as a rock. As I
continued to look, the band marched into the middle of the square, and
struck up, “Garryowen.” Scarcely was the first part played, when a
tremendous cheer burst from the troop-ship in the river. The welcome notes
had reached the poor fellows there; the well-known sounds that told of home
and country met their ears; and the loud cry of recognition bespoke their
hearts’ fullness.

“There they go. Your wild countrymen have heard their _Ranz des vaches_,
it seems. Lord! how they frightened the poor Portuguese; look how they’re
running!”

Such was actually the case. The loud cheer uttered from the river was taken
up by others straggling on shore, and one universal shout betokened that
fully one-third of the red-coats around came from the dear island, and in
their enthusiasm had terrified the natives to no small extent.

“Is not that Ferguson there!” cried the major, as an officer passed us with
his arm in a sling. “I say, Joe--Ferguson! oh, knew it was!”

“Monsoon, my hearty, how goes it?--only just arrived, I see. Delighted to
meet you out here once more. Why, we’ve been as dull as a veteran battalion
without you. These your friends? Pray present me.” The ceremony of
introduction over, the major invited Ferguson to join our party at supper.
“No, not to-night, Major,” said he, “you must be my guests this evening. My
quarters are not five minutes’ walk from this; I shall not promise you very
luxurious fare.”

“A carbonade with olives, a roast duck, a bowl of bishop, and, if you will,
a few bottles of Burgundy,” said the major; “don’t put yourself out for
us,--soldier’s fare, eh?”

I could not help smiling at the _naïve_ notion of simplicity so cunningly
suggested by old Monsoon. As I followed the party through the streets,
my step was light, my heart not less so; for what sensations are more
delightful than those of landing after a voyage? The escape from the
durance vile of shipboard, with its monotonous days and dreary nights,
its ill-regulated appointments, its cramped accommodation, its uncertain
duration, its eternal round of unchanging amusements, for the freedom
of the shore, with a land breeze, and a firm footing to tread upon; and
certainly, not least of all, the sight of that brightest part of creation,
whose soft eyes and tight ankles are, perhaps, the greatest of all
imaginable pleasures to him who has been the dweller on blue water for
several weeks long.

“Here we are,” cried out Ferguson, as we stopped at the door of a large
and handsome house. We follow up a spacious stair into an ample room,
sparingly, but not uncomfortably furnished: plans of sieges, maps of the
seat of war, pistols, sabres, and belts decorated the white walls, and a
few books and a stray army list betokened the habits of the occupant.

While Ferguson disappeared to make some preparations for supper, Monsoon
commenced a congratulation to the party upon the good fortune that had
befallen them. “Capital fellow is Joe; never without something good, and
a rare one to pass the bottle. Oh, here he comes. Be alive there, Sparks,
take a corner of the cloth; how deliciously juicy that ham looks. Pass
the Madeira down there; what’s under that cover,--stewed kidneys?” While
Monsoon went on thus we took our places at the table, and set to with an
appetite which only a newly-landed traveller ever knows.

“Another spoonful of the gravy? Thank you. And so they say we’ve not been
faring over well latterly?” said the major.

“Not a word of truth in the report. Our people have not been engaged. The
only thing lately was a smart brush we had at the Tamega. Poor Patrick, a
countryman of ours, and myself were serving with the Portuguese brigade,
when Laborde drove us back upon the town and actually routed us. The
Portuguese general, caring little for anything save his own safety, was
making at once for the mountains when Patrick called upon his battalion to
face about and charge; and nobly they did it, too. Down they came upon the
advancing masses of the French, and literally hurled them back upon the
main body. The other regiments, seeing this gallant stand, wheeled about
and poured in a volley, and then, fixing bayonets, stormed a little mount
beside the hedge, which commanded the whole suburb of Villa Real. The
French, who soon recovered their order, now prepared for a second attack,
and came on in two dense columns, when Patrick, who had little confidence
in the steadiness of his people for any lengthened resistance, resolved
upon once more charging with the bayonet. The order was scarcely given when
the French were upon us, their flank defended by some of La Houssaye’s
heavy dragoons. For an instant the conflict was doubtful, until poor
Patrick fell mortally wounded upon the parapet; when the men, no longer
hearing his bold cheer, nor seeing his noble figure in the advance, turned
and fled, pell-mell, back upon the town. As for me, blocked up amidst the
mass, I was cut down from the shoulder to the elbow by a young fellow of
about sixteen, who galloped about like a schoolboy on a holiday. The wound
was only dangerous from the loss of blood, and so I contrived to reach
Amacante without much difficulty; from whence, with three or four others, I
was ordered here until fit for service.”

“But what news from our own head-quarters?” inquired I.

“All imaginable kind of rumors are afloat. Some say that Craddock is
retiring; others, that a part of the army is in motion upon Caldas.”

“Then we are not going to have a very long sojourn here, after all, eh,
Major? Donna Maria de Tormes will be inconsolable. By-the-bye, their house
is just opposite us. Have you never heard Monsoon mention his friends
there?”

“Come, come, Joe, how can you be so foolish?”

“But, Major, my dear friend, what signifies your modesty? There is not a
man in the service does not know it, save those in the last gazette.”

“Indeed, Joe, I am very angry with you.”

“Well, then, by Jove! I must tell it, myself; though, faith, lads, you lose
not a little for want of Monsoon’s tact in the narrative.”

“Anything is better that trusting to such a biographer,” cried the major;
“so here goes:--

“When I was acting commissary-general to the Portuguese forces some few
years ago, I obtained great experience of the habits of the people; for
though naturally of an unsuspecting temperament myself, I generally
contrive to pick out the little foibles of my associates, even upon a short
acquaintance. Now, my appointment pleased me very much on this score,--it
gave me little opportunities of examining the world. ‘The greatest study of
mankind is man,’--Sparks would say woman, but no matter.

“Now, I soon discovered that our ancient and very excellent allies, the
Portuguese, with a beautiful climate, delicious wines, and very delightful
wives and daughters, were the most infernal rogues and scoundrels ever met
with. ‘Make yourself thoroughly acquainted with the leading features of the
natives,’ said old Sir Harry to me in a despatch from head-quarters; and,
faith, it was not difficult,--such open, palpable, undisguised rascals
never were heard of. I thought I knew a thing or two myself, when I landed;
but, Lord love you! I was a babe, I was an infant in swaddling clothes,
compared with them; and they humbugged me,--ay, _me!_--till I began to
suspect that I was only walking in my sleep.

“‘Why, Monsoon,’ said the general, ‘they told me you were a sharp fellow,
and yet the people here seem to work round you every day. This will never
do. You must brighten up a little or I shall be obliged to send you back.’

“‘General,’ said I, ‘they used to call me no fool in England; but, somehow,
here--’

“‘I understand,’ said he; ‘you don’t know the Portuguese; there’s but one
way with them,--strike quickly, and strike home. Never give them time for
roguery,--for if they have a moment’s reflection, they’ll cheat the devil
himself; but when you see the plot working, come slap down and decide the
thing your own way.’

“Well, now, there never was anything so true as this advice, and for the
eighteen months I acted upon it, I never knew it to fail.

“‘I want a thousand measures of wheat.’

“‘Senhor Excellenza, the crops have been miserably deficient, and----’

“‘Sergeant-major,’ I would say, ‘these poor people have no corn; it’s a
wine country,--let them make up the rations that way.’

“The wheat came in that evening.

“‘One hundred and twenty bullocks wanted for the reserve.’

“‘The cattle are all up the mountains.’

“‘Let the alcalde catch them before night or I’ll catch _him_.’

“Lord bless you! I had beef enough to feed the Peninsula. And in this way,
while the forces were eating short allowance and half rations elsewhere,
our brigade were plump as aldermen.

“When we lay in Andalusia this was easy enough. What a country, to be sure!
Such vineyards, such gardens, such delicious valleys, waving with corn and
fat with olives; actually, it seemed a kind of dispensation of Providence
to make war in. There was everything you could desire; and then, the
people, like all your wealthy ones, were so timid, and so easily
frightened, you could get what you pleased out of them by a little terror.
My scouts managed this very well.

“‘He is coming,’ they would say, ‘after to-morrow.’

“‘_Madre de Dios!_’

“‘I hope he won’t burn the village.’

“‘_Questos infernales Ingleses!_ how wicked they are.’

“‘You’d better try what a sack of moidores or doubloons might do with him;
he may refuse them, but make the effort.’

“Ha!” said the major, with a long-drawn sigh, “those were pleasant times;
alas, that they should ever come to an end! Well, among the old hidalgos I
met there was one Don Emanuel Selvio de Tormes, an awful old miser, rich as
Croesus, and suspicious as the arch-fiend himself. Lord, how I melted him
down! I quartered two squadrons of horse and a troop of flying artillery
upon him. How the fellows did eat! Such a consumption of wines was never
heard of; and as they began to slacken a little, I took care to replace
them by fresh arrivals,--fellows from the mountains, _caçadores_ they call
them. At last, my friend Don Emanuel could stand it no longer, and he sent
me a diplomatic envoy to negotiate terms, which, upon the whole, I must
say, were fair enough; and in a few days after, the _caçadores_ were
withdrawn, and I took up my quarters at the château. I have had various
chances and changes in this wicked world, but I am free to confess that I
never passed a more agreeable time than the seven weeks I spent there. Don
Emanuel, when properly managed, became a very pleasant little fellow; Donna
Maria, his wife, was a sweet creature. You need not be winking that way.
Upon my life she was: rather fat, to be sure, and her age something verging
upon the fifties; but she had such eyes, black as sloes, and luscious as
ripe grapes; and she was always smiling and ogling, and looking so sweet.
Confound me, if I think she wasn’t the most enchanting being in this world,
with about ten thousand pounds’ worth of jewels upon her fingers and in
her ears. I have her before me at this instant, as she used to sit in the
little arbor in the garden, with a Manilla cigar in her mouth, and a little
brandy-and-water--quite weak, you know--beside her.

“‘Ah, General,’ she used to say--she always called me general--‘what a
glorious career yours is! A soldier is _indeed_ a man.’

“Then she would look at poor Emanuel, who used to sit in a corner, holding
his hand to his face, for hours, calculating interest and cent per cent,
till he fell asleep.

“Now, he labored under a very singular malady,--not that I ever knew it at
the time,--a kind of luxation of the lower jaw, which, when it came on,
happened somehow to press upon some vital nerve or other, and left him
perfectly paralyzed till it was restored to its proper place. In fact,
during the time the agony lasted, he was like one in a trance; for though
he could see and hear, he could neither speak nor move, and looked as if he
had done with both for many a day to come.

“Well, as I was saying, I knew nothing of all this till a slight
circumstance made it known to me. I was seated one evening in the little
arbor I mentioned, with Donna Maria. There was a little table before us
covered with wines and fruits, a dish of olives, some Castile oranges, and
a fresh pine. I remember it well: my eye roved over the little dessert set
out in old-fashioned, rich silver dishes, then turned towards the lady
herself, with rings and brooches, earrings and chains enough to reward one
for sacking a town; and I said to myself, ‘Monsoon, Monsoon, this is better
than long marches in the Pyrenees, with a cork-tree for a bed-curtain, and
wet grass for a mattress. How pleasantly one might jog on in this world
with this little country-house for his abode, and Donna Maria for a
companion!’

“I tasted the port; it was delicious. Now, I knew very little Portuguese,
but I made some effort to ask if there was much of it in the cellar.

“She smiled, and said, ‘Oh, yes.’

“‘What a luxurious life one might lead here!’ thought I; ‘and after all,
perhaps Providence might remove Don Emanuel.’

“I finished the bottle as I thus meditated. The next was, if possible, more
crusty.

“‘This is a delicious retreat,’ said I, soliloquizing.

“Donna Maria seemed to know what was passing in my mind, for she smiled,
too.

“‘Yes,’ said I, in broken Portuguese, ‘one ought to be very happy here,
Donna Maria.’

“She blushed, and I continued:--

“‘What can one want for more in this life? All the charms that rendered
Paradise what it was’--I took her hand here--‘and made Adam blessed.’

“‘Ah, General!’ said she, with a sigh, ‘you are such a flatterer.’

“‘Who could flatter,’ said I, with enthusiasm, ‘when there are not words
enough to express what he feels?’ This was true, for my Portuguese was fast
failing me, ‘But if I ever was happy, it is now.’

“I took another pull at the port.

“‘If I only thought,’ said I, ‘that my presence here was not thought
unwelcome--’

“‘Fie, General,’ said she, ‘how could you say such a thing?’

“‘If I only thought I was not hated,’ said I, tremblingly.

“‘Oh!’ said she, again.

“‘Despised.’

“‘Oh!’

“‘Loathed.’

[Illustration: MAJOR MONSOON AND DONNA MARIA.]

“She pressed my hand, I kissed hers; she hurriedly snatched it from me, and
pointed towards a lime-tree near, beneath which, in the cool enjoyment of
his cigar, sat the spare and detested figure of Don Emanuel.

“‘Yes,’ thought I, ‘there he is,--the only bar to my good fortune; were
it not for him, I should not be long before I became possessor of this
excellent old château, with a most indiscretionary power over the cellar.
Don Mauricius Monsoon would speedily assume his place among the grandees of
Portugal.’

“I know not how long my revery lasted, nor, indeed, how the evening passed;
but I remember well the moon was up, and a sky, bright with a thousand
stars was shining, as I sat beside the fair Donna Maria, endeavoring, with
such Portuguese as it had pleased fate to bestow on me, to instruct her
touching my warlike services and deeds of arms. The fourth bottle of port
was ebbing beneath my eloquence, as responsively her heart beat, when I
heard a slight rustle in the branches near. I looked, and, Heavens, what a
sight did I behold! There was little Don Emanuel stretched upon the grass
with his mouth wide open, his face pale as death, his arms stretched out at
either side, and his legs stiffened straight out. I ran over and asked if
he were ill, but no answer came. I lifted up an arm, but it fell heavily
upon the ground as I let it go; the leg did likewise. I touched his nose;
it was cold.

“‘Hollo,’ thought I, ‘is it so? This comes of mixing water with your
sherry. I saw where it would end.’

“Now, upon my life! I felt sorry for the little fellow; but somehow, one
gets so familiarized with this sort of thing in a campaign that one only
half feels in a case like this.

“‘Yes,’ said I, ‘man is but grass; but I for one must make hay when the sun
shines. Now for the Donna Maria,’--for the poor thing was asleep in the
arbor all this while.

“‘Donna,’ said I, shaking her by the elbow,--‘Donna, don’t be shocked at
what I’m going to say.’

“‘Ah, General,’ said she, with a sigh, ‘say no more; I must not listen to
you.’

“‘You don’t know that,’ said I, with a knowing look,--‘you don’t know
that.’

“‘Why, what can you mean?’

“‘The little fellow is done for.’ For the port was working strong now,
and destroyed all my fine sensibility. ‘Yes, Donna,’ said I, ‘you are
free,’--here I threw myself upon my knees,--‘free to make me the happiest
of commissaries and the jolliest grandee of Portugal that ever--’

“‘But Don Emanuel?’

“‘Run out, dry, empty,’ inverting a finished decanter to typify my words as
I spoke.

“‘He is not dead?’ said she, with a scream.

“‘Even so,’ said I, with a hiccough! ‘ordered for service in a better
world, where there are neither inspections nor arrears.’

“Before the words were well out, she sprang from the bench and rushed over
to the spot where the little don lay. What she said or did I know not, but
the next moment he sat bolt upright on the grass, and as he held his jaw
with one hand and supported himself on the other, vented such a torrent of
abuse and insult at me, that, for want of Portuguese enough to reply, I
rejoined in English, in which I swore pretty roundly for five minutes.
Meanwhile the donna had summoned the servants, who removed Don Emanuel to
the house, where on my return I found my luggage displayed before the door,
with a civil hint to deploy in orderly time and take ground elsewhere.

“In a few days, however, his anger cooled down, and I received a polite
note from Donna Maria, that the don at length began to understand the joke,
and begged that I would return to the château, and that he would expect me
at dinner the same day.”

“With which, of course, you complied?”

“Which of course I did. Forgive your enemies, my dear boy,--it is only
Christian-like; and really, we lived very happily ever after. The donna was
a mighty clever woman, and a dear good soul besides.”

It was late when the major concluded his story; so after wishing Ferguson a
good-night, we took our leave, and retired for the night to our quarters.



CHAPTER XXXVII


LISBON.

The tramp of horses’ feet and the sound of voices beneath my window roused
me from a deep sleep. I sprang up and drew aside the curtain. What a
strange confusion beset me as I looked forth! Before me lay a broad and
tranquil river whose opposite shore, deeply wooded and studded with villas
and cottages, rose abruptly from the water’s edge; vessels of war lay
tranquilly in the stream, their pennants trailing in the tide. The loud
boom of a morning gun rolled along the surface, awaking a hundred echoes as
it passed, and the lazy smoke rested for some minutes on the glassy water
as it blended with the thin air of the morning.

“Where am I?” was my first question to myself, as I continued to look from
side to side, unable to collect my scattered senses.

One word sufficed to recall me to myself, as I heard Power’s voice, from
without, call out, “Charley! O’Malley, I say! Come down here!”

I hurriedly threw on my clothes and went to the door.

“Well, Charley, I’ve been put in harness rather sooner than I expected.
Here’s old Douglas has been sitting up all night writing despatches; and
I must hasten on to headquarters without a moment’s delay. There’s work
before us, that’s certain; but when, where, and how, of that I know
nothing. You may expect the route every moment; the French are still
advancing. Meanwhile I have a couple of commissions for you to execute.
First, here’s a packet for Hammersley; you are sure to meet him with the
regiment in a day or two. I have some scruples about asking you this; but,
confound it! you’re too sensible a fellow to care--” Here he hesitated;
and as I colored to the eyes, for some minutes he seemed uncertain how to
proceed. At length, recovering himself, he went on: “Now for the other.
This is a most loving epistle from a poor devil of a midshipman, written
last night by a tallow candle, in the cock-pit, containing vows of eternal
adoration and a lock of hair. I promised faithfully to deliver it myself;
for the ‘Thunderer’ sails for Gibraltar next tide, and he cannot go ashore
for an instant. However, as Sir Arthur’s billet may be of more importance
than the reefer’s, I must intrust its safe keeping to your hands. Now,
then, don’t look so devilish sleepy, but seem to understand what I am
saying. This is the address: ‘La Senhora Inez da Silviero, Rua Nuova,
opposite the barber’s.’ You’ll not neglect it. So now, my dear boy, till
our next meeting, _adios!_”

“Stop! For Heaven’s sake, not so fast, I pray! Where’s the street?”

“The Rua Nuova. Remember Figaro, my boy. _Cinque perruche_.”

“But what am I to do?”

“To do! What a question! Anything; everything. Be a good diplomate. Speak
of the torturing agony of the lover, for which I can vouch. The boy is only
fifteen. Swear that he is to return in a month, first lieutenant of the
‘Thunder Bomb,’ with intentions that even Madame Dalrymple would approve.”

“What nonsense,” said I, blushing to the eyes.

“And if that suffice not, I know of but one resource.”

“Which is?”

“Make love to her yourself. Ay, even so. Don’t look so confoundedly
vinegar; the girl, I hear, is a devilish pretty one, the house pleasant,
and I sincerely wish I could exchange duties with you, leaving you to make
your bows to his Excellency the C. O. F., and myself free to make mine to
La Senhora. And now, push along, old red cap.”

So saying, he made a significant cut of his whip at the Portuguese guide,
and in another moment was out of sight.

My first thought was one of regret at Power’s departure. For some time past
we had been inseparable companions; and notwithstanding the reckless and
wild gayety of his conduct, I had ever found him ready to assist me in
every difficulty, and that with an address and dexterity a more calculating
adviser might not have possessed. I was now utterly alone; for though
Monsoon and the adjutant were still in Lisbon, as was also Sparks, I never
could make intimates of them.

I ate my breakfast with a heavy heart, my solitary position again
suggesting thoughts of home and kindred. Just at this moment my eyes fell
upon the packet destined for Hammersley; I took it up and weighed it in
my hand. “Alas!” thought I, “how much of my destiny may lie within that
envelope! How fatally may my after-life be influenced by it!” It felt heavy
as though there was something besides letters. True, too true; there was
a picture, Lucy’s portrait! The cold drops of perspiration stood upon
my forehead as my fingers traced the outline of a miniature-case in the
parcel. I became deadly weak, and sank, half-fainting, upon a chair. And
such is the end of my first dream of happiness! How have I duped, how
have I deceived myself! For, alas, though Lucy had never responded to my
proffered vows of affection, yet had I ever nurtured in my heart a secret
hope that I was not altogether uncared for. Every look she had given me,
every word she had spoken, the tone of her voice, her step, her every
gesture, were before me, all confirming my delusion, and yet,--I could bear
no more, and burst into tears.

The loud call of a cavalry trumpet aroused me.

How long I had passed in this state of despondency I knew not; but it was
long past noon when I rallied myself. My charger was already awaiting me;
and a second blast of the trumpet told that the inspection in the Plaza was
about to commence.

As I continued to dress, I gradually rallied from my depressing thoughts;
and ere I belted my sabretasche, the current of my ideas had turned from
their train of sadness to one of hardihood and daring. Lucy Dashwood had
treated me like a wilful schoolboy. Mayhap, I may prove myself as gallant a
soldier as even him she has preferred before me.

A third sound of the trumpet cut short my reflections, and I sprang into
the saddle, and hastened towards the Plaza. As I dashed along the streets,
my horse, maddened with the impulse that stirred my own heart, curvetted
and plunged unceasingly. As I reached the Plaza, the crowd became dense,
and I was obliged to pull up. The sound of the music, the parade, the tramp
of the infantry, and the neighing of the horses, were, however, too much
for my mettlesome steed, and he became nearly unmanageable; he plunged
fearfully, and twice reared as though he would have fallen back. As I
scattered the foot passengers right and left with terror, my eye fell upon
one lovely girl, who, tearing herself from her companion, rushed wildly
towards an open doorway for shelter; suddenly, however, changing her
intention, she came forward a few paces, and then, as if overcome by fear,
stood stock-still, her hands clasped upon her bosom, her eyes upturned, her
features deadly pale, while her knees seemed bending beneath her. Never did
I behold a more beautiful object. Her dark hair had fallen loose upon her
shoulder, and she stood the very _idéal_ of the “Madonna Supplicating.”
 My glance was short as a lightning flash; for the same instant my horse
swerved, and dashed forward right at the place where she was standing. One
terrific cry rose from the crowd, who saw her danger. Beside her stood a
muleteer who had drawn up his mule and cart close beside the footway for
safety; she made one effort to reach it, but her outstretched arms alone
moved, and paralyzed by terror, she sank motionless upon the pavement.
There was but one course open to me now; so collecting myself for the
effort, I threw my horse upon his haunches, and then, dashing the spurs
into his flanks, breasted him at the mule cart. With one spring he rose,
and cleared it at a bound, while the very air rang with the acclamations
of the multitude, and a thousand bravos saluted me as I alighted upon the
opposite side.

“Well done, O’Malley!” sang out the little adjutant, as I flew past and
pulled up in the middle of the Plaza.

“Something devilish like Galway in that leap,” said a very musical voice
beside me; and at the same instant a tall, soldier-like man, in an undress
dragoon frock, touched his cap, and said, “A 14th man, I perceive, sir. May
I introduce myself? Major O’Shaughnessy.”

I bowed, and shook the major’s proffered hand, while he continued,--

“Old Monsoon mentioned your name to us this morning. You came out together,
if I mistake not?”

“Yes; but somehow, I’ve missed the major since my landing.”

“Oh, you’ll see him presently; he’ll be on parade. By-the-bye, he wishes
particularly to meet you. We dine to-day at the ‘Quai de Soderi,’ and if
you’re not engaged--Yes, this is the person,” said he, turning at the
moment towards a servant, who, with a card in his hand, seemed to search
for some one in the crowd.

The man approached, and handed it to me.

“What can this mean?” said I. “Don Emanuel de Blacas y Silviero, Rua
Nuova.”

“Why, that’s the great Portuguese contractor, the intendant of half the
army, the richest fellow in Lisbon. Have you known him long?”

“Never heard of him till now.”

“By Jove, you’re in luck! No man gives such dinners; he has such a cellar!
I’ll wager a fifty it was his daughter you took in the flying leap a while
ago. I hear she is a beautiful creature.”

“Yes,” thought I, “that must be it; and yet, strange enough, I think the
name and address are familiar to me.”

“Ten to one, you’ve heard Monsoon speak of him; he’s most intimate there.
But here comes the major.”

And as he spoke, the illustrious commissary came forward holding a vast
bundle of papers in one hand, and his snuff-box in the other, followed by a
long string of clerks, contractors, assistant-surgeons, paymasters, etc.,
all eagerly pressing forward to be heard.

“It’s quite impossible; I can’t do it to-day. Victualling and physicking
are very good things, but must be done in season. I have been up all
night at the accounts,--haven’t I, O’Malley?” here he winked at me most
significantly; “and then I have the forage and stoppage fund to look
through [‘we dine at six, sharp,’ said he, _sotto voce_], which will leave
me without one minute unoccupied for the next twenty-four hours. Look to
your toggery this evening; I’ve something in my eye for you, O’Malley.”

“Officers unattached to their several corps will fall into the middle of
the Plaza,” said a deep voice among the crowd; and in obedience to the
order I rode forward and placed myself with a number of others, apparently
newly joined, in the open square. A short, gray-haired old colonel, with a
dark, eagle look, proceeded to inspect us, reading from a paper as he came
along,--

“Mr. Hepton, 6th Foot; commission bearing date 11th January; drilled,
proceed to Ovar, and join his regiment.

“Mr. Gronow, Fusilier Guards, remains with the depot.

“Captain Mortimer, 1st Dragoons, appointed aide-de-camp to the general
commanding the cavalry brigade.

“Mr. Sparks,--where is Mr. Sparks? Mr. Sparks absent from parade; make a
note of it.

“Mr. O’Malley, 14th Light Dragoons. Mr. O’Malley,--oh, I remember! I have
received a letter from Sir George Dashwood concerning you. You will hold
yourself in readiness to march. Your friends desire that before you may
obtain any staff appointment, you should have the opportunity of seeing
some service. Am I to understand such is your wish?”

“Most certainly.”

“May I have the pleasure of your company at dinner to-day?”

“I regret that I have already accepted an invitation to dine with Major
Monsoon.”

“With Major Monsoon? Ah, indeed! Perhaps it might be as well I should
mention,--but no matter. I wish you good-morning.”

So saying, the little colonel rode off, leaving me to suppose that my
dinner engagement had not raised me in his estimation, though why, I could
not exactly determine.



CHAPTER XXXVIII.


THE RUA NUOVA.

Our dinner was a long and uninteresting one, and as I found that the major
was likely to prefer his seat as chairman of the party to the seductions
of ladies’ society, I took the first opportunity of escaping and left the
room.

It was a rich moonlight night as I found myself in the street. My way,
which led along the banks of the Tagus, was almost as light as in daytime,
and crowded with walking parties, who sauntered carelessly along in the
enjoyment of the cool, refreshing night-air. On inquiring, I discovered
that the Rua Nuova was at the extremity of the city; but as the road led
along by the river I did not regret the distance, but walked on with
increasing pleasure at the charms of so heavenly a climate and country.

After three quarters of an hour’s walk, the streets became by degrees less
and less crowded. A solitary party passed me now and then; the buzz of
distant voices succeeded to the gay laughter and merry tones of the passing
groups, and at length my own footsteps alone awoke the echoes along the
deserted pathway. I stopped every now and then to gaze upon the tranquil
river, whose eddies were circling in the pale silver of the moonlight. I
listened with attentive ear as the night breeze wafted to me the far-off
sounds of a guitar, and the deep tones of some lover’s serenade; while
again the tender warbling of the nightingale came borne across the stream
on a wind rich with the odor of the orange-tree.

As thus I lingered on my way the time stole on, and it was near midnight
ere I had roused myself from the revery surrounding objects had thrown
about me. I stopped suddenly, and for some minutes I struggled with
myself to discover if I was really awake. As I walked along, lost in my
reflections, I had entered a little garden beside the river. Fragrant
plants and lovely flowers bloomed on every side; the orange, the camelia,
the cactus, and the rich laurel of Portugal were blending their green and
golden hues around me, while the very air was filled with delicious music.
“Was it a dream? Could such ecstasy be real?” I asked myself, as the rich
notes swelled upwards in their strength, and sank in soft cadence to tones
of melting harmony; now bursting forth in the full force of gladness,
the voices blended together in one stream of mellow music, and suddenly
ceasing, the soft but thrilling shake of a female voice rose upon the air,
and in its plaintive beauty stirred the very heart. The proud tramp of
martial music succeeded to the low wailing cry of agony; then came the
crash of battle, the clang of steel; the thunder of the fight rolled on in
all its majesty, increasing in its maddening excitement till it ended in
one loud shout of victory.

All was still; not a breath moved, not a leaf stirred, and again was I
relapsing into my dreamy scepticism, when again the notes swelled upwards
in concert. But now their accents were changed, and in low, subdued tones,
faintly and slowly uttered, the prayer of thanksgiving rose to Heaven and
spoke their gratefulness. I almost fell upon my knees, and already the
tears filled my eyes as I drank in the sounds. My heart was full to
bursting, and even now as I write it my pulse throbs as I remember the hymn
of the Abencerrages.

When I rallied from my trance of excited pleasure, my first thought was,
where was I, and how came I there? Before I could resolve my doubts upon
the question, my attention was turned in another direction, for close
beside me the branches moved forward, and a pair of arms were thrown around
my neck, while a delicious voice cried out in an accent of childish,
delight, “_Trovado!_” At the same instant a lovely head sank upon my
shoulder, covering it with tresses of long brown hair. The arms pressed me
still more closely, till I felt her very heart beating against my side.

“_Mio fradre_,” said a soft, trembling voice, as her fingers played in my
hair and patted my temples.

What a situation mine! I well knew that some mistaken identity had been the
cause, but still I could not repress my inclination to return the embrace,
as I pressed my lips upon the fair forehead that leaned upon my bosom; at
the same moment she threw back her head, as if to look me more fully in the
face. One glance sufficed; blushing deeply over her cheeks and neck, she
sprang from my arms, and uttering a faint cry, staggered against a tree.
In an instant I saw it was the lovely girl I had met in the morning; and
without losing a second I poured out apologies for my intrusion with all
the eloquence I was master of, till she suddenly interrupted me by asking
if I spoke French. Scarcely had I recommenced my excuses in that language,
when a third party appeared upon the stage. This was a short, elderly man,
in a green uniform, with several decorations upon his breast, and a cocked
hat with a most flowing plume in his right hand.

“May I beg to know whom I have the honor of receiving?” inquired he, in
very excellent English, as he advanced with a look of very ceremonious and
distant politeness.

I immediately explained that, presuming upon the card which his servant had
presented me, I had resolved on paying my respects when a mistake had led
me accidentally into his garden.

My apologies had not come to an end when he folded me in his arms and
overwhelmed me with thanks, at the same time saying a few words in
Portuguese to his daughter. She stooped down, and taking my hand gently
within her own, touched it with her lips.

This piece of touching courtesy,--which I afterwards found meant little or
nothing,--affected me deeply at the time, and I felt the blood rush to my
face and forehead, half in pride, half in a sense of shame. My confusion
was, however, of short duration; for taking my arm, the old gentleman led
me along a few paces, and turning round a small clump of olives, entered a
little summer-house. Here a considerable party were assembled, which for
their picturesque effect could scarcely have been better managed on the
stage.

Beneath the mild lustre of a large lamp of stained glass, half hid in the
overhanging boughs, was spread a table covered with vessels of gold and
silver plate of gorgeous richness; drinking cups and goblets of antique
pattern shone among cups of Sèvres china or Venetian glass; delicious
fruit, looking a thousand times more tempting for being contained in
baskets of silver foliage, peeped from amidst a profusion of fresh flowers,
whose odor was continually shed around by a slight _jet d’eau_ that played
among the leaves. Around upon the grass, seated upon cushions or reclining
on Genoa carpets, were several beautiful girls in most becoming costumes,
their dark locks and darker eyes speaking of “the soft South,” while their
expressive gestures and animated looks betokened a race whose temperament
is glowing as their clime. There were several men also, the greater number
of whom appeared in uniform,--bronzed, soldier-like fellows, who had
the jaunty air and easy carriage of their calling,--among whom was one
Englishman, or at least so I guessed from his wearing the uniform of a
heavy dragoon regiment.

“This is my daughter’s _fête_,” said Don Emanuel, as he ushered me into the
assembly,--“her birthday; a sad day it might have been for us had it not
been for your courage and forethought.” So saying, he commenced a recital
of my adventure to the bystanders, who overwhelmed me with civil speeches
and a shower of soft looks that completed the fascination of the fairy
scene. Meanwhile the fair Inez had made room for me beside her, and I found
myself at once the lion of the party, each vying with her neighbor
who should show me most attention, La Senhora herself directing her
conversation exclusively to me,--a circumstance which, considering the
awkwardness of our first meeting, I felt no small surprise at, and which
led me, somewhat maliciously I confess, to make a half allusion to it,
feeling some interest in ascertaining for whom the flattering reception was
really intended.

“I thought you were Charles,” said she, blushing, in answer to my question.

“And you are right,” said I; “I am Charles.”

“Nay, but I meant _my_ Charles.”

There was something of touching softness in the tone of these few words
that made me half wish I were _her_ Charles. Whether my look evinced as
much or not, I cannot tell, but she speedily added,--

“He is my brother; he is a captain in the caçadores, and I expected him
here this evening. Some one saw a figure pass the gate and conceal himself
in the trees, and I was sure it was he.”

“What a disappointment!” said I.

“Yes; was it not?” said she, hurriedly; and then, as if remembering how
ungracious was the speech, she blushed more deeply and hung down her head.

Just at this moment, as I looked up, I caught the eye of the English
officer fixed steadfastly upon me. He was a tall, fine-looking fellow, of
about two or three and thirty, with marked and handsome features, which,
however, conveyed an expression of something sneering and sinister that
struck me the moment I saw him. His glass was fixed in his eye, and I
perceived that he regarded us both with a look of no common interest. My
attention did not, however, dwell long upon the circumstance, for Don
Emanuel, coming behind my shoulder, asked me if I would not take out his
daughter in the bolero they were just forming.

To my shame I was obliged to confess that I had not even seen the dance;
and while I continued to express my resolve to correct the errors of my
education, the Englishman came up and asked the senhora to be his partner.
This put the very keystone upon my annoyance, and I half turned angrily
away from the spot, when I heard her decline his invitation, and avow her
determination not to dance.

There was something which pleased me so much at this refusal, that I could
not help turning upon her a look of most grateful acknowledgment; but as I
did so, I once more encountered the gaze of the Englishman, whose knitted
brows and compressed lips were bent upon me in a manner there was no
mistaking. This was neither the fitting time nor place to seek any
explanation of the circumstance, so, wisely resolving to wait a better
occasion, I turned away and resumed my attentions towards my fair
companion.

“Then you don’t care for the bolero?” said I, as she reseated herself upon
the grass.

“Oh, I delight in it!” said she, enthusiastically.

“But you refused to dance?”

She hesitated, blushed, tried to mutter something, and was silent.

“I had determined to learn it,” said I, half jestingly; “but if you will
not dance with me--”

“Yes; that I will,--indeed I will.”

“But you declined my countryman. Is it because he is inexpert?”

The senhora hesitated, looked confused for some minutes; at length,
coloring slightly, she said: “I have already made one rude speech to you
this evening; I fear lest I should make a second. Tell me, is Captain
Trevyllian your friend?”

“If you mean that gentleman yonder, I never saw him before.”

“Nor heard of him?”

“Nor that either. We are total strangers to each other.”

“Well, then, I may confess it. I do not like him. My father prefers him
to any one else, invites him here daily, and, in fact, instals him as his
first favorite. But still, I cannot like him; and yet I have done my best
to do so.”

“Indeed!” said I, pointedly. “What are his chief demerits? Is he not
agreeable? Is he not clever?”

“Oh, on the contrary, most agreeable, fascinating, I should say, in
conversation; has travelled, seen a great deal of the world, is very
accomplished, and has distinguished himself on several occasions. He wears,
as you see, a Portuguese order.”

“And with all that--”

“And with all that, I cannot bear him. He is a duellist, a notorious
duellist. My brother, too, knows more of him, and avoids him. But let us
not speak further. I see his eyes are again fixed on us; and somehow, I
fear him, without well knowing wherefore.”

A movement among the party, shawls and mantillas were sought for on all
sides; and the preparations for leave-taking appeared general. Before,
however, I had time to express my thanks for my hospitable reception, the
guests had assembled in a circle around the senhora, and toasting her with
a parting bumper, they commenced in concert a little Portuguese song of
farewell, each verse concluding with a good-night, which, as they separated
and held their way homewards, might now and then be heard rising upon the
breeze and wafting their last thoughts back to her. The concluding verse,
which struck me much, I have essayed to translate. It ran somehow thus:--

    “The morning breezes chill
      Now close our joyous scene,
    And yet we linger still,
      Where we’ve so happy been.
    How blest were it to live
      With hearts like ours so light,
    And only part to give
      One long and last good-night!
                        Good-night!”

With many an invitation to renew my visit, most kindly preferred by Don
Emanuel and warmly seconded by his daughter, I, too, wished my good-night
and turned my steps homeward.



CHAPTER XXXIX


THE VILLA.

The first object which presented itself to my eye the next morning was the
midshipman’s packet intrusted to my care by Power. I turned it over to read
the address more carefully, and what was my surprise to find that the name
was that of my fair friend Donna Inez.

“This certainly thickens the plot,” thought I. “And so I have now fallen
upon the real Simon Pure, and the reefer has had the good fortune to
distance the dragoon. Well, thus far, I cannot say that I regret it. Now,
however, for the parade, and then for the villa.”

“I say, O’Malley,” cried out Monsoon, as I appeared on the Plaza, “I have
accepted an invitation for you to-day. We dine across the river. Be at my
quarters a little before six, and we’ll go together.”

I should rather have declined the invitation; but not well knowing why, and
having no ready excuse, acceded, and promised to be punctual.

“You were at Don Emanuel’s last night. I heard of you!”

“Yes; I spent a most delightful evening.”

“That’s your ground, my boy. A million of moidores, and such a campagna in
Valencia. A better thing than the Dalrymple affair. Don’t blush. I know it
all. But stay; here they come.”

As he spoke, the general commanding, with a numerous staff, rode forward.
As they passed, I recognized a face which I had certainly seen before, and
in a moment remembered it was that of the dragoon of the evening before. He
passed quite close, and fixing his eyes steadfastly on me, evinced no sign
of recognition.

The parade lasted above two hours; and it was with a feeling of impatience
I mounted a fresh horse to canter out to the villa. When I arrived, the
servant informed me that Don Emanuel was in the city, but that the senhora
was in the garden, offering, at the same time, to escort me. Declining this
honor, I intrusted my horse to his keeping and took my way towards the
arbor where last I had seen her.

I had not walked many paces, when the sound of a guitar struck on my ear. I
listened. It was the senhora’s voice. She was singing a Venetian canzonetta
in a low, soft, warbling tone, as one lost in a revery; as though the music
was a mere accompaniment to some pleasant thought. I peeped through the
dense leaves, and there she sat upon a low garden seat, an open book on the
rustic table before her, beside her, embroidery, which seemed only lately
abandoned. As I looked, she placed her guitar upon the ground and began to
play with a small spaniel that seemed to have waited with impatience for
some testimony of favor. A moment more, and she grew weary of this; then,
heaving a long but gentle sigh, leaned back upon her chair and seemed lost
in thought. I now had ample time to regard her, and certainly never beheld
anything more lovely. There was a character of classic beauty, and her
brow, though fair and ample, was still strongly marked upon the temples;
the eyes, being deep and squarely set, imparted a look of intensity to her
features which their own softness subdued; while the short upper lip,
which trembled with every passing thought, spoke of a nature tender and
impressionable, and yet impassioned. Her foot and ankle peeped from beneath
her dark robe, and certainly nothing could be more faultless; while her
hand, fair as marble, blue-veined and dimpled, played amidst the long
tresses of her hair, that, as if in the wantonness of beauty, fell
carelessly upon her shoulders.

It was some time before I could tear myself away from the fascination of so
much beauty, and it needed no common effort to leave the spot. As I made a
short _détour_ in the garden before approaching the arbor, she saw me as I
came forward, and kissing her hand gayly, made room for me beside her.

“I have been fortunate in finding you alone, Senhora,” said I, as I seated
myself by her side, “for I am the bearer of a letter to you. How far it
may interest you, I know not, but to the writer’s feelings I am bound to
testify.”

“A letter to me? You jest, surely?”

“That I am in earnest, this will show,” said I, producing the packet.

She took it from my hands, turned it about and about, examined the seal;
while, half doubtingly, she said:--

“The name is mine; but still--”

“You fear to open it; is it not so? But after all, you need not be
surprised if it’s from Howard; that’s his name, I think.”

“Howard! from little Howard!” exclaimed she, enthusiastically; and tearing
open the letter, she pressed it to her lips, her eyes sparkling with
pleasure and her cheek glowing as she read. I watched her as she ran
rapidly over the lines; and I confess that, more than once, a pang of
discontent shot through my heart that the midshipman’s letter could call up
such interest,--not that I was in love with her myself, but yet, I know
not how it was, I had fancied her affections unengaged; and without asking
myself wherefore, I wished as much.

“Poor dear boy!” said she, as she came to the end. How these few and simple
words sank into my heart, as I remembered how they had once been uttered to
myself, and in perhaps no very dissimilar circumstances.

“But where is the souvenir he speaks of?” said she.

“The souvenir. I’m not aware--”

“Oh, I hope you’ve not lost the lock of hair he sent me!” I was quite
dumfounded at this, and could not remember whether I had received it from
Power or not, so answered, at random,--

“Yes; I must have left it on my table.”

“Promise me, then, to bring it to-morrow with you?”

“Certainly,” said I, with something of pique in my manner. “If I find such
a means of making my visit an agreeable one, I shall certainly not omit
it.”

“You are quite right,” said she, either not noticing or not caring for the
tone of my reply. “You will, indeed, be a welcome messenger. Do you know,
he was one of my lovers?”

“One of them, indeed! Then pray how many do you number at this moment?”

“What a question; as if I could possibly count them! Besides, there are
so many absent,--some on leave, some deserters, perhaps,--that I might be
reckoning among my troops, but who, possibly, form part of the forces of
the enemy. Do you know little Howard?”

“I cannot say that we are personally acquainted, but I am enabled through
the medium of a friend to say that his sentiments are not strange to
me. Besides, I have really pledged myself to support the prayer of his
petition.”

“How very good of you! For which reason you’ve forgotten, if not lost, the
lock of hair.”

“That you shall have to-morrow,” said I, pressing my hand solemnly to my
heart.

“Well, then, don’t forget it. But hush; here comes Captain Trevyllian. So
you say Lisbon really pleases you?” said she, in a tone of voice totally
changed, as the dragoon of the preceding evening approached.

“Mr. O’Malley, Captain Trevyllian.”

We bowed stiffly and haughtily to each other, as two men salute who are
unavoidably obliged to bow, with every wish on either side to avoid
acquaintance. So, at least, I construed his bow; so I certainly intended my
own.

It requires no common tact to give conversation the appearance of
unconstraint and ease when it is evident that each person opposite is
laboring under excited feelings; so that, notwithstanding the senhora’s
efforts to engage our attention by the commonplaces of the day, we remained
almost silent, and after a few observations of no interest, took our
several leaves. Here again a new source of awkwardness arose; for as we
walked together towards the house, where our horses stood, neither party
seemed disposed to speak.

“You are probably returning to Lisbon?” said he, coldly.

I assented by a bow; upon which, drawing his bridle within his arm, he
bowed once more, and turned away in an opposite direction; while I, glad to
be relieved of an unsought-for companionship, returned alone to the town.



CHAPTER XL


THE DINNER.

It was with no peculiar pleasure that I dressed for our dinner party. Major
O’Shaughnessy, our host, was one of that class of my countrymen I cared
least for,--a riotous, good-natured, noisy, loud-swearing, punch-drinking
western; full of stories of impossible fox hunts, and unimaginable duels,
which all were acted either by himself or some member of his family. The
company consisted of the adjutant, Monsoon, Ferguson, Trevyllian, and some
eight or ten officers with whom I was acquainted. As is usual on such
occasions, the wine circulated freely, and amidst the din and clamor of
excited conversation, the fumes of Burgundy, and the vapor of cigar smoke,
we most of us became speedily mystified. As for me, my evil destiny would
have it that I was placed exactly opposite Trevyllian, with whom upon more
than one occasion I happened to differ in opinion, and the question was in
itself some trivial and unimportant one; yet the tone which he assumed, and
of which, I too could not divest myself in reply, boded anything rather
than an amicable feeling between us. The noise and turmoil about prevented
the others remarking the circumstance; but I could perceive in his manner
what I deemed a studied determination to promote a quarrel, while I felt
within myself a most unchristian-like desire to indulge his fancy.

“Worse fellows at passing the bottle than Trevyllian and O’Malley there I
have rarely sojourned with,” cried the major; “look if they haven’t got
eight decanters between them, and here we are in a state of African
thirst.”

“How can you expect him to think of thirst when such perfumed billets
as that come showering upon him?” said the adjutant, alluding to a
rose-colored epistle a servant had placed within my hands.

“Eight miles of a stone-wall country in fifteen minutes,--devil a lie in
it!” said O’Shaughnessy, striking the table with, his clinched fist; “show
me the man would deny it.”

“Why, my dear fellow--”

“Don’t be dearing me. Is it ‘no’ you’ll be saying me?”

“Listen, now; there’s O’Reilly, there--”

“Where is he?”

“He’s under the table.”

“Well, it’s the same thing. His mother had a fox--bad luck to you, don’t
scald me with the jug--his mother had a fox-cover in Shinrohan.”

When O’Shaughnessy had got thus far in his narrative, I had the opportunity
of opening my note, which merely contained the following words: “Come to
the ball at the Casino, and bring the Cadeau you promised.”

I had scarcely read this over once, when a roar of laughter at something
said attracted my attention. I looked up, and perceived Trevyllian’s eyes
bent upon me with the fierceness of a tiger; the veins in his forehead were
swollen and distorted, and the whole expression of his face betokened rage
and passion. Resolved no longer to submit to such evident determination to
insult, I was rising from my place at table, when, as if anticipating
my intention, he pushed back his chair and left the room. Fearful of
attracting attention by immediately following him, I affected to join in
the conversation around me, while my temples throbbed, and my hands tingled
with impatience to get away.

“Poor McManus,” said O’Shaughnessy, “rest his soul! he’d have puzzled the
bench of bishops for hard words. Upon my conscience, I believe he spent his
mornings looking for them in the Old Testament. Sure ye might have heard
what happened to him at Banagher, when he commanded the Kilkennys,--ye
never heard the story? Well, then, ye shall. Push the sherry along first,
though,--old Monsoon there always keeps it lingering beside his left arm.

“Well, when Peter was lieutenant-colonel of the Kilkennys,--who, I may
remark, _en passant_, as the French say, were the neediest-looking devils
in the whole service,--he never let them alone from morning till night,
drilling and pipe-claying and polishing them up. ‘Nothing will make
soldiers of you,’ said Peter, ‘but, by the rock of Cashel! I’ll keep you
as clean as a new musket!’ Now, poor Peter himself was not a very warlike
figure,--he measured five feet one in his tallest boots; but certainly if
Nature denied him length of stature, she compensated for it in another
way, by giving him a taste of the longest words in the language. An extra
syllable or so in a word was always a strong recommendation; and whenever
he could not find one to his mind, he’d take some quaint, outlandish one
that more than once led to very awkward results. Well, the regiment was one
day drawn up for parade in the town of Banagher, and as M’Manus came
down the lines he stopped opposite one of the men whose face, hands, and
accoutrements exhibited a most woeful contempt of his orders. The fellow
looked more like a turf-stack than a light-company man.

“‘Stand out, sir!’ cried M’Manus, in a boiling passion. ‘Sergeant O’Toole,
inspect this individual.’ Now, the sergeant was rather a favorite with Mac;
for he always pretended to understand his phraseology, and in consequence
was pronounced by the colonel a very superior man for his station in life.
‘Sergeant,’ said he, ‘we shall make an exemplary illustration of our system
here.’

“‘Yes, sir,’ said the sergeant, sorely puzzled at the meaning of what he
spoke.

“‘Bear him to the Shannon, and lave him there.’ This he said in a kind
of Coriolanus tone, with a toss of his head and a wave of his right
arm,--signs, whenever he made them, incontestibly showing that further
parley was out of the question, and that he had summed up and charged the
jury for good and all.

“‘_Lave_ him in the river?’ said O’Toole, his eyes starting from the
sockets, and his whole face working in strong anxiety; ‘is it _lave_ him in
the river yer honor means?’

“‘I have spoken,’ said the little man, bending an ominous frown upon the
sergeant, which, whatever construction he may have put upon his words,
there was no mistaking.

“‘Well, well, av it’s God’s will he’s drowned, it will not be on my head,’
says O’Toole, as he marched the fellow away between two rank and file.

“The parade was nearly over, when Mac happened to see the sergeant coming
up all splashed with water and looking quite tired.

“‘Have you obeyed my orders?’ said he.

“‘Yes, yer honor; and tough work we had of it, for he struggled hard.’

“‘And where is he now?’

“‘Oh, troth, he’s there safe. Divil a fear he’ll get out.’

“‘Where?’ said Mac.

“‘In the river, yer honor.’

“‘What have you done, you scoundrel?’

“‘Didn’t I do as you bid me?’ says he; ‘didn’t I throw him in and _lave_
[leave] him there?’

“And faith so they did; and if he wasn’t a good swimmer and got over to
Moystown, there’s little doubt but he’d have been drowned, and all because
Peter McManus could not express himself like a Christian.”

In the laughter which followed O’Shaughnessy’s story I took the opportunity
of making my escape from the party, and succeeded in gaining the street
unobserved. Though the note I had just read was not signed, I had no doubt
from whom it came; so I hastened at once to my quarters, to make search for
the lock of Ned Howard’s hair to which the senhora alluded. What was my
mortification, however, to discover that no such thing could be found
anywhere. I searched all my drawers; I tossed about my papers and letters;
I hunted every likely, every unlikely spot I could think of, but in
vain,--now cursing my carelessness for having lost it, now swearing most
solemnly to myself that I never could have received it. What was to be
done? It was already late; my only thought was how to replace it. If I only
knew the color, any other lock of hair would, doubtless, do just as well.
The chances were, as Howard was young and an Englishman, that his hair was
light; light-brown, probably, something like my own. Of course it was; why
didn’t that thought occur to me before? How stupid I was. So saying, I
seized a pair of scissors, and cut a long lock beside my temple; this in a
calm moment I might have hesitated about. “Yes,” thought I, “she’ll
never discover the cheat; and besides, I do feel,--I know not exactly
why,--rather gratified to think that I shall have left this _souvenir_
behind me, even though it call up other recollections than of me.” So
thinking, I wrapped my cloak about me and hastened towards the Casino.



CHAPTER XLI.


THE ROUTE.

I had scarcely gone a hundred yards from my quarters when a great tramp of
horses’ feet attracted my attention. I stopped to listen, and soon heard
the jingle of dragoon accoutrements, as the noise came near. The night was
dark but perfectly still; and before I stood many minutes I heard the tones
of a voice which I well knew could belong to but one, and that Fred Power.

“Fred Power!” said I, shouting at the same time at the top of my
voice,--“Power!”

“Ah, Charley, is that you? Come along to the adjutant-general’s quarters.
I’m charged with some important despatches, and can’t stop till I’ve
delivered them. Come along, I’ve glorious news for you!” So saying, he
dashed spurs to his horse, and followed by two mounted dragoons, galloped
past. Power’s few and hurried words had so excited my curiosity that I
turned at once to follow him, questioning myself, as I walked along,
to what he could possibly allude. He knew of my attachment to Lucy
Dashwood,--could he mean anything of her? But what could I expect there;
by what flattery could I picture to myself any chance of success in that
quarter; and yet, what other news could I care for or value than what bore
upon her fate upon whom my own depended? Thus ruminating, I reached the
door of the spacious building in which the adjutant-general had taken up
his abode, and soon found myself among a crowd of persons whom the rumor of
some important event had assembled there, though no one could tell what had
occurred. Before many minutes the door opened, and Power came out; bowing
hurriedly to a few, and whispering a word or two as he passed down the
steps, he seized me by the arm and led me across the street. “Charley,”
 said he, “the curtain’s rising; the piece is about to begin; a new
commander-in-chief is sent out,--Sir Arthur Wellesley, my boy, the finest
fellow in England is to lead us on, and we march to-morrow. There’s news
for you!” A raw boy, unread, uninformed as I was, I knew but little of his
career whose name had even then shed such lustre upon our army; but the
buoyant tone of Power as he spoke, the kindling energy of his voice roused
me, and I felt every inch a soldier. As I grasped his hand in delightful
enthusiasm I lost all memory of my disappointment, and in the beating throb
that shook my head; I felt how deeply slept the ardor of military glory
that first led me from my home to see a battle-field.

“There goes the news!” said Frederick, pointing as he spoke to a rocket
that shot up into the sky, and as it broke into ten thousand stars,
illuminated the broad stream where the ships of war lay darkly resting. In
another moment the whole air shone with similar fires, while the deep roll
of the drum sounded along the silent streets, and the city so lately sunk
in sleep became, as if by magic, thronged with crowds of people; the
sharp clang of the cavalry trumpet blended with the gay carol of the
light-infantry bugle, and the heavy tramp of the march was heard in the
distance. All was excitement, all bustle; but in the joyous tone of every
voice was spoken the longing anxiety to meet the enemy. The gay, reckless
tone of an Irish song would occasionally reach us, as some Connaught Ranger
or some 78th man passed, his knapsack on his back; or the low monotonous
pibroch of the Highlander, swelling into a war-cry, as some kilted corps
drew up their ranks together. We turned to regain our quarters, when at
the corner of a street we came suddenly upon a merry party seated around a
table before a little inn; a large street lamp, unhung for the occasion,
had been placed in the midst of them, and showed us the figures of several
soldiers in undress; at the end, and raised a little above his compeers,
sat one whom, by the unfair proportion he assumed of the conversation, not
less than by the musical intonation of his voice, I soon recognized as my
man, Mickey Free.

“I’ll be hanged if that’s not your fellow there, Charley,” said Power, as
he came to a dead stop a few yards off. “What an impertinent varlet he is;
only to think of him there, presiding among a set of fellows that have
fought all the battles in the Peninsular war. At this moment I’ll be hanged
if he is not going to sing.”

Here a tremendous thumping upon the table announced the fact, and after a
few preliminary observations from Mike, illustrative of his respect to the
service in which he had so often distinguished himself, he began, to
the air of the “Young May Moon,” a ditty of which I only recollect the
following verses:--

    “The pickets are fast retreating, boys,
    The last tattoo is beating, boys,
      So let every man
      Finish his can,
    And drink to our next merry meeting, boys.

    The colonel so gayly prancing, boys,
    Has a wonderful trick of advancing, boys,
      When he sings out so large,
      ‘Fix bayonets and charge!’
    He sets all the Frenchmen a-dancing, boys.

    Let Mounseer look ever so big, my boys,
    Who cares for fighting a fig, my boys?
      When we play ‘Garryowen,’
      He’d rather go home;
    For somehow, he’s no taste for a jig, my boys.”

This admirable lyric seemed to have perfect success, if one were only to
judge from the thundering of voices, hands, and drinking vessels which
followed; while a venerable, gray-haired sergeant rose to propose Mr.
Free’s health, and speedy promotion to him.

We stood for several minutes in admiration of the party, when the loud roll
of the drums beating to arms awakened us to the thought that our moments
were numbered.

“Good-night, Charley!” said Power, as he shook my hand warmly, “good-night!
It will be your last night under a curtain for some months to come; make
the most of it. Adieu!”

So saying, we parted; he to his quarters, and I to all the confusion of my
baggage, which lay in most admired disorder about my room.



CHAPTER XLII.


THE FAREWELL.

The preparations for the march occupied me till near morning; and, indeed,
had I been disposed to sleep, the din and clamor of the world without would
have totally prevented it. Before daybreak the advanced guard was already
in motion, and some squadrons of heavy cavalry had begun their march.

I looked around my now dismantled room as one does usually for the last
time ere leaving, and bethought me if I had not forgotten anything.
Apparently all was remembered; but stay,--what is this? To be sure, how
forgetful I had become! It was the packet I destined for Donna Inez, and
which, in the confusion of the night before, I had omitted to bring to the
Casino.

I immediately despatched Mike to the commissary with my luggage and orders
to ascertain when we were expected to march. He soon returned with the
intelligence that our corps was not to move before noon, so that I had yet
some hours to spare and make my adieux to the senhora.

I cannot exactly explain the reason, but I certainly did bestow a more than
common attention upon my toilet that morning. The senhora was nothing to
me. It is true she had, as she lately most candidly informed me, a score of
admirers, among whom I was not even reckoned; she was evidently a coquette
whose greatest pleasure was to sport and amuse herself with the passions
she excited in others. And even if she were not,--if her heart were to be
won to-morrow,--what claim, what right, had I to seek it? My affections
were already pledged; promised, it is true, to one who gave nothing in
return, and who, perhaps, even loved another. Ah, there was the rub; that
one confounded suspicion, lurking in the rear, chilled my courage and
wounded my spirit.

If there be anything more disheartening to an Irishman, in his little
_affaires de coeur_, than another, it is the sense of rivalry. The
obstinacy of fathers, the ill-will of mothers, the coldness, the
indifference of the lovely object herself,--obstacles though they be,--he
has tact, spirit, and perseverance to overcome them. But when a more
successful candidate for the fair presents himself; when the eye that
remains downcast at _his_ suit, lights up with animation at _another’s_
coming; when the features whose cold and chilling apathy to him have
blended in one smile of welcome to another,--it is all up with him; he sees
the game lost, and throws his cards upon the table. And yet, why is this?
Why is it that he whose birthright it would seem to be sanguine when others
despond, to be confident when all else are hopeless,--should find his
courage fail him here? The reason is simply--But, in good sooth, I am
ashamed to confess it!

Having jogged on so far with my reader, in all the sober seriousness which
the matter-of-fact material of these memoirs demands, I fear lest a seeming
paradox may cause me to lose my good name for veracity; and that while
merely maintaining a national trait of my country, I may appear to be
asserting some unheard-of and absurd proposition,--so far have mere vulgar
prejudices gone to sap our character as a people.

The reason, then, is this,--for I have gone too far to retreat,--the
Irishman is essentially bashful. Well, laugh if you wish, for I conclude
that, by this time, you have given way to a most immoderate excess of
risibility; but still, when you have perfectly recovered your composure, I
beg to repeat,--the Irishman is essentially a bashful man!

Do not for a moment fancy that I would by this imply that in any new or
unexpected situation, that from any unforeseen conjuncture of events, the
Irishman would feel confused or abashed, more than any other,--far from it.
The cold and habitual reserve of the Englishman, the studied caution of the
North Tweeder himself, would exhibit far stronger evidences of awkwardness
in such circumstances as these. But on the other hand, when measuring his
capacity, his means of success, his probabilities of being preferred, with
those of the natives of any other country, I back the Irishman against the
world for distrust of his own powers, for an under-estimate of his real
merits,--in one word, for his bashfulness. But let us return to Donna Inez.

As I rode up to the villa, I found the family assembled at breakfast.
Several officers were also present, among whom I was not sorry to recognize
my friend Monsoon.

“Ah, Charley!” cried he, as I seated myself beside him, “what a pity all
our fun is so soon to have an end! Here’s this confounded Soult won’t be
quiet and peaceable; but he must march upon Oporto, and Heaven knows where
besides, just as we were really beginning to enjoy life! I had got such a
contract for blankets! And now they’ve ordered me to join Beresford’s corps
in the mountains; and you,” here he dropped his voice,--“and you were
getting on so devilish well in this quarter; upon my life, I think
you’d have carried the day. Old Don Emanuel--you know he’s a friend of
mine--likes you very much. And then, there’s Sparks--”

“Ay, Major, what of him? I have not seen him for some days.”

“Why, they’ve been frightening the poor devil out of his life,
O’Shaughnessy and a set of them. They tried him by court-martial yesterday,
and sentenced him to mount guard with a wooden sword and a shooting jacket,
which he did. Old Colbourne, it seems, saw him; and faith, there would be
the devil to pay if the route had not come! Some of them would certainly
have got a long leave to see their friends.”

“Why is not the senhora here, Major? I don’t see her at table.”

“A cold, a sore throat, a wet-feet affair of last night, I believe. Pass
that cold pie down here. Sherry, if you please. You didn’t see Power
to-day?”

“No: we parted late last night; I have not been to bed.”

“Very bad preparation for a march; take some burned brandy in your coffee.”

“Then you don’t think the senhora will appear?”

“Very unlikely. But stay, you know her room,--the small drawing-room that
looks out upon the flower-garden; she usually passes the morning there.
Leap the little wooden paling round the corner, and the chances are ten to
one you find her.”

I saw from the occupied air of Don Antonio that there was little fear of
interruption on his part; so taking an early moment to escape unobserved, I
rose and left the room. When I sprang over the oak fence, I found myself in
a delicious little garden, where roses, grown to a height never seen in our
colder climate, formed a deep bower of rich blossom.

The major was right. The senhora was in the room, and in one moment I was
beside her.

“Nothing but my fears of not bidding you farewell could palliate my thus
intruding, Donna Inez; but as we are ordered away--”

“When? Not so soon, surely?”

“Even so; to-day, this very hour. But you see that even in the hurry of
departure, I have not forgotten my trust; this is the packet I promised
you.”

So saying, I placed the paper with the lock of hair within her hand, and
bending downwards, pressed my lips upon her taper fingers. She hurriedly
snatched her hand away, and tearing open the enclosure, took out the lock.
She looked steadily for a moment at it, then at me, and again at it, and at
length, bursting into a fit of laughing, threw herself upon a chair in a
very ecstasy of mirth.

“Why, you don’t mean to impose this auburn ringlet upon me for one of poor
Howard’s jetty curls? What downright folly to think of it! And then, with
how little taste the deception was practised,--upon your very temples, too!
One comfort is, you are utterly spoiled by it.”

Here she again relapsed into a fit of laughter, leaving me perfectly
puzzled what to think of her, as she resumed:--

“Well, tell me now, am I to reckon this as a pledge of your own allegiance,
or am I still to believe it to be Edward Howard’s? Speak, and truly.”

“Of my own, most certainly,” said I, “if it will be accepted.”

“Why, after such treachery, perhaps it ought not; but still, as you have
already done yourself such injury, and look so very silly, withal--”

“That you are even resolved to give me cause to look more so,” added I.

“Exactly,” said she, “for here, now, I reinstate you among my true and
faithful admirers. Kneel down, Sir Knight--in token of which you will wear
this scarf--”

A sudden start which the donna gave at these words brought me to my feet.
She was pale as death and trembling.

“What means this?” said I. “What has happened?”

She pointed with her finger towards the garden; but though her lips moved,
no voice came forth. I sprang through the open window; I rushed into the
copse, the only one which might afford concealment for a figure, but no one
was there. After a few minutes’ vain endeavor to discover any trace of an
intruder, I returned to the chamber. The donna was there still, but how
changed; her gayety and animation were gone, her pale cheek and trembling
lip bespoke fear and suffering, and her cold hand lay heavily beside her.

“I thought--perhaps it was merely fancy--but I thought I saw Trevyllian
beside the window.”

“Impossible!” said I. “I have searched every walk and alley. It was nothing
but imagination,--believe me, no more. There, be assured; think no more of
it.”

While I endeavored thus to reassure her, I was very far from feeling
perfectly at ease myself; the whole bearing and conduct of this man
had inspired me with a growing dislike of him, and I felt already
half-convinced that he had established himself as a spy upon my actions.

“Then you really believe I was mistaken?” said the donna, as she placed her
hand within mine.

“Of course I do; but speak no more of it. You must not forget how few my
moments are here. Already I have heard the tramp of horses without. Ah!
there they are. In a moment more I shall be missed; so, once more, fairest
Inez--Nay, I beg pardon if I have dared to call you thus; but think, if it
be the first it may also be the last time I shall ever speak it.”

Her head gently drooped, as I said these words, till it sank upon my
shoulder, her long and heavy hair falling upon my neck and across my bosom.
I felt her heart almost beat against my side; I muttered some words, I know
not what; I felt them like a prayer; I pressed her cold forehead to my
lips, rushed from the room, cleared the fence at a spring, and was far
upon the road to Lisbon ere I could sufficiently collect my senses to know
whither I was going. Of little else was I conscious; my mind was full to
bursting; and in the confusion of my excited brain, fiction and reality
were so inextricably mingled as to defy every endeavor at discrimination.
But little time had I for reflection. As I reached the city, the brigade to
which I was attached was already under arms, and Mike impatiently waiting
my arrival with the horses.



CHAPTER XXLIII.


THE MARCH.

What a strange spectacle did the road to Oliveira present upon the morning
of the 7th of May! A hurried or incautious observer might, at first sight,
have pronounced the long line of troops which wended their way through
the valley as the remains of a broken and routed army, had not the ardent
expression and bright eye that beamed on every side assured him that men
who looked thus could not be beaten ones. Horse, foot, baggage, artillery,
dismounted dragoons, even the pale and scarcely recovered inhabitants of
the hospital, might have been seen hurrying on; for the order, “Forward!”
 had been given at Lisbon, and those whose wounds did not permit their
joining, were more pitied for their loss than its cause. More than one
officer was seen at the head of his troop with an arm in a sling, or a
bandaged forehead; while among the men similar evidences of devotion
were not unfrequent. As for me, long years and many reverses have not
obliterated, scarcely blunted, the impression that sight made on me. The
splendid spectacle of a review had often excited and delighted me, but
here there was the glorious reality of war,--the bronzed faces, the worn
uniforms, the well-tattered flags, the roll of the heavy guns mingling with
the wild pibroch of the Highlander, or scarcely less wild recklessness of
the Irish quick-step; while the long line of cavalry, their helmets and
accoutrements shining in the morning sun, brought back one’s boyish dreams
of joust and tournament, and made the heart beat high with chivalrous
enthusiasm.

“Yes,” said I, half aloud, “this is indeed a realization of what I longed
and thirsted for,” the clang of the music and the tramp of the cavalry
responding to my throbbing pulses as we moved along.

“Close up, there; trot!” cried out a deep and manly voice; and immediately
a general officer rode by, followed by an aide-de-camp.

“There goes Cotton,” said Power. “You may feel easy in your mind now,
Charley; there’s some work before us.”

“You have not heard our destination?” said I.

“Nothing is known for certain yet. The report goes, that Soult is advancing
upon Oporto; and the chances are, Sir Arthur intends to hasten on to its
relief. Our fellows are at Ovar, with General Murray.”

“I say, Charley, old Monsoon is in a devil of a flurry. He expected to have
been peaceably settled down in Lisbon for the next six months, and he has
received orders to set out for Beresford’s headquarters immediately; and
from what I hear, they have no idle time.”

“Well, Sparks, how goes it, man? Better fun this than the cook’s galley,
eh?”

“Why, do you know, these hurried movements put me out confoundedly. I found
Lisbon very interesting,--the little I could see of it last night.”

“Ah, my dear fellow, think of the lovely Andalusian lasses with their brown
transparent skins and liquid eyes. Why, you’d have been over head and ears
in love in twenty-four hours more, had we stayed.”

“Are they really so pretty?”

“Pretty! downright lovely, man. Why, they have a way of looking at you,
over their fans,--just one glance, short and fleeting, but so melting,
by Jove--Then their walk,--if it be not profane to call that springing,
elastic gesture by such a name,--why, it’s regular witchcraft. Sparks, my
man, I tremble for you. Do you know, by-the-bye, that same pace of theirs
is a devilish hard thing to learn. I never could come it; and yet, somehow,
I was formerly rather a crack fellow at a ballet. Old Alberto used to
select me for a _pas de zéphyr_ among a host; but there’s a kind of a hop
and a slide and a spring,--in fact you must have been wearing petticoats
for eighteen years, and have an Andalusian instep and an india-rubber sole
to your foot, or it’s no use trying it. How I used to make them laugh at
the old San Josef convent, formerly, by my efforts in the cause!”

“Why, how did it ever occur to you to practise it?”

“Many a man’s legs have saved his head, Charley, and I put it to mine to do
a similar office for me.”

“True; but I never heard of a man that performed a _pas seul_ before the
enemy.”

“Not exactly; but still you’re not very wide of the mark. If you’ll only
wait till we reach Pontalegue, I’ll tell you the story; not that it’s worth
the delay, but talking at this brisk pace I don’t admire.”

“You leave a detachment here, Captain Power,” said an aide-de-camp, riding
hastily up; “and General Cotton requests you will send a subaltern and
two sergeants forward towards Berar to reconnoitre the pass. Franchesca’s
cavalry are reported in that quarter.” So speaking, he dashed spurs to his
horse, and was out of sight in an instant.

Power, at the same moment, wheeled to the rear, from which he returned in
an instant, accompanied by three well-mounted light dragoons. “Sparks,”
 said he, “now for an occasion of distinguishing yourself. You heard the
order, lose no time; and as your horse is an able one, and fresh, lose not
a second, but forward.”

No sooner was Sparks despatched on what it was evident he felt to be
anything but a pleasant duty, than I turned towards Power, and said, with
some tinge of disappointment in the tone, “Well, if you really felt there
was anything worth doing there, I flattered myself that--”

“Speak out man. That I should have sent you, eh? Is it not so?”

“Yes, you’ve hit it.”

“Well, Charley, my peace is easily made on this head. Why, I selected
Sparks simply to spare you one of the most unpleasant duties that can be
imposed upon a man; a duty which, let him discharge it to the uttermost,
will never be acknowledged, and the slightest failure in which will be
remembered for many a day against him, besides the pleasant and very
probable prospect of being selected as a bull’s eye for a French rifle, or
carried off a prisoner; eh, Charley? There’s no glory in that, devil a ray
of it! Come, come, old fellow, Fred Power’s not the man to keep his friend
out of the _mêlée_, if only anything can be made by being in it. Poor
Sparks, I’d swear, is as little satisfied with the arrangement as yourself,
if one knew but all.”

“I say, Power,” said a tall, dashing-looking man of about five-and-forty,
with a Portuguese order on his breast,--“I say, Power, dine with us at the
halt.”

“With pleasure, if I may bring my young friend here.”

“Of course; pray introduce us.”

“Major Hixley, Mr. O’Malley,--a 14th man, Hixley.”

“Delighted to make your acquaintance, Mr. O’Malley. Knew a famous fellow in
Ireland of your name, a certain Godfrey O’Malley, member for some county or
other.”

“My uncle,” said I, blushing deeply, with a pleasurable feeling at even
this slight praise of my oldest friend.

“Your uncle! give me your hand. By Jove, his nephew has a right to good
treatment at my hands; he saved my life in the year ‘98. And how is old
Godfrey?”

“Quite well, when I left him some months ago; a little gout, now and then.”

“To be sure he has, no man deserves it better; but it’s a gentlemanlike
gout that merely jogs his memory in the morning of the good wine he has
drank over night. By-the-bye, what became of a friend of his, a devilish
eccentric fellow who held a command in the Austrian service?”

“Oh, Considine, the count?”

“The same.”

“As eccentric as ever; I left him on a visit with my uncle. And Boyle,--did
you know Sir Harry Boyle?”

“To be sure I did; shall I ever forget him, and his capital blunders, that
kept me laughing the whole time I spent in Ireland? I was in the house when
he concluded a panegyric upon a friend, by calling him, ‘the father to the
poor, and uncle to Lord Donoughmore.’”

“He was the only man who could render by a bull what it was impossible to
convey more correctly,” said Power.

“You’ve heard of his duel with Dick Toler?”

“Never; let’s hear it.”

“It was a bull from beginning to end. Boyle took it into his head that Dick
was a person with whom he had a serious row in Cork. Dick, on the other
hand, mistook Boyle for old Caples, whom he had been pursuing with
horse-whipping intentions for some months. They met in Kildare Street Club,
and very little colloquy satisfied them that they were right in their
conjectures, each party being so eagerly ready to meet the views of the
other. It never was a difficult matter to find a friend in Dublin; and to
do them justice, Irish seconds, generally speaking, are perfectly free from
any imputation upon the score of mere delay. No men have less impertinent
curiosity as to the cause of the quarrel; wisely supposing that the
principals know their own affairs best, they cautiously abstain from
indulging any prying spirit, but proceed to discharge their functions as
best they may. Accordingly, Sir Harry and Dick were ‘set up,’ as the phrase
is, at twelve paces, and to use Boyle’s own words, for I have heard him
relate the story,--

“We blazed away, sir, for three rounds. I put two in his hat and one in his
neckcloth; his shots went all through the skirt of my coat.

“‘We’ll spend the day here,’ says Considine, ‘at this rate. Couldn’t you
put them closer?’

“‘And give us a little more time in the word,’ says I.

“‘Exactly,’ said Dick.

“Well, they moved us forward two paces, and set to loading the pistols
again.

“By this time we were so near that we had full opportunity to scan each
other’s faces. Well, sir, I stared at him, and he at me.

“‘What!’ said I.

“‘Eh!’ said he.

“‘How’s this?’ said I.

“‘You’re not Billy Caples?’ said he.

“‘Devil a bit!’ said I, ‘nor I don’t think you are Archy Devine;’ and
faith, sir, so it appeared, we were fighting away all the morning for
nothing; for, somehow, it turned out _it was neither of us!_”

What amused me most in this anecdote was the hearing it at such a time and
place. That poor Sir Harry’s eccentricities should turn up for discussion
on a march in Portugal was singular enough; but after all, life is full of
such incongruous accidents. I remember once supping with King Calzoo on the
Blue Mountains, in Jamaica. By way of entertaining his guests, some English
officers, he ordered one of his suite to sing. We were of course pleased at
the opportunity of hearing an Indian war-chant, with a skull and thigh-bone
accompaniment; but what was our astonishment to hear the Indian,--a
ferocious-looking dog, with an awful scalp-lock, and two streaks of red
paint across his chest,--clear his voice well for a few seconds, and
then begin, without discomposing a muscle of his gravity, “The Laird of
Cockpen!” I need not say that the “Great Raccoon” was a Dumfries man who
had quitted Scotland forty years before, and with characteristic prosperity
had attained his present rank in a foreign service.

“Halt! halt!” cried a deep-toned, manly voice in the leading column, and
the word was repeated from mouth to mouth to the rear.

We dismounted, and picketing our horses beneath the broad-leaved foliage
of the cork-trees, stretched ourselves out at full length upon the grass,
while our messmen prepared the dinner. Our party at first consisted of
Hixley, Power, the adjutant, and myself; but our number was soon increased
by three officers of the 6th Foot, about to join their regiment.

“Barring the ladies, God bless them!” said Power, “there are no such
picnics as campaigning presents. The charms of scenery are greatly enhanced
by their coming unexpectedly on you. Your chance good fortune in the prog
has an interest that no ham-and-cold-chicken affair, prepared by your
servants beforehand, and got ready with a degree of fuss and worry that
converts the whole party into an assembly of cooks, can ever afford; and
lastly, the excitement that this same life of ours is never without, gives
a zest--”

“There you’ve hit it,” cried Hixley; “it’s that same feeling of uncertainty
that those who meet now may ever do so again, full as it is of sorrowful
reflection, that still teaches us, as we become inured to war, to economize
our pleasures, and be happy when we may. Your health, O’Malley, and your
uncle Godfrey’s too.”

“A little more of the pastry.”

“What a capital guinea fowl this is!”

“That’s some of old Monsoon’s particular port.”

“Pass it round here. Really this is pleasant.”

“My blessing on the man who left that vista yonder! See what a glorious
valley stretches out there, undulating in its richness; and look at those
dark trees, where just one streak of soft sunlight is kissing their tops,
giving them one chaste good-night--”

“Well done, Power!”

“Confound you, you’ve pulled me short, and I was about becoming downright
pastoral. Apropos of kissing, I understand Sir Arthur won’t allow the
convents to be occupied by troops.”

“And apropos of convents,” said I, “let’s hear your story; you promised it
a while ago.”

“My dear Charley, it’s far too early in the evening for a story. I should
rather indulge my poetic fancies here, under the shade of melancholy
boughs; and besides, I am not half screwed up yet.”

“Come, Adjutant, let’s have a song.”

“I’ll sing you a Portuguese serenade when the next bottle comes in. What
capital port! Have you much of it?”

“Only three dozen. We got it late last night; forged an order from the
commanding officer and sent it up to old Monsoon,--‘for hospital use.’ He
gave it with a tear in his eye, saying, as the sergeant marched away,
‘Only think of such wine for fellows that may be in the next world before
morning! It’s a downright sin!’”

“I say, Power, there’s something going on there.”

At this instant the trumpet sounded “boot and saddle,” and like one man the
whole mass rose up, when the scene, late so tranquil, became one of excited
bustle and confusion. An aide-de-camp galloped past towards the river,
followed by two orderly sergeants; and the next moment Sparks rode up, his
whole equipment giving evidence of a hurried ride, while his cheek was
deadly pale and haggard.

Power presented to him a goblet of sherry, which, having emptied at a
draught, he drew a long breath, and said, “They are coming,--coming in
force!”

“Who are coming?” said Power. “Take time, man, and collect yourself.”

“The French! I saw them a devilish deal closer than I liked. They wounded
one of the orderlies and took the other prisoner.”

“Forward!” said a hoarse voice in the front. “March! trot!” And before we
could obtain any further information from Sparks, whose faculties seemed to
have received a terrific shock, we were once more in the saddle, and moving
at a brisk pace onward.

Sparks had barely time to tell us that a large body of French cavalry
occupied the pass of Berar, when he was sent for by General Cotton to
finish his report.

“How frightened the fellow is!” said Hixley.

“I don’t think the worse of poor Sparks for all that,” said Power. “He saw
those fellows for the first time, and no bird’s-eye view of them either.”

“Then we are in for a skirmish, at least,” said I.

“It would appear not, from that,” said Hixley, pointing to the head of the
column, which, leaving the high road upon the left, entered the forest by a
deep cleft that opened upon a valley traversed by a broad river.

“That looks very like taking up a position, though,” said Power.

“Look,--look down yonder!” cried Hixley, pointing to a dip in the plain
beside the river. “Is there not a cavalry picket there?”

“Right, by Jove! I say, Fitzroy,” said Power to an aide-de-camp as he
passed, “what’s going on?”

“Soult has carried Oporto,” cried he, “and Franchesca’s cavalry have
escaped.”

“And who are these fellows in the valley?”

“Our own people coming up.”

In less than half an hour’s brisk trotting we reached the stream, the banks
of which were occupied by two cavalry regiments advancing to the main army;
and what was my delight to find that one of them was our own corps, the
14th Light Dragoons!

“Hurra!” cried Power, waving his cap as he came up. “How are you,
Sedgewick? Baker, my hearty, how goes it? How is Hampton and the colonel?”

In an instant we were surrounded by our brother officers, who all shook me
cordially by the hand, and welcomed me to the regiment with most gratifying
warmth.

“One of us,” said Power, with a knowing look, as he introduced me; and the
freemasonry of these few words secured me a hearty greeting.

“Halt! halt! Dismount!” sounded again from front to rear; and in a few
minutes we were once more stretched upon the grass, beneath the deep
and mellow moonlight, while the bright stream ran placidly beside us,
reflecting on its calm surface the varied groups as they lounged or sat
around the blazing fires of the bivouac.



CHAPTER XLIV.


THE BIVOUAC.

When I contrasted the gay and lively tone of the conversation which ran on
around our bivouac fire, with the dry monotony and prosaic tediousness of
my first military dinner at Cork, I felt how much the spirit and adventure
of a soldier’s life can impart of chivalrous enthusiasm to even the dullest
and least susceptible. I saw even many who under common circumstances,
would have possessed no interest nor excited any curiosity, but now,
connected as they were with the great events occurring around them,
absolutely became heroes; and it was with a strange, wild throbbing of
excitement I listened to the details of movements and marches, whose
objects I knew not, but in which the magical words, Corunna, Vimeira,
were mixed up, and gave to the circumstances an interest of the highest
character. How proud, too, I felt to be the companion-in-arms of such
fellows! Here they sat, the tried and proved soldiers of a hundred fights,
treating me as their brother and their equal. Who need wonder if I felt
a sense of excited pleasure? Had I needed such a stimulant, that night
beneath the cork-trees had been enough to arouse a passion for the army in
my heart, and an irrepressible determination to seek for a soldier’s glory.

“Fourteenth!” called out a voice from the wood behind; and in a moment
after, the aide-de-camp appeared with a mounted orderly.

“Colonel Merivale?” said he, touching his cap to the stalwart, soldier-like
figure before him.

The colonel bowed.

“Sir Stapleton Cotton desires me to request that at an early hour to-morrow
you will occupy the pass, and cover the march of the troops. It is his
wish that all the reinforcements should arrive at Oporto by noon. I need
scarcely add that we expect to be engaged with the enemy.”

These few words were spoken hurriedly, and again saluting our party, he
turned his horse’s head and continued his way towards the rear.

“There’s news for you, Charley,” said Power, slapping me on the shoulder.
“Lucy Dashwood or Westminster Abbey!”

“The regiment was never in finer condition, that’s certain,” said the
colonel, “and most eager for a brush with the enemy.”

“How your old friend, the count, would have liked this work!” said Hixley.
“Gallant fellow he was.”

“Come,” cried Power, “here’s a fresh bowl coming. Let’s drink the ladies,
wherever they be; we most of us have some soft spot on that score.”

“Yes,” said the adjutant, singing,--

    “Here’s to the maiden of blushing fifteen;
      Here’s to the damsel that’s merry;
    Here’s to the flaunting extravagant quean--”

“And,” sang Power, interrupting,--

      “Here’s to the ‘Widow of Derry.’”

“Come, come, Fred, no more quizzing on that score. It’s the only thing ever
gives me a distaste to the service,--the souvenir of that adventure. When
I reflect what I might have been, and think what I am; when I contrast a
Brussels carpet with wet grass, silk hangings with a canvas tent, Sneyd’s
claret with ration brandy, and Sir Arthur for a Commander-in-Chief _vice_
Boggs, a widow--”

“Stop there!” cried Hixley. “Without disparaging the fair widow, there’s
nothing beats campaigning, after all. Eh, Fred?”

“And to prove it,” said the colonel, “Power will sing us a song.”

Power took his pencil from his pocket, and placing the back of a letter
across his shako, commenced inditing his lyric, saying, as he did so, “I’m
your man in five minutes. Just fill my glass in the mean time.”

“That fellow beats Dibdin hollow,” whispered the adjutant. “I’ll be hanged
if he’ll not knock you off a song like lightning.”

“I understand,” said Hixley, “they have some intention at the Horse Guards
of having all the general orders set to popular tunes, and sung at every
mess in the service. You’ve heard that, I suppose, Sparks?”

“I confess I had not before.”

“It will certainly come very hard upon the subalterns,” continued Hixley,
with much gravity. “They’ll have to brush up their _sol mi fas_. All the
solos are to be their part.”

“What rhymes with slaughter?” said Power.

“Brandy-and-water,” said the adjutant.

“Now, then,” said Power, “are you all ready?”

“Ready.”

“You must chorus, mind; and mark me, take care you give the hip-hip-hurra
well, as that’s the whole force of the chant. Take the time from me. Now
for it. Air, ‘Garryowen,’ with spirit, but not too quick.

    “Now that we’ve pledged each eye of blue,
    And every maiden fair and true,
    And our green island home,--to you
      The ocean’s wave adorning,
    Let’s give one Hip-hip-hip-hurra!
    And, drink e’en to the coming day,
          When, squadron square,
          We’ll all be there,
      To meet the French in the morning.

    “May his bright laurels never fade,
    Who leads our fighting fifth brigade,
    Those lads so true in heart and blade,
      And famed for danger scorning.
    So join me in one Hip-hurra!
    And drink e’en to the coming day,
          When, squadron square,
          We’ll all be there,
      To meet the French in the morning.

    “And when with years and honors crowned,
    You sit some homeward hearth around,
    And hear no more the stirring sound
          That spoke the trumpet’s warning,
    You’ll fill and drink, one Hip-hurra!
    And pledge the memory of the day,
          When, squadron square,
          They all were there,
      To meet the French in the morning.”

“Gloriously done, Fred!” cried Hixley. “If I ever get my deserts in this
world, I’ll make you Laureate to the Forces, with a hogshead of your own
native whiskey for every victory of the army.”

“A devilish good chant,” said Merivale, “but the air surpasses anything I
ever heard,--thoroughly Irish, I take it.”

“Irish! upon my conscience, I believe you!” shouted O’Shaughnessy, with an
energy of voice and manner that created a hearty laugh on all sides. “It’s
few people ever mistook it for a Venetian melody. Hand over the punch,--the
sherry, I mean. When I was in the Clare militia, we always went in to
dinner to ‘Tatter Jack Walsh,’ a sweet air, and had ‘Garryowen’ for a
quick-step. Ould M’Manus, when he got the regiment, wanted to change: he
said, they were damned vulgar tunes, and wanted to have ‘Rule Britannia,’
or the ‘Hundredth Psalm;’ but we would not stand it; there would have been
a mutiny in the corps.”

“The same fellow, wasn’t he, that you told the story of, the other evening,
in Lisbon?” said I.

“The same. Well, what a character he was! As pompous and conceited a little
fellow as ever you met with; and then, he was so bullied by his wife, he
always came down to revenge it on the regiment. She was a fine, showy,
vulgar woman, with a most cherishing affection for all the good things in
this life, except her husband, whom she certainly held in due contempt. ‘Ye
little crayture,’ she’d say to him with a sneer, ‘it ill becomes you
to drink and sing, and be making a man of yourself. If you were like
O’Shaughnessy there, six foot three in his stockings--‘Well, well, it looks
like boasting; but no matter. Here’s her health, anyway.”

“I knew you were tender in that quarter,” said Power, “I heard it when
quartered in Limerick.”

“May be you heard, too, how I paid off Mac, when he came down on a visit to
that county?”

“Never: let’s hear it now.”

“Ay, O’Shaughnessy, now’s your time; the fire’s a good one, the night fine,
and liquor plenty.”

“I’m _convanient_,” said O’Shaughnessy, as depositing his enormous legs on
each side of the burning fagots, and placing a bottle between his knees he
began his story:--

“It was a cold rainy night in January, in the year ‘98, I took my place in
the Limerick mail, to go down for a few days to the west country. As the
waiter of the Hibernian came to the door with a lantern, I just caught a
glimpse of the other insides; none of whom were known to me, except Colonel
M’Manus, that I met once in a boarding-house in Molcsworth Street. I did
not, at the time, think him a very agreeable companion; but when morning
broke, and we began to pay our respects to each other in the coach, I
leaned over, and said, ‘I hope you’re well, Colonel M’Manus,’ just by way
of civility like. He didn’t hear me at first; so that I said it again, a
little louder.

“I wish you saw the look he gave me; he drew himself up to the height of
his cotton umbrella, put his chin inside his cravat, pursed up his dry,
shrivelled lips, and with a voice he meant to be awful, replied:--

“‘You appear to have the advantage of me.’

“‘Upon my conscience, you’re right,’ said I, looking down at myself, and
then over at him, at which the other travellers burst out a laughing,--‘I
think there’s few will dispute that point.’ When the laugh was over, I
resumed,--for I was determined not to let him off so easily. ‘Sure I met
you at Mrs. Cayle’s,’ said I; ‘and, by the same token, it was a Friday, I
remember it well,--may be you didn’t pitch into the salt cod? I hope it
didn’t disagree with you?’

“‘I beg to repeat, sir, that you are under a mistake,’ said he.

“‘May be so, indeed,’ said I. ‘May be you’re not Colonel M’Manus at all;
may be you wasn’t in a passion for losing seven-and-sixpence at loo with
Mrs. Moriarty; may be you didn’t break the lamp in the hall with your
umbrella, pretending you touched it with your head, and wasn’t within three
foot of it; may be Counsellor Brady wasn’t going to put you in the box of
the Foundling Hospital, if you wouldn’t behave quietly in the streets--’

“Well, with this the others laughed so heartily, that I could not go on;
and the next stage the bold colonel got outside with the guard and never
came in till we reached Limerick. I’ll never forget his face, as he got
down at Swinburne’s Hotel. ‘Good-by, Colonel,’ said I; but he wouldn’t take
the least notice of my politeness, but with a frown of utter defiance, he
turned on his heel and walked away.

“‘I haven’t done with you yet,’ says I; and, faith, I kept my word.

“I hadn’t gone ten yards down the street, when I met my old friend Darby
O’Grady.

“‘Shaugh, my boy,’ says he,--he called me that way for shortness,--‘dine
with me to-day at Mosey’s; a green goose and gooseberries; six to a
minute.’

“‘Who have you?’ says I.

“‘Tom Keane and the Wallers, a counsellor or two, and one M’Manus, from
Dublin.’

“‘The colonel?’

“‘The same,’ said he.

“‘I’m there, Darby!’ said I; ‘but mind, you never saw me before.’

“‘What?’ said he.

“‘You never set eyes on me before; mind that.’

“‘I understand,’ said Darby, with a wink; and we parted.

“I certainly was never very particular about dressing for dinner, but on
this day I spent a considerable time at my toilet; and when I looked in my
glass at its completion, was well satisfied that I had done myself justice.
A waistcoat of brown rabbit-skin with flaps, a red worsted comforter
round my neck, an old gray shooting-jacket with a brown patch on the arm,
corduroys, and leather gaiters, with a tremendous oak cudgel in my hand,
made me a most presentable figure for a dinner party.

“‘Will I do, Darby?’ says I, as he came into my room before dinner.

“‘If it’s for robbing the mail you are,’ says he, ‘nothing could be better.
Your father wouldn’t know you!’

“‘Would I be the better of a wig?’

“‘Leave your hair alone,’ said he. ‘It’s painting the lily to alter it.’

“‘Well, God’s will be done,’ says I, ‘so come now.’

“Well, just as the clock struck six I saw the colonel coming out of his
room, in a suit of most accurate sable, stockings, and pumps. Down-stairs
he went, and I heard the waiter announce him.

“‘Now’s my time,’ thought I, as I followed slowly after.

“When I reached the door I heard several voices within, among which I
recognized some ladies. Darby had not told me about them. ‘But no matter,’
said I; ‘it’s all as well;’ so I gave a gentle tap at the door with my
knuckles.

“‘Come in,’ said Darby.

“I opened the door slowly, and putting in only my head and shoulders took a
cautious look round the room.

“‘I beg pardon, gentlemen,’ said I, ‘but I was only looking for one Colonel
M’Manus, and as he is not here--’

“‘Pray walk in, sir,’ said O’Grady, with a polite bow. ‘Colonel M’Manus
is here. There’s no intrusion whatever. I say, Colonel,’ said he turning
round, ‘a gentleman here desires to--’

“‘Never mind it now,’ said I, as I stepped cautiously into the room, ‘he’s
going to dinner; another time will do just as well.’

“‘Pray come in!’

“‘I could not think of intruding--’

“‘I must protest,’ said M’Manus, coloring up, ‘that I cannot understand
this gentleman’s visit.’

“‘It is a little affair I have to settle with him,’ said I, with a fierce
look that I saw produced its effect.

“‘Then perhaps you would do me the very great favor to join him at dinner,’
said O’Grady. ‘Any friend of Colonel M’Manus--’

“‘You are really too good,’ said I; ‘but as an utter stranger--’

“‘Never think of that for a moment. My friend’s friend, as the adage says.’

“‘Upon my conscience, a good saying,’ said I, ‘but you see there’s another
difficulty. I’ve ordered a chop and potatoes up in No. 5.’

“‘Let that be no obstacle,’ said O’Grady. ‘The waiter shall put it in my
bill; if you will only do me the pleasure.’

“‘You’re a trump,’ said I. ‘What’s your name?’

“‘O’Grady, at your service.’

“‘Any relation of the counsellor?’ said I. ‘They’re all one family, the
O’Gradys. I’m Mr. O’Shaughnessy, from Ennis; won’t you introduce me to the
ladies?’

“While the ceremony of presentation was going on I caught one glance at
M’Manus, and had hard work not to roar out laughing. Such an expression of
surprise, amazement, indignation, rage, and misery never was mixed up in
one face before. Speak he could not; and I saw that, except for myself, he
had neither eyes, ears, nor senses for anything around him. Just at this
moment dinner was announced, and in we went. I never was in such spirits in
my life; the trick upon M’Manus had succeeded perfectly; he believed in his
heart that I had never met O’Grady in my life before, and that upon the
faith of our friendship, I had received my invitation. As for me, I spared
him but little. I kept up a running fire of droll stories, had the ladies
in fits of laughing, made everlasting allusions to the colonel; and, in
a word, ere the soup had disappeared, except himself, the company was
entirely with me.

“‘O’Grady,’ said I, ‘forgive the freedom, but I feel as if we were old
acquaintances.’

“‘As Colonel M’Manus’s friend,’ said he, ‘you can take no liberty here to
which you are not perfectly welcome.’

“‘Just what I expected,’ said I. ‘Mac and I,’--I wish you saw his face when
I called him Mac,--‘Mac and I were schoolfellows five-and-thirty years ago;
though he forgets me, I don’t forget him,--to be sure it would be hard for
me. I’m just thinking of the day Bishop Oulahan came over to visit the
college. Mac was coming in at the door of the refectory as the bishop was
going out. “Take off your caubeen, you young scoundrel, and kneel down for
his reverence to bless you,” said one of the masters, giving his hat a blow
at the same moment that sent it flying to the other end of the room, and
with it, about twenty ripe pears that Mac had just stolen in the orchard,
and had in his hat. I wish you only saw the bishop; and Mac himself, he was
a picture. Well, well, you forget it all now, but I remember it as if it
was only yesterday. Any champagne, Mr. O’Grady? I’m mighty dry.’

“‘Of course,’ said Darby. ‘Waiter, some champagne here.’

[Illustration: THE SALUTATION.]

“‘Ah, it’s himself was the boy for every kind of fun and devilment, quiet
and demure as he looks over there. Mac, your health. It’s not every day of
the week we get champagne.’

“He laid down his knife and fork as I said this; his face and temples grew
deep purple; his eyes started as if they would spring from his head; and he
put both his hands to his forehead, as if trying to assure himself that it
was not some horrid dream.

“‘A little slice more of the turkey,’ said I, ‘and then, O’Grady, I’ll try
your hock. It’s a wine I’m mighty fond of, and so is Mac there. Oh, it’s
seldom, to tell you the truth, it troubles us. There, fill up the glass;
that’s it. Here now, Darby,--that’s your name, I think,--you’ll not think
I’m taking a liberty in giving a toast? Here then, I’ll give M’Manus’s
health, with all the honors; though it’s early yet, to be sure, but we’ll
do it again, by-and-by, when the whiskey comes. Here’s M’Manus’s good
health; and though his wife, they say, does not treat him well, and keeps
him down--’

“The roar of laughing that interrupted me here was produced by the
expression of poor Mac’s face. He had started up from the table, and
leaning with both his hands upon it, stared round upon the company like a
maniac,--his mouth and eyes wide open, and his hair actually bristling with
amazement. Thus he remained for a full minute, gasping like a fish in
a landing-net. It seemed a hard struggle for him to believe he was not
deranged. At last his eyes fell upon me; he uttered a deep groan, and with
a voice tremulous with rage, thundered out,--

“‘The scoundrel! I never saw him before.’

“He rushed from the room, and gained the street. Before our roar of
laughter was over he had secured post-horses, and was galloping towards
Ennis at the top speed of his cattle.

“He exchanged at once into the line; but they say that he caught a glimpse
of my name in the army list, and sold out the next morning; be that as it
may, we never met since.”

I have related O’Shaughnessy’s story here, rather from the memory I have of
how we all laughed at it at the time, than from any feeling as to its real
desert; but when I think of the voice, look, accent, and gesture of the
narrator, I can scarcely keep myself from again giving way to laughter.



CHAPTER XLV.


THE DOURO.

Never did the morning break more beautifully than on the 12th of May, 1809.
Huge masses of fog-like vapor had succeeded to the starry, cloudless night,
but one by one, they moved onwards towards the sea, disclosing as they
passed long tracts of lovely country, bathed in a rich golden glow. The
broad Douro, with its transparent current, shone out like a bright-colored
ribbon, meandering through the deep garment of fairest green; the darkly
shadowed mountains which closed the background loomed even larger than they
were; while their summits were tipped with the yellow glory of the morning.
The air was calm and still, and the very smoke that arose from the
peasant’s cot labored as it ascended through the perfumed air, and save the
ripple of the stream, all was silent as the grave.

The squadron of the 14th, with which I was, had diverged from the road
beside the river, and to obtain a shorter path, had entered the skirts of
a dark pine wood; our pace was a sharp one; an orderly had been already
despatched to hasten our arrival, and we pressed on at a brisk trot. In
less than an hour we reached the verge of the wood, and as we rode out upon
the plain, what a spectacle met our eyes! Before us, in a narrow valley
separated from the river by a low ridge, were picketed three cavalry
regiments; their noiseless gestures and perfect stillness be-speaking at
once that they were intended for a surprise party. Farther down the stream,
and upon the opposite side, rose the massive towers and tall spires of
Oporto, displaying from their summits the broad ensign of France; while far
as the eye could reach, the broad dark masses of troops might be seen; the
intervals between their columns glittering with the bright equipments of
their cavalry, whose steel caps and lances were sparkling in the sun-beams.
The bivouac fires were still smouldering, and marking where some part of
the army had passed the night; for early as it was, it was evident that
their position had been changed; and even now, the heavy masses of dark
infantry might be seen moving from place to place, while the long line of
the road to Vallonga was marked with a vast cloud of dust. The French drum
and the light infantry bugle told, from time to time, that orders were
passing among the troops; while the glittering uniform of a staff officer,
as he galloped from the town, bespoke the note of preparation.

“Dismount! Steady; quietly, my lads,” said the colonel, as he alighted upon
the grass. “Let the men have their breakfast.”

The little amphitheatre we occupied hid us entirely from all observation
on the part of the enemy, but equally so excluded us from perceiving their
movements. It may readily be supposed then, with what impatience we waited
here, while the din and clangor of the French force, as they marched and
countermarched so near us, were clearly audible. The orders were, however,
strict that none should approach the bank of the river, and we lay
anxiously awaiting the moment when this inactivity should cease. More than
one orderly had arrived among us, bearing despatches from headquarters; but
where our main body was, or what the nature of the orders, no one could
guess. As for me, my excitement was at its height, and I could not speak
for the very tension of my nerves. The officers stood in little groups of
two and three, whispering anxiously together; but all I could collect was,
that Soult had already begun his retreat upon Amarante, and that, with the
broad stream of the Douro between us, he defied our pursuit.

“Well, Charley,” said Power, laying his arm upon my shoulder, “the French
have given us the slip this time; they are already in march, and even if we
dared force a passage in the face of such an enemy, it seems there is not a
boat to be found. I have just seen Hammersley.”

“Indeed! Where is he?” said I.

“He’s gone back to Villa de Conde; he asked after you most particularly.
Don’t blush, man; I’d rather back your chance than his, notwithstanding the
long letter that Lucy sends him. Poor fellow, he has been badly wounded,
but, it seems, declines going back to England.”

“Captain Power,” said an orderly, touching his cap, “General Murray desires
to see you.”

Power hastened away, but returned in a few moments.

“I say, Charley, there’s something in the wind here. I have just been
ordered to try where the stream is fordable. I’ve mentioned your name to
the general, and I think you’ll be sent for soon. Good-by.”

I buckled on my sword, and looking to my girths, stood watching the groups
around me; when suddenly a dragoon pulled his horse short up, and asked a
man near me if Mr. O’Malley was there.

“Yes; I am he.”

“Orders from General Murray, sir,” said the man, and rode off at a canter.

I opened and saw that the despatch was addressed to Sir Arthur Wellesley,
with the mere words, “With haste!” on the envelope.

Now, which way to turn I knew not; so springing into the saddle, I galloped
to where Colonel Merivale was standing talking to the colonel of a heavy
dragoon regiment.

“May I ask, sir, by which road I am to proceed with this despatch?”

“Along the river, sir,” said the heavy ------, a large dark-browed man,
with a most forbidding look. “You’ll soon see the troops; you’d better stir
yourself, sir, or Sir Arthur is not very likely to be pleased with you.”

Without venturing a reply to what I felt a somewhat unnecessary taunt, I
dashed spurs into my horse, and turned towards the river. I had not gained
the bank above a minute, when the loud ringing of a rifle struck upon my
ear; bang went another, and another. I hurried on, however, at the top of
my speed, thinking only of my mission and its pressing haste. As I turned
an angle of the stream, the vast column of the British came in sight, and
scarcely had my eye rested upon them when my horse staggered forwards,
plunged twice with his head nearly to the earth, and then, rearing madly
up, fell backwards to the ground. Crushed and bruised as I felt by my fall,
I was soon aroused to the necessity of exertion; for as I disengaged myself
from the poor beast, I discovered he had been killed by a bullet in the
counter; and scarcely had I recovered my legs when a shot struck my shako
and grazed my temples. I quickly threw myself to the ground, and creeping
on for some yards, reached at last some rising ground, from which I rolled
gently downwards into a little declivity, sheltered by the bank from the
French fire.

When I arrived at headquarters, I was dreadfully fatigued and heated;
but resolving not to rest till I had delivered my despatches, I hastened
towards the convent of La Sierra, where I was told the commander-in-chief
was.

As I came into the court of the convent, filled with general officers and
people of the staff, I was turning to ask how I should proceed, when Hixley
caught my eye.

“Well, O’Malley, what brings you here?”

“Despatches from General Murray.”

“Indeed; oh, follow me.”

He hurried me rapidly through the buzzing crowd, and ascending a large
gloomy stair, introduced me into a room, where about a dozen persons in
uniform were writing at a long deal table.

“Captain Gordon,” said he, addressing one of them, “despatches requiring
immediate attention have just been brought by this officer.”

Before the sentence was finished the door opened, and a short, slight man,
in a gray undress coat, with a white cravat and a cocked hat, entered. The
dead silence that ensued was not necessary to assure me that he was one in
authority,--the look of command his bold, stern features presented; the
sharp, piercing eye, the compressed lip, the impressive expression of the
whole face, told plainly that he was one who held equally himself and
others in mastery.

“Send General Sherbroke here,” said he to an aide-de-camp. “Let the light
brigade march into position;” and then turning suddenly to me, “Whose
despatches are these?”

“General Murray’s, sir.”

I needed no more than that look to assure me that this was he of whom I had
heard so much, and of whom the world was still to hear so much more.

He opened them quickly, and glancing his eye across the contents, crushed
the paper in his hand. Just as he did so, a spot of blood upon the envelope
attracted his attention.

“How’s this,--are you wounded?”

“No, sir; my horse was killed--”

“Very well, sir; join your brigade. But stay, I shall have orders for you.
Well, Waters, what news?”

This question was addressed to an officer in a staff uniform, who entered
at the moment, followed by the short and bulky figure of a monk, his shaven
crown and large cassock strongly contrasting with the gorgeous glitter of
the costumes around him.

“I say, who have we here?”

“The Prior of Amarante, sir,” replied Waters, “who has just come over. We
have already, by his aid, secured three large barges--”

“Let the artillery take up position in the convent at once,” said Sir
Arthur, interrupting. “The boats will be brought round to the small creek
beneath the orchard. You, sir,” turning to me, “will convey to General
Murray--but you appear weak. You, Gordon, will desire Murray to effect a
crossing at Avintas with the Germans and the 14th. Sherbroke’s division
will occupy the Villa Nuova. What number of men can that seminary take?”

“From three to four hundred, sir. The padre mentions that all the vigilance
of the enemy is limited to the river below the town.”

“I perceive it,” was the short reply of Sir Arthur, as placing his hands
carelessly behind his back, he walked towards the window, and looked out
upon the river.

All was still as death in the chamber; not a lip murmured. The feeling of
respect for him in whose presence we were standing checked every thought of
utterance; while the stupendous gravity of the events before us engrossed
every mind and occupied every heart. I was standing near the window;
the effect of my fall had stunned me for a time, but I was gradually
recovering, and watched with a thrilling heart the scene before me. Great
and absorbing as was my interest in what was passing without, it was
nothing compared with what I felt as I looked at him upon whom our destiny
was then hanging. I had ample time to scan his features and canvass their
every lineament. Never before did I look upon such perfect impassibility;
the cold, determined expression was crossed by no show of passion or
impatience. All was rigid and motionless, and whatever might have been the
workings of the spirit within, certainly no external sign betrayed them;
and yet what a moment for him must that have been! Before him, separated by
a deep and rapid river, lay the conquering legions of France, led on by one
second alone to him whose very name had been the _prestige_ of victory.
Unprovided with every regular means of transport, in the broad glare of
day, in open defiance of their serried ranks and thundering artillery,
he dared the deed. What must have been his confidence in the soldiers he
commanded! What must have been his reliance upon his own genius! As such
thoughts rushed through my mind, the door opened and an officer entered
hastily, and whispering a few words to Colonel Waters, left the room.

“One boat is already brought up to the crossing-place, and entirely
concealed by the wall of the orchard.”

“Let the men cross,” was the brief reply.

No other word was spoken as, turning from the window, he closed his
telescope, and followed by all the others, descended to the courtyard.

This simple order was enough; an officer with a company of the Buffs
embarked, and thus began the passage of the Douro.

So engrossed was I in my vigilant observation of our leader, that I would
gladly have remained at the convent, when I received an order to join my
brigade, to which a detachment of artillery was already proceeding.

As I reached Avintas all was in motion. The cavalry was in readiness beside
the river; but as yet no boats had been discovered, and such was the
impatience of the men to cross, it was with difficulty they were prevented
trying the passage by swimming, when suddenly Power appeared followed by
several fishermen. Three or four small skiffs had been found, half sunk
in mud, among the rushes, and with such frail assistance we commenced to
cross.

“There will be something to write home to Galway soon, Charley, or I’m
terribly mistaken,” said Fred, as he sprang into the boat beside me. “Was I
not a true prophet when I told you ‘We’d meet the French in the morning?’”

“They’re at it already,” said Hixley, as a wreath of blue smoke floated
across the stream below us, and the loud boom of a large gun resounded
through the air.

Then came a deafening shout, followed by a rattling volley of small arms,
gradually swelling into a hot sustained fire, through which the cannon
pealed at intervals. Several large meadows lay along the river-side, where
our brigade was drawn up as the detachments landed from the boats; and
here, although nearly a league distant from the town, we now heard the din
and crash of battle, which increased every moment. The cannonade from the
Sierra convent, which at first was merely the fire of single guns, now
thundered away in one long roll, amidst which the sounds of falling walls
and crashing roofs were mingled. It was evident to us, from the continual
fire kept up, that the landing had been effected; while the swelling tide
of musketry told that fresh troops were momentarily coming up.

In less than twenty minutes our brigade was formed, and we now only waited
for two light four-pounders to be landed, when an officer galloped up in
haste, and called out,--

“The French are in retreat!” and pointing at the same moment to the
Vallonga road, we saw a long line of smoke and dust leading from the town,
through which, as we gazed, the colors of the enemy might be seen as they
defiled, while the unbroken lines of the wagons and heavy baggage proved
that it was no partial movement, but the army itself retreating.

“Fourteenth, threes about! close up! trot!” called out the loud and manly
voice of our leader, and the heavy tramp of our squadrons shook the very
ground as we advanced towards the road to Vallonga.

As we came on, the scene became one of overwhelming excitement; the
masses of the enemy that poured unceasingly from the town could now be
distinguished more clearly; and amidst all the crash of gun-carriages and
caissons, the voices of the staff officers rose high as they hurried along
the retreating battalions. A troop of flying artillery galloped forth
at top speed, and wheeling their guns into position with the speed of
lightning, prepared, by a flanking fire, to cover the retiring column. The
gunners sprang from their seats, the guns were already unlimbered, when Sir
George Murray, riding up at our left, called out,--

“Forward! close up! Charge!”

The word was scarcely spoken when the loud cheer answered the welcome
sound, and the same instant the long line of shining helmets passed with
the speed of a whirlwind; the pace increased at every stride, the ranks
grew closer, and like the dread force of some mighty engine we fell upon
the foe. I have felt all the glorious enthusiasm of a fox-hunt, when the
loud cry of the hounds, answered by the cheer of the joyous huntsman,
stirred the very heart within, but never till now did I know how far higher
the excitement reaches, when man to man, sabre to sabre, arm to arm, we
ride forward to the battle-field. On we went, the loud shout of “Forward!”
 still ringing in our ears. One broken, irregular discharge from the French
guns shook the head of our advancing column, but stayed us not as we
galloped madly on.

I remember no more. The din, the smoke, the crash, the cry for quarter,
mingled with the shout of victory, the flying enemy, the agonizing shrieks
of the wounded,--all are commingled in my mind, but leave no trace of
clearness or connection between them; and it was only when the column
wheeled to reform behind the advancing squadrons, that I awoke from my
trance of maddening excitement, and perceived that we had carried the
position and cut off the guns of the enemy.

“Well done, 14th!” said an old gray-headed colonel, as he rode along our
line,--“gallantly done, lads!” The blood trickled from a sabre cut on his
temple, along his cheek, as he spoke; but he either knew it not or heeded
it not.

“There go the Germans!” said Power, pointing to the remainder of our
brigade, as they charged furiously upon the French infantry, and rode them
down in masses.

Our guns came up at this time, and a plunging fire was opened upon the
thick and retreating ranks of the enemy. The carnage must have been
terrific, for the long breaches in their lines showed where the squadrons
of the cavalry had passed, or the most destructive tide of the artillery
had swept through them. The speed of the flying columns grew momentarily
more; the road became blocked up, too, by broken carriages and wounded; and
to add to their discomfiture, a damaging fire now opened from the town upon
the retreating column, while the brigade of Guards and the 29th pressed
hotly on their rear.

The scene was now beyond anything maddening in its interest. From the walls
of Oporto the English infantry poured forth in pursuit, while the whole
river was covered with boats as they still continued to cross over. The
artillery thundered from the Sierra to protect the landing, for it was even
still contested in places; and the cavalry, charging in flank, swept the
broken ranks and bore down upon the squares.

It was now, when the full tide of victory ran highest in our favor, that we
were ordered to retire from the road. Column after column passed before us,
unmolested and unassailed, and not even a cannon-shot arrested their steps.

Some unaccountable timidity of our leader directed this movement; and
while before our very eyes the gallant infantry were charging the retiring
columns, we remained still and inactive.

How little did the sense of praise we had already won repay us for the
shame and indignation we experienced at this moment, as with burning check
and compressed lip we watched the retreating files. “What can he mean?”
 “Is there not some mistake?” “Are we never to charge?” were the muttered
questions around, as a staff officer galloped up with the order to take
ground still farther back, and nearer to the river.

The word was scarcely spoken when a young officer, in the uniform of a
general, dashed impetuously up; he held his plumed cap high above his head,
as he called out, “14th, follow me! Left face! wheel! charge!”

So, with the word, we were upon them. The French rear-guard was at this
moment at the narrowest part of the road, which opened by a bridge upon a
large open space; so that, forming with a narrow front and favored by a
declivity in the ground, we actually rode them down. Twice the French
formed, and twice were they broken. Meanwhile the carnage was dreadful
on both sides, our fellows dashing madly forward where the ranks were
thickest, the enemy resisting with the stubborn courage of men fighting for
their last spot of ground. So impetuous was the charge of our squadrons,
that we stopped not till, piercing the dense column of the retreating mass,
we reached the open ground beyond. Here we wheeled and prepared once more
to meet them, when suddenly some squadrons of cuirassiers debouched from
the road, and supported by a field-piece, showed front against us. This was
the moment that the remainder of our brigade should have come to our aid,
but not a man appeared. However, there was not an instant to be lost;
already the plunging fire of the four-pounder had swept through our files,
and every moment increased our danger.

“Once more, my lads, forward!” cried out our gallant leader, Sir Charles
Stewart, as waving his sabre, he dashed into the thickest of the fray.

So sudden was our charge that we were upon them before they were prepared.
And here ensued a terrific struggle; for as the cavalry of the enemy gave
way before us, we came upon the close ranks of the infantry at half-pistol
distance, who poured a withering volley into us as we approached. But what
could arrest the sweeping torrent of our brave fellows, though every moment
falling in numbers?

Harvey, our major, lost his arm near the shoulder. Scarcely an officer
was not wounded. Power received a deep sabre-cut in the cheek from an
aide-de-camp of General Foy, in return for a wound he gave the general;
while I, in my endeavor to save General Laborde when unhorsed, was cut down
through the helmet, and so stunned that I remembered no more around me. I
kept my saddle, it is true, but I lost every sense of consciousness, my
first glimmering of reason coming to my aid as I lay upon the river bank
and felt my faithful follower Mike bathing my temples with water, as he
kept up a running fire of lamentations for my being _murthered_ so young.

[Illustration: THE SKIRMISH.]

“Are you better, Mister Charles? Spake to me, alanah! Say that you’re not
kilt, darling; do now. Oh, wirra! what’ll I ever say to the master? and you
doing so beautiful! Wouldn’t he give the best baste in his stable to be
looking at you to-day? There, take a sup; it’s only water. Bad luck to
them, but it’s hard work beatin’ them. They ‘re only gone now. That’s
right; now you’re coming to.”

“Where am I, Mike?”

“It’s here you are, darling, resting yourself.”

“Well, Charley, my poor fellow, you’ve got sore bones, too,” cried Power,
as, his face swathed in bandages and covered with blood, he lay down on the
grass beside me. “It was a gallant thing while it lasted, but has cost us
dearly. Poor Hixley--”

“What of him?” said I, anxiously.

“Poor fellow, he has seen his last battle-field! He fell across me as we
came out upon the road. I lifted him up in my arms and bore him along above
fifty yards; but he was stone dead. Not a sigh, not a word escaped him;
shot through the forehead.” As he spoke, his lips trembled, and his voice
sank to a mere whisper at the last words: “You remember what he said last
night. Poor fellow, he was every inch a soldier.”

Such was his epitaph.

I turned my head towards the scene of our late encounter. Some dismounted
guns and broken wagons alone marked the spot; while far in the distance,
the dust of the retreating columns showed the beaten enemy as they hurried
towards the frontiers of Spain.



CHAPTER XLVI.


THE MORNING.

There are few sadder things in life than the day after a battle. The
high-beating hope, the bounding spirits, have passed away, and in their
stead comes the depressing reaction by which every overwrought excitement
is followed. With far different eyes do we look upon the compact ranks and
glistening files,--

      With helm arrayed,
      And lance and blade,
    And plume in the gay wind dancing!

and upon the cold and barren heath, whose only memory of the past is the
blood-stained turf, a mangled corpse, the broken gun, the shattered wall,
the well-trodden earth where columns stood, the cut-up ground where cavalry
had charged,--these are the sad relics of all the chivalry of yesterday.

The morning which followed the battle of the Douro was one of the most
beautiful I ever remember. There was that kind of freshness and elasticity
in the air which certain days possess, and communicate by some magic their
properties to ourselves. The thrush was singing gayly out from every grove
and wooded dell; the very river had a sound of gladness as it rippled on
against its sedgy banks; the foliage, too, sparkled in the fresh dew, as in
its robes of holiday, and all looked bright and happy.

We were picketed near the river, upon a gently rising ground, from which
the view extended for miles in every direction. Above us, the stream came
winding down amidst broad and fertile fields of tall grass and waving corn,
backed by deep and mellow woods, which were lost to the view upon the
distant hills; below, the river, widening as it went, pursued a straighter
course, or turned with bolder curves, till, passing beneath the town, it
spread into a large sheet of glassy water as it opened to the sea. The sun
was just rising as I looked upon this glorious scene, and already the tall
spires of Oporto were tipped with a bright rosy hue, while the massive
towers and dark walls threw their lengthened shadows far across the plain.

The fires of the bivouac still burned, but all slept around them. Not a
sound was heard save the tramp of a patrol or the short, quick cry of
the sentry. I sat lost in meditation, or rather in that state of dreamy
thoughtfulness in which the past and present are combined, and the absent
are alike before us as are the things we look upon.

One moment I felt as though I were describing to my uncle the battle of the
day before, pointing out where we stood, and how we charged; then again
I was at home, beside the broad, bleak Shannon, and the brown hills of
Scariff. I watched with beating heart the tall Sierra, where our path lay
for the future, and then turned my thoughts to him whose name was so soon
to be received in England with a nation’s pride and gratitude, and panted
for a soldier’s glory.

As thus I followed every rising fancy, I heard a step approach; it was a
figure muffled in a cavalry cloak, which I soon perceived to be Power.

“Charley!” said he, in a half-whisper, “get up and come with me. You are
aware of the general order, that while in pursuit of an enemy, all military
honors to the dead are forbidden; but we wish to place our poor comrade in
the earth before we leave.”

I followed down a little path, through a grave of tall beech-trees, that
opened upon a little grassy terrace beside the river. A stunted olive-tree
stood by itself in the midst, and there I found five of our brother
officers standing, wrapped in their wide cloaks. As we pressed each other’s
hands, not a word was spoken. Each heart was full; and hard features that
never quailed before the foe were now shaken with the convulsive spasm of
agony or compressed with stern determination to seem calm.

A cavalry helmet and a large blue cloak lay upon the grass. The narrow
grave was already dug beside it; and in the deathlike stillness around, the
service for the dead was read. The last words were over. We stooped and
placed the corpse, wrapped up in the broad mantle, in the earth; we
replaced the mould, and stood silently around the spot. The trumpet of our
regiment at this moment sounded the call; its clear notes rang sharply
through the thin air,--it was the soldier’s requiem! and we turned away
without speaking, and returned to our quarters.

I had never known poor Hixley till a day or two before; but, somehow, my
grief for him was deep and heartfelt. It was not that his frank and manly
bearing, his bold and military air, had gained upon me. No; these were
indeed qualities to attract and delight me, but he had obtained a stronger
and faster hold upon my affections,--he spoke to me of home.

Of all the ties that bind us to the chance acquaintances we meet with in
life, what can equal this one? What a claim upon your love has he who can,
by some passing word, some fast-flitting thought, bring back the days of
your youth! What interest can he not excite by some anecdote of your boyish
days, some well-remembered trait of youthful daring, or early enterprise!
Many a year of sunshine and of storm have passed above my head; I have not
been without my moments of gratified pride and rewarded ambition; but my
heart has never responded so fully, so thankfully, so proudly to these,
such as they were, as to the simple, touching words of one who knew my
early home, and loved its inmates.

“Well, Fitzroy, what news?” inquired I, roused from my musing, as an
aide-de-camp galloped up at full speed.

“Tell Merivale to get the regiment under arms at once. Sir Arthur Wellesley
will be here in less than half an hour. You may look for the route
immediately. Where are the Germans quartered?”

“Lower down; beside that grove of beech-trees, next the river.”

Scarcely was my reply spoken, when he dashed spurs into his horse, and was
soon out of sight. Meanwhile the plain beneath me presented an animated and
splendid spectacle. The different corps were falling into position to the
enlivening sounds of their quick-step, the trumpets of the cavalry rang
loudly through the valley, and the clatter of sabres and sabretasches
joined with the hollow tramp of the horses, as the squadron came up.

I had not a moment to lose; so hastening back to my quarters, I found Mike
waiting with my horse.

“Captain Power’s before you, sir,” said he, “and you’ll have to make haste.
The regiments are under arms already.”

From the little mound where I stood, I could see the long line of cavalry
as they deployed into the plain, followed by the horse artillery, which
brought up the rear.

“This looks like a march,” thought I, as I pressed forward to join my
companions.

I had not advanced above a hundred yards through a narrow ravine when the
measured tread of infantry fell upon my ears. I pulled up to slacken my
pace, just as the head of a column turned round the angle of the road, and
came in view. The tall caps of a grenadier company was the first thing I
beheld, as they came on without roll of drum and sound of fife. I watched
with a soldier’s pride the manly bearing and gallant step of the dense mass
as they defiled before me. I was struck no less by them than by a certain
look of a steady but sombre cast which each man wore.

“What can this mean?” thought I.

My first impression was, that a military execution was about to take place,
the next moment solved my doubt; for as the last files of the grenadiers
wheeled round, a dense mass behind came in sight, whose unarmed hands, and
downcast air, at once bespoke them prisoners-of-war.

What a sad sight it was! There was the old and weather-beaten grenadier,
erect in frame and firm in step, his gray mustache scarcely concealing
the scowl that curled his lip, side by side with the young and daring
conscript, even yet a mere boy; their march was regular, their gaze
steadfast,--no look of flinching courage there. On they came, a long
unbroken line. They looked not less proudly than their captors around them.
As I looked with heavy heart upon them, my attention was attracted to one
who marched alone behind the rest. He was a middle-sized but handsome youth
of some eighteen years at most; his light helmet and waving plume bespoke
him a _chasseur à cheval_, and I could plainly perceive, in his careless
half-saucy air, how indignantly he felt the position to which the fate of
war had reduced him. He caught my eyes fixed upon him, and for an instant
turned upon me a gaze of open and palpable defiance, drawing himself up
to his full height, and crossing his arms upon his breast; but probably
perceiving in my look more of interest than of triumph, his countenance
suddenly changed, a deep blush suffused his cheek, his eye beamed with a
softened and kindly expression, and carrying his hand to his helmet, he
saluted me, saying, in a voice of singular sweetness,--

_“Je vous souhaite un meilleur sort, camarade.”_

I bowed, and muttering something in return, was about to make some inquiry
concerning him, when the loud call of the trumpet rang through the valley,
and apprised me that, in my interest for the prisoners, I had forgotten all
else, and was probably incurring censure for my absence.



CHAPTER XLVII.


THE REVIEW.

When I joined the group of my brother officers, who stood gayly chatting
and laughing together before our lines, I was much surprised--nay almost
shocked--to find how little seeming impression had been made upon them, by
the sad duty we had performed that morning.

When last we met, each eye was downcast, each heart was full,--sorrow for
him we had lost from among us forever, mingling with the awful sense of
our own uncertain tenure here, had laid its impress on each brow; but
now, scarcely an hour elapsed, and all were cheerful and elated. The last
shovelful of earth upon the grave seemed to have buried both the dead and
the mourning. And such is war, and such the temperament it forms! Events so
strikingly opposite in their character and influences succeed so rapidly
one upon another that the mind is kept in one whirl of excitement, and at
length accustoms itself to change with every phase of circumstances; and
between joy and grief, hope and despondency, enthusiasm and depression,
there is neither breadth nor interval,--they follow each other as naturally
as morning succeeds to night.

I had not much time for such reflections; scarcely had I saluted the
officers about me, when the loud prolonged roll of the drums along the line
of infantry in the valley, followed by the sharp clatter of muskets as they
were raised to the shoulder, announced the troops were under arms, and the
review begun.

“Have you seen the general order this morning, Power?” inquired an old
officer beside me.

“No; they say, however, that ours are mentioned.”

“Harvey is going on favorably,” cried a young cornet, as he galloped up to
our party.

“Take ground to the left!” sung out the clear voice of the colonel, as
he rode along in front. “Fourteenth, I am happy to inform you that your
conduct has met approval in the highest quarter. I have just received the
general orders, in which this occurs:--

“‘THE TIMELY PASSAGE OF THE DOURO, AND SUBSEQUENT MOVEMENTS UPON THE
ENEMY’S FLANK, BY LIEUTENANT-GENERAL SHERBROKE, WITH THE GUARDS AND 29TH
REGIMENT, AND THE BRAVERY OF THE TWO SQUADRONS OF THE 14TH LIGHT
DRAGOONS, UNDER THE COMMAND OF MAJOR HARVEY, AND LED BY THE HONORABLE
BRIGADIER-GENERAL CHARLES STEWART, OBTAINED THE VICTORY’--Mark that, my
lads! obtained the victory--‘WHICH HAS CONTRIBUTED SO MUCH TO THE HONOR OF
THE TROOPS ON THIS DAY.’”

The words were hardly spoken, when a tremendous cheer burst from the whole
line at once.

“Steady, Fourteenth! steady, lads!” said the gallant old colonel, as he
raised his hand gently; “the staff is approaching.”

At the same moment, the white plumes appeared, rising above the brow of
the hill. On they came, glittering in all the splendor of aignillettes and
orders; all save one. He rode foremost, upon a small, compact, black horse;
his dress, a plain gray frock fastened at the waist by a red sash; his
cocked hat alone bespoke, in its plume, the general officer. He galloped
rapidly on till he came to the centre of the line; then turning short
round, he scanned the ranks from end to end with an eagle glance.

“Colonel Merivale, you have made known to your regiment my opinion of them,
as expressed in general orders?”

The colonel bowed low in acquiescence.

“Fitzroy, you have got the memorandum, I hope?”

The aide-de-camp here presented to Sir Arthur a slip of paper, which he
continued to regard attentively for some minutes.

“Captain Powel,--Power, I mean. Captain Power!”

Power rode out from the line.

“Your very distinguished conduct yesterday has been reported to me. I shall
have sincere pleasure in forwarding your name for the vacant majority.

“You have forgotten, Colonel Merivale, to send in the name of the officer
who saved General Laborde’s life.”

“I believe I have mentioned it, Sir Arthur,” said the colonel: “Mr.
O’Malley.”

“True, I beg pardon; so you have--Mr. O’Malley; a very young officer
indeed,--ha, an Irishman! The south of Ireland, eh?”

“No, sir, the west.”

“Oh, yes! Well, Mr. O’Malley, you are promoted. You have the lieutenancy
in your own regiment. By-the-bye, Merivale,” here his voice changed into a
half-laughing tone, “ere I forget it, pray let me beg of you to look into
this honest fellow’s claim; he has given me no peace the entire morning.”

As he spoke, I turned my eyes in the direction he pointed, and to my utter
consternation, beheld my man Mickey Free standing among the staff, the
position he occupied, and the presence he stood in, having no more
perceptible effect upon his nerves than if he were assisting at an Irish
wake; but so completely was I overwhelmed with shame at the moment,
that the staff were already far down the lines ere I recovered my
self-possession, to which, certainly, I was in some degree recalled by
Master Mike’s addressing me in a somewhat imploring voice:--

“Arrah, spake for me, Master Charles, alanah; sure they might do something
for me now, av it was only to make me a ganger.”

Mickey’s ideas of promotion, thus insinuatingly put forward, threw the
whole party around us into one burst of laughter.

“I have him down there,” said he, pointing, as he spoke, to a thick grove
of cork-trees at a little distance.

“Who have you got there, Mike?” inquired Power.

“Devil a one o’ me knows his name,” replied he; “may be it’s Bony himself.”

“And how do you know he’s there still?”

“How do I know, is it? Didn’t I tie him last night?”

Curiosity to find out what Mickey could possibly allude to, induced Power
and myself to follow him down the slope to the clump of trees I have
mentioned. As we came near, the very distinct denunciations that issued
from the thicket proved pretty clearly the nature of the affair. It was
nothing less than a French officer of cavalry that Mike had unhorsed in the
_mêlée_, and wishing, probably, to preserve some testimony of his prowess,
had made prisoner, and tied fast to a cork-tree, the preceding evening.

“_Sacrebleu!_” said the poor Frenchman, as we approached, “_ce sont des
sauvages!_”

“Av it’s making your sowl ye are,” said Mike, “you’re right; for may be
they won’t let me keep you alive.”

Mike’s idea of a tame prisoner threw me into a fit of laughing, while Power
asked,--

“And what do you want to do with him, Mickey?”

“The sorra one o’ me knows, for he spakes no dacent tongue. Thighum thu,”
 said he, addressing the prisoner, with a poke in the ribs at the same
moment. “But sure, Master Charles, he might tache me French.”

There was something so irresistibly ludicrous in his tone and look as
he said these words, that both Power and myself absolutely roared with
laughter. We began, however, to feel not a little ashamed of our position
in the business, and explained to the Frenchman that our worthy countryman
had but little experience in the usages of war, while we proceeded to
unbind him and liberate him from his miserable bondage.

“It’s letting him loose, you are, Captain? Master Charles, take care.
Be-gorra, av you had as much trouble in catching him as I had, you’d think
twice about letting him out. Listen to me, now,” here he placed his closed
fist within an inch of the poor prisoner’s nose,--“listen to me! Av you say
peas, by the morreal, I’ll not lave a whole bone in your skin.”

With some difficulty we persuaded Mike that his conduct, so far from
leading to his promotion, might, if known in another quarter, procure him
an acquaintance with the provost-marshal; a fact which, it was plain to
perceive, gave him but a very poor impression of military gratitude.

“Oh, then, if they were in swarms fornent me, devil receave the prisoner
I’ll take again!”

So saying, he slowly returned to the regiment; while Power and I, having
conducted the Frenchman to the rear, cantered towards the town to learn the
news of the day.

The city on that day presented a most singular aspect. The streets, filled
with the town’s-people and the soldiery, were decorated with flags and
garlands; the cafés were crowded with merry groups, and the sounds of
music and laughter resounded on all sides. The houses seemed to be
quite inadequate to afford accommodation to the numerous guests; and in
consequence, bullock cars and forage; wagons were converted into temporary
hotels, and many a jovial party were collected in both. Military music,
church bells, drinking choruses, were all commingled in the din and
turmoil; processions in honor of “Our Lady of Succor” were jammed up among
bacchanalian orgies, and their very chant half drowned in the cries of the
wounded as they passed on to the hospitals. With difficulty we pushed our
way through the dense mob, as we turned our steps towards the seminary. We
both felt naturally curious to see the place where our first detachment
landed, and to examine the opportunities of defence it presented. The
building itself was a large and irregular one of an oblong form, surrounded
by a high wall of solid masonry, the only entrance being by a heavy iron
gate.

At this spot the battle appeared to have raged with violence; one side of
the massive gate was torn from its hinges and lay flat upon the ground; the
walls were breached in many places; and pieces of torn uniforms, broken
bayonets, and bruised shakos attested that the conflict was a close one.
The seminary itself was in a falling state; the roof, from which Paget
had given his orders, and where he was wounded, had fallen in. The French
cannon had fissured the building from top to bottom, and it seemed only
awaiting the slightest impulse to crumble into ruin. When we regarded the
spot, and examined the narrow doorway which opening upon a flight of a few
steps to the river, admitted our first party, we could not help feeling
struck anew with the gallantry of that mere handful of brave fellows who
thus threw themselves amidst the overwhelming legions of the enemy, and at
once, without waiting for a single reinforcement, opened a fire upon their
ranks. Bold as the enterprise unquestionably was, we still felt with what
consummate judgment it had been planned; a bend of the river concealed
entirely the passage of the troops, the guns of the Sierras covered their
landing and completely swept one approach to the seminary. The French,
being thus obliged to attack by the gate, were compelled to make a
considerable _détour_ before they reached it, all of which gave time
for our divisions to cross; while the brigade of Guards, under General
Sherbroke, profiting by the confusion, passed the river below the town, and
took the enemy unexpectedly in the rear.

Brief as was the struggle within the town, it must have been a terrific
one. The artillery were firing at musket range; cavalry and infantry were
fighting hand to hand in narrow streets, a destructive musketry pouring all
the while from windows and house-tops.

At the Amarante gate, where the French defiled, the carnage was also great.
Their light artillery unlimbered some guns here to cover the columns as
they deployed, but Murray’s cavalry having carried these, the flank of the
infantry became entirely exposed to the galling fire of small-arms from
the seminary, and the far more destructive shower of grape that poured
unceasingly from the Sierra.

Our brigade did the rest; and in less than one hour from the landing of the
first man, the French were in full retreat upon Vallonga.

“A glorious thing, Charley,” said Power, after a pause, “and a proud
souvenir for hereafter.”

A truth I felt deeply at the time, and one my heart responds to not less
fully as I am writing.



CHAPTER XLVIII.


THE QUARREL.

On the evening of the 12th, orders were received for the German brigade and
three squadrons of our regiment to pursue the French upon the Terracinthe
road by daybreak on the following morning.

I was busily occupied in my preparations for a hurried march when Mike came
up to say that an officer desired to speak with me; and the moment after
Captain Hammersley appeared. A sudden flush colored his pale and sickly
features, as he held out his hand and said,--

“I’ve come to wish you joy, O’Malley. I just this instant heard of your
promotion. I am sincerely glad of it; pray tell me the whole affair.”

“That is the very thing I am unable to do. I have some very vague,
indistinct remembrance of warding off a sabre-cut from the head of a
wounded and unhorsed officer in the _mêlée_ of yesterday, but more I know
not. In fact, it was my first duty under fire. I’ve a tolerably clear
recollection of all the events of the morning, but the word ‘Charge!’ once
given, I remember very little more. But you, where have you been? How have
we not met before?”

“I’ve exchanged into a heavy dragoon regiment, and am now employed upon the
staff.”

“You are aware that I have letters for you?”

“Power hinted, I think, something of the kind. I saw him very hurriedly.”

These words were spoken with an effort at _nonchalance_ that evidently cost
him much.

As for me, my agitation was scarcely less, as fumbling for some seconds in
my portmanteau, I drew forth the long destined packet. As I placed it in
his hands, he grew deadly pale, and a slight spasmodic twitch in his upper
lip bespoke some unnatural struggle. He broke the seal suddenly, and as he
did so, the morocco case of a miniature fell upon the ground; his eyes ran
rapidly across the letter; the livid color of his lips as the blood forced
itself to them added to the corpse-like hue of his countenance.

“You, probably, are aware of the contents of this letter, Mr. O’Malley,”
 said he, in an altered voice, whose tones, half in anger, half in
suppressed irony, cut to my very heart.

“I am in complete ignorance of them,” said I, calmly.

“Indeed, sir!” replied he, with a sarcastic curl of his mouth as he spoke.
“Then, perhaps, you will tell me, too, that your very success is a secret
to you--”

“I’m really not aware--”

“You think, probably, sir, that the pastime is an amusing one, to interfere
where the affections of others are concerned. I’ve heard of you, sir. Your
conduct at Lisbon is known to me; and though Captain Trevyllian may bear--”

“Stop, Captain Hammersley!” said I, with a tremendous effort to be
calm,--“stop! You have said enough, quite enough, to convince me of what
your object was in seeking me here to-day. You shall not be disappointed. I
trust that assurance will save you from any further display of temper.”

“I thank you, most humbly I thank you for the quickness of your
apprehension; and I shall now take my leave. Good-evening, Mr. O’Malley. I
wish you much joy; you have my very fullest congratulations upon _all_ your
good fortune.”

The sneering emphasis the last words were spoken with remained fixed in my
mind long after he took his departure; and, indeed, so completely did the
whole seem like a dream to me that were it not for the fragments of the
miniature that lay upon the ground where he had crushed them with his heel,
I could scarcely credit myself that I was awake.

My first impulse was to seek Power, upon whose judgment and discretion I
could with confidence rely.

I had not long to wait; for scarcely had I thrown my cloak around me, when
he rode up. He had just seen, Hammersley, and learned something of our
interview.

“Why, Charley, my dear fellow, what is this? How have you treated poor
Hammersley?”

“Treated _him_! Say, rather, how has he treated _me!_”

I here entered into a short but accurate account of our meeting, during
which Power listened with great composure; while I could perceive, from the
questions he asked, that some very different impression had been previously
made upon his mind.

“And this was all that passed?”

“All.”

“But what of the business at Lisbon?”

“I don’t understand.”

“Why, he speaks,--he has heard some foolish account of your having made
some ridiculous speech there about your successful rivalry of him in
Ireland. Lucy Dashwood, I suppose, is referred to. Some one has been
good-natured enough to repeat the thing to him.”

“But it never occurred. I never did.”

“Are you sure, Charley?”

“I am sure. I know I never did.”

“The poor fellow! He has been duped. Come, Charley, you must not take it
ill. Poor Hammersley has never recovered a sabre-wound he received some
months since upon the head; his intellect is really affected by it. Leave
it all to me. Promise not to leave your quarters till I return, and I’ll
put everything right again.”

I gave the required pledge; while Power, springing into the saddle, left me
to my own reflections.

My frame of mind as Power left me was by no means an enviable one. A
quarrel is rarely a happy incident in a man’s life, still less is it so
when the difference arises with one we are disposed to like and respect.
Such was Hammersley. His manly, straightforward character had won my esteem
and regard, and it was with no common scrutiny I taxed my memory to think
what could have given rise to the impression he labored under of my
having injured him. His chance mention of Trevyllian suggested to me some
suspicion that his dislike of me, wherefore arising I knew not, might have
its share in the matter; and in this state of doubt and uncertainty I paced
impatiently up and down, anxiously watching for Power’s return in the hope
of at length getting some real insight into the difficulty.

My patience was fast ebbing, Power had been absent above an hour, and no
appearance of him could I detect, when suddenly the tramp of a horse came
rapidly up the hill. I looked out and saw a rider coming forward at a very
fast pace. Before I had time for even a guess as to who it was, he drew
up, and I recognized Captain Trevyllian. There was a certain look of easy
impertinence and half-smiling satisfaction about his features I had never
seen before, as he touched his cap in salute, and said,--

“May I have the honor of a few words’ conversation with you?”

I bowed silently, while he dismounted, and passing his bridle beneath his
arm, walked on beside me.

“My friend Captain Hammersley has commissioned me to wait upon you about
this unpleasant affair--”

“I beg pardon for the interruption, Captain Trevyllian, but as I have yet
to learn to what you or your friend alludes, perhaps it may facilitate
matters if you will explicitly state your meaning.”

He grew crimson on the cheek as I said this, while, with a voice perfectly
unmoved, he continued,--

“I am not sufficiently in my friend’s confidence to know the whole of the
affair in question, nor have I his permission to enter into any of it, he
probably presuming, as I certainly did myself, that your sense of honor
would have deemed further parley and discussion both unnecessary and
unseasonable.”

“In fact, then, if I understand, it is expected that I should meet Captain
Hammersley for some reason unknown--”

“He certainly desires a meeting with you,” was the dry reply.

“And as certainly I shall not give it, before understanding upon what
grounds.”

“And such I am to report as your answer?” said he, looking at me at the
moment with an expression of ill-repressed triumph as he spoke.

There was something in these few words, as well as in the tone in which
they were spoken, that sunk deeply in my heart. Was it that by some trick
of diplomacy he was endeavoring to compromise my honor and character? Was
it possible that my refusal might be construed into any other than the
real cause? I was too young, too inexperienced in the world to decide the
question for myself, and no time was allowed me to seek another’s counsel.
What a trying moment was that for me; my temples throbbed, my heart beat
almost audibly, and I stood afraid to speak; dreading on the one hand lest
my compliance might involve me in an act to embitter my life forever, and
fearful on the other, that my refusal might be reported as a trait of
cowardice.

He saw, he read my difficulty at a glance, and with a smile of most
supercilious expression, repeated coolly his former question. In an instant
all thought of Hammersley was forgotten. I remembered no more. I saw him
before me, he who had, since my first meeting, continually contrived to
pass some inappreciable slight upon me. My eyes flashed, my hands tingled
with ill-repressed rage, as I said,--

“With Captain Hammersley I am conscious of no quarrel, nor have I ever
shown by any act or look an intention to provoke one. Indeed, such
demonstrations are not always successful; there are persons most rigidly
scrupulous for a friend’s honor, little disposed to guard their own.”

“You mistake,” said he, interrupting me, as I spoke these words with a look
as insulting as I could make it,--“you mistake. I have sworn a solemn oath
never to _send_ a challenge.”

The emphasis upon the word “send,” explained fully his meaning, when I
said,--

“But you will not decline--”

“Most certainly not,” said he, again interrupting, while with sparkling eye
and elated look he drew himself up to his full height. “Your friend is--”

“Captain Power; and yours--”

“Sir Harry Beaufort. I may observe that, as the troops are in marching
order, the matter had better not be delayed.”

“There shall be none on my part.”

“Nor mine!” said he, as with a low bow and a look of most ineffable
triumph, he sprang into his saddle; then, “_Au revoir_, Mr. O’Malley,” said
he, gathering up his reins. “Beaufort is on the staff, and quartered at
Oporto.” So saying, he cantered easily down the slope, and once more I was
alone.



CHAPTER XLIX.


THE ROUTE CONTINUED.

I was leisurely examining my pistols,--poor Considine’s last present to me
on leaving home,--when an orderly sergeant rode up, and delivered into my
hands the following order:--

    Lieutenant O’Malley will hold himself in immediate readiness to
    proceed on a particular service. By order of his Excellency the
    Commander of the Forces.
    [Signed]    S. GORDON, Military Secretary.

“What can this mean?” thought I. “It is not possible that any rumor of my
intended meeting could have got abroad, and that my present destination
could be intended as a punishment?”

I walked hurriedly to the door of the little hut which formed my quarters;
below me in the plain, all was activity and preparation, the infantry were
drawn up in marching order, baggage wagons, ordnance stores, and artillery
seemed all in active preparation, and some cavalry squadrons might be
already seen with forage allowances behind the saddle, as if only waiting
the order to set out. I strained my eyes to see if Power was coming, but no
horseman approached in the direction. I stood, and I hesitated whether I
should not rather seek him at once, than continue to wait on in my present
uncertainty; but then, what if I should miss him? And I had pledged myself
to remain till he returned.

While I deliberated thus with myself, weighing the various chances for and
against each plan, I saw two mounted officers coming towards me at a brisk
trot. As they came nearer, I recognized one as my colonel, the other was an
officer of the staff.

Supposing that their mission had some relation to the order I had so lately
received, and which until now I had forgotten, I hastily returned and
ordered Mike to my presence.

“How are the horses, Mike?” said I.

“Never better, sir. Badger was wounded slightly by a spent shot in the
counter, but he’s never the worse this morning, and the black horse is
capering like a filly.”

“Get ready my pack, feed the cattle, and be prepared to set out at a
moment’s warning.”

“Good advice, O’Malley,” said the colonel, as he overheard the last
direction to my servant. “I hope the nags are in condition?”

“Why yes, sir, I believe they are.”

“All the better; you’ve a sharp ride before you. Meanwhile let me introduce
my friend; Captain Beaumont, Mr. O’Malley. I think we had better be
seated.”

“These are your instructions, Mr. O’Malley,” said Captain Beaumont,
unfolding a map as he spoke. “You will proceed from this with half a troop
of our regiment by forced marches towards the frontier, passing through
the town of Calenco and Guarda and the Estrella pass. On arriving at the
headquarters of the Lusitanian Legion, which you will find there, you are
to put yourself under the orders of Major Monsoon, commanding that force.
Any Portuguese cavalry he may have with him will be attached to yours and
under your command; your rank for the time being that of captain. You will,
as far as possible, acquaint yourself with the habits and capabilities of
the native cavalry, and make such report as you judge necessary thereupon
to his Excellency the commander of the forces. I think it only fair to add
that you are indebted to my friend Colonel Merivale for the very flattering
position thus opened to your skill and enterprise.”

“My dear Colonel, let me assure you--”

“Not a word, my boy. I knew the thing would suit you, and I am sure I
can count upon your not disappointing my expectations of you. Sir Arthur
perfectly remembers your name. He only asked two questions,--

“‘Is he well mounted?’

“‘Admirably,’ was my answer.

“‘Can you depend upon his promptitude?’

“‘He’ll leave in half an hour.’ “So you see, O’Malley, I have already
pledged myself for you. And now I must say adieu; the regiments are about
to take up a more advanced position, so good-by. I hope you’ll have a
pleasant time of it till we meet again.”

“It is now twelve o’clock, Mr. O’Malley,” said Beaumont; “we may rely upon
your immediate departure. Your written instructions and despatches will be
here within a quarter of an hour.”

I muttered something,--what, I cannot remember; I bowed my thanks to my
worthy colonel, shook his hand warmly, and saw him ride down the hill
and disappear in the crowd of soldiery beneath, before I could recall my
faculties and think over my situation.

Then all at once did the full difficulty of my position break upon me. If
I accepted my present employment I must certainly fail in my engagement to
Trevyllian. But I had already pledged myself to its acceptance. What was to
be done? No time was left for deliberation. The very minutes I should have
spent in preparation were fast passing. Would that Power might appear!
Alas, he came not! My state of doubt and uncertainty increased every
moment; I saw nothing but ruin before me, even at a moment when fortune
promised most fairly for the future, and opened a field of enterprise my
heart had so often and so ardently desired. Nothing was left me but to
hasten to Colonel Merivale and decline my appointment; to do so was to
prejudice my character in his estimation forever, for I dared not allege
my reasons, and in all probability my conduct might require my leaving the
army.

“Be it so, then,” said I, in an accent of despair; “the die is cast.”

I ordered my horse round; I wrote a few words to Power to explain my
absence should he come while I was away, and leaped into the saddle. As I
reached the plain my pace became a gallop, and I pressed my horse with all
the impatience my heart was burning with. I dashed along the lines towards
Oporto, neither hearing nor seeing aught around me, when suddenly the clank
of cavalry accoutrements behind induced me to turn my head, and I perceived
an orderly dragoon at full gallop in pursuit. I pulled up till he came
alongside.

“Lieutenant O’Malley, sir,” said the man, saluting, “these despatches are
for you.”

I took them hurriedly, and was about to continue my route, when the
attitude of the dragoon arrested my attention. He had reined in his horse
to the side of the narrow causeway, and holding him still and steadily, sat
motionless as a statue. I looked behind and saw the whole staff approaching
at a brisk trot. Before I had a moment for thought they were beside me.

“Ah, O’Malley,” cried Merivale, “you have your orders; don’t wait; his
Excellency is coming up.”

“Get along, I advise you,” said another, “or you’ll catch it, as some of us
have done this morning.”

“All is right, Charley; you can go in safety,” said a whispering voice, as
Power passed in a sharp canter.

That one sentence was enough; my heart bounded like a deer, my cheek beamed
with the glow of delighted pleasure, I closed my spurs upon my gallant gray
and dashed across the plain.

When I arrived at my quarters the men were drawn up in waiting, and
provided with rations for three days’ march; Mike was also prepared for the
road, and nothing more remained to delay me.

“Captain Power has been here, sir, and left a note.”

I took it and thrust it hastily into my sabretasche. I knew from the
few words he had spoken that my present step involved me in no ill
consequences; so giving the word to wheel into column, I rode to the front
and set out upon my march to Alcantara.



CHAPTER L.


THE WATCH-FIRE.

There are few things so inspiriting to a young soldier as the being
employed with a separate command; the picket and outpost duty have a charm
for him no other portion of his career possesses. The field seems open for
individual boldness and heroism; success, if obtained, must redound to his
own credit; and what can equal, in its spirit-stirring enthusiasm, that
first moment when we become in any way the arbiter of our own fortunes?

Such were my happy thoughts, as with a proud and elated heart I set forth
upon my march. The notice the commander-in-chief had bestowed upon me had
already done much; it had raised me in my own estimation, and implanted
within me a longing desire for further distinction. I thought, too, of
those far, far away, who were yet to hear of my successes.

I fancied to myself how they would severally receive the news. My poor
uncle, with tearful eye and quivering lip, was before me, as I saw him read
the despatch, then wipe his glasses, and read on, till at last, with one
long-drawn breath, his manly voice, tremulous with emotion, would break
forth: “My boy! my own Charley!” Then I pictured Considine, with port
erect and stern features, listening silently; not a syllable, not a motion
betraying that he felt interested in my fate, till as if impatient, at
length he would break in: “I knew it,--I said so; and yet you thought to
make him a lawyer!” And then old Sir Harry, his warm heart glowing with
pleasure, and his good-humored face beaming with happiness, how many a
blunder he would make in retailing the news, and how many a hearty laugh
his version of it would give rise to!

I passed in review before me the old servants, as they lingered in the
room to hear the story. Poor old Matthew, the butler, fumbling with his
corkscrew to gain a little time; then looking in my uncle’s face, half
entreatingly, as he asked: “Any news of Master Charles, sir, from the
wars?”

While thus my mind wandered back to the scenes and faces of my early home,
I feared to ask myself how _she_ would feel to whom my heart was now
turning. Too deeply did I know how poor my chances were in that quarter to
nourish hope, and yet I could not bring myself to abandon it altogether.
Hammersley’s strange conduct suggested to me that he, at least, could not
be _my_ rival; while I plainly perceived that he regarded me as _his_.
There was a mystery in all this I could not fathom, and I ardently longed
for my next meeting with Power, to learn the nature of his interview, and
also in what manner the affair had been arranged.

Such were my passing thoughts as I pressed forward. My men, picked no less
for themselves than their horses, came rapidly along; and ere evening, we
had accomplished twelve leagues of our journey.

The country through which we journeyed, though wild and romantic in its
character, was singularly rich and fertile,--cultivation reaching to the
very summits of the rugged mountains, and patches of wheat and Indian corn
peeping amidst masses of granite rock and tangled brushwood. The vine
and the olive grew wild on every side; while the orange and the arbutus,
loading the air with perfume, were mingled with prickly pear-trees and
variegated hollies. We followed no regular track, but cantered along over
hill and valley, through forest and prairie, now in long file through some
tall field of waving corn, now in open order upon some level plain,--our
Portuguese guide riding a little in advance of us, upon a jet-black mule,
carolling merrily some wild Gallician melody as he went.

As the sun was setting, we arrived beside a little stream that flowing
along a rocky bed, skirted a vast forest of tall cork-trees. Here we called
a halt, and picketing our horses, proceeded to make our arrangements for a
bivouac.

Never do I remember a more lovely night. The watch-fires sent up a
delicious odor from the perfumed shrubs; while the glassy water reflected
on its still surface the starry sky that, unshadowed and unclouded,
stretched above us. I wrapped myself in my trooper’s mantle, and lay down
beneath a tree,--but not to sleep. There was a something so exciting, and
withal so tranquillizing, that I had no thought of slumber, but fell into
a musing revery. There was a character of adventure in my position that
charmed me much. My men were gathered in little groups beside the fires;
some sunk in slumber, others sat smoking silently, or chatting, in a low
undertone, of some bygone scene of battle or bivouac; here and there were
picketed the horses; the heavy panoply and piled carbines flickering in the
red glare of the watch-fires, which ever and anon threw a flitting glow
upon the stern and swarthy faces of my bold troopers. Upon the trees
around, sabres and helmets, holsters and cross-belts, were hung like
armorial bearings in some antique hall, the dark foliage spreading its
heavy shadow around us. Farther off, upon a little rocky ledge, the erect
figure of the sentry, with his short carbine resting in the hollow of his
arm, was seen slowly pacing in measured tread, or standing for a moment
silently, as he looked upon the fair and tranquil sky,--his thoughts
doubtless far, far away, beyond the sea, to some humble home, where,--

    “The hum of the spreading sycamore,
    That grew beside his cottage door,”

was again in his ears, while the merry laugh of his children stirred his
bold heart. It was a Salvator-Rosa scene, and brought me back in fancy to
the bandit legends I had read in boyhood. By the uncertain light of the
wood embers I endeavored to sketch the group that lay before me.

The night wore on. One by one the soldiers stretched themselves to sleep,
and all was still. As the hours rolled by a drowsy feeling crept gradually
over me. I placed my pistols by my side, and having replenished the fire by
some fresh logs, disposed myself comfortably before it.

It was during that half-dreamy state that intervenes between waking and
sleep that a rustling sound of the branches behind attracted my attention.
The air was too calm to attribute this to the wind, so I listened for some
minutes; but sleep, too long deferred, was over-powerful, and my head sank
upon my grassy pillow, and I was soon sound asleep. How long I remained
thus, I know not; but I awoke suddenly. I fancied some one had shaken me
rudely by the shoulder; but yet all was tranquil. My men were sleeping
soundly as I saw them last. The fires were becoming low, and a gray streak
in the sky, as well as a sharp cold feeling of the air, betokened the
approach of day. Once more I heaped some dry branches together, and was
again about to stretch myself to rest, when I felt a hand upon my shoulder.
I turned quickly round, and by the imperfect light of the fire, saw the
figure of a man standing motionless beside me; his head was bare, and his
hair fell in long curls upon his shoulders; one hand was pressed upon his
bosom, and with the other he motioned me to silence. My first impression
was that our party were surprised by some French patrol; but as I looked
again, I recognized, to my amazement, that the individual before me was the
young French officer I had seen that morning a prisoner beside the Douro.

“How came you here?” said I, in a low voice, to him in French.

“Escaped; one of my own men threw himself between me and the sentry; I swam
the Douro, received a musket-ball through my arm, lost my shako, and here I
am!”

“You are aware you are again a prisoner?”

“If you desire it, of course I am,” said he, in a voice full of feeling
that made my very heart creep. “I thought you were a party of Lorge’s
Dragoons, scouring the country for forage; tracked you the entire day, and
have only now come up with you.”

The poor fellow, who had neither eaten nor drunk since daybreak, wounded
and footsore, had accomplished twelve leagues of a march only once more to
fall into the hands of his enemies. His years could scarcely have numbered
nineteen; his countenance was singularly prepossessing; and though bleeding
and torn, with tattered uniform, and without a covering to his head, there
was no mistaking for a moment that he was of gentle blood. Noiselessly and
cautiously I made him sit down beside the fire, while I spread before him
the sparing remnant of my last night’s supper, and shared my solitary
bottle of sherry with him.

From the moment he spoke, I never entertained a thought of making him a
prisoner; but as I knew not how far I was culpable in permitting, if not
actually facilitating, his escape, I resolved to keep the circumstance a
secret from my party, and if possible, get him away before daybreak.

No sooner did he learn my intentions regarding him, than in an instant
all memory of his past misfortune, all thoughts of his present destitute
condition, seemed to have fled; and while I dressed his wound and bound up
his shattered arm, he chattered away as unconcernedly about the past
and the future as though seated beside the fire of his own bivouac, and
surrounded by his own brother officers.

“You took us by surprise the other day,” said he. “Our marshal looked for
the attack from the mouth of the river; we received information that your
ships were expected there. In any case, our retreat was an orderly one, and
must have been effected with slight loss.”

I smiled at the self-complacency of this reasoning, but did not contradict
him.

“Your loss must indeed have been great; your men crossed under the fire of
a whole battery.”

“Not exactly,” said I; “our first party were quietly stationed in Oporto
before you knew anything about it.”

“_Ah, sacré Dieu!_ Treachery!” cried he, striking his forehead with his
clinched fist.

“Not so; mere daring,--nothing more. But come, tell me something of your
own adventures. How were you taken?”

“Simply thus,--I was sent to the rear with orders to the artillery to cut
their traces, and leave the guns; and when coming back, my horse grew tired
in the heavy ground, and I was spurring him to the utmost, when one of your
heavy dragoons--an officer, too--dashed at me, and actually rode me down,
horse and all. I lay for some time bruised by the fall, when an infantry
soldier passing by seized me by the collar, and brought me to the rear. No
matter, however, here I am now. You will not give me up; and perhaps I may
one day live to repay the kindness.”

“You have not long joined?”

“It was my first battle; my epaulettes were very smart things yesterday,
though they do look a little _passés_ to-day. You are advancing, I
suppose?”

I smiled without answering this question.

“Ah, I see you don’t wish to speak. Never mind, your discretion is thrown
away upon me; for if I rejoined my regiment to-morrow, I should have
forgotten all you told me,--all but your great kindness.” These last words
he spoke, bowing slightly his head, and coloring as he said them.

“You are a dragoon, I think?” said I, endeavoring to change the topic.

“I was, two days ago, _chasseur à cheval_, a sous-lieutenant, in the
regiment of my father, the General St. Croix.”

“The name is familiar to me,” I replied, “and I am sincerely happy to be in
a position to serve the son of so distinguished an officer.”

“The son of so distinguished an officer is most deeply obliged, but wishes
with all his heart and soul he had never sought glory under such very
excellent auspices. You look surprised, _mon cher_; but let me tell you,
my military ardor is considerably abated in the last three days. Hunger,
thirst, imprisonment, and this”--lifting his wounded limb as he spoke--“are
sharp lessons in so short a campaign, and for one too, whose life hitherto
had much more of ease than adventure to boast of. Shall I tell you how I
became a soldier?”

“By all means; give me your glass first; and now, with a fresh log to the
fire, I’m your man.”

“But stay; before I begin, look to this.”

The blood was flowing rapidly from his wound, which with some difficulty I
succeeded in stanching. He drank off his wine hastily, held out his glass
to be refilled, and then began his story.

“You have never seen the Emperor?”

“Never.”

“_Sacrebleu!_ What a man he is! I’d rather stand under the fire of your
grenadiers, than meet his eye. When in a passion, he does not say much, it
is true; but what he does, comes with a kind of hissing, rushing sound,
while the very fire seems to kindle in his look. I have him before me this
instant, and though you will confess that my present condition has nothing
very pleasing in it, I should be sorry indeed to change it for the last
time I stood in his presence.

“Two months ago I sported the gay light-blue and silver of a page to the
Emperor, and certainly, what with balls, _bonbons_, flirtation, gossip,
and champagne suppers, led a very gay, reckless, and indolent life of it.
Somehow,--I may tell you more accurately at another period, if we ever
meet,--I got myself into disgrace, and as a punishment, was ordered
to absent myself from the Tuileries, and retire for some weeks to
Fontainebleau. Siberia to a Russian would scarcely be a heavier infliction
than was this banishment to me. There was no court, no levee, no military
parade, no ball, no opera. A small household of the Emperor’s chosen
servants quietly kept house there. The gloomy walls re-echoed to no music;
the dark alleys of the dreary garden seemed the very impersonation of
solitude and decay. Nothing broke the dull monotony of the tiresome day,
except when occasionally, near sunset, the clash of the guard would be
heard turning out, and the clank of presenting arms, followed by the roll
of a heavy carriage into the gloomy courtyard. One lamp, shining like a
star, in a small chamber on the second floor, would remain till near four,
sometimes five o’clock in the morning. The same sounds of the guard and
the same dull roll of the carriage would break the stillness of the early
morning; and the Emperor--for it was he--would be on his road back to
Paris.

“We never saw him,--I say we, for like myself some half-dozen others were
also there, expiating their follies by a life of cheerless _ennui_.

“It was upon a calm evening in April, we sat together chatting over the
various misdeeds which had consigned us to exile, when some one proposed,
by way of passing the time, that we should visit the small flower-garden
that was parted off from the rest, and reserved for the Emperor alone. It
was already beyond the hour he usually came; besides that, even should he
arrive, there was abundant time to get back before he could possibly reach
it. The garden we had often seen, but there was something in the fact that
our going there was a transgression that so pleased us all that we agreed
at once and set forth. For above an hour we loitered about the lonely and
deserted walks, where already the Emperor’s foot-tracks had worn a marked
pathway, when we grew weary and were about to return, just as one of the
party suggested, half in ridicule of the sanctity of the spot, that we
should have a game of leap-frog ere we left it. The idea pleased us and was
at once adopted. Our plan was this,--each person stationed himself in some
by-walk or alley, and waited till the other, whose turn it was, came and
leaped over him; so that, besides the activity displayed, there was a
knowledge of the _locale_ necessary; for to any one passed over a forfeit
was to be paid. Our game began at once, and certainly I doubt if ever those
green alleys and shady groves rang to such hearty laughter. Here would be
seen a couple rolling over together on the grass; there some luckless wight
counting out his pocket-money to pay his penalty. The hours passed quietly
over, and the moon rose, and at last it came to my turn to make the tour of
the garden. As I was supposed to know all its intricacies better than the
rest, a longer time was given for them to conceal themselves; at length the
word was given, and I started.

“Anxious to acquit myself well, I hurried along at top speed, but guess my
surprise to discover that nowhere could I find one of my companions. Down
one walk I scampered, up another, across a third, but all was still and
silent; not a sound, not a breath, could I detect. There was still one part
of the garden unexplored; it was a small open space before a little pond
which usually contained the gold fish the Emperor was so fond of. Thither
I bent my steps, and had not gone far when in the pale moonlight I saw, at
length, one of my companions waiting patiently for my coming, his head
bent forward and his shoulders rounded. Anxious to repay him for my own
disappointment, I crept silently forward on tiptoe till quite near him,
when, rushing madly on, I sprang upon his back; just, however, as I rose to
leap over, he raised his head, and, staggered by the impulse of my spring,
he was thrown forward, and after an ineffectual effort to keep his legs
fell flat upon his face in the grass. Bursting with laughter, I fell over
him on the ground, and was turning to assist him, when suddenly he sprang
upon his feet, and--horror of horrors!--it was Napoleon himself; his
usually pale features were purple with rage, but not a word, not a syllable
escaped him.

“‘_Qui êtes vous_?’ said he, at length.

“‘St. Croix, Sire,’ said I, still kneeling before him, while my very heart
leaped into my mouth.

“‘St. Croix! _toujours_ St. Croix! Come here; approach me,’ cried he, in a
voice of stifled passion.

“I rose; but before I could take a step forward he sprang at me, and
tearing off my epaulettes trampled them beneath his feet, and then he
shouted out, rather than spoke, the word ‘_Allez!_’

“I did not wait for a second intimation, but clearing the paling at a
spring, was many a mile from Fontainebleau before daybreak.”



CHAPTER LI.


THE MARCH.

Twice the _réveil_ sounded; the horses champed impatiently their heavy
bits; my men stood waiting for the order to mount, ere I could arouse
myself from the deep sleep I had fallen into. The young Frenchman and his
story were in my dreams, and when I awoke, his figure, as he lay sleeping
beside the wood embers, was the first object I perceived. There he lay,
to all seeming as forgetful of his fate as though he still inhabited the
gorgeous halls and gilded saloons of the Tuileries; his pale and handsome
features wore even a placid smile as, doubtless, some dream of other days
flitted across him; his long hair waved in luxurious curls upon his neck,
and his light-brown mustache, slightly curled at the top, gave to his
mild and youthful features an air of saucy _fierté_ that heightened their
effect. A narrow blue ribbon which he wore round his throat gently peeped
from his open bosom. I could not resist the curiosity I felt to see what it
meant, and drawing it softly forth, I perceived that a small miniature was
attached to it. It was beautifully painted, and surrounded with brilliants
of some value. One glance showed me,--for I had seen more than one
engraving before of her,--that it was the portrait of the Empress
Josephine. Poor boy! he doubtless was a favorite at court; indeed,
everything in his air and manner bespoke him such. I gently replaced the
precious locket and turned from the spot to think over what was best to
be done for him. Knowing the vindictive feeling of the Portuguese towards
their invaders, I feared to take Pietro, our guide, into my confidence. I
accordingly summoned my man Mike to my aid, who, with all his country’s
readiness, soon found out an expedient. It was to pretend to Pietro that
the prisoner was merely an English officer who had made his escape from the
French army, in which, against his will, he had been serving for some time.

This plan succeeded perfectly; and when St. Croix, mounted upon one of my
led horses, set out upon his march beside me, none was more profuse of his
attentions than the dark-brown guide whose hatred of a Frenchman was beyond
belief.

By thus giving him safe conduct through Portugal, I knew that when we
reached the frontier he could easily manage to come up with some part of
Marshal Victor’s force, the advanced guard of which lay on the left bank of
the Tagus.

To me the companionship was the greatest boon; the gay and buoyant spirit
that no reverse of fortune, no untoward event, could subdue, lightened many
an hour of the journey; and though at times the gasconading tone of the
Frenchman would peep through, there was still such a fund of good-tempered
raillery in all he said that it was impossible to feel angry with him.
His implicit faith in the Emperor’s invincibility also amused me. Of the
unbounded confidence of the nation in general, and the army particularly,
in Napoleon, I had till then no conception. It was not that in the profound
skill and immense resources of the general they trusted, but they actually
regarded him as one placed above all the common accidents of fortune, and
revered him as something more than human.

“_Il viendra et puis_--” was the continued exclamation of the young
Frenchman. Any notion of our successfully resisting the overwhelming might
of the Emperor, he would have laughed to scorn, and so I let him go on
prophesying our future misfortunes till the time when, driven back upon
Lisbon, we should be compelled to evacuate the Peninsula, and under
favor of a convention be permitted to return to England. All this was
sufficiently ridiculous, coming from a youth of nineteen, wounded, in
misery, a prisoner; but further experience of his nation has shown me
that St. Croix was not the exception, but the rule. The conviction in the
ultimate success of their army, whatever be the merely momentary mishap, is
the one present thought of a Frenchman; a victory with them is a conquest;
a defeat,--if they are by any chance driven to acknowledge one,--a
_fatalité_.

I was too young a man, and still more, too young a soldier, to bear with
this absurd affectation of superiority as I ought, and consequently was
glad to wander, whenever I could, from the contested point of our national
superiority to other topics. St. Croix, although young, had seen much of
the world as a page in the splendid court of the Tuileries; the scenes
passing before his eyes were calculated to make a strong impression; and
by many an anecdote of his former life, he lightened the road as we passed
along.

[Illustration: A TOUCH AT LEAP-FROG WITH NAPOLEON.]

“You promised, by-the-bye, to tell me of your banishment. How did that
occur, St. Croix?”

“_Ah, par Dieu!_ that was an unfortunate affair for me; then began all my
mishaps. But for that, I should never have been sent to Fontainebleau;
never have played leap-frog with the Emperor; never have been sent a
soldier into Spain. True,” said he, laughing, “I should never have had the
happiness of your acquaintance. But still, I’d much rather have met you
first in the Place des Victoires than in the Estrella Mountains.”

“Who knows?” said I; “perhaps your good genius prevailed in all this.”

“Perhaps,” said he, interrupting me; “that’s exactly what the Empress
said,--she was my godmother,--‘Jules will be a _Maréchal de France yet_.’
But certainly, it must be confessed, I have made a bad beginning. However,
you wish to hear of my disgrace at court. _Allans donc_. But had we not
better wait for a halt?”

“Agreed,” said I; “and so let us now press forward.”



CHAPTER LII.


THE PAGE.

Under the deep shade of some tall trees, sheltered from the noonday sun, we
lay down to rest ourselves and enjoy a most patriarchal dinner,--some dry
biscuits, a few bunches of grapes, and a little weak wine, savoring more of
the borachio-skin than the vine-juice, were all we boasted; yet they were
not ungrateful at such a time and place.

“Whose health did you pledge then?” inquired St. Croix, with a
half-malicious smile, as I raised the glass silently to my lips.

I blushed deeply, and looked confused.

“_A ses beux yeux!_ whoever she be,” said he, gayly tossing off his wine;
“and now, if you feel disposed, I’ll tell you my story. In good truth, it
is not worth relating, but it may serve to set you asleep, at all events.

“I have already told you I was a page. Alas, the impressions you may feel
of that functionary, from having seen Cherubino, give but a faint notion of
him when pertaining to the household of the Emperor Napoleon.

“The _farfallone amoroso_ basked in the soft smiles and sunny looks of the
Countess Almaviva; we met but the cold, impassive look of Talleyrand, the
piercing and penetrating stare of Savary, or the ambiguous smile, half
menace, half mockery, of Monsieur Fouché. While on service, our days were
passed in the antechamber, beside the _salle d’audience_ of the Emperor,
reclining against the closed door, watching attentively for the gentle
tinkle of the little bell which summoned us to open for the exit of some
haughty diplomate, or the _entrée_ of some redoubted general. Thus passed
we the weary hours; the illustrious visitors by whom we were surrounded
had no novelty, consequently no attraction for us, and the names already
historical were but household words with us.

“We often remarked, too, the proud and distant bearing the Emperor assumed
towards those of his generals who had been his former companions-in-arms.
Whatever familiarity or freedom may have existed in the campaign or in the
battle-field, the air of the Tuileries certainly chilled it. I have often
heard that the ceremonious observances and rigid etiquette of the old
Bourbon court were far preferable to the stern reserve and unbending
stiffness of the imperial one.

“The antechamber is but the reflection of the reception-room; and whatever
be the whims, the caprices, the littleness of the Great Man, they are
speedily assumed by his inferiors, and the dark temper of one casts a
lowering shadow on every menial by whom he is surrounded.

“As for us, we were certainly not long in catching somewhat of the spirit
of the Emperor; and I doubt much if the impertinence of the waiting-room
was not more dreaded and detested than the abrupt speech and searching look
of Napoleon himself.

“What a malicious pleasure have I not felt in arresting the step of M. de
Talleyrand, as he approached the Emperor’s closet! With what easy insolence
have I lisped out, ‘Pardon, Monsieur, but his Majesty cannot receive you,’
or ‘Monsieur le Due, his Majesty has given no orders for your admission.’
How amusing it was to watch the baffled look of each, as he retired once
more to his place among the crowd, the wily diplomate covering his chagrin
with a practised smile, while the stern marshal would blush to his very
eyes with indignation! This was the great pleasure our position afforded
us, and with a boyish spirit of mischief, we cultivated it to perfection,
and became at last the very horror and detestation of all who frequented
the levees; and the ambassador whose fearless voice was heard among the
councils of kings became soft and conciliating in his approaches to us; and
the hardy general who would have charged upon a brigade of artillery was
timid as a girl in addressing us a mere question.

“Among the amiable class thus characterized I was most conspicuous,
preserving cautiously a tone of civility that left nothing openly to
complain of. I assumed an indifference and impartiality of manner that no
exigency of affairs, no pressing haste, could discompose or disturb; and
my bow of recognition to Soult or Massena was as coolly measured as my
monosyllabic answer was accurately conned over.

“Upon ordinary occasions the Emperor at the close of each person’s audience
rang his little bell for the admission of the next in order as they arrived
in the waiting-room; yet when anything important was under consideration, a
list was given us in the morning of the names to be presented in rotation,
which no casual circumstance was ever suffered to interfere with.

“It is now about four months since, one fine morning, such a list was
placed within my hands. His Majesty was just then occupied with an inquiry
into the naval force of the kingdom; and as I cast my eyes carelessly
over the names, I read little else than Vice-Admiral So-and-so, Commander
Such-a-one, and Chef d’Escardron Such-another, and the levee presented
accordingly, instead of its usual brilliant array of gorgeous uniform and
aiguilletted marshals, the simple blue-and-gold of the naval service.

“The marine was not in high favor with the Emperor; and truly, my reception
of these unfrequent visitors was anything but flattering. The early part
of the morning was, as usual, occupied by the audience of the Minister of
Police, and the Duc de Bassano, who evidently, from the length of time
they remained, had matter of importance to communicate. Meanwhile the
antechamber filled rapidly, and before noon was actually crowded. It was
just at this moment that the folding-door slowly opened, and a figure
entered, such as I had never before seen in our brilliant saloon. He was a
man of five or six and fifty, short, thickset, and strongly built, with a
bronzed and weather-beaten face, and a broad open forehead deeply scarred
with a sabre-cut; a shaggy gray mustache curled over and concealed his
mouth, while eyebrows of the same color shaded his dark and piercing eyes.
His dress was a coarse cut of blue cloth such as the fishermen wear in
Bretagne, fastened at the waist by a broad belt of black leather, from
which hung a short-bladed cutlass; his loose trousers, of the same
material, were turned up at the ankles to show a pair of strong legs
coarsely cased in blue stockings and thick-soled shoes. A broad-leaved
oil-skin hat was held in one hand, and the other stuck carelessly in his
pocket, as he entered. He came in with a careless air, and familiarly
saluting one or two officers in the room, he sat himself down near the
door, appearing lost in his own reflections.

“‘Who can you be, my worthy friend?’ was my question to myself as I
surveyed this singular apparition. At the same time, casting my eyes down
the list, I perceived that several pilots of the coast of Havre, Calais,
and Boulogne had been summoned to Paris to give some information upon the
soundings and depth of water along the shore.

“‘Ha,’ thought I, ‘I have it. The good man has mistaken his place,
and instead of remaining without, has walked boldly forward to the
antechamber.’

“There was something so strange and so original in the grim look of the old
fellow, as he sat there alone, that I suffered him to remain quietly in his
delusion, rather than order him back to the waiting-room without; besides,
I perceived that a kind of sensation was created among the others by his
appearance there, which amused me greatly.

“As the day wore on, the officers formed into little groups of three or
four, chatting together in an undertone,--all save the old pilot. He had
taken a huge tobacco-box from his capacious breast-pocket, and inserting
an immense piece of the bitter weed in his mouth, began to chew it
as leisurely as though he were walking the quarter-deck. The cool
_insouciance_ of such a proceeding amused me much, and I resolved to draw
him out a little. His strong, broad Breton features, his deep voice, his
dry, blunt manner, were all in admirable keeping with his exterior.

“‘_Par Dieu_, my lad,’ said he, after chatting some time, ‘had you not
better tell the Emperor that I am waiting? It’s now past noon, and I must
eat something.’

“‘Have a little patience,’ said I; ‘his Majesty is going to invite you to
dinner.’

“‘Be it so,’ said he, gravely; ‘provided the hour be an early one, I’m his
man.’

“With difficulty did I keep down my laughter as he said this, and
continued.

“‘So you know the Emperor already, it seems?’

“‘Yes, that I do! I remember him when he was no higher than yourself.’

“‘How delighted he’ll be to find you here! I hope you have brought up some
of your family with you, as the Emperor would be so flattered by it?’

“‘No, I’ve left them at home. This place don’t suit us over well. We have
plenty to do besides spending our time and money among all you fine folks
here.’

“‘And not a bad life of it, either,’ added I, ‘fishing for cod and
herrings,--stripping a wreck now and then.’

“He stared at me, as I said this, like a tiger on the spring, but spoke not
a word.

“‘And how many young sea-wolves may you have in your den at home?’

“‘Six; and all of them able to carry you with one hand, at arm’s length.’

“‘I have no doubt. I shall certainly not test their ability. But you
yourself,--how do you like the capital?’

“‘Not over well; and I’ll tell you why--’

“As he said this the door of the audience-chamber opened, and the Emperor
appeared. His eyes flashed fire as he looked hurriedly around the room.

“‘Who is in waiting here?’”

“‘I am, please your Majesty,’ said I, bowing deeply, as I started from my
seat.

“‘And where is the Admiral Truguet? Why was he not admitted?’

“‘Not present, your Majesty,’ said I, trembling with fear.

“‘Hold there, young fellow; not so fast. Here he is.’

“‘Ah, Truguet, _mon ami!_’ cried the Emperor, placing both hands on the old
fellow’s shoulders, ‘how long have you been in waiting?’

“‘Two hours and a half,’ said he, producing in evidence a watch like a
saucer.

“‘What, two hours and a half, and I not know it!’

“‘No matter; I am always happy to serve your Majesty. But if that fine
fellow had not told me that you were going to ask me to dinner--’

“‘He! He said so, did he?’ said Napoleon, turning on me a glance like a
wild beast. ‘Yes, Truguet, so I am; you shall dine with me to-day. And you,
sir,’ said he, dropping his voice to a whisper, as he came closer towards
me,--‘and you have dared to speak thus? Call in a guard there. Capitaine,
put this person under arrest; he is disgraced. He is no longer page of the
palace. Out of my presence! away, sir!’

“The room wheeled round; my legs tottered; my senses reeled; and I saw no
more.

“Three weeks’ bread and water in St. Pélagie, however, brought me to my
recollection; and at last my kind, my more than kind friend, the Empress,
obtained my pardon, and sent me to Fontainebleau, till the Emperor should
forget all about it. How I contrived again to refresh his memory I have
already told you; and certainly you will acknowledge that I have not been
fortunate in my interviews with Napoleon.”

I am conscious how much St. Croix’s story loses in my telling. The simple
expressions, the grace of the narrative, were its charm: and these, alas!
I can neither translate nor imitate, no more than I can convey the strange
mixture of deep feeling and levity, shrewdness and simplicity, that
constituted the manner of the narrator.

With many a story of his courtly career he amused me as we trotted along;
when, towards nightfall of the third day, a peasant informed us that a
body of French cavalry occupied the convent of San Cristoval, about three
leagues off. The opportunity of his return to his own army pleased him far
less than I expected. He heard, without any show of satisfaction, that the
time of his liberation had arrived; and when the moment of leave-taking
drew near, he became deeply affected.

“_Eh, bien_, Charles,” said he, smiling sadly through his dimmed and
tearful eyes. “You’ve been a kind friend to me. Is the time never to come
when I can repay you?”

“Yes, yes; we’ll meet again, be assured of it. Meanwhile there is one way
you can more than repay anything I have done for you.”

“Oh, name it at once!”

“Many a brave fellow of ours is now, and doubtless many more will be,
prisoners with your army in this war. Whenever, therefore, your lot brings
you in contact with such--”

“They shall be my brothers,” said he, springing towards me and throwing his
arms round my neck. “Adieu, adieu!” With that he rushed from the spot, and
before I could speak again, was mounted upon the peasant’s horse and waving
his hand to me in farewell.

I looked after him as he rode at a fast gallop down the slope of the green
mountain, the noise of the horse’s feet echoing along the silent plain. I
turned at length to leave the spot, and then perceived for the first
time that when taking his farewell of me he had hung around my neck his
miniature of the Empress. Poor boy! How sorrowful I felt thus to rob him of
what he had held so dear! How gladly would I have overtaken him to restore
it! It was the only keepsake he possessed; and knowing that I would not
accept it if offered, he took this way of compelling me to keep it.

Through the long hours of the summer’s night I thought of him; and when
at last I slept, towards morning, my first thought on waking was of the
solitary day before me. The miles no longer slipped imperceptibly along; no
longer did the noon and night seem fast to follow. Alas, that one should
grow old! The very sorrows of our early years have something soft and
touching in them. Arising less from deep wrong than slight mischances, the
grief they cause comes ever with an alloy of pleasant thoughts, telling
of the tender past, and amidst the tears called up, forming some bright
rainbow of future hope.

Poor St. Croix had already won greatly upon me, and I felt lonely and
desolate when he departed.



CHAPTER LIII.


ALVAS.


Nothing of incident marked our farther progress towards the frontier of
Spain, and at length we reached the small town of Alvas. It was past sunset
as we arrived, and instead of the usual quiet and repose of a little
village, we found the streets crowded with people, on horseback and on
foot; mules, bullocks, carts, and wagons blocked up the way, and the oaths
of the drivers and the screaming of women and children resounded on all
sides.

With what little Spanish I possessed I questioned some of those near me,
and learned, in reply, that a dreadful engagement had taken place that day
between the advanced guard of the French, under Victor, and the Lusitanian
legion; that the Portuguese troops had been beaten and completely routed,
losing all their artillery and baggage; that the French were rapidly
advancing, and expected hourly to arrive at Alvas, in consequence of which
the terror-stricken inhabitants were packing up their possessions and
hurrying away.

Here, then, was a point of considerable difficulty for me at once. My
instructions had never provided for such a conjuncture, and I was totally
unable to determine what was best to be done; both my men and their horses
were completely tired by a march of fourteen leagues, and had a pressing
need of some rest; on every side of me the preparations for flight were
proceeding with all the speed that fear inspires; and to my urgent request
for some information as to food and shelter, I could obtain no other reply
than muttered menaces of the fate before me if I remained, and exaggerated
accounts of French cruelty.

Amidst all this bustle and confusion a tremendous fall of heavy rain set
in, which at once determined me, come what might, to house my party, and
provide forage for our horses.

As we pushed our way slowly through the encumbered streets, looking on
every side for some appearance of a village inn, a tremendous shout rose in
our rear, and a rush of the people towards us induced us to suppose
that the French were upon us. For some minutes the din and uproar were
terrific,--the clatter of horses’ feet, the braying of trumpets, the
yelling of the mob, all mingling in one frightful concert.

I formed my men in close column, and waited steadily for the attack,
resolving, if possible, to charge through the advancing files,--any retreat
through the crowded and blocked-up thoroughfares being totally out of the
question. The rain was falling in such torrents that nothing could be seen
a few yards off, when suddenly a pause of a few seconds occurred, and from
the clash of accoutrements, and the hoarse tones of a loud voice, I judged
that the body of men before us were forming for attack.

Resolving, therefore, to take them by surprise, I gave the word to charge,
and spurring our jaded cattle, onward we dashed. The mob fled right and
left from us as we came on; and through the dense mist we could just
perceive a body of cavalry before us.

In an instant we were among them; down they went on every side, men and
horses rolling pell-mell over each other; not a blow, not a shot striking
us as we pressed on. Never did I witness such total consternation; some
threw themselves from their horses, and fled towards the houses; others
turned and tried to fall back, but the increasing pressure from behind held
them, and finally succeeded in blocking us up among them.

It was just at this critical moment that a sudden gleam of light from a
window fell upon the disordered mass, and to my astonishment, I need not
say to my delight, I perceived that they were Portuguese troops. Before
I had well time to halt my party, my convictions were pretty well
strengthened by hearing a well-known voice in the rear of the mass call
out,--

“Charge, ye devils! charge, will ye? Illustrious Hidalgos! cut them down;
_los infidelos, sacrificados los!_ Scatter them like chaff!”

One roar of laughter was my only answer to this energetic appeal for my
destruction, and the moment after the dry features and pleasant face of old
Monsoon beamed on me by the light of a pine-torch he carried in his right
hand.

[Illustration: MAJOR MONSOON TRYING TO CHARGE.]

“Are they prisoners? Have they surrendered?” inquired he, riding up. “It is
well for them; we’d have made mince-meat of them otherwise; now they shall
be well treated, and ransomed if they prefer.”

“_Gracios excellenze!_” said I, in a feigned voice.

“Give up your sword,” said the major, in an undertone.

“You behaved gallantly, but you fought against invincibles. Lord love them!
but they are the most terrified invincibles.”

I nearly burst aloud at this.

“It was a close thing which of us ran first,” muttered the major, as he
turned to give some directions to an aide-de-camp. “Ask them who they are,”
 said he, in Spanish.

By this time I came close alongside of him, and placing my mouth close to
his ear, holloed out,--

“Monsoon, old fellow, how goes the King of Spain’s sherry?”

“Eh, what! Why, upon my life, and so it is,--Charley, my boy, so it’s you,
is it? Egad, how good; and we were so near being the death of you! My poor
fellow, how came you here?”

A few words of explanation sufficed to inform the major why we were there,
and still more to comfort him with the assurance that he had not been
charging the general’s staff, and the conmander-in-chief himself.

“Upon my life, you gave me a great start; though as long as I thought you
were French, it was very well.”

“True, Major, but certainly the invincibles were merciful as they were
strong.”

“They were tired, Charley, nothing more; why, lad, we’ve been fighting
since daybreak,--beat Victor at six o’clock, drove him back behind the
Tagus; took a cold dinner, and had at him again in the afternoon. Lord love
you! we’ve immortalized ourselves. But you must never speak of this little
business here; it tells devilish ill for the discipline of your fellows,
upon my life it does.”

This was rather an original turn to give the transaction, but I did not
oppose; and thus chatting, we entered the little inn, where, confidence
once restored, some semblance of comfort already appeared.

“And so you’re come to reinforce us?” said Monsoon; “there was never
anything more opportune,--though we surprised ourselves today with valor, I
don’t think we could persevere.”

“Yes, Major, the appointment gave me sincere pleasure; I greatly desired
to see a little service under your orders. Shall I present you with my
despatches?”

“Not now, Charley,--not now, my lad. Supper is the first thing at this
moment; besides, now that you remind me, I must send off a despatch myself,
Upon my life, it’s a great piece of fortune that you’re here; you shall be
secretary at war, and write it for me. Here now--how lucky that I thought
of it, to be sure! And it was just a mere chance; one has so many things--”
 Muttering such broken, disjointed sentences, the major opened a large
portfolio with writing materials, which he displayed before me as he rubbed
his hands with satisfaction, and said, “Write away, lad.”

“But, my dear Major, you forget; I was not in the action. You must
describe; I can only follow you.”

“Begin then thus:--

    HEADQUARTERS, ALVAS, JUNE 26.
    YOUR EXCELLENCY,--Having learned from Don Alphonzo Xaviero
    da Minto, an officer upon my personal staff--

“Luckily sober at that moment--”

    That the advanced guard of the eighth corps of the French
    army--

“Stay, though, was it the eighth? Upon my life, I’m not quite clear as to
that; blot the word a little and go on--”

    That the--corps, under Marshal Victor, had commenced a forward
    movement towards Alcantara, I immediately ordered a flank
    movement of the light infantry regiment to cover the bridge over the
    Tagus. After breakfast--

“I’m afraid, Major, that is not precise enough.”

“Well--”

    About eleven o’clock, the French skirmishers attacked, and drove
    in our pickets that were posted in front of our position, and following
    rapidly up with cavalry, they took a few prisoners, and killed old
    Alphonzo,--he ran like a man, they say, but they caught him in
    the rear.

“You needn’t put that in, if you don’t like.”

    I now directed a charge of the cavalry brigade, under Don
    Asturias Y’Hajos, that cut them up in fine style. Our artillery,
    posted on the heights, mowing away at their columns like fun.

    Victor didn’t like this, and got into a wood, when we all went
    to dinner; it was about two o’clock then.

    After dinner, the Portuguese light corps, under Silva da Onorha,
    having made an attack upon the enemy’s left, without my orders,
    got devilish well trounced, and served them right; but coming up
    to their assistance, with the heavy brigade of guns, and the cavalry,
    we drove back the French, and took several prisoners, none of whom
    we put to death.

“Dash that--Sir Arthur likes respect for the usages of war. Lord, how dry
I’m getting!”

    The French were soon seen to retire their heavy guns, and
    speedily afterwards retreated. We pursued them for some time, but
    they showed fight; and as it was getting dark, I drew off my forces,
    and came here to supper. Your Excellency will perceive, by the
    enclosed return, that our loss has been considerable.

    I send this despatch by Don Emanuel Forgales, whose services--

“I back him for mutton hash with onions against the whole regiment--”

    --have been of the most distinguished nature, and beg to recommend
    him to your Excellency’s favor.

    I have the honor, etc.


“Is it finished, Charley? Egad, I’m glad of it, for here comes supper.”

The door opened as he spoke, and displayed a tempting tray of smoking
viands, flanked by several bottles,--an officer of the major’s staff
accompanied it, and showed, by his attentions to the etiquette of the
table and the proper arrangement of the meal, that his functions in his
superior’s household were more than military.

We were speedily joined by two others in rich uniform, whose names I now
forget, but to whom the major presented me in all form,--introducing me,
as well as I could interpret his Spanish, as his most illustrious ally and
friend Don Carlos O’Malley.



CHAPTER LIV.


THE SUPPER.

I have often partaken of more luxurious cookery and rarer wines; but never
do I remember enjoying a more welcome supper than on this occasion.

Our Portuguese guests left us soon, and the major and myself were once
more tête-a-tête beside a cheerful fire; a well-chosen array of bottles
guaranteeing that for some time at least no necessity of leave-taking
should arise from any deficiency of wine.

“That sherry is very near the thing, Charley; a little, a very little
sharp, but the after-taste perfect. And now, my boy, how have you been
doing since we parted?”

“Not so badly, Major. I have already got a step in promotion. The affair at
the Douro gave me a lieutenancy.”

“I wish you joy with all my heart. I’ll call you captain always while
you’re with me. Upon my life I will. Why, man, they style me your
Excellency here. Bless your heart, we are great folk among the Portuguese,
and no bad service, after all.”

“I should think not, Major. You seem to have always made a good thing of
it.”

“No, Charley; no, my boy. They overlook us greatly in general orders
and despatches. Had the brilliant action of to-day been fought by the
British--But no matter, they may behave well in England, after all; and
when I’m called to the Upper House as Baron Monsoon of the Tagus,--is that
better than Lord Alcantara?”

“I prefer the latter.”

“Well, then, I’ll have it. Lord! what a treaty I’ll move for with Portugal,
to let us have wine cheap. Wine, you know, as David says, gives us a
pleasant countenance; and oil,--I forget what oil does. Pass over the
decanter. And how is Sir Arthur, Charley? A fine fellow, but sadly
deficient in the knowledge of supplies. Never would have made any character
in the commissariat. Bless your heart, he pays for everything here as if he
were in Cheapside.”

“How absurd, to be sure!”

“Isn’t it, though? That was not my way, when I was commissary-general about
a year or two ago. To be sure, how I did puzzle them! They tried to audit
my accounts, and what do you think I did? I brought them in three thousand
pounds in my debt. They never tried on that game any more. ‘No, no,’ said
the Junta, ‘Beresford and Monsoon are great men, and must be treated with
respect!’ Do you think we’d let them search our pockets? But the rogues
doubled on us after all; they sent us to the northward,--a poor country--”

“So that, except a little commonplace pillage of the convents and
nunneries, you had little or nothing?”

“Exactly so; and then I got a great shock about that time that affected my
spirits for a considerable while.”

“Indeed, Major, some illness?”

“No, I was quite well; but--Lord, how thirsty it makes me to think of it;
my throat is absolutely parched--I was near being hanged!”

“Hanged!”

“Yes. Upon my life it’s true,--very horrible, ain’t it? It had a great
effect upon my nervous system; and they never thought of any little pension
to me as a recompense for my sufferings.”

“And who was barbarous enough to think of such a thing, Major?”

“Sir Arthur Wellesley himself,--none other, Charley?”

“Oh, it was a mistake, Major, or a joke.”

“It was devilish near being a practical one, though. I’ll tell you how it
occurred. After the battle of Vimeira, the brigade to which I was attached
had their headquarters at San Pietro, a large convent where all the church
plate for miles around was stored up for safety. A sergeant’s guard was
accordingly stationed over the refectory, and every precaution taken to
prevent pillage, Sir Arthur himself having given particular orders on the
subject. Well, somehow,--I never could find out how,--but in leaving the
place, all the wagons of our brigade had got some trifling articles of
small value scattered, as it might be, among their stores,--gold cups,
silver candlesticks, Virgin Marys, ivory crucifixes, saints’ eyes set in
topazes, and martyrs’ toes in silver filagree, and a hundred other similar
things.

“One of these confounded bullock-cars broke down just at the angle of the
road where the commander-in-chief was standing with his staff to watch the
troops defile, and out rolled, among bread rations and salt beef, a whole
avalanche of precious relics and church ornaments. Every one stood aghast!
Never was there such a misfortune. No one endeavored to repair the mishap,
but all looked on in terrified amazement as to what was to follow.

“‘Who has the command of this detachment?’ shouted out Sir Arthur, in a
voice that made more than one of us tremble.

“‘Monsoon, your Excellency,--Major Monsoon, of the Portuguese brigade.’

“‘The d--d old rogue, I know him!’ Upon my life that’s what he said. ‘Hang
him up on the spot,’ pointing with his finger as he spoke; ‘we shall see
if this practice cannot be put a stop to.’ And with these words he rode
leisurely away, as if he had been merely ordering dinner for a small party.

“When I came up to the place the halberts were fixed, and Gronow, with a
company of the Fusiliers, under arms beside them.

“‘Devilish sorry for it, Major,’ said he; ‘It’s confoundedly unpleasant;
but can’t be helped. We’ve got orders to see you hanged.’

“Faith, it was just so he said it, tapping his snuff-box as he spoke, and
looking carelessly about him. Now, had it not been for the fixed halberts
and the provost-marshal, I’d not have believed him; but one glance at them,
and another at the bullock-cart with all the holy images, told me at once
what had happened.

“‘He only means to frighten me a little? Isn’t that all, Gronow?’ cried I,
in a supplicating voice.

“‘Very possibly, Major,’ said he; ‘but I must execute my orders.’

“‘You’ll surely not--’ Before I could finish, up came Dan Mackinnon,
cantering smartly.

“‘Going to hang old Monsoon, eh, Gronow? What fun!’

“‘Ain’t it, though,’ said I, half blubbering.

“‘Well, if you’re a good Catholic, you may have your choice of a saint,
for, by Jupiter, there’s a strong muster of them here.’ This cruel allusion
was made in reference to the gold and silver effigies that lay scattered
about the highway.

“‘Dan,’ said I, in a whisper, ‘intercede for me. Do, like a good, kind
fellow. You have influence with Sir Arthur.’

“‘You old sinner,’ said he, ‘it’s useless.’

“‘Dan, I’ll forgive you the fifteen pounds.’

“‘That you owe _me_,’ said Dan, laughing.

“‘Who’ll ever be the father to you I have been? Who’ll mix your punch with
burned Madeira, when I’m gone?’ said I.

“‘Well, really, I am sorry for you, Monsoon. I say, Gronow, don’t tuck him
up for a few minutes; I’ll speak for the old villain, and if I succeed,
I’ll wave my handkerchief.’

“Well, away went Dan at a full gallop. Gronow sat down on a bank, and
I fidgeted about in no very enviable frame of mind, the confounded
provost-marshal eying me all the while.

“‘I can only give you five minutes more, Major,’ said Gronow, placing his
watch beside him on the grass. I tried to pray a little, and said three or
four of Solomon’s proverbs, when he again called out: ‘There, you see it
won’t do! Sir Arthur is shaking his head.’

“‘What’s that waving yonder?’

“‘The colors of the 6th Foot. Come, Major, off with your stock.’

“‘Where is Dan now; what is he doing?’--for I could see nothing myself.

“‘He’s riding beside Sir Arthur. They all seem laughing.’

“‘God forgive them! what an awful retrospect this will prove to some of
them.’

“‘Time’s up!’ said Gronow, jumping up, and replacing his watch in his
pocket.

“‘Provost-Marshal, be quick now--’

“‘Eh! what’s that?--there, I see it waving! There’s a shout too!’

“‘Ay, by Jove! so it is; well, you’re saved this time, Major; that’s the
signal.’

“So saying, Gronow formed his fellows in line and resumed his march quite
coolly, leaving me alone on the roadside to meditate over martial law and
my pernicious taste for relics.

“Well, Charley, this gave me a great shock, and I think, too, it must have
had a great effect upon Sir Arthur himself; but, upon my life, he has
wonderful nerves. I met him one day afterwards at dinner in Lisbon; he
looked at me very hard for a few seconds: ‘Eh, Monsoon! Major Monsoon, I
think?’

“‘Yes, your Excellency,’ said I, briefly; thinking how painful it must be
for him to meet me.

“‘Thought I had hanged you,--know I intended it,--no matter. A glass of
wine with you?’

“Upon my life, that was all; how easily some people can forgive themselves!
But Charley, my hearty, we are getting on slowly with the tipple; are they
all empty? So they are! Let us make a sortie on the cellar; bring a candle
with you, and come along.”

We had scarcely proceeded a few steps from the door, when a most vociferous
sound of mirth, arising from a neighboring apartment, arrested our
progress.

“Are the dons so convivial, Major?” said I, as a hearty burst of laughter
broke forth at the moment.

“Upon my life, they surprise me; I begin to fear they have taken some of
our wine.”

We now perceived that the sounds of merriment came from the kitchen,
which opened upon a little courtyard. Into this we crept stealthily, and
approaching noiselessly to the window, obtained a peep at the scene within.

Around a blazing fire, over which hung by a chain a massive iron pot, sat a
goodly party of some half-dozen people. One group lay in dark shadow; but
the others were brilliantly lighted up by the cheerful blaze, and showed
us a portly Dominican friar, with a beard down to his waist, a buxom,
dark-eyed girl of some eighteen years, and between the two, most
comfortably leaning back, with an arm round each, no less a person than my
trusty man Mickey Free.

It was evident, from the alternate motion of his head, that his attentions
were evenly divided between the church and the fair sex; although, to
confess the truth, they seemed much more favorably received by the latter
than the former,--a brown earthen flagon appearing to absorb all the worthy
monk’s thoughts that he could spare from the contemplation of heavenly
objects.

“Mary, my darlin,’ don’t be looking at me that way, through the corner of
your eye; I know you’re fond of me,--but the girls always was. You think
I’m joking, but troth I wouldn’t say a lie before the holy man beside me;
sure I wouldn’t, Father?”

The friar grunted out something in reply, not very unlike, in sound at
least, a hearty anathema.

“Ah, then, isn’t it yourself has the illigant time of it, Father dear!”
 said he, tapping him familiarly upon his ample paunch, “and nothing to
trouble you; the best of divarsion wherever you go, and whether it’s
Badahos or Ballykilruddery, it’s all one; the women is fond of ye. Father
Murphy, the coadjutor in Scariff, was just such another as yourself, and
he’d coax the birds off the trees with the tongue of him. Give us a pull at
the pipkin before it’s all gone, and I’ll give you a chant.”

With this he seized the jar, and drained it to the bottom; the smack of his
lips as he concluded, and the disappointed look of the friar as he peered
into the vessel, throwing the others, once more, into a loud burst of
laughter.

“And now, your rev’rance, a good chorus is all I’ll ask, and you’ll not
refuse it for the honor of the church.”

So saying, he turned a look of most droll expression upon the monk, and
began the following ditty, to the air of “Saint Patrick was a Gentleman”:--

    What an illegant life a friar leads,
     With a fat round paunch before him!
    He mutters a prayer and counts his beads,
     And all the women adore him.
    It’s little he’s troubled to work or think,
     Wherever devotion leads him;
    A “pater” pays for his dinner and drink,
     For the Church--good luck to her!--feeds him.

    From the cow in the field to the pig in the sty,
     From the maid to the lady in satin,
    They tremble wherever he turns an eye.
     He can talk to the Devil in Latin!
    He’s mighty severe to the ugly and ould,
     And curses like mad when he’s near ‘em;
    But one beautiful trait of him I’ve been tould,
     The innocent craytures don’t fear him.

    It’s little for spirits or ghosts he cares;
     For ‘tis true as the world supposes,
    With an Ave he’d make them march down-stairs,
     Av they dared to show their noses.
    The Devil himself’s afraid, ‘tis said,
     And dares not to deride him;
    For “angels make each night his bed,
     And then--lie down beside him.”

A perfect burst of laughter from Monsoon prevented my hearing how Mike’s
minstrelsy succeeded within doors; but when I looked again, I found
that the friar had decamped, leaving the field open to his rival,--a
circumstance, I could plainly perceive, not disliked by either party.

“Come back, Charley, that villain of yours has given me the cramp, standing
here on the cold pavement. We’ll have a little warm posset,--very small and
thin, as they say in Tom Jones,--and then to bed.”

Notwithstanding the abstemious intentions of the major, it was daybreak
ere we separated, and neither party in a condition for performing upon the
tight-rope.



CHAPTER LV.


THE LEGION.

My services while with the Legion were of no very distinguished character,
and require no lengthened chronicle. Their great feat of arms, the repulse
of an advanced guard of Victor’s corps, had taken place the very morning I
had joined them, and the ensuing month was passed in soft repose upon their
laurels.

For the first few days, indeed, a multiplicity of cares beset the worthy
major. There was a despatch to be written to Beresford, another to
the Supreme Junta, a letter to Wilson, at that time with the corps of
observation to the eastward. There were some wounded to be looked after, a
speech to be made to the conquering heroes themselves, and lastly, a few
prisoners were taken, whose fate seemed certainly to partake of the most
uncertain of war’s proverbial chances.

The despatches gave little trouble; with some very slight alterations, the
great original, already sent forward to Sir Arthur, served as a basis for
the rest. The wounded were forwarded to Alcantara, with a medical staff; to
whom Monsoon, at parting, pleasantly hinted that he expected to see all the
sick at their duty by an early day, or he would be compelled to report the
doctors. The speech, which was intended as a kind of general order, he
deferred for some favorable afternoon when he could get up his Portuguese;
and lastly, came the prisoners, by far the most difficult of all his cares.
As for the few common soldiers taken, they gave him little uneasiness,--as
Sir John has it, they were “mortal men, and food for powder;” but there
was a staff-officer among them, aiguilletted and epauletted. The very
decorations he wore were no common temptation. Now, the major deliberated a
long time with himself, whether the usages of modern war might not admit of
the ancient, time-honored practice of ransom. The battle, save in glory,
had been singularly unproductive: plunder there was none; the few
ammunition-wagons and gun-carriages were worth little or nothing; so that,
save the prisoners, nothing remained. It was late in the evening--the
mellow hour of the major’s meditations--when he ventured to open his heart
to me upon the matter.

“I was just thinking, Charley, how very superior they were in olden times
to us moderns, in many matters, and nothing more than in their treatment of
prisoners. They never took them away from their friends and country;
they always ransomed them,--if they had wherewithal to pay their way. So
good-natured!--upon my life it was a most excellent custom! They took any
little valuables they found about them, and then put them up at auction.
Moses and Eleazar, a priest, we are told, took every piece of gold, and
their wrought jewels,--meaning their watches, and ear-rings. You needn’t
laugh, they all wore ear-rings, those fellows did. Now, why shouldn’t
I profit by their good example? I have taken Agag, the King of the
Amalekites,--no, but upon my life, I have got a French major, and I’d let
him go for fifty doubloons.”

It was not without much laughing, and some eloquence, that I could persuade
Monsoon that Sir Arthur’s military notions might not accept of even the
authority of Moses; and as our headquarters were at no great distance,
the danger of such a step as he meditated was too considerable at such a
moment.

As for ourselves, no fatiguing drills, no harassing field-days, and no
provoking inspections interfered with the easy current of our lives.
Foraging parties there were, it was true, and some occasional outpost duty
was performed. But the officers for both were selected with a tact that
proved the major’s appreciation of character; for while the gay, joyous
fellow that sung a jovial song and loved his _liquor_ was certain of being
entertained at headquarters, the less-gifted and less-congenial spirit had
the happiness of scouring the country for forage, and presenting himself as
a target to a French rifle.

My own endeavors to fulfil my instructions met with but little
encouragement or support; and although I labored hard at my task, I must
confess that the soil was a most ungrateful one. The cavalry were, it is
true, composed mostly of young fellows well-appointed, and in most cases
well-mounted; but a more disorderly, careless, undisciplined set of
good-humored fellows never formed a corps in the world.

Monsoon’s opinions were felt in every branch of the service, from the
adjutant to the drumboy,--the same reckless, indolent, plunder-loving
spirit prevailed everywhere. And although under fire they showed no lack of
gallantry or courage, the moment of danger passed, discipline departed with
it, and their only conception of benefiting by a victory consisted in the
amount of pillage that resulted from it.

From time to time the rumors of great events reached us. We heard that
Soult, having succeeded in re-organizing his beaten army, was, in
conjunction with Ney’s corps, returning from the north; that the marshals
were consolidating their forces in the neighborhood of Talavera; and that
King Joseph himself, at the head of a large army, had marched for Madrid.

Menacing as such an aspect of affairs was, it had little disturbed the
major’s equanimity; and when our advanced posts reported daily the
intelligence that the French were in retreat, he cared little with what
object of concentrating they retired, provided the interval between us
grew gradually wider. His speculations upon the future were singularly
prophetic. “You’ll see, Charley, what will happen; old Cuesta will pursue
them, and get thrashed. The English will come up, and perhaps get thrashed
too; but we, God bless us! are only a small force, partially organized and
ill to depend on,--we’ll go up the mountains till all is over!” Thus did
the major’s discretion not only extend to the avoidance of danger, but he
actually disqualified himself from even making its acquaintance.

Meanwhile our operations consisted in making easy marches to Almarez,
halting wherever the commissariat reported a well-stocked cellar or
well-furnished hen-roost, taking the primrose path in life, and being, in
words of the major, “contented and grateful, even amidst great perils!”



CHAPTER LVI.


THE DEPARTURE.

On the morning of the 10th July a despatch reached us announcing that Sir
Arthur Wellesley had taken up his headquarters at Placentia for the purpose
of communicating with Cuesta, then at Casa del Puerto; and ordering me
immediately to repair to the Spanish headquarters and await Sir Arthur’s
arrival, to make my report upon the effective state of our corps. As for
me, I was heartily tired of the inaction of my present life, and much as I
relished the eccentricities of my friend the major, longed ardently for a
different sphere of action.

Not so Monsoon; the prospect of active employment and the thoughts of being
left once more alone, for his Portuguese staff afforded him little society,
depressed him greatly; and as the hour of my departure drew near, he
appeared lower in spirits than I had ever seen him.

“I shall be very lonely without you, Charley,” said he, with a sigh, as we
sat the last evening together beside our cheerful wood fire. “I have little
intercourse with the dons; for my Portuguese is none of the best, and only
comes when the evening is far advanced; and besides, the villains, I fear,
may remember the sherry affair. Two of my present staff were with me then.”

“Is that the story Power so often alluded to, Major; the King of Spain’s--”

“There, Charley, hush; be cautious, my boy. I’d rather not speak about that
till we get among our own fellows.”

“Just as you like, Major; but, do you know, I have a strong curiosity to
hear the narrative.”

“If I’m not mistaken, there is some one listening at the door,--gently;
that’s it, eh?”

“No, we are perfectly alone; the night’s early; who knows when we shall
have as quiet an hour again together? Let me hear it, by all means.”

“Well, I don’t care; the thing, Heaven knows! is tolerably well known; so
if you’ll amuse yourself making a devil of the turkey’s legs there, I’ll
tell you the story. It’s very short, Charley, and there’s no moral; so
you’re not likely to repeat it.”

So saying, the major filled up his glass, drew a little closer to the fire,
and began:--

“When the French troops, under Laborde, were marching, upon Alcobaca,
in concert with Loison’s corps, I was ordered to convey a very valuable
present of sherry the Duo d’Albu-querque was making to the Supreme
Junta,--no less than ten hogsheads of the best sherry the royal cellars of
Madrid had formerly contained.

“It was stored in the San Vincente convent; and the Junta, knowing a little
about monkish tastes and the wants of the Church, prudently thought it
would be quite as well at Lisbon. I was accordingly ordered, with a
sufficient force, to provide for its safe conduct and secure arrival, and
set out upon my march one lovely morning in April with my precious convoy.

“I don’t know, I never could understand, why temptations are thrown in our
way in this life, except for the pleasure of yielding to them. As for me,
I’m a stoic when there’s nothing to be had; but let me get a scent of
a well-kept haunch, the odor of a wine-bin once in my nose, I forget
everything except appropriation. That bone smells deliciously, Charley; a
little garlic would improve it vastly.

“Our road lay through cross-paths and mountain tracts, for the French were
scouring the country on every side, and my fellows, only twenty altogether,
trembled at the very name of them; so that our only chance was to avoid
falling in with any forage parties. We journeyed along for several days,
rarely making more than a few leagues between sunrise and sunset, a scout
always in advance to assure us that all was safe. The road was a lonesome
one and the way weary, for I had no one to speak to or converse with, so I
fell into a kind of musing fit about the old wine in the great brown casks.
I thought on its luscious flavor, its rich straw tint, its oily look as it
flowed into the glass, the mellow after-taste warming the heart as it went
down, and I absolutely thought I could smell it through the wood.

“How I longed to broach one of them, if it were only to see if my dreams
about it were correct. ‘May be it’s brown sherry,’ thought I, ‘and I am
all wrong.’ This was a very distressing reflection. I mentioned it to the
Portuguese intendant, who travelled with us as a kind of supercargo; but
the villain only grinned and said something about the Junta and the galleys
for life, so I did not recur to it afterwards. Well, it was upon the third
evening of our march that the scout reported that at Merida, about a league
distant, he had fallen in with an English cavalry regiment, who were on
their march to the northern provinces, and remaining that night in the
village. As soon, therefore, as I had made all my arrangements for the
night, I took a fresh horse and cantered over to have a look at my
countrymen, and hear the news. When I arrived, it was a dark night, but I
was not long in finding out our fellows. They were the 11th Light Dragoons,
commanded by my old friend Bowes, and with as jolly a mess as any in the
service.

“Before half an hour’s time I was in the midst of them, hearing all about
the campaign, and telling them in return about my convoy, dilating upon the
qualities of the wine as if I had been drinking it every day at dinner.

“We had a very mellow night of it; and before four o’clock the senior
major and four captains were under the table, and all the subs, in a state
unprovided for by the articles of war. So I thought I’d be going, and
wishing the sober ones a good-by, set out on my road to join my own party.

“I had not gone above a hundred yards when I heard some one running after,
and calling out my name.

“‘I say, Monsoon; Major, confound you, pull up.’

“‘Well, what’s the matter? Has any more lush turned up?’ inquired I, for we
had drank the tap dry when I left.

“‘Not a drop, old fellow!’ said he; ‘but I was thinking of what you’ve been
saying about that sherry.’

“‘Well! What then?’

“‘Why, I want to know how we could get a taste of it?’

“‘You’d better get elected one of the Cortes,’ said I, laughing; ‘for it
doesn’t seem likely you’ll do so in any other way.’

“‘I’m not so sure of that,’ said he, smiling. ‘What road do you travel
to-morrow?’

“‘By Cavalhos and Reina.’

“‘Whereabouts may you happen to be towards sunset?’

“‘I fear we shall be in the mountains,’ said I, with a knowing look, ‘where
ambuscades and surprise parties would be highly dangerous.’

“‘And your party consists of--’

“‘About twenty Portuguese, all ready to run at the first shot.’

“‘I’ll do it, Monsoon; I’ll be hanged if I don’t.’

“‘But, Tom,’ said I, ‘don’t make any blunder; only blank cartridge, my
boy.’

“‘Honor bright!’ cried he. ‘Your fellows are armed of course?’

“‘Never think of that; they may shoot each other in the confusion. But if
you only make plenty of noise coming on, they’ll never wait for you.’

“‘What capital fellows they must be!’

“‘Crack troops, Tom; so don’t hurt them. And now, good-night.’

“As I cantered off, I began to think over O’Flaherty’s idea; and upon my
life, I didn’t half like it. He was a reckless, devil-may-care fellow; and
it was just as likely he would really put his scheme into practice.

“When morning broke, however, we got under way again, and I amused myself
all the forenoon in detailing stories of French cruelty; so that before we
had marched ten miles, there was not a man among us not ready to run at the
slightest sound of attack on any side. As evening was falling we reached
Morento, a little mountain pass which follows the course of a small river,
and where, in many places, the mule carts had barely space enough to pass
between the cliffs and the stream. ‘What a place for Tom O’Flaherty and his
foragers!’ thought I, as we entered the little mountain gorge; but all was
silent as the grave,--except the tramp of our party, not a sound was heard.
There was something solemn and still in the great brown mountain, rising
like vast walls on either side, with a narrow streak of gray sky at top and
in the dark, sluggish stream, that seemed to awe us, and no one spoke. The
muleteer ceased his merry song, and did not crack or flourish his long whip
as before, but chid his beasts in a half-muttered voice, and urged them
faster, to reach the village before nightfall.

“Egad, somehow I felt uncommonly uncomfortable; I could not divest my mind
of the impression that some disaster was impending, and I wished O’Flaherty
and his project in a very warm climate. ‘He’ll attack us,’ thought I,
‘where we can’t run; fair play forever. But if they are not able to get
away, even the militia will fight.’ However, the evening crept on, and no
sign of his coming appeared on any side; and to my sincere satisfaction, I
could see, about half a league distant, the twinkling light of the little
village where we were to halt for the night. It was just at this time that
a scout I had sent out some few hundred yards in advance came galloping up,
almost breathless.

“‘The French, Captain; the French are upon us!’ said he, with a face like a
ghost.

“‘Whew! Which way? How many?’ said I, not at all sure that he might not be
telling the truth.

“‘Coming in force!’ said the fellow. ‘Dragoons! By this road!’

“‘Dragoons? By this road?’ repeated every man of the party, looking at each
other like men sentenced to be hanged.

“Scarcely had they spoken when we heard the distant noise of cavalry
advancing at a brisk trot. Lord, what a scene ensued! The soldiers ran
hither and thither like frightened sheep; some pulled out crucifixes and
began to say their prayers; others fired off their muskets in a panic; the
mule-drivers cut their traces, and endeavored to get away by riding; and
the intendant took to his heels, screaming out to us, as he went, to fight
manfully to the last, and that he’d report us favorably to the Junta.

“Just at this moment the dragoons came in sight; they came galloping up,
shouting like madmen. One look was enough for my fellows; they sprang to
their legs from their devotions, fired a volley straight at the new moon,
and ran like men.

“I was knocked down in the rush. As I regained my legs, Tom O’Flaherty was
standing beside me, laughing like mad.

“‘Eh, Monsoon! I’ve kept my word, old fellow! What legs they have! We shall
make no prisoners, that’s certain. Now, lads, here it is! Put the horses
to, here. We shall take but one, Monsoon; so that your gallant defence of
the rest will please the Junta. Good-night, good-night! I will drink your
health every night these two months.’

“So saying, Tom sprang to his saddle; and in less time than I’ve been
telling it, the whole was over and I sitting by myself in the gray
moonlight, meditating on all I saw, and now and then shouting for my
Portuguese friends to come back again. They came in time, by twos and
threes; and at last the whole party re-assembled, and we set forth again,
every man, from the intendant to the drummer, lauding my valor, and saying
that Don Monsoon was a match for the Cid.”

“And how did the Junta behave?”

“Like trumps, Charley. Made me a Knight of Battalha, and kissed me on both
cheeks, having sent twelve dozen of the rescued wine to my quarters, as a
small testimony of their esteem. I have laughed very often at it since. But
hush, Charley? What’s that I hear without there?”

“Oh, it’s my fellow Mike. He asked my leave to entertain his friends before
parting, and I perceive he is delighting them with a song.”

“But what a confounded air it is! Are the words Hebrew?”

“Irish, Major; most classical Irish, too, I’ll be bound!”

“Irish! I’ve heard most tongues, but that certainly surprises me. Call him
in, Charley, and let us have the canticle.”

In a few minutes more, Mr. Free appeared in a state of very satisfactory
elevation, his eyebrows alternately rising and falling, his mouth a little
drawn to one side, and a side motion in his knee-joints that might puzzle a
physiologist to account for.

“A sweet little song of yours, Mike,” said the major; “a very sweet thing
indeed. Wet your lips, Mickey.”

“Long life to your honor and Master Charles there, too, and them that
belongs to both of yez. May a gooseberry skin make a nightcap for the man
would harm either of ye.”

“Thank you, Mike. And now about that song.”

“It’s the ouldest tune ever was sung,” said Mike, with a hiccough, “barring
Adam had a taste for music; but the words--the poethry--is not so ould.”

“And how comes that?”

“The poethry, ye see, was put to it by one of my ancesthors,--he was a
great inventhor in times past, and made beautiful songs,--and ye’d never
guess what it’s all about.”

“Love, mayhap?” quoth Monsoon.

“Sorra taste of kissing from beginning to end.”

“A drinking song?” said I.

“Whiskey is never mentioned.”

“Fighting is the only other national pastime. It must be in praise of
sudden death?”

“You’re out again; but sure you’d never guess it,” said Mike. “Well, ye
see, here’s what it is. It’s the praise and glory of ould Ireland in the
great days that’s gone, when we were all Phenayceans and Armenians,
and when we worked all manner of beautiful contrivances in gold and
silver,--bracelets and collars and teapots, elegant to look at,--and read
Roosian and Latin, and played the harp and the barrel-organ, and eat and
drank of the best, for nothing but asking.”

“Blessed times, upon my life!” quoth the major; “I wish we had them back
again.”

“There’s more of your mind,” said Mike, steadying himself. “My ancesthors
was great people in them days; and sure it isn’t in my present situation
I’d be av we had them back again,--sorra bit, faith! It isn’t, ‘Come
here, Mickey, bad luck to you, Mike!’ or, ‘That blackguard, Mickey Free!’
people’d be calling me. But no matter; here’s your health again, Major
Monsoon--”

“Never mind vain regrets, Mike. Let us hear your song; the major has taken
a great fancy to it.”

“Ah, then, it’s joking you are, Mister Charles,” said Mike, affecting an
air of most bashful coyness.

“By no means; we want to hear you sing it.”

“To be sure we do. Sing it by all means; never be ashamed. King David was
very fond of singing,--upon my life he was.”

“But you’d never understand a word of it, sir.”

“No matter; we know what it’s about. That’s the way with the Legion; they
don’t know much English, but they generally guess what I’m at.”

This argument seemed to satisfy all Mike’s remaining scruples; so placing
himself in an attitude of considerable pretension as to grace, he began,
with a voice of no very measured compass, an air of which neither by name
nor otherwise can I give any conception; my principal amusement being
derived from a tol-de-rol chorus of the major, which concluded each verse,
and indeed in a lower key accompanied the singer throughout.

Since that I have succeeded in obtaining a free-and-easy translation of the
lyric; but in my anxiety to preserve the metre and something of the spirit
of the original, I have made several blunders and many anachronisms. Mr.
Free, however, pronounces my version a good one, and the world must take
his word till some more worthy translator shall have consigned it to
immortal verse.

With this apology, therefore, I present Mr. Free’s song:

       AIR,--_Na Guilloch y’ Goulen_.

    Oh, once we were illigint people,
      Though we now live in cabins of mud;
    And the land that ye see from the steeple
      Belonged to us all from the Flood.
    My father was then King of Connaught,
      My grand-aunt Viceroy of Tralee;
    But the Sassenach came, and signs on it,
      The devil an acre have we.

    The least of us then were all earls,
      And jewels we wore without name;
    We drank punch out of rubies and pearls,--
      Mr. Petrie can tell you the same.
    But except some turf mould and potatoes,
      There’s nothing our own we can call;
    And the English,--bad luck to them!--hate us,
      Because we’ve more fun than them all!

    My grand-aunt was niece to Saint Kevin,
      That’s the reason my name’s Mickey Free!
    Priest’s nieces,--but sure he’s in heaven,
      And his failins is nothin’ to me.
    And we still might get on without doctors,
      If they’d let the ould Island alone;
    And if purple-men, priests, and tithe-proctors
      Were crammed down the great gun of Athlone.


[Illustration: MR. FREE’S SONG.]

As Mike’s melody proceeded, the major’s thorough bass waxed beautifully
less,--now and then, it’s true, roused by some momentary strain, it swelled
upwards in full chorus, but gradually these passing flights grew rarer, and
finally all ceased, save a long, low, droning sound, like the expiring sigh
of a wearied bagpipe. His fingers still continued mechanically to beat time
upon the table, and still his head nodded sympathetically to the music;
his eyelids closed in sleep; and as the last verse concluded, a full-drawn
snore announced that Monsoon, if not in the land of dreams, was at least in
a happy oblivion of all terrestrial concerns, and caring as little for the
woes of green Erin and the altered fortunes of the Free family as any Saxon
that ever oppressed them.

There he sat, the finished decanter and empty goblet testifying that his
labors had only ceased from the pressure of necessity; but the broken,
half-uttered words that fell from his lips evinced that he reposed on the
last bottle of the series.

“Oh, thin, he’s a fine ould gentleman!” said Mike, after a pause of some
minutes, during which he had been contemplating the major with all the
critical acumen Chantrey or Canova would have bestowed upon an antique
statue,--“a fine ould gentleman, every inch of him; and it’s the master
would like to have him up at the Castle.”

“Quite true, Mike; but let us not forget the road. Look to the cattle, and
be ready to start within an hour.”

When he left the room for this purpose I endeavored to shake the major into
momentary consciousness ere we parted.

“Major, Major,” said I, “time is up. I must start.”

“Yes, it’s all true, your Excellency: they pillaged a little; and if they
did change their facings, there was a great temptation. All the red velvet
they found in the churches--”

“Good-by, old fellow, good-by!”

“Stand at ease!”

“Can’t, unfortunately, yet awhile; so farewell. I’ll make a capital report
of the Legion to Sir Arthur; shall I add anything particularly from
yourself?”

This, and the shake that accompanied it, aroused him. He started up, and
looked about him for a few seconds.

“Eh, Charley! You didn’t say Sir Arthur was here, did you?”

“No, Major; don’t be frightened; he’s many a league off. I asked if you had
anything to say when I met him?”

“Oh, yes, Charley! Tell him we’re capital troops in our own little way in
the mountains; would never do in pitched battles,--skirmishing’s our forte;
and for cutting off stragglers, or sacking a town, back them at any odds.”

“Yes, yes, I know all that; you’ve nothing more?”

“Nothing,” said he, once more closing his eyes and crossing his hands
before him, while his lips continued to mutter on,--“nothing more, except
you may say from me,--he knows me, Sir Arthur does. Tell him to guard
himself from intemperance; a fine fellow if he wouldn’t drink.”

“You horrid old humbug, what nonsense are you muttering there?”

“Yes, yes; Solomon says, ‘Who hath red eyes and carbuncles?’ they that mix
their lush. Pure _Sneyd_ never injured any one. Tell him so from me,--it’s
an old man’s advice, and I have drunk some hogsheads of it.”

With these words he ceased to speak, while his head, falling gently forward
upon his chest, proclaimed him sound asleep.

“Adieu, then, for the last time,” said I, slapping him gently on the
shoulder. “And now for the road.”



CHAPTER LVII.


CUESTA.

The second day of our journey was drawing to a close as we came in view of
the Spanish army.

The position they occupied was an undulating plain beside the Teitar River;
the country presented no striking feature of picturesque beauty, but the
scene before us needed no such aid to make it one of the most interesting
kind. From the little mountain path we travelled we beheld beneath a force
of thirty thousand men drawn up in battle array, dense columns of infantry
alternating with squadrons of horse or dark masses of artillery dotted
the wide plain, the bright steel glittering in the rich sunset of a July
evening when not a breath of air was stirring; the very banners hung down
listlessly, and not a sound broke the solemn stillness of the hour. All was
silent. So impressive and so strange was the spectacle of a vast army thus
resting mutely under arms, that I reined in my horse, and almost doubted
the reality of the scene as I gazed upon it. The dark shadows of the tall
mountain were falling across the valley, and a starry sky was already
replacing the ruddy glow of sunset as we reached the plain; but still no
change took place in the position of the Spanish army.

“Who goes there?” cried a hoarse voice, as we issued from the mountain
gorge, and in a moment we found ourselves surrounded by an outpost party.
Having explained, as well as I was able, who I was, and for what reason I
was there, I proceeded to accompany the officer towards the camp.

On my way thither I learned the reason of the singular display of troops
which had been so puzzling to me. From an early hour of that day Sir Arthur
Wellesley’s arrival had been expected, and old Cuesta had drawn up his men
for inspection, and remained thus for several hours patiently awaiting his
coming; he himself, overwhelmed with years and infirmity, sitting upon his
horse the entire time.

As it was not necessary that I should be presented to the general, my
report being for the ear of Sir Arthur himself, I willingly availed myself
of the hospitality proffered by a Spanish officer of cavalry; and having
provided for the comforts of my tired cattle and taken a hasty supper,
issued forth to look at the troops, which, although it was now growing
late, were still in the same attitude.

Scarcely had I been half an hour thus occupied, when the stillness of
the scene was suddenly interrupted by the loud report of a large gun,
immediately followed by a long roll of musketry, while at the same moment
the bands of the different regiments struck up, and as if by magic a blaze
of red light streamed across the dark ranks. This was effected by pine
torches held aloft at intervals, throwing a lurid glare upon the grim and
swarthy features of the Spaniards, whose brown uniforms and slouching hats
presented a most picturesque effect as the red light fell upon them.

The swell of the thundering cannon grew louder and nearer,--the shouldering
of muskets, the clash of sabres, and the hoarse roll of the drum, mingling
in one common din. I at once guessed that Sir Arthur had arrived, and as I
turned the flank of a battalion I saw the staff approaching. Nothing can be
conceived more striking than their advance. In the front rode old Cuesta
himself, clad in the costume of a past century, his slashed doublet and
trunk hose reminding one of a more chivalrous period, his heavy, unwieldy
figure looming from side to side, and threatening at each moment to fall
from his saddle. On each side of him walked two figures gorgeously dressed,
whose duty appeared to be to sustain the chief in his seat. At his
side rode a far different figure. Mounted upon a slight-made, active
thorough-bred, whose drawn flanks bespoke a long and weary journey, sat
Sir Arthur Wellesley, a plain blue frock and gray trousers being his
unpretending costume; but the eagle glance which he threw around on every
side, the quick motion of his hand as he pointed hither and thither among
the dense battalions, bespoke him every inch a soldier. Behind them came
a brilliant staff, glittering in aiguillettes and golden trappings, among
whom I recognized some well-remembered faces,--our gallant leader at the
Douro, Sir Charles Stewart, among the number.

As they passed the spot where I was standing, the torch of a foot soldier
behind me flared suddenly up and threw a strong flash upon the party.
Cuesta’s horse grew frightened, and plunged so fearfully for a minute that
the poor old man could scarcely keep his seat. A smile shot across Sir
Arthur’s features at the moment, but the next instant he was grave and
steadfast as before.

A wretched hovel, thatched and in ruins, formed the headquarters of the
Spanish army, and thither the staff now bent their steps,--a supper being
provided there for our commander-in-chief and the officers of his suite.
Although not of the privileged party, I lingered round the spot for some
time, anxiously expecting to find some friend or acquaintance who might
tell me the news of our people, and what events had occurred in my absence.



CHAPTER LVIII.


THE LETTER.

The hours passed slowly over, and I at length grew weary of waiting.
For some time I had amused myself with observing the slouching gait and
unsoldier-like air of the Spaniards as they lounged carelessly about,
looking in dress, gesture, and appointment, far move like a guerilla than a
regular force. Then again, the strange contrast of the miserable hut with
falling chimney and ruined walls, to the glitter of the mounted guard of
honor who sat motionless beside it, served to pass the time; but as the
night was already far advanced, I turned towards my quarters, hoping that
the next morning might gratify my curiosity about my friends.

Beside the tent where I was billeted, I found Mike in waiting, who, the
moment he saw me, came hastily forward with a letter in his hand. An
officer of Sir Arthur’s staff had left it while I was absent, desiring
Mike on no account to omit its delivery the first instant he met me.
The hand--not a very legible one--was perfectly unknown to me, and the
appearance of the billet such as betrayed no over-scrupulous care in the
writer.

I trimmed my lamp leisurely, threw a fresh log upon the fire, disposed
myself completely at full length beside it, and then proceeded to form
acquaintance with my unknown correspondent. I will not attempt any
description of the feelings which gradually filled me as I read on; the
letter itself will suggest them to those who know my story. It ran thus:--

                                             PLACENTIA, July 8, 1809.
    DEAR O’MALLEY,--Although I’d rather march to Lisbon barefoot
    than write three lines, Fred Power insists upon my turning scribe,
    as he has a notion you’ll be up at Cuesta’s headquarters about this
    time. You’re in a nice scrape, devil a lie in it! Here has Fred
    been fighting that fellow Trevyllian for you,--all because you would
    not have patience and fight him yourself the morning you left the
    Douro,--so much for haste! Let it be a lesson to you for life.

    Poor Fred got the ball in his hip, and the devil a one of the doctors
    can find it. But he’s getting better any way, and going to Lisbon
    for change of air. Meanwhile, since Power’s been wounded, Trevyllian’s
    speaking very hardly of you, and they all say here you must
    come back--no matter how--and put matters to rights. Fred has
    placed the thing in my hands, and I’m thinking we’d better call out
    the “heavies” by turns,--for most of them stand by Trevyllian.
    Maurice Quill and myself sat up considering it last night; but,
    somehow, we don’t clearly remember to-day a beautiful plan we hit
    upon. However, we’ll have at it again this evening. Meanwhile,
    come over here, and let us be doing something. We hear that old
    Monsoon has blown up a town, a bridge, and a big convent. They
    must have been hiding the plunder very closely, or he’d never have
    been reduced to such extremities. We’ll have a brush with the
    French soon.
    Yours most eagerly,
    D. O’SHAUGHNESSY.

My first thought, as I ran my eye over these lines, was to seek for Power’s
note, written on the morning we parted. I opened it, and to my horror
found that it only related to my quarrel with Hammersley. My meeting with
Trevyllian had been during Fred’s absence, and when he assured me that all
was satisfactorily arranged, and a full explanation tendered, that nothing
interfered with my departure,--I utterly forgot that he was only aware of
one half my troubles, and in the haste and bustle of my departure, had not
a moment left me to collect myself and think calmly on the matter. The two
letters lay before me, and as I thought over the stain upon my character
thus unwittingly incurred; the blast I had thrown upon my reputation; the
wound of my poor friend, who exposed himself for my sake,--I grew sick at
heart, and the bitter tears of agony burst from my eyes.

That weary night passed slowly over; the blight of all my prospects, when
they seemed fairest and brightest, presented itself to me in a hundred
shapes; and when, overcome by fatigue and exhaustion, I closed my eyes to
sleep, it was only to follow up in my dreams my waking thoughts. Morning
came at length; but its bright sunshine and balmy air brought no comfort to
me. I absolutely dreaded to meet my brother officers; I felt that in such a
position as I stood, no half or partial explanation could suffice to set me
right in their estimation; and yet, what opportunity had I for aught else?
Irresolute how to act, I sat leaning my head upon my hands, when I heard
a footstep approach; I looked up and saw before me no other than my poor
friend Sparks, from whom I had been separated so long. Any other adviser
at such a moment would, I acknowledge, have been as welcome; for the
poor fellow knew but little of the world, and still less of the service.
However, one glance convinced me that his heart at least was true; and I
shook his outstretched hand with delight. In a few words he informed me
that Merivale had secretly commissioned him to come over in the hope of
meeting me; that although all the 14th men were persuaded that I was not to
blame in what had occurred,--yet that reports so injurious had gone abroad,
so many partial and imperfect statements were circulated, that nothing but
my return to headquarters would avail, and that I must not lose a moment in
having Trevyllian out, with whom all the misrepresentation had originated.

“This, of course,” said Sparks, “is to be a secret; Merivale, being our
colonel--”

“Of course,” said I, “he cannot countenance, much less counsel, such a
proceeding; Now, then, for the road.”

“Yes; but you cannot leave before making your report. Gordon expects to see
you at eleven; he told me so last night.”

“I cannot help it; I shall not wait; my mind is made up. My career here
matters but little in comparison with this horrid charge. I shall be broke,
but I shall be avenged.”

“Come, come, O’Malley; you are in our hands now, and you must be guided.
You _shall_ wait; you shall see Gordon. Half an hour will make your report,
and I have relays of horses along the road, and we shall reach Placentia by
nightfall.”

There was a tone of firmness in this, so unlike anything I ever looked for
in the speaker, and withal so much of foresight and precaution, that I
could scarcely credit my senses as he spoke. Having at length agreed to his
proposal, Sparks left me to think over my return of the Legion, promising
that immediately after my interview with the military secretary, we should
start together for headquarters.



CHAPTER LXIX.


MAJOR O’SHAUGHNESSY.

“This is Major O’Shaughnessy’s quarters, sir,” said a sergeant, as he
stopped short at the door of a small, low house in the midst of an olive
plantation; an Irish wolf-dog--the well-known companion of the major--lay
stretched across the entrance, watching with eager and bloodshot eyes the
process of cutting up a bullock, which two soldiers in undress jackets were
performing within a few yards of the spot.

Stepping cautiously across the savage-looking sentinel, I entered the
little hall, and finding no one near, passed into a small room, the door of
which lay half open.

A very palpable odor of cigars and brandy proclaimed, even without his
presence, that this was O’Shaughnessy’s sitting-room; so I sat myself down
upon an old-fashioned sofa to wait patiently for his return, which I heard
would be immediately after the evening parade. Sparks had become knocked up
during our ride, so that for the last three leagues I was alone, and like
most men in such circumstances, pressed on only the harder. Completely worn
out for want of rest, I had scarcely placed myself on the sofa when I
fell sound asleep. When I awoke, all was dark around me, save the faint
flickerings of the wood embers on the hearth, and for some moments I could
not remember where I was; but by degrees recollection came, and as I
thought over my position and its possible consequences, I was again nearly
dropping to sleep, when the door suddenly opened, and a heavy step sounded
on the floor.

I lay still and spoke not, as a large figure in a cloak approached the
fire-place, and stooping down endeavored to light a candle at the fast
expiring fire.

I had little difficulty in detecting the major even by the half-light; a
muttered execration upon the candle, given with an energy that only an
Irishman ever bestows upon slight matters, soon satisfied me on this head.

“May the Devil fly away with the commissary and the chandler to the forces!
Ah, you’ve lit at last!”

With these words he stood up, and his eyes falling on me at the moment,
he sprang a yard or two backwards, exclaiming as he did so, “The blessed
Virgin be near us, what’s this?” a most energetic crossing of himself
accompanying his words. My pale and haggard face, thus suddenly presented,
having suggested to the worthy major the impression of a supernatural
visitor, a hearty burst of laughter, which I could not resist, was my only
answer; and the next moment O’Shaughnessy was wrenching my hand in a grasp
like a steel vice.

“Upon my conscience, I thought it was your ghost; and if you kept quiet a
little longer, I was going to promise you Christian burial, and as many
Masses for your soul as my uncle the bishop could say between this and
Easter. How are you, my boy? A little thin, and something paler, I think,
than when you left us.”

Having assured him that fatigue and hunger were in a great measure the
cause of my sickly looks, the major proceeded to place before me the
_débris_ of his day’s dinner, with a sufficiency of bottles to satisfy a
mess-table, keeping up as he went a running fire of conversation.

“I’m as glad as if the Lord took the senior major, to see you here this
night. With the blessing of Providence we’ll shoot Trevyllian in the
morning, and any more of the heavies that like it. You are an ill-treated
man, that’s what it is, and Dan O’Shaughnessy says it. Help yourself, my
boy; crusty old port in that bottle as ever you touched your lips to.
Power’s getting all right; it was contract powder, warranted not to kill.
Bad luck to the commissaries once more! With such ammunition Sir Arthur
does right to trust most to the bayonet. And how is Monsoon, the old
rogue?”

“Gloriously, living in the midst of wine and olives.”

“No fear of him, the old sinner; but he is a fine fellow, after all.
Charley, you are eating nothing, boy.”

“To tell you the truth, I’m far more anxious to talk with you at this
moment than aught else.”

“So you shall: the night’s young. Meanwhile, I had better not delay
matters. You want to have Trevyllian out,--is not that so?”

“Of course; you are aware how it happened?”

“I know everything. Go on with your supper, and don’t mind me; I’ll be back
in twenty minutes or less.”

Without waiting for any reply, he threw his cloak around him, and strode
out of the room. Once more I was alone; but already my frame of mind was
altered,--the cheering tone of my reckless, gallant countryman had raised
my spirits, and I felt animated by his very manner.

An hour elapsed before the major returned; and when he did come, his
appearance and gestures bespoke anger and disappointment. He threw himself
hurriedly into a seat, and for some minutes never spoke.

“The world’s beautifully changed, anyhow, since I began it, O’Malley,--when
you thanked a man civilly that asked you to fight him! The Devil take the
cowards, say I.”

“What has happened? Tell me, I beseech you?”

“He won’t fight,” said the major, blurting out the words as if they would
choke him.

“He’ll not fight! And why?”

The major was silent. He seemed confused and embarrassed. He turned from
the fire to the table, from the table to the fire, poured out a glass of
wine, drank it hastily off, and springing from his chair, paced the room
with long, impatient strides.

“My dear O’Shaughnessy, explain, I beg of you. Does he refuse to meet me
for any reason--”

“He does,” said the major, turning on me a look of deep feeling as he
spoke; “and he does it to ruin you, my boy. But as sure as my name is
Dan, he’ll fail this time. He was sitting with his friend Beaufort when I
reached his quarters, and received me with all the ceremonious politeness
he well knows how to assume. I told him in a few words the object of my
visit; upon which Trevyllian, standing up, referred me to his friend for
a reply, and left the room. I thought that all was right, and sat down to
discuss, as I believed, preliminaries, when the cool puppy, with his back
to the fire, carelessly lisped out, ‘It can’t be, Major; your friend is too
late.’

“‘Too late? too late?’ said I.

“‘Yes, precisely so; not up to time. The affair should have come off some
weeks since. We won’t meet him now.’

“‘This is really your answer?’

“‘This is really my answer; and not only so, but the decision of our mess.’

“What I said after this _he_ may remember; devil take me if _I_ can. But I
have a vague recollection of saying something that the aforesaid mess will
never petition the Horse Guards to put on their regimental colors; and here
I am--”

With these words the major gulped down a full goblet of wine, and once
more resumed his walk through the room. I shall not attempt to record the
feelings which agitated me during the major’s recital. In one rapid glance
I saw the aim of my vindictive enemy. My honor, not my life, was the object
he sought for; and ten thousand times more than ever did I pant for the
opportunity to confront him in a deadly combat.

“Charley,” said O’Shaughnessy, at length, placing his hand upon my
shoulder, “you must get to bed now. Nothing more can be done to-night in
any way. Be assured of one thing, my boy,--I’ll not desert you; and if that
assurance can give you a sound sleep, you’ll not need a lullaby.”



CHAPTER LX.


PRELIMINARIES.

I awoke refreshed on the following morning, and came down to breakfast with
a lighter heart than I had even hoped for. A secret feeling that all
would go well had somehow taken possession of me, and I longed for
O’Shaughnessy’s coming, trusting that he might be able to confirm my hopes.
His servant informed me that the major had been absent since daybreak, and
left orders that he was not to be waited for at breakfast.

I was not destined, however, to pass a solitary time in his absence, for
every moment brought some new arrival to visit me; and during the morning
the colonel and every officer of the regiment not on actual duty came over.
I soon learned that the feeling respecting Trevyllian’s conduct was one of
unmixed condemnation among my own corps, but that a kind of party spirit
which had subsisted for some months between the regiment he belonged to and
the 14th had given a graver character to the affair, and induced many men
to take up his views of the transaction; and although I heard of none who
attributed my absence to any dislike to a meeting, yet there were several
who conceived that, by my going at the time, I had forfeited all claim to
satisfaction at his hands.

“Now that Merivale is gone,” said an officer to me as the colonel left the
room, “I may confess to you that he sees nothing to blame in your conduct
throughout; and even had you been aware of how matters were circumstanced,
your duty was too imperative to have preferred your personal consideration
to it.”

“Does any one know where Conyers is?” said Baker.

“The story goes that Conyers can assist us here. Conyers is at Zaza la
Mayor, with the 28th; but what can he do?”

“That I’m not able to tell you; but I know O’Shaughnessy heard something at
parade this morning, and has set off in search of him on every side.”

“Was Conyers ever out with Trevyllian?”

“Not as a principal, I believe. The report is, however, that he knows more
about him than other people, as Tom certainly does of everybody.”

“It is rather a new thing for Trevyllian to refuse a meeting. They say,
O’Malley, he has heard of your shooting.”

“No, no,” said another; “he cares very little for any man’s pistol. If the
story be true, he fires a second or two before his adversary; at least, it
was in that way he killed Carysfort.”

“Here comes the great O’Shaughnessy!” cried some one at the window; and the
next moment the heavy gallop of a horse was heard along the causeway. In an
instant we all rushed to the door to receive him.

“It’s all right, lads!” cried he, as he came up. “We have him this time!”

“How?” “When?” “Why?” “In what way have you managed?” fell from a dozen
voices, as the major elbowed his way through the crowd to the sitting-room.

“In the first place,” said O’Shanghnessy, drawing a long breath, “I have
promised secrecy as to the steps of this transaction; secondly, if I
hadn’t, it would puzzle me to break it, for I’ll be hanged if I know more
than yourselves. Tom Conyers wrote me a few lines for Trevyllian, and
Trevyllian pledges himself to meet our friend; and that’s all we need know
or care for.”

“Then you have seen Trevyllian this morning?”

“No; Beaufort met me at the village. But even now it seems this affair is
never to come off. Trevyllian has been sent with a forage party towards
Lesco. However, that can’t be a long absence. But, for Heaven’s sake, let
me have some breakfast!”

While O’Shaughnessy proceeded to attack the viands before him, the others
chatted about in little groups; but all wore the pleased and happy looks of
men who had rescued their friend from a menaced danger. As for myself, my
heart swelled with gratitude to the kind fellows around me.

“How has Conyers assisted us at this juncture?” was my first question to
O’Shaughnessy, when we were once more alone.

“I am not at liberty to speak on that subject, Charley. But be satisfied
the reasons for which Trevyllian meets you are fair and honorable.”

“I am content.”

“The only thing now to be done is to have the meeting as soon as possible.”

“We are all agreed upon that point,” said I; “and the more so as the matter
had better be decided before Sir Arthur’s return.”

“Quite true. And now, O’Malley, you had better join your people as soon as
may be, and it will put a stop to all talking about the matter.”

The advice was good, and I lost no time in complying with it; and when
I joined the regiment that day at mess, it was with a light heart and a
cheerful spirit, for come what might of the affair, of one thing I was
certain,--my character was now put above any reach of aspersion, and my
reputation beyond attack.



CHAPTER LXI.


ALL RIGHT.

Some days after coming back to headquarters, I was returning from a visit I
had been making to a friend at one of the outposts, when an officer whom I
knew slightly overtook me and informed me that Major O’Shaughnessy had
been to my quarters in search of me, and had sent persons in different
directions to find me.

Suspecting the object of the major’s haste, I hurried on at once, and as
I rode up to the spot, found him in the midst of a group of officers,
engaged, to all appearance, in most eager conversation.

“Oh, here he comes!” cried he, as I cantered up. “Come, my boy, doff the
blue frock as soon as you can, and turn out in your best-fitting black.
Everything has been settled for this evening at seven o’clock, and we have
no time to lose.”

“I understand you,” said I, “and shall not keep you waiting.” So saying, I
sprang from my saddle and hastened to my quarters. As I entered the room I
was followed by O’Shaughnessy, who closed the door after him as he came in,
and having turned the key in it, sat down beside the table, and folding
his arms, seemed buried in reflection. As I proceeded with my toilet he
returned no answers to the numerous questions I put to him, either as to
the time of Trevyllian’s return, the place of the meeting, or any other
part of the transaction. His attention seemed to wander far from all around
and about him; and as he muttered indistinctly to himself, the few words I
could catch bore not in the remotest degree upon the matter before us.

“I have written a letter or two here, Major,” said I, opening my
writing-desk. “In case anything happens, you will look to a few things I
have mentioned here. Somehow, I could not write to poor Fred Power; but you
must tell him from me that his noble conduct towards me was the last thing
I spoke of.”

“What confounded nonsense you are talking!” said O’Shaughnessy, springing
from his seat and crossing the room with tremendous strides, “croaking away
there as if the bullet was in your thorax. Hang it, man, bear up!”

“But, Major, my dear friend, what the deuce are you thinking of? The few
things I mentioned--”

“The devil! you are not going over it all again, are you?” said he, in a
voice of no measured tone.

I now began to feel irritated in turn, and really looked at him for some
seconds in considerable amazement. That he should have mistaken the
directions I was giving him and attributed them to any cowardice was too
insulting a thought to bear; and yet how otherwise was I to understand the
very coarse style of his interruption?

At length my temper got the victory, and with a voice of most measured
calmness, I said, “Major O’Shaughnessy, I am grateful, most deeply
grateful, for the part you have acted towards me in this difficult
business; at the same time, as you now appear to disapprove of my conduct
and bearing, when I am most firmly determined to alter nothing, I shall beg
to relieve you of the unpleasant office of my friend.”

“Heaven grant that you could do so!” said he, interrupting me, while his
clasped hands and eager look attested the vehemence of the wish. He paused
for a moment, then, springing from his chair, rushed towards me, and threw
his arms around me. “No, my boy, I can’t do it,--I can’t do it. I have
tried to bully myself into insensibility for this evening’s work,--I have
endeavored to be rude to you, that you might insult me, and steel my heart
against what might happen; but it won’t do, Charley, it won’t do.”

With these words the big tears rolled down his stern cheeks, and his voice
became thick with emotion.

“But for me, all this need not have happened. I know it; I feel it. I
hurried on this meeting; your character stood fair and unblemished without
that,--at least they tell me so now; and I still have to assure you--”

“Come, my dear, kind friend, don’t give way in this fashion. You have stood
manfully by me through every step of the road; don’t desert me on the
threshold of--”

“The grave, O’Malley?”

“I don’t think so, Major; but see, half-past six! Look to these pistols for
me. Are they likely to object to hair-triggers?”

A knocking at the door turned off our attention, and the next moment
Baker’s voice was heard.

“O’Malley, you’ll be close run for time; the meeting-place is full three
miles from this.”

I seized the key and opened the door. At the same instant, O’Shaughnessy
rose and turned towards the window, holding one of the pistols in his hand.

“Look at that, Baker,--what a sweet tool it is!” said he, in a voice that
actually made me start. Not a trace of his late excitement remained; his
usually dry, half-humorous manner had returned, and his droll features were
as full of their own easy, devil-may-care fun as ever.

“Here comes the drag,” said Baker. “We can drive nearly all the way, unless
you prefer riding.”

“Of course not. Keep your hand steady, Charley, and if you don’t bring him
down with that saw-handle, you’re not your uncle’s nephew.”

With these words we mounted into the tax-cart, and set off for the
meeting-place.



CHAPTER LXII.


THE DUEL.

A small and narrow ravine between the two furze-covered dells led to the
open space where the meeting had been arranged for. As we reached this,
therefore, we were obliged to descend from the drag, and proceed the
remainder of the way afoot. We had not gone many yards when a step was
heard approaching, and the next moment Beaufort appeared. His usually easy
and _dégagé_ air was certainly tinged with somewhat of constraint; and
though his soft voice and half smile were as perfect as ever, a slightly
flurried expression about the lip, and a quick and nervous motion of his
eyebrow, bespoke a heart not completely at ease. He lifted his foraging cap
most ceremoniously to salute us as we came up, and casting an anxious look
to see if any others were following, stood quite still.

“I think it right to mention, Major O’Shaughnessy,” said he, in a voice of
most dulcet sweetness, “that I am the only friend of Captain Trevyllian on
the ground; and though I have not the slightest objection to Captain Baker
being present, I hope you will see the propriety of limiting the witnesses
to the three persons now here.”

“Upon my conscience, as far as I am concerned, or my friend either, we
are perfectly indifferent if we fight before three or three thousand. In
Ireland we rather like a crowd.”

“Of course, then, as you see no objection to my proposition, I may count
upon your co-operation in the event of any intrusion,--I mean, that while
we, upon our sides, will not permit any of our friends to come forward, you
will equally exert yourself with yours.”

“Here we are, Baker and myself, neither more nor less. We expect no one,
and want no one; so that I humbly conceive all the preliminaries you are
talking of will never be required.”

Beaufort tried to smile, and bit his lips, while a small red spot upon his
cheek spoke that some deeper feeling of irritation than the mere careless
manner of the major could account for, still rankled in his bosom. We
now walked on without speaking, except when occasionally some passing
observation of Beaufort upon the fineness of the evening, or the rugged
nature of the road, broke the silence. As we emerged from the little
mountain pass into the open meadow land, the tall and soldier-like figure
of Trevyllian was the first object that presented itself. He was standing
beside a little stone cross that stood above a holy well, and seemed
occupied in deciphering the inscription. He turned at the noise of our
approach, and calmly waited our coming. His eye glanced quickly from the
features of O’Shaughnessy to those of Baker; but seeming rapidly reassured
as he walked forward, his face at once recovered its usual severity and its
cold, impassive look of sternness.

“All right!” said Beaufort, in a whisper the tones of which I overheard, as
he drew near to his friend. Trevyllian smiled in return, but did not speak.
During the few moments which passed in conversation between the seconds,
I turned from the spot with Baker, and had scarcely time to address a
question to him, when O’Shaughnessy called out, “Hollo, Baker!--come here
a moment!” The three seemed now in eager discussion for some minutes, when
Baker walked towards Trevyllian, and saying something, appeared to wait
for his reply. This being obtained, he joined the others, and the moment
afterwards came to where I was standing. “You are to toss for first shot,
O’Malley. O’Shaughnessy has made that proposition, and the others agree
that with two crack marksmen, it is perhaps the fairest way. I suppose you
have no objection?”

“Of course, I shall make none. Whatever O’Shaughnessy decides for me I am
ready to abide by.”

“Well, then, as to the distance?” said Beaufort, loud enough to be heard by
me where I was standing. O’Shaughnessy’s reply I could not catch, but it
was evident, from the tone of both parties, that some difference existed on
the point.

“Captain Baker shall decide between us,” said Beaufort, at length, and they
all walked away to some distance. During all the while I could perceive
that Trevyllian’s uneasiness and impatience seemed extreme; he looked from
the speakers to the little mountain pass, and strained his eyes in every
direction. It was clear that he dreaded some interruption. At last, unable
any longer to control his feelings, he called out, “Beaufort, I say, what
the devil are we waiting for now?”

“Nothing at present,” said Beaufort, as he came forward with a dollar in
his hand. “Come, Major O’Shaughnessy, you shall call for your friend.”

He pitched the piece of money as he spoke high into the air, and watched it
as it fell on the soft grass beneath.

“Head! for a thousand,” cried O’Shaughnessy, running over and stooping
down; “and head it is!”

“You’ve won the first shot,” whispered Baker; “for Heaven’s sake be cool!”

Beaufort grew deadly pale as he bent over the crownpiece, and seemed
scarcely to have courage to look his friend in his face. Not so Trevyllian;
he pulled off his gloves without the slightest semblance of emotion,
buttoned up his well-fitting black frock to the throat, and throwing a
rapid glance around, seemed only eager to begin the combat.

“Fifteen paces, and the words, ‘One, two!’”

“Exactly. My cane shall mark the spot.”

“Devilish long paces you make them,” said O’Shaughnessy, who did not seem
to approve of the distance. “They have some confounded advantage in this,
depend upon it,” said the major, in a whisper to Baker.

“Are you ready?” inquired Beaufort.

“Ready,--quite ready!”

“Take your ground, then!”

As Trevyllian moved forward to his place, he muttered something to his
friend. I did not hear the first part, but the latter words which met me
were ominous enough: “For as I intend to shoot him, ‘tis just as well as it
is.”

Whether this was meant to be overheard and intimidate me I knew not;
but its effect proved directly opposite. My firm resolution to hit my
antagonist was now confirmed, and no compunctious visitings unnerved my
arm. As we took our places some little delay again took place, the flint of
my pistol having fallen; and thus we remained full ten or twelve seconds
steadily regarding each other. At length O’Shaughnessy came forward, and
putting my weapon in my hand, whispered low, “Remember, you have but one
chance.”

“You are both ready?” cried Beaufort.

“Ready!”

“Then: One, two--”

The last word was lost in the report of my pistol, which went off at the
instant. For a second the flash and smoke obstructed my view; but the
moment after I saw Trevyllian stretched upon the ground, with his friend
kneeling beside him. My first impulse was to rush over, for now all feeling
of enmity was buried in most heartfelt anxiety for his fate; but as I was
stepping forward, O’Shaughnessy called out, “Stand fast, boy, he’s only
wounded!” and the same moment he rose slowly from the ground, with the
assistance of his friend, and looked with the same wild gaze around him.
Such a look! I shall never forget it; there was that intense expression of
searching anxiety, as if he sought to trace the outlines of some visionary
spirit as it receded before him. Quickly reassured, as it seemed, by
the glance he threw on all sides, his countenance lighted up, not with
pleasure, but with a fiendish expression of revengeful triumph, which even
his voice evinced as he called out: “It’s my turn now.”

I felt the words in their full force, as I stood silently awaiting my death
wound. The pause was a long one. Twice did he interrupt his friend, as he
was about to give the word, by an expression of suffering, pressing his
hand upon his side, and seeming to writhe with torture; and yet this was
mere counterfeit.

O’Shaughnessy was now coming forward to interfere and prevent these
interruptions, when Trevyllian called out in a firm tone, “I’m ready!” At
the words, “One, two!” the pistol slowly rose; his dark eye measured me
coolly, steadily; his lip curled; and just as I felt that my last moment
of life had arrived, a heavy sound of a horse galloping along the rocky
causeway seemed to take off his attention. His frame trembled, his hand
shook, and jerking upwards his weapon, the ball passed high above my head.

“You bear me witness I fired in the air,” said Trevyllian, while the large
drops of perspiration rolled from his forehead, and his features worked as
if in a fit.

“You saw it, sir; and you, Beaufort, my friend, you also. Speak! Why will
you not speak?”

“Be calm, Trevyllian; be calm, for Heaven’s sake! What’s the matter with
you?”

[Illustration: THE COAT OF MAIL.]

“The affair is then ended,” said Baker, “and most happily so. You are, I
hope, not dangerously wounded.”

As he spoke, Trevyllian’s features grew deadly livid; his half-open mouth
quivered slightly, his eyes became fixed, and his arm dropped heavily
beside him, and with a low moan he fell fainting to the ground.

As we bent over him I now perceived that another person had joined our
party; he was a short, determined-looking man of about forty, with black
eyes and aquiline features. Before I had time to guess who it might be, I
heard O’Shaughnessy address him as Colonel Conyers.

“He is dying!” said Beaufort, still stooping over his friend, whose cold
hand he grasped within his own. “Poor, poor fellow!”

“He fired in the air,” said Baker, as he spoke in reply to a question from
Conyers.

What he answered I heard not, but Baker rejoined,--

“Yes, I am certain of it. We all saw it.”

“Had you not better examine his wounds?” said Conyers, in a tone of
sarcastic irony I could almost have struck him for. “Is your friend not
hit? Perhaps he is bleeding?”

“Yes,” said O’Shaughnessy, “let us look to the poor fellow now.” So saying,
with Beaufort’s aid he unbuttoned his frock and succeeded in opening his
waistcoat. There was no trace of blood anywhere, and the idea of internal
hemorrhage at once occurred to us, when Conyers, stooping down, pushed me
aside, saying at the same time,--

“Your fears for his safety need not distress you much,--look here!” As he
spoke he tore open his shirt, and disclosed to our almost doubting senses
a vest of chain-mail armor fitting close next the skin and completely
pistol-proof.

I cannot describe the effect this sight produced upon us. Beaufort sprang
to his feet with a bound as he screamed out, rather than spoke, “No man
believes me to have been aware--”

“No, no, Beaufort, your reputation is very far removed from such a stain,”
 said Conyers.

O’Shaughnessy was perfectly speechless. He looked from one to the other, as
though some unexplained mystery still remained, and only seemed restored
to any sense of consciousness as Baker said, “I can feel no pulse at his
wrist,--his heart, too, does not beat.”

Conyers placed his hand upon his bosom, then felt along his throat, lifted
up an arm, and letting it fall heavily upon the ground, he muttered, “He is
dead!”

It was true. No wound had pierced him,--the pistol bullet was found within
his clothes. Some tremendous conflict of the spirit within had snapped the
cords of life, and the strong man had perished in his agony.



CHAPTER LXIII.


NEWS FROM GALWAY.

I have but a vague and most imperfect recollection of the events which
followed this dreadful scene; for some days my faculties seemed stunned and
paralyzed, and my thoughts clung to the minute detail of the ground,--the
persons about, the mountain path, and most of all the half-stifled cry that
spoke the broken heart,--with a tenacity that verged upon madness.

A court-martial was appointed to inquire into the affair; and although I
have been since told that my deportment was calm, and my answers were firm
and collected, yet I remember nothing of the proceedings.

The inquiry, through a feeling of delicacy for the friends of him who was
no more, was made as brief and as private as possible. Beaufort proved the
facts which exonerated me from any imputation in the matter; and upon the
same day the court delivered the decision: “That Lieutenant O’Malley was
not guilty of the charges preferred against him, and that he should be
released from arrest, and join his regiment.”

Nothing could be more kind and considerate than the conduct of my brother
officers,--a hundred little plans and devices for making me forget the
late unhappy event were suggested and practised,--and I look back to that
melancholy period, marked as it was by the saddest circumstance of my life,
as one in which I received more of truly friendly companionship than even
my palmiest days of prosperity boasted.

While, therefore, I deeply felt the good part my friends were performing
towards me, I was still totally unsuited to join in the happy current of
their daily pleasures and amusements. The gay and unreflecting character of
O’Shaughnessy, the careless merriment of my brother officers, jarred upon
my nerves, and rendered me irritable and excited; and I sought in lonely
rides and unfrequented walks, the peace of spirit that calm reflection and
a firm purpose for the future rarely fail to lead to.

There is in deep sorrow a touch of the prophetic. It is at seasons when the
heart is bowed down with grief, and the spirit wasted with suffering, that
the veil which conceals the future seems to be removed, and a glance, short
and fleeting as the lightning flash, is permitted us into the gloomy valley
before us.

Misfortunes, too, come not singly,--the seared heart is not suffered to
heal from one affliction ere another succeeds it; and this anticipation
of the coming evil is, perhaps, one of the most poignant features of
grief,--the ever-watchful apprehension, the ever-rising question, “What
next?” is a torture that never sleeps.

This was the frame of my mind for several days after I returned to my
duty,--a morbid sense of some threatened danger being my last thought at
night and my first on awakening. I had not heard from home since my arrival
in the Peninsula; a thousand vague fancies haunted me now that some
brooding misfortune awaited me. My poor uncle never left my thoughts. Was
he well; was he happy? Was he, as he ever used to be, surrounded by the
friends he loved,--the old familiar faces around the hospitable hearth his
kindliness had hallowed in my memory as something sacred? Oh, could I but
see his manly smile, or hear his voice! Could I but feel his hand upon my
head, as he was wont to press it, while words of comfort fell from his
lips, and sunk into my heart!

Such were my thoughts one morning as I sauntered, unaccompanied, from my
quarters. I had not gone far, when my attention was aroused by the noise
of a mule-cart, whose jingling bells and clattering timbers announced its
approach by the road I was walking. Another turn of the way brought it into
view; and I saw from the gay costume of the driver, as well as a small
orange flag which decorated the conveyance, that it was the mail-cart with
letters from Lisbon.

Full as my mind was with thoughts of home, I turned hastily back, and
retraced my steps towards the camp. When I reached the adjutant-general’s
quarters, I found a considerable number of officers assembled; the report
that the post had come was a rumor of interest to all, and accordingly,
every moment brought fresh arrivals, pouring in from all sides, and eagerly
inquiring, “If the bags had been opened?” The scene of riot, confusion, and
excitement, when that event did take place, exceeded all belief, each man
reading his letter half aloud, as if his private affairs and domestic
concerns must interest his neighbors, amidst a volley of exclamations of
surprise, pleasure, or occasional anger, as the intelligence severally
suggested,--the disappointed expectants cursing their idle correspondents,
bemoaning their fate about remittances that never arrived, or drafts never
honored; while here and there some public benefactor, with an outspread
“Times” or “Chronicle,” was retailing the narrative of our own exploits in
the Peninsula or the more novel changes in the world of politics since we
left England. A cross-fire of news and London gossip ringing on every side
made up a perfect Babel most difficult to form an idea of. The jargon
partook of every accent and intonation the empire boasts of; and from the
sharp precision of the North Tweeder to the broad doric of Kerry, every
portion, almost every county, of Great Britain had its representative. Here
was a Scotch paymaster, in a lugubrious tone, detailing to his friend the
apparently not over-welcome news that Mistress M’Elwain had just been
safely delivered of twins, which, with their mother, were doing as well
as possible. Here an eager Irishman, turning over the pages rather than
reading his letter, while he exclaimed to his friend,--

“Oh, the devil a rap she’s sent me. The old story about runaway tenants and
distress notices,--sorrow else tenants seem to do in Ireland than run away
every half-year.”

A little apart some sentimental-looking cockney was devouring a very
crossed epistle which he pressed to his lips whenever any one looked at
him; while a host of others satisfied themselves by reading in a kind of
buzzing undertone, every now and then interrupting themselves with some
broken exclamation as commentary,--such as, “Of course she will!” “Never
knew him better!” “That’s the girl for my money!” “Fifty per cent, the
devil!” and so on. At last I was beginning to weary of the scene, and
finding that there appeared to be nothing for me, was turning to leave the
place, when I saw a group of two or three endeavoring to spell out the
address of a letter.

“That’s an Irish post-mark, I’ll swear,” said one; “but who can make
anything of the name? It’s devilish like Otaheite, isn’t it?”

“I wish my tailor wrote as illegibly,” said another; “I’d keep up a most
animated correspondence with him.”

“Here, O’Shaughnessy, you know something of savage life,--spell us this
word here.”

“Show it here. What nonsense, it’s as plain as the nose on my face: ‘Master
Charles O’Malley, in foreign parts!’”

A roar of laughter followed this announcement, which, at any other time,
perhaps, I should have joined in, but which now grated sadly on my ruffled
feelings.

“Here, Charley, this is for you,” said the major; and added in a
whisper,--“and upon my conscience, between ourselves, your friend, whoever
he is, has a strong action against his writing-master,--devil such a fist
ever I looked at!”

One glance satisfied me as to my correspondent. It was from Father Rush,
my old tutor. I hurried eagerly from the spot, and regaining my quarters,
locked the door, and with a beating heart broke the seal and began, as well
as I was able, to decipher his letter. The hand was cramped and stiffened
with age, and the bold, upright letters were gnarled and twisted like a
rustic fence, and demanded great patience and much time in unravelling. It
ran thus:--

    THE PRIORY, Lady-day, 1809.
    MY DEAR MASTER CHARLES,--Your uncle’s feet are so big and
    so uneasy that he can’t write, and I am obliged to take up the pen
    myself, to tell you how we are doing here since you left us. And,
    first of all, the master lost the lawsuit in Dublin, all for the want
    of a Galway jury,--but they don’t go up to town for strong reasons
    they had; and the Curranolick property is gone to Ned M’Manus,
    and may the devil do him good with it! Peggy Maher left this on
    Tuesday; she was complaining of a weakness; she’s gone to consult
    the doctors. I’m sorry for poor Peggy.

    Owen M’Neil beat the Slatterys out of Portunma on Saturday,
    and Jem, they say, is fractured. I trust it’s true, for he never was
    good, root nor branch, and we’ve strong reasons to suspect him for
    drawing the river with a net at night. Sir Harry Boyle sprained his
    wrist, breaking open his bed-room, that he locked when he was inside.
    The count and the master were laughing all the evening at
    him. Matters are going very hard in the country,--the people paying
    their rents regularly, and not caring half as much as they used
    about the real gentry and the old families.

    We kept your birthday at the Castle in great style,--had the
    militia band from the town, and all the tenants. Mr. James Daly
    danced with your old friend Mary Green, and sang a beautiful song,
    and was going to raise the devil, but I interfered; he burned down
    half the blue drawing-room the last night with his tricks,--not that
    your uncle cares, God preserve him to us! it’s little anything like
    that would fret him. The count quarrelled with a young gentleman
    in the course of the evening, but found out he was only an attorney
    from Dublin, so he didn’t shoot him; but he was ducked in the pond
    by the people, and your uncle says he hopes they have a true copy of
    him at home, as they’ll never know the original.

    Peter died soon after you went away, but Tim hunts the dogs
    just as well. They had a beautiful run last Wednesday, and the
    Lord[2] sent for him and gave him a five-pound note; but he says
    he’d rather see yourself back again than twice as much. They
    killed near the big turnip-field, and all went down to see where you
    leaped Badger over the sunk fence,--they call it “Hammersley’s
    Nose” ever since. Bodkin was at Ballinasloe the last fair, limping
    about with a stick; he’s twice as quiet as he used to be, and never
    beat any one since that morning.

    Nellie Guire, at the cross-roads, wants to send you four pair of
    stockings she knitted for you, and I have a keg of potteen of Barney’s
    own making this two months, not knowing how to send it. May be
    Sir Arthur himself would like a taste,--he’s an Irishman himself,
    and one we’re proud of, too! The Maynooth chaps are flying all
    about the country, and making us all uncomfortable,--God’s will be
    done, but we used to think ourselves good enough! Your foster-sister,
    Kitty Doolan, had a fine boy; it’s to be called after you, and
    your uncle’s to give a christening. He bids me tell you to draw
    on him when you want money, and that there’s £400 ready for you
    now somewhere in Dublin,--I forget the name, and as he’s asleep, I
    don’t like asking him. There was a droll devil down here in the
    summer that knew you well,--a Mr. Webber. The master treated
    him like the Lord Lieutenant, had dinner parties for him, and
    gave him Oliver Cromwell to ride over to Meelish. He is expected
    again for the cock-shooting, for the master likes him greatly. I’m
    done at last, for my paper is finished and the candle just out; so with
    every good wish and every good thought, remember your own old
    friend,--
    PETER RUSH.
    P.S. It’s Smart and Sykes, Fleet Street, has the money.
    Father O’Shaughnessey, of Ennis, bids me ask if you ever met his
    nephew. If you do, make him sing “Larry M’Hale.” I hear it’s a
    treat.

    How is Mickey Free going on? There are three decent young
    women in the parish he promised to marry, and I suppose he’s pursuing
    the same game with the Portuguese. But he was never
    remarkable for minding his duties. Tell him I am keeping my eye
    on him.
    P. R.

[Footnote:2 To excuse Father Rush for any apparent impiety, I must add
that, by “the Lord,” he means “Lord Clanricarde.”]

Here concluded this long epistle; and though there were many parts I could
not help smiling at, yet upon the whole I felt sad and dispirited. What I
had long foreseen and anticipated was gradually accomplishing,--the wreck
of an old and honored house, the fall of a name once the watch-word for
all that was benevolent and hospitable in the land. The termination of the
lawsuit I knew must have been a heavy blow to my poor uncle, who, every
consideration of money apart, felt in a legal combat all the enthusiasm and
excitement of a personal conflict. With him there was less a question of
to whom the broad acres reverted, so much as whether that “scoundrel Tom
Basset, the attorney at Athlone, should triumph over us;” or “M’Manus live
in the house as master where his father had officiated as butler.” It was
at this his Irish pride took offence; and straitened circumstances and
narrowed fortunes bore little upon him in comparison with this feeling.

I could see, too, that with breaking fortunes, bad health was making heavy
inroads upon him; and while, with the reckless desperation of ruin, he
still kept open house, I could picture to myself his cheerful eye and
handsome smile but ill concealing the slow but certain march of a broken
heart.

My position was doubly painful: for any advice, had I been calculated to
give it, would have seemed an act of indelicate interference from one who
was to benefit by his own counsel; and although I had been reared and
educated as my uncle’s heir, I had no title nor pretension to succeed him
other than his kind feelings respecting me. I could, therefore, only look
on in silence, and watch the painful progress of our downfall without power
to arrest it.

These were sad thoughts, and came when my heart was already bowed down with
its affliction. That my poor uncle might be spared the misery which sooner
or later seemed inevitable, was now my only wish; that he might go down to
the grave without the embittering feelings which a ruined fortune and a
fallen house bring home to the heart, was all my prayer. Let him but close
his eyes in the old wainscoted bed-room, beneath the old roof where his
fathers and grand-fathers have done so for centuries. Let the faithful
followers he has known since his childhood stand round his bed; while his
fast-failing sight recognizes each old and well-remembered object, and the
same bell which rang its farewell to the spirit of his ancestors toll for
him, the last of his race. And as for me, there was the wide world before
me, and a narrow resting-place would suffice for a soldier’s sepulchre.

As the mail-cart was returning the next day to Lisbon, I immediately sat
down and replied to the worthy Father’s letter, speaking as encouragingly
as I could of my own prospects. I dwelt much upon what was nearest my
heart, and begged of the good priest to watch over my uncle’s health, to
cheer his spirits and support his courage; and that I trusted the day was
not far distant when I should be once more among them, with many a story
of fray and battle-field to enliven their firesides. Pressing him to write
frequently to me, I closed my hurried letter; and having despatched it, sat
sorrowfully down to muse over my fortunes.



CHAPTER LXIV.


AN ADVENTURE WITH SIR ARTHUR.

The events of the last few days had impressed me with a weight of years.
The awful circumstances of that evening lay heavily at my heart; and though
guiltless of Trevyllian’s blood, the reproach that conscience ever carries
when one has been involved in a death-scene never left my thoughts.

For some time previously I had been depressed and disspirited, and the
awful shock I had sustained broke my nerve and unmanned me greatly.

There are times when our sorrows tinge all the colorings of our thoughts,
and one pervading hue of melancholy spreads like a pall upon what we have
of fairest and brightest on earth. So was it now: I had lost hope and
ambition; a sad feeling that my career was destined to misfortune and
mishap gained hourly upon me; and all the bright aspirations of a soldier’s
glory, all my enthusiasm for the pomp and circumstance of glorious war,
fell coldly upon my heart, and I looked upon the chivalry of a soldier’s
life as the empty pageant of a dream.

In this sad frame of mind, I avoided all intercourse with my brother
officers; their gay and joyous spirits only jarred upon my brooding
thoughts, and feigning illness, I kept almost entirely to my quarters.

The inactivity of our present life weighed also heavily upon me. The
stirring events of a campaign--the march, the bivouac, the picket--call
forth a certain physical exertion that never fails to react upon the torpid
mind.

Forgetting all around me, I thought of home; I thought of those whose
hearts I felt were now turning towards me, and considered within myself how
I could have exchanged the home, the days of peaceful happiness there, for
the life of misery and disappointment I now endured.

A brooding melancholy gained daily more and more upon me. A wish, to return
to Ireland, a vague and indistinct feeling that my career was not destined
for aught of great and good crept upon me, and I longed to sink into
oblivion, forgotten and forgot.

I record this painful feeling here, while it is still a painful memory, as
one of the dark shadows that cross the bright sky of our happiest days.

Happy, indeed, are they, as we look back to them and remember the times we
have pronounced ourselves “the most miserable of mankind.” This, somehow,
is a confession we never make later on in life, when real troubles and true
afflictions assail us. Whether we call in more philosophy to our aid, or
that our senses become less acute and discerning, I’m sure I know not.

As for me, I confess by far the greater portion of my sorrows seemed to
come in that budding period of existence when life is ever fairest and most
captivating. Not, perhaps, that the fact was really so, but the spoiled
and humored child, whose caprices were a law, felt heavily the threatening
difficulties of his first voyage; while as he continued to sail over the
ocean of life, he braved the storm and the squall, and felt only gratitude
for the favoring breeze that wafted him upon his course.

What an admirable remedy for misanthropy is the being placed in a
subordinate condition in life! Had I, at the period that I write, been Sir
Arthur Wellesley; had I even been Marshal Beresford,--to all certainty I’d
have played the very devil with his Majesty’s forces; I’d have brought my
rascals to where they’d have been well-peppered, that’s certain.

But as, luckily for the sake of humanity in general and the well-being of
the service in particular, I was merely Lieutenant O’Malley, 14th Light
Dragoons, the case was very different. With what heavy censure did I
condemn the commander of the forces in my own mind for his want of daring
and enterprise! Whole nights did I pass in endeavoring to account for his
inactivity and lethargy. Why he did not _seriatim_ fall upon Soult, Ney,
and Victor, annihilate the French forces, and sack Madrid, I looked upon as
little less than a riddle; and yet there he waited, drilling, exercising,
and foraging, as if he were at Hounslow. Now most fortunately here again I
was not Sir Arthur.

Something in this frame of mind, I was taking one evening a solitary ride
some miles from the camp. Without noticing the circumstance, I had entered
a little mountain tract, when, the ground being broken and uneven, I
dismounted and proceeded a-foot, with the bridle within my arm. I had not
gone far when the clatter of a horse’s hoofs came rapidly towards me, and
though there was something startling in the pace over such a piece of road,
I never lifted my eyes as the horseman came up, but continued my slow
progress onwards, my head sunk upon my bosom.

“Hallo, sir!” cried a sharp voice, whose tones seemed, somehow, not heard
for the first time. I looked up, saw a slight figure closely buttoned up
in a blue horseman’s cloak, the collar of which almost entirely hid his
features; he wore a plain, cocked hat without a feather, and was mounted
upon a sharp, wiry-looking hack.

“Hallo, sir! What regiment do you belong to?”

As I had nothing of the soldier about me, save a blue foraging cap, to
denote my corps, the tone of the demand was little calculated to elicit
a very polished reply; but preferring, as most impertinent, to make no
answer, I passed on without speaking.

“Did you hear, sir?” cried the same voice, in a still louder key. “What’s
your regiment?”

I now turned round, resolved to question the other in turn; when, to my
inexpressible shame and confusion, he had lowered the collar of his cloak,
and I saw the features of Sir Arthur Wellesley.

“Fourteenth Light Dragoons, sir,” said I, blushing as I spoke.

“Have you not read the general order, sir? Why have you left the camp?”

Now, I had not read a general order nor even heard one for above a
fortnight. So I stammered out some bungling answer.

“To your quarters, sir, and report yourself under arrest. What’s your
name?”

“Lieutenant O’Malley, sir.”

“Well, sir, your passion for rambling shall be indulged. You shall be sent
to the rear with despatches; and as the army is in advance, probably the
lesson may be serviceable.” So saying, he pressed spurs to his horse, and
was out of sight in a moment.



CHAPTER LXV.


TALAVERA.

Having been despatched to the rear with orders for General Crawfurd, I did
not reach Talavera till the morning of the 28th. Two days’ hard fighting
had left the contending armies still face to face, and without any decided
advantage on either side.

When I arrived upon the battle-field, the combat of the morning was over.
It was then ten o’clock, and the troops were at breakfast, if the few
ounces of wheat sparingly dealt out among them could be dignified by that
name. All was, however, life and animation on every side; the merry laugh,
the passing jest, the careless look, bespoke the free and daring character
of the soldiery, as they sat in groups upon the grass; and except when a
fatigue party passed by, bearing some wounded comrade to the rear, no touch
of seriousness rested upon their hardy features. The morning was indeed
a glorious one; a sky of unclouded blue stretched above a landscape
unsurpassed in loveliness. Far to the right rolled on in placid stream the
broad Tagus, bathing in its eddies the very walls of Talavera, the ground
from which, to our position, gently undulated across a plain of most
fertile richness and terminated on our extreme left in a bold height,
protected in front by a ravine, and flanked by a deep and rugged valley.

The Spaniards occupied the right of the line, connecting with our troops at
a rising ground, upon which a strong redoubt had been hastily thrown up.
The fourth division and the Guards were stationed here, next to whom came
Cameron’s brigade and the Germans, Mackenzie and Hill holding the extreme
left of all, which might be called the key of our position. In the valley
beneath the latter were picketed three cavalry regiments, among which I was
not long in detecting my gallant friends of the Twenty-third.

As I rode rapidly past, saluting some old familiar face at each moment, I
could not help feeling struck at the evidence of the desperate battle that
so lately had raged there. The whole surface of the hill was one mass of
dead and dying, the bearskin of the French grenadier lying side by side
with the tartan of the Highlander. Deep furrows in the soil showed the
track of the furious cannonade, and the terrible evidences of a bayonet
charge were written in the mangled corpses around.

The fight had been maintained without any intermission from daybreak
till near nine o’clock that morning, and the slaughter on both sides was
dreadful. The mounds of fresh earth on every side told of the soldier’s
sepulchre; and the unceasing tramp of the pioneers struck sadly upon the
ear, as the groans of the wounded blended with the funeral sounds around
them.

In front were drawn up the dark legions of France,--massive columns of
infantry, with dense bodies of artillery alternating along the line. They,
too, occupied a gently rising ground, the valley between the two armies
being crossed half way by a little rivulet; and here, during the sultry
heat of the morning, the troops on both sides met and mingled to quench
their thirst ere the trumpet again called them to the slaughter.

In a small ravine near the centre of our line were drawn up Cotton’s
brigade, of whom the Fusiliers formed a part. Directly in front of this
were Campbell’s brigade, to the left of which, upon a gentle slope, the
staff were now assembled. Thither, accordingly, I bent my steps, and as
I came up the little scarp, found myself among the generals of division,
hastily summoned by Sir Arthur to deliberate upon a forward movement. The
council lasted scarcely a quarter of an hour, and when I presented myself
to deliver my report, all the dispositions for the battle had been decided
upon, and the commander of the forces, seated upon the grass at his
breakfast, looked by far the most unconcerned and uninterested man I had
seen that morning.

He turned his head rapidly as I came up, and before the aide-de-camp could
announce me, called out:--

“Well, sir, what news of the reinforcements?”

“They cannot reach Talavera before to-morrow, sir.”

“Then, before that, we shall not want them. That will do, sir.”

So saying, he resumed his breakfast, and I retired, more than ever struck
with the surprising coolness of the man upon whom no disappointment seemed
to have the slightest influence.

I had scarcely rejoined my regiment, and was giving an account to my
brother officers of my journey, when an aide-de-camp came galloping at full
speed down the line, and communicating with the several commanding officers
as he passed.

What might be the nature of the orders we could not guess at; for no word
to fall in followed, and yet it was evident something of importance was
at hand. Upon the hill where the staff were assembled no unusual bustle
appeared; and we could see the bay cob of Sir Arthur still being led up and
down by the groom, with a dragoon’s mantle thrown over him. The soldiers,
overcome by the heat and fatigue of the morning, lay stretched around upon
the grass, and everything bespoke a period of rest and refreshment.

“We are going to advance, depend upon it!” said a young officer beside me;
“the repulse of this morning has been a smart lesson to the French, and Sir
Arthur won’t leave them without impressing it upon them.”

“Hark, what’s that?” cried Baker; “listen!”

As he spoke, a strain of most delicious music came wafted across the plain.
It was from the band of a French regiment, and mellowed by the distance,
it seemed in the calm stillness of the morning air like something less of
earth than heaven. As we listened, the notes swelled upwards yet fuller;
and one by one the different bands seemed to join, till at last the whole
air seemed full of the rich flood of melody.

We could now perceive the stragglers were rapidly falling back, while high
above all other sounds the clanging notes of the trumpet were heard along
the line. The hoarse drum now beat to arms; and soon after a brilliant
staff rode slowly from between two dense bodies of infantry, and advancing
some distance into the plain, seemed to reconnoitre us. A cloud of Polish
cavalry, distinguished by their long lances and floating banners, loitered
in their rear.

We had not time for further observation, when the drums on our side beat to
arms, and the hoarse cry, “Fall in,--fall in there, lads!” resounded along
the line.

It was now one o’clock, and before half an hour the troops had resumed the
position of the morning, and stood silent and anxious spectators of the
scene before them.

Upon the table-land to the rear of the French position, we could descry the
gorgeous tent of King Joseph, around which a large and splendidly-accoutred
staff were seen standing. Here, too, the bustle and excitement seemed
considerable, for to this point the dark masses of the infantry seemed
converging from the extreme right; and here we could perceive the royal
guards and the reserve now forming in column of attack.

From the crest of the hill down to the very valley, the dark, dense ranks
extended, the flanks protected by a powerful artillery and deep masses of
heavy cavalry. It was evident that the attack was not to commence on our
side, and the greatest and most intense anxiety pervaded us as to what part
of our line was first to be assailed.

Meanwhile Sir Arthur Wellesley, who from the height had been patiently
observing the field of battle, despatched an aide-de-camp at full gallop
towards Campbell’s brigade, posted directly in advance of us. As he passed
swiftly along, he called out, “You’re in for it, Fourteenth; you’ll have to
open the ball to-day.”

Scarcely were the words spoken, when a signal gun from the French boomed
heavily through the still air. The last echo was growing fainter, and the
heavy smoke breaking into mist, when the most deafening thunder ever my
ears heard came pealing around us; eighty pieces of artillery had opened
upon us, sending a very tempest of balls upon our line, while midst the
smoke and dust we could see the light troops advancing at a run, followed
by the broad and massive columns in all the terror and majesty of war.

“What a splendid attack! How gallantly they come on!” cried an old veteran
officer beside me, forgetting all rivalry in his noble admiration of our
enemy.

The intervening space was soon passed, and the tirailleurs falling back as
the columns came on, the towering masses bore down upon Campbell’s division
with a loud cry of defiance. Silently and steadily the English infantry
awaited the attack, and returning the fire with one withering volley, were
ordered to charge. Scarcely were the bayonets lowered, when the head of the
advancing column broke and fled, while Mackenzie’s brigade, overlapping the
flank, pushed boldly forward, and a scene of frightful carnage followed;
for a moment a hand-to-hand combat was sustained, but the unbroken files
and impregnable bayonets of the English conquered, and the French fled,
leaving six guns behind them.

The gallant enemy were troops of tried and proved courage, and scarcely had
they retreated when they again formed; but just as they prepared to come
forward, a tremendous shower of grape opened upon them from our batteries,
while a cloud of Spanish horse assailed them in flank and nearly cut them
in pieces.

While this was passing on the right, a tremendous attack menaced the hill
upon which our left was posted. Two powerful columns of French infantry,
supported by some regiments of light cavalry, came steadily forward to the
attack; Anson’s brigade were ordered to charge.

Away they went at top speed, but had not gone above a hundred yards when
they were suddenly arrested by a deep chasm; here the German hussars pulled
short up, but the Twenty-third dashing impetuously forward; a scene of
terrific carnage ensued, men and horses rolling indiscriminately together
under a withering fire from the French squares. Even here, however, British
valor quailed not, for Major Francis Ponsonby, forming all who came up,
rode boldly upon a brigade of French chasseurs in the rear. Victor, who
from the first had watched the movement, at once despatched a lancer
regiment against them, and then these brave fellows were absolutely cut to
atoms, the few who escaped having passed through the French columns and
reached Bassecour’s Spanish division on the far right.

During this time the hill was again assailed, and even more desperately
than before; while Victor himself led on the fourth corps to an attack upon
our right and centre.

The Guards waited without flinching the impetuous rush of the advancing
columns, and when at length within a short distance, dashed forward with
the bayonet, driving everything before them. The French fell back upon
their sustaining masses, and rallying in an instant, again came forward,
supported by a tremendous fire from their batteries. The Guards drew back,
and the German Legion, suddenly thrown into confusion, began to retire
in disorder. This was the most critical moment of the day, for although
successful upon the extreme right and left of our line, our centre was
absolutely broken. Just at this moment Gordon rode up to our brigade; his
face was pale, and his look flurried and excited.

“The Forty-eighth are coming; here they are,--support them, Fourteenth.”

These few words were all he spoke; and the next moment the measured tread
of a column was heard behind us. On they came like one man, their compact
and dense formation looking like some massive wall; wheeling by companies,
they suffered the Guards and Germans to retire behind them, and then,
reforming into line, they rushed forward with the bayonet. Our artillery
opened with a deafening thunder behind them, and then we were ordered to
charge.

We came on at a trot; the Guards, who had now recovered their formation,
cheered us as we proceeded. The smoke of the cannonade obscured everything
until we had advanced some distance, but just as we emerged beyond the line
of the gallant Forty-eighth, the splendid panorama of the battle-field
broke suddenly upon us.

“Charge, forward!” cried the hoarse voice of our colonel; and we were upon
them. The French infantry, already broken by the withering musketry of our
people, gave way before us, and unable to form a square, retired fighting
but in confusion, and with tremendous loss, to their position. One glorious
cheer, from left to right of our line, proclaimed the victory, while a
deafening discharge of artillery from the French replied to this defiance,
and the battle was over. Had the Spanish army been capable of a forward
movement, our successes at this moment would have been much more
considerable; but they did not dare to change their position, and the
repulse of our enemy was destined to be all our glory. The French, however,
suffered much more severely than we did; and retiring during the night,
fell back behind the Alberche, leaving us the victory and the battle-field.



CHAPTER LXVI.


NIGHT AFTER TALAVERA.

The night which followed the battle was a sad one. Through the darkness,
and under a fast-falling rain, the hours were spent in searching for
our wounded comrades amidst the heap of slain upon the field; and tho
glimmering of the lanterns, as they flickered far and near across the wide
plain, bespoke the track of the fatigue parties in their mournful round;
while the groans of the wounded rose amidst the silence with an accent of
heart-rending anguish; so true was it, as our great commander said, “There
is nothing more sad than a victory, except a defeat.”

Around our bivouac fires, the feeling of sorrowful depression was also
evident. We had gained a great victory, it was true: we had beaten the
far-famed legions of France upon a ground of their own choosing, led by the
most celebrated of their marshals and under the eyes of the Emperor’s own
brother; but still we felt all the hazardous daring of our position, and
had no confidence whatever in the courage or discipline of our allies; and
we saw that in the very _mêlée_ of the battle the efforts of the enemy
were directed almost exclusively against our line, so confidently did they
undervalue the efforts of the Spanish troops. Morning broke at length, and
scarcely was the heavy mist clearing away before the red sunlight, when the
sounds of fife and drum were heard from a distant part of the field. The
notes swelled or sank as the breeze rose or fell, and many a conjecture was
hazarded as to their meaning, for no object was well visible for more than
a few hundred yards off; gradually, however, they grew nearer and nearer,
and at length, as the air cleared, and the hazy vapor evaporated, the
bright scarlet uniform of a British regiment was seen advancing at a
quick-step.

As they came nearer, the well-known march of the gallant 43d was recognized
by some of our people, and immediately the rumor fled like lightning: “It
is Crawfurd’s brigade!” and so it was; the noble fellow had marched his
division the unparalleled distance of sixty English miles in twenty-seven
hours. Over a burning sandy soil, exposed to a raging sun, without rations,
almost without water, these gallant troops pressed on in the unwearied hope
of sharing the glory of the battle-field. One tremendous cheer welcomed the
head of the column as they marched past, and continued till the last file
had deployed before us.

As these splendid regiments moved by we could not help feeling what
signal service they might have rendered us but a few hours before. Their
soldier-like bearing, their high and effective state of discipline, their
well-known reputation, were in every mouth; and I scarcely think that any
corps who stood the brunt of the mighty battle were the subject of more
encomium than the brave fellows who had just joined us.

The mournful duties of the night were soon forgotten in the gay and buoyant
sounds on every side. Congratulations, shaking of hands, kind inquiries,
went round; and as we looked to the hilly ground where so lately were
drawn up in battle array the dark columns of our enemy, and where not one
sentinel now remained, the proud feeling of our victory came home to our
hearts with the ever-thrilling thought, “What will they say at home?”

I was standing amidst a group of my brother officers, when I received an
order from the colonel to ride down to Talavera for the return of our
wounded, as the arrival of the commander-in-chief was momentarily looked
for. I threw myself upon my horse, and setting out at a brisk pace, soon
reached the gates.

On entering the town, I was obliged to dismount and proceed on foot. The
streets were completely filled with people, treading their way among
wagons, forage carts, and sick-litters. Here was a booth filled with all
imaginable wares for sale; there was a temporary gin-shop established
beneath a broken baggage-wagon; here might be seen a merry party throwing
dice for a turkey or a kid; there, a wounded man, with bloodless cheek and
tottering step, inquiring the road to the hospital. The accents of
agony mingled with the drunken chorus, and the sharp crack of the
provost-marshal’s whip was heard above the boisterous revelling of the
debauchee. All was confusion, bustle, and excitement. The staff officer,
with his flowing plume and glittering epaulettes, wended his way on foot,
amidst the din and bustle, unnoticed and uncared for; while the little
drummer amused an admiring audience of simple country-folk by some wondrous
tale of the great victory.

My passage through this dense mass was necessarily a slow one. No one made
way for another; discipline for the time was at an end, and with it all
respect for rank or position. It was what nothing of mere vicissitude in
the fortune of war can equal,--the wild orgies of an army the day after a
battle.

On turning the corner of a narrow street, my attention was attracted by a
crowd which, gathered round a small fountain, seemed, as well as I could
perceive, to witness some proceeding with a more than ordinary interest.
Exclamations in Portuguese, expressive of surprise and admiration, wore
mingled with English oaths and Irish ejaculations, while high above all
rose other sounds,--the cries of some one in pain and suffering; forcing my
way through the dense group, I at length reached the interior of the crowd
when, to my astonishment, I perceived a short, fat, punchy-looking man,
stripped of his coat and waist-coat, and with his shirt-sleeves rolled
up to his shoulder, busily employed in operating upon a wounded soldier.
Amputation knives, tourniquets, bandages, and all other imaginable
instruments for giving or alleviating torture were strewed about him, and
from the arrangement and preparation, it was clear that he had pitched upon
this spot as an hospital for his patients. While he continued to perform
his functions with a singular speed and dexterity, he never for a moment
ceased a running fire of small talk, now addressed to the patient in
particular, now to the crowd at large, sometimes a soliloquy to himself,
and not unfrequently, abstractedly, upon things in general. These little
specimens of oratory, delivered in such a place at such a time, and, not
least of all, in the richest imaginable Cork accent, were sufficient to
arrest my steps, and I stopped for some time to observe him.

The patient, who was a large, powerfully-built fellow, had been wounded
in both legs by the explosion of a shell, but yet not so severely as to
require amputation.

“Does that plaze you, then?” said the doctor, as he applied some powerful
caustic to a wounded vessel; “there’s no satisfying the like of you. Quite
warm and comfortable ye’ll be this morning after that. I saw the same shell
coming, and I called out to Maurice Blake, ‘By your leave, Maurice, let
that fellow pass, he’s in a hurry!’ and faith, I said to myself, ‘there’s
more where you came from,--you’re not an only child, and I never liked the
family.’ What are ye grinning for, ye brown thieves?” This was addressed
to the Portuguese. “There, now, keep the limb quiet and easy. Upon my
conscience, if that shell fell into ould Lundy Foot’s shop this morning,
there’d be plenty of sneezing in Sacksville Street. Who’s next?” said he,
looking round with an expression that seemed to threaten that if no wounded
man was ready he was quite prepared to carve out a patient for himself. Not
exactly relishing the invitation in the searching that accompanied it,
I backed my way through the crowd, and continued my path towards the
hospital.

Here the scene which presented itself was shocking beyond
belief,--frightful and ghastly wounds from shells and cannon-shot were seen
on all sides, every imaginable species of suffering that man is capable of
was presented to view; while amidst the dead and dying, operations the most
painful were proceeding with a haste and bustle that plainly showed how
many more waited their turn for similar offices. The stairs were blocked
up with fresh arrivals of wounded men, and even upon the corridors and
landing-places the sick were strewn on all sides.

I hurried to that part of the building where my own people were, and soon
learned that our loss was confined to about fourteen wounded; five of them
were officers. But fortunately, we lost not a man of our gallant fellows,
and Talavera brought us no mourning for a comrade to damp the exultation we
felt in our victory.



CHAPTER LXVII.


THE OUTPOST.

During the three days which succeeded the battle, all things remained as
they were before. The enemy had gradually withdrawn all his forces, and our
most advanced pickets never came in sight of a French detachment. Still,
although we had gained a great victory, our situation was anything but
flattering. The most strenuous exertions of the commissariat were barely
sufficient to provision the troops; and we had even already but too much
experience of how little trust or reliance could be reposed in the most
lavish promises of our allies. It was true, our spirits failed us not;
but it was rather from an implicit and never-failing confidence in the
resources of our great leader, than that any among us could see his way
through the dense cloud of difficulty and danger that seemed to envelop us
on every side.

To add to the pressing emergency of our position, we learned on the evening
of the 31st that Soult was advancing from the north, and at the head
of fourteen thousand chosen troops in full march upon Placentia; thus
threatening our rear, at the very moment too, when any further advance was
evidently impossible.

On the morning of the 1st of August, I was ordered, with a small party, to
push forward in the direction of the Alberche, upon the left bank of which
it was reported that the French were again concentrating their forces, and
if possible, to obtain information of their future movements. Meanwhile the
army was about to fall back upon Oropesa, there to await Soult’s advance,
and if necessary, to give him battle; Cuesta engaging with his Spaniards
to secure Talavera, with its stores and hospitals, against any present
movement from Victor.

After a hearty breakfast, and a kind “Good-by!” from my brother officers,
I set out. My road along the Tagus, for several miles of the way, was a
narrow path scarped from the rocky ledge of the river, shaded by rich olive
plantations that throw a friendly shade over us during the noonday heat.

We travelled along silently, sparing our cattle from time to time, but
endeavoring ere nightfall to reach Torrijos, in which village we had heard
several French soldiers were in hospital. Our information leading us to
believe them very inadequately guarded, we hoped to make some prisoners,
from whom the information we sought could in all likelihood be obtained.
More than once during the day our road was crossed by parties similar to
our own, sent forward to reconnoitre; and towards evening a party of the
23d Light Dragoons, returning towards Talavera, informed us that the French
had retired from Torrijos, which was now occupied by an English detachment
under my old friend O’Shaughnessy.

I need not say with what pleasure I heard this piece of news, and eagerly
pressed forward, preferring the warm shelter and hospitable board the
major was certain of possessing, to the cold blast and dripping grass of
a bivouac. Night, however, fell fast; darkness, without an intervening
twilight, set in, and we lost our way. A bleak table-land with here and
there a stunted, leafless tree was all that we could discern by the pale
light of a new moon. An apparently interminable heath uncrossed by path or
foot-track was before us, and our jaded cattle seemed to feel the dreary
uncertainty of the prospect as sensitively as ourselves,--stumbling and
over-reaching at every step.

Cursing my ill-luck for such a misadventure, and once more picturing to my
mind the bright blazing hearth and smoking supper I had hoped to partake
of, I called a halt, and prepared to pass the night. My decision was
hastened by finding myself suddenly in a little grove of pine-trees whose
shelter was not to be despised; besides that, our bivouac fires were now
sure of being supplied.

It was fortunate the night was fine, though dark. In a calm, still
atmosphere, when not a leaf moved nor a branch stirred, we picketed our
tired horses, and shaking out their forage, heaped up in the midst a
blazing fire of the fir-tree. Our humble supper was produced, and even with
the still lingering revery of the major and his happier destiny, I began to
feel comfortable.

My troopers, who probably had not been flattering their imaginations with
such _gourmand_ reflections and views, sat happily around their cheerful
blaze, chatting over the great battle they had so lately witnessed, and
mingling their stories of some comrade’s prowess with sorrows for the dead
and proud hopes for the future. In the midst, upon his knees beside
the flame, was Mike, disputing, detailing, guessing, and occasionally
inventing,--all his arguments only tending to one view of the late victory:
“That it was the Lord’s mercy the most of the 48th was Irish, or we
wouldn’t be sitting there now!”

Despite Mr. Free’s conversational gifts, however, his audience one by one
dropped off in sleep, leaving him sole monarch of the watch-fire, and--what
he thought more of--a small brass kettle nearly full of brandy-and-water.
This latter, I perceived, he produced when all was tranquil, and seemed,
as he cast a furtive glance around, to assure himself that he was the only
company present.

Lying some yards off, I watched him for about an hour, as he sat rubbing
his hands before the blaze, or lifting the little vessel to his lips; his
droll features ever and anon seeming acted upon by some passing dream
of former devilment, as he smiled and muttered some sentences in an
under-voice. Sleep at length overpowered me; but my last waking thoughts
were haunted with a singular ditty by which Mike accompanied himself as
he kept burnishing the buttons of my jacket before the fire, now and then
interrupting the melody by a recourse to the copper.

“Well, well; you’re clean enough now, and sure it’s little good brightening
you up, when you’ll be as bad to-morrow. Like his father’s son, devil a lie
in it! Nothing would serve him but his best blue jacket to fight in, as if
the French was particular what they killed us in. Pleasant trade, upon my
conscience! Well, never mind. That’s beautiful _sperets_, anyhow. Your
health, Mickey Free; it’s yourself that stands to me.

    “It’s little for glory I care;
      Sure ambition is only a fable;
    I’d as soon be myself as Lord Mayor,
      With lashings of drink on the table.
    I like to lie down in the sun
      And _drame_, when my _faytures_ is scorchin’
    That when I’m too _ould_ for more fun,
      Why, I’ll marry a wife with a fortune.

    “And in winter, with bacon and eggs,
      And a place, at the turf-fire basking,
    Sip my punch as I roasted my legs,
      Oh, the devil a more I’d be asking!
    For I haven’t a _janius_ for work,--
      It was never the gift of the Bradies,--
    But I’d make a most _illigant_ Turk,
      For I’m fond of tobacco and ladies.”

This confounded _refrain_ kept ringing through my dream, and “tobacco and
ladies” mingled with my thoughts of storm and battle-field long after their
very gifted author had composed himself to slumber.

Sleep, and sound sleep, came at length, and many hours elapsed ere I awoke.
When I did so, my fire was reduced to its last embers. Mike, like the
others, had sunk in slumber, and midst the gray dawn that precedes the
morning, I could just perceive the dark shadows of my troopers as they lay
in groups around.

The fatigues of the previous day had so completely overcome me, that it was
with difficulty I could arouse myself so far as to heap fresh logs upon the
fire. This I did with my eyes half closed, and in that listless, dreamy
state which seems the twilight of sleep.

I managed so much, however, and was returning to my couch beneath a tree,
when suddenly an object presented itself to my eyes that absolutely rooted
me to the spot. At about twenty or thirty yards distant, where but the
moment before the long line of horizon terminated the view, there now stood
a huge figure of some ten or twelve feet in height,--two heads, which
surmounted this colossal personage, moved alternately from side to side,
while several arms waved loosely to and fro in the most strange and uncouth
manner. My first impression was that a dream had conjured up this distorted
image; but when I had assured myself by repeated pinchings and shakings
that I was really awake, still it remained there. I was never much given
to believe in ghosts; but even had I been so, this strange apparition
must have puzzled me as much as ever, for it could not have been the
representative of anything I ever heard of before.

A vague suspicion that some French trickery was concerned, induced me to
challenge it in French; so, without advancing a step, I halloed out, “_Qui
va là_?”

My voice aroused a sleeping soldier, who, springing up beside me, had his
carbine at the cock; while, equally thunderstruck with myself, he gazed at
the monster.

“_Qui va là_?” shouted I again, and no answer was returned, when suddenly
the huge object wheeled rapidly around, and without waiting for any further
parley, made for the thicket.

The tramp of a horse’s feet now assured me as to the nature of at least
part of the spectacle, when click went the trigger behind me, and the
trooper’s ball rushed whistling through the brushwood. In a moment the
whole party were up and stirring.

“This way, lads!” cried I, as drawing my sabre, I dashed into the pine
wood.

For a few moments all was dark as midnight; but as we proceeded farther, we
came out upon a little open space which commanded the plain beneath for a
great extent.

“There it goes!” said one of the men, pointing to a narrow, beaten path,
in which the tall figure moved at a slow and stately pace, while still the
same wild gestures of heads and limbs continued.


“Don’t fire, men! don’t fire!” I cried, “but follow me,” as I set forward
as hard as I could.

As we neared it, the frantic gesticulations grew more and more remarkable,
while some stray words, which we half caught, sounded like English in our
ears. We were now within pistol-shot distance, when suddenly the horse--for
that much at least we were assured of--stumbled and fell forward,
precipitating the remainder of the object headlong into the road.

In a second we were upon the spot, when the first sounds which greeted me
were the following, uttered in an accent by no means new to me:--

“Oh, blessed Virgin! Wasn’t it yourself that threw me in the mud, or my
nose was done for? Shaugh, Shaugh, my boy, since we are taken, tip them the
blarney, and say we’re generals of division!”

I need not say with what a burst of laughter I received this very original
declaration.

“I ought to know that laugh,” cried a voice I at once knew to be my friend
O’Shaughnessy’s. “Are you Charles O’Malley, by any chance in life?”

“The same, Major, and delighted to meet you; though, faith, we were near
giving you a rather warm reception. What, in the Devil’s name, did you
represent, just now?”

“Ask Maurice, there, bad luck to him. I wish the Devil had him when he
persuaded me into it.”

“Introduce me to your friend,” replied the other, rubbing his shins as he
spoke. “Mr. O’Mealey,”--so he called me,--“I think. Happy to meet you; my
mother was a Ryan of Killdooley, married to a first cousin of your father’s
before she took Mr. Quill, my respected progenitor. I’m Dr. Quill of the
48th, more commonly called Maurice Quill. Tear and ages! how sore my back
is! It was all the fault of the baste, Mr. O’Mealey. We set out in search
of you this morning, to bring you back with us to Torrijos, but we fell in
with a very pleasant funeral at Barcaventer, and joined them. They invited
us, I may say, to spend the day; and a very jovial day it was. I was the
chief mourner, and carried a very big candle through the village, in
consideration of as fine a meat-pie, and as much lush as my grief permitted
me to indulge in afterwards. But, my dear sir, when it was all finished, we
found ourselves nine miles from our quarters; and as neither of us were in
a very befitting condition for pedestrian exercise, we stole one of the
leaders out of the hearse,--velvet, plumes, and all,--and set off home.

“When we came upon your party we were not over clear whether you were
English, Portuguese, or French, and that was the reason I called out to
you, ‘God save all here!’ in Irish. Your polite answer was a shot, which
struck the old horse in the knee, and although we wheeled about in
double-quick, we never could get him out of his professional habits on the
road. He had a strong notion he was engaged in another funeral,--as he was
very likely to be,--and the devil a bit faster than a dead march could we
get him to, with all our thrashing. Orderly time for men in a hurry, with a
whole platoon blazing away behind them! But long life to the cavalry, they
never hit anything!”

While he continued to run on in this manner, we reached our watch-fire,
when what was my surprise to discover, in my newly-made acquaintance, the
worthy doctor I had seen a day or two before operating at the fountain at
Talavera.

“Well, Mr. O’Mealey,” said he, as he seated himself before the blaze, “What
is the state of the larder? Anything savory,--anything drink-inspiring to
be had?”

“I fear, Doctor, my fare is of the very humblest; still--”

“What are the fluids, Charley?” cried the major; “the cruel performance I
have been enacting on that cursed beast has left me in a fever.”

“This was a pigeon-pie, formerly,” said Dr. Quill, investigating the ruined
walls of a pasty; “and,--but come, here’s a duck; and if my nose deceive
me not, a very tolerable ham. Peter--Larry--Patsy--What’s the name of your
familiar there?”

“Mickey--Mickey Free.”

“Mickey Free, then; come here, avick! Devise a little drink, my son,--none
of the weakest--no lemon---hot! You understand, hot! That chap has an eye
for punch; there’s no mistaking an Irish fellow, Nature has endowed them
richly,--fine features and a beautiful absorbent system! That’s the gift!
Just look at him, blowing up the fire,--isn’t he a picture? Well, O’Mealey,
I was fretting that we hadn’t you up at Torrijos; we were enjoying life
very respectably,--we established a little system of small tithes upon
fowl, sheep, pigs’ heads, and wine skins that throve remarkably for the
time. Here’s the lush! Put it down there, Mickey, in the middle; that’s
right. Your health, Shaugh. O’Mealey, here’s a troop to you; and in the
mean time I’ll give you a chant:--

    ‘Come, ye jovial souls, don’t over the bowl be sleeping,
    Nor let the grog go round like a cripple creeping;
    If your care comes, up, in the liquor sink it,
    Pass along the lush, I’m the boy can drink it.
      Isn’t that so, Mrs. Mary Callaghan?
      Isn’t that so, Mrs. Mary Callaghan?’

“Shaugh, my hearty, this begins to feel comfortable.”

“Your man, O’Mealey, has a most judicious notion of punch for a small
party; and though one has prejudices about a table, chairs, and that sort
of thing, take my word for it, it’s better than fighting the French, any
day.”

“Well, Charley, it certainly did look quite awkward enough the other day
towards three o’clock, when the Legion fell back before that French column,
and broke the Guards behind them.”

“Yes, you’re quite right; but I think every one felt that the confusion was
but momentary,--the gallant Forty-eighth was up in an instant.”

“Faith, I can answer for their alacrity!” said the doctor “I was making my
way to the rear with all convenient despatch, when an aide-de-camp called
out,--

“‘Cavalry coming! Take care, Forty-eighth!’

“‘Left face, wheel! Fall in there, fall in there!’ I heard on every side,
and soon found myself standing in a square, with Sir Arthur himself and
Hill and the rest of them all around me.

“‘Steady, men! Steady, now!’ said Hill, as he rode around the ranks, while
we saw an awful column of cuirassiers forming on the rising ground to our
left.

“‘Here they come!’ said Sir Arthur, as the French came powdering along,
making the very earth tremble beneath them.

“My first thought was, ‘The devils are mad, and they’ll ride down into us,
before they know they’re kilt!’ And sure enough, smash into our first rank
they pitched, sabring and cutting all before them; when at last the word
‘Fire!’ was given, and the whole head of the column broke like a shell, and
rolled horse over man on the earth.

“‘Very well done! very well, indeed!’ said Sir Arthur, turning as coolly
round to me as if he was asking for more gravy.

“‘Mighty well done!’ said I, in reply; and resolving not to be outdone in
coolness, I pulled out my snuff-box and offered him a pinch, saying, ‘The
real thing, Sir Arthur; our own countryman,--blackguard.’

“He gave a little grim kind of a smile, took a pinch, and then called
out,--

“‘Let Sherbroke advance!’ while turning again towards me, he said, ‘Where
are your people, Colonel?’

“‘Colonel!’ thought I; ‘is it possible he’s going to promote me?’ But
before I could answer, he was talking to another. Meanwhile Hill came up,
and looking at me steadily, burst out with,--

“‘Why the devil are you here, sir? Why ain’t you at the rear?’

“‘Upon my conscience,’ said I, ‘that’s the very thing I’m puzzling myself
about this minute! But if you think it’s pride in me, you’re greatly
mistaken, for I’d rather the greatest scoundrel in Dublin was kicking me
down Sackville Street, than be here now!’

“You’d think it was fun I was making, if you heard how they all laughed,
Hill and Cameron and the others louder than any.

“‘Who is he?’ said Sir Arthur, quickly.

“‘Dr. Quill, surgeon of the Thirty-third, where I exchanged, to be near my
brother, sir, in the Thirty-fourth.’

“‘A doctor,--a surgeon! That fellow a surgeon! Damn him, I took him for
Colonel Grosvenor! I say, Gordon, these medical officers must be docked of
their fine feathers, there’s no knowing them from the staff,--look to that
in the next general order.’

“And sure enough they left us bare and naked the next morning; and if the
French sharpshooters pick us down now, devil mend them for wasting powder,
for if they look in the orderly books, they’ll find their mistake.”

“Ah, Maurice, Maurice!” said Shaugh, with a sigh, “you’ll never
improve,--you’ll never improve!”

“Why the devil would I?” said he. “Ain’t I at the top of my
profession--full surgeon--with nothing to expect, nothing to hope for? Oh,
if I had only remained in the light company, what wouldn’t I be now?”

“Then you were not always a doctor?” said I.

“Upon my conscience, I wasn’t,” said he. “When Shaugh knew me first, I was
the Adonis of the Roscommon militia, with more heiresses in my list than
any man in the regiment; but Shaugh and myself were always unlucky.”

“Poor Mrs. Rogers!” said the major, pathetically, drinking off his glass
and heaving a profound sigh.

“Ah, the darling!” said the doctor. “If it wasn’t for a jug of punch that
lay on the hall table, our fortune in life would be very different.”

“True for you, Maurice!” quoth O’Shaughnessy.

“I should like much to hear that story,” said I, pushing the jug briskly
round.

“He’ll tell it you,” said O’Shaughnessy, lighting his cigar, and leaning
pensively back against a tree,--“he’ll tell it you.”

“I will, with pleasure,” said Maurice. “Let Mr. Free, meantime, amuse
himself with the punch-bowl, and I’ll relate it.”


END OF VOLUME I.





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