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Title: Under the Red Dragon - A Novel
Author: Grant, James, archaeologist
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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A Novel.






     VII. PIQUE.
      XX. FEARS.
      LI. FLIGHT.



"And _she_ is to be there--nay, is there already; so one more chance
is given me to meet her. But for what?--to part again silently, and
more helplessly bewitched than ever, perhaps. Ah, never will she learn
to love me as I love her!" thought I, as I turned over my old friend's
letter, not venturing, however, to give utterance to this aloud, as
the quizzical eyes of Phil Caradoc were upon me.

"A penny for your thoughts, friend Harry?" said he, laughing; "try
another cigar, and rouse yourself. What the deuce is in this letter,
that it affects you so? Have you put a pot of money on the wrong

"Been jilted, had a bill returned, or what?" suggested Gwynne.

"Neither, fortunately," said I; "it is simply an invitation from Sir
Madoc Lloyd, which rather perplexes me."

At this time our regiment was then in the East, awaiting with the rest
of the army some movement to be made from Varna, either towards
Bessarabia or the Crimea--men's minds were undecided as to which,
while her Majesty's Ministers seemed to have no thought on the
subject. Our depôt belonged to the provisional battalion at
Winchester, where Caradoc, Gwynne, two other subalterns, and I, with
some two hundred rank and file, expected ere long the fiat of the
fates who reign at the Horse Guards to send us forth to win our
laurels from the Russians, or, what seemed more probable, a grave
where the pest was then decimating our hapless army, in the beautiful
but perilous vale of Aladdyn, on the coast of Bulgaria. We had
just adjourned from mess, to have a quiet cheroot and glass of
brandy-and-water in my quarters, when I received from my man, Owen
Evans, the letter the contents of which awakened so many new hopes and
tantalising wishes in my heart, and on which so much of my fate in the
future might hinge.

The bare, half-empty, or but partially-furnished single room accorded
by the barrack authorities to me as a subaltern, in that huge square
edifice built of old by Charles II. for a royal residence, seemed by
its aspect but little calculated to flatter the brilliant hopes in
question. Though ample in size, it was far from regal in its
appurtenances--the barrack furniture, a camp-bed, my baggage trunks
piled in one corner, swords and a gun-case in another, books, empty
bottles, cigar-boxes, and a few pairs of boots ostentatiously
displayed in a row by Evans, making up its entire garniture, and by
very contrast in its meagreness compelling me to smile sadly at myself
for the ambitious ideas the letter of my old friend had suggested; and
thus, for a minute or so ignoring, or rather oblivious of, the
presence of my two companions, my eye wandered dreamily over the
far-extended mass of old brick houses and the gray church towers of
the city, all visible from the open window, and then steeped in the
silver haze of the moonlight.

Sipping their brandy-and-water, each with a lighted cheroot between
his fingers, their shell-jackets open, and their feet unceremoniously
planted on a hard wooden chair, while they lounged back upon another,
were Phil Caradoc and Charley Gwynne. The first a good specimen of a
handsome, curly-haired, and heedless young Englishman, who shot,
fished, hunted, pulled a steady oar, and could keep his wicket against
any man, while shining without effort in almost every manly sport, was
moreover a finished gentleman and thorough good fellow. Less
fashionable in appearance and less dashing in manner, though by no
means less soldier-like, Gwynne was his senior by some ten years. He
was more grave and thoughtful, for he had seen more of the service and
more of the world. Already a gray hair or so had begun to mingle with
the blackness of his heavy moustache, and the lines of thought were
traceable on his forehead and about the corners of his keen dark-gray
eyes; for he was a hard-working officer, who had been promoted from
the ranks when the regiment lay at Barbadoes, and was every inch a
soldier. And now they sat opposite me, waiting, with a half-comical
expression, for farther information as to their queries; and though we
were great friends, and usually had few secrets from each other, I
began to find that I had _one_ now, and that a little reticence was

"You know Sir Madoc's place in North Wales?" said I.

"Of course," replied Caradoc; "there are few of ours who don't. Half
the regiment have been there as visitors at one time or other."

"Well, he wishes me to get leave between returns--for even longer if I
can--and run down there for a few weeks. 'Come early, if possible,' he
adds; 'the girls insist on having an outdoor fête, and a lot of nice
folks are coming. Winny has arranged that we shall have a regimental
band--the Yeomanry one too, probably; then we are to have a Welsh
harper, of course, and an itinerant Merlin in the grotto, to tell
every one's fortune, and to predict your promotion and the C.B., if
the seer remains sober. While I write, little Dora is drawing up a
programme of the dances, and marking off, she says, those which she
means to have with _you_.'"

Here I paused; but seeing they expected to hear more, for the writer
was a friend of us all, I read on coolly, and with an air of as much
unconsciousness as I could assume:

"Lady Estelle Cressingham is with us--by the way, she seems to know
you, and would, I think, like to see more of you. She is a very fine
girl, though not pure Welsh; but that she cannot help--it is her
misfortune, not her fault. We have also a fellow here, though I don't
quite know how he got introduced--Hawkesby Guilfoyle, who met her
abroad at Ems, or Baden-Baden, or one of those places where one meets
everybody, and he seems uncommonly attentive--so much so, that I
wonder her mother permits it; but he seems to have some special power
or influence over the old lady, though his name is not as yet, or ever
likely to be, chronicled by Burke or Debrett. In lieu of the goat
which your regiment lost in Barbadoes, Winifred has a beautiful pet
one, a magnificent animal, which she means to present to the Welsh
Fusileers. Tell them so. And now, for yourself, I will take no
refusal, and Winny and Dora will take none either; so pack your traps,
and come off so soon as you can get leave. You need not, unless you
choose, bring horses; we have plenty of cavalry here. Hope you will be
able to stay till the 12th, and have a shot at the grouse. Meanwhile,
believe me, my dear Hardinge, yours, &c., Madoc Meredyth Lloyd.'"

"Kindly written, and so like the jolly style of the old Baronet," said
Gwynne. "I have ridden with him once or twice in the hunting-field--on
a borrowed mount, of course," added poor Charley; who had only his
pay, and, being an enthusiast in his profession, was no lounger in the

"But what is there in all this that perplexes you?" asked Caradoc,
who, I suppose, had been attentively observing me. As he spoke, I
coloured visibly, feeling the while that I did so.

"The difficulty about leave, perhaps," I stammered.

"You'll go, of course," said Caradoc. "His place--Craigaderyn
Court--is one of the finest in North Wales; his daughters are indeed
charming; and you are certain to meet only people of the best style

"Yet he seems to doubt this--what is his name?--Guilfoyle, however,"
said I.

"What of that? One swallow--you know the adage. I should go, if I had
the invitation. His eldest daughter has, I have heard, in her own
right, no end of coal-mines somewhere, and many grassy acres of dairy
farms in the happy hunting-grounds of the midland counties."

"By Jove," murmured Gwynne, as he lit a fresh cigar; "she should be
the girl for me."

"But I have another inducement than even the fair Winny," said I.

"Oho! Lady--"

"Sir Madoc," said I hastily, "is an old friend of my family, and
having known me from infancy, he almost views me as a son. Don't
mistake me," I added, reddening with positive annoyance at the hearty
laugh my admission elicited; "Miss Lloyd and I are old friends too,
and know each other a deuced deal too well to tempt the perils of
matrimony together. We have no draughts ready for the East, nor will
there be yet awhile; even our last recruits are not quite licked into

"No," sighed Gwynne, who had a special charge of the said "licking
into shape."

"And so, as the spring drills are over, I shall try my luck with old

The person thus bluntly spoken of was the lieutenant-colonel of the
depôt battalion--one who kept a pretty tight hand over us all in
general, and the subalterns in particular.

"Stay," I exclaimed suddenly; "here is a postscript. 'Bring Caradoc of
yours with you, and Gwynne, too, if you can. Winny has mastered the
duet the former sent her, and is anxious to try it over with him."

"Caradoc will only be too happy, if the genius who presides over us in
the orderly-room is propitious," said Phil, colouring and laughing.

"Thank Sir Madoc for me, old fellow," said Gwynne, half sadly. "Tell
him that the Fates have made me musketry instructor, and that daily I
have that

     'Delightful task! to rear the tender thought,
      To teach the young idea how to _shoot_'--

to set up Taffy and Giles Chawbacon in the Hythe position, and drill
them to fire without closing both eyes and blazing in the air."

"'In the lawn,' adds Sir Madoc, 'we are to have everything--from
waltzing to croquet (which, being an old fellow, and being above
insteps and all that sort of thing, I think the slowest game known),
and from cliquot and sparkling hock to bottled stout and bitter
beer--unlimited flirtation too, according to that wag, Dora.'"

"A tempting bill of fare, especially with two such hostesses," said
Gwynne; "but for me to quit Winchester is impossible. Even the stale
dodge of 'urgent private affairs' won't serve me. Such droll ideas of
the service old Sir Madoc must have, to think that three of us could
leave the depôt, and all at once too!"

"I shall try my luck, however."

"And I too," rejoined Caradoc. "I am entitled to leave. Price of ours
will take my guards for me. Wales will be glorious in this hot month.
I _did_ all the dear old Principality last year--went over every foot
of Snowdonia, leaving nothing undone, from singing 'Jenny Jones' to
dancing a Welsh jig at a harvest-home."

"But you didn't go over Snowdonia with such a girl as Winifred Lloyd?"

"No, certainly," said he, laughing, and almost reddening again.
"Nature, even in my native Wales, must be more charming under such
bright auspices and happy influence. So Wales be it, if possible.
London, of course, is empty just now, and all who can get out of it
will be yachting at Cowes, shooting in Scotland, fishing in Norway,
backing the red at Baden-Baden, climbing the Matterhorn, or, it may
be, the Peter Botte; killing buffaloes in America, or voyaging up the
Nile in canoes. Rotten-row will be a desert, the opera a place of
silence and cobwebs; and the irresistible desire to go somewhere and
be doing something, no matter what, which inspires all young Britons
about this time, renders Sir Madoc's invitation most tempting and

"Till the route comes for the East," said I.

"Potting the Ruskies, and turning my musketry theory into practice,
are likely to be my chief relaxations and excitement," said Gwynne,
with a good-natured laugh, as he applied his hand to the brandy
bottle. "At present I have other work in hand than flirting with
countesses, or visiting heiresses. But I envy you both, and heartily
wish you all pleasure," he added, as he shook hands and left us early,
as he had several squads to put through that most monotonous of all
drill (shot drill perhaps excepted)--a course of musketry--betimes in
the morning.

We knew that Gwynne, who was a tall, thin, close-flanked, and square
shouldered, but soldier-like fellow, had nothing but his pay; and
having a mother to support, he was fain to slave as a musketry
instructor, the five shillings extra daily being a great pecuniary
object to him. He was very modest withal, and feared that, nathless
his red coat and stalwart figure, his chances of an heiress, even in
Cottonopolis, were somewhat slender.


Philip Caradoc, perceiving that I was somewhat dull and disposed to
indulge in reverie, soon retired also, and we separated, intending to
mature our plans after morning parade next day, as I knew that
secretly Caradoc was very much attached to Winifred Lloyd, though that
young lady by no means reciprocated his affection. But I, seized by an
irresistible impulse, could not wait for our appointed time; so, the
moment he was gone, I opened my desk, wrote my application for leave,
and desiring Evans to take it to the orderly-room among his first
duties on the morrow, threw open a second window to admit the soft
breeze of the summer night, lit another cigar, and sat down to indulge
in the train of thought Sir Madoc's unexpected letter had awakened
within my breast.

Yet I was not much given to reflection--far from it, perhaps; and it
is lucky for soldiers that they rarely indulge much in thought, or
that the system of their life is apt to preclude time or opportunity
for it. I had come home on a year's sick-leave from the West Indies,
where the baleful night-dews, and a fever caught in the rainy season,
had nearly finished my career while stationed at Up Park Camp; and
now, through the friendly interest of Sir Madoc, I had been gazetted
to the Welsh Fusileers, as I preferred the chances of the coming war
and military service in any part of Europe to broiling uselessly in
the land of the Maroons. Our army was in the East, I have said,
encamped in the vale of Aladdyn, between Varna and the sea. There
camp-fever and the terrible cholera were filling fast with graves the
grassy plain and all the Valley of the Plague, as the Bulgarians so
aptly named it; and though I was not sorry to escape the perils
encountered where no honour could be won, I was pretty weary of the
daily round at Winchester, of barrack life, of in-lying pickets,
guards, parades, and drill. I had been seven years in the service, and
deemed myself somewhat of a veteran, though only five-and-twenty. I
was weary too of belonging to a provisional battalion, wherein, beyond
the narrow circle of one's own depôt, no two men have the slightest
interest in each other, or seem to care if they ever meet again, the
whole organisation being temporary, and where the duties of such a
battalion--it being, in effect, a strict military school for training
recruits--are harassing to the newly-fledged, and a dreadful bore to
the fully-initiated, soldier. So, till the time came when the order
would be, "Eastward, ho!" Sir Madoc had opportunely offered me a
little relaxation and escape from all this; and though he knew it not,
his letter might be perhaps the means of doing much more--of opening
up a path to happiness and fortune, or leaving one closed for ever
behind me in sorrow, mortification, and bitterness of heart.

Good old Sir Madoc (or, as he loved to call himself, Madoc ap Meredyth
Lloyd) had in his youth been an unsuccessful lover of my mother, then
the pretty Mary Vassal, a belle in her second season; and now, though
she had long since passed away, he had a strong regard for me. For her
sake he had a deep and kindly interest in my welfare; and as he had no
son (no heir to his baronetcy, with all its old traditional honours,)
he quite regarded me in the light of one; and having two daughters,
desired nothing more than that I should cut the service and become one
in reality. So many an act of friendship and many a piece of stamped
paper he had done for me, when in the first years of my career, I got
into scrapes with rogues upon the turf, at billiards, and with those
curses of all barracks, the children of Judea. Had I seen where my own
good fortune really lay, I should have fallen readily into the snare
so temptingly baited for me, a half-pennyless sub.; for Winifred Lloyd
was a girl among a thousand, so far as brilliant attractions go, and,
moreover, was not indisposed to view me favourably (at least, so my
vanity taught me). But this world is full of cross purposes; people
are too often blind to their profit and advantage, and, as Jaques has
it, "thereby hangs a tale."

All the attractions of bright-eyed Winny Lloyd, personal and
pecuniary, were at that time as nothing to me. I had casually, when
idling in London, been introduced to, and had met at several places,
this identical Lady Cressingham, whom my friend had mentioned so
incidentally and in such an offhand way in his letter; and that
sentence it was which brought the blood to my temples and quickened
all the pulses of my heart.

She was very beautiful--as the reader will find when we meet her
by-and-by--and I had soon learned to love her, but without quite
venturing to say so; to love her as much as it was possible for one
without hope of ultimate success, and so circumstanced as I was--a
poor gentleman, with little more in the world save my sword and
epaulettes. Doubtless she had seen and read the emotion with which she
had inspired me, for women have keen perceptions in such matters; and
though it seems as if it was on her very smile that the mainspring of
my existence turned, the whole affair might be but a source of quiet
amusement, of curiosity, or gratified vanity to her. Yet, by every
opportunity that the chances and artificial system of society in town
afforded, I had evinced this passion, the boldness of which my secret
heart confessed. Her portrait, a stately full-length, was in the
Academy, and how often had I gazed at it, till in fancy the limner's
work seemed to become instinct with life! Traced on the canvas by no
unskilful hand, it seemed to express a somewhat haughty consciousness
of her own brilliant beauty, and somehow I fancied a deuced deal more
of her own exalted _position_, as the only daughter of a deceased but
wealthy peer, and as if she rather disdained alike the criticism and
the admiration of the crowd of middle-class folks who thronged the
Academy halls.

Visions of her--as I had seen her in the Countess's curtained box at
the opera, her rare and high-class beauty enhanced by all the
accessories of fashion and costume, by brilliance of light and the
subtle flash of many a gem amid her hair; when galloping along the
Row on her beautiful satin-skinned bay; or while driving after
in the Park, with all those appliances and surroundings that wealth
and rank confer--came floating before me, with the memory of words
half-uttered, and glances responded to when eye met eye, and told so
much more than the tongue might venture to utter. Was it mere vanity,
or reality, that made me think her smile _had_ brightened when she met
me, or that when I rode by her side she preferred me to the many
others who daily pressed forward to greet her amid that wonderful
place, the Row? Her rank, and the fact that she was an heiress, had no
real weight with me; nor did these fortuitous circumstances enhance
her merit in my eyes, though they certainly added to the difficulty of
winning her. Was it possible that the days of disinterested and
romantic love, like those of chivalry, were indeed past--gone with the
days when

     "It was a clerk's son, of low degree,
      Loved the king's daughter of Hongarie?"

With the love that struggled against humble fortune in my heart, I had
that keenly sensitive pride which is based on proper self-respect.
Hope I seemed to have none. What hope could I, Harry Hardinge, a mere
subaltern, with little more than seven-and-sixpence per diem, have of
obtaining such a wife as Lady Estelle Cressingham, and, more than all,
of winning the good wishes of her over-awing mamma? Though "love will
venture in when it daurna weel be seen," I could neither be hanged nor
reduced to the ranks for my presumption, like the luckless Captain
Ogilvie; who, according to the Scottish ballad, loved the Duke of
Gordon's bonnie daughter Jean. Yet defeat and rejection might cover me
with certain ridicule, leaving the stings of wounded self-esteem to
rankle all the deeper, by thrusting the partial disparity of our
relative positions in society more unpleasantly and humiliatingly
before me and the world; for there is a snobbery in rank that is only
equalled by the snobbery of wealth, and here I might have both to
encounter. And so, as I brooded over these things, some very levelling
and rather democratic, if not entirely Communal, ideas began to occur
to me. And yet, for the Countess and those who set store upon such
empty facts, I could have proved my descent from Nicholas Hardinge,
knight, of King's Newton, in Derbyshire; who in the time of Henry VII.
held his lands by the homely and most sanitary tenure of furnishing
clean straw for his Majesty's bed when he and his queen, Elizabeth of
York, passed that way, together with fresh rushes from the margin of
the Trent wherewith to strew the floor of the royal apartment. But
this would seem as yesterday to the fair Estelle, who boasted of an
ancestor, one Sir Hugh Cressingham, who, as history tells us, was
defeated and _flayed_ by the Scots after the battle of Stirling; while
old Sir Madoc Lloyd, who doubtless traced himself up to Noah ap
Lamech, would have laughed both pedigrees to scorn.

Leaving London, I had striven to stifle as simply absurd the passion
that had grown within me, and had joined at Winchester in the honest
and earnest hope that ere long the coming campaign would teach me to
forget the fair face and witching eyes, and, more than all, the
winning manner that haunted me; and now I was to be cast within their
magic influence once more, and doubtless to be hopelessly lost. To
have acted wisely, I should have declined the invitation and pleaded
military duty; yet to see her once, to be with her once again, without
that cordon of guardsmen and cavaliers who daily formed her mounted
escort in Rotten-row, and with all the chances our quiet mutual
residence in a sequestered country mansion, when backed by all the
influence and friendship of Sir Madoc, must afford me, proved a
temptation too strong for resistance or for my philosophy; so, like
the poor moth, infatuated and self-doomed, I resolved once more to
rush at the light which dazzled me.

"She seems to know you, _and would like to see more of you_," ran the
letter of Sir Madoc. I read that line over and over again, studying it
minutely in every way. Were those dozen words simply the embodiment of
his own ideas, or were they her personally expressed wish put
literally into writing? Were they but the reflex of some casual
remark? Even that conviction would bring me happiness. And so, after
my friends left me, I sat pondering thus, blowing long rings of
concentric smoke in the moonlight; and on those words of Sir Madoc
raising not only a vast and aerial castle, but a "bower of bliss," as
the pantomimes have it at Christmas time.

But how about this Mr. Hawkesby Guilfoyle? was my next thought. Could
_his_ attentions be tolerated by such a stately and watchful dowager as
the Countess of Naseby? Could Sir Madoc actually hint that such as he
might have a chance of success, when I had none? The idea was too
ridiculous; for I had heard whispers of this man before, in London and
about the clubs, where he was generally deemed to be a species of
adventurer, the exact source of whose revenue no one knew. One fact
was pretty certain: he was unpleasantly successful at billiards and on
the turf. If he--to use his own phraseology--was daring enough to
enter stakes for such a prize as Lord Cressingham's daughter, why
should not I?

Thus, in reverie of a somewhat chequered kind, I lingered on, while
the shadows of the cathedral, its lofty tower and choir, the spire of
St. Lawrence, and many other bold features of the view began to deepen
or become more uncertain on the city roofs below, and from amid which
their masses stood upward in a flood of silver sheen. Ere long the
full-orbed moon--that seemed to float in beauty beneath its snow-white
clouds, looking calmly down on Winchester, even as she had done ages
ago, ere London was a capital, and when the white city was the seat of
England's Saxon, Danish, and Norman dynasties, of Alfred's triumphs
and Canute's glories--began at last to pale and wane; and the solemn
silence of the morning--for dewy morning it was now--was broken only
by the chime of the city bells and clocks, and by the tread of feet in
the gravelled barrack-yard, as the reliefs went round, and the
sentinels were changed.

The first red streak of dawn was beginning to steal across the east;
the bugles were pealing reveilles, waking all the hitherto silent
echoes of the square; and just about the time when worthy and
unambitious Charley Gwynne would be parading his first squad for
"aiming drill" at sundry bull's-eyes painted on the barrack-walls, I
retired to dream over a possible future, and to hope that if the stars
were propitious, at the altar of that somewhat dingy fane, St.
George's, Hanover-square, I might yet become the son-in-law of the
late Earl of Naseby, Baron Cressingham of Cotteswold, in the county of
Northampton, and of Walcot Park in Hants, Lord-lieutenant, _custos
rotulorum_, and so forth, as I had frequently and secretly read in the
mess-room copy of Sir Bernard Burke's thick royal octavo; "the
Englishman's Bible" according to Thackeray, and, as I greatly feared,
the somewhat exclusive _libro d'oro_ of Mamma Cressingham, who was apt
to reverence it pretty much as the Venetian nobles did the remarkable
volume of that name.


Leave granted, our acceptance of Sir Madoc's invitation duly
telegraphed--"wired," as the phrase is now--our uniforms doffed and
mufti substituted, the morning of the second day ensuing saw Caradoc
and myself on the Birmingham railway _en route_ for Chester; the
exclusive occupants of a softly cushioned compartment, where, by the
influence of a couple of florins slipped deftly and judiciously into
the palm of an apparently unconscious and incorruptible official, we
could lounge at our ease, and enjoy without intrusion the _Times_,
_Punch_, or our own thoughts, and the inevitable cigar. Though in
mufti we had uniform with us; we _believed_ in it then, and in its
influence; for certain German ideas of military tailoring subsequent
to the Crimean war had not shorn us of our epaulettes, and otherwise
reduced the character of our regimentals to something akin to the
livery of a penny postman or a railway guard.

Somehow, I felt more hopeful of my prospects, when, with the bright
sunshine of July around us, I found myself spinning at the rate of
fifty miles per hour by the express train--the motion was almost as
imperceptible as the speed was exhilarating--and swiftly passed the
scenes on either side, the broad green fields of growing grain, the
grassy paddocks, the village churches, the snug and picturesque
homesteads of Warwick and Worcestershire. We glided past Rugby, where
Caradoc had erewhile conned his tasks in that great Elizabethan pile
which is built of white brick with stone angles and cornices, and
where in the playing fields he had gallantly learned to keep his
wicket with that skill which made him our prime regimental bat and
bowler too. Coventry next, where of course we laughed as we thought of
"peeping Tom" and Earl Leofric's pretty countess, when we saw its
beautiful and tapering spires rise over the dark and narrow streets
below. Anon, we paused amid the busy but grimy world of Birmingham,
which furnishes half the world with the implements of destruction;
Stafford, with its ruined castle on a well-wooded eminence; and ere
long we halted in quaint old Chester by the Dee, where the stately red
stone tower of the cathedral rises darkly over its picturesque
thoroughfares of the middle ages. There the rail went no farther then;
but a carriage sent by Sir Madoc awaited us at the station, and we had
before us the prospect of a delightful drive for nearly thirty miles
amid the beautiful Welsh hills ere we reached his residence.

"This whiff of the country is indeed delightful!" exclaimed Caradoc,
as we bowled along on a lovely July evening, the changing shadows of
the rounded hills deepening as the sun verged westward; "it makes one
half inclined to cut the service, and turn farmer or cattle-breeding
squire--even to chuck ambition, glory, and oneself away upon a landed
heiress, if such could be found ready to hand."

"Even upon Winifred Lloyd, with her dairy-farms in the midland
counties, eh?"

Phil coloured a little, but laughed good-humouredly as he replied,

"Well, I must confess that she is somewhat more than my weakness--at

At Aber-something we found a relay of fresh horses, sent on by Sir
Madoc, awaiting us, the Welsh roads not being quite so smooth as a
billiard-table; and there certain hoarse gurgling expletives, uttered
by ostlers and stable-boys, might have warned us that we were in the
land of Owen and Hughes, Griffiths and Davies, and all the men of the
Twelve Royal Tribes, even if there had not been the green mountains
towering into the blue sky, and the pretty little ivy-covered inn, at
the porch of which sat a white-haired harper (on the watch for patrons
and customers), performing the invariable "Jenny Jones" or
_Ar-hyd-y-nos_ (the live-long night), and all the while keeping a
sharp Celtic eye to the expected coin.

Everything around us indicated that we were drawing nearer to the
abode of Sir Madoc, and that ere long--in an hour or so, perhaps--I
should again see one who, by _name_ as well as circumstance, was a
star that I feared and hoped would greatly influence all my future.
The Eastern war, and, more than all, the novelty of any war after
forty years of European peace, occupied keenly the minds of all
thinking people. My regiment was already gone, and I certainly should
soon have to follow it. I knew that, individually and collectively,
all bound for the seat of the coming strife had a romantic and even
melancholy interest, in the hearts of women especially; and I was not
without some hope that this sentiment might add to my chances of
finding favour with the rather haughty Estelle Cressingham.

It was a glorious summer evening when our open barouche swept along
the white dusty road that wound by the base of Mynedd Hiraethrog, that
wild and bleak mountain chain which rises between the Dee and its
tributaries the Elwey and the Aled. Westward in the distance towered
blue Snowdon, above the white floating clouds of mist, with all its
subordinate peaks. In the immediate foreground were a series of
beautiful hills that were glowing, and, to the eye, apparently
vibrating, under a burning sunset. The Welsh woods were in all the
wealth of their thickest foliage--the umbrageous growth of centuries;
and where the boughs cast their deepest shadows, the dun deer and the
fleet hare lurked among the fragrant fern, and the yellow sunlight
fell in golden patches on the passing runnel, that leaped flashing
from rock to rock, to mingle with the Alwen, or crept slowly and
stealthily under the long rank grass towards Llyn-Aled.

That other accessories might not be wanting to remind us that we were
in the land of the Cymri, we passed occasionally the _Carneddau_, or
heaps of stones that mark the old places of battle or burial; and
perched high on the hills the _Hafodtai_ or summer farms, where
enormous flocks of sheep--the boasted Welsh mutton--were pasturing.
Then we heard at times the melancholy sound of the horn, by which
inmates summon the shepherds to their meals, and the notes of which,
when waking the echoes of the silent glen, have an effect so weird and

"By Jove, but we have a change here, Phil," said I, "a striking
change, indeed, from the hot and dusty gravelled yard of Winchester
barracks, the awkward squads at incessant drill with dumb-bell, club,
or musket; the pipeclay, the pacing-stick, and the tap of the drum!"

Through a moss-grown gateway, the design of Inigo Jones, we turned
down the long straight avenue of limes that leads to Craigaderyn; a
fine old mansion situated in a species of valley, its broad lawn
overlooked by the identical craig from which it takes its name, "the
Rock of Birds," a lofty and insulated mass, the resort of innumerable
hawks, wood-pigeons, and even of hoarse-croaking cormorants from the
cliffs about Orme's Head and Llandulas. On its summit are the ruins of
an ancient British fort, wherein Sir Jorwerth Goch (_i. e_. Red Edward)
Lloyd of Craigaderyn had exterminated a band of Rumpers and Roundheads
in the last year of Charles I., using as a war-cry the old Welsh shout
of "Liberty, loyalty, and the long head of hair!" On either side of
the way spread the lawn, closely shorn and carefully rolled, the
turf being like velvet of emerald greenness, having broad winding
carriage-ways laid with gravel, the bright red of which contrasted so
strongly with the verdant hue of the grass. The foliage of the timber
was heavy and leafy, and there, at times, could be seen the lively
squirrel leaping from branch to branch of some ancient oak, in the
hollow of which lay its winter store of nuts; the rabbit bounding
across the path, from root to fern tuft; and the _bela-goed_, or
yellow-breasted martin (still a denizen of the old Welsh woods), with
rounded ears and sharp white claws, the terror of the poultry-yard,
appeared occasionally, despite the gamekeeper's gun. In one place a
herd of deer were browsing near the half-leafless ruins of a mighty
oak--one so old, that Owen Glendower had once reconnoitred an English
force from amid its branches.

We had barely turned into the avenue, when a gentleman and two ladies,
all mounted, came galloping from a side path to meet us. He and one of
his companions cleared the wire fence in excellent style by a flying
leap; but the other, who was less pretentiously mounted, adroitly
opened the iron gate with the handle of her riding switch, and came a
few paces after them to meet us. They proved to be Sir Madoc and his
two daughters, Winifred and Dora.

"True in the direction of time, 'by Shrewsbury clock'!" said he,
cantering up; "welcome to Craigaderyn, gentlemen! We were just looking
for you."

He was a fine hale-looking man, about sixty years old, with a ruddy
complexion, and a keen, clear, dark eye; his hair, once of raven
blackness, was white as silver now, though very curly or wavy still;
his eyebrows were bushy and yet dark as when in youth. He was a Welsh
gentleman, full of many local prejudices and sympathies; a man of the
old school--for such a school has existed in all ages, and still
exists even in ours of rapid progress, scientific marvels, and
moneymaking. His manners were easy and polished, yet without anything
either of style or fashion about them; for he was simple in all his
tastes and ways, and was almost as plainly attired as one of his own
farmers. His figure and costume, his rubicund face, round merry eyes,
and series of chins, his amplitude of paunch and stunted figure, his
bottle-green coat rather short in the skirts, his deep waistcoat and
low-crowned hat, were all somewhat Pickwickian in their character and
_tout-ensemble_, save that in lieu of the tights and gaiters of our
old friend he wore white corded breeches, and orthodox dun-coloured
top-boots with silver spurs, and instead of green goggles had a gold
eyeglass dangling at the end of a black-silk ribbon. Strong
riding-gloves and a heavy hammer-headed whip completed his attire.

"Glad to see you, Harry, and you too, Mr. Caradoc," resumed Sir Madoc,
who was fond of remembering that which Phil--more a man of the
world--was apt to forget or to set little store on--that he was
descended from Sir Matthew Caradoc, who in the days of Perkin Warbeck
(an epoch but as yesterday in Sir Madoc's estimation) was chancellor
of Glamorgan and steward of Gower and Helvie; for what true Welshman
is without a pedigree? "Let me look at you again, Harry. God bless me!
is it possible that you, a tall fellow with a black moustache, can be
the curly fair-haired boy I have so often carried on my back and
saddle-bow, and taught to make flies of red spinner and drakes' wings,
when we trouted together at Llyn Cwellyn among the hills yonder?"

"I think, papa, you would be more surprised if you found him a
curly-pated boy still," said Miss Lloyd.

"And it is seven years since he joined the service; what a fine fellow
he has grown!"

"Papa, you are quite making Mr. Hardinge blush!" said Dora, laughing.

"Almost at the top of the lieutenants, too; there is luck for you!" he

"More luck than merit, perhaps; more the Varna fever than either, Sir
Madoc," said I, as he slowly relinquished my hand, which he had held
for a few seconds in his, while looking kindly and earnestly into my

It was well browned by the sun and sea of the Windward Isles,
tolerably well whiskered and moustached too; so I fear that if the
good old gentleman was seeking for some resemblance to the sweet Mary
Vassal of the past times, he sought in vain. Our horses were all
walking now; Sir Madoc rode on one side of the barouche, and his two
daughters on the other.

"You saw my girls last season in town," said he; "but when you were
last here, Winifred was in her first long frock, and Dora little more
than a baby."

"But Craigaderyn is all unchanged, though _we_ may be," said Winifred,
whose remark had some secret point in it so far as referred to me.

"And Wales is unchanged too," added Dora; "Mr. Hardinge will find the
odious hat of the women still lingers in the more savage regions; the
itinerant harper and the goat too are not out of fashion; and we still
wear our leek on the first of March."

"And long may all this be so!" said her father; "for since those
pestilent railways have come up by Shrewsbury and Chester, with their
tides of tourists, greed, dissipation, and idleness are on the
increase, and all our good old Welsh customs are going to Caerphilly
and the devil! Without the wants of over-civilisation we were
contented; but now--_Gwell y chydig gait rad, na llawr gan avrard_,"
he added with something like an angry sigh, quoting a Welsh proverb to
the effect that a little with a blessing is better than much with


Both girls were very handsome, and for their pure and brilliant
complexion were doubtless indebted to the healthful breeze that swept
the green sides of the Denbigh hills, together with an occasional
_soupçon_ of that which comes from the waters of the Irish Sea.

It is difficult to say whether Winifred could be pronounced a brunette
or a blonde, her skin was so exquisitely fair, while her splendid hair
was a shade of the deepest brown, and her glorious sparkling eyes were
of the darkest violet blue. Their normal expression was quiet and
subdued; they only flashed up at times, and she was a girl that
somehow every colour became. In pure white one might have thought her
lovely, and lovelier still, perhaps, in black or blue or rose, or any
other tint or shade. Her fine lithe figure appeared to perfection in
her close-fitting habit of dark-blue cloth, and the masses of her hair
being tightly bound up under her hat, revealed the contour of her
slender neck and delicately formed ear.

Dora was a smaller and younger edition of her sister--more girlish and
more of a hoyden, with her lighter tresses, half golden in hue,
floating loose over her shoulders and to beneath her waist from under
a smart little hat, the feather and fashion of which imparted intense
piquancy to the character of her somewhat irregular but remarkably
pretty face and--we must admit it--rather _retroussé_ nose.

Pride and a little reserve were rather the predominant style of the
elder and dark-eyed sister; merriment, fun, and rather noisy
flirtation were that of Dora, who permitted herself to laugh at times
when her sister would barely have smiled, and to say things on which
the other would never have ventured; but this _espièglerie_ and a
certain bearing of almost rantipole--if one may use such a term--were
thought to become her.

Winifred rode a tall wiry nag, a hand or two higher than her father's
stout active hunter; but Dora preferred to scamper about on a
beautiful Welsh pony, the small head, high withers, flat legs, and
round hoofs of which it no doubt inherited, as Sir Madoc would have
said, from the celebrated horse Merlin.

"Hope you'll stay with us till the twelfth of next month," said he.
"The grouse are looking well."

"Our time is doubtful, our short leave conditional, Sir Madoc,"
replied Phil Caradoc, who, however, was not looking at the Baronet,
but at Winifred, in the hope that the alleged brevity of his visit
might find him some tender interest in her eyes, or stir some chord by
its suggestiveness in her breast; but Winny, indifferent apparently to
separation and danger so far as he was concerned, seemed intent on
twirling the silky mane of her horse with the lash of her whip.

"Then, in about a fortnight after, we shall be blazing at the
partridges," resumed Sir Madoc, to tempt us. "But matters are looking
ill for the pheasants in October, for the gamekeeper tells me that the
gapes have been prevalent among them. The poults were hatched early,
and the wet weather from the mountains has made more havoc than our
guns are likely to do."

"Long before that time, Sir Madoc, I hope we shall be making havoc
among the Russians," replied Phil, still glancing covertly at Miss

"Ah, I hope not!" said she, roused apparently this time. "I look
forward to this most useless war with horror and dismay. So many dear
friends have gone, so many more are going, it makes one quite sad! O,
I shall never forget that morning in London when the poor Guards

This was addressed, not to Phil Caradoc, but to _me_.

"We knew that we should meet you," said she, colouring, and adding a
little hastily, "We asked Lady Estelle to accompany us; but--"

"She is far too--what shall I call it?--aristocratic or
unimpressionable to think of going to meet any one," interrupted her

"Don't say so, Dora! Yet I thought the loveliness of the evening would
have tempted her. And Bob Spurrit the groom has broken a new pad
expressly for her, by riding it for weeks with a skirt."

So there was no temptation but "the loveliness of the evening,"
thought I; while Dora said,

"But she preferred playing over to Mr. Guilfoyle that piece of German
music he gave her yesterday."

All this was not encouraging. She knew that I was coming--a friend in
whom she could not help having, from the past, rather more than a
common interest--and yet she had declined to accompany those frank and
kindly girls. Worse than all, perhaps she had at that moment this Mr.
Hawkesby Guilfoyle hanging over her admiringly at the piano, while she
played _his_ music, presented to her doubtless with some suggestive,
secret or implied, meaning in the sentiment or the title of it.
Jealousy readily suggested much of this, and a great deal more. That
Lady Estelle was at Craigaderyn Court had been my prevailing idea when
accepting so readily my kind friend's invitation. Then I should see
her in a very little time now! I had been resolved to watch well how
she received me, though it would be no easy task to read the secret
thoughts of one so well and so carefully trained to keep all human
emotions under perfect control, outwardly at least--a "Belgravian
thoroughbred," as I once heard Sir Madoc term her; but if she changed
colour, however faintly, if there was the slightest perceptible tremor
in her voice, or a flash of the eye, which indicated that which, under
the supervision of the usually astute dowager her mother, she dared
scarcely to betray--an interest in one such as me--it would prove at
least that my presence was not indifferent to her. Thus much only did
I hope, and of such faint hope had my heart been full until now, when
I heard all this; and if I was piqued by her absence, I was still more
by the cause of it; though had I reflected for a moment, I ought to
have known that the very circumstances under which I had last parted
from her in London, with an expected avowal all but uttered and
hovering on my lips when leading her to the carriage, were sufficient
to preclude a girl so proud as she from coming to meet me, even in the
avenue, and when accompanied by Winifred and Dora Lloyd.

"Is Mr. Guilfoyle a musician?" I asked.

"A little," replied Dora; "plays and sings too; but I can't help
laughing at him--and it is so rude."

"He says that he is a friend of yours, Harry Hardinge; is he so?'
asked Sir Madoc, with his bushy brows depressed for a moment.

"Well, if losing to him once at pool mysteriously, also on a certain
horse, while he scratched out of its engagements another on which I
stood sure to win, make a friend, he is one. I have met him at his
club, and should think that he--he--"

"Is not a good style of fellow, in fact," said Sir Madoc in a low
tone, and rather bluntly.

"Perhaps so; nor one I should like to see at Craigaderyn Court." I
cared not to add "especially in the society of Lady Cressingham,"
after whom he dangled, on the strength of some attentions or friendly
services performed on the Continent.

"And so you lost money to him? We have a Welsh proverb beginning,
_Dyled ar bawb_--"

"We shall have barely time to dress, dear papa," said Miss Lloyd,
increasing the speed of her horse, as she seemed to dread the Welsh
proclivities of her parent; "and remember that we have quite a
dinner-party to-day."

"Yes," added Dora; "two country M.P.s are coming; but, O dear! they
will talk nothing but blue-book with papa, or about the crops, fat
pigs, and the county pack; and shake their heads about ministerial
policy and our foreign prestige, whatever that may be. Then we have an
Indian colonel with only half a liver, the doctor says, and two Indian
judges without any at all."

"Dora!" exclaimed Miss Lloyd in a tone of expostulation. "Well, it is
what the doctor said," persisted Dora; "and if he is wrong can I help

"But people don't talk of such things."

"Then people shouldn't have them."

"A wild Welsh girl this," said Sir Madoc; "neither schooling in
Switzerland nor London has tamed her."

"And we are to have several county gentlemen who are great in the
matters of turnips, top-dressing, and Welsh mutton; four young ladies,
each with a flirtation on hand; and four old ones, deep in religion
and scandal, flannel and coals for the poor; so, Mr. Hardinge, you and
Mr. Caradoc will be quite a double relief to us--to me, certainly."

"O, Dora, how your tongue runs on!" exclaimed Winifred.

"And then we have Lady Naseby to act as materfamilias, and play
propriety for us all in black velvet and diamonds. Winny, eldest
daughter of the house, is evidently unequal to the task."

"And the coming fête," said I, "is it in honour of anything in

"Yes, something very particular indeed," replied Dora.

"Of what?"



"My birthday--I shall be eighteen," she added, shaking back the heavy
masses of her golden hair.

"And she has actually promised to have one round dance with Lord
Pottersleigh," said Winny, laughing heartily.

"I did but promise out of mischief; I trust, however, the Viscount
will leave off his goloshes for that day, though we are to dance on
the grass, or I hope he may forget all about it. Old Potter, I call
him," added the young lady in a _sotto-voce_ to me, "at least, when
the Cressinghams are not present."

"Why them especially?"

"Because he is such a particular friend of theirs."

This was annoyance number two; for this wealthy but senile old peer
had been a perpetual adorer of Lady Estelle, favoured too, apparently,
by her mother, and had been on more than one occasion a _bête noire_
to me; and now I was to meet him here again!

"Papa has told you that I mean to part with my poor pet goat--Carneydd
Llewellyn, so called from the mountain whence he came. He is to be
sent to the regiment--in your care, too."

"Why deprive yourself of a favourite? Why deprive it of such care as
yours? Among soldiers," said I, "the poor animal will sorely miss the
kindness and caresses you bestow upon it."

"I shall be so pleased to think that our Welsh Fusileers, in the lands
to which they are going, will have something so characteristic to
remind them of home, of the wild hills of Wales, perhaps to make them
think of the donor. Besides, papa says the corps has never been
without this emblem of the old Principality since it was raised in the
year of the Revolution."

"Most true; but how shall I--how shall _we_--ever thank you?"

I could see that her nether lip--a lovely little pouting lip it
was--quivered slightly, and that her eyes were full of strange light,
though bent downward on her horse's mane; and now I felt that, for
reasons apparent enough, I was cold, even unkind, to this warm-hearted
girl; for we had been better and dearer friends before we knew the
Cressinghams. She checked her horse a little abruptly, and began to
address some of the merest commonplaces to Phil Caradoc; who, with his
thick brown curly hair parted in the middle, his smiling handsome face
and white regular teeth, was finding great favour in the eyes of the
laughing Dora. But now we were drawing near Craigaderyn Court. The
scenery was Welsh, and yet the house and all its surroundings were in
character genuinely English, though to have hinted so much might have
piqued Sir Madoc. The elegance and comfort of the mansion were
English, and English too was the rich verdure of the velvet lawn and
the stately old chase, the trees of which were ancient enough--some of
them at least--to have sheltered Owen Glendower, or echoed to the
bugle of Llewellyn ap Seisalt, whose tall grave-stone stands amid the
battle-mounds on grassy Castell Coch.

At a carved and massive entrance-door we alighted, assisted the ladies
to dismount, and then, gathering up their trains, they swept merrily
up the steps and into the house, to prepare for dinner; while Sir
Madoc, ere he permitted us to retire, though the first bell had been
rung, led us into the hall; a low-ceiled, irregular, and oak-panelled
room, decorated with deers' antlers, foxes' brushes crossed, and
stuffed birds of various kinds, among others a gigantic golden eagle,
shot by himself on Snowdon. This long apartment was so cool that,
though the season was summer, a fire burned in the old stone
fireplace; and on a thick rug before it lay a great, rough, red eyed
staghound, that made one think of the faithful brach that saved
Llewellyn's heir. The windows were half shaded by scarlet hangings; a
hunting piece or two by Sneyders, with pictures of departed
favourites, horses and dogs, indicated the tastes of the master of the
house and of his ancestors; and there too was the skull of the _last_
wolf killed in Wales, more than a century ago, grinning on an oak
bracket. The butler, Owen Gwyllim, who occasionally officiated as a
harper, especially at Yule, was speedily in attendance, and Sir Madoc
insisted on our joining him in a stiff glass of brandy-and-water, "as
a whet," he said; and prior to tossing off which he gave a hoarse
guttural toast in Welsh, which his butler alone understood, and at
which he laughed heartily, with the indulged familiarity of an old

I then retired to make an unusually careful toilette; to leave nothing
undone or omitted in the way of cuffs, studs, rings, and so forth, in
all the minor details of masculine finery; hearing the while from a
distance the notes of a piano in another wing of the house come
floating through an open window. The air was German;--could I doubt
whose white fingers were gliding over the keys, and _who_ might be
standing by, and feeling himself, perhaps, somewhat master of the


Apart from Welsh fable and tradition, the lands of Craigaderyn had
been in possession of Sir Madoc's family for many ages, and for more
generations of the line of Lloyd; but the mansion, the Court itself,
is not older than the Stuart times, and portions of it were much more
recent, particularly the library, the shelves of which were replete
with all that a gentleman's library should contain; the billiard-room
and gun-room, where all manner of firearms, from the old
long-barrelled fowling-piece of Anne's time down to Joe Manton and
Colt's revolver, stood side by side on racks; the kennels, where many
a puppy yelped; and the stable-court, where hoofs rang and
stall-collars jangled, and where Mr. Bob Spurrit--a long-bodied,
short-and-crooked legged specimen of the Welsh groom--reigned supreme,
and watered and corned his nags by the notes of an ancient clock in
the central tower--a clock said to have been brought as spoil from the
church of Todtenhausen, by Sir Madoc's grandfather, after he led the
Welsh Fusileers at the battle of Minden. Masses of that "rare old
plant, the ivy green," heavy, leafy, and overlapping each other,
shrouded great portions of the house. Oriels, full of small panes and
quaint coats of arms, abutted here and there; while pinnacles and
turrets, vanes, and groups of twisted, fluted, or garlanded stone
chimney stacks, rose sharply up to break the sky-line and many a panel
and scutcheon of stone were there, charged with the bend, ermine, and
pean of Lloyd--the lion rampant wreathed with oak, and armed with a
sword--and the heraldic cognizance of many a successive matrimonial

Some portions of the house, where the walls were strong and the lower
storey vaulted, were associated, of course, with visits from Llewellyn
and Owen Glendower; and there also abode--a ghost. The park, too, was
not without its old memories and traditions. Many of its trees were
descendants of an ancient grove dedicated to Druidic worship; and
bones frequently found there were alleged by some to be the relics of
human sacrifice, by others to be those of Roman or of Saxon warriors
slain by the sturdy Britons who, under Cadwallader, Llewellyn of the
Torques, or some other hero of the Pendragonate, had held, in defiance
of both, the _caer_ or fort on the summit of Craigaderyn. But the
woodlands on which Sir Madoc mostly prided himself were those of the
old acorn season, when Nature planted her own wild forests, and sowed
the lawn out of her own lawns, as some writer has it. They were
unquestionably the most picturesque, but the trim and orderly chase
was not without its beauties too, and there had many grand
Eisteddfoddiau been held under the auspices of Sir Madoc, and often
fifty harpers at a time had made the woods ring to "The noble Race of
Shenkin," or "The March of the Men of Harlech."

The old Court and its surroundings were such as to make one agree with
what Lord Lyttelton wrote of another Welsh valley, where "the
mountains seemed placed to guard the charming retreat from invasions;
and where, with the woman one loves, the friend of one's heart, and a
good library, one might pass an age, and think it a day."

The ghost was a tall thin figure, dressed somewhat in the costume of
Henry VIII.'s time; but his full-skirted doublet with large sleeves,
the cap bordered with ostrich feathers, the close tight hose, and
square-toed shoes, were all deep black, hence his, or _its_, aspect
was sombre in the extreme, shadowy and uncertain too, as he was only
visible in the twilight of eve, or the first dim and similarly
uncertain light of the early dawn; and these alleged appearances have
been chiefly on St. David's day, the 1st of March, and were preceded
by the sound of a harp about the place--but a harp _unseen_. He was
generally supposed to leave, or be seen quitting, a portion of the
house, where the old wall was shrouded with ivy, and to walk or glide
swiftly and steadily, without casting either shadow or foot-mark on
the grass, towards a certain ancient tree in the park, where he
disappeared--faded, or melted out of sight. On the wall beneath the
ivy being examined, a door--the portion of an earlier structure--was
discovered to have been built up, but none knew when or why; and
tradition averred that those who had seen him pass--for none dared
follow--towards the old tree, could make out that his figure and face
were those of a man in the prime of life, but the expression of the
latter was sad, solemn, resolute, and gloomy.

The origin of the legend, as told to me by Winifred Lloyd, referred to
a period rather remote in history, and was to the following effect.
Some fifteen miles southward from Craigaderyn is a quaint and singular
village named Dinas Mowddwy, situated very strangely on the shelf of a
steep mountain overlooking the Dyfi stream--a lofty spot commanding a
view of the three beautiful valleys of the Ceryst; but this place was
in past times the abode and fortress of a peculiar and terrible tribe,
called the Gwylliad Cochion, or Red-haired Robbers, who made all North
Wales, but more particularly their own district, a by-word and
reproach, from the great extent and savage nature of the outrages they
committed by fire and sword; so that to this day, we are told, there
may be seen, in some of the remote mountain hamlets, more especially
in Cemmaes near the sea, the well-sharpened scythe-blades, which were
placed in the chimney-corners overnight, to be ready for them in case
of a sudden attack. They were great crossbowmen, those outlaws, and
never failed in their aim; and so, like the broken clans upon the
Highland border, they levied black mail on all, till the night of the
1st of March, 1534; when, during a terrific storm of thunder,
lightning, and wind, Sir Jorwerth Lloyd of Craigaderyn, John Wynne ap
Meredydd, and a baron named Owen, scaled the mountain at the head of
their followers, fell on them sword in hand, and after slaying a great
number, hung one hundred of them in a row. One wretched mother, a
red-haired Celt, begged hard and piteously to have her youngest son
spared; but Sir Jorwerth was relentless, so the young robber perished
with the rest. Then the woman rent her garments, and laying bare her
bosom, said it had nursed other sons and daughters, who would yet wash
their hands in the blood of them all. Owen was waylaid and slain by
them at a place named to this day Llidiart-y-Barwn, or the Baron's
Gate, and Meredydd fell soon after; but for Lloyd the woman, who was a
reputed witch, had prepared another fate, as if aiming at the
destruction of his soul as well as his body; for after his marriage
with Gwerfyl Owen, he fell madly in love with a golden-haired girl
whom he met when hunting in the forest near Craigaderyn; and as he
immediately relinquished all attendance at church and all forms of
prayer, and seemed to be besotted by her, the girl was averred to be
an evil spirit, as she was never seen save in his company, and then
only (by those who watched and lurked) "in the glimpses of the moon."

On the third St. David's eve after the slaughter at Dinas Mowddwy, he
was seated with Gwerfyl in her chamber, listening to a terrific storm
of wind and rain that swept through the valley, overturning the oldest
trees, and shaking the walls of the ancient house, while the lightning
played above the dim summits of Snowdon, and every mountain stream and
_rhaidr_, or cataract, rolled in foam and flood to Llyn Alwen or the

On a tabourette near his knee she sat, lovingly clasping his hand
between her own two, for he seemed restless, petulant, and gloomy, and
had his cloak and cap at hand, as if about to go forth, though the
weather was frightful.

"Jorwerth," said she softly, "the last time there was such a storm as
this was on that terrible night--you remember?"

"When we cut off the Gwylliad Cochion--yes, root and branch, sparing,
as we thought, none, while the rain ran through my armour as through a
waterspout. But why speak of it, to-night especially? Yes, root and
branch, even while that woman vowed vengeance," he added, grinding his
teeth. "But what sound is that?"

"Music," she replied, rising and looking round with surprise; but his
tremulous hand, and, more than that, the sudden pallor of his face,
arrested her, while the strains of a small harp, struck wildly and
plaintively, came at times between the fierce gusts of wind that shook
the forest trees and the hiss of the rain on the window-panes without.
Louder they seemed to come, and to be more emphatic and sharp; and, as
he heard them, a violent trembling and cold perspiration came over all
the form of Sir Jorwerth Lloyd.

"Heaven pity the harper who is abroad to-night!" said Gwerfyl,
clasping her white hands.

"Let Hell do so, rather!" was the fierce response of her husband, as
his eyes filled with a strange light.

At that moment a hand knocked on the window, and the startled wife, as
she crouched by her husband's side, could see that it was small and
delicate, wondrously beautiful too, and radiant with gems or
glittering raindrops; and now her husband trembled more violently than

Gwerfyl crossed herself, and rushed to the window.

"Strange," said she; "I can see no one."

"No one in human form, perhaps," replied her husband gloomily, as he
lifted his cloak. "Look again, dear wife."

The lady did so, and fancied that close to the window-pane she could
see a female face--anon she could perceive that it was small and
beautiful, with hair of golden red, all wavy, and, strange to say,
unwetted by the rain, and with eyes that were also of golden red, but
with a devilish smile and glare, and glitter in them and over all her
features, as they appeared, but to vanish, as the successive flashes
of lightning passed. With terror and foreboding of evil, she turned to
her startled husband. He was a pale and handsome man, with an aquiline
nose, a finely-cut mouth and chin; but now his lips were firmly
compressed, a flashing and fiery light seemed to sparkle in his eyes,
his forehead was covered with lines, and the veins of his temples were
swollen, while his black hair and moustache seemed to have actually
become streaked with gray. What unknown emotion caused all this? There
were power and passion in his bearing; but something strange, and
dark, and demon-like was brooding in his soul. The white drops
glittered on his brow as he threw his cloak about him, and _then_ the
notes of the harp were heard, as if struck triumphantly and joyously.

"Stay, stay! leave me not!" implored his wife on her knees, in a
sudden access of terror and pity, that proved greater even than love.

"I cannot--I cannot! God pardon me and bless you, dear, dear wife, but
go I must!"

("Exactly like Rudolph, as we saw him last night in the opera,
breaking away from his followers when he heard the voice of Lurline
singing amid the waters of the Rhine," added Winifred in a
parenthesis, as she laid her hand timidly on my arm.)

She strove on her knees to place in his hand the small ivory-bound
volume of prayers which ladies then carried slung by a chain at their
girdle, even as a watch is now; but he thrust it aside, as if it
scorched his fingers. Then he kissed her wildly, and broke away.

She sprang from the floor, but he was gone--gone swiftly into the
forest; and with sorrow and prayer in her heart his wife stealthily
followed him. By this time the sudden storm had as suddenly ceased;
already the gusty wind had died away, and no trace of it remained,
save the strewn leaves and a quivering in the dripping branches; the
white clouds were sailing through the blue sky, and whiter still, in
silvery sheen 'the moonlight fell aslant in patches through the
branches on the glittering grass. Amid that sheen she saw the dark
figure of her husband passing, gliding onward to the old oak tree, and
Gwerfyl shrunk behind another, as the notes of the infernal harp--for
such she judged it to be--fell upon her ear.

"You have come, my beloved," said a sweet voice; and she saw the same
strangely-beautiful girl with the red-golden hair, her skin of
wondrous whiteness, and eyes that glittered with devilish triumph,
though to Jorwerth Du they seemed only filled with ardour and the
light of passionate love, even as the beauty of her form seemed all
round and white and perfect; but lo! to the eyes of his wife, who was
under _no spell_, that form was fast becoming like features in a
dissolving view, changed to that of extreme old age--gray hairs and
wrinkles seemed to come with every respiration; for this mysterious
love, who had bewitched her husband, was some evil spirit or demon of
the woods.

"How long you have been!" said she reproachfully, for even the
sweetness of her tone had suddenly passed away; "so long that already
age seems to have come upon me."

"Pardon me; have I not sworn to love you for ever and ever, though
neither of us is immortal?"

"You are ready?" said she, laying her head on his breast.

"Yes, my own wild love!"

"Then let us go."

All beauty of form had completely passed away, and now Gwerfyl saw her
handsome husband in the arms of a very hag; hollow-cheeked, toothless,
almost fleshless, with restless shifty eyes, and grey elf-locks like
the serpents of Medusa; a hag beyond all description hideous: and her
long, lean, shrivelled arms she wound lovingly and triumphantly around
him. Her eyes gleamed like two live coals as he kissed her wildly and
passionately from time to time, the full blaze of the moonlight
streaming upon both their forms.

Gwerfyl strove to pray, to cry aloud, to move. But her tongue refused
its office, and her lips were powerless; all capability of volition
had left her, and she was as it were rooted to the spot. A moment
more, and a dark cloud came over the moon, causing a deeper shadow
under the old oak tree. Then a shriek escaped her, and when again the
moon shone forth on the green grass and the gnarled tree, Gwerfyl
alone was there--her husband and the hag had disappeared. Neither was
ever seen more. North Wales is the most primitive portion of the
country, and it is there that such fancies and memories still linger
longest; and such was the little family legend told me by Winifred
Lloyd. I was thinking over it now, recalling the earnest expression of
her bright soft face and intelligent eyes, and the tone of her
pleasantly modulated voice, when she, half laughingly and half
seriously, had related it, with more point than I can give it, while
we sat in a corner and somewhat apart from every one--on the first
night I met the Cressinghams--in a crowded London ballroom, amid the
heat, the buzz, and crush of the season--about the last place in the
world to hear a story of _diablerie_; and "the old time" seemed to
come again, as I descended to the drawing-room, to meet her and Lady


Already having met and been welcomed by my host and his daughters, my
first glances round the room were in search of Lady Estelle and her
mother. About eighteen persons were present, mostly gentlemen, and I
instinctively made my way to where she I sought was seated, idling
over a book of prints. Two or three gentlemen were exclusively in
conversation with her; Sir Madoc, who was now in evening costume, for

"Come, Harry," said he, "here is a fair friend to whom I wish to
present you."

"You forget, Sir Madoc, that I said we had met before; Mr. Hardinge
and I are almost old friends--the friends of a season, at least,"
said Lady Estelle, presenting her hand to me with a bright but
calm and decidedly conventional smile, and with the most perfect

"It makes me so very happy to meet you again," said I in a low voice,
the tone of which she could not mistake.

"Mamma, too, will be _so_ delighted--you were quite a favourite with

I bowed, as if accepting for fact a sentiment of which I was extremely
doubtful, and then after a little pause she added,--

"Mamma always preferred your escort, you remember."

Of that I was aware, when she wished to leave some more eligible
_parti_--old Lord Pottersleigh, for instance--to take charge of her

"I am so pleased that we are to see a little more of you, ere you
depart for the East; whence, I hear, you are bound," said she after a
little pause.

Simple though the words, they made my heart beat happily, and I
dreaded that some sharp observer might read in my eyes the expression
which I knew could not be concealed from her; and now I turned to look
for some assistance from Winifred Lloyd; but, though observing us, she
was apparently busy with Caradoc; luckily for me, perhaps, as there
was something of awkwardness in my position with her. I had flirted
rather too much at one time with Winny--been almost tender--but
nothing more. Now I loved Lady Estelle, and that love was indeed
destitute of all ambition, though the known difficulties attendant on
the winning of such a hand as hers, added zest and keenness to its

When I looked at Winifred and saw how fair and attractive she was, "a
creature so compact and complete," as Caradoc phrased it, with such
brilliance of complexion, such deep violet eyes and thick dark wavy
hair; and when I thought of the girl's actual wealth, and her kind old
father's great regard for me, it seemed indeed that I might do well in
offering my heart where there was little doubt it would be accepted;
but the more stately and statuesque beauty, the infinitely greater
personal attractions of Lady Estelle dazzled me, and rendered me blind
to Winny's genuine goodness of soul The latter was every way a most
attractive girl Dora was quite as much so, in her own droll and jolly
way; but Lady Estelle possessed that higher style of loveliness and
bearing so difficult to define; and though less natural perhaps than
the Lloyds, she had usually that calm, placid, and unruffled or
settled expression of features so peculiar to many Englishwomen of
rank and culture, yet they could light up at times; then, indeed, she
became radiant; and now, in full dinner dress, she seemed to look
pretty much as I had seemed to see her in that haughty full-length by
the President of the R.A., with an admiring and critical crowd about

The three girls I have named were all handsome--each sufficiently so
to have been the belle of any room; yet, though each was different in
type from the other, they were all thoroughly English; perhaps Sir
Madoc would have reminded me that two were Welsh. The beauty of
Winifred and Dora was less regular; yet, like Lady Estelle, in their
faces each feature seemed so charmingly suited to the rest, and all so
perfect, that I doubt much the story that Canova had sixty models for
his single Venus, or that Zeuxis of Heraclea had even five for his
Helen. Lady Estelle Cressingham was tall and full in form, with a neck
that rose from her white shoulders like that of some perfect Greek
model; her smile, when real, was very captivating; her eyes were dark
and deep, and softly lidded with long lashes; they had neither the
inquiring nor soft pleading expression of Winifred's, nor the saucy
drollery of Dora's, yet at times they seemed to have the power of
both; for they were eloquent eyes, and, as a writer has it, "could
light up her whole _personnel_ as if her whole body thought." Her
colour was pale, almost creamy; her features clearly cut and delicate.
She had a well-curved mouth, a short upper lip and chin, that
indicated what she did not quite possess--decision. Her thick hair,
which in its darkness contrasted so powerfully with her paleness, came
somewhat well down, in what is called "a widow's peak," on a forehead
that was broad rather than low. Her taste was perfect in dress and
jewelry; for though but a girl in years, she had been carefully
trained, and knew nearly as much of the world--at least of _the_
exclusive world in which she lived--as her cold and unimpressionable
mamma, who seemed to be but a larger, fuller, older, and more stately
version of herself; certainly much more of that selfish world than I,
a line subaltern of seven years' foreign service, could know.

A few words more, concerning my approaching departure for the East,
were all that could pass between us then; for the conversation was, of
course, general, and of that enforced and heavy nature which usually
precedes a dinner-party; but our memories and our thoughts were
nevertheless our own still, as I could see when her glance met mine

War was new to Britain then, and thus, even in the society at
Craigaderyn Court, Caradoc and I, as officers whose regiment had
already departed--more than all, as two of the Royal Welsh
Fusileers--found ourselves rather objects of interest, and at a high

"Ah, the dooce! Hardinge, how d'you do, how d'you do? Not off to the
seat of war" (he pronounced it _waw_), "to tread the path of glory
that leads to--where _does_ old Gray say it leads to?" said a thin
wiry-looking man of more than middle height and less than middle age,
his well-saved hair carefully parted in the centre, a glass in his
eye, and an easy _insouciance_ that bordered on insolence in his tone
and bearing, as he came bluntly forward, and interrupted me while
paying the necessary court to "Mamma Cressingham," who received me
with simple politeness, nothing more. I could not detect the slightest
cordiality in her tone or eye. Though in the _Army List_, my name was
unchronicled by Debrett, and might never be.

I bowed to the speaker, who was the identical Mr. Hawkesby Guilfoyle
of whom I have already spoken, and with whom I felt nettled for
presuming to place himself on such a footing of apparent familiarity
with me, from the simple circumstance that I had more than once--I
scarcely knew how--lost money to him.

"I am going Eastward ere long, at all events," said I; "and I cannot
help thinking that some of you many idlers here could not do better
than take a turn of service against the Russians too."

"It don't pay, my dear fellow; moreover, I prefer to be one of the
gentlemen of England, who live at home at ease. I shall be quite
satisfied with reading all about it, and rejoicing in your exploits."

I smiled and bowed, but felt that he was closely scrutinising me
through his glass, which he held in its place by a muscular
contraction of the left eye; and I felt moreover, instinctively and
intuitively, by some magnetic influence, that this man was my enemy,
and yet I had done him no wrong. The aversion was certainly mutual. It
was somewhat of the impulse that led Tom Brown of old to dislike Dr.
Fell, yet, in my instance, it was not exactly without knowing "why."

I had quickly read the character of this Mr. Guilfoyle. He had cold,
cunning, and shifty eyes of a greenish yellow colour. They seldom
smiled, even when his mouth did, if that can be called a smile which
is merely a grin from the teeth outwards. He was undoubtedly
gentlemanlike in air and appearance, always correct in costume, suave
to servility when it suited his purpose, but daringly insolent when he
could venture to be so with impunity. He had that narrowness of mind
which made him counterfeit regret for the disaster of his best friend,
while secretly exulting in it, if that friend could serve his purposes
no more; the praise or success of another never failed to excite
either his envy or his malice; and doating on himself, he thought that
all who knew him should quarrel with those against whom he conceived
either spleen or enmity. A member of a good club in town, he was
fashionable, moderately dissipated, and rather handsome in person. No
one knew exactly from what source his income was derived; but vague
hints of India stock, foreign bonds, and so forth, served to satisfy
the few--and in the world of London few they were indeed--who cared a
jot about the matter. Such was Mr. Hawkesby Guilfoyle, of whom the
reader shall hear more in these pages.

"And so you don't approve of risking your valuable person in the
service of the country?" said I, in a tone which I felt to be a
sneering one.

"No; I am disposed to be rather economical of it--think myself too
good-looking, perhaps, to fill a hole in a trench. Ha, ha! Moreover,
what the deuce do I want with glory or honour?" said he, in a lower
tone; "are not self-love or interest, rather than virtue, the true
motives of most of our actions?"

"Do you think so?"

"Yes, by Jove! I do."

"A horrid idea, surely!"

"Not at all. Besides, virtues, as they are often called, are too often
only vices disguised."

"The deuce!" said Caradoc, who overheard us; "I don't understand this

"Nor did I intend _you_ to do so," replied the other, in a tone that,
to say the least of it, was offensive, and made Phil's eyes sparkle.
"But whether in pursuit of vice or virtue, it is an awkward thing when
the ruling passion makes one take a wrong turn in life."

"The ruling passion?" said I, thinking of the money I had lost to him.

"Yes, whether it be ambition, avarice, wine, or love," he replied, his
eyes going involuntarily towards Lady Estelle; "but at all times there
is nothing like taking precious good care of number one; and so, were
I a king, I should certainly reign for myself."

"And be left to yourself," said I, almost amused by this avowed
cynicism and selfishness.

"Well, as Prince Esterhazy said, when he did me the honour to present
me with this ring," he began, playing the while with a splendid
brilliant, which sparkled on one of his fingers.

But what the Prince had said I was never fated to know; for the
aphorisms of Mr. Guilfoyle were cut short by the welcome sound of the
dinner-gong, and in file we proceeded through the corridor and hall to
the dining-room, duly marshalled between two rows of tall liverymen in
powder and plush, Sir Madoc leading the way with the Countess on his
arm, her long sweeping skirt so stiff with brocade, that, as Caradoc
whispered, it looked like our regimental colours.

Lady Estelle was committed to the care of a stout old gentleman, who
was the exact counterpart of our host, and whose conversation, as it
evidently failed to amuse, bored her. Miss Lloyd was led by Caradoc,
and Dora fell to my care. Of the other ladies I took little heed;
neither did I much of the sumptuous dinner, which passed away as other
dinners do, through all its courses, with entrées and relays of
various wines, the serving up of the latter proving in one sense a
nuisance, from the absurd breaks caused thereby in the conversation.
The buzz of voices was pretty loud at times, for many of the guests
were country gentlemen, hale and hearty old fellows some of them, who
laughed with right good will, not caring whether to do so was good
_ton_ or not. But while listening to the lively prattle of Dora Lloyd,
I could not refrain from glancing ever and anon to where Estelle
Cressingham, looking so radiant, yet withal "so delicately white" in
her complexion, her slender throat and dazzling shoulders, her thick
dark hair and tiny ears, at which the diamond pendants sparkled, sat
listening to her elderly bore, smiling assents from time to time out
of pure complaisance, and toying with her fruit knife when the dessert
came, her hands and arms seeming so perfect in form and colour, and on
more than one occasion--when her mamma was engrossed by courteous old
Sir Madoc, who could "talk peerage," and knew the quartering of arms
better than the Garter King or Rouge Dragon--giving me a bright
intelligent smile, that made my heart beat happily; all the more so
that I had been afflicted by some painful suspicion of coldness in her
first reception of me--a coldness rather deduced from her perfect
self-possession--while I had been farther annoyed to find that her
somewhat questionable admirer, Guilfoyle, was seated by her side, with
a lady whose presence he almost ignored in his desire to be pleasing
elsewhere. Yet, had it been otherwise, if anything might console a man
for fancied coldness in the woman he loved, or for a partial
separation from her by a few yards of mahogany, it should be the
lively rattle of a lovely girl of eighteen; but while listening and
replying to Dora, my thoughts and wishes were with another.

"I told you how it would be, Mr. Hardinge," whispered Dora; "that the
staple conversation of the gentlemen, if it didn't run on the county
pack, would be about horses and cattle, sheep, horned and South Down;
or on the British Constitution, which must be a very patched
invention, to judge by all they say of it."

I confessed inwardly that much of what went on around me was so
provincial and local--the bishop's visitation, the--parish poor,
crops and game, grouse and turnips--and proved such boredom that, but
for the smiling girl beside me, with her waggish eyes and pretty ways,
and the longing and hope to have more of the society of Lady Estelle,
I could have wished myself back at the mess of the depôt battalion in
Winchester. Yet this restlessness was ungrateful; for Craigaderyn was
as much a home to me as if I had been a son of the house, and times
there were when the girls, like their father, called me simply
"Harry," by my Christian name.

The long and stately dining-room, like other parts of the house, was
well hung with portraits. At one end was a full-length of Sir Madoc in
his scarlet coat and yellow-topped boots, seated on his favourite bay
mare, "Irish Jumper," with mane and reins in hand, a brass horn slung
over his shoulder, and looking every inch like what he was--the M.F.H.
of the county, trotting to cover. Opposite, of course, was his
lady--it might almost have passed for a likeness of Winifred--done
several years ago, her dress of puce velvet cut low to show her
beautiful outline, but otherwise very full indeed, as she leaned in
the approved fashion against a vase full of impossible flowers beside
a column and draped curtain, in what seemed a windy and draughty
staircase, a view of Snowdon in the distance. "Breed and blood," as
Sir Madoc used to say, "in every line of her portrait, from the bridge
of her nose to the heel of her slipper;" for she was a lineal
descendant of _y Marchog gwyllt o' Cae Hywel_, or "the wild Knight of
Caehowel," a circumstance he valued more than all her personal merits
and goodness of heart.

Some of Dora's remarks about the family portraits elicited an
occasional glance of reprehension from the Dowager of Naseby, who
thought such relics or evidences of descent were not to be treated
lightly. On my enquiring who that lady in the very low dress with the
somewhat dishevelled hair was, I had for answer, "A great favourite of
Charles II., Mr. Hardinge--an ancestress of ours. Papa knows her name.
There was some lively scandal about her, of course. And that is her
brother beside her--he in the rose-coloured doublet and black wig. He
was killed in a duel about a young lady--run clean through the heart
by one of the Wynnes of Llanrhaidr, at the Ring in Hyde Park."

"When men risked their lives so, love must have been very earnest in
those days," said Lady Estelle.

"And very fearful," said the gentler Winny. "It is said the lady's
name was engraved on the blade of the sword that slew him."

"A duel! How delightful to be the heroine of a duel!" exclaimed the
volatile Dora.

"And who is that pretty woman in the sacque and puffed cap?" asked
Caradoc, pointing to a brisk-looking dame in a long stomacher. She was
well rouged, rather _décolletée_, had a roguish kissing-patch in the
corner of her mouth, and looked very like Dora indeed.

"Papa's grandmother, who insisted on wearing a white rose when she was
presented to the Elector at St. James's," replied Dora; "and her
marriage to the heir of Craigaderyn is chronicled in the fashion of
the Georgian era, by gossipping Mr. Sylvanus Urban, as that of
'Mistress Betty Temple, an agreeable and modest young lady with
50,000_l_. fortune, from the eastward of Temple Bar.' I don't think
people were such tuft-hunters in those days as they are now. Do _you_
think so, Mr. Guilfoyle? O, I am sure, that if all we read in novels
is true, there must have been more romantic marriages and much more
honest love long ago than we find in society now. What do you say to
this, Estelle?"

But the fair Estelle only fanned herself, and replied by a languid
smile, that somehow eluded when it might have fallen on _me_. So while
we lingered over the dessert (the pineapples, peaches, grapes, and so
forth being all the produce of Sir Madoc's own hothouses), Dora

"And so, poor Harry Hardinge, in a few weeks more you will be far away
from us, and face to face with those odious Russians--in a real
battle, perhaps. It is something terrible to think of! Ah, heavens, if
you should be killed!" she added, as her smile certainly passed away
for a moment.

"I don't think somehow there is very much danger of that--at least I
can but hope--"

"Or wounded! If you should lose a leg--two legs perhaps--"

"He could scarcely lose _more_," said Mr. Guilfoyle.

"And come home with wooden ones!" she continued, lowering her voice.
"You will look so funny! O, I could never love or marry a man with
wooden stumps!"

"But," said I, a little irritated that she should see anything so very
amusing in this supposed contingency, "I don't mean to marry _you_."

"Of course not--I know that. It is Winny, papa thinks--or is it
Estelle Cressingham you prefer?"

Lowly and whispered though the heedless girl said this, it reached the
ears of Lady Estelle, and caused her to grow if possible paler, while
I felt my face suffused with scarlet; but luckily all now rose from
the table, as the ladies, led by Winifred, filed back alone to the
drawing-room; and I felt that Dora's too palpable hints must have done
much to make or mar my cause--perhaps to gain me the enmity of both
her sister and the Lady Estelle.

Sir Madoc assumed his daughter's place at the head of the table, and
beckoned _me_ to take his chair at the foot. Owen Gwyllim replenished
the various decanters and the two great silver jugs of claret and
burgundy, and the flow of conversation became a little louder in tone,
and of course less reserved. I listened now with less patience to all
that passed around me, in my anxiety to follow the ladies to the
drawing-room. Every moment spent out of _her_ presence seemed doubly
long and doubly lost. The chances of the coming war--_where_ our
troops were to land, whether at Eupatoria or Perecop, or were to await
an attack where they were literally rotting in the camp upon the
Bulgarian shore; their prospects of success, the proposed bombardment
of Cronstadt, the bewildering orders issued to our admirals, the inane
weakness and pitiful vacillation, if not worse, of Lord Aberdeen's
government, our total want of all preparation in the ambulance and
commissariat services, even to the lack of sufficient shot, shell, and
gunpowder--were all freely descanted on, and attacked, explained, or
defended according to the politics or the views of those present; and
Guilfoyle--who, on the strength of having been attaché at the petty
German court of Catzenelnbogen, affected a great knowledge of
continental affairs--indulged in much "tall talk" on the European
situation till once more the county pack and hunting became the chief
topic, and then too he endeavoured, but perhaps vainly, to take the

"You talk of fox-hunting, gentlemen," said he, raising his voice after
a preliminary cough, "and some of the anecdotes you tell of wonderful
leaps, mistakes, and runs, with the cunning displayed by reynard on
various occasions, such as hiding in a pool up to the snout, feigning
death--a notion old as the days of Olaus Magnus--throwing dogs off the
scent by traversing a running stream, and so forth, are all remarkable
enough; but give me a good buck-hunt, such as I have seen in Croatia!
When travelling there among the mountains that lie between Carlstadt
and the Adriatic, I had the good fortune to reside for a few weeks
with my kind friend Ladislaus Count Mosvina, Grand Huntsman to the
Emperor of Austria, and captain of the German Guard of Arzieres, and
who takes his title from that wine-growing district, the vintage of
which is fully equal to the finest burgundy. The season was winter.
The snow lay deep among the frightful valleys and precipices of the
Vellibitch range, and an enormous _rehbock_, or roebuck, fully five
feet in height to the shoulder, with antlers of vast size--five feet,
if an inch, from tip to tip--driven from the mountains by the storm
and _la bora_, the biting north-east wind, took shelter in a thicket
near the house. Several shots were fired; but no one, not even _I_,
could succeed in hitting him, till at last he defiantly and coolly
fed among the sheep, in the yard of the Count's home farm, where, by
the use of his antlers, he severely wounded and disabled all who
attempted to dislodge him. At last four of the Count's farmers or
foresters--some of those Croatian boors who are liable to receive
twenty-five blows of a cudgel yearly if they fail to engraft at least
twenty-five fruit-trees--undertook to slay or capture the intruder.
But though they were powerful, hardy, and brave men, this devil
of a _rehbock_, by successive blows of its antlers, fractured the
skulls of two and the thigh-bones of the others, smashing them like
tobacco-pipes, and made an escape to the mountains. A combined hunt
was now ordered by my friend Mosvina, and all the gentlemen and
officers in the _generalat_ or district commanded by him set off,
mounted and in pursuit. There were nearly a thousand horsemen; but the
cavalry there are small and weak. _I_ was perhaps the best-mounted man
in the field. We pursued it for twenty-five miles, by rocky hills and
almost pathless woods, by ravines and rivers. Many of our people fell.
Some got staked, were pulled from their saddles by trees, or tumbled
off by running foul of wild swine. Many missed their way, grew weary,
got imbogged in the half-frozen marshes, and so forth, till at last
only the Count and I with four dogs were on his track, and when on it,
we leaped no less than four frozen cataracts, each at least a hundred
feet in height--'pon honour they were. We had gone almost neck and
neck for a time; but the Grand Huntsman's horse began to fail him now
(for we had come over terrible ground, most of it being uphill), and
ultimately it fell dead lame. Then whoop--tally-ho! I spurred onward
alone. Just as the furious giant was coming to bay in a narrow gorge,
and, fastening on his flanks and neck, the maddened dogs were tearing
him down, their red jaws steaming in the frosty air, the Count came up
on foot, breathless and thoroughly blown, to have the honour of
slaying this antlered monarch of the Dinovian Alps. But I was too
quick for him. I had sprung from my horse, and with my unsheathed
_hanshar_ or Croatian knife had flung myself, fearlessly and
regardless of all danger, upon the buck, eluding a last and desperate
butt made at me with his pointed horns. Another moment saw my knife
buried to the haft in his throat, and a torrent of crimson blood
flowing upon the snow, then I courteously tendered my weapon by the
hilt to the Count, who, in admiration of my adroitness, presented me
with this ring--a very fine brilliant, you may perceive--which his
grandfather had received from the Empress Maria Theresa, and the pure
gold of which is native, from the sand upon the banks of the Drave."

And as he concluded his anecdote, which he related with considerable
pomposity and perfect coolness, he twirled round his finger this
remarkable ring, of which I was eventually to hear more from time to

"So, out of a thousand Croatian horsemen, _you_ were the only one in at
the death! It says little for their manhood," said an old fox-hunter,
as he filled his glass with burgundy, and pretty palpably winked to
Sir Madoc, under cover of an épergne.

"This may all be true, Harry, or not--only _entre nous_, I don't
believe it is," said Phil Caradoc aside to me; "for who here knows
anything of Croatia? He might as well talk to old Gwyllim the butler,
or any chance medley Englishman, of the land of Memnon and the
hieroglyphics. This fellow Guilfoyle beats Munchausen all to nothing;
but did he not before tell something _else_ about that ring?"

"I don't remember; but now, Phil, that you have seen her," said I, in
a tone of tolerably-affected carelessness, "what do you think of _la
belle_ Cressingham?"

"She is very handsome, certainly," replied Phil, in the same
undertone, and luckily looking at his glass, and not at me, "a
splendid specimen of her class--a proud and by no means a bashful

"Most things in this world are prized just as they are difficult of
attainment, or are scarce. I reckon beauty among these, and no woman
holds it cheap," said I, not knowing exactly what to think of
Caradoc's criticism. "There is Miss Lloyd, for instance--"

"Ah," said he, with honest animation, "she is a beauty too, but a
gentle and retiring one--a girl that is all sweetness and genuine
goodness of heart."

"With some dairy-farms in the midland counties, eh?"

"The graces of such a girl are always the most attractive. We men are
so constituted that we are apt to decline admiration where it is
loftily courted or seemingly expected--as I fear it is in the case of
Lady Cressingham--and to bestow it on the gentle and retiring."

I felt there was much truth in my friend's remarks, and yet they
piqued me so that I rather turned from him coldly for the remainder of
the evening.

"Her mother is haughty, intensely ambitious, and looks forward to a
title for her as high, if not higher, than that her father bore," I
heard Sir Madoc say to a neighbour who had been talking on the same
subject--the beauty of Lady, Estelle; "the old lady is half Irish and
half Welsh."

"Rather a combustible compound, I should think," added Guilfoyle, as,
after coffee and curaçoa, we all rose to join the ladies in the


The moment I entered the drawing-room, where Winifred Lloyd had been
doing her utmost to amuse her various guests till we came, and where
undoubtedly the ladies' faces grew brighter when we appeared, I felt
conscious that the remark of the hoydenish Dora had done me some
little mischief. I could read this in the face of the haughty Estelle,
together with her fear that _others_ might have heard it; thus,
instead of seating myself near her, as I wished and had fully
intended, I remained rather aloof, and leaving her almost exclusively
to the industrious Guilfoyle, divided my time between listening to
Winifred, who, with Caradoc, proceeded to perform the duet he had sent
her from the barracks, and endeavouring to make myself agreeable to
the Countess--a process rather, I am sorry to say, somewhat of a task
to me. Though her dark hair was considerably seamed with gray, her
forehead was without a line, smooth and unwrinkled as that of a
child--care, thought, reflection, or sorrow had never visited _her_.
Wealth and rank, with a naturally aristocratic indolence and
indifference of mind, had made the ways of life and of the world--at
least, the world in which she lived--easy, soft, and pleasant, and all
her years had glided brilliantly but monotonously on. She had married
the late earl to please her family rather than herself, because he was
undoubtedly an eligible _parti_; and she fully expected their only
daughter to act exactly in the same docile manner. Her mien and air
were stately, reserved, and uninviting; her eyes were cold, inquiring,
and searching in expression, and I fancied that they seemed to watch
and follow me, as if she really and naturally suspected me of "views,"
or, as she would have deemed them, _designs_.

Amid the commonplaces I was venturing to utter to this proud, cold,
and decidedly unpleasant old dame, whose goodwill and favour I was
sedulously anxious to gain, it was impossible for me to avoid hearing
some remarks that Sir Madoc made concerning me, and to her daughter.

"I am so glad you like my young friend, Lady Estelle," said the bluff
baronet, leaning over her chair, his rubicund face beaming with smiles
and happiness; for he was in best of moods after a pleasant dinner,
with agreeable society and plenty of good wine.

"Who told you that I did so?" asked she, looking up with fresh
annoyance, yet not unmixed with drollery, in her beautiful face.

"Dora and Winny too; and I am so pleased, for he is an especial friend
of ours. I love the lad for his dead mother's sake--she was an old
flame of mine in my more romantic days--and doesn't he deserve it?
What do you think the colonel of his old corps says of him?"

"Really, Sir Madoc, I know not--that he is quite a ladykiller,
perhaps; to be such is the ambition of most young subalterns."

"Better than that. He wrote me, that young Hardinge is all that a
British officer ought to be; that he has a constitution of iron--could
sleep out in all weathers, in a hammock or under a tree--till the
fever attacked him at least. If provisions were scanty, he'd share his
last biscuit with a comrade; on the longest and hottest march he never
fell out or became knocked up; and more than once he has been seen
carrying a couple of muskets, the arms of those whose strength had
failed them. 'I envy the Royal Welsh their acquisition, and regret
that _we_ have lost him'--these were the colonel's very words."

Had I fee'd or begged him to plead my cause, he could not have been
more earnest or emphatic.

"For heaven's sake, Sir Madoc, do stop this overpowering eulogium,"
said I; "it is impossible for one not to overhear, when one's own name
is mentioned. But did the colonel really say all this of me?"

"All, and more, Harry."

"It should win him a diploma of knight-bachelor," said Lady Estelle,
laughing, "a C.B., perhaps a baronetcy."

"Nay," said Sir Madoc; "such rewards are reserved now for toad-eaters,
opulent traders, tuft-hunters, and ministerial tools; the days when
true merit was rewarded are gone, my dear Lady Estelle."

The duet over, Phil Caradoc drew near me, for evidently he was not
making much progress with Miss Lloyd.

"Well, Phil," said I, in a low voice, "among those present have you
seen your ideal of woman?"

"Can't say," said he, rather curtly; "but _you_ have, at all events,
old fellow, and I think Sir Madoc has done a good stroke of business
for you by his quotation of the colonel's letter. I heard him all
through our singing--the old gentleman has no idea of a _sotto voce_,
and talks always as if he were in the hunting-field. By Jove, Harry,
you grow quite pink!" he continued, laughing. "I see how the land lies
with you; but as for '_la mère_ Cressingham,' she is an exclusive of
the first water, a match-maker by reputation; and I fear you have not
the ghost of a chance with her."

"Hush, Caradoc," said I, glancing nervously about me "remember that we
are not at Winchester, or inside the main-guard, just now. But see,
Lady Estelle and that fellow Guilfoyle are about to favour us," I
added, as the pale beauty spread her ample skirts over the
piano-stool, with an air that, though all unstudied, seemed quite
imperial, and ran her slender fingers rapidly over the white keys,
preluding an air; while Guilfoyle, who had a tolerable voice and an
intolerable amount of assurance, prepared to sing by fussily placing
on the piano a piece of music, on the corner of which was written in a
large and bold hand, evidently his own--"To Mr. H. Guilfoyle, from
H.S.H. the Princess of Catzenelnbogen."

"You must have been a special favourite with this lady," said Estelle,
"as most of your German music is inscribed thus."

"Yes, we were always exchanging our pieces and songs," said he,
languidly and in a low voice close to her ear, yet not so low as to be
unheard by me. "I was somewhat of a favourite with her, certainly; but
then the Princess was quite a privileged person."

"In what respect?"

"She could flirt farther than any one, and yet never compromise
herself. However, when she bestowed this ring upon me, on the day when
I saved her life, by arresting her runaway horse on the very brink of
the Rhine, I must own that his Highness the Prince was the reverse of
pleased, and viewed me with coldness ever after; so that ultimately I
resigned my office of attaché, just about the time I had the
pleasure--may I call it the joy?--of meeting you."

"O fie, Mr. Guilfoyle! were you actually flirting with her?"

"Nay, pardon me; I never flirt."

"You were in love then?"

"I was never in love till--"

A crash of notes as she resumed the air interrupted whatever he was
about to say; but his eye told more than his bold tongue would perhaps
have dared to utter in such a time or place; and, aware that they had
met on the Continent, and had been for some time together in the
seclusion of Craigaderyn, I began to fear that he must have far
surpassed me in the chances of interest with her.. Moreover, Dora's
foolish remark might reasonably lead her to suppose that I was already
involved with Winifred; and now, with a somewhat cloudy expression in
my face (as a mirror close by informed me), and a keen sense of pique
in my heart, I listened while she played the accompaniment to his
pretty long German song, the burden of which seemed to be ever and

     "Ach nein! ach nein! ich darf es nich.
        Leb wohl! Leb' wohl! Leb' wohl!"

Sir Madoc, who had listened with some secret impatience to this most
protracted German ditty, now begged his fair guest to favour him with
something Welsh; but as she knew no airs pertaining to the locality,
she resigned her place to Winifred, whom I led across the room, and by
whose side I remained. After the showy performances of Lady Estelle,
she was somewhat reluctant to begin: all the more so, perhaps, that
her friend--with rather questionable taste, certainly--was wont, in a
spirit of mischief or raillery--but one pardons so much in lovely
woman, especially one of rank--to quiz Wales, its music and
provincialism; just as, when in the Highlands, she had laughed at the
natives, and voted "their sham chiefs and gatherings as delightfully
absurd." Finding that his daughter lingered ere she began, and half
suspecting the cause, Sir Madoc threatened to send for Owen Gwyllim,
the butler, with his harp. Owen had frequently accompanied her with
his instrument; but though that passed well enough occasionally among
homely Welsh folks, it would never do when Lady Naseby and certain
others were present.

"It is useless for an English girl to sing in a foreign language, or
attempt to rival paid professional artists, by mourning like Mario
from the turret, or bawling like Edgardo in the burying-ground, or to
give us 'Stride la vampa' in a fashion that would terrify Alboni,"
said Sir Madoc, "or indeed to attempt any of those operatic effusions
with which every hand organ has made us familiar. So come, Winny, a
Welsh air, or I shall ring for Owen."

This rather blundering speech caused Lady Estelle to smile, and
Guilfoyle, whose "Leb' wohl" had been something of the style objected
to, coloured very perceptibly. Thus urged, Winifred played and sang
with great spirit "The March of the Men of Harlech;" doubtless as much
to compliment Caradoc and me as to please her father; for it was then
our regimental march; and, apart from its old Welsh associations, it
is one of the finest effusions of our old harpers. Sir Madoc beat
time, while his eyes lit up with enthusiasm, and he patted his
daughter's plump white shoulders kindly with his weather-brown but
handsome hands; for the old gentleman rather despised gloves, indoors
especially, as effeminate.

Winifred had striven to please rather than to excel; and though
tremulous at times, her voice was most attractive.

"Thank you," said I, in a low and earnest tone; "your execution is
just of that peculiar kind which leaves nothing more to be wished for,
and while it lasts, Winny, inspires a sense of joy in one's heart."

"You flatter me much--far too much," replied Miss Lloyd, in a lower
and still more tremulous tone, as she grew very pale; for some girls
will do so, when others would flush with emotion, and it was evident
that my praise gave her pleasure; she attached more to my words than
they meant.

An undefinable feeling of pique now possessed me--a sensation of
disappointment most difficult to describe; but it arose from a sense
of doubt as to how I really stood in the estimation of the fair
Estelle. Taking an opportunity, while Sir Madoc was emphatically
discussing the points and pedigrees of certain horses and harriers
with Guilfoyle and other male friends, while the Countess and other
ladies were clustered about Winifred at the piano, and Dora and
Caradoc were deep in some affair of their own, I leaned over her
chair, and referring--I forget now in what terms--to the last time we
met, or rather parted, I strove to effect that most difficult of all
moves in the game of love--to lead back the emotions, or the past
train of thought, to where they had been dropped, or snapped by
mischance, to the time when I had bid her lingeringly adieu, after
duly shawling and handing her to the carriage, at the close of a late
rout in Park-lane, when the birds of an early June morning were
twittering in the trees of Hyde Park, when the purple shadows were
lying deep about the Serpentine, when the Ring-road was a solitude,
the distant Row a desert, and the yawning footmen in plush and powder,
and the usually rubicund coachmen, looking weary, pale, and impatient,
and when the time and place were suited neither for delay nor
dalliance. Yet, as I have elsewhere said, an avowal of all she had
inspired within me was trembling on my lips as I led her through the
marble vestibule and down the steps, pressing her hand and arm the
while against my side; but her mother's voice from the depths of the
carriage (into which old Lord Pottersleigh had just handed her)
arrested a speech to which she might only have responded by silence,
then at least; and I had driven, _viâ_ Piccadilly, to the Junior U.S.,
when Westminster clock was paling out like a harvest moon beyond the
Green Park, cursing my diffidence, that delayed all I had to say till
the carriage was announced, thereby missing the chance that never
might come again. And then I had but the memory of a lovely face,
framed by a carriage window, regarding me with a bright yet wistful
smile, and of a soft thrilling pressure returned by an ungloved hand,
that was waved to me from the same carriage as it rolled away
westward. The night had fled, and there remained of it only the memory
of this, and of those glances so full of tenderness, and those soft
attentions or half endearments which are so charming, and so
implicitly understood, as almost to render language, perhaps, un

"You remember the night we last met, and parted, in London?" I

"Morning, rather, I think it wash" said she, fanning herself; "but
night or morning, it was a most delightful ball. I had not enjoyed
myself anywhere so much that season, and it was a gay one."

"Ah, you have not forgotten it, then," said I, encouraged.

"No; it stands out in my memory as one night among many happy ones.
Day was almost breaking when you led me to the carriage, I remember."

"Can you remember nothing more?' I asked, earnestly.

"You shawled me most attentively--"

"And I was whispering--"

"Something foolish, no doubt; men are apt to do so at such times," she
replied, while her white eyelids quivered and she looked up at me
with her calm, bright smile.

"Something foolish!" thought I, reproachfully; "and then, as now, my
soul seemed on my lips."

"Do you admire Mr. Guilfoyle's singing?" she asked, after a little
pause, to change the subject probably.

"His voice is unquestionably good and highly cultured," said I,
praising him truthfully enough to conceal the intense annoyance her
unexpected question gave me; "but, by the way, Lady Estelle, how does
it come to pass that he has the honour of knowing you--to be _here_,

"How--why--what _do_, you mean, Mr. Hardinge?" she asked, and I could
perceive that after colouring slightly she grew a trifle paler than
before. "He is a visitor here, like you or myself. We met him abroad
first; he was most kind to us when mamma lost all her passports at the
Berlin Eisenbahnhof, and he accompanied us to the Alte Leipziger
Strasse for others, and saw us safely to our carriage. Then, by the
most singular chances, we met him again at the new Kursaal of Ems, at
Gerolstein, when we were beginning the tour of the Eifel, and at
Baden-Baden. Lastly, we met him at Llandudno, on the beach, quite
casually, when driving with Sir Madoc, to whom he said that he knew
you--that you were quite old friends, in fact."

"Knew me, by Jove! that is rather odd. I only lost some money to him;
enough to make me wary for the future."

"Wary?" she asked, with dilated eyes.


"An unpleasant expression, surely. Sir Madoc, who is so hospitable,
asked him here to see the lions of Craigaderyn, and has put a gun at
his disposal for the twelfth."

"How kind of unthinking Sir Madoc! A most satisfactory explanation,"
said I, cloudily, while gnawing my moustache. Guilfoyle had too
evidently followed them.

"If any explanation were necessary," was the somewhat haughty
response, as the mother-of-pearl fan went faster than ever, and she
looked me full in the face with her clear, dark, and penetrating eyes,
to the sparkle of which the form of their lids, and their thick fringe
of black lash, served to impart a softness that was indeed required.
"Do you know anything of him?" she added.

"No; that is--"

"Anything against him?"

"No, Lady Estelle."

"What then?" she asked, a little petulantly.

"Simply that I, pardon me, think a good deal."

"More than you would say?"


"This is not just. Mamma is somewhat particular, as you know; and our
family solicitor, Mr. Sharpus, who is his legal friend also, speaks
most warmly of him. We met him in the best society--abroad, of course;
but, Mr. Hardinge, your words, your manner, more than all, your tone,
imply what I fear Mr. Guilfoyle would strongly resent. But please go
and be attentive to mamma--you have scarcely been near her to-night,"
she added quickly, as a flush of anger crossed my face, and she
perceived it. I bowed and obeyed, with a smile on my lips and intense
annoyance in my heart. I knew that the soft eyes of Winifred Lloyd had
been on us from time to time; but my little flirtation with _her_ was
a thing of the past now, and I was reckless of its memory. Was she so?
Time will prove. I felt jealousy of Guilfoyle, pique at Lady Estelle,
and rage at my own mismanagement. I had sought to resume the tenor of
our thoughts and conversation on the occasion of our parting after
that joyous and brilliant night in Park-lane, when my name on her
engagement card had appeared thrice for that of any one else; but if I
had touched her heart, even in the slightest degree, would she have
become, as it seemed, almost warm in defence of this man, a waif
picked up on the Continent? Yet, had she any deeper interest in him
than mere acquaintanceship warranted, would she have spoken of him so
openly, and so candidly, to me?

Heavens! we had actually been covertly fencing, and nearly
quarrelling! Yet, if so, why should she be anxious for me to win the
estimation of "mamma"? Lady Naseby had been beautiful in her time, and
the utter vacuity and calm of her mind had enabled her to retain much
of that beauty unimpaired; and I thought that her daughter, though
with more sparkle and brilliance, would be sure to resemble her very
much at the same years. She was not displeased to meet with attention,
but was shrewd enough to see, and disdainful enough to resent, its
being bestowed, as she suspected it was in my instance, on account of
her daughter; thus I never had much success; for on the night of that
very rout in London my attentions in that quarter, and their apparent
good fortune, had excited her parental indignation and aristocratic
prejudices against me.

After all the visitors had withdrawn (as horses or carriages were
announced in succession), save one or two fox-hunters whom Guilfoyle
had lured into the billiard-room for purposes of his own, when the
ladies left us at night Lady Estelle did not give me her hand. She
passed me with a bow and smile only, and as she swept through the
gilded folding doors of the outer drawing-room, with an arm round
Dora's waist, her backward glances fell on all--but me. Why was this?
Was this coldness of manner the result of Guilfoyle's influence, fear
of her mamma, her alleged engagement with old Lord Pottersleigh, pique
at myself caused by Dora's folly, or what? It was the old story of
"trifles light as air." I felt wrathful and heavy at heart, and
repented bitterly the invitation I had accepted, and the leave I had
asked; for Lady Estelle seemed so totally unconcerned and indifferent
to me now, considering the _empressement_ with which we had parted in

The "family solicitor," too! He had been introduced as a mutual friend
in the course of affairs--in the course of a friendship that had
ripened most wonderfully. Was this Hawkesby Guilfoyle a fool, or a
charlatan, or both? His various versions of the diamond ring would
seem to show that he was the former. What fancy had the Countess for
him, and why was he tolerated by Sir Madoc? Familiar though I was with
my old friend, I felt that I could not, without a violation of good
taste, ask a question about a guest, especially one introduced by the
Cressinghams. His voice was soft in tone; his manner, when he chose,
was suave; his laugh at all times, even when he mocked and sneered,
which was not unfrequent, silvery and pleasing; yet he was evidently
one who could "smile and smile and be"--I shall not exactly say what.
While smoking a cigar, I pondered over these and other perplexing
things in my room before retiring for the night, hearing ever and anon
the click of the billiard-balls at the end of the corridor. Had I not
the same chance and right of competition as this Guilfoyle, though
unknown to the "family solicitor"? How far had he succeeded in
supplanting me, and perhaps others? for that there were others I knew.
How far had he gone in his suit--how prospered? How was I to construe
the glances I had seen exchanged, the half speech so bluntly made, and
so adroitly drowned at the piano? Who was he? what was he? The attaché
of the mock embassy at a petty German Court! Surely my position in
society was as good, if not better defined than his; while youth,
appearance, health, and strength gave me every advantage over an "old
fogie" like Viscount Pottersleigh.

As if farther to inflame my pique, and confirm the chagrin and
irritation that grew within me on reflection, Phil Caradoc, smoothing
his moustache, came into my room, which adjoined his, to have, as he
said, "a quiet weed before turning in." He looked ruffled; for he had
lost money at billiards--that was evident--and to the object of my
jealousy, too.

"That fellow Guilfoyle is a thorough Bohemian if ever there was one!"
said he, as he viciously bit off the end of his cigar prior to
lighting it, "with his inimitable tact, his steady stroke at
billiards, his scientific whist, his coolness and perfect breeding:
yet he is, I am certain, unless greatly mistaken, a regular
free-lance, without the bravery or brilliance that appertained to the
name of old--a lawless ritter of the gaming-table, and one that can't
even act his part well or consistently in being so. He has been
spinning another story about that ring, with which I suppose, like
Claude Melnotte's, we shall hear in time his grandfather, the Doge of
Venice, married the Adriatic I am certain," continued Caradoc, who was
unusually ruffled, "that though a vainglorious and boasting fellow, he
is half knave, half fool, and wholly adventurer!"

"This is strong language, Phil. Good heavens! do you really think so?"
I asked, astonished to find him so boldly putting my own thoughts into

"I am all but convinced of it," said he, emphatically. "But how in
such society?"

"Ah, that is the rub, and the affair of Sir Madoc, and of Lady Naseby,
and of Lady Estelle, too, for she seems to take rather more than an
interest in him--they have some secret understanding. . By Jove! I
can't make it out at all."

Caradoc's strong convictions and unusual bluntness added fuel to my
pique and chagrin, and I resolved that, come what might, I would end
the matter ere long; and I thought the while of the song of

         "He either fears his fate too much,
           Or his deserts are small,
          Who dares not put it to the touch,
           To gain or lose it all!"


The following day was Sunday; and ere it closed, there occurred a
little contretemps which nearly lost me all chance of putting to the
issue whether I was "to gain or lose it all" with Estelle Cressingham.

I felt that it was quite possible, if I chose, to have my revenge
through the sweet medium of Winifred Lloyd; yet, though Lady Estelle's
somewhat pointed defence of Guilfoyle rankled in my memory, and
Caradoc's hints had added fuel to the flame, I shrunk from such a
double game, and hoped that the chances afforded by propinquity in
general, and the coming fête in particular, would soon enable me to
come to a decision. My mind was full of vague irritation against her;
yet when I rose in the morning, my one and predominant thought was
that I should see her again. Carriages and horses had been ordered
from the stable for our conveyance to Craigaderyn church, a three
miles' drive through lovely scenery, and I resolved to accompany the
sisters in the barouche, leaving whom fate directed to take charge of
Lady Estelle; yet great was my contentment when she fell to the care
of Sir Madoc in the family carriage. Lady Naseby did not appear, her
French soubrette, Mademoiselle Babette Pompon, announcing that she was
indisposed. Guilfoyle and Caradoc rode somewhat unwillingly together,
and I sat opposite Winny, who insisted on driving, and was duly
furnished with the smartest of parasol whips--pink, with a white
fringe. Quitting the park, we skirted a broad trout stream, the steep
banks of which were clad with light-green foliage, and name
_Nant-y-belan_, or the "Martens' dingle." At the bottom the river
foamed along over broken and abutting rocks, or flowed in dark and
noiseless pools, where the brown trout lurked in the shade, and where
the overarching trees and grassy knolls were reflected downward in
the depth.

Hawkesby Guilfoyle sat his horse--one of Sir Madoc's hunters, fully
sixteen hands high--so well, and looked so handsome and gentlemanly,
his riding costume was so complete, even to his silver spurs,
well-fitting buff gloves, and riding switch, that I felt regret in the
conviction that some cloud hung over the fellow's antecedents, and
present life too, perhaps; but with all that I could not forgive him
his rivalry and, as I deemed it, presumption, with the strong belief
that he was, in his secret heart; my enemy. He and Caradoc rode behind
the open carriage; we led the way in the barouche; and a very merry
and laughing party we were, as we swept by the base of the green hills
of Mynedd Hiraethrog, and over the ancient bridge that spans Llyn
Aled, to the church of Craigaderyn, where the entrance of Sir Madoc's
family and their visitors caused periodically somewhat of a sensation
among the more humble parishioners who were there, and were wont to
regard with a species of respectful awe the great square pew, which
was lined with purple velvet, and had a carved-oak table in the
centre, and over the principal seat the lion's head erased, and the
shield of Lloyd per bend sinister, ermine and pean, a lion rampant,
armed with a sword.

With a roof of carved oak, brought from some _other_ place (the
invariable account of all such roofs in Wales), and built by Jorwerth
ap Davydd Lloyd, in 1320, the church was a picturesque old place,
where many generations of the Craigaderyn family had worshipped long
before and since the Reformation, and whose bones, lapped in lead, and
even in coffins of stone, lay in the burial vaults below. The oaken
pews were high and deep, and were covered with dates, coats-of-arms,
and quaint monograms. In some places the white slabs indicated where
lay the remains of those who died but yesterday. Elsewhere, with
helmet, spurs, and gloves of steel hung above their stony effigies,
and covered by cobwebs and dust, lay the men of ages past and gone,
their brasses and pedestal tombs bearing, in some instances, how
stoutly and valiantly they had fought against the Spaniard, the
Frenchman, and the Scot. One, Sir Madoc ap Meredyth Lloyd, whose sword
hung immediately over my head, had wielded it, as his brass recorded,
"contra Scotos apud Flodden et Musselboro;" and now the spiders were
busy spinning their cobwebs over the rusted helmet through which this
old Welsh knight had seen King James's host defile by the silver Till,
and that of his fated granddaughter by the banks of the beautiful Esk.
In other places I saw the more humble, but curious Welsh mode of
commemorating the dead, by hanging up a coffin-plate, inscribed with
their names, in the pews where they were wont to sit. Coats-of-arms
met the eye on all sides--solid evidences of birth and family, which
more than once evoked a covert sneer from Guilfoyle, who to his other
bad qualities added the pride and the envy of such things, that seem
inseparable from the character of the parvenu. There were two
services in Craigaderyn church each Sunday, one in Welsh, the other in
English. Sir Madoc usually attended the former; but in courtesy to
Lady Estelle, he had come to the latter to-day.

Over all the details of the village fane my eyes wandered from time to
time, always to rest on the face of Estelle Cressingham or of Winifred
Lloyd, who was beside me, and who on this day, as I had accompanied
her, seemed to feel that she had me all to herself. We read off the
same book, as we had done years before in the same pew and place; ever
and anon our gloved fingers touched; I felt her silk dress rustling
against me; her long lashes and snowy lids, with the soft pale beauty
of her downcast face, and her sweetly curved mouth, were all most
pleasing and attractive; but the _sense_ of Estelle's presence rendered
me invulnerable to all but her; and my eyes could not but roam to
where she stood or knelt by the side of burly Sir Madoc, her fine face
downcast too in the soft light that stole between the deep mullions
and twisted tracery of an ancient stained-glass window, her noble and
equally pure profile half seen and half hidden by a short veil of
black lace; her rounded chin and lips rich in colour, and beautiful in
character as those of one of Greuze's loveliest masterpieces. There,
too, were the rich brightness of her hair, and the proud grace that
pervaded all her actions, and even her stillness.

Thus, even when I did not look towards her, but in Winifred's face, or
on the book we mutually held, and mechanically affected to read, a
perception, a dreamy sense of Estelle's presence was about me, and I
could not help reverting to our past season in London, and all that
has been described by a writer as those "first sweet hours of
communion, when strangers glide into friends; that hour which, either
in friendship or in love, is as the bloom to the fruit, as the
daybreak to the day, indefinable, magical, and fleeting;" the hours
which saw me presented as a friend, and left me a lover. The day was
intensely hot, and inside the old church, though some of the arched
recesses and ancient tombs looked cool enough, there was a blaze of
sunshine, that fell in hazy flakes or streams of coloured light
athwart the bowed heads of the congregation. With heat and languor,
there was also the buzz of insect life; and amid the monotonous tones
of the preacher I loved to fancy him reading the marriage service for
us--that is, for Estelle and myself--fancied it as an enthusiastic
school-girl might have done; and yet how was it that, amid these
conceits, the face and form of Winifred Lloyd, with her pretty hand in
the tight straw-coloured kid glove, that touched mine, filled up the
eye of the mind? Was I dreaming, or only about to sleep, like so many
of the congregation--those toilers afield, those hardy hewers of wood
and drawers of water, whose strong sinews, when unbraced, induced them
to slumber now--the men especially, as the study of each other's
toilets served to keep the female portion fully awake. When the
clergyman prayed for the success of our arms in the strife that was to
come, Winifred's dark eyes looked into mine for a moment, quick as
light, and I saw her bosom swell; and when he prayed, "Give peace in
our time, O Lord," her voice became earnest and tremulous in
responding; and I could have sworn that I saw a tear oozing, but
arrested, on the thick black eyelash of this impulsive Welsh girl,
whom this part of the service, by its association and the time, seemed
to move; but Lady Estelle was wholly intent on having one of her
gloves buttoned by Guilfoyle, whose attendance she doubtless preferred
to that of old Sir Madoc.

"Look!" said Winifred Lloyd, in an excited whisper, as she lightly
touched my hand.

I followed the direction of her eye, and saw, seated at the end of the
central aisle, modestly and humbly, among the free places reserved for
the poor, a young woman, whose appearance was singularly interesting.
Poorly, or rather plainly, attired in faded black, her face was
remarkably handsome; and her whole air was perfectly ladylike. She was
as pale as death, with a wild wan look in all her features; disease,
or sorrow, or penury--perhaps all these together--had marked her as
their own; her eyes, of clear, bright, and most expressive gray, were
haggard and hollow, with dark circles under them. Black kid gloves
showed her pretensions to neatness and gentility; but as they were
frayed and worn, she strove to conceal her hands nervously under her
gathered shawl.

"She is looking at you, Winifred," said Dora.

"No--at Estelle."

"At us all, I think," resumed Dora, in the same whispered tone; "and
she has done so for some time past. Heavens! she seems quite like a

"Poor creature!" said Winifred; "we must inquire about her."

"Do you know her, Mr. Hardinge?" asked Dora.

"Nay, not I; it is Mr. Guilfoyle she is looking at," said I.

Guilfoyle, having achieved the somewhat protracted operation of
buttoning Lady Estelle's lavender kid glove, now stuck his glass in
his eye, and turned leisurely and languidly in the direction that
attracted us all, just as the service was closing; but the pale woman
quickly drew down her veil, and quitted the church abruptly, ere he
could see her, as I thought; and this circumstance, though I took no
heed of it then, I remembered in the time to come.

Winifred frankly took my arm as we left the church.

"You promised to come with me after luncheon and see the goat I have
for the regiment," said she.

"Did I?--ah, yes--shall be most happy, I'm sure," said I, shamefully
oblivious of the promise in question, as we proceeded towards the
carriages, the people making way for us on all sides, the women
curtseying and the men uncovering to Sir Madoc, who was a universal
favourite, especially with the maternal portion of the parish, as he
was very fond of children and flattered himself not a little on his
power of getting on with them, being wont to stop mothers on the road
or in the village street, and make knowing remarks on the beauty, the
complexions, or the curly heads of their offspring while he was never
without a handful of copper or loose silver for general distribution;
and now it excited some surprise and even secret disdain in
Guilfoyle--a little petulance in Lady Estelle too--to find him shaking
hands and speaking in gutteral Welsh with some of the men cottagers,
or peasant-women with jackets and tall odd hats. But one anecdote will
suffice to show the character of Sir Madoc.

In the very summer of my visit, it had occurred that he had to serve
on a jury when a property of some three thousand pounds or so was at
issue; and when the jury retired, he found that they were determined
to decide in such manner as he did not deem equitable, and which in
the end would inevitably ruin an honest farmer named Evan Rhuddlan,
father of a sergeant in my company of Welsh Fusileers, who dwelt at a
place called Craig Eryri, or "the Rock of Eagles." Finding that they
were resolute, he submitted, or affected to acquiesce in their
decision; but on announcing it to the court he handed the losing party
a cheque on Coutts and Co. for the whole sum in litigation, and became
more than ever the idol of the country people.

"Romantic old place--casques, cobwebs, and all that sort of thing,"
said Guilfoyle, as he handed Lady Estelle into the carriage, and took
the bridle of his horse from Bob Spurrit, the groom; "I thought Burke
had written the epitaph of chivalry and all belonging to it."

"Yes, but romance still exists, Mr. Guilfoyle," said Winifred, whose
face was bright with smiles.

"And love too, eh, Estelle?" added Dora, laughing.

"Even in the region of Mayfair, you think?" said she.

"Yes; and wherever there is beauty, that is rarest," said I.

But she only replied by one of her calm smiles; for she had a
reticence of manner which there seemed to be no means of moving.

"Talking of love and romance, I should like to know more of that pale
woman we saw in church to-day," said Dora.

"Why so?" asked Guilfoyle, curtly.

"Because I saw she must have some terrible story to tell.--What was
the text, Mr. Caradoc?" she asked, as we departed homewards.

"Haven't the ghost of an idea," replied Phil.

"O fie!--or the subject?"

"No," said Caradoc, reddening a little; for he had been intent during
the whole service on Winifred Lloyd.

"It was all about Jacob's ladder, of which we have had a most
inaccurate notion hitherto," said Dora, as we drove down the long lime
avenue, to find that, as the day was so sultry, luncheon had been laid
for us by Owen Gwyllim under the grand old trees in the lawn, about
thirty yards from the entrance-hall, under the very oak where the
spectre of Sir Jorwerth Du was alleged to vanish, the oak of Owen
Glendower; and where that doughty Cymbrian had perhaps sought to
summon spirits from the vasty deep, we found spirits of another
kind--brandy and seltzer, clicquot and sparkling moselle cooling in
silver ice-pails on the greensward; and there too, awaiting us, sat
Lady Naseby, smiling and fanning herself under the umbrageous shadows
of the chase.

Over her stately head was pinned a fall of rich Maltese lace, that
hung in lappets on each side--a kind of demi-toilette that well became
her lingering beauty and matronly appearance.

In a mother-of-pearl basket by her side, and placed on the
luncheon-table, lay Tiny, her shock, a diminutive cur, white as snow,
spotless as Mademoiselle Babette with perfumed soap could make it, its
long woolly hair dangling over its pink eyes, giving it, as Sir Madoc
said, "a most pitiable appearance;" for with all his love of dogs, he
disliked such pampered, waddling, and wheezing pets as this, and
thought manhood never looked so utterly contemptible as when a
tall "Jeames" in livery, with whiskers and calves, cane and nosegay,
had the custody of such a quadruped, while his lady shopped in
Regent-street or Piccadilly.


While we were at luncheon, and the swollen champagne-corks were flying
upward into the green foliage overhead, and while Owen Gwyllim was
supplying us with iced claret-cup from a great silver tankard
presented to Sir Madoc's uncle by his regiment, the Ancient Britons,
after the Irish rebellion of 1798, and with which he, Sir Madoc, had
been wont to dispense swig or "brown Betty" on St. David's day, when
at Cambridge--Dora, with her hair flying loose, her eyes sparkling,
and her face radiant with excitement and merriment came tripping down
the perron from the entrance hall, and across the lawn towards us,
with the contents of the household post-bag. She seemed to have
letters for every one, save me--letters which she dropped and picked
up as she came along. There was quite a pile of notes for herself, on
the subject of her approaching fête; and how busy her pretty little
hands immediately became!

After the usual muttered apologies, all began to read.

There was a letter for Guilfoyle, on reading which he grew very white,
exhibited great trepidation, and thrust it into his coat-pocket.

"What is up, sir?" asked Sir Madoc, pausing with a slice of cold fowl
on his fork; "nothing unpleasant, I hope?'

"Sold on a bay mare--that is all," he replied, with an affected laugh,
as if to dismiss the subject.

"How?" asked Sir Madoc, whom a "horsey" topic immediately interested.

"Like many other handicap 'pots' this season, my nag came in worse
than second."

"A case of jockeying?"

"Pure and simple."


"O, ah--York races."

"Why, man alive, they don't come off for a month yet!" responded Sir
Madoc, somewhat dryly; but perceiving that his guest was awkwardly
placed, he changed the subject by saying, "But your letter, Lady
Estelle, gives you pleasure, I am glad to see."

"It is from Lord Pottersleigh. He arrives here to-morrow and hopes his
rooms have a southern exposure."

"The fête-day--of course. His comforts shall be fully attended to."

"Why did he write to _her_ about this, and not to Sir Madoc or Miss
Lloyd?" thought I.

"He is such an old friend," remarked Lady Estelle, as if she divined
my mental query.

"Yes, rather too old for my taste," said the somewhat mischievous
Dora. "He wears goloshes in damp weather, his hat down on the nape of
his neck; is in an agony of mind about exposures, draughts, and
currents of air; makes his horse shy every time he attempts to mount,
and they go round in circles, eyeing each other suspiciously till a
groom comes; and when he does achieve his saddle, he drops his whip or
his gloves, or twists his stirrup-leather. And yet it is this old
fogie whose drag at Epsom or the Derby makes the greatest show, has
the finest display of lovely faces, fans, bonnets, and parasols--a
moving Swan and Edgar, with a luncheon spread that Fortnum and Mason
might envy, and champagne flowing as if from a fountain; but withal,
he is so tiresome!"

"Dora, you quite forget yourself," said Winifred, while I could have
kissed her for this sketch of my rival, at which Sir Madoc, and even
Estelle Cressingham, laughed; but Lady Naseby said, with some asperity
of tone,

"Lord Pottersleigh is one of our richest peers, Miss Dora, and his
creation dates from Henry VIII."

"And he is to dance with me," said the heedless girl, still laughing.
"O, won't I astonish his nerves if we waltz!"

"Your cousin Naseby is to visit us, Estelle, at Walcot Park, so soon
as we return, if he can," said the Countess, turning from Dora with a
very dubious expression of eye, and closing a letter she had received;
"his love-affair with that odious Irish girl is quite off, thank

"How?--love of change, or change of love?"


"What then, mamma?"

"The Irish girl actually had a mind of her own, and preferred some one
else even to a peer, an English peer!"

"I drain this clicquot to the young lady's happiness," said Sir Madoc.

"But all this is nothing to me, mamma," said Lady Estelle, coldly.

But I could see at a glance, that if it was unimportant to _her_, it
was not so to her mother, his aunt, who would rather have had the
young earl for her son-in-law than the old viscount, even though the
patent of the latter had been expede by the royal Bluebeard, most
probably for services that pertained more to knavery than knighthood.

"Well, Caradoc," said I, "is your despatch from the regiment?"

"Yes; from Price of ours. Nothing but rumours of drafts going eastward
to make up the death-losses at Varna, and he fears our leave may be
cancelled. 'Deuced awkward if we go soon,' he adds, 'as I have a most
successful _affaire du c[oe]ur_ on hand just now.'"

"When is he ever without one?" said I; and we both laughed.

Winifred's eyes were on me, and Caradoc's were on her, while I was
sedulously attending to Lady Estelle. As for Guilfoyle, since the
advent of his letter he had become quite silent. We were at the old
game of cross-purposes; for it seems to be in love, as with everything
else in life, that the obstacles in the way, and the difficulty of
attainment, always enhance the value of the object to be won. Yet in
the instance of Lady Estelle I was not so foolish as poor Price of
ours, the butt of the mess, who always fell in love with the wrong
person--to whom the pale widow, inconsolable in her first crape; the
blooming bride, in her clouds of tulle and white lace; the girl just
engaged, and who consequently saw but one man in the world, and that
man her own _fiancé_; or any pretty girl whom he met just when the
route came and the mess-plate was packed prior to marching--became
invested with remarkable charms, and a sudden interest that made his
susceptible heart feel sad and tender.

The ladies' letters opened up quite a budget of town news and gossip.
To Sir Madoc, a genuine country gentleman, full only of field-sports,
the prospects of the turnip crop and the grouse season, the
county-pack and so forth, a conversation that now rose, chiefly on the
coming fête on dresses, music, routs and Rotten-row, kettledrums and
drawing-rooms, and the town in general, proved somewhat of a bore. He
fidgeted, and ultimately left for the stables, where he and Bob
Spurrit had to hold a grave consultation on certain equine ailments.
The ladies also rose to leave us; but Caradoc, Guilfoyle, and I
lingered under the cool shadow of the oaks, and lit our cigars. With
his silver case for holding the last-named luxuries, Guilfoyle
unconsciously pulled forth a letter, which fell on the grass at my
feet. Picking it up, I restored it to him; but brief though the
action, I could not help perceiving it to be the letter he had just
received, that it was addressed in a woman's hand, and had on the
envelope, in coloured letters, the name "Georgette."

"Thanks," said he, with sudden irritation of manner, as he thrust it
into a breast-pocket this time; "a narrow squeak that!" he added,
slangily, with a half-muttered malediction.

I felt certain that there was a mystery in all this; that he feared
something unpleasant might have been revealed, had that identical
letter fallen into _other_ hands, or under more prying eyes; and I
remembered those trivial circumstances at a future, and to me rather
harassing, time. I must own that this man was to me a puzzle. With all
his disposition to boast, he never spoke of relations or of family;
yet he seemed in perfectly easy circumstances; his own valet, groom,
and horses were at Craigaderyn; he could bear himself well and with
perfect ease in the best society; and it was evident that, wherever
they came from, he was at present a man of pretty ample means. He
possessed, moreover, a keen perception for appreciating individuals
and events at their actual value; his manners were, _when he chose_,
polished, his coolness imperturbable, and his _insouciance_ sometimes
amusing. For the present, it had left him.

"Beautiful brilliant that of yours, Mr. Guilfoyle," said Caradoc, to
fish for another legend of the ring; but in vain, for Guilfoyle was no
longer quite himself, though he had policy enough to feed the snarling
cur Tiny in her basket, with choice morsels of cold fowl, as Lady
Naseby's soubrette, Mademoiselle Babette, was waiting to carry it
away. Since the remarks or _contretemps_ concerning the York races he
had been as mute as a fish; and now, when he did begin to speak in the
absence of Sir Madoc, I could perceive that gratitude for kindness did
not form an ingredient in the strange compound of which his character
was made up. Perhaps secret irritation at Sir Madoc's queries about
the letter which so evidently disturbed his usual equanimity might
have been the real spirit that moved him now to sneer at the old
baronet's Welsh foibles, and particularly his weakness on the subject
of pedigrees.

"You are to stay here for the 1st, I believe?" said I.

"Yes; but, the dooce! for what? Such a labour to march through miles
of beans and growing crop, to knock over a few partridges and rabbits"
(partwidges and wabbits, he called them), "which you can pay another
to do much better for you."

"Sturdy Sir Madoc would hear this with incredulous astonishment," said

"Very probably. Kind fellow old Taffy, though," said he, while smoking
leisurely, and lounging back in an easy garden-chair; "has a long
pedigree, of course, as we may always remember by the coats-of-arms
stuck up all over the house. 'County people' in the days of Howel Dha;
'county ditto' in the days of Queen Victoria, and likely to remain so
till the next flood forms a second great epoch in the family history.
Very funny, is it not? He reminds me of what we read of Mathew Bramble
in _Humphry Clinker_--a gentleman of great worth and property,
descended in a straight line by the female side from Llewellyn, Prince
of Wales."

I was full of indignation on hearing my old friend spoken of thus, if
not under his own roof, under his ancient ancestral oaks; but Philip
Caradoc, more Celtic and fiery by nature, anticipated me by saying
sharply, "Bad taste this, surely in you, Mr. Guilfoyle, to sneer thus
at our hospitable entertainer; and believe me, sir, that no one treats
lightly the pedigree of another who--who--"

"Ah, well--who what?"

"Possesses one himself," added Phil, looking him steadily in the face.

"Bah! I suppose every one has had a grandfather."

"Even you, Mr. Guilfoyle?" continued Caradoc, whose cheek began to
flush; but the other replied calmly, and not without point,

"There is a writer who says, that to pride oneself on the nobility of
one's ancestors is like looking among the roots for the fruit that
should be found on the branches."

Finding that the conversation was taking a decidedly unpleasant turn,
and that, though his tone was quiet and his manner suave, a glassy
glare shone in the greenish-gray eyes of Guilfoyle, I said, with an
assumed laugh,

"We must not forget the inborn ideas and the national sentiments of
the Welsh--call them provincialisms if you will. But remember that
there are eight hundred thousand people inspired by a nationality so
strong, that they will speak only the language of the Cymri; and it is
among those chiefly that our regiment has ever been recruited. But if
the foibles--I cannot deem them folly--of Sir Madoc are distasteful to
you, the charms of the scenery around us and those of our lady friends
cannot but be pleasing."

"Granted," said he, coldly; "all are beautiful, even to Miss Dora, who
looks so innocent."

"Who _is_ so innocent by nature, Mr. Guilfoyle," said I, in a tone of
undisguised sternness.

"Then it is a pity she permits herself to say--sharp things."

"With so much unintentional point, perhaps?"


"Truth, then--which you will," said I, as we simultaneously rose to
leave luncheon-table.

And now, oddly enough, followed by Winifred, Dora herself came again
tripping down the broad steps of the perron towards us, exclaiming,

"Is not papa with you?--the tiresome old dear, he will be among the
harriers or the stables of course!"

"What is the matter?" I asked.

"Only think, Mr. Hardinge, that poor woman we saw at church this
morning, looking so pretty, so pale, and interesting, was found among
the tombstones by Farmer Rhuddlan, quite in a helpless faint, after we
drove away--so the housekeeper tells me; so we must find her out and
succour her if possible."

"But who is she?" asked Caradoc.

"No one knows; she refused obstinately to give her name or tell her
story ere she went away; but at her neck hangs a gold locket, with a
crest, the date, 1st of September, on one side, and H. G. beautifully
enamelled on the other. How odd--your initials, Mr. Guilfoyle!"

"You are perhaps not aware that my name is Henry Hawkesby Guilfoyle,"
said he, with ill-concealed anger, while he played nervously with his
diamond ring.

"How intensely odd!" resumed his beautiful but unwitting tormentor;
"H. H. G. were the three letters on the locket!"

"Did no one open it?" he asked.

"No; it was firmly closed."

"By a secret spring, no doubt."

Guilfoyle looked ghastly for a moment, or it might have been the
effect of the sunlight flashing on his face through the waving foliage
of the trees overhead; but he said laughingly,

"A droll coincidence, which under some circumstances, might be very
romantic, but fortunately in the present has no point whatever. If my
initials hung at your neck instead of hers, how happy I should be,
Miss Dora!"

And turning the matter thus, by a somewhat clumsy compliment or bit of
flattery, he ended an unpleasant conversation by entering the house
with her and Caradoc.

Winifred remained irresolutely behind them.

"We were to visit my future comrade," said I.

"Come, then," said she, with a beautiful smile, and a soft blush of
innocent pleasure.


Winifred Lloyd was, as Caradoc had said, a very complete and perfect
creature. The very way her gloves fitted, the handsome form of her
feet, the softness of her dark eyes, the tender curve of her lips,
and, more than all, her winning manner--the inspiration of an innocent
and guileless heart--made her a most desirable companion at all times;
but with me, at present, poor Winifred was only the means to an end;
and perhaps she secretly felt this, as she lingered pensively for a
moment by the marble fountain that stood before Craigaderyn Court, and
played with her white fingers in the water, causing the gold and
silver fish to dart madly to and fro. Above its basin a group of green
bronze tritons were spouting, great Nile lilies floated on its
surface, and over all was the crest of the Lloyds, also in bronze, a
lion's head, gorged, with a wreath of oak. The notes of a harp came
softly towards us through the trees as we walked onward, for old Owen
Gwyllim the butler was playing in that most unromantic place his
pantry, and the air was the inevitable "Jenny Jones."

From the lawn I led her by walks and ways forgotten since my boyhood,
and since I had gone the same route with her birdnesting and nutting
in those glorious Welsh woods, by hedgerows that were matted and
interwoven with thorny brambles and bright wild-flowers, past laden
orchards and picturesque farms, nooks that were leafy and green, and
little tarns of gleaming water, that reflected the smiling summer sky;
past meadows, where the sleek brown, or black, or brindled cattle were
chewing the cud and ruminating knee-deep among the fragrant pasture;
and dreamily I walked by her side, touching her hand from time to
time, or taking it fairly in mine as of old, and occasionally
enforcing what I said by a pressure of her soft arm within mine, while
I talked to her, saying heaven knows what, but most ungratefully
wishing all the time that she were Estelle Cressingham. All was soft
and peaceful around us. The woods of Craigaderyn, glowing in the heat
of the August afternoon, were hushed and still, all save the hum of
insects, or if they stirred it was when the soft west wind seemed to
pass through them with a languid sigh; and so some of the influences
of a past time and a boyish love came over me; a time long before I
had met the dazzling Estelle--a time when to me there had seemed to be
but one girl in the world, and she was Winifred Lloyd--ere I joined
the --th in the West Indies, or the Welsh Fusileers, and knew what the
world was. I dreaded being betrayed into some tenderness as a treason
to Lady Estelle; and fortunately we were not without some
interruptions in our walk of a mile or so to visit her horned pet,
whom she had sent forth for a last run on his native hills.

We visited Yr Ogof (or the cave) where one of her cavalier ancestors
had hidden after the battle of Llandegai, in the Vale of the Ogwen,
during the wars of Cromwell, and now, by local superstition, deemed an
abode of the knockers, those supernatural guardians of the mines, to
whom are known all the metallic riches of the mountains; hideous pigmy
gnomes, who, though they can never be seen, are frequently heard
beating, blasting, and boring with their little hammers, and singing
in a language known to themselves only. Then we tarried by the
heaped-up cairn that marked some long-forgotten strife; and then by
the Maen Hir, a long boulder, under which some fabled giant lay; and
next a great rocking stone, amid a field of beans, which we found
Farmer Rhuddlan--a sturdy specimen of a Welsh Celt, high cheek-boned
and sharp-eyed--contemplating with great satisfaction. High
above the sea of green stalks towered that wizard altar, where whilom
an archdruid had sat, and offered up the blood of his fellow-men to
gods whose names and rites are alike buried in oblivion; but Strabo
tells us that it was from the flowing blood of the victim that the
Druidesses--virgins supposed to be endowed with the gift of
prophecy--divined the events of the future; and this old stone, now
deemed but a barrier to the plough, had witnessed those terrible

Poised one block upon the other, resting on the space a sparrow alone
might occupy, and having stood balanced thus mysteriously for
uncounted ages, lay the rocking stone. The farmer applied his strong
hand to the spheroidal mass, and after one or two impulses it swayed
most perceptibly. Then begging me not to forget his son, who was with
our Fusileers far away at Varna, he respectfully uncovered his old
white head, and left us to continue his tour of the crops, but not
without bestowing upon us a peculiar and knowing smile, that made the
blood mantle in the peachlike cheeks of Winifred.

"How strange are the reflections these solemn old relics excite!" said
she, somewhat hastily; "if, indeed, one may pretend to value or to
think of such things in these days of ours, when picturesque
superstition is dying and poetry is long since dead."

"Poetry dead?"

"I think it died with Byron."

"Poetry can never die while beauty exists," said I, smiling rather
pointedly in her face.

My mind being so filled with Estelle and her fancied image, caused me
to be unusually soft and tender to Winifred. I seemed to be mingling
one woman's presence with that of another. I regarded Winifred as the
dearest of friends; but I loved Estelle with a passion that was full
of enthusiasm and admiration.

"No two men have the same idea of beauty," said Winifred, after a

"True, nor any two nations; it exists chiefly, perhaps, in the mind of
the lover."

"Yet love has nothing exactly to do with it."

"Prove this," said I, laughing, as I caught her hand in mine.

"Easily. Ask a Chinese his idea of loveliness, and he will tell you, a
woman with her eyebrows plucked out, the lids painted, her teeth
blackened, and her feet shapeless; and what does the cynical Voltaire
say?--'Ask a toad what is beauty, the supremely beautiful, and he will
answer you, it is his female, with two round eyes projecting out of
its little head, a broad flat neck, a yellow breast, and dark-brown
back.' Even red hair is thought lovely by some; and did not Duke
Philip the Good institute the order of the Golden Fleece of Burgundy
in honour of a damsel whose hair was as yellow as saffron; and now,
Harry Hardinge, what is _your_ idea?"

"Can you ask me?" I exclaimed, with something of ardour, for she
looked so laughingly bright and intelligent as she spoke; then
divining that I was thinking of another, not of her, "for there is a
thread in our thoughts even as there is a pulse in our hearts, and he
who can hold the one knows how to think, and he who can move the other
knows how to feel," she said, with a point scarcely meant.

"The eye may be pleased, the vanity flattered, and ambition excited by
a woman of beauty, especially if she is one of rank; yet the heart may
be won by one her inferior. Talking of beauty, Lady Naseby has striven
hard to get the young earl, her nephew, to marry our friend, Lady

"Would she have him?" I asked, while my cheek grew hot.

"I cannot say--but he declined," replied Winifred, pressing a wild
rose to her nostrils.


"Why impossible? But in her fiery pride Estelle will never, never
forgive him; though he was already engaged to one whom he, then at
least, loved well."

"Ah--the Irish girl, I suppose?"

"Yes," said Winifred, with a short little sigh, as she looked down.

"Such a girl as Estelle Cressingham must always find admirers."

"Hundreds; but as the estates, like the title, have passed to the next
male heir, and Lady Naseby has only a life-rent of the jointure house
in Hants--Walcot Park, a lovely place--she is anxious that her
daughter should make a most suitable marriage."

"Which means lots of tin, I suppose?" said I, sourly.

"Exactly," responded Winifred, determined, perhaps, if I had the bad
taste to speak so much of Estelle, to say unpleasant things; "and the
favoured _parti_ at present is Viscount Pottersleigh, who comes here
to-morrow, as his letter informed her."

"Old Pottersleigh is sixty if he is a day!" said I, emphatically.

"What has age to do with the matter in view? Money and position are
preferable to all fancies of the heart, I fear."

"Nay, nay, Winifred, you belie yourself and Lady Estelle too; love is
before everything!"

She laughed at my energy, while I began to feel that, next to making
love, there is nothing so pleasant or so suggestive as talking of it
to a pretty girl; and I beg to assure you, that it was somewhat
perilous work with one like Winifred Lloyd; a girl who had the
sweetest voice, the most brilliant complexion, and the softest eyes
perhaps in all North Wales. She now drew her hand away; till then I
had half forgot it was _her_ hand I had been holding.

"Remember that oft-quoted line in the song of Montrose," said she,
pretty pointedly.

"Which? for I haven't an idea."

   "'Love _one_--and love no more.'"

"The great marquis was wrong," said I; "at least, if, according to a
more obscure authority in such matters, Price of ours, one may love
many times and always truly."

"Indeed!" Her lip curled as she spoke.

"Yes; for may not the same charms, traits, manner, and beauty which
lure us to love once, lure us to love again?"

Winifred actually sighed, with something very like irritation, as she
said, "I think all this the most abominable sophistry, Mr. Hardinge,
and I feel a hatred for 'Price of ours,' whoever he may be."

"Mister! Why I was Harry a moment ago."

"Well, here is the abode of Cameydd Llewellyn; and you must tell me
what you think of your future Welsh comrade; his beard may be to the
regimental pattern, though decidedly his horns and moustaches are

As she said this, again laughingly, we found ourselves close to a
little hut that abutted on a thatched cottage and cow-house, in a most
secluded place, a little glen or dell, over which the trees were
arching, and so forming a vista, through which we saw Craigaderyn
Court, as if in a frame of foliage. She opened a little wicket, and at
the sound of her voice the goat came forth, dancing on his hind
legs--a trick she had taught him--or playfully butting her skirts with
his horns, regarding me somewhat dubiously and suspiciously the while
with his great hazel eyes. He was truly a splendid specimen of the old
Carnarvonshire breed of goats, which once ran wild over the mountains
there, and were either hunted by dogs or shot with the bullet so
lately as Pennant's time. His hair, which was longer than is usual
with those of England, led me to fancy there was a Cashmerian cross in
his blood; his black horns were two feet three inches long, and more
than two feet from one sharp tip to the other. He was as white as the
new-fallen snow, with a black streak down the back, and his beard was
as venerable in proportion and volume as it was silky in texture.

"He is indeed a beautiful creature--a noble fellow!" I exclaimed, with
genuine admiration.

"And just four years old. I obtained him when quite a kid."

"I am so loth that the Fusileers should deprive you of him."

"Talk not of that; but when you see my goat, my old pet Carneydd
Llewellyn, marching proudly at their head, and decked with chaplets on
St. David's day, when you are far, far away from us, you will--" she

"What, Winifred?"

"Think sometimes of Craigaderyn--of to-day--and of me, perhaps," she
added, with a laugh that sounded strangely unlike one.

"Do I require aught to make me think of you?" said I, patting kindly
the plump, ungloved hand with which she was caressing the goat's head,
and which in whiteness rivalled the hue of his glossy coat; and
thereon I saw a Conway pearl, in a ring I had given her long ago, when
she was quite a little girl.

"I hope not--and papa--I hope not."

The bright beaming face was upturned to me, and, as the deuce would
have it, I kissed her: the impulse was irresistible.

She trembled then, withdrew a pace or two, grew very pale, and her
eyes filled with tears.

"You should not have done that, Harry--I mean, Mr. Hardinge."

There was something wild and pitiful in her face.

"Tears?" said I, not knowing very well what to say; for "people often
_do_ say very little, when they mean a great deal."

"My old favourite will know the black ladders of Carneydd Llewellyn no
more," said she, stooping over the goat caressingly to hide her

"But, Winifred--Miss Lloyd--why tears?"

"Can you ask me?" said she, her eyes flashing through them.

"Why, what a fuss you make! I have often done so--when a boy!"

"But you are no longer a boy; nor am I a girl, Mr. Hardinge."

"Do please call me Harry, like Sir Madoc," I entreated. "Not
now--after this; and here comes Lady Estelle."


At that moment, not far from us, we saw Lady Naseby, driven in a
pony-phaeton by Caradoc, and Lady Estelle with Guilfoyle a little way
behind them, on horseback, and unaccompanied by any groom, coming
sweeping at a trot down the wooded glen.

Such is the amusing inconsistency of the human heart--the male human
heart, perhaps my lady readers will say--that though I had been more
than flirting with Winifred Lloyd--on the eve of becoming too tender,
perhaps--I felt a pang of jealousy on seeing that Guilfoyle was Lady
Estelle's sole companion, for Dora was doubtless immersed in the
details of her forthcoming fête.

Had she seen us?

Had she detected in the distance that little salute? If so, in the
silly, kindly, half-flirting, and half-affectionate impulse which led
me to kiss my beautiful companion and playfellow of the past
years--the mere impulse of a moment--if mistaken, I might have ruined
myself with her--perhaps with both.

"A lovely animal'! I hope you are gratified, Mr. Hardinge?" said Lady
Estelle, with--but perhaps it was fancy--a curl on her red lip, as she
reined-in her spirited horse sharply with one firm hand, and caressed
his arching neck gracefully with the other, while he rose on his hind
legs, and her veil flew aside.

Already dread of the future had chased away my first emotion of pique,
nor was it possible to be long angry with Estelle; for with men and
women alike, her beauty made her irresistible. Some enemies among the
latter she undoubtedly had; they might condemn the regularity of her
features as too classically severe, or have said that at times the
flash of her dark eyes was proud or defiant; but the smile that played
about her lip was so soft and winning that its influence was felt by
all. Her perfect ease of manner seemed cold--very cold, indeed,
when compared to the thoughts that burned in my own breast at that
moment--dread that I might have been trifling with Winifred Lloyd, for
whom I cherished a sincere and tender friendship; intense annoyance
lest my friend Caradoc, who really loved her, might resent the affair;
and, more than all, that she for whom I would freely have perilled
limb and life might also resent, or mistake, the situation entirely.
And in this vague mood of mind I returned with the little party to the
house, where the bell had rung for tea, before dinner, which was
always served at eight o'clock. As we quitted the goat, its keeper, an
old peasant dame, wearing a man's hat and coat, with a striped
petticoat and large spotted handkerchief, looked affectionately after
Miss Lloyd, and uttered an exclamation in Welsh, which Caradoc
translated to me as being,

"God bless her! May feet so light and pretty never carry a heavy


How wild and inconceivable, abrupt, yet quite practicable, were the
brilliant visions I drew, the projects I formed! Mentally I sprang
over all barriers, cleared at a flying leap every obstacle. In fancy I
achieved all my desires. I was the husband of Estelle; the chosen
son-in-law of her mother--the man of all men to whom she would have
entrusted the future happiness of her only daughter. The good old lady
had sacrificed pride, ambition, and all to love. Time, life-usage, all
became subservient to me when in these victorious moods. I had
distanced all rivals--she was mine; I hers. I had cut the service,
bidden farewell to the Royal Welsh; she, for a time at least, to
London, the court, the Row, "society," the world itself for me; and
were rusticating hand-in-hand, amid the woods of Walcot Park, or
somewhere else, of which I had a very vague idea. But from these
daydreams I had to rouse myself to the knowledge that, so far from
being accepted, I had not yet ventured to propose; that I had more
than one formidable rival; that other obstacles were to be overcome;
and that Lady Naseby was as cold and proud and unapproachable as ever.

The day of Dora's fête proved a lovely one. The merry little
creature--for she was much less in stature than her elder sister--with
her bright blue eyes and wealth of golden hair, was full of smiles,
pleasure, and impatience; and was as radiant with gems, the gifts of
friends, as a young bride. I welcomed the day with vague hopes that
grew into confidence, though I could scarcely foresee how it was to
close for me, or all that was to happen. Though Caradoc and I had come
from Winchester ostensibly to attend this fête, I must glance briefly
at many of the details of it, and confine myself almost to the
_dramatis personæ_. Suffice it to say that there was a militia band on
one of the flower-terraces; there was a pretty dark-eyed Welsh gipsy,
with black, dishevelled hair, who told fortunes, and picked up, but
omitted to restore, certain stray spoons and forks; there was an
itinerant Welsh harper, whom the staghound Brach, the same stately
animal which I had seen on the rug before the hall-fire, inspired by
that animosity which all dogs seem to have for mendicants, assailed
about the calf of the leg, for which he seemed to have a particular
fancy. So Sir Madoc had to plaster the bite with a fifty-pound note.
Then there was a prophetic hermit, in a moss-covered grotto, cloaked
like a gray friar, and bearded like the pard; a wizard yclept Merlin,
who, having imbibed too much brandy, made a great muddle of the
predictions and couplets so carefully entrusted to him for judicious
utterance; and who assigned the initials of Lady Estelle Cressingham
to the portly old vicar, as those of his future spouse, and those of
his lady, a stout matron with eight bantlings, to me, and so on.

The company poured in fast; and after being duly received by Sir Madoc
and Miss Lloyd in the great drawing-room, literally crowded all the
beautiful grounds, the band in white uniform on the terrace being a
rival attraction to the great refreshment tent or marquee--a stately
polychromed edifice, with gilt bells hanging from each point of the
vandyked edging--wherein a standing luncheon was arranged, under the
care of Owen Gwyllim; and over all floated a great banner, ermine and
pean, with the lion rampant of the Lloyds. A ball was to follow in the
evening. The floor of the old dining-hall had been waxed till it shone
like glass for the dancers. Its walls were hung with evergreens and
coloured lamps, and a select few were invited; but Fate ordained that
neither Lady Estelle nor I were to figure in this, the closing portion
of the festivities. A number of beautiful girls in charming toilettes
were present. People of the best style, too, mingled with humble
middle-class country folks--tenants and so forth. There were some
officers from the detachments quartered in Chester, and several little
half-known parsons, in Noah's-ark coats, who came sidling in, and
intrenched themselves beside huge mammas in quiet corners, to discuss
parish matters and general philanthropy through the medium of iced
claret-cup and sparkling moselle. And there were present, too, as
Guilfoyle phrased it, "some of those d--d fellows who write and paint,
by Jove!"

On this day Guilfoyle, though he had carefully attired himself in
correct morning costume, seemed rather preoccupied and irritable. The
presence of Pottersleigh and so many others placed his society
somewhat at a discount; and, glass in eye, he seemed to watch the
arrival of the lady guests, especially any who were darkly attired,
with a nervous anxiety, which, somehow, I mentally connected with the
pale woman in church, and Dora's story of the initials. There was
undoubtedly some mystery about him. Viewed from the perron of the
house, the scene was certainly a gay one--the greenness of the
closely-mown lawn, dotted by the bright costumes of the ladies, and a
few scarlet coats (among them Caradoc's and mine); the brilliance and
the perfume of flowers were there; the buzz of happy voices, the soft
laughter of well-bred women, and the strains of the band, as they
ebbed and flowed on the gentle breeze of the sunny noon. Every way it
was most enjoyable. Here on one side spread an English chase, with
oaks as old, perhaps, as the days when "Beddgelert heard the bugle
sound," leafy, crisp, and massive, their shadows casting a tint that
was almost blue on the soft greensward, with the sea rippling and
sparkling about a mile distant, where a portion of the chase ended at
the edge of some lofty cliffs. On the other side rose the Welsh
mountains, with all their gray rocks, huge boulders, and foaming
waterfalls--mountains from where there seemed in fancy to come the
scent of wild flowers, of gorse, and blackberries, to dispel the
fashionable languor of the promenaders on the lawn. The leaves, the
flowers, the trees of the chase, the ladies' dresses, and the quaint
façade of the old Tudor mansion were all warm with sunshine.

Old Morgan Roots the gardener, to his great disgust, had been
compelled to rifle the treasures of his hothouses, and to strip his
shelves of the most wonderful exotics, to furnish bouquets for the
ladies; for Morgan was proud of his floral effects, and when
displaying his slippings from Kew and all the best gardens in England,
tulips from Holland and the Cape, peonies from Persia, rhododendrons
from Asia, azaleas from America, wax-like magnolias, and so forth, he
was wont to exult over his rival, the vicar's Scotch gardener, whom he
stigmatised as "a sassenach;" and not the least of his efforts were
some superb roses, named the "Dora," in honour of the fair-haired
heroine of the day. And Caradoc--who was a good judge of everything,
from cutlets and clicquot to horses and harness, and had a special eye
for ankles, insteps, and eyelashes, style, and colour, &c.--declared
the fête to be quite a success. As I looked around me, I could not but
feel how England is pre-eminently, beyond all others, the land of fair
women and of beauty. Lady Estelle, with her pale complexion and thick
dark hair, her dress of light-blue silk, over which she wore a white
transparent tunique, her tiny bonnet of white lace, her gloves and
parasol of the palest silver-gray, seemed a very perfect specimen of
her class; but until Lord Pottersleigh appeared, which was long after
dancing had begun on the sward (by country visitors chiefly), she sat
by the side of mamma, and declined all offers from partners. The
Viscount--my principal _bête noire_--had arrived over-night in his own
carriage from Chester, but did not appear at breakfast next morning,
nor until fully midday, as he had to pass--so Dora whispered to
me--several hours in an arm-chair, with his gouty feet enveloped in
flannel, while he regaled himself by sipping colchicum and warm
wine-whey, though he alleged that his lameness was caused by a kick
from his horse; and now, when with hobbling steps he came to where
Lady Naseby and her stately daughter were seated, he did not seem--his
coronet and Order of the Garter excepted--a rival to be much dreaded
by a smart Welsh Fusileer of five and twenty.

Fully in his sixtieth year, and considerably wasted--more, perhaps, by
early dissipation than by time--the Viscount was a pale, thin, and
feeble-looking man, hollow-chested and slightly bent, with an
unsteadiness of gait, an occasional querulousness of manner and
restlessness of eye, as if nervous of the approach of many of those
among whom he now found himself, and whom he viewed as "bumpkins in a
state of rude health." Guilfoyle, of whom he evidently had misgivings,
he regarded with a cold and aristocratic stare, after carefully
adjusting a gold eyeglass on his thin, aquiline nose, and yet they had
been twice introduced elsewhere. His features were good. In youth he
had been deemed a handsome man; but now his brilliant teeth were of
Paris, and what remained of his hair was carefully dyed a clear dark
brown, that consorted but ill with the wrinkled aspect of his face,
and the withered appearance of his thin white hands, when he ungloved,
which was seldom. His whole air and style were so different from
those, of hearty and jolly Sir Madoc, whose years were the same, and
who was looking so bland, so bald, and shiny in face and brow, so full
and round in waistcoat, with one of the finest camellias in his
button-hole, "just like Morgan Roots the gardener going to church on
Sunday," as Dora had it, while he watched the dancers, and clapped his
hands to the music.

"Ha, Pottersleigh," said he, "you and I have done with this sort of
thing now; but I have seen the day, when I was young, less fleshy, and
didn't ride with a crupper, I could whirl in the waltz like a spinning

To this awkward speech the Viscount, who affected juvenility,
responded by a cold smile; and as he approached and was welcomed by
Lady Naseby and her daughter, the latter glanced at me, and I could
detect an undefinable expression, that savoured of amusement, or
disdain, or annoyance, or all together, ending with a haughty smile,
hovering on her dark and ever-sparkling eyes; for she knew by past
experience, that from thenceforward, with an air of proprietary that
was very provoking, he would be certain to hover constantly beside
her; and now, after paying the usual compliments to the two ladies,
his lordship condescended to honour me with a glance and a smile, but
not with his hand.

"Ah, how do you do, Mr. Hardinge--or shall I have the pleasure of
saying Captain Hardinge?" said he.

"Fortune has not so far favoured me--I am only a sub still."

"So was Wellington in his time," said Sir Madoc, tapping me on the

"Ah, but you'll soon be off to the East now, I suppose." (His eyes
expressed the words, "I hope.") "We shall soon come to blows with
those Russian fellows, and then promotions will come thick and fast. I
have it as a certainty from Aberdeen himself, that a landing somewhere
on the enemy's coast cannot be much longer delayed now."

"And with one-half our army dead, and the other half worn out by
camp-fever, cholera, and sufferings at Varna, we shall take the field
with winter before us--a Russian winter, too!" said Sir Madoc, who was
a bitter opponent of the ministry.

Ere Pottersleigh could reply, to avert any discussion of politics, the
Countess spoke.

"I trust," said she, "that the paragraph in the _Court Journal_ and
other papers, which stated that your title is about to be made an
earldom, is something more than mere rumour?"

"Much more, I have the pleasure to inform you," mumbled this
hereditary legislator. "I have already received official notice of the
honour intended me by her Majesty. I supported the Aberdeen ministry
so vigorously throughout this Russian affair, clearing them, so far as
in me lay, from the allegations of vacillation, that in gratitude they
were bound to recognise my services."

He played with his eyeglass, and glanced at Estelle. She seemed to be
looking intently at the shifting crowd; yet she heard him, for a
slight colour crossed her cheek.

"So Potter is to be an earl," thought I; "and she perhaps is
contrasting _his_ promotion with that which I have to hope for."

Even this brief conversation by its import made me fear that my dreams
might never come to pass--that my longings were too impossible for
fulfilment. I envied Caradoc, who, having no distinction of rank to
contend with in his love affair, seemed, to be getting on very well
with Winifred Lloyd, who, to his great delight, had made him her
_aide-de-camp_, and useful friend during the day.

"Our troops will find it tough work encountering the Russians, I
expect," said Lord Pottersleigh; "for although the rank and file are
utter barbarians, Mr. Hardinge, many of their officers are men of high
culture, and all regard the Czar as a demigod, and Russia as holy."

"I met some of them when I was in the north of Europe," said
Guilfoyle--who, being rather ignored by Pottersleigh, felt ruffled, if
not secretly enraged and disposed to contradict him; "and though I
think all foreigners usually absurd--"

"Ah, that is a thoroughly English and somewhat provincial idea," said
his lordship, quietly interrupting him; "but I have read of an old
Carib who said, 'The only obstinate savages I have met are the
English; they adopt none of our customs.'"

"To adopt their _dress_ might have been difficult in those days; but
all foreigners, and especially Russians, are somewhat strange, my
lord, when judged by an English standard. I can relate a curious
instance of attempted peculation in a Russian official, such as would
never occur with one occupying a corresponding position here. When
_attaché_ at the court of Catzenelnbogen, I once visited a wealthy
Russian landowner, a Count Tolstoff, who lived near Riga, at a time
when he was about to receive the sum of eighty thousand silver roubles
from the imperial treasury, for hemp, timber, and other produce of his
estate, sold for the use of the navy. Ivan Nicolaevitch, the
Pulkovnich commanding the marine infantry stationed in the fortress of
Dunamunde, was to pay this money; but that official informed Tolstoff
verbally--he was too wary to commit anything to paper--that unless six
thousand of the roubles were left in his hands, the whole might be
lost by the way, as my friend's residence was in a solitary place, and
the neighbourhood abounded with lawless characters.

"On Tolstoff threatening to complain to the Emperor, the Pulkovnich
most unwillingly handed over the entire sum, which was delivered in
great state by a praperchich, or ensign, and six soldiers; and there
we thought the matter would end. But that very night, as we sat at
supper, smoking our meerschaums to digest a repast of mutton with
mushrooms, _compote_ of almonds and stuffed carrots--carrots scooped
out like pop-guns, and loaded with mincemeat--the dining-room was
softly entered by six men dressed like Russian peasants, with canvas
craftans and rope girdles, bark shoes and long beards, their faces
covered with crape. They threatened me with instant death by the
pistol if I dared to stir; and pinioning my friend to a chair, placed
the barrel of another to his head, and demanded the treasure, or to be
told where it was.

"Tolstoff, who was a very cool fellow, gave me a peculiar smile, and
told me in French to open the lower drawer of his escritoire, and give
them every kopec I found there.

"On obtaining permission from the leader, I crossed the room, and
found in the drawer indicated no money, but a brace of revolver
pistols. With these, which luckily were loaded and capped, I shot down
two of the intruders, and the rest fled. On tearing the masks from the
fallen men, we discovered them to be--whom think you? The Pulkovnich
Nicholaevitch and the praperchich of the escort! There was an awful
row about the affair, as you may imagine; but in a burst of gratitude
my friend gave me this valuable ring, a diamond one, which I have worn
ever since."

"God bless my soul, what a terrible story!" exclaimed Pottersleigh,
regarding the ring with interest; for Guilfoyle usually selected a new
audience for each of these anecdotes, by which he hoped to create an
interest in himself; and certainly he seemed to do so for a time in
the mind of the somewhat simple old lord, who now entered into
conversation with him on the political situation, actually took his
arm, and they proceeded slowly across the lawn together. I was sorry
Caradoc had not overheard the new version of the ring, and wondered
how many stories concerning it the proprietor had told to others, or
whether he had merely a stock on hand, for chance narration. Was it
vanity, art, or weakness of intellect that prompted him? Yet I have
known a Scotch captain of the line, a very shrewd fellow, who was wont
to tell similar stories of a ring, and, oddly enough, over and over
again to the _same_ audience at the mess-table.

Being rid of both now, I resolved to lose no time in taking advantage
of the situation. Sir Madoc and "mamma" were in the refreshment tent,
where I hoped they were enjoying themselves; Dora was busy with a
young sub from Chester--little Tom Clavell of the 19th--who evidently
thought her fête was "awfully jolly;" Caradoc had secured Winifred for
one dance--she could spare him but one--and his usual soldierly swing
was now reduced to suit her measure, as they whirled amid the throng
on the smoothly-shorn turf.


Lady Estelle received me with a welcome smile, for at that time all
around her were strangers; and I hoped--nay, felt almost certain--that
pleasure to see me inspired it, for on my approach she immediately
rose from her seat, joined me, and as if by tacit and silent consent,
we walked onward together. Pottersleigh's presence at Craigaderyn
Court, and the rumours it revived; something cool and patronising in
his manner towards me, for he had not forgotten _that_ night in
Park-lane; Lady Naseby's influence against me; the chances that some
sudden military or political contingency might cut short my leave of
absence; the certainty that ere long I should have to "go where glory
waited" me, and perhaps something less pleasant in the shape of
mutilation--the wooden leg which Dora referred to--a coffinless grave
in a ghastly battle trench--all rendered my anxiety to come to an
understanding with Lady Estelle irrepressible. My secret was already
known to Phil Caradoc, fully occupied though he was with his own
passion for Winifred Lloyd; and I felt piqued by the idea of being
less successful than I honestly hoped he was, for Phil was the king of
good fellows, and one of my best friends.

"You have seemed very _triste_ to-day--looking quite as if you lived
in some thoughtful world of your own," said Lady Estelle, when she
left her seat; "neither laughing nor dancing, scarcely even
conversing, and certainly not with me. Why is this?"

"You have declined all dancing, hence the music has lost its zest for

"It is not brilliant; besides, it is somewhat of a maypole or
harvest-home accomplishment, dancing on the grass; pretty laborious
too! And then, as Welsh airs predominate, one could scarcely waltz to
the Noble Race of Shenkin."

"You reserve yourself for the evening, probably?"

"Exactly. I infinitely prefer a well-waxed floor to a lawn,
however well mown and rolled. But concerning your--what shall I term

"Why ask me when you may divine the cause, though I dare not
explain--here at least?"

After a little pause she disengaged two flowers from her bouquet, and
presenting them to me with an arch and enchanting smile--for when
beyond her mother's ken, she could at times be perfectly natural--she

"At this floral _fête champêtre_, I cannot permit you to be the only
undecorated man."

"Being in uniform, I never thought of such an ornament."

"Wear these, then," said she, placing them in a button-hole.

"As your gift and for your sake?"

"If you choose, do so."

"Ah, who would not but choose?" said I, rendered quite bright and gay
even by such a trifle as this. "But Lady Estelle, do you know what
these are emblematic of?"

"In the language of the flowers, do you mean?"

"Of course; what else could he mean?" said a merry voice; and the
bright face of Dora, nestled amid her golden hair, appeared, as she
joined us, flushed with her dancing, and her breast palpitating with
pleasure, at a time when I most cordially wished her elsewhere. "Yes,"
she continued, "there is a pansy; that's for thought, as Ophelia
says--and a rosebud; that is for affection."

"But I don't believe in such symbolism, Dora; do you. Mr. Hardinge?"

"At this moment I do, from my soul."

She laughed, or affected to laugh, at my earnestness; but it was not
displeasing to her, and we walked slowly on. Among the multitude of
strangers--to us they were so, at least--to isolate ourselves was
comparatively easy now. Besides, it is extremely probable that under
the eyes of so many girls she had been rather bored by the senile
assiduity of her old admirer; so, avoiding the throng around the
dancers, the band, and the luncheon marquee, we walked along the
terraces towards the chase, accompanied by Dora, who opened a wicket
in a hedge, and led us by a narrow path suddenly to the cliffs that
overhung the sea. Here we were quite isolated. Even the music of the
band failed to reach us; we heard only the monotonous chafing of the
waves below, and the sad cry of an occasional sea-bird, as it swooped
up or down from its eyrie. The change from the glitter and brilliance
of the crowded lawn to this utter solitude was as sudden as it was
pleasing. In the distance towered up Great Orme's Head, seven hundred
and fifty feet in height; its enormous masses of limestone rock
abutting against the foam, and the ruins of Pen-y-Dinas cutting the
sky-line. The vast expanse of the Irish Sea rolled away to the
north-westward, dotted by many a distant sail; and some eighty feet
below us the surf was rolling white against the rocky base of the
headland on which we stood.

"We are just over the Bôd Mynach, or 'monk's dwelling,'" said Dora.
"Have you not yet seen it, Estelle?"

"No; I am not curious in such matters."

"It is deemed one of the most interesting things in North Wales, quite
as much so as St. Tudno's Cradle, or the rocking-stone on yonder
promontory. Papa is intensely vain of being its proprietor. Gruffyd ap
Madoc hid here, when he fled from the Welsh after his desertion of
Henry III.; so it was not made yesterday. Let us go down and rest
ourselves in it."

"Down the cliffs?' exclaimed Lady Estelle, with astonishment.

"Yes--why not? There is an excellent path, with steps hewn in the
rock. Harry Hardinge knows the way, I am sure."

"As a boy I have gone there often, in search of puffins' nests; but
remember that Lady Estelle--"

"Is not a Welsh girl of course," said Dora.

"Nor a goat, like Carneydd Llewellyn," added her friend. "But with Mr.
Hardinge's hand to assist you," urged Dora. "Well, let us make the
essay at once, nor lose time, ere we be missed," said the other, her
mind no doubt reverting to mamma and Lord Pottersleigh.

I began to descend the path first, accepting with pleasure the office
of leading Lady Estelle, who for greater security drew off a glove and
placed her hand in mine, firmly and reliantly, though the path, a
ladder of steps cut in the living rock, almost overhung the sea, and
the descent was not without its perils. The headland was cleft in two
by some throe of nature, and down this chasm poured a little stream,
at the mouth of which, as in a diminutive bay, a gaily-painted
pleasure-boat of Sir Madoc's, named the "Winifred," was moored, and it
seemed to be dancing on the waves almost beneath us.

We had barely proceeded some twenty feet down the cliff when Dora,
instead of following us, exclaimed that she had dropped a bracelet on
the path near the wicket, but we were to go on, and she would soon
rejoin us. As she said this she disappeared, and we were thus left
alone. To linger where we stood, almost in mid-air, was not pleasant;
to return to the edge of the cliff and await her there, seemed a
useless task. Why should we not continue to descend, as she must soon
overtake us? I could read in the proud face of Lady Estelle, as we
paused on that ladder of rock, with her soft and beautiful hand in
mine, that she felt in a little dilemma. So did I, but my heart beat
happily; to have her so entirely to myself, even for ten minutes, was
a source of joy.

While lingering thus, I gradually led our conversation up to the point
I wished, by talking of my too probable speedy departure for another
land; of the happy days like the present, which I should never forget;
of herself. My lips trembled as my heart seemed to rise to them; and
forgetting the perilous place in which we stood, and remembering only
that her hand was clasped in mine, I began to look into her face with
an expression of love and tenderness which she could not mistake; for
her gaze soon became averted, her bosom heaved, and her colour came
and went; and so, as the minutes fled, we were all unaware that Dora
had not yet returned; that the sultry afternoon had begun to darken as
heavy dun clouds rolled up from the seaward, and the air become filled
with electricity; and that a sound alleged to be distant thunder had
been heard at Craigaderyn Court, causing some of the guests to
prepare, for departure, despite Sir Madoc's assurances that no rain
would fall, as the glass had been rising.

Dora was long in returning; so long that, instead of waiting or
retracing our steps, proceeding hand in hand, and more than once Lady
Estelle having to lean on my shoulder for support, we continued to
descend the path in the face of the cliff--a path that ultimately led
us into a terrible catastrophe.


A long time elapsed and we did not return, but amid the bustle that
reigned in and around Craigaderyn Court, our absence was not observed
so soon as it might otherwise have been, the attention of the many
guests being fully occupied by each other. The proposal of Dora's
health devolved upon Lord Pottersleigh as the senior bachelor present,
and it was drunk amid such cheers as country gentlemen alone can give.
Then Sir Madoc, who had a horror of after-dinner speeches in general,
replied tersely and forcibly enough, because the words of thanks and
praise for his youngest girl came straight from his affectionate
heart; but his white handkerchief was freely applied to the nervous
task of polishing his forehead, which gave him a sense of relief; for
the worthy old gentleman was no orator, and closed his response by
drinking to the health of all present in Welsh.

"Our good friend's ideas are somewhat antiquated," said Pottersleigh
to Guilfoyle, who now stuck to him pretty closely; "but he is a
thorough gentleman of an old school that is passing away."

His lordship, however, looked the older man of the two.

"Antiquated! By Jove, I should think so," responded the other, who
instinctively disliked his host; "ideas old as the days when people
made war without powder and shot, went to sea without compasses, and
pegged their clothes for lack of buttons; but he is an hospitable old
file, and his wine--this Château d'Yquem, for instance, is excellent."

Pottersleigh gave the speaker a quiet stare, and then, as if disliking
this style of comment, turned to Lady Naseby for the remainder of the

The overcasting of the day and a threatening of rain had put an end to
much of the dancing on the flower-terrace, and of the promenading in
the garden and grounds. The proposal of Dora's health had been deemed
the close of the fête; the servants had begun to prepare for the ball,
and many of the guests, whose invitation did not include that portion
of the festivities--for the grounds of course, would hold more than
the hall--were beginning to depart, while a few still lingered in the
conservatories, the library, or the picture gallery; thus, though
Caradoc was looking through them for me, with a shrewd idea that I was
with Lady Estelle, he could not for the life of him imagine _where_;
besides, Phil was anxious to make the most of his time with Miss

The breaking of the guests into groups caused our absence to be long
unnoticed, especially while carriages, gigs, drags, wagonnettes, and
saddle-horses were brought in succession to the door; cloaks and
shawls put on, ladies handed in, and the stream of vehicles went
pouring down the long lime avenue and out of the park.

"You have danced but once to-day with Mr. Caradoc, he has told me,"
said Dora in a low voice, as she passed her sister.

"I had so many to dance with--so many to introduce; and then, think of
the evening before us."

"He loves you quite passionately, I think, Winny dear; more than words
can tell."

"So it would seem," replied Winifred, smiling over her fan.

"He has never spoken to me on the subject."

"He will do so before this evening is over, or I am no true
prophetess," said Dora, as she threw back the bright masses of her

"That I don't believe."


"Because he wears at his neck a gold locket, the contents of which no
one has seen; and Mr. Guilfoyle assures me that it holds the likeness
of a lady."

"Well time will prove," replied Dora, as she was again led away by her
new admirer, the little sub from Chester; but her prediction came

Winifred felt instinctively that she was the chief attraction to
Caradoc, and was exciting in his breast emotions to which she could
not respond. Again and again when asking her to dance, she had urged
in reply, that he would please her more by dancing with others, as
there were present plenty of country girls to whom a red coat was
quite a magnet; so poor Caradoc found plenty of work cut out for him.
Pressed at last by him, Winifred said, while fanning herself,

"Do excuse me; to-night I shall reward you fully; but meanwhile we may
take a little promenade. I think all who are to remain must know each
other pretty well now;" and taking his arm they passed from the great
marquee along the now deserted terrace, to find that the sky was so
overcast and the wind so high, that they turned into an alley of the
conservatory, where she expected to find some of their friends, but it
was empty; and as Caradoc's face, and the tremulous inflections of his
voice, while he was uttering mere commonplaces about the sudden change
of the weather, the beauty of the flowers, the elegance of the
conservatory, and so forth, told her what was passing in his mind, she
became perplexed annoyed with herself, and said hurriedly,

"Let us seek Lady Naseby; I fear that we are quite neglecting her--and
she is somewhat particular."

"One moment, Miss Lloyd, ere we go; I have so longed for an
opportunity to speak with you--alone, I mean--for a moment--even for a
moment," said he.

Winifred Lloyd knew what was coming; there was a nervous quivering of
her upper lip, which was a short one, and showed a small portion of
her white teeth, usually imparting an expression of innocence to her
face, while its normal one was softness combined with great sweetness.
Caradoc had now possessed himself of her right hand, thus without
breaking away from him, and making thereby a species of "scene"
between them, an episode to be avoided, she could not withdraw, but
stood looking shyly and blushingly half into his handsome face, while
he spoke to her with low and broken but earnest utterances.

"I have decoyed you hither," said he, "and you will surely pardon me
for doing so, when you think how brief is my time now, here, in this
happy home of yours--even in England itself; and when I tell you how
anxious I have been to--to address you--"

"Mr. Caradoc," interrupted the girl, now blushing furiously behind her
fan, "your moments will soon become minutes!"

"Would that the minutes might become hours, and the hours, days and
years, could I but spend them with you! Listen to me, Miss Lloyd--"

"Not at present--do, pray, excuse me--I wish to speak with Dora."

But instead of having her hand released, it was now pressed by Caradoc
between both of his.

"I will not detain you very long," said he, sadly, almost
reproachfully; "you know that I love you; every time my eyes have met
yours, every time I have spoken, my voice must have told you that I do
dearly, and if the fondest emotions of my heart--"

"A soldier's heart, of which little scraps and shreds have been left
in every garrison town?"

"Do not laugh at my honest earnestness!" urged Caradoc, with a deep

"Pardon me, I do not laugh; O think not that I could be guilty of such
a thing!" replied Winifred, colouring deeper than ever.

Beautiful though she was, and well dowered too, this was the first
proposal or declaration that had been made to her. The speaker was
eminently handsome, his voice and eyes were full of passion and
earnestness, and she could not hear him without a thrill of pleasure
and esteem.

"I know that I am not worthy of you, perhaps; but--"

"I thank you, dear Mr. Caradoc, but--but--more is impossible."


She grew quite pale now, but he still retained her hand; and her
change of colour was, perhaps, unseen by him, for there was little
light in the conservatory, the evening clouds being dark and dense

"Miss Lloyd--Winifred--dearest Winifred--I love you, love you with all
my heart and soul!"

"Do not say so, I implore you!" said she in an agitated voice, and
turning away her head.

"Do you mean to infer that you are already engaged?"


"Or that you love another?"

"That is not a fair question," she replied, with a little hauteur of

"It is, circumstanced as I am, and after the avowal I have made."

"Well, I do--not."

"And yet you cannot love me? Alas, I am most unfortunate!"

"Let this end, dear Mr. Caradoc," said Winifred, almost sobbing, and
deeply repenting that she had taken his arm for a little promenade
that was to end in a proposal. Phil, being in full uniform, played
with, or swung somewhat nervously, the tassels of his crimson sash, a
favourite resort of young officers when in any dubiety or dilemma.
After a little pause--

"May I speak to Sir Madoc on the subject?" he asked.


"Perhaps my friend Harry Hardinge might advise--"

"Nay, for Heaven's sake don't confer with him on the matter at all!"

"Why?" said he, startled by her earnestness.

"Would you make love to me through _him_--through another?"

"You entirely mistake my meaning."

"What _do_ you mean?"

"Simply what I have said; that I love you, esteem and admire you; that
you are, indeed, most dear to me, and that if I had the approval--"

"Of the lady whose likeness is in your locket; so treasured that a
secret spring secures it!" said she, suddenly remembering Dora's words
as a means of escape.

"Yes, especially with her approval. I should then be happy, indeed. I
know not how you came to know of it; but shall I show you the

"If you choose," said Winifred, thinking in her heart, "Poor fellow,
it must be his mother's miniature;" but when Phil touched a spring and
the locket flew open she beheld a beautiful coloured photo of

"Good heavens!" she exclaimed, "how came you by this?"

"Hardinge had two in the barracks, and I begged one from him."

"Hardinge--Harry Hardinge! That was most unfair of him," said she, her
agitation increasing; "he is one of our oldest friends."

"May I be permitted to keep it?"

"O, no; not there--not there, in a locket at your neck."

"Be it so; your slightest wish is law to me; but be assured, Miss
Lloyd, the heart near which it lies was never offered to woman

"I can well believe you; but--hush, here are people coming!"

Sir Madoc and Lady Naseby entered the conservatory somewhat hurriedly,
followed by two or three of the guests.

"Lady Estelle! Is Lady Estelle here?" they asked, simultaneously.

"No," replied Caradoc.

"Nor Harry Hardinge?"

"We are quite alone, papa," said Winifred, in a voice the agitation of
which, at another time, must have been apparent to all; for no woman
can hear a declaration of love or receive a proposal quite
unconcerned, especially from a handsome young fellow who was so
earnest as Philip Caradoc; around whom the coming departure for the
seat of war shed a halo of melancholy interest, and who, by the
artless production of the locket, proved that he had loved her for
some time past, and secretly too.

"What the deuce is the meaning of this?" exclaimed Sir Madoc, with an
expression of comicality, annoyance, and alarm mingling in his face;
"the servants can nowhere find her!"

"Find who?" asked Lord Pottersleigh, opening his snuffbox as he
shambled forward.

"Why, Lady Estelle."

His lordship took a pinch, paused for the refreshing titillation of a
sneeze, and then said,


"And Hardinge is missing, too, you say?" said Phil. "How odd!"

"Odd! egad, I think it _is_ odd; they have not been seen by any one
for more than two hours, and a regular storm has come on!"

Phil and Miss Lloyd had been too much occupied, or they must have
remarked the bellowing of the wind without and the sudden darkening of
the atmosphere.

"O papa, papa!" exclaimed Dora, now rushing in from the lawn,
"something dreadful must have happened. I left them on the verge of
the cliffs; returning to look for the bracelet you gave me, I met my
partner, Mr. Clavell of the 19th; we began dancing again, and I forgot
all about them."

"On the cliffs!" exclaimed several voices, reprehensibly and

"Yes," continued Dora, beginning to weep; "I took them through the
park wicket, and suggested a visit to the Bôd Mynach."

"Suggested this to Estelle! She is not, as we are, used to such paths
and places, and you tell us of it only now!" exclaimed Winifred, with
an expression of reproach and anguish sparkling in her eyes.

"My God, an accident must have occurred! The wind--weather--compose
yourself, Lady Naseby; Gwyllim, ring the house-bell, and summon every
one," cried Sir Madoc; "not a moment is to be lost."

"O, what is all this you tell me now, Dora?" exclaimed Winifred, as
she started from the conservatory, with her lips parted, her dark eyes
dilated, and her hair put back by both her trembling hands.

Poor Phil Caradoc and his proposal were alike forgotten now; and he
began to fear that, like Hugh Price of ours, in making love he had
made some confounded mistake.

Querulous, and useless so far as searching or assisting went, Lord
Pottersleigh nevertheless saw the necessity of affecting to do
something, as a man, as a gentleman, and a very particular friend of
the Naseby family. Accoutred in warm mufflings by his valet, with a
mackintosh, goloshes, and umbrella, he left the house half an hour
after every one else, and pottered about the lawn, exclaiming from
time to time,

"Such weather! such a sky! ugh, ugh! what the devil can have
happened?" till a violent fit of coughing, caused by the keen breeze
from the sea, and certain monitory twinges of gout, compelled him to
return to his room, and wait the event there, making wry faces and
sipping his colchicum, while sturdy old Sir Madoc conducted the search
on horseback, galloping knee-deep among fern, searching the vistas of
the park, and sending deer, rabbits, and hares scampering in every
direction before him. Above the bellowing of the stormy wind, that
swept the freshly torn leaves like rain against the walls and
mullioned windows of the old house, or down those long umbrageous
vistas where ere long the autumn spoil would be lying thick, rose and
fell the clangour of the house-bell. Servants, grooms, gamekeepers,
and gardeners were despatched to search, chiefly in the wild vicinity
of the now empty Bôd Mynach; but no trace could be found of Lady
Estelle or her squire, save a white-laced handkerchief, which, while a
low cry of terror escaped her, Lady Naseby recognised as belonging to
her daughter. On it were a coronet and the initials of her name.

It had been found by Phil Caradoc with the aid of a lantern, when
searching along the weedy rocks between the silent cavern and the
seething sea, which was now black with the gathered darkness and a
mist from the west.

There was no ball at Craigaderyn Court that night.


In this world, events unthought of and unforeseen are always
happening; so, as I have hinted, did it prove with me, on the epoch of
Dora's birthday fête. It was not without considerable difficulty and
care on my side, trepidation and much of annoyance at Dora on that of
Lady Estelle, mingled with a display of courage which sprang from her
pride, that I conducted her by the hand down the old and time-worn
flight of narrow steps--which had been hewn, ages ago, by some old
Celtic hermit in the face of the cliff--till at last we stood on the
little plateau that lies between the mouth of his abode and the sea,
which was chafing and surging there in green waves, that the wind was
cresting with snowy foam.

On our right the headland receded away into a wooded dell, that formed
part of Craigaderyn Park. There a little _rhaidr_ or cascade came
plashing down a fissure in the limestone rocks, and fell into a pool,
where a pointed pleasure-boat, named the Winifred, was moored. On our
left the headland, that towered some eighty feet above us, formed part
of the bluffs or sea-wall that stretched away to the eastward, and,
sheer as a rampart, met the waves of the wide Irish Sea. Before us
opened the arched entrance of the monk's abode--a little cavern or
cell, that had been hollowed by no mortal hand. Its echoes are alleged
to be wonderful; and it has been of old used as a hiding-place in
times of war and trouble, and by smugglers for storing goods, where
the knights of Craigaderyn could find them without paying to the
king's revenue. It has evidently been what its name imports--the
chapel and abode of some forgotten recluse. A seat of stones goes
round the interior, save at the entrance. A stone pillar or altar had
stood in its centre. A font or stone basin is there, and from it there
flows a spring of clear water, with which the follower of St. David
was wont to baptise the little savages of Britannia Secunda; and where
now, in a more pleasant and prosaic age, it has supplied the tea and
coffee kettles of many a joyous party, who came hither boating or
fishing from Craigaderyn Court; and above that stone basin the
hermit's hand has carved the somewhat unpronounceable Welsh legend:

         "Heb Dduw, heb ddim."[1]

"A wonderful old place! But I have seen caverns enough elsewhere,
and this does not interest me. I am no archæologist," said Lady
Estelle--"besides, where is Dora?" she added, looking somewhat blankly
up the ladder of steps in the cliff, by which we were to return: and
she speedily became much less alive to the beauty of the scenery than
to a sense of danger and awkwardness in her position.

There was no appearance of Dora Lloyd, and we heard no sound in that
secluded place, save the chafing of the surf, the equally monotonous
pouring of the waterfall, and the voices of sea-birds as they skimmed
about us.

I thought that Lady Estelle leant upon my arm a little heavier than
usual, and remembered that, when I took her hand in mine to guide her
down, she left it there firmly and confidingly.

"May I show you the grotto?" said I; and my heart beat tumultuously
while I looked in her face, the rare beauty of which was now greatly
enhanced by a flush, consequent on our descent and the sea-breeze.

"O no, no, thanks very much; but let us return to the park ere we be
missed. Give me your hand, Mr. Hardinge. If we came down so quickly,
surely we may as quickly ascend again."

"Shall I go first?"

"Please, do. The caves of Fingal, or Elephanta and Ellora to boot,
were not worth this danger."

"I have come here many a time for a few sea-birds' eggs," said I,
laughing, to reassure her.

But the ascent proved somehow beyond her power. The wind had risen
fast, and was sweeping round the headland now, blowing her dress about
her ankles, and impeding her motions. She had only ascended a little
way when giddiness or terror came over her. She lost all presence of
mind, and began to descend again. Thrice, with my assistance, she
essayed to climb the winding steps that led to the summit, and then
desisted. She was in tears at last. As all confidence had deserted
her, I proposed to bind her eyes with a handkerchief; but she
declined. I also offered, if she would permit me to leave her for a
few minutes, to reach the summit and bring assistance; but she was too
terrified to remain alone on the plateau of rock, between the cell and
the water.

"Good heavens!" she exclaimed, when, like myself, perhaps she thought
of Lady Naseby, "what shall I do? And all this has been brought about
by the heedless suggestions of Dora Lloyd--by her folly and
impulsiveness! Will she never return to advise us?"

Nearly half-an-hour had elapsed, and a dread that she, that I--that
both of us--must now be missed, and the cause of surmise, roused an
anger and pride in her breast, that kindled her eye and affected her
manner, thus effectually crushing any attempt to intrude my own secret
thoughts upon her.

"What _are_ we to do, Mr. Hardinge? Here we cannot stay; I dare not
climb; not a boat is to be seen; the sun has almost set, and see, how
dense a mist is coming on!"

I confess that I had not observed this before, so much had I been
occupied by her own presence, by her beauty, and by entreating that
she would "screw her courage to the sticking-point," and ascend where
I had seen the two pretty Lloyds trip from step to step in their mere
girlhood, to the horror, certainly, of their French governess; but
knowing that a fog from the sea was rolling landward in dense masses,
and that the evening would be a stormy one, I felt intense anxiety for
Lady Estelle, and certainly left nothing unsaid to reassure her,
firmly yet delicately--for good breeding becomes a second nature, and
is not forgotten even in times of dire emergency; then how much less
so when we love, and love as I did Estelle Cressingham?--but all my
arguments were in vain. There was in her dark eyes a wild and startled
brilliance, a hectic spot on each pale cheek. Her innate pride
remained, but her courage was gone. She trembled, and her breath came
short and quick as she said,

"Who would have dreamt that I--_I_ should have acted thus? More
heedlessly even than Dora, for she is a Welsh girl, and, like a goat,
is used to such places. And now there is no aid--not even the smallest
boat in sight!"

"Of what have I been thinking!" I exclaimed. "The pleasure-boat which
belongs to the grotto is moored yonder in the creek, where some
visitor, who preferred the short cut up the cliff, has evidently left
it. If you will permit me to place you in it, I can row across the
mouth of the waterfall to the other side, where a Chinese bridge will
enable us at once to reach the lawn."

"Why did you not think of this before?" she asked, with something of
angry reproach almost flashing in her eyes.

"Will you make the attempt?"

"Of course. O, would that you had thought of it before!"

"Come, then, though the wind has risen certainly; and among so many
guests, our absence may have been unnoticed yet."

I reached the boat--a gaudily-painted shallop, seated for four oars.
There were but two, however; these were enough; but as ill-luck would
have it, she was moored to a ring-bolt in the rocks by a padlock and
chain, which I had neither the strength nor the means of breaking.
This was a fresh source of delay, and Lady Estelle's whole frame
seemed to quiver and vibrate with impatience, while every moment she
raised her eyes to the cliff, by which she expected succour or
searchers to come. What the deuce was she--were _we_--to say to all
this? With a girl possessed of more nerve and firmness of mind this
matter could never have taken such a turn, and the delay had never
occurred. This _malheur_ or mishap--this variation from the strict
rules laid down by such matrons as the Countess of Naseby--looked so
like a scheme, that I felt we were in a thorough scrape, and knew
there was not a moment to be lost in making our appearance at the
Court. By a stone I smashed the padlock, and casting loose the boat,
brought it to where Lady Estelle stood, beating the rock impatiently
with her foot; and, handing her on board, seated her in the
stern-sheets, but with some difficulty, as the west wind was rolling
the waves with no small fury now past the headland, in which the black
Bôd Mynach gaped.

"Pull with all your strength, Mr. Hardinge. Dear Mr. Hardinge, let us
only be back in time, and I shall ever thank you!" she exclaimed.

"All that man can do I shall," was my enthusiastic reply.

I could pull a good stroke-oar, and had done so steadily in many a
regimental and college boat-race and regatta; but now there ensued
what I never could have calculated upon. Excited by the desire of
pleasing Lady Estelle by landing her on the opposite side of the tiny
bay with all speed--desirous, when seated opposite to her, face to
face, of appearing to some advantage by an exhibition of strength and
skill--at each successive stroke, as I shot the light boat seaward, I
almost lifted it out of the water. I had to clear a rock, over which
the water was foaming and gleaming in green and gold amid the sinking
sunshine, ere I headed her due westward, and in doing so I cleared
also the headland, which rose like a tower of rock from the sea,
crowned by a clump of old elms, wherein some rooks had taken up their
quarters in times long past.

"O, Mr. Hardinge," said Lady Estelle, while grasping the gunwale with
both hands, and looking up, "how had I ever the courage to come down
such a place? It looks fearful from this!"

Ere I could reply, the oar in my right hand broke in the iron rowlock
with a crash. The wood had been faulty. By this mishap I lost my
balance, and was nearly thrown into the sea, as the boat careered over
on a wave. Thus the _other_ was torn from my grasp, and swept far
beyond my reach. I was powerless now--powerless to aid either her or
myself. The tide was ebbing fast. The strong west wind, and the
current running eastward, influenced by the flow of the Clwyde, and
even of the Dee, ten miles distant, swept the now useless boat past
the abutting headland, and along the front of those cliffs which rise
like a wall of rock from the sea, and where, as the mist gathered
round us, our fate would be unseen, whether we were dashed against the
iron shore or swept out into the ocean.

The red sunset was fading fast on distant Orme's Head, where myriads
of sea-birds are ever revolving, like gnats in the light amid its
grand and inaccessible crags. It was dying, too, though tipping them
with flame, on Snowdon's peaks, the eyrie of the golden eagle and the
peregrine falcon, and on the smaller range of Carneydd Llewellyn.
Purple darkness was gathering in the grassy vales between, and blue
and denser grew those shadows as the cold gray mist came on, and the
sombre glow of a stormy sunset passed away. Soon the haze of the
twilight blurred, softened, and blended land and sea to the eastward.
The sharp edge of the new moon was rising from a dark and trembling
horizon, whence the mist was coming faster and more fast, and the
evening star, pale Hesperus, shone like a tiny lamp amid the opal
tints of a sky that was turning fast to dun and darkness. The rolling
mist soon hid the star and the land, too, and I only knew that we were
drifting helplessly away.


The absence of the boat from its mooring-place was soon observed, and
surmises were rife that we must infallibly have gone seaward. But why?
It seemed unaccountable--and at such a time, too! The idea that Lady
Estelle's heart should fail her in attempting to return by the cliff
never occurred to any save Winifred, who knew more of her friend's
temperament than the rest, and for a time, with others, the ardent and
courageous girl searched the shore, and several boats were put forth
into the mist; but in vain, and ere long the strength and violence of
the wind drove even Sir Madoc and all his startled guests to the
shelter of the house. Muffled in silk cloaks and warm shawls or
otter-skin jackets, the ladies had lingered long on the terraces, on
the lawn and avenues, while the lights of the searchers were visible,
and while their hallooing could be heard at times from the rocks and
ravines, where they swung their lanterns as signals, in hopes that the
lost ones might see them.

Lord Pottersleigh snuffed and ejaculated from time to time, and ere
long had betaken himself to his room. Caradoc, Guilfoyle--who seemed
considerably bewildered by the affair--young Clavel of the 19th, and
other gentlemen, with Gwyllim the butler, Morgan Roots the gardener,
Bob Spurrit, and the whole male staff of the household, manfully
continued their search by the shore. There the scene was wild and
impressive. Before the violence of the bellowing wind, the mist was
giving place to the pall-like masses of dark clouds, which rolled
swiftly past the pale face of the new moon, imparting a weird-like
aspect to the rocky coast, against which the sea was foaming in white
and hurrying waves, while the sea-birds, scared alike by the shouts
and the light of the searchers, quite as much as by the storm,
screamed and wheeled in wild flights about their eyries. Moments there
were when Caradoc thought the search was prosecuted in the wrong
direction, and that, as there had probably been an elopement, this
prowling along the seashore was absurd.

"Can it be," said he, inaudibly, "that the little boy who cried for
the moon has made off with it bodily? If so, this will be rather a
'swell' affair for the mess of the Royal Welsh."

Slowly passed the time, and more anxious than all the rest--Lady
Naseby of course excepted--the soft-hearted Winifred was full of
dismay that any catastrophe should occur to two guests at Craigaderyn,
and she listened like a startled fawn to every passing sound.

Dora, as deeming herself the authoress of the whole calamity, was
completely crushed, and sat on a low stool with her head bowed on Lady
Naseby's knee, sobbing bitterly ever and anon, when the storm-gusts
howled among the trees of the chase, shook the oriels of the old
mansion, and made the ivy leaves patter on the panes, or shuddering as
she heard the knell-like ding-dong of the house-bell occasionally. The
masses of her golden hair had been dishevelled by the wind without;
but she forgot all about that, as well as about her two solemn
engagements made with Tom Clavell for the morrow; one, the mild
excitement of fishing for sticklebacks in the horse-pond, and the
other, a gallop to the Marine Parade of Llandudno, attended by old Bob
Spurrit; for the little sub of the 1st York North Riding was, _pro
tem_., the bondsman of a girl who was at once charming and childish,
petulant and more than pretty. Heavily and anxiously were passed the
minutes, the quarters, and the hours. Messenger after messenger to the
searchers by the shore went forth and returned. Their tidings were all
the same; nothing had been seen or heard of the boat, of Lady Estelle,
or of her companion. Nine o'clock was struck by the great old clock in
the stable court, and then every one instinctively looked at his or
her watch. Half-past nine, ten, and even midnight struck, without
tidings of the lost. By that time the mist had cleared away, the tide
had turned, and the west wind was rolling the incoming sea with
mightier fury on the rock-bound shore.

The first hours of the morning passed without intelligence, and alarm,
dismay, and grief reigned supreme among the pallid group at
Craigaderyn Court. All could but hope that with the coming day a
revelation might come for weal or woe; and as if to involve the
disappearance of the missing ones in greater mystery, if it did not
point to a terrible conclusion, the lost pleasure-boat was discovered
by a coastguardsman, high and dry, and bottom up, on a strip of sandy
beach, some miles from Craigaderyn; but of its supposed occupants not
a trace could be found, save a lace cuff, recognised as Lady
Estelle's, wedged or washed into the framework of the little craft,
thus linking her fate with it. Ours was, indeed, a perilous situation.
We were helplessly adrift on a stormy sea, off a rock-bound coast, in
a tiny boat, liable to swamping at any moment, without oars or
covering, the wind rising fast, while the darkness and the mist were
coming down together. I had no words to express my anxiety for what
one so delicately nurtured as Estelle might suffer. My annoyance at
the surmises and wonder naturally excited by our protracted absence;
quizzical, it might be equivocal, inferences drawn from it--I thought
nothing of these. I was beyond all such minor considerations, and felt
only solicitude for her safety and a terror of what her fate might be.
All other ideas, even love itself--though that very solicitude was
born of love--were merged for the time in the tenderest anxiety. If
her situation with me was perilous, what had it been if with Lord
Pottersleigh? But had she been with him, no such event as a descent to
that unlucky pleasure grotto could have been thought of. Though pale
and terrified, not a tear escaped her now; but her white and beautiful
face was turned, with a haggard aspect, to mine. A life-buoy happened
to be in the boat, and without a word I tied it to her securely.

"Is there not one for you?" she asked, piteously, laying a hand on

"Think not of me, Lady Estelle; if you are saved, what care I for

"You swim, then?"

"A little, a very little; scarcely at all."

"You are generous and noble, Mr. Hardinge! O, if kind God permits me
to reach the land safely, I shall never be guilty of an act of folly
like this again. Mamma says--poor mamma!--that it is birth, or blood,
which carries people through great emergencies; but who could have
foreseen such a calamitous contretemps as this? And who could have
been a greater coward than I? I should have made a steady attempt at
yonder pitiful cliff; to fail was most childish, and I have involved
you in this most fatal peril."

She sobbed as she spoke, and her eyes were full of light; but her lips
were compressed, and all her soft and aristocratic loveliness seemed
for a time to grow different in expression; to gather sternness, as a
courage now possessed her, of which she had seemed deficient before,
or it might be an obstinacy born of despair; for the light boat was
swept hither and thither helplessly, by stem and stern alternately, on
each successive wave; tossed upward on the crest of one watery ridge,
or sunk downward between two that heaved up on each side as if to
engulf us; while the spoondrift, salt and bitter, torn from their
tops, flew over us, as she clung with one hand to the gunwale of the
tiny craft, and with the other to me.

That we were not being drifted landward was evident, for we could no
longer hear the voices of the sea-birds among the rocks; and to be
drifted seaward by ebb tide or current was only another phase of
peril. The voice of Lady Estelle came in painful gasps as she said,

"O, Mr. Hardinge, Mr. Hardinge, we shall perish most miserably; we
shall certainly be drowned! Mamma, my poor mamma, I shall never see
her more!"

Though striving to reassure her I was, for a time, completely
bewildered by anxiety for what she must suffer by a terror of the
sudden fate that might come upon her; and I was haunted by morbid
visions of her, the brilliant Estelle, a drowned and sodden corpse,
the sport of the waves--of myself I never thought--tossing unburied in
the deep, or, it might be, cast mutilated on the shore; and she looked
so beautiful and helpless as she clung to me now, clasping my right
arm with all her energy, her head half reclined upon my shoulder, and
the passing spray mingling with her tears upon her cheek. "The
drowning man is said to be confronted by a ghostly panorama of his
whole life." It may be so generally; but then I had only the horror of
losing Estelle, whom I loved so tenderly. We were now together and
alone, so completely, suddenly, and terribly alone, it might be for
life or for death--the former short indeed, and the latter swift and
sudden, if the boat upset, or we were washed out of it into the sea;
and yet in that time of peril she possessed more than ever for me that
wondrous and undefinable charm and allurement which every man finds in
the woman he loves, and in her only.

"God spare us and help us!" she exclaimed. "Mr. Hardinge, I am filled
with unutterable fear;" and then she added, unconsciously quoting some
poet, "I find the thought of death, to one near death, most dreadful!"

"With you, Estelle, love might make it indeed a joy to die!" I
exclaimed, with a gush of enthusiasm and tenderness that, but for the
terrible situation, had been melodramatic.

"I did not think that you loved me so," said she, after a little
pause; and my arm now encircled her waist, while something of an
invocation to heaven rose to my lips, and I repeated,

"Not  think that I loved you! Do not be coquettishly unwilling to
admit what you must know, that since that last happy night in London
you have never been absent from my thoughts; and here, Estelle, dear,
dear Estelle, when menaced by a grave amid these waters, I tell you
that I loved you from the first moment that I knew you! Death stares
us in the face, but tell me truly that you--that you--"

"Love you in return? I do, indeed, dear Harry!" she sobbed, and then
her beloved face, chilled and damp with tears and spray, came close to

"God bless you, O my darling, for this avowal!" said I in a thick
voice, and even the terrors of our position could not damp the glow of
my joy.

In all my waking dreams of her had Estelle seemed beautiful; but never
so much so as now, when I seemed on the eve of losing her for ever,
and my own life, too; when each successive wave that rolled in inky
blackness towards us might tear her from my clasp! How easily under
some circumstances do we learn the language of passion! and now, while
clasping her fast with one arm, as with both of hers she clung to me,
I pressed her to my breast, and told her again and again how fondly I
loved her, while--as it were in a dream, a portion of a nightmare--our
boat, now filling fast with water, was tossed madly to and fro. And
like a dream, too, it seemed, the fact that I had her all to
myself--for life or death, as it were--this brilliant creature so
loved by many, so prized by all, and hitherto apparently so
unattainable; she who, by a look, a glance, a smile, by a flirt of her
fan, by the dropping of a glove, or the gift of a flower, selected
with point from her bouquet, had held my soul in thrall by all the
delicious trifles that make up the sum and glory of love to the lover
who is young. And where were we now? Alone on the dark, and ere long
it was the midnight, sea! Alone, and with me; I who had so long eyed
her lovingly and longingly, even as Schön Rohtrant, the German king's
daughter, was gazed at and loved by the handsome page, who dared not
to touch or kiss her till he gathered courage one day, as the ballad
tells us, when they were under a shady old oak.

"If God spares us to see her," said Lady Estelle, "what will mamma
think of this terrible _fiasco_ of ours?"

While Estelle loved me, I felt that I did not care very much for the
dowager's views of the matter, especially at that precise moment. When
on _terra firma_ there would be sufficient time to consider them.

"And you are mine, darling?" said I, tenderly.

"I am yours, Harry, and yours only."

"Never shall I weary of hearing this admission; but the rumour of an
engagement to Lord Pottersleigh?'

"Absurd! It has grown out of his dangling after me and mamma's wish,
as I won't have my cousin Naseby."

"And you do not hold yourself engaged--"

"Save to you, Harry, and you alone."

And as her head again sank upon my shoulder, her pride and my doubts
fled together; but now a half-stifled shriek escaped her, as the frail
boat was nearly overturned by a larger wave than usual, which struck
it on the counter. We were drenched and chilled, so ours was, indeed,
love-making under difficulties; and the time, even with her reclining
in my arms, passed slowly. How many a prayer and invocation, all too
deep for utterance, rose to my lips for her! The hours drew on. Would
day never dawn? With all the sweet but now terrible companionship of
love--for it was love combined with gloomy danger--this was our utmost

The new moon, as she rose pale and sharp, like a silver sickle, from
the Irish Sea, when the fog began to disperse, tipped for a little
time with light the wave-tops as they rose or sank around us; but
clouds soon enveloped her again; and when the tide turned, the sea ran
inward, and broke wildly on the tremendous headlands of the coast.
That our boat was not swamped seemed miraculous; but it was very
buoyant, being entirely lined with cork, and had air-tight
compartments under the seats. A gray streak at the far horizon had
spread across a gap of pale green, announcing that the short August
night was past, and rapidly it broadened and brightened into day,
while crimson and gold began to tip the wave-tops with a fiery hue,
the whole ocean seeming to be mottled, as it were; and I could see the
coast-line, as we were not quite a mile from it. In the distance were
plainly visible the little town of Abergele, and those hills where
Castell Cawr and the Cefn Ogo are, tinged with pink, as they rose
above the white vapour that rolled along the shore.

The more distant mountain ranges seemed blue and purple against a sky
where clouds of pearly-pink were floating. Estelle was exhausted now.
Her pallor added to my misery. So many hours of pitiless exposure had
proved too much for her strength, and with her eyes closed she lay
helpless in my arms, while wave after wave was now impelling us
shoreward, and, most happily it would seem, towards a point where the
rocks opened and the water shoaled. One enormous breaker,
white-crested and overarching, came rolling upon us. A gasp, a mutual
cry to heaven, half-stifled by the bitter spray, and then the mighty
volume of it engulfed us and our boat. We had a momentary sense of
darkness and blindness, a sound as of booming thunder mingled with the
clangour of bells in our ears, and something of the feeling of being
swept by an express train through a tunnel filled with water, for we
were fairly under the latter; but I clung to the boat with one hand
and arm, while the other went round Estelle with a death-like embrace,
that prevented her from being swept or torn from me.

For some moments I knew not whether we were on the land or in the sea;
but, though stunned by the shock, I acted mechanically. Then I
remember becoming conscious of rising through the pale-green water, of
inhaling a long breath, a gasping respiration, and of seeing the
sunshine on the waves. Another shock came, and we were flung on the
flat or sloping beach, to be there left by the receding sea. Instead
of in that place, had we been dashed against the impending rocks
elsewhere, all had then been over with us. I still felt that my right
arm was clasped around Estelle; but she was motionless, breathless,
and still; and though a terror that she was dead oppressed me, a
torpor that I could not resist spread over all my faculties, and I
sank into a state of perfect unconsciousness.


In making a circuit of his farm on the morning after the storm, Farmer
Rhuddlan, while traversing a field that was bounded by a strip of the
sea shore, on which the ebbing surf still rolled heavily, was very
much scared to find lying there, and to all appearance but recently
cast up from the ocean, among starfish, weed, and wreck, an officer in
full dress, and a lady (in what had been an elegant demi-toilette of
blue silk and fine lace), fair and most delicately white, but
drenched, sodden, and to all appearance, as he thought,
"dearanwyl--drowned"--as she was quite motionless, with her beautiful
dark hair all dishevelled and matted among the sand.

He knew me--in fact, he had known me since boyhood, having caught me
many a time in his orchard at Craig Eryri--and thought he recognized
the lady. Moreover, he had heard of the search overnight, and lost no
time in spurring his fat little cob in quest of succour. Some
wondering rustics promptly came from a neighbouring barnyard, and by
the time they arrived, Estelle and I had recovered consciousness, and
struggled into a sitting position on some stones close by, whence we
were beginning to look about us.

A benumbed sensation and total lack of power in my right arm warned me
that an accident had occurred, and I endeavoured to conceal the
circumstance from Estelle, but in vain; for when murmuring some thanks
to God for our preservation, she suddenly lifted her face from my
breast, and exclaimed, "You cannot move this arm! You have been hurt,
darling! Tell me about it--speak!"

"I think it is broken, Estelle," said I, with a smile; for while I
felt something almost of pleasure in the conviction that I had
undergone this in saving her, thereby giving me a greater title to her
interest and sympathy, I could not forget my short leave from
Winchester, the war at hand, the regiment already abroad, and the
active duties that were expected of me.

"Broken?" she repeated, in a faint voice.

"My sword-arm--on the eve of marching for foreign service. Awkward,
isn't it?"

"Awkward! O Harry, it is horrible! And all this has occurred through
me and my childish folly!"

"One arm is at your service, dearest, still," said I, while placing it
round her, and assisting her to rise, as the kind old farmer returned
with his people, joyful to find that we were living, after all, and
that by assisting us he might in some degree repay Sir Madoc Lloyd a
portion of that debt of gratitude which he owed to him.

After despatching a mounted messenger to Craigaderyn with tidings of
our safety, he had us at once conveyed to his farm-house at Craig
Eryri, where dry clothing was given us, and a doctor summoned to
attend me.

"You knew that we were missing--lost?" said I.

"Too well, sir," replied the farmer, as he produced a brandy-bottle
from an ancient oak cupboard. "With all my lads I assisted in the
search," he continued in Welsh, as he could scarcely speak a word of
English. "A gentleman came here over night with a groom, both mounted,
to spread the news of you and a lady having been lost somewhere below
the Bôd Mynach."

"A gentleman mounted--Mr. Caradoc, perhaps?"

"Caradoc is one of ourselves," said the farmer, his keen eyes
twinkling; "this one was a Sassenach--he Sir Madoc gave that lovely
ring to, with a diamond as big as a horse-bean, for winning a race at

"O, Mr. Guilfoyle."

"Yes, sir, that is his name, I believe," replied Rhuddlan; and despite
the gnawing agony of my arm I laughed outright, for the quondam German
_attaché_ would seem to have actually found time to relate something
new about his brilliant to the simple old farmer, and while the fate
of Lady Estelle was yet a mystery. As for _mine_, I shrewdly suspected
he cared little about that.

Attired by the farmer's wife in the best clothing with which she could
provide her, Lady Estelle, pale, wan, and exhausted, was seated near a
fire to restore warmth to her chilled frame, while I retired with the
medical man, who found my unlucky arm broken above the elbow;
fortunately, the fracture was simple, and in no way a compound one.
The bones were speedily set, splinted, and bandaged; and clad in a
suit provided for me by Farmer Rhuddlan--to wit, a pair of corduroy
knee-breeches, a deeply-flapped double-breasted waistcoat, which, from
its pattern, seemed to have been cut from a chintz bedcover, so
gorgeous were the roses and tulips it displayed, a large loose coat of
coarse gray Welsh frieze, with horn buttons larger than crown pieces,
each garment "a world too wide"--I presented a figure so absurd and
novel that Estelle, in spite of all the misery and danger we had
undergone, laughed merrily as she held out to me in welcome a hand of
marvellous form and whiteness, the hand that was to be mine in the
time to come; and I seated myself by her side, while the farmer and
his wife bustled about, preparing for the certain arrival of Sir Madoc
and others from the Court.

"How odd it seems!" said Estelle, in a low voice, and after a long
pause, as she lay back in the farmer's black-leather elbow chair,
where his wife had kindly placed and pillowed her; and while she
spoke, her eyes were half closed and her lips were wreathed with
smiles; "engaged to be married--and to you, Harry! I can scarcely'
realise it. Is this the end of all our ballroom flirtations, our Park
drives, and gallops in the Row?"

"Nay, not the end of any; but a continuance of them all, I hope."

"Scarcely; people don't flirt after marriage--together, at least. But
it will be the end of all mamma's grand schemes for me. She always
hoped I should twine strawberry leaves with my marriage wreath.
Heavens, how nearly I was having a wreath of seaweed!" she added, with
a shudder and a little gasping laugh as I kissed her hand. "O, my poor
Harry, with an arm broken, and by my means I shall never forgive

"Better an arm than if my heart had been broken by your means,
Estelle," said I, in a low voice. After a little she said calmly and
in an earnest tone, while her colour came and went more than once,

"We must be _secret_, secret as we are sincere; and yet such a system
is repugnant to me, and to my pride of heart."

"Secret, Estelle!" (How delicious to call her simply Estelle!) "Why?"

"It is most necessary--yet awhile, at least."

"Your mamma's objections?"

"More than that."


"By papa's will mamma has entire control over all her fortune and
mine, too, and should I marry without her full approbation and
consent, she may bequeath both if she pleases to my cousin Naseby,
leaving but a pittance to me."

"But what will not one undergo for love?" said I, gazing tenderly into
her eyes.

She smiled sadly, but made no response; perhaps she thought of what
love might have of luxury on a subaltern's pay and his "expectations."

"Fear not, Estelle," said I, "for your sake our engagement shall be a
secret one."

All my doubts and fears had already given place to the confidence of
avowed and reciprocated affection, and in the security of that I was
blindly happy. How my heart had been wont to throb when I used
mentally to imagine the last interview I should have with her ere
going forth to the East, with the story of my love untold; leaving her
in ignorance, or partially so, of the sweet but subtle link that bound
my existence to hers! _Now_, the love was told; the link had become a
tie, and pain of the anticipated parting became all the more keen
apparently, and I prospectively reckoned one by one the weeks, the
days, yea, almost the hours I might yet spend in the society of
Estelle. I was not much given to daydreams or illusions, but, I asked
of myself, was not all this most strange if I was not dreaming now?
Could it be that, within a few hours--a time so short--Estelle and I
had braved such peril together, and that I had achieved her plight,
her troth; the promise of her hand; the acknowledgment of her love,
and that all was fulfilled; the coveted and dearest object of my
secret thoughts and tenderest wishes!

Whether our engagement were secret or not mattered little to me now.
Assured of her regard, I felt in her presence and society all that
calm delight and sense of repose which were so pleasing after my late
tumult of anxiety, pique, jealousy, and uncertainty. By chance or some
intuition the farmer and his wife left us for a time alone, while
waiting the arrival of our friends; and never while life lasts shall I
forget the joy of that calm morning spent alone with Estelle in
Rhuddlan's quaint little drawing-room, the windows of which faced the
green Denbigh hills, on which the warm August sun shone cheerily; and
often did the memory of it come back to me when I was far away, when I
was shivering amid the misery of the half-frozen trenches before
Sebastopol, or relieving the out pickets, when Inkermann lights were
waxing pale and dim as dawn stole over those snow-clad wastes, where
so thick lay the graves of men and horses, while the eternal boom and
flash went on without ceasing from the Russian bastions and the allied
batteries. I felt as if I had gained life anew, and with it Estelle
Cressingham. Great, indeed, was the revulsion of feeling after such
peril undergone; after a night of such horror and suffering, to sit by
her side, to hang over her, inspired to the full by that emotion of
tenderness and rapture which no man can feel but once in life,
when the first woman he has really loved admits that he has not
done so in vain. I placed on her finger--_the_ engaged finger--an
emerald-and-diamond ring that I valued highly, as it had once been my
mother's, and in its place took one of hers, a single pearl set in
blue-and-gold enamel. The once proud beauty seemed so humble, gentle,
and loving now, as she reclined with her head on my shoulder, and
looked at me from time to time with a sweet quiet smile in the soft
depths of her dark eyes I forgot that she was an earl's daughter, with
a noble dowry and an ambitious mother, and that I was but a sub of the
Royal Welsh, with little more than his pay. I forgot that the route
for Varna hung over my head like the sword of Damocles; that a
separation, certain and inevitable, was hourly drawing closer and
closer, though the accident which had occurred might protract it a
little now.

Estelle Cressingham was a grand creature, certainly. She naturally
seemed to adopt statuesque positions, and thus every movement, however
careless and unstudied, was full of artistic grace. Even the misshapen
garments of Mrs. Evan Rhuddlan could not quite disfigure her. The turn
of her head was stately, and at times her glance, quick and flashing,
had a pride in it that she was quite unconscious of. She was, as
Caradoc had said, "decidedly a splendid woman--young lady, rather--but
of the magnificent order." But there were tender and womanly touches,
a gentler nature, in the character of Estelle, that lay under the
artificial strata of that cumbrous society in which she had been
reared. She had many pets at home in London and at Walcot Park--birds
and dogs, which she fed with her own hands, and little children, who
were her pensioners; and if her nose seemed a proud one, with an
aristocratic curve of nostril, her short upper lip would quiver
occasionally when she heard a tale of sorrow or cruelty. And now, from
our mutual daydream, we were roused by the sound of wheels, of hoofs,
and several voices, as some of our friends from the Court arrived.


To expatiate upon the joy of all when we found ourselves safe in
Craigaderyn Court again were a needless task. Lady Estelle was
conveyed at once to her own room, and placed in charge of Mademoiselle
Pompon. For two entire days I saw nothing of her, and could but hover
on the terrace which her windows overlooked, in the hope of seeing
her; but the same doctor who came daily to dress my arm had to attend
her, as she was weak, feverish, and rather hysterical after all she
had undergone; while I, with my broken limb, found myself somewhat of
a hero in our little circle.

"This adventure of yours will make the Bôd Mynach the eighth wonder of
Wales, if it gets into print," said Sir Madoc.

This chance was Lady Naseby's fear. She was "full of annoyance and
perplexity," as she said, "lest some of those busybodies who write for
the ephemeral columns of the daily press should hear of the affair,
and ventilate it in some manner that was garbled, sensational, and,
what was worse than either, unpunishable."

She thanked me with great courtesy, but without cordiality, for having
saved her daughter's life at the expense of a broken limb, as it was
by sheer strength that I prevented Estelle being torn from the boat
and me. Her ladyship, however, soon dismissed the subject, and now
Tiny, the snappish white shock, which for some hours had been
forgotten and shamefully neglected, came in for as many caresses as
her daughter, if not more.

Anxious, for many obvious reasons, to gain the esteem of this cold and
unapproachable dowager--even to love her, for her daughter's sake,
most unlovable though she was--I was ever assiduous in my attentions;
and these seemed to excite quietly the ridicule of Winifred Lloyd,
while Dora said that she believed Lady Estelle must have quarrelled
with me, and that I had transferred my affections to her mamma.

But little Dora saw and knew more than I supposed. On the second day
after the affair, when she came with her light tripping step down the
perron of the mansion, and joined me on the terrace, where I was
idling with a cigar, I said,

"By the bye, why _did_ you leave us, Dora, in that remarkable manner,
and not return?"

"Mr. Clavell overtook me, and insisted upon my keeping an engagement
to him. Moreover," she added, waggishly, "under my music-master I have
learned that many a delightful duet becomes most discordant when
attempted as a trio."

"And for that reason you left us?"

"Precisely," replied the lively girl, as she removed her hat, and
permitted the wealth of her golden hair to float out on the wind.
"Save for your poor arm being broken, and the terrible risks you ran,
I might laugh at the whole affair; for it was quite romantic--like
something out of a play or novel; but it quite put an end to the

"And now that Tom Clavell has gone back to his depôt at Chester, you
can scarcely forgive me?"

"I saw that you were dying to be alone with Lady Estelle," she
retorted, "and _now_ don't you thank me?"

I certainly felt a gratitude I did not express, but doubted whether
her elder sister would have approved of Dora's complicity in the
matter; and affecting to misunderstand her I said,

"Why thank you now?"

"Because," said Dora, looking at me, with her blue eyes half closed,
"if on the top of a mountain an acquaintance ripens fast, good
heavens, how must it have been with you two at the bottom of the sea!"

And she laughed merrily at her own conceit, while swinging her hat to
and fro by its ribbons. Lord Pottersleigh shook his head as if he
disliked the whole affair, and nervously scanned the daily papers with
spectacles on his thin aquiline nose, in expectation of seeing some
absurd, perhaps impertinent, paragraph about it; and such was the old
man's aristocratic vanity, that I verily believe, had he seen such, he
would there and then have relinquished all his expectations--for he
undoubtedly had them--of making Estelle Lady Pottersleigh, and the
partner of his higher honours that were to come.

"Lady Naseby owes you a debt of gratitude, Mr. Hardinge, for saving
the life of her daughter--and I, too," he added, "owe you an
everlasting debt of gratitude."

"You, my lord?" said I, turning round in the library, where we
happened to be alone.

"Yes; for in saving her you saved one in whom I have the deepest
interest. So, my dear Mr. Hardinge," he continued, pompously, looking
up from the _Times_, "if I can do aught for you at the Horse Guards,
command me, my young friend, command me."

"Thanks, my lord," said I, curtly; for his tone of patronage, and the
cause thereof, were distasteful to me.

"You have of course heard the rumour of--of an engagement?"

"With Lady Estelle Cressingham?"

"Exactly," said he, laughing till he brought on a fit of coughing--
"exactly--ha, ha--ugh, ugh! How the deuce these things ooze out at
clubs and in society, I cannot conceive; for even the world of London
seems like a village in that way. Ah, nowhere out of our aristocracy
could a man find such a wife as Lady Estelle!"

"I quite agree with you; but there is a point beyond that."

"Indeed! what may that be?"

"To get her!" said I, defiantly, enraged by the old man's cool

Was this reference to "a rumour" merely his senile vanity, or had
Estelle ignored something that really existed?

Caradoc's congratulations, though I carefully kept my own counsel,
were as warm in reality as those of Guilfoyle were in pretence.

"Wish you every joy," said the latter, in a low tone, as we met in the
billiard-room, where he was practising strokes with Sir Madoc.

"I don't quite understand."

"You hold the winning-cards now, I think," said he, with a cold glare
in his eye.


"I congratulate you on escaping so many perils with the Lady Estelle,
and being thereby a winner."

I had just left Pottersleigh, and was not disposed to endure much from

"The winner of what?" I asked.

"The future esteem of the Countess," he sneered.

"Perhaps she will present me with a diamond ring on the head of it,"
said I, turning on my heel, while Sir Madoc laughed at the hit; but
whatever he felt, Guilfoyle cloaked it pretty well by laughing, and,
as a Parthian shot, quoting, with some point, and with unruffled
exterior, a line or two from the fourth book of the _Æneid_,
concerning the storm which drew Dido and her hero into the cave.

The bearing of Winifred Lloyd now became somewhat of a riddle to me;
and on the morning of the third day, when we all met at the breakfast
table (which was littered by cards and notes of congratulation), and
when Lady Estelle appeared, looking so pale and beautiful, declining
Mademoiselle Babette's cosmetics and pearl-powder alike, in the
loveliest morning-dress that Swan and Edgar could produce, I was
conscious that she watched us with an interest that seemed wistful,
tearful, and earnest. Whether I had a tell-tale face, I know not.
Nothing, however, could be gathered from that of Estelle, or her mode
of greeting me and inquiring about the progress of my broken arm
towards recovery. My ring was on her finger; but as she wore several,
it passed unnoticed, and even Dora's quick eye failed to detect it.

Winifred had become very taciturn; and when I asked her to drive with
me in the open carriage--as for a time I could not ride--she declined
rather curtly, and with something of petulance, even disdain, in her
tone. She never had the usual inquiries made by others concerning my
fracture, nor joined with Dora in the playful rivalry of the ladies
cutting for me, if no servant was near; for at table I was of course
helpless. She smiled seldom, but laughed frequently; and yet it struck
me there was something unwonted in the ring of her laughter, as if it
came not from her heart. The girl had a secret sorrow evidently. Was
Master Phil Caradoc at the bottom of this? If not, who then? I watched
her from time to time, and observed that once, when our eyes met, she
seemed confused, and coloured perceptibly.

"Surely," thought I, "she is not resenting my half-flirtation with her
the other day, when we visited her pet goat!"

She was restless, absent, listlessly indifferent, and occasionally
preoccupied in manner; and in vain did I say to her more than once,

"Miss Lloyd--Winifred--what troubles you? what has vexed you?"

"Nothing troubles me, Mr. Hardinge."


"Well, then, Harry--and nothing vexes me. What leads you to think so?"

Her full-fringed dark eyes looked clearly into mine; they seemed
moist, yet defiant, and she tossed her pretty little head wilfully and
petulantly. I felt that I had in some way displeased her; but dared
not press the matter, for, with all her softness of heart, she had a
little Welsh temper of her own.

Phil Caradoc gave me his entire confidence, especially after dinner,
when men become full of talk, and inspired by bland and generous
impulses. He related, without reserve, the whole episode that occurred
in the conservatory; and I felt some compunction or annoyance that
circumstances prevented me from having the same frankness with him,
for none would have rejoiced in my success more warmly than he.

"For the life of me, Harry, I can't make out what Miss Lloyd means,"
said Phil, in a low voice, as he made his Cliquot effervesce, by
stirring it with a macaroon; "she was ready enough to love me as a
friend, and all that sort of thing."

"You have asked her, then?"

"Pointedly--hardly know what I said, though--one feels so deuced queer
when making love--in earnest, I mean."

"A man can do no more than ask."

"Except asking again; but tell me, old fellow, have I a chance?"

"How should I know, Phil? But I think that the pattern sub of the
Royal Welsh Fusileers, made up, like Don Juan,

        "'By love, by youth, and by an army tailor,'

should have a particularly good chance."

"_You_ can afford to laugh at me, Harry."

"Far from it, Phil; I haven't such a thought, believe me."

"Seeing how friendly you are with these girls--with her especially--I
thought you might know this. Is any other fellow spooney upon Miss

"A good many may well be; she is lovely."

"Well, does any one stand in her good graces?"

"Can't say, indeed, Caradoc," said I, as my thoughts reverted to that
episode at the goat's-house, and others not dissimilar, with some
emotions of compunction, as I looked into Phil's honest brown eyes.

He fancied that Winifred avoided him. In that idea he erred. She
admired and loved him as a friend--a gentleman who had done her great
honour; but she never thought of analysing his emotions farther than
to wish him well, and to wish him away from Craigaderyn, after that
scene in the conservatory; and remembering it in all its points, she
was careful not to trust herself alone with him, lest the subject
might be renewed; and yet she found the necessity of approaching it
one day, when a sudden recollection struck her, as they were riding
home together, and had cantered a little way in advance of their

"Now that I think of it, Mr. Caradoc," said she, "you must give me
that likeness which you wear. I really cannot permit you to keep it,
even in jest."

"Jest!" repeated Phil, sadly and reproachfully; "do you think so
meanly of me as to imagine that I would jest with you or with it?"

"But I can see no reason why you should retain it."

"Perhaps there is none--and yet, there is. It is the face of one I
shall never, never forget; and it is a memento of happy days spent
with you--a memento that other eyes than mine shall never look upon."

"Do not speak thus, Mr. Caradoc, I implore you!" said Winifred,
looking down on her horse's mane.

"You will permit me to keep it?"

"For a time," said she, trying to smile, but her lips quivered, "Thank
you, dear Winifred."

"If shown to none."

"'While I live none shall see; and if I die in action--as many shall
surely do, and why not I as well as happier fellows?--it will be heard
of no more?"

Caradoc's voice became quite tremulous, either because of Miss Lloyd's
obduracy, or that he felt, as many people do, rather pathetic at the
thought of his own demise. He had already possessed himself of her
whip-hand, when her horse began to rear, and in a minute more they
were in the lime avenue; and this proved the last opportunity he had
of reasoning with her on the subject that was nearest his heart. He
now wished that he had never met Winifred Lloyd, or that, having met,
and learned to love her--oddly enough, when his passion was not
returned--he could be what her _ideal_ was. "In what," thought he, "am
I wanting? Am I too rough, too soldierly, too blunt, unwinning, or
what?" It was none of these; for Caradoc was a well-mannered,
courteous, gentle, and pleasing young fellow, and by women unanimously
deemed handsome and _distingué_. All that day he was unusually cast
down and taciturn, though he strove to take an interest in the
conversation around him.

"By Jove, Hardinge," said he, "I wish you had never brought me here,
to renew the hopes I had begun to entertain in London."

"Don't lose heart yet, Phil," said I.

"But I have to leave for the seat of war--leave her to the chance of
being loved by others, without even a promise--"

"To what troubles we are exposed in life!" said I, sententiously, and
feeling perhaps selfishly secure in my own affair.

"Greater troubles perhaps in death," added Phil, gloomily, as he
gnawed his moustache. "I sometimes wonder whether man was made for the
world, or the world was made for man."

"In what respect," said I, surprised by the train of thought so
unusual in him.

"Look at the newly-born infant, and you will find it difficult to
determine. 'He begins his life,' as Pliny says, 'in punishment, and
only for being born.'"

"Come Phil," said I, "don't get into the blues; and as for Pliny, I
left him with Euclid, Straith's _Fortification_, and gunnery, at

The morning mail brought letters from the depôt-adjutant to Phil and
me. Their official aspect, as Owen Gwyllim laid them on the breakfast
table, attracted the attention of all. The eyes of Winifred were on
me, and mine turned instinctively and sadly to Lady Estelle, who grew
ashy pale, but seemed intent on some letters of her own. The
adjutant's epistles were brief. Caradoc was requested to join at once,
his short leave being cancelled, as he had to go with a draft of
eighty rank-and-file for the East. My leave was, extended for a
fortnight, in consequence of a medical certificate received concerning
the accident that had befallen me.

So that night saw poor good-hearted Phil depart; and the memory of his
thick brown hair and handsome brown moustache, his clear hazel eyes
and honest English face dwelt not in the thoughts of her with whom he
had left his heart behind.

He had the regimental goat in his custody; and when Winifred caressed
and kissed her pet, ere it was lifted into the vehicle that was to
convey it to Chester, Phil eyed her wistfully; and I knew that he
would have given the best of his heart's blood to have felt but one of
those kisses on his nut-brown cheek!


My Lord Pottersleigh and the adventurer Hawkesby Guilfoyle--for an
artful, presumptuous, and very singular adventurer he eventually
proved to be--could not detect that there was a secret understanding,
and still less that there was any engagement, between Lady Estelle and
me; yet both were sharp enough to fancy that there was something wrong
so far as they were concerned--something understood by us which to
them was incomprehensible; and the latter now referred in vain to
Baden, Berlin, Catzenelnbogen, and other places where they had met so
pleasantly on the Continent. Engaged solemnly and tenderly to Estelle,
I had yet the absurd annoyance of beholding Pottersleigh, who was
assured of her mother's countenance and favour (though he would have
been a more seemly suitor for herself), and whose years and position
gave him perfect confidence, hovering or shambling perpetually about
her, absorbing her time if not her attention, mumbling his
overstrained compliments into her unwilling ear, touching her hand or
tapered arm, and even patting her lovely white shoulders from time to
time with his withered paws, and every way giving himself such
fatherly and lover-like airs of proprietary oddly mingled that I could
with pleasure have punched his aristocratic old head. We frequently
laughed at all this even when he was present; for by a glance rather
than a word, Estelle could convey to me all she thought and felt.
There was something delightful in this secret understanding, this
secret community of thought and interest, with one so young and
beautiful--more than all, when blended with it was the charm of the
most perfect success in a first affair of love; and I thought myself
one of the happiest fellows in the world.

Superb as her toilettes were at all times, she seemed to make little
Babette Pompon take extra pains with them now, and I felt delighted
accordingly, for such infinite care seemed to express a desire to
please me. Our next departure from the Court was Mr. Hawkesby
Guilfoyle, whom Sir Madoc and all his visitors had begun to view with
a coolness and disfavour of which the party in question found it
convenient to seem quite oblivious; but it reached its culminating
point through a very small matter. One day after luncheon we had gone
so far as Penmaen Mawr. The four ladies were in the open carriage; I
occupied the rumble; Sir Madoc, Lord Pottersleigh, and Guilfoyle were
mounted, and we were all enjoying to the fullest extent that glorious
combination of marine and mountain scenery peculiar to the Welsh
coast; the air was full of ozone and the sky was full of sunshine. We
were all happy, and even Winifred seemed in unusually high spirits; as
for Dora, she was never otherwise. The well-hung carriage rolled
pleasantly along, between the beautiful green hills, past quiet
villages and ancient churches, vast yawning slate quarries, green
mounds and gray stones that marked where battles had been, with
occasional glimpses of the Irish Sea, that stretched away to the dim
horizon like a sheet of glittering glass. Estelle, by arrangement,
sat with her back to the horses, so that she and I could freely
converse with our eyes, from time to time, under the shade of her
skilfully-managed parasol.

Sir Madoc on this day was peculiarly enthusiastic, and having mounted
what the girls called his "Welsh hobby," was disposed to give it full
rein. We halted in a little sequestered glen, a lovely spot embosomed
among trees, on the southern slope of the hill. The horses were
unbitted; Owen Gwyllim had put the champagne' bottles to cool in a
runnel, where their long gilded necks and swollen corks stood
invitingly up amid the rich green grass that almost hid the murmuring
water. We had come by Caerhun, through an old and little-frequented
road, where Sir Madoc insisted on pointing out to us all the many
erect old battle-stones by the wayside; for his mind was now full of
quaint stories, and the memory of heroes with barbarous names. Thus
when Owen uncorked the Cliquot, he drank more than one guttural Welsh
toast, and told us how, often in his boyhood, the road had been
obstructed for weeks by masses of rock that fell thundering from the
mountain above; and in his love of the olden time or detestation of
change, I believe he would have preferred such barriers to progress
still, rather than have seen the lines of road and rail that now sweep
between the mountain and the sea on the way to Holyhead.

"It was in this dell or _glyn_," said Sir Madoc, as he seated his sturdy
figure on the grass, though the ladies did not leave the carriage,
"that Llewellyn ap Jorwerth took prisoner the luckless William de
Breas, whom he hanged at Aber, in the time of Henry III."

"Why did he hang him?" asked Guilfoyle, holding his glass for Owen to
refill it.

"Because he was a handsome fellow, and found too much favour in the
eyes of his princess, whom he dragged to the window that she might see
his body hanging lifeless on the gibbet."

"Deuced hard lines," said Guilfoyle, laughing. "I thought he might
have been hung because he hadn't a pedigree, or some other enormity in
Welsh eyes." As Sir Madoc looked at the speaker his eyes sparkled, for
the remark was a singularly gratuitous one.

"You English," said he, "laugh at what you are pleased to consider our
little weakness in that respect; and yet the best names in the peerage
are apt to be deduced from some corporal or sergeant of William's
Norman rabble."

"Heavens, papa! when I change my name of Lloyd, I hope it won't be for
that of Mrs. John Smith or Robinson?" said Dora, merrily, as she heard
that Sir Madoc's tone was sharp.

"Well, but you must admit that these fortuitous circumstances are
deemed of small account now; for as Dick Cypher sings,

        "'A peer and a 'prentice now dress much the same,
          And you can't tell the difference excepting by name.'"

"I don't know who your friend Dick Cypher may be," replied Sir Madoc,
quietly, though evidently greatly ruffled, "but Burke and Debrett
record as ancient, names we deem but those of yesterday, and when
compared with ours are as the stunted gorsebush to pine or oak--yes,
sir! or as the donkey that crops thistles by the wayside when compared
to the Arab horse!"

"God bless my soul!" exclaimed Pottersleigh, letting his hat sink
farther on the nape of his neck, as he placed his gold glasses on his
long thin nose and gazed at Sir Madoc, who tossed an empty bottle into
the runnel, and continued:--"In Wales we have the lines of Kynaston,
who descend from Rhodric Mawr, King of all Wales, and the daughter and
coheir of the Bloody Wolf; the Mostyns, from the Lord of Abergeleu who
founded the eighth noble tribe; the Vaughans, who come from that King
Rhodric who married the daughter of Meuric ap Dyfnwall ap Arthur ap
Sitsylt, though that was only in the year 800; and we have the

"O, papa," exclaimed Winifred, seeing that Estelle was laughing
heartily, "we cannot listen to more; and I am sure that your
muster-roll of terrible names must have quite convinced Mr. Guilfoyle
of his error."

"If it ever existed--I did but jest," said he, bowing and smiling as
he turned to her.

Sir Madoc's gust of patriotic ire passed away at the sound of his
daughter's voice; but from that moment his manner to Guilfoyle
underwent a marked change, for he had already more than once contrived
to wound him on this his most tender point. So the usually suave and
kind old man became very cool to him as they rode homeward; and early
that evening Guilfoyle retired to his room, alleging that he had to
write letters.

After dinner, as we idled for a little time in the smoking-room prior
to joining the ladies, Lord Pottersleigh led the conversation
gradually back to our evening excursion, and with some hesitation
began to speak of Guilfoyle.

"You will pardon me, my dear Sir Madoc, for venturing to speak
slightingly of any friend of yours; but----"

"Mr. Guilfoyle is no friend of mine," said the other, hastily; "he
dropped among us from the clouds, as it were. When with Lady Naseby I
met him on the beach at Llandudno. He had done her some service on the
Continent, at Catzeneln--what's-its-name?--I invited him on the
strength of their past acquaintance--that's all."

"Then, briefly, get rid of him if you can."

"What do _you_ say, Harry?"

"I say with Lord Pottersleigh."

Sir Madoc fidgeted, for his Welsh ideas of hospitality were somewhat
shocked by the idea of "getting rid" of a guest.

"I assure you, Sir Madoc," resumed the peer, "that he is quite
out of his place amongst us, quite; and despite his usually assumed
suavity--for it is assumed--he lacks intensely _l'odeur de la bonne
société_, though he affects it; and I overheard two of your late
guests making some very dubious remarks concerning him."

"The deuce you did!" exclaimed Sir Madoc, tossing away his half-smoked

"They spoke quite audibly, as if they cared not who might hear them."

"Who were they?"

"Officers of the 19th, from Chester. 'Guilfoyle!' I heard that fast
boy Clavell exclaim, as if with surprise, to another; 'is that fellow,
who--' 'The very same.' 'Then how comes he to be a guest here?' 'Just
what I was asking of myself, as he is tabooed everywhere. You know
they say--' '_They_--who?' 'O, that ubiquitous and irresponsible party
so difficult to grapple with--that though he was attaché at some
German place, he has been in several conspiracies to pigeon young
muffs just come of age. There was particularly one poor fellow of ours
whom he rooked at Hamburg of every sixpence, and who was afterwards
found drowned in the Alster. And lately I have heard that he was
proprietor, or part proprietor, of a gaming-hell in Berlin.' 'By
Jove!' exclaimed little Clavell, but can all this be proved?' 'No.'
'Why?' 'He lays his plans too deeply and surely.' Then they walked
towards the marquee, and I thought I had hear, enough--quite," added
his lordship, snuffing.

Long before Pottersleigh was done, Sir Madoc had blushed purple with
stifled rage and mortification. He said,

"My lord, you should have mentioned all this instantly."

"Truth is, I knew not how to approach the subject."

"And I have introduced this fellow to my daughters, to my friends, and
to Craigaderyn! D--n me, I shall choke!" he exclaimed, as he started
from his chair. "He is deep as Llyn Tegid! I have already lost
considerable sums to him at billiards, and I always thought his
success at cards miraculous. But an end shall be put to this
instantly!--Owen! Owen Gwyllim!"

He kicked a spittoon to the other end of the room, rang the bell
furiously for the butler, and dashed off a note to Mr. Guilfoyle. It
was sufficiently curt and pointed. He expressed "regret that a gun
would not be at his service on the coming 1st of September; but that
the carriage would await his orders, for Chester or elsewhere."

Guilfoyle had doubtless been accustomed to meet with affronts such as
this. Desiring his baggage to be sent after him, he departed that
night with his two horses, his groom (and diamond ring); but, prior to
doing so, he had the effrontery to leave P.P.C. cards for Lady Naseby
and Estelle, saying that "he should not forget their kind invitation
to Walcot Park;" and rode off, scheming vengeance on me, to whom he
evidently attributed the whole matter, as he informed Owen Gwyllim
that he "would yet repay me, through his solicitor, perhaps, for the
interest I had taken in his affairs."

This threw a temporary cloud over our little party, and good Sir Madoc
felt a kind of sorrow for Guilfoyle as he surmised how little money he
might have in his purse, forgetting that he was proprietor of a pair
of horses. To prevent her _amour propre_ being wounded, we most
unfortunately did not reveal this man's real character to Lady Naseby;
thus, to Sir Madoc's hot temper was attributed his sudden departure.

Though Lady Estelle was excessively provoked that, through her and her
mother, whom his service on the Continent had prejudiced in his
favour, and through his alleged acquaintance with me, he had become
Sir Madoc's guest, in a day or two the whole _contretemps_ was
forgotten; but I was fated not to have seen or heard the last of Mr.
Hawkesby Guilfoyle.


By the peculiarity of our position kept much apart, or seldom finding
opportunities, even in a house like Craigaderyn Court, for being
alone, as it was perpetually thronged by visitors, we had to content
ourselves with the joy of stolen glances that lit up the eye with an
expression we alone could read, or that was understood by ourselves
only; by tender touches of the hand that thrilled to the heart; and by
inflections of the voice, which, do as we might, would at times become
soft and tremulous. Our life was now full of petty stratagems and
pretty lover-like enigmas, especially when in the presence of Lady
Naseby; and now I also became afraid of Winifred Lloyd, who,
unoccupied, so far as I could see, by any love-affair of her own, was
almost certain, I thought, to see through mine. "There is no conquest
without the affections," said Ninon de l'Enclos; "and what mole is so
blind as a woman in love?" Yet Estelle was careful to a degree in her
bearing, and never permitted her fondness of me to lull her into a
sense of security from observation. I learned, however, from my ally
Dora, that Lady Naseby was so provoked by what Estelle not inaptly
termed our "late _fiasco_," that, save for the weight such a
proceeding might have given it, they and the Viscount, too, would have
quitted Craigaderyn Court, So they remained; but, thought I, what
right had _he_ to be concerned in the matter? And unless I greatly
erred, I felt certain that the Countess cared not how soon I received
my marching orders for that fatal shore where so many of us were to
leave our bones.

Yet many a stolen kiss and snatched caress or pressure of the hand,
many a whispered assurance of love, made Estelle and me supremely
happy, while the few days that remained of my leave glided
quickly--ah, too quickly!--past; and all desire for "glory" apart, I
was not sorry when I saw that my fractured arm would prevent my being
sent with the next draft, and cause my retention for a little time
longer in England. "They who love must drink deeply of the cup of
trembling," says some one; "for at times there will arise in their
hearts a nameless terror, a sickening anxiety for the future, whose
brightness all depends upon this one cherished treasure, which often
proves a foreboding of some real anguish looming in the distant

As yet no forebodings came to mar my happiness; it was without alloy,
save the prospect of a certain and, as we trusted to Providence, a
temporary separation; yet it was well that I saw not the future, or
what those distant hours had in store for me.

"Estelle," said I, one day when a happy chance threw us together for a
few minutes in an arbour of the garden, where we sometimes met at a
certain hour, and separated after by different paths, like a pair of
conspirators, "when shall a period be put to all this mystery--this
painful, though joyous, false position in which we find ourselves?"

"We can but wait and hope, Harry--wait and hope!" said she, while her
head drooped on my shoulder, and my arm went round her.

"Wait and hope, dearest, for what? My promotion?"

"That would bring the end no nearer," said she, with a sad, sickly

"No, certainly; even to be colonel of the Royal Welsh instead of a
mere sub would not enhance my value much in Lady Naseby's estimation,"
said I, with some bitterness. "For what then, darling?"

"Some change in mamma's views regarding me."

"She will never change!"

"You know, Harry, that were you rich, I might marry you now--yes, and
go to Turkey with you, too!" said she, with a brightness in her eyes.

"Would to Heaven, then, that I were rich! But being poor--"

"It is impossible."

And we both sighed heavily.

"I am under orders for the East, and _must_ take my turn of duty
there, risking all the chances of war, ere I can think of home or
marriage, Estelle; but when we part, if I am not to write to you, how
shall I ever know that you think of me? how hear of your health and
welfare? that you remain true to me--"

"O, doubt not that!"

"Nor do I; but it would be so sweet to see your writing, and imagine
your voice reiterating the troth you plighted to me in that terrible

"I shall write to you, dear, dear Harry, for I can do that freely and
openly; but of you, alas! alas! I can only hear through our friends at
the Court here, for you can neither write to me in London nor at
Walcot Park."

"May I not ask Miss Lloyd to receive enclosures for you? I shall be
writing to her, and we are such old friends that she would think
nothing of it."

"Too old friends, I fear," said she, with a half-smiling but pointed
glance; "but for Heaven's sake think not of that. She would never
consent, nor should I wish her to do so. I can of course receive what
letters I choose; but servants will pry, and consider what certain
coats of arms, monograms, and postal marks mean; so my Crimean
correspondent would be shrewdly suspected, and myself subjected to
much annoyance by mamma and her views."

"Her _views!_ This is the second time you have referred to them," said
I, anxiously; "and they are--"

"That I should marry my cousin Naseby, whom I always disliked," said
Estelle, in a sad and sweetly modulated voice; "or Lord Pottersleigh,
whose wealth and influence are so great that a short time must see him
created an earl; but he has no chance _now_, dear Harry!"

Long, lovingly, and tenderly she gazed into my eyes, and her glance
and her manner seemed so truthful and genuine that I felt all the
rapture of trusting her fearlessly, and that neither time nor distance
would alter or lessen her regard for me; and a thousand times in "the
distant hours" that came did I live over and over again that scene in
the arbour, when the warm flush of the August evening was lying deep
on the Welsh woods and mountains, when all the mullioned windows of
the quaint old mansion were glittering in light, and the soft coo of
the wild pigeons was heard as they winged their way to the summit of
Craigaderyn, which is usually alive with them, and there the fierce
hawk and the ravenous cormorant know well when to find their prey.

The time for my departure drew near; and already but a day remained to
me. Caradoc and Charley Gwynne had already sailed in a troopship for
Varna, from which the entire army was about to embark for a landing on
the Russian coast, and ill or well, my presence with the regimental
depôt was imperative. My bullock trunks had been packed by Owen
Gwyllim, and the carriage was ordered to convey me next evening, after
an early dinner. The latter passed slowly and heavily enough, and
afterwards, instead of remaining all together, as might have been
expected, circumstances separated us for an hour or so. Lady Naseby
was indisposed; so was Lord Pottersleigh, whom his old enemy had
confined by the feet to this rooms, yet he hoped to be in service
order, to enact the sportsman on the coming 1st of September, a period
to which he looked forward with disgust and horror, as involving an
enormous amount of useless fatigue, with the chances of shooting
himself or some one else. Sir Madoc had certain country business to
attend; and on the three young ladies retiring to the drawing-room, I
was left to think over my approaching departure through the medium of
burgundy and a cigar.

My sword arm was nearly well now; but still I should have made but a
poor affair of it, if compelled to resort to inside and outside cuts,
to point and parry, with a burly Muscovite. To know that I had but a
few hours left me now, and not to spend them with Estelle Cressingham,
seemed intolerable! Before me, from the window, spread the far extent
of grassy chase steeped in the evening sunshine; above the green woods
were the peaks of Snowdon and Carneydd Llewellyn, dim and blue in the
distance; and while gazing at them wistfully, I reflected on all I
should have to see and undergo, to hope and fear and suffer--the miles
I should have to traverse by sea and land--ere I again heard, if ever,
the pleasant rustle of the leaves in these old woods, the voice of the
wild pigeon or the croak of the rooks among the old Tudor gables and
chimneys of Craigaderyn. And then again I thought of Estelle.

"I _must_ see her, and alone, too, at all risks; perhaps dear little
Dora will assist me," I muttered, and went towards the drawing-room,
which was now considerably involved in shadow, being on the western
side of the Court; and I felt with the tender Rosalind, when her lover
said, "For these two hours, Rosalind, I will leave thee," "Alas, dear
love, I cannot lack thee two hours."

I entered the room and found only Winifred Lloyd. She was seated in
the deep bay of a very picturesque old oriel window, which seemed to
frame her as if in a picture. Her chin was resting in the hollow of
her left hand, and she was gazing outward dreamily on vacancy, or
along the flower-terraces of the house; but she looked hastily round,
and held out a hand to me as I approached.

I caressed the pretty hand, and then dropped it; and not knowing very
well what to say, leaned over the back of her chair.

"I suppose," she began, "you are thinking--thinking--"

"How far more pleasing to the eye are a pair of fair white shoulders
to the same amount of silk or satin," said I smilingly, as I patted
her neck with my glove.

She shrugged the white shoulders in question, and said petulantly,
with half averted face,

"Is it possible that your departure has no place in your thoughts?"

"Alas, yes! for do I not leave Craigaderyn by sunset? and its golden
farewell rays are lingering on blue Snowdon even now," said I, with a
forced smile; for though I had come in quest of Estelle, something--I
know not what--drew me to Winifred just then.

Her eyebrows were very black, but slightly arched, and they almost met
over her nose; and I gazed into the orbs below them, so dark, so
clear, and beautiful--eyes that could neither conceal the emotions of
her heart, nor the pleasure or sorrow she felt; and I thought how
easily a man might be lured to forget the world for her, as friendship
between the sexes--especially in youth--is perilous; and some such
thought, perhaps, occurred to her, for she turned her face abruptly
from me.

"You are surely not angry with me?" said I, bending nearer her ear.

"Angry--I with you?"


"Why should I be so?" she asked, looking down upon her folded hands
that trembled in her lap--for she was evidently repressing some
emotion; thinking, perhaps, of poor Phil Caradoc, who was then
ploughing the waters of the Mediterranean with Carneydd Llewellyn to
console him.

"You should not have come here," said she, after a pause.

"Not into the drawing-room?"

"Unless to meet Estelle Cressingham."

"Do not say this," said I, nervously and imploringly, in a low voice;
"what is Estelle to me?"

"Indeed!" said the little scornful lip. "Her mamma summoned her, but
she may be here shortly."

Doubtless Lady Naseby had some dread of the leave-taking.

"I shall be so glad to see her once again ere I go."

"Of course."

"I hope that you and she will often think and speak of me when I am

"You are a delightful egotist, Harry Hardinge; but I trust our
memories may be reciprocal."

"We have ever been such friends, and must be, you know, Winifred."

"Yes, Harry; why should we _not_ be friends?" she asked, with a dash
of passionate earnestness in her tone, while she gazed at me with a
curious expression in her large, soft, and long-lashed eyes.

"Have you any message for--for----"

"Whom?" she asked, sharply.

"Philip Caradoc."



"Save kindest regards and warmest wishes. What is Mr. Caradoc to me?"
Then she gave a little shiver, as she added, "Our conversation is
taking a very strange tone."

"I cannot conceive in how I have annoyed you," said I, with something
of sorrow and wonder in my heart.

"Perhaps; but you have not annoyed me, though you are not quite what
you used to be; and none are so blind as those who will not see."

"I am quite perplexed. I think we know each other pretty well,
Winifred?" said I, very softly.

"I know you certainly," was the dubious response.

"Well--and I you?" said I, laughing.

"Scarcely. Woman, you should be aware, is a privileged enigma."

"Well, I was about to say that, whatever happens, we must ever be dear
friends, and think of each other kindly and tenderly, for the pleasant
times that are past and gone."

"What can happen to make us otherwise?" she asked, in a strange voice.

"I--may be killed," said I, not knowing very well what to say or
suggest; "so, while there is a chance of such a contingency, let us
part kindly; not so coldly as this, dear Winifred; and kiss me ere I

Her lips, warm and tremulous, touched mine for an instant; but her
eyes were sad and wild, and her poor little face grew ashy white as
she hastened away, leaving me with Estelle, who was approaching
through the long and shaded room; and when with her, Winifred Lloyd
and the momentary emotion that had sprung up--emotion that I cared not
and dared not _then_ to analyse--were utterly forgotten.

Our interview was a very silent one. We had barely time for a few
words, and heavy on my heart as lead weighed the conviction that I had
to part from her--my love so recently won, so firmly promised and
affianced. I knew that the days of my sojourn at Winchester must be
few now; and with the chances of war before me, and temptations and
aristocratic ambition left behind with her, how dubious and how remote
were the chances of our meeting again!

Moments there were when I felt blindly desperate, and with my arms
round Estelle.

When returning, would she still love me, as Desdemona loved her Moor,
for the dangers I had dared? The days of chivalry and romance have
gone; but the "old, old story" yet remains to us, fresh as when first
told in Eden.

"For life or death, for good or for evil, for weal or woe, darling
Estelle, I leave my heart in your keeping!" said I, in a low
passionate whisper; "in twelve months, perhaps, I may claim you as my

"L'homme propose, et Dieu dispose," said she, quietly and tenderly. "I
yet hope to see you, were it but for a day, at Walcot Park, ere you

"Bless you for the hope your words give me!" said I, as Owen Gwyllim
came to announce that the carriage was at the door, and to give me
Lady Naseby's and Lord Pottersleigh's cards and farewell wishes. And
from that moment all the rest of my leave-taking seemed purely
mechanical; and not only Sir Madoc, his two daughters, and Estelle,
were on the terrace of the mansion to bid me adieu, but all the
hearty, hot-tempered, high-cheekboned old Welsh domestics, most of
whom had known me since boyhood, were also there.

The impulsive Dora brought me my courier-bag, a flask filled with
brandy, and dainty sandwiches cut and prepared by Winifred's own kind
little hands (for in doing this for me she would trust neither the
butler nor Mrs. Gwenny Davis the housekeeper), and then she held up
her bright face to be kissed; but inspired by I know not what emotion
of doubt or dread, I only touched with my lips the hands of Lady
Estelle and Miss Lloyd. Both girls stood a little apart from each
other, pale as death, tremulous with suppressed emotion, and with
their lashes matted and their eyes filled with tears, that pride and
the presence of others restrained from falling. They were calm
externally, but their hearts were full of secret thoughts, to which I
was long in getting the clue. In the eyes of Estelle there was that
glance or expression of loving intensity which most men have seen
_once_--it may be twice--in a woman's eye, and have never, never

Sir Madoc's brown manly hand shook mine heartily, and he clapped me on
the back.

"I hope to see you yet ere you leave England, my boy, and such hopes
always take the sting from an adieu," said he, with a voice that
quivered nevertheless. "Sorry you can't stay for the 1st of
September--the partridges will be in splendid order; but there is
shooting enough of another kind in the preserves you are going to."

"And may never come back from," was the comforting addendum of old
Mrs. Davis, as she applied her black-silk apron to her eyes.

"Ah, Harry," said Sir Madoc, "you gave a smile so like your mother
just now! She was handsome; but you will be never like her, were you
as beautiful as Absalom."

"It is well that poor mamma can't hear all this," said Dora, laughing
through her tears.

"Your dear mamma, my girl, was very fond of her and of him, too," said
honest Sir Madoc; and then he whispered, "If ever you want cash,
Harry, don't forget me, and Coutts and Co.--the dingy den in the
Strand. Farewell--anwylbach!--good-bye!"

A few minutes more and all the tableau on the steps had passed away. I
was bowling along the tall lime avenue and down the steep mountain
road, up which Phil Caradoc and I had travelled but a few weeks
before. How much had passed since _then!_ and how much was inevitably to
pass ere I should again see these familiar scenes! What had I said, or
left unsaid? What had I done, what had passed, or how was it, that as
the train sped with me beyond brave old Chester, on and on, on and on,
monotonously clanking, grinding, jarring, and occasionally shrieking,
while intrenched among railway rugs, with a choice cigar between my
teeth, and while I was verging into that pleasant frame of mind when
soft and happy visions are born of the half-drowsy brain, lulled as it
were by rapidity of motion and the sameness of recurring sounds--how
was it, I say, that the strange, unfathomable expression I had seen in
the soft pleading eyes of dear Winifred--distance was already making
her "dear"--mingled in my memory with the smileless, grave, and tender
farewell glance of my pale Estelle; and that the sweet innocent kiss
of the former was remembered with sadness and delight?

I strove to analyse my ideas, and then thrust them from me, as I
lowered the carriage window and looked forth upon the flying landscape
and the starry night, and muttered,

"Poor Winny--God bless her! But _two loves for one heart_ will never,
never do. I have been at Craigaderyn too long!"

And I pictured to myself the drawing-room there: Estelle, perhaps, at
the piano to conceal her emotions; or listening, it might be, to the
twaddle of old Pottersleigh. Winny gazing out upon the starlit
terrace, trying to realise the prospect--as women proposed to will
do--if she had married Phil Caradoc; or thinking of--heaven knows
what! And old Sir Madoc in his arm-chair, and dreaming, while Dora
nestled by his side, of the old times, and the boy--to wit, myself--he
loved so well.


Caradoc and many other good fellows were gone eastward, and save Hugh
Price and a newly-fledged ensign, I was the only officer with the
depôt, and being senior had the command. The former had always some
affair of the heart on the tapis; the latter was a mere boy, fresh
from Harrow, so neither was companion for me. Back once more to the
prosaic life of heavy drill and much useless duty in Winchester
barracks, the picturesque and joyous past at Craigaderyn--after I had
written a letter to Sir Madoc full of remembrances to the ladies--
seemed somewhat like a dream.

My engagement with Estelle--our rides, drives, and rambles by the wild
green hills of Mynedd Hiraethrog; in the chase and long lime avenue;
our chance meetings in the garden arbour; by the fountain, where the
lilies floated and the gold fish shot to and fro; over all, that wild
boat adventure, by which our lives were to be knit up as one in the
future--seemed too like a dream, of which her ring on my finger alone
remained to convince me of the reality, as no letters could pass
between us--at least none from me to her. Thus I grew fond of courting
solitude after the duties of the day were over, and I could fling
sword, sash, and belt aside; and usually I quitted early the jollity
of the battalion mess, that I might indulge in visions and conjure up
bright fancies amid the gray smoke wreaths of a quiet cigar, in that
humble bachelor's quarter already described; while the moonlight
silvered the spires and red-tiled roofs of Winchester, and when all
became still in the crowded barrack, after the tattoo-drums had
beaten, and the notes of the last bugle had warned--like the Norman
curfew of old--the extinction of all lights and fires.

I had seen many a drama and read many a romance; but now I seemed to
be personally the hero of either one or other. Engaged to the daughter
of an earl; but in _secret_, and unknown to all! And how or when was
that engagement to end--to be brought to a successful issue? On these
points my ideas were painfully vague and full of anxiety. Were we yet
to meet--were it but for an hour--ere war separated us more
completely, by sea as well as land? Returning, it might be mutilated
and disfigured, should I still find her loving, tender, and true? and
if I fell in action, how long might I hope to be remembered ere
Estelle--But I could not with patience contemplate the chances of
another replacing or supplanting me. Occasionally, as if to kill time,
I was seized by fits of unwonted zeal, and found plenty of work to do,
apart from parades, guards, sword-exercise, and revolver-pistol
practice--for hourly recruits, many of whom could not speak a word of
English, were coming in to replace those that had sailed with Phil
Caradoc; and it is one of the essential parts of the duty of the
officer commanding a regimental depôt to see after the arms,
accoutrements, and clothing of his men; and also, that so far as drill
goes, they are made perfect soldiers. Few or none of these recruits
were natives of the counties outside Offa's Dyke; but when the news of
the Alma came, and all England thrilled with the story of the uphill
charge of the Royal Welsh, more than one London paper enviously spread
the rumour, that our regiment was Cambrian only in name; till it was
flatly contradicted by the colonel--but the story nearly gave hot
peppery Sir Madoc a fit of apoplexy.

Besides other duties there was no small number of books--goodly sized
folios--of which I had the supervision, ten at least exactly similar
to those which are kept at headquarters; and all these tasks were
varied by an occasional ball or rout such as a cathedral and garrison
town can furnish; or a court-martial, or one of inquiry, concerning
Mrs. Private Jones resenting--_vi et armis_--that the canteen-keeper
should cut her bacon and tobacco, butter and bread, with the same
knife; or to give some Giles Chawbacon fifty lashes about daybreak for
a violation of the Red-book, in a hollow square, where men's teeth
chattered in the chilly air, or they yawned behind their glazed stocks
and shivered with disgust, at a punishment for which the army was
indebted to William of Orange, and which is now happily a thing of the
past. So the month of August drew to a close, and a box of partridges
duly came from Sir Madoc--the spoil of his gun on the slopes of Mynedd
Hiraethrog, perhaps; with a letter which acquainted me that Lady
Naseby and her daughter had been for fully a fortnight at Walcot Park
in Hampshire, but that he supposed I was probably aware of the
circumstance, and that Pottersleigh was with them.

Fully a fortnight, and neither letter nor card of invitation, though
they knew that I was in Winchester! How or why was this? A chill came
over me, though I certainly had no fear of the Viscount's influence;
but then I reflected that Estelle could not, and that Lady Naseby
would not, invite me--each for reasons of her own. What, then,
remained for me to do, but wait the event with patience, or endeavour
to seek her out, by throwing myself in her way? I writhed at the idea
of a fortnight having escaped us, while the coming of the fatal route
for the East hung over me. There was something revolting and
humiliating to my spirit in acting the part of a prowler about Walcot
Park; but who is a more humble slave than a lover? The declaration of
war had animated the services, both by sea and land, with a new or
revived interest for all, with women especially. Thus our parades,
reviews, and even our marches of exercise were frequently witnessed by
all the beauty and fashion of the city and county; and among them I
always looked in vain for the carriage and liveries of the Countess.
Was Estelle ill, or was their absence from these spectacles part of a
system to be pursued by the former?

Walcot Park was, I knew, only a few miles from the barracks on the
Whitchurch-road. I had spent many an hour riding there merely to see
the place which was associated with Estelle, when she had been absent
from it in London or elsewhere; and now I had doubly an attraction to
make me turn my horse's head in that direction, after Sir Madoc's
letter came; so the second day saw me take the way northward from the
old cathedral city, in mufti, to elude observation. The evening was a
lovely one, and those swelling hills and fertile valleys, wide
expanses of woodland already becoming crisp by the heat of the past
summer, with clumps of birch and elder, the wild ash and the oak,
which make up the staple features of Hampshire scenery, were in all
their autumnal beauty and repose. The tinkling of the waggoner's bells
on the dusty highway, was still heard, though the shrill whistle of
the locomotive seemed to hint that, like the old stage-coachman, he
should ere long find his occupation gone; and mellowed on the soft and
ambient air there came the merry evening chimes from more than one
quaint, village-church--the broad square Norman tower of which
stood--the landmark of its district--in outline distinct and dark
against the golden flush of the western sky. Dusk was almost closing
when I crossed that noted trouting-stream, the Teste; and passed
through Whitchurch.

As I trotted leisurely along the single street of which the little
market borough is chiefly composed, at the door of a small inn I
perceived a stable-boy holding by their bridles a black horse and a
roan mare. The form of the latter seemed familiar to me. I could not
mistake the height of forehead, the depth of chest, and roundness of
barrel, or a peculiar white spot on the off-shoulder, and in the
former recognised the roadster which Guilfoyle had brought with him to
Craigaderyn. On seeing that I drew my reins and looked rather
scrutinisingly at the animal, the groom, stable helper, or whatever he
was, touched his cap, on which I inquired,

"Whose nag is this, my man?"

"Can't say as I knows, sir; but the gentleman, with another, is inside
the bar, having a drop of summut," was the answer.

"Does he reside hereabout?"

"At Walcot Park he do."

"Walcot Park!"

"My Lady Naseby's place; he's been there for a couple of days at
least, with Mr. Sharpus, my lady's lawyer from London."

I rode on and spurred my horse to a maddening pace for some distance,
and then permitting the reins to drop on his neck, gave way to the
tide of perplexing, harassing, and exasperating thoughts that flowed
upon me. I remembered that we had arranged at Craigaderyn not to
inform Lady Naseby of the real character of her chosen continental
acquaintance, a foolish and fatal mistake, as the fellow would seem to
have had sufficient presumption to present himself at Walcot Park, and
there remain until exposed and expelled. But how came it to pass that
such as he was patronised and fostered, as it were, by "the family
solicitor," and patented by being his companion? Surely a legal man,
however great a rascal professionally and personally, was too wary to
adopt openly a blackleg as his friend and protégé!

I felt that Lady Naseby should instantly be warned of Guilfoyle's real
character; but by whom was this to be done? Tied up by my secret
arrangements with Estelle, I could neither write nor call uninvited;
but why had she not, as she had promised, written to me, or given me
some sign of her being so near Winchester as Walcot Park? When I
recalled her apparent preference for this man, when Caradoc and I
first went to Wales, their frequent recurrence to past companionship
abroad, their duets together, and so forth, her angry defence of him
to myself, together with an interest he had acquired in the eyes of
her usually unapproachable mother, something of my old emotions of
pique and doubt, and a jealousy for which I blushed, began to mingle
with my perplexity and mortification, and the fear that _he_ could
have any influence on her destiny or mine!

I recalled all the conversation overheard by Pottersleigh, and greater
grew my astonishment and indignation. I felt it imperative that
something should be done instantly, and resolved to telegraph or write
to Sir Madoc, requesting him to procure the dismission of this
intruder from Walcot Park as promptly as he had despatched him from
Craigaderyn. From a part of the road where it wound over an upland
slope I could see the Jointure House which formed the residence of
Lady Naseby and of that Estelle who was a law, a light, a guiding star
to me, and towards whom every thought and aspiration turned. Walcot
Park was a spacious domain, and studded by clumps of stately old
trees, which had been planted after the Revolution of 1688 by a peer
of the Naseby family, who was one of the first to desert his
hereditary king at Rochester. The mansion itself dated from the same
stormy period, and was built entirely of red brick with white stone
corners and cornices. Its peristyle of six Ionic columns glistened
white in the moonlight, and was distinctly visible from where I sat on
horseback. The shadow of the square façade of the entire edifice fell
purple and dark far across the park. There were lights in several of
the windows, and I knew that my Estelle must be in one of those
rooms--but which?

At that moment all my soul yearned for her; could I but for an instant
have seen her, or heard her voice! She dwelt there, visible to and
approachable by others, and yet I dared not visit her. The fact of her
presence there seemed to pervade and charm all the place, and with a
sad, loving, and yet exasperated interest, I continued to survey it. I
was hovering there, but aimlessly, and without any defined purpose,
other than the vague chance of seeing or being near her. Walcot I knew
was her favourite place, and there she kept all her pets, for she had
many: a parrot sent from the Cape by the captain of a frigate to whom
she had spoken but once at a ball; a spaniel from Malta, the gift of
some forgotten rifleman; a noble staghound, given by a Highland
officer who had danced with her once--once only--and never forgot it;
a squirrel, the gift of Sir Madoc; and an old horse or two, her
father's favourite hacks, turned loose in the park as perpetual

Could she really have loved me as she said she did, if she was already
behaving so coldly to me now? No letter or note, no invitation--she
had surely influence enough with her mother to have procured me
that!--no notice taken of my vicinity, of my presence with the depôt
again! What shadow was this that seemed already to be falling on our
sunny love? Whence the doubt that had sprung up within me, and the
coldness that seemed between us? Full of these thoughts, I was gazing
wistfully at the house, when I perceived the dark figures of two
horsemen riding leisurely along the winding approach that led to the
white peristyle, and felt certain that they were Guilfoyle and his
legal friend Mr. Sharpus (of Sharpus and Juggles) mounted on the
identical nags I had seen at the inn-door; and inspired by emotions of
a very mingled character, I galloped back to the barracks, never
drawing my bridle for the entire twelve miles of the way, until I
threw it to my man Evans; and hurrying to my room, wrote instantly a
most pressing letter to Sir Madoc, informing him of what I had seen
and heard. I was not without thoughts of communicating with Lord
Pottersleigh; but, for obvious reasons, shrunk from _his_ intervention
in the Cressingham family circle.

I knew that it would be delivered at Craigaderyn on the morrow, and
deemed that now twenty-four hours must be the utmost limit of Mr.
Hawkesby Guilfoyle's sojourn in his present quarters, and in a sphere
which he insulted by his presence; but three, four, even five days
passed, and no reply came from Sir Madoc, who was then, though I knew
it not, shooting with some friends in South Wales, and did not receive
my epistle until it was somewhat late for him to act on it. During
these intervening days I was in a species of fever. One Sunday I
incidentally heard, at mess, that Lady Naseby's party, now a pretty
numerous one, had been at service in the cathedral, and to hear the
bishop preach. She had come in state, in the carriage, attended by
several gentlemen on horseback, and two tall fellows in livery, one
carrying her prayer-books, the other a long cane and huge nosegay;
and there I might have met them all face to face, and seen Estelle
once more, had my evil destiny not assigned to me the command
of the main guard, and thus detained me in barracks; but Price of
ours--susceptible as the Tupman of _Pickwick_--had seen her, and came
to mess raving about her beauty.

Every hour I could spare from duty was spent in hovering, like a
spectre or a spy--an unquiet spirit certainly--in the vicinity of
Walcot Park, till the lodge-keepers, who had been wont to touch their
hats civilly at first, began ere long to view me with mistrust; and my
horse knew every crook and turn of the Whitchurch-road quite as well
as the way to his own stable. On the evening of the fifth day after I
had written to Sir Madoc--a pleasant evening in the first days of
September--I was again riding leisurely among the deep green lanes
that border on Walcot Park, and which lay between dark green hedgerows
then studded by scarlet dogberries, and the overarching branches of
apple, pear, and damson trees, my heart, as usual, full of vague
doubts, decided longings, and most undecided intentions, when I began
slowly to walk my horse up a long, steep, and picturesque road, the
vista of which was closed by an old village church, in the low and
moss-grown wall surrounding which was a green wicket. It was on just
such an evening as the last I have described, when the farewell gleam
of the sun shone level along the fields, when the many-coloured
foliage rustled in the gentle wind, and the voices of the blackbird,
the thrush, and the lark came sweetly at times from the darkening
copsewood, and when, as Clare writes in his rhyming calendar,

    "The wagons haste the corn to load,
     And hurry down the dusty road;
     The driving boy with eager eye
     Watches the church clock, passing by--
     Whose gilt hands glitter in the sun--
     To see how far the hours have run;
     Right happy in the breathless day,
     To see time wearing fast away."

Nearly covered with ivy, the square tower of the little church--a fane
old as the days when the Saxons bent their bows in vain at Hastings;
yea, old as the time of St. Ethelwold (the famous architect and Bishop
of Winchester)--peeped up amid the rich autumnal foliage that almost
hid it from the view. At the wicket, some hundred yards from me, in
the twilight--for though the sun had not set, the density of the
copsewood about the place rendered the light rather dim and
obscure--were a lady and gentleman, the latter mounted, and the former
on foot. At first they seemed to be in close and earnest conversation;
then the lady gesticulated earnestly, raising her hands and face to
him imploringly; but twice he thrust her back, almost violently, with
the handle of his whip. This was a strange and unpleasant episode to
encounter. I knew not whether to advance or retire. I feared to
intrude on what I supposed was something more than a lovers' quarrel,
or, from the man's utter indifference, was perhaps a matrimonial
squabble; and I was equally loth to retire, and leave a woman--a lady
evidently--to the violence or passion of this person, upon whose love
or mercy--it might be both--by her gestures and even the distant tones
of her voice, she was so evidently throwing herself in vain.

I checked my horse's pace, and, amid the thick rank grass of the
narrow lane, his footsteps were unheeded by the two actors in this
scene; moreover, without backing him well into one of the thick
hedges, I could not have turned to retrace my way.

Her hands were clasped now; she had dropped her parasol, and her face,
a very white one, was upturned pleadingly to his; but to whatever she
said, this horseman, whose back was to me, replied scornfully and
derisively by a low mocking laugh, which somehow I seemed to have
heard before, but when, or where, I quite failed to remember. Anon she
drew something from her bosom, and, kissing it, held it towards him,
as if seeking to influence him, by an appeal through it to some past
time of love, or truth, or happiness, or all together. Whatever it was
she thus displayed, he snatched it roughly, even fiercely, from her
with a curse, and, again thrusting her violently from him--so violently,
that I believe he must have used his foot and the off-stirrup
iron---she fell heavily against the low wall, which, at the same moment,
he cleared by a flying leap, and then disappeared in the network of
lanes, orchards, and hedgerows that lie about the churchyard. A low wail
escaped her; and when I came cantering up, and dismounted, she was lying
on the path beside the churchyard wicket in tears and despair. Her
appearance was perfectly ladylike, and most prepossessing; yet I knew
not very clearly what to say or how to interfere in the matter, though
manhood and courtesy rendered some action imperatively necessary.

"I trust you are not hurt," said I, taking her hand and assisting her
to rise.

"Thank you, sir--not bodily hurt," she replied, in a low and broken
voice, while scarcely venturing to look at me, and pressing her left
hand upon her heart, as if to restrain emotion, or as if she felt a
pain there.

"Did that person rob you?" asked I.

"O no, no, sir," she answered, hurriedly.

"But he seemed to snatch or wrench something from you?"

"Yes," said she, with hesitation.

"By violence, too?"

She did not reply, but covered her face with her handkerchief, and bit
it, apparently in efforts to control her sobs.

"Can I assist you--be of service to you in any way?" I urged, in a
pleading tone; for her whole air and appearance interested me.

"No, sir; none can assist me now."


"Save God, and even He seems to abandon me."

"What is the meaning of this despair?" I asked, after a pause. "It is
a lovers' quarrel, I presume; and if so--"

"O no, sir; he is no lover of mine--now, at least."


"The gentleman who has just left me," said she, evasively. "But permit
me to pass you, sir; I must return to Whitchurch."

I bowed, and led my horse aside, that she might pass down the lane.

"I thank you, sir, for your kindness," said she, bowing, as I lifted
my hat; and then she seemed to totter away weakly and feebly,
supporting or guiding herself, as if blind, by the rude low wall; and
I could perceive that her left hand, which was now ungloved, was
small, delicate, and of exceeding beauty in form. Her manner and air
were hurried; her voice and eyes were agitated; she seemed a ladylike
little creature, but plainly and darkly attired in a kind of second
mourning. Her figure, if _petite_, was very graceful and girlish, too,
though she was nearer thirty, perhaps, than twenty. Her face was
delicate in feature, and charmingly soft and feminine in expression.
Her eyes were of that clear dark gray which seems almost black at
night, and their lashes were long and tremulous, lending a chastened
or Madonna tone to her face, which, when taken together with her
sadness of manner and a certain languor that seemed to be the result
of ill-health, proved very prepossessing. With all this there was
something, I thought, of the widow in her aspect and dress; but this
was merely fancy.

Ere I remounted, and while observing her, I perceived that she
tottered, as if overcome by weakness, emotion, or both. She sank
against the churchyard wall, and nearly fell; on this, I again
approached, and said with all softness and respect:

"Pardon me, and do not deem me, though a stranger, intrusive; you are
ill and weary, and unable to walk alone. Permit me to offer my arm,
for a little way at least, down this steep and rugged road."

"Thanks," she replied; "you are very kind, sir; once at the foot of
this lane, I shall easily make my way alone. I am not afraid of
strangers," she added, with a strange smile; "I have been much cast
among them of late."

"You reside at Whitchurch?" said I, as we proceeded slowly together,
occasionally treading the fallen apples under foot among the long


"It is, then, your home?"

"I have no other--at present," said she, in a choking voice, and
scarcely making an effort to restrain her tears, while I detected on a
finger of the ungloved hand, the beauty of which I so much admired, a
plain gold hoop--the marriage ring. So she was a wife; and the
unseemly quarrel I had seen must have been a matrimonial one. Thus I
became more assured in my manner.

"I am almost a stranger here," said I, "as I belong to the garrison at

"You are an officer?"

"Yes, madam, of the Royal Welsh Fusileers."

She simply bowed, but did not respond to my information by saying
_who_ she was.

"Though a soldier, sir," said she, after a pause, "I dare say you will
be aware that the hardest battles of this world are _not_ fought in
the field."

"Where then?"

"Where we might least look for struggles of the soul: in many a
well-ordered drawing-room; in many a poor garret; in many a lovely
bower and sunny garden, or in a green and shady lane like this; fought
in secrecy and the silence of the heart, and in tears that are hot and
salt as blood!"

She _is_ very pretty, thought I; but I hope she won't become
melodramatic, hysterical, or anything of that sort!

"Darkness will be set in ere you can reach Whitchurch, at our present
rate of progression," said I; "and your--your--" (I was about to say
husband) "relations or friends will be anxious about you."

"Alas, no, sir! I have no one to miss or to regret me," she replied,
mournfully; "but I must not intrude selfishly my sorrows on a

"There is no appearance of the--the person who annoyed you returning,"
said I, looking backward up the long narrow lane we were descending.

"Little chance is there of that," said she, bitterly; "_he_ will return
no more."

"You are certain of that?"

"Too fatally certain!"

"You have quarrelled, then?"

"No; it is worse than a quarrel," said she, with her pale lips

"He is an enemy?"

"My enemy?--my tempter--my evil spirit--he is my husband!"

"Pardon me; I did not mean to be curious, when I have no right to be
so; but here is the highway; I too am going towards Whitchurch--my way
to the barracks lies in that direction; and I shall have much pleasure
in escorting you to your home, if you will permit me," said I, seized
by an impulse of gallantry, humanity, or both, which I ere long had
cause to repent.

"Sir, I thank you, and shall detain you no longer," she replied,
hurriedly; "I am something of a wanderer now, and my rooms are at the
ivy-clad inn by the roadside."

This was the place where I had seen Guilfoyle's roan mare, an evening
or so past.

We had now reached the end of the narrow and secluded lane, a famous
one in that locality as the trysting-place of lovers, and were
standing irresolutely near the main road that leads to Whitchurch and
Winchester, when a large and handsome carriage, drawn by a pair of
spanking dark gray horses, approached us rapidly.

Throwing my nag's bridle over my left arm, I was in the act of
offering my right hand to this mysterious lady in farewell, when her
eyes caught sight of the carriage; a half-stifled sob escaped her; she
reeled again, and would have fallen, had I not thrown my arm round
her, and by its firm support upheld her. At that moment the carriage
bowled past. The face of a lady was at the open window, looking out
upon us with wonder and interest, as she saw a lady and gentleman to
all appearance embracing, or at least on very good terms with each
other, at the corner of a shady lane, a little way off the Queen's
highway; and something like an exclamation of dismay escaped me on
recognising the colourless haughty face, the dark eyes, the black
hair, and bonnet of that orange tint so becoming to one of her
complexion--she of whom my whole soul was full, Lady Estelle


Had Estelle recognised me? If so, what might she--nay, what must
she--think, and how misconstrue the whole situation? Should I ride
after the carriage, or write at all risks, and explain the matter, or
commit the event to fate? That might be perilous. She may not have
recognised me, I thought: the twilight, the shade, the place might
have concealed my identity; but if not, they were all the more against
me. I was now in greater and more horrible perplexity than ever, and I
wished the unhappy little woman, the cause of all, in a very warm
climate indeed.

Thus, while longing with all the energies of my life to see Estelle,
to be seen by her _there_, at a time so liable to misconception if
left unexplained, might be death to my dearest hopes, and destruction
to the success I had achieved.

"Why were you so agitated by the sight of Lady Naseby's carriage?" I
asked, with an annoyance of tone that I cared not to conceal.

"Giddiness, perhaps; but was I agitated?"

"Of course you were--nearly fell; would have fallen flat, indeed, but
for me."

"I thank you, sir," was the gentle reply; for my asperity of manner
was either unnoticed or unheeded by her; "but you seemed scarcely less

"I, madam!--why the deuce should I have been agitated?"

"Unless I greatly err, you were, and are so still."


"Do you know the ladies?"

"Were there two?" asked I, with increased annoyance.

"The Countess and her daughter."

"I saw but one."

"And--O, pardon my curiosity, dear sir--you know them?"

"Intimately;--and what then?" I asked, with growing irritation.

"Intimately!" she repeated, with surprise.

"There is nothing very singular in that, I suppose?"

"And, sir, you visit them?"

"I have not as yet, but hope to do soon. We were all together in the
same house in North Wales."

"Ah! at Craigaderyn Court?"

"Yes; Sir Madoc Lloyd's. Do you know Sir Madoc?"

"I have not that pleasure."

"Who, then, that you are acquainted with knows him?"

"My husband."

"Your husband!" said I, glancing at the plain hoop on the delicate
little hand, which she was now gloving nervously.

"He was there with you; must have been conversing with you often. I
saw you all at church together one Sunday afternoon, and frequently on
the terraces and on the lawn; while!"--she covered her face with her
hands--"while I loitered and lurked like an outcast!"

"Your husband, madam?" I queried again.

"Mr. Hawkesby Guilfoyle."

Whew! Here was a discovery: it quite took my breath away, and I looked
with deeper interest on the sweet and pale and patient little face.

I now remembered the letter I had picked up and returned to him; his
confusion about it, and the horse he alleged to have lost by at a race
that had not come off; his irritation, the postal marks, and the name
of _Georgette_.

After such a termination to his visit to Craigaderyn, I could fancy
that his situation as a guest or visitor at Walcot Park, even after he
found the ladies there were ignorant of the nature of Sir Madoc's curt
note to him, must be far from enviable, for such as he must live in
hourly dread of insult, slight, or exposure; but how was I now
situated with regard to her I loved?

Deemed, perhaps, guilty in her eyes, and without a crime; and if aware
of the situation, the malevolent Guilfoyle would be sure to avail
himself of it to the fullest extent.

"Lady Estelle is very lovely, as I could see," said my companion.

"Very; but you saw her--when?"

"In Craigaderyn church, most fully and favourably."

And now I recalled the pale-faced little woman in black, who had been
pointed out to me by Winifred Lloyd, and who had been found in a swoon
among the gravestones by old Farmer Rhuddlan.

In all this there was some mystery, which I felt curious enough to
probe, as Guilfoyle had never by word or hint at any time given those
among whom he moved reason to believe he was aught else than a
bachelor, and a very eligible one, too; for if my once rival, as I
believed him to be, was not a creditable, he was certainly a
plausible, one; and here lay with me the means of an _exposé_ beyond
even that which had taken place at Craigaderyn Court.

"You are his wife, madam, and yet--does he, for purposes of his own,
disavow you?" said I, after a pause, not knowing very well how to put
my leading question.

"It is so, sir--for infamous purposes of his own."

"But you have him in your power; you have all the air of a lady of
birth and education--why not come forward and assert your position?"

The woman's soft gray eyes were usually filled by an expression of
great and deep sadness; but there were times when, as she spoke, they
flashed with fire, and there were others, when her whole face seemed
to glitter with "the white light of passion" as she thought of her
wrongs. Restraining her emotion, she replied,

"To assert my claims; that is exactly what I cannot do--now at least."


"Because he has destroyed all the proofs that existed of our unhappy
and most miserable marriage."

"Destroyed them! how?"

"Very simply, by putting them in the fire before my face."

"But a record--a register--must exist somewhere."

"We were married at sea, and the ship, in the chaplain's books of
which the marriage I have no doubt was recorded, perished. Proofs I
have none. But tell me, sir, is it true, that--that he is to be
married to the daughter of Lady Naseby?"

"To Estelle Cressingham?" I exclaimed, while much of amusement mingled
with the angry scorn of my manner.

"Yes," she replied, eagerly.

"No, certainly not; what on earth can have put such an idea into your
head, my good woman?"

My hauteur of tone passed unheeded, as she replied:

"I saw her portrait in the Royal Academy, and heard a gentleman who
stood near me say to another, that it was so rumoured; that he--Mr.
Guilfoyle--had come with her from the Continent, and that he was going
after her down to North Wales. He had said so at the club."

I almost ground my teeth on hearing this. That his contemptible name
should have been linked with hers by empty gossips in public places
like the Royal Academy and "his club," where none dared think of mine,
was intolerable.

"I followed him to Wales," she continued. "I saw nothing at
Craigaderyn church, or elsewhere, on her part to justify the story;
when I met my husband on the lawn at the _fête_--for I was there,
though uninvited--he laughed bitterly at the rumour, and said she was
contracted to Lord Pottersleigh, who, as I might perceive, was ever by
her side. He then gave me money, which I flung on the earth; ordered
me on peril of my life to leave the place, lest he might give notice
to the police that I had no right to be there. But though I have long
since ceased to love, I cannot help hovering near him, and from Wales
I followed him here; for I know that now he is at Walcot Park."

"I can assure you, for your ease, that the Lady Estelle is engaged,
but to a very different person from old Lord Pottersleigh," said I,
twirling the ends of my moustache with undisguised satisfaction, if
not with a little superciliousness; "your husband, however, seems a
man of means, Mrs. Guilfoyle."

She gave me a bitter smile, as she replied, "Yes, at times; and drawn
from various resources. He laughs to scorn now my marriage ring; and
yet he wears the diamond one which I gave him in the days when we were
engaged lovers, and which had once been my dear father's."

The diamond which _she_ gave him! Here, then, was another, and the
most probable version of the history of that remarkable brilliant.

"Of what was it that he deprived you by force, before his horse leaped
the wall?"

"A locket which I wore at my neck, suspended by a ribbon," said she,
as her tears began to fall again.

"He has the family solicitor with him at Walcot Park, I understand,"
said I.

"They are visiting there together. Mr. Sharpus came on business, and
my husband accompanied him."

"Why not appeal to this legal man?

"I have done so many times."

"And he--"

"Fears Mr. Guilfoyle and dare not move in the matter, or affects to
disbelieve me."

"What power has this--your husband, over him?"

"God alone knows--I do not," she replied, clasping her hands; "but Mr.
Sharpus quails like a criminal under the eye of Hawkesby Guilfoyle,
who seems also to possess some strange power over Lady Naseby, I

Could such really be? It seemed impossible; everything appeared to
forbid it; and yet I was not insensible to a conviction that the
dowager countess was rather pleased with, than influenced by, him.
Could he have acted in secret the part of lover to _her_, and so
flattered her weakness by adulation? Old women and old men, too, are
at times absurd enough for anything; and now the words of Caradoc, on
the night he lost money to Guilfoyle at billiards, recurred to me,
when in his blunt way he averred they had all some secret
understanding, adding, "By Jove! I can't make it out at all." My mind
was a kind of chaos as I walked onward with my new friend, and leading
my horse by the bridle we entered Whitchurch together. In the dusk I
left her at the inn door, promising to visit her on the morrow, and
consult with her on the means for farther exposing her husband; for
although her story--for all I knew to the contrary--might be an entire
fabrication, I was not then in a mood of mind to view it as such. As I
bade her adieu, a dog-cart, driven by a servant,--whose livery was
familiar to me, passed quickly. Two women were in it, one of whom
mentioned my name. I looked up and recognised Mademoiselle Babette
Pompon, Lady Naseby's soubrette, who had evidently been shopping; and
a natural dread that she, out of a love of gossip, or the malevolence
peculiar to her class, might mention having seen me at the inn porch
with a fair friend, was now added to the annoyance caused by the
episode at the lane end--an episode to which the said parting would
seem but an addendum or sequel; and I galloped home to my quarters in
a frame of thought far from enviable, and one which neither brandy nor
seltzer at the mess-house could allay.


Next day I heard the stranger's story, and it was a sad one. Georgette
Franklin--for such was her unmarried name--was the last surviving
child of George Franklin, a decayed gentleman, who dwelt in Salop,
near the Welsh border--we need not precisely say where, but within
view of the green hills of Denbigh; for the swelling undulations of
the beautiful Clwydian range formed the background to the prospect
from the windows of that quaint old house which was nearly all that
survived of his hereditary patrimony. Stoke Franklin--so named as it
occupied the site of a timber dwelling of the Saxon times, coeval
perhaps with Offa's Dyke--was still surrounded by a defensive ditch or
moat, where now no water lay, but where, in the season, the primroses
grew in golden sheets on the emerald turf. It was an isolated edifice,
built of dark-red brick, with stone corners, stone mullions to its
quaint old sunken windows, and ogee pediments or gables above them,
also of stone. From foundation to chimneys it was quaint in style,
ancient in date, and picturesque in aspect. Long lines of elms, and in
some places pollard willows, marked the boundaries of what had been
the demesne of the Franklins; but piecemeal it had passed away to more
careful neighbours, and now little remained to George Franklin but the
ground whereon the old mansion-house stood, and that sombre green
patch in God's-acre, the neighbouring churchyard, where his wife and
their four children lay, near the ancient yew, the greenery of which
had decorated the altar in the yule feasts of centuries ago, and whose
sturdy branches had furnished bow-staves for the archers who shot
under his ancestors at Bosworth, at Shrewsbury, and Flodden Field.

George Franklin was not a misanthrope; far from it; but he lived very
much alone in the old house. His oaken library, so solemnly tranquil,
with its heavy dark draperies and book-hidden walls, when the evening
sun stole through the deep mullions of the lozenged and painted
windows, was his favourite resort. And a cozy room it proved in
winter, when the adjacent meres were frozen, and the scalp of Moel
Fammau was powdered with snow. There he was wont to sit, with
Georgette by his knee, he reading and she working; a bright-faced,
brown-haired, and lively girl, whose golden canaries and green
love-birds hung in every window; for the house was quite alive with
her feathered pets, and was as full of sound as an aviary with their
voices in summer. One warm evening in autumn, when Georgette was
verging on her eighteenth year, she and her father were seated near
the house-door, under a shady chestnut-tree. The sunshine lay bright
on the greensward, and on the wilderness of flowers and shrubs that
grew close to the massive red walls of the old mansion. Mr. Franklin
was idly lingering over a book and sipping a glass of some dark and
full-bodied old port--almost the last bottle that remained in his now
but ill-replenished cellar. And a very perfect picture the old man
made. His thin but stately figure; his features so patrician in
profile; his dress somewhat old in fashion; his hands, though faded,
so shapely, with a diamond ring on one finger, _the_ diamond ring of
which we have heard so much lately; and the handsome girl who hovered
about him, attending to his little wants, varying her kind offices
with playful caresses, while her white neck and her golden-brown hair
glittered in the sunshine--all this seemed to harmonise well with the
old house that formed the background to the picture. The evening was
quiet and still. The voices of Georgette's birds, her caged canaries
and piping bullfinches, came through the open windows; but there were
no other sounds, save once or twice when the notes of a distant
hunting-horn, prolonged and sad, came on the passing wind, and then
the old man would raise his head, and his clear eye would sparkle,

    "As he thought of the days that had long since gone by,
     When his spirit was bold and his courage was high;"

and when he, too, had followed that sound, and ridden across the
stiffest country, neck and neck with the best horsemen in Salop and

Suddenly there came a shout, and a huntsman in red, minus his black
velvet cap, was seen to clear a beech-hedge on the border of the lawn;
and ere an exclamation of annoyance or indignation could escape old
George Franklin, that his privacy should be invaded, even by a
sportsman, in this unwonted manner, a cry of terror escaped Georgette;
for it was evident that the gentleman's horse had become quite
unmanageable, as the bridle-rein had given way; and after its terrible
leap, it came tearing at a mad pace straight towards the house, and
dashing itself head foremost against a tree, hurled the rider
senseless on the ground. He rolled to the very feet of Georgette and
her father, both of whom were full of pity and compassion, the former
all the more so that the stranger was undoubtedly a handsome man, and
barely yet in the prime of life. Aid was promptly summoned, and the
village doctor, anxious to serve, for a time at least, one whom he
deemed a wealthy patient, earnestly seconded, and even enforced, the
suggestion of the hospitable George Franklin, that the sufferer, whose
head was contused, and whose shoulder-blade had narrowly escaped
fracture, should neither be removed nor disturbed. Hence he was at
once assigned a room in the old mansion, with Georgette's old Welsh
nurse, now the housekeeper, to attend him. He was a man, however, of a
strong constitution, "one of those fellows who are hard to kill," as
he phrased it; thus, on the third morning after the accident, he was
well enough to make his way to the breakfast room.

Georgette, attired in a most becoming muslin dress, and looking fresh,
rosy, and innocent, as a young girl can only look who has left her
couch after a healthy slumber to greet the sunny morning, was standing
on a chair in an oriel, attending to the wants of one of her feathered
pets; suddenly the chair slipped, and she was about to fall, when a
strong arm, in the sleeve of a scarlet hunting-coat, encircled and
supported her. This little _contretemps_ made both parties at once at
home, and on easy terms.

"Mr. Guilfoyle!" exclaimed the girl, for it was he.

"Miss Franklin, I presume?"

"Are you well already?" she asked.

"Nearly so," said he, smilingly, as he took in all the girl's beauty
at a glance, together with the pleasant view beyond the antique oriel,
where the morning sun came down on the shining leaves, covering all
the dewy ground, as it were, with drops of golden light; and the
quaint old house, he thought, seemed such a pleasant home.

"How happy papa will be!" said the young lady, colouring slightly
under his somewhat critical gray--or rather green--eye. "I should have
nursed you myself, instead of old nurse Wynne," she added, archly.

"In that case I should have been in no hurry to announce my
convalescence," said he, rather pointedly; "may I ask your name--the
first one, I mean? Somehow, I fancy that I can judge of character by
the name."

"Georgette Franklin."


"I am called after papa."

"A charming name!" he exclaimed, but in a low tone.

Naturally frank and honest, purely innocent, and assured of her own
position, and of that of her father--for though poor now, he was one
of England's old untitled aristocracy--the girl felt neither
awkwardness nor shyness with her new friend, who, though polished in
manner, easy, and not ungraceful, was a thorough man of the world, and
selfishly ready to take advantage of every place and person who came
in his way; and a very simple one, indeed, was the kind old gentleman
who now came to welcome his visitor, to express fears that he had left
his couch too soon; and critically and keenly this hawk, who was now
in the dove's nest, eyed him, and saw, by the thinness of his hair,
his spare figure and wrinkled face, "delicately lined by such
characters as a silver _stylus_ might produce upon a waxen tablet,"
that his years could not be many now; yet his keen gray eyes were full
of bright intelligence still, and were shaded by lashes as long and
silky as those of his daughter.

Hunting and breakfast were discussed together. Mr. Guilfoyle seemed,
or affected to be, an enthusiast in old English sports, professing
that he loved them for themselves and from their associations; and
quite won George Franklin's heart by stigmatising the "iron horse" of
civilisation, which was now bearing all before it; and his host seemed
to grow young again, as he recurred to the field exploits of his
earlier years, over the same ground which Mr. Guilfoyle--who had been
on a visit to the house of some friend twenty miles distant--had
hunted so recently: round beautiful Ellesmere, by Halston and Hordley,
by the flat fields of Creamore, by the base of wooded Hawkstone, where
he had made many a terrible flying leap, and away by Acton Reynald;
all this ground had Guilfoyle gone over but lately, and, as the event
proved, almost fatally for his own bones, and more fatally for his
future peace of mind, as he pretty plainly indicated to Miss Franklin
on every available opportunity, in the softest and most well-chosen
language. Though able to leave his room, he was neither permitted to
leave the house nor attempt to mount; so he wrote to his friend, had
some of his wardrobe sent over to Stoke Franklin, and, encouraged by
the hearty hospitality of its owner, took up his quarters there for an
indefinite period; at least, until his hunting friend should depart
for Madeira, whither he had promised to accompany him; for Mr.
Hawkesby Guilfoyle seemed somewhat of a cosmopolitan, and rather
peripatetic in his habits. He had been over one half the world,
according to his own accounts, and fully intended to go over the
other; so he proved a very agreeable companion to the hitherto lonely
father and daughter in that secluded mansion in Salop. Merciful it is,
indeed, that none of us can lift the veil that hides the future; thus
little could George Franklin foresee the influence this man was to
exert over the fate of his daughter and himself, when he listened to
his plausible anecdotes, or sat alone and happy in his shady old
library, communing pleasantly with his ancient favourites--with
Geoffrey Chaucer, the knightly pages of Froissart, Dame Juliana
Berners on hunting and hawking, and works, rare as manuscripts, that
came from the antique press of Caxton and De Worde. Mr. Guilfoyle
found himself in very pleasant quarters, indeed. It was ever his
principle to improve the occasion or the shining hour. Georgette was
highly accomplished, and knew more than one language; so did he; so
week after week stole pleasantly away.

By them the touching airs of Wales, the merry _chansons_ of Wronger,
were played and sung together; and she it was, and no Princess of
Catzenelnbogen, who taught him that wild German farewell, with its
burden of "Leb'wohl! Leb'wohl!" we had heard at Craigaderyn Court.
Even Petrarch was not omitted by them; for he knew, or pretended to
know, a smattering of Italian, and translated the tenderest speeches
of Laura's lover with a _point_ that caused the young girl's heart to
vibrate with new and strange emotions. And now, ever and anon, there
was a heightened flush on her soft cheek, a bright sparkle in her dark
gray eye, a lightness in all her motions; she had moments of merry
laughter, alternated by others of dreamy sadness--that yet was not all
sadness--which showed that Georgette was in love.

And Guilfoyle, in his own fashion, loved her, too; but he had learned
that of all George Franklin's once noble estate, the house alone
remained, and that at his death even it must inevitably go to the
spoiler; so, though to love Georgette was very pleasant and sweet,
matrimony with her was not to be thought of. Money was the god of
Guilfoyle's idolatry, and he thought of the wonder of his "fast"
friends when they asked, "What did he get with his wife?" and how they
should laugh if they heard he had married for love. Yet Georgette had
become besotted--there is no other word for it, save infatuated--by
him; by one who had made flippant love with strange facility to many.
By degrees he artfully strove to warp or poison the girl's mind; but
finding that instinctively her innocence took the alarm after a time,
though she long misunderstood him, he quite as artfully changed his
tactics, and spoke sorrowfully of his imperative and approaching
departure for Madeira, of the agony such a separation would cause him;
"it might be for years, and it might be for ever," and so forth,
while, reclining in tears on his breast, the girl heard him. Taking
the right time, when she was thoroughly subdued or softened by love,
and fear lest she should lose him, he prayed her to elope or consent
to a private marriage--he was not without hopes that his hunting
friend might officiate as parson. This, he urged, would keep them true
to each other until his return and their final reunion; but to this
measure she would not consent.

"Come with me, then, to Madeira; we shall be back in a month, at

"But think of dear papa--my poor old papa," replied Georgette,
piteously; "worn as he is with years and infirmity, I cannot leave him
even for so short a time; for who will soothe his pillow when I am

"Old moth--Mrs. Wynne can do all that; at least, until we return,"
said he, almost impatiently.

"But must you really go to Madeira?" pleaded the gentle voice.

"I must, indeed: business of the first importance compels me; in fact,
my funds are there," he added, with charming candour, as his hunting
friend had promised to frank him to Funchal and back again to London.
"We shall be gone but a short time, and when we return this dear old
house shall be brighter than ever, and together we shall enliven his
old age. We shall kneel at his feet, darling Georgie, and implore--"

"Why not kneel _now_," urged Georgette, "and beg his consent and

"Nay, that would be inopportune, absurd, melodramatic, and all that
sort of thing. Returning, we shall be linked in the fondest affection;
returning, he will be unable to resist our united supplications. Come,
darling, come with me. Let us despise the silly rules of society, and
the cold conventionalities of this heartless world! Let us live but
for each other, Georgie; and O, how happy we shall be, when we have
passed, through the medium of romance, into the prose of wedded life;
though that life, my darling, shall not be altogether without romance
to us!"

Overcome by the intensity of her affection for this man, her first and
only lover, the poor girl never analysed the inflated sophistries he
poured into her too willing ear, but sank, half fainting with delight,
upon his shoulder. Guilfoyle clasped her fondly in his arms; he
covered her brow, her eyes--and handsome eyes they were--her lips, and
braided hair, with kisses, and in his forcible but somewhat fatuous
language, poured forth his raptures, his love, and his vows of

Suddenly a terror came over her, and starting from his arm, she half
repulsed him, with a sudden and sorrowful expression of alarm in her

"Leave me, Hawkesby," said she, "leave me, I implore you; I cannot
desert papa, now especially, when most he needs my aid. O, I feel
faint, very faint and ill! I doubt not your love, O, doubt not mine;

"I must and do doubt it," said he, sadly and gloomily. "But enough of
this; to-morrow I sail from Liverpool, and _then_ all shall be at an

"O God, how lonely I shall be!" wailed the girl; "I would, dear
Hawkesby, that you had never come here."

"Or had broken my neck when my horse cleared yonder hedge," said he,
as his arm again went round her, and the strong deep love with which
he had so artfully succeeded in inspiring her, triumphed over every
sentiment of filial regard, of reason, and humanity. She forgot the
old parent who doted on her; the stately old ancestral home, that was
incrusted with the heraldic honours of the past; she forgot her
position in the world, and fled with the _parvenu_ Guilfoyle.

That night the swift express from Shrewsbury to Birkenhead, as it
swept through the beautiful scenery by Chirk and Oswestry, while the
wooded Wrekin sank flat and far behind, bore her irrevocably from her
home; but her father's pale, white, and wondering face was ever and
always upbraidingly before her. As Guilfoyle had foreseen, no proper
marriage could be celebrated at Liverpool ere the ship sailed from the
Mersey. He hurried her on board, and his hunting friend--a dissipated
man of the world, ordered to Madeira for the benefit of his
health--received the pale, shrinking, and already conscience-stricken
girl in the noisy cabin of the great steamer with a critical eye and
remarkably knowing smile, while his manner, that for the time was
veiled by well-bred courtesy, might have taught the poor dove that she
was in the snares of an unscrupulous fowler.

But ere the great ship had made the half of her voyage--about six
days--in her sickness of body and soul, the girl had made a friend and
confidant of the captain, a jolly and good-hearted man, who had girls
of his own at home; and he, summoning a clergyman who chanced to be on
board, under some very decided threats compelled Guilfoyle to perform
the part he had promised; so he and Georgette were duly wedded in the
cabin, while, under sail and steam, the vessel cleft the blue waves of
the western ocean, and her ensign was displayed in honour of the
event. But there the pleasure and the honour ended, too; and Guilfoyle
soon showed himself in his true colours, as a selfish and infamous

"Alas!" said she, weeping, "he no longer called me the pet names I
loved so well; or made a fuss with me, and caressed me, as he was wont
to do among the pleasant woods of Stoke Franklin. I felt that, though
he was my husband, he was a lover no longer! We had not been a
fortnight at Madeira when we heard that the vessel, on board of which
we were married, had perished at sea with all on board, including her
temporary chaplain. Then it was that Mr. Guilfoyle tore from me the
sole evidence of that solemn ceremony given to me by the clergyman,
and cast it in the flames before my face, declaring that then he was
free! Of our past love I had no relic but a gold locket containing his
likeness and bearing a date, the 1st of September, the day on which we
were married, with our initials, H. H. and G., and even that he rent
from me yesterday. Alas for the treachery of which some human hearts
are capable! We were _one_ no longer now, as the old song has it:

        "'That time!--'tis now "long, long ago!"
           Its hopes and joys all passed away!
          On life's calm tide three bubbles glow;
           And pleasure, youth, and love are they,
          Hope paints them bright as bright can be,
          Or did, when he and I were _we!_'

As a finishing stroke to his cruelty and perfidy, he suddenly quitted
Madeira, after some gambling transaction which brought the alcalde of
Funchal and other authorities upon him. He effected his escape
disguised as a vendor of sombreros and canary birds, and got clear
off, leaving a note by the tenor of which he bequeathed me to his
friend, with whom he left me at a solitary _quinta_ among the

Though dissipated and "fast" by nature and habit, the latter was at
heart an English gentleman; and pitying the forlorn girl abandoned in
a foreign colony under circumstances so terrible, he sent her home;
and one day, some six months after her flight, saw her once more
standing irresolutely at the closed gate of the old manor-house of
Stoke Franklin.

The latter was empty now; the windows were closed, the bird-cages hung
there no more; the golden and purple crocuses she had planted were
peeping up from the fragrant earth, untended now; the pathways were
already covered with grass and mosses; untrimmed ivy nearly hid the
now unopened door; the old vanes creaked mournfully in the wind; and
save the drowsy hum of the bees, all spoke to her hopeless,
despairing, and remorseful heart of the silence and desolation that
follow death. The odour of last year's dead leaves was heavy on the
air. After a time she learned how rapidly her father had changed in
aspect, and how he had sunk after her disappearance--her desertion of
him; and how there came a time when the fine old gentleman, whose thin
figure half stooping, with his head bent forward musingly, his scant
white hair floating over the collar of his somewhat faded coat, his
kindly but wrinkled face, his tasselled cane trailing behind him from
his folded hands, whilom so familiar in the green lanes about Stoke
Franklin, and who was always welcomed by the children that gambolled
on the village green or around the old stone cross, and the decayed
wooden stocks that stood thereby, appeared no more. A sudden illness
carried him off, or he passed away in his sleep, none knew precisely
which; and then another mound under the old yew-tree was all that
remained to mark where the last of the Franklins, the last of an old,
old Saxon line, was laid.

I promised to assist her if I could, though without the advice of a
legal friend I knew not very clearly what to do; besides, knowing what
lawyers usually are, I had never included one in the circle even of my
acquaintances. Estelle's long silence, and the late episode in the
lane, chiefly occupied my thoughts while riding back to the barracks,
where somewhat of a shock awaited me.


Though the dower-house of Walcot Park dated from the days of Dutch
William, when taste was declining fast in England, internally it had
all the comforts of modern life, and its large double drawing-room was
replete with every elegance that art could furnish or luxury
require--gilt china, and buhl cabinets, and console mirrors which
reproduced again and again, in far and shadowy perspectives, the
winged lions of St. Mark in _verde antique_; Laocoon and his sons
writhing in the coils of the serpents; Majolica vases, where tritons,
nymphs, and dolphins were entwined; Titian's cavaliers sallow and
sombre in ruffs and half-armour, with pointed moustachios and
imperious eyes; or red-haired Venetian dames with long stomachers,
long fingers, and Bologna spaniels; or Rubens' blowsy belles, all
flesh and bone, with sturdy limbs, and ruddy cheeks and elbows; but
the mirrors reflected more about the very time that I was lingering at
Whitchurch; to wit, a group, a trio composed of Lady Naseby, her
daughter, and Mr. Guilfoyle; and within that room, so elegant and
luxurious, was being fought by Estelle, silently and bitterly, one of
those struggles of the heart, or battles of life, which, as poor
Georgette Franklin said truly, were harder than those which were
fought in the field by armed men. Guilfoyle was smiling, and looking
very bland and pleased, indeed, to all appearance; Lady Naseby's
usually calm and unimpressionable face, so handsome and noble in its
contour, wore an expression of profound disdain and contempt; while
that of Lady Estelle was as pale as marble. She seemed to be icy cold;
her pink nostrils were dilated, her lips and eyelids were quivering;
but with hands folded before her, lest she should clench them and
betray herself, she listened to what passed between her mother and
their visitor.

"It was, as you say, a strange scene, of course, Mr. Guilfoyle, the
woman fainting--"


"Well, yes, reclining in the arms of Mr. Hardinge in that lonely
lane," said the Countess; "but we need refer to it no more. He must be
a very reckless person, as Pompon saw him take leave of this creature
with great tenderness, she says, at the door of that obscure inn at
Whitchurch; so that explains all."

"Not quite," replied Guilfoyle.

"Perhaps not; but then it is no affair of ours, at all events, I must
own that I always wondered what the Lloyds--Sir Madoc especially--saw
in that young man, a mere subaltern of the line!"

"Precisely my view of the matter, Lady Naseby."

"Besides, your little baronet people are great sticklers for rank and
dignity, and often affect a greater exclusiveness than those who rank
above them."

"But as for this unfortunate woman," resumed Guilfoyle, who was loth
to quit the subject.

"We have heard of her in our neighbourhood before," said Lady Naseby;
"at least, Pompon has. She is good to all, especially the poor."

"Ah, doesn't care to hide her candle under a bushel, eh?"

"What do you mean, Mr. Guilfoyle?"

"Simply that vanity is often mistaken for generosity, profusion for

"You are somewhat of a cynic, I know."

"Nay, pardon me, I hope not."

"She is too poorly clad in general, Pompon says, to be able to indulge
in profusion," continued Lady Naseby, while Lady Estelle glanced at
the speakers alternately, in silence and with apparent calmness.

But Guilfoyle, who read her eyes and heart, and knew her secret
thoughts, gloated on the pain she was enduring.

"No doubt the unfortunate creature is much to be pitied," said he;
"but when a woman has lost respect for herself, she cannot expect much
of it from others. The poor little soiled love-bird has probably left
some pretty semi-detached villa at Chertsey or St. John's Wood to
follow its faithless redcoat to Hampshire, and hence the touching
tableau in the lane," he added, with his mocking and strangely unreal

"Mr. Guilfoyle!" said the Countess, in a tone of expostulation, while
her daughter darted a glance of inexpressible scorn at him. But he
continued coolly, "Well, perhaps I should not speak so slightingly of
her, after what she has given herself out to be."

"And what is that?" asked Lady Naseby.

"Only--his wife."

"His wife!" exclaimed Estelle, starting in spite of herself. "Yes,
Lady Estelle; but it may not be, nay, I hope is not, the case."

"You should rather hope that it is so."

"But we all know what military men are--never particular to a shade;
and though excuses must be made for the temptations that surround
them, and also for youth, I approve of the continental system, which
generally excludes subaltern officers from society."

"Wife!" repeated Estelle; "O, it cannot be!"

"What is it to _you_--to us?" asked mamma, with a slight asperity of

"Well, wife or not, she certainly wears a wedding-ring, and he has
been more than once to visit her in that inn at Whitchurch. Of one
visit our mutual friend Mr. Sharpus is cognisant. If you doubt this,
ask him, and he will not contradict _me_."

"I have not said that I doubt you, Mr. Guilfoyle," said Estelle, with
intense hauteur, while for a moment--but a moment only--her eyes
flashed, her breast heaved, her hands were clenched, a burning colour
suffused her face, and her feet were firmly planted on the carpet; yet
she asked quietly, "Why do we hear this scandalous story at all? What
is it to mamma--what to me?"

"More, perhaps, than you care to admit," said he, in a low voice, as
the Countess rose to place Tiny in his mother-of-pearl basket.

Guilfoyle at Craigaderyn had acted as eavesdropper, and on more than
one occasion had watched and followed, overseen and overheard us, and
knew perfectly all about our secret engagement, her mother's views and
opposition to any alliance save a noble or at least a moneyed one; and
of all the stories he had the unblushing effrontery to tell, the
present was perhaps the most daring. He had contrived, during the
short visit he had paid to Walcot Park, under the wing of Mr. Sharpus,
to let Estelle know by covert hints and remarks all he knew, and all
he might yet disclose to her mother, to the young Earl of Naseby, to
Lord Pottersleigh, Sir Madoc, and others; and feeling herself in his
power, with all her lofty spirit the poor girl cowered before him, and
he felt this instinctively, as he turned his green eyes exultingly
upon her. But for a delicate, proud, and sensitive girl to have the
secrets of her heart laid bare, and at the mercy of a man like this,
was beyond all measure exasperating. And this strange narrative of
his, coming after what she had seen, and all that Pompon with French
exaggeration had related, crushed her completely for the time.

"I have another little item to add to our Hardinge romance," said he,
with his strange, hard, dry, crackling laugh, and a smile of positive
delight in his shifty green eyes, while he toyed with the long ears of
Tiny the shock, which had resumed its place in Lady Naseby's lap. "You
remember the locket with the initials 'H. H. G.' and the date 1st
September which Miss Dora Lloyd mentioned when we were at

"I have some recollection of it," replied Lady Naseby, languidly.

"Curiously enough, as I rode past the spot where you saw that touching
and interesting interview--the lane, I mean--I perceived something
glittering among the grass. Dismounting, I picked up that identical
locket, which doubtless the lady had dropped, thus losing it within a
few days of its bestowal, if we are to judge by the date."

"And you have it?"


Opening his leather portemonnaie, he drew from it a gold locket, to
which a black-velvet ribbon was attached, and said with the utmost
deliberation, "The initials represent those of Henry Hardinge and his
inamorata, and behold!"

Pressing a spring, the secret of which he knew very well, the locket
flew open, and within it were seen the photograph of the pale woman
whom they saw in Craigaderyn church, and opposite to it one of _me_,
inserted by himself, pilfered from the album of Winifred Lloyd, as we
afterwards ascertained.

"Aha! the moral Mr. Henry Hardinge with his _petite femme entretenue_,
as the French so happily term it."

Lady Estelle was quite calm now in her demeanour, and she surveyed the
locket with a contemptuous smile; but her face was as white as marble.
She felt conscious that it was so, and hence sat with her back to the
nearest window, lest her mother should perceive that she was affected.

Guilfoyle, smilingly, stood by her, stroking his dyed moustache.

"This must be restored to its owner," said he.

"Permit me to do so," said Lady Estelle.

"You, Estelle--you!" exclaimed her usually placid mother, becoming
almost excited now; "why should you touch the wretched creature's

"As an act of charity it should be restored to her, or to _him_," she
added, through her clenched teeth; and taking the locket, she left the
room for her own, ere her mother could reply; and there she gave way
to a paroxysm of tears, that sprang from sorrow, rage, and shame that
she had for a moment permitted herself to have been deluded by me, and
thus be placed in the power of Guilfoyle. Her lips, usually of a rosy
tint, were colourless now; her upper one quivered from time to time,
as she shuddered with emotions she strove in vain to repress; and her
proud hot blood flowed furiously under her transparent skin, as she
threw open her desk, and sought to apply herself to the task of
writing me that which was to be her first, her last, and only letter.
For her heart swelled with thoughts of love and disappointment, pride,
reproach, disdain, and hate, as she spoiled and tore up sheet after
sheet of note-paper in her confusion and perplexity, and at last
relinquished the idea of writing at all.

Thus, while I was scheming how to expose Mr. Hawkesby Guilfoyle, and
have him cast forth from that circle in which he was an intruder, he
turned the tables with a vengeance, and provided me with a wife to
boot. But finding, or suspecting, that he was beginning to be viewed
with doubt, that very day, after having done all possible mischief, he
quitted Walcot Park with Lady Naseby's solicitor, who, strange to say,
seemed to be his most particular friend. He had made no impression
favourable to himself on the heart of Estelle; but he hoped that he
had succeeded in ruining me, as I could neither write nor clear myself
of an allegation of which I was then, of course, ignorant. She was
unjust to me; but she certainly--whatever came to pass in the gloomy
and stormy future--loved me _then_.


As yet I knew nothing of all that has been detailed in the foregoing
chapter, consequently the entire measure of my vengeance against
Guilfoyle was not quite full. I had, however, a revival of my old
doubts, anxiety, and perplexity, in not hearing from Walcot Park in
some fashion, by an invitation, or otherwise privately from Estelle
herself, as, by our prearrangement, there was nothing to prevent her
writing to me; and to these were added now a dread of what they had
seen on that unlucky evening, and the reasonable misconstructions to
which the scene was liable. More than one of my mess-room friends had
received cards of invitation from Lady Naseby; why then was I, whom
she had met so recently, apparently forgotten?

After the relation of her story, I left Mrs. Guilfoyle in such
a state of mental prostration and distress, that I was not without
well-founded fears that she might commit some rash act, perhaps
suicide, to add to the vile complication of our affairs. Next day I
was detailed for guard, and could not leave the barracks, either to
consult with my new unhappy acquaintance, or for my accustomed canter
in the vicinity of Walcot Park. A presentiment that something
unpleasant would happen ere long hung over me, and a day and a night
of irritation and hot impatience had to be endured, varied only by the
exceedingly monotonous duties that usually occupy the attention of the
officer who commands a guard, such as explaining all the standing
orders to the soldiers composing it, inspecting the reliefs going out
to their posts and those returning from them, and going the round of
those posts by night; but on this occasion, the routine was varied by
a fire near Winchester, so we were kept under arms for some hours in a
torrent of rain, with the gates barricaded, till the barrack engines
returned. On the following morning, just when dismissing my old guard
after being relieved by the new one, I perceived a servant in the
well-known Naseby livery--light-blue and silver--ride out of the
barracks; and with a fluttering in my heart, that was born of hope and
apprehension, I hastened to my room.

"Packet for you, sir," said my man Evans, "just left by a flunkey in
red breeches."

"You mean a servant of Lady Naseby's."

"I mean, sir," persisted Evans, "a flunky who eyed me very
superciliously, and seemed to think a private soldier as low and
pitiful as himself," added the Welshman, whom the pompous bearing of
the knight of the shoulder-knot had ruffled.

"You were not rude to him, I hope."

"O no, sir. I only said that, though the Queen didn't like bad
bargains, I'd give him a shilling in her name to play the triangles."

"That will do; you may go," said I, taking from his hand a small
packet sealed in pink paper, and addressed to me by Lady Estelle; and
my heart beat more painfully than ever with hope and fear as I tore it

A locket dropped out--_the_ locket just described--in which I was
bewildered to find a likeness of myself, and with it the ring I had
placed on the hand of Estelle in Rhuddlan's cottage--the emerald
encircled by diamonds--on the morning after our escape from a terrible
fate! I have said that a shock awaited me at the barrack; but that the
locket should come to me, accompanied by Estelle's ring, so astonished
and perplexed me, that some time elapsed before I perceived there was
a little note in the box which contained them.

It ran thus:

"Lady E. Cressingham begs that Mr. Hardinge will return the
accompanying locket and ring to the lady to whom they properly
belong--she whom he meets in the lane near Walcot Park, and whom he
should lose no time in presenting to the world in her own character.
Farther communications are unnecessary, as Mr. Guilfoyle has explained
all, and Lady E. Cressingham leaves to-day for London."

The handwriting was very tremulous, as if she had written when under
no ordinary excitement; and now, as the use to which the two episodes,
at the lane and the inn-door, had been put by the artful Guilfoyle
became plain to me, I was filled by a dangerous fury at the false
position in which they placed me with her I loved and with whom I had
been so successful. For a minute the room seemed to swim round me,
each corner in pursuit of the other. We had both been wronged--myself
chiefly; and though I knew that Guilfoyle had been at work, I could
not precisely know how; but I thought the Spartan was right when, on
being asked if his sword was sharp, he replied, "Yes, sharper even
than calumny!" This wretched fellow had daringly calumniated me, and
to clear that calumny, to have an instant interview with Estelle,
became the immediate and burning desire of my heart. I rushed to my
desk, and opened it with such impulsive fury that I severely injured
my arm, so recently broken--broken in her service--and as yet but
scarcely well. I spread paper before me, but my fingers were
powerless; if able to hold the pen, I was now unable to write, and the
whole limb was alternately benumbed and full of acute agony; and
though Hugh Price of ours was a very good fellow, I had no friend--at
least, none like Phil Caradoc--in the dépôt battalion in whom I could
confide or with whom consult, in this emergency.

I despatched Evans for the senior surgeon, who alleged that the
original setting, dressing, and so forth of my fractured limb had been
most unsatisfactory; that if I was not careful, inflammation might set
in, and if so, that instant amputation alone could save my life. Being
almost in a fever, he placed me on the sick-list, with orders not to
leave my room for some days, and reduced me to claret-and-water.

"A pleasant predicament this!" thought I, grinding my teeth.

Estelle, through whom all this came to pass, lost to me, apparently
through no fault of my own, and I unable to communicate with her or
explain anything; for now she was in London, where I feared she might,
in pique or rage, take Pottersleigh, Naseby, or even, for all I knew,
accept Guilfoyle, a terrible compromise of her name. But she had
plenty of other admirers, and disappointed women marry every day in
disgust of some one. Next I thought of the regiment abroad wondering
"when that fellow Hardinge would join"--promotion, honour, profession,
and love in the balance against health, and all likely to be lost!

"Rest, rest," said the battalion Sangrado, whom my condition rather
perplexed; "don't worry yourself about anything. Rest, mental and
bodily, alone can cure you."

"It is a fine thing to talk," I muttered, while tossing on my pillow;
for I was confined to bed in my dull little room, and for three days
was left entirely to my own corroding thoughts.

I had but one crumb of comfort, one lingering hope. She had not asked
me to return _her_ ring, nor did I mean to do so, if possible. Once
again my arm was slung in a black-silk scarf, which Estelle had
insisted on making for me at Craigaderyn. Alas! would the joys of that
time ever return to us again? I sent Evans, in uniform and not in my
livery, to Whitchurch with the locket, after extracting my likeness
therefrom; but he returned with it, saying that the lady had left the
inn for London, having no doubt followed her husband. I knew not
exactly of what I was accused--a _liaison_ of some kind apparently, of
which the strongest proofs had been put before the Cressinghams. If,
when able, I wrote to explain that the two meetings with Mrs.
Guilfoyle were quite fortuitous, would Estelle believe me? Without
inquiry or explanation, she had coldly and abruptly cast me off; and
it was terrible that one I loved so well should think evil or with
scorn of me. What would honest old Sir Madoc's view of the matter be,
and what the kind and noble-hearted Winifred's, who loved me as a
sister, if they heard of this story, whatever it was?

Vengeance--swift, sudden, and sure--was what I panted for; and moments
there were when I writhed under the laws that prevented me from
discovering and beating to a jelly this fellow Guilfoyle, or even
shooting him down like a mad dog, though I would gladly have risked my
own life to punish him in the mode that was no longer approved of now
in England; and I pictured to myself views of having him over in
France, in the Bois de Boulogne, or on the level sands of Dunkirk, the
spire of St. Eloi in the distance, the gray sky above us, the sea for
a background, no sound in our ears but its chafing on the long strip
of beach, and his villainous face covered by my levelled pistol at ten
paces, or less--yea, even after I had let him have the first shot, by
tossing or otherwise. And as these fierce thoughts burned within me,
all the deeper and fiercer that they were futile and found no
utterance, I glanced longingly at my sword, which hung on the wall, or
handled my pistols with grim anticipative joy; and reflected on how
many there are in this world who, in the wild sense of justice, or the
longing for a just revenge on felons whom the laws protect, fear the
police while they have no fear of God, even in this boasted age of
civilisation; and I remembered a terrible _duel à la mort_ in which I
had once borne a part in Germany.

A July evening was closing in Altona, when I found myself in the
garden of Rainville's Hotel, which overlooks the Elbe. The windows of
the house, an edifice of quaint aspect, occupied successively in years
past by General Dumourier and gossiping old Bourienne, were open, and
lights and music, the din of many voices--Germans are always loud and
noisy--and the odour of many cigars and meerschaums, came forth, to
mingle with the fragrance of the summer flowers that decked the
tea-garden, the trees of which were hung with garlands of coloured
lanterns. A golden haze from the quarter where the sun had set
enveloped all the lazy Elbe, and strings of orange-tinted lights
showed here and there the gas-lamps of Hamburg reflected in its bosom.

In dark outline against that western flush were seen the masts and
hulls of the countless vessels that covered the basin of the river and
the Brandenburger Hafen. Waiters were hurrying about with coffee,
ices, and confectionery, lager-beer in tankards, and cognac in crystal
cruets; pretty Vierlander girls, in their grotesque costume, the
bodice a mass of golden embroidery, were tripping about coyly,
offering their bouquets for sale; and to the music of a fine German
band, the dancing had begun on a prepared platform. There were
mingling lovely Jewesses of half-Teutonic blood, covered with jewels;
spruce clerks from the Admiralit-strasse, and stout citizens from the
Neuer-wall; officers and soldiers from the Prussian garrison; girls of
good style from the fashionable streets about the Alsterdamm, and
others that were questionable from the quarter about the Grosse
Theater Strasse.

I was seated in an arbour with a young Russian officer named
Paulovitch Count Volhonski, who was travelling like myself, and whom I
had met at the table-d'hôte of the Rolandsburg, in the Breitestrasse.
As an Englishman, apt at all times to undervalue the Russian
character, I was agreeably surprised to find that this young captain
of the Imperial Guard could speak several European, and at least two
of the dead, languages with equal facility. He was a good musician,
sang well, and was moreover remarkably handsome, though his keen dark
eyes and strongly marked brows, with a most decided aquiline nose,
required all the softness that a mouth well curved and as delicately
cut as that of a woman could be, to relieve them, and something of
pride and hauteur, if not of sternness, that formed the normal
expression of his face. His complexion was remarkably pure and clear,
his hair was dark and shorn very short, and he had a handsome
moustache, well pointed up. We had frequented several places of
amusement together, and had agreed to travel in company so far as
Berlin, and this was to be our last night in Altona. The waiter had
barely placed our wine upon the table and poured it out, when there
entered our arbour, and seated himself uninvited beside us, a great
burly German officer in undress uniform, and who in a stentorian voice
ordered a bottle of lager-beer, and lighting his huge meerschaum
without a word or glance of courtesy or apology, surveyed us boldly
with a cool defiant stare. This was so offensive, that Volhonski's
usually pale face flushed crimson, and we instinctively looked at each
other inquiringly.

The German next lay back in his seat, coughed loudly, expectorated in
all directions in that abominable manner peculiar to his country,
placed his heavy military boots with a thundering crash upon two
vacant chairs, drank his beer, and threw down the metal flagon roughly
on the table, eyeing us from time to time with a sneering glance that
was alike insulting and unwarrantable. But this man, whom we
afterwards learned to be a noted bully and duellist, Captain Ludwig
Schwartz, of the Prussian 95th or Thuringians, evidently wished to
provoke a quarrel with either or both of us, as some Prussian officers
and Hamburg girls, who were watching his proceedings from an alley of
the garden, seemed to think, and to enjoy the situation. But for their
presence and mocking bearing, Volhonski and I would probably, for the
sake of peace, have retired and gone elsewhere; however, their
laughter and remarks rendered the intrusive insolence of their friend
the more intolerable. It chanced that a little puff of wind blew the
ashes of Volhonski's cigar all over the face and big brown beard of
the German, who, while eyeing him fiercely, slowly extricated the pipe
from his heavy dense moustache, and striking his clenched hand on the
table so as to make everything thereon dance, he said, imperiously,
"The Herr Graf will apologise?"

"For what?" asked Volhonski, haughtily.

"For what!--der Teufel!--do you ask for what?"

"Ja, Herr Captain."

"For permitting those cigar ashes to go over all my person."

"In the first place, your precious person had no right to be there; in
the second, appeal to the wind, and fight with it."

"I shall not fight with _it!_" thundered the German; "and I demand an
instant apology."

"Absurd!" replied Volhonski, coolly; "I have no apology to make,
fellow. Apologise to another I might; but certainly not to such as

"You dare to jest--to--to--to trifle with me?" spluttered the German,
gasping and swelling with rage.

"I never jest or trifle with strangers; do you wish to quarrel?"

"No, Herr Graf," sneered the German; "do you?"

"Then how am I to construe your conduct and words?"

"As you please. But know this, Herr Graf: that though I ever avoid
quarrelling, I instantly crush or repel the slightest appearance of
insult, and you have _insulted_ me."

"Ja, ja!" muttered the German officers, in blue surtouts and brass
shoulder-scales, who now crowded about us.

Volhonski smiled disdainfully, and drew from his pocket a
richly-inlaid card-case; then taking from it an enamelled card, with a
bow that was marked and formal, yet haughty, he presented it to
Captain Ludwig Schwartz, who deliberately tore it in two, and said, in
a low fierce voice,

"Bah! I challenge you, Schelm, to meet me with pistols, or hand to
hand without masks, and without seconds, if you choose."

"Agreed," replied Volhonski, now pale with passion, knowing well that
after such a defiance as that, and before such company, it would be a
duel without cessation, a combat _à la mort_. "Where?" he asked,

"The Heiligengeist Feld."


"To-morrow at daybreak"

"Agreed; till then adieu, Herr Captain;" and touching their caps to
each other in salute, they separated.

Next morning, when the dense mists, as yet unexhaled by the sun, lay
heavy and frouzy about the margin of the Elbe, and were curling up
from the deep moats and wooded ramparts of the Holstein Thor of
Hamburg, we met on the plain which lies between that city and Altona;
it is open, grassy, interspersed with trees, and is named the Field of
the Holy Ghost. A sequestered place was chosen; Volhonski was attended
by me, Captain Schwartz by another captain of his regiment; but
several of his brother officers were present as spectators, and all
these wore the tight blue surtout, buttoned to the throat, with the
shoulder-scales, adopted by the Prussians before Waterloo; and they
wore through their left skirt a sword of the same straight and spring
shell-hilted fashion, used in the British service at Fontenoy and
Culloden, and retained by the Prussians still. The morning was chill,
and above the gray wreaths of mists enveloping the plain rose, on one
side, the red brick towers and green coppered spires of St. Michael,
St. Nicolai, and other churches. Opposite were the pointed roofs of
Altona, and many a tall poplar tree. Volhonski, being brave, polite,
and scrupulous in all his transactions, was naturally exasperated on
finding himself in this dangerous and unsought-for predicament, after
being so grossly and unwarrantably insulted on the preceding night. He
was pale, but assumed a smiling expression, as if he thought it as
good a joke as any one else to be paraded thus at daybreak, when we
quitted our hackney droski at the corner of the great cemetery and
traversed the field, luckily reaching the appointed spot the same
moment as our antagonists.

We gravely saluted each other. While I was examining and preparing the
pistols, Volhonski gave me a sealed letter, saying, quite calmly, "I
have but one relation in the world--my little sister Valérie, now at
St. Petersburg. See," he added, giving me the miniature of a beautiful
young girl, golden-haired and dark-eyed; "if I am butchered by this
beer-bloated Teuton, you will write to her, enclosing this miniature,
my letter, and all my rings."

I pressed his hand in silence, and handed our pistols for inspection
to the other second, a captain, named Leopold Döpke, of the Thuringian

"Now, Herr Graf, we fight till one, at least, is killed," said
Schwartz, grimly.

Volhonski bowed in assent.

"Be quick, gentlemen," said the German officers; "already the rising
sun is gilding the vane of St. Michael's."

Volhonski glanced at it earnestly, and his fine dark eyes clouded for
a moment. Perhaps he was thinking of his sister, or of how and where
he might be lying when the sun's rays were lower down that lofty brick
spire, which is a hundred feet higher than the cross of St. Paul's in
London. In the German fashion a circle was drawn upon the greensward,
on which the diamond dew of a lovely summer morning glittered.
Volhonski and Schwartz were placed within that circle, from which they
were not permitted to retire; neither were they to fire until the
signal was given.

"Mein Herren," said Captain Döpke, who seemed to think no more of the
affair than if it had been a pigeon match, "when I give the signal by
throwing up my glove and uttering the word you may fire at discretion,
or as soon as you have your aim, and at what distance you please; but
it must be _within_ the circumference of this ring. The first who
steps beyond it falls by my hand, as a violation of the laws of the

"Be quick," growled Schwartz; "for the night watch in St. Michael's
tower have telescopes, and the Burgher Guard are already under arms at
the Holstein Thor."

Twelve paces apart within that deadly ring stood Volhonski and
Schwartz, facing each other. The former wore a black surtout buttoned
up to the throat; the latter his uniform and spike helmet. He untied
and cast aside his silver gorget, lest it might afford a mark for his
adversary's pistol. His face was flushed with cruelty, triumph, and
the lust of blood, that came from past successful duels. Volhonski
looked calm; but his eyes and heart were glowing with hatred and a
longing for a just revenge.

"_Fire!_" cried Captain Döpke, as if commanding a platoon, and tossing
up his pipe-clayed glove.

Both pistols exploded at the same instant, and Schwartz uttered a
cruel and insulting laugh as Volhonski wheeled round and staggered
wildly; his left arm was broken by a ball.

"Fresh pistols!" cried Schwartz.

"Is not this enough for honour?" said I, starting forward. "No--stand
back!" exclaimed Captain Döpke.

"Ach Gott! Herr Englander, your turn will come next," thundered
Schwartz, as we gave them other pistols and proceeded deliberately to
reload the first brace, yet warm after being discharged.

No word of command was expected now; both duellists aimed steadily.
Schwartz fired first and a terrible curse, hoarse and guttural,
escaped him, as his ball whistled harmlessly past the left ear of
Volhonski, whose face was now ghastly with pain, rage, and hatred.
Drawing nearer and nearer, till the muzzle of his pistol was barely
two feet from the forehead of Schwartz, he gave a grim and terrible
smile for a moment. We were rooted to the spot; no one stirred; no one
spoke, or seemed to breathe; and just as a cold perspiration flowed in
beadlike drops over the face of the merciless Schwartz; it seemed to
vanish with his spike helmet in smoke, as Volhonski fired and--blew
his brains out! We sprang into the droski, and I felt as if a terrible
crime had been committed when we drove at full speed across the
neutral ground, called the Hamburgerburg, which lies between the city
and the river gate of Altona, along a street of low taverns and
dancing-rooms; and there, when past the sentinels in Danish uniform,
the Lion of Denmark and the red-striped sentry boxes indicated that we
were safe within the frontier of Holstein. So intense were our
feelings _then_, that the few short fleeting moments crowded into that
short compass of time seemed as an age, so full were they of fierce,
exciting, and revolting thoughts; but these were past and gone; and
_now_, as I recalled this merciless episode, times there were when I
felt in my heart that I could freely risk my life in the same fashion
to kill Guilfoyle, even as Volhonski killed the remorseless German
bully Schwartz.


Supposing her to have left Walcot Park, as her letter informed me, I
rode in that direction no more; and though I knew the family address
in London, I could neither write in exculpation of myself nor procure
leave to follow her. All furloughs were now forbidden or withdrawn, as
the new detachments for the East expected hourly the order to depart.
Thus I passed my days pretty much as one may do those which precede or
follow a funeral. I performed all my military duties, went to mess,
rose and retired to bed, mechanically, my mind occupied by one
thought--the anxious longing to do something by which to clear myself
and regain Estelle; and feeling in Winchester Barracks somewhat as
Ixion might have felt on his fabled wheel, or the son of Clymene on
his rock; and so I writhed under the false position in which another's
art and malice had placed me; writhed aimlessly and fruitlessly, save
that, although tied up by my promise of secrecy to Estelle, I had
written a full and candid detail of the whole affair to Sir Madoc, and
entreated his good offices for me. Vainly did Price, little Tom
Clavell (the 19th depôt had come in), Raymond Mostyn of the Rifles,
and other friends say, when noticing my preoccupation, "Come, old
fellow, rouse yourself; don't mope. Are you game for pool to-day?"

"Pool with a recently-broken arm!" I would reply.

"True--I forgot. Well, let us take Mostyn's drag to Southampton
to-morrow--it is Sunday, no drill going--cross to the Isle of Wight,
dine at the hotel, and with our field-glasses--the binoculars--see the
girls bathing at Freshwater."

"I don't approve of gentlemen overlooking ladies bathing."

"What the deuce do you approve of?"

"Being let alone, Price; as the girls say to you, I suspect."

"Not always--not always, old fellow," replied Hugh, with a very
self-satisfied smile, as he caressed and curled his fair moustache.

"Nor the married ones either," added Mostyn, a tall showy officer in a
braided green patrol jacket; "for when you were in North Wales,
Hardinge, our friend Price got into a precious mess with a selfish old
sposo, who thought he should keep his pretty wife all to himself, or
at least from flirting with a redcoat."

"Perhaps he was less irritated by the rifle green."

"Come with me into the city," urged Clavell; "the Dean's lady gives a
kettledrum before mess, and I can take a friend."

"Parish scandal, cathedral-town gossip, coffee, ices, and Italian
confectionery. Thanks, Tom, no."

"I have met some very pretty girls there," retorted Clavell, "and it
is great fun to lean over their chairs and see them look up at one
over their fans shyly, half-laughing at, and half-approving of, the
balderdash poured into their ears."

"A sensible way of winning favour and spending time."

"I vote for the Isle of Wight," continued Clavell; "I saw la belle
Cressingham taking a header there the other day in splendid style.
Only fancy that high-born creature taking a regular header!"

"_Who_ did you say?" said I, turning so suddenly that little Tom was
startled, and let the glass drop from his eye.

"Lady Estelle Cressingham; you remember her of course. She had on a
most becoming bathing-costume; I could make that out with my glass
from the cliffs."

"Clavell, she is in London," said I, coldly; "and moreover is unlikely
to indulge in headers, as she can't swim."

"I know better, excuse me," said Mostyn, who, I knew, had dined but
lately at Walcot Park; "she told me that she had been recently
bathing, and had studied at the Ecole de Natation on the Quai d'Orsay
in Paris."

"It is more than she ever told me," thought I, as my mind reverted to
our terrible adventure. I became silent and perplexed, and covertly
looked with rather sad envy on the handsome and unthinking Mostyn, who
had enjoyed the pleasure of seeing and talking to Estelle since I had
done so.

"It is difficult," says David Hume, "for a man to speak long of
himself without vanity; therefore I will be _short;_" and having much
to narrate, I feel compelled to follow the example of the Scottish
historian, for events now came thick and fast.

I had barely got rid of my well-meaning comrades, and was relapsing
into gloomy reverie in my little room, when I heard voices, and heavy
footsteps ascending the wooden stair that led thereto. Some one was
laughing, and talking to Evans in Welsh; till the latter threw open
the door, and, with a military salute, ushered in Sir Madoc Lloyd,
looking just as I had seen him last, save that the moors had embrowned
him, in his riding-coat, white-corded breeches, and yellow-topped
boots, and whip in hand, for his horse was in the barrack yard.

"Welcome, Sir Madoc.--That will do, Evans; be at hand when I ring.--So
kind of you, this; so like you!" I exclaimed.

"Not at all, not at all, Harry. So these are your quarters? Plain and
undecorated, certainly; boots, bottles, boxes, a coal-scuttle--her
Majesty's property by the look of it--a sword and camp-bed; humble
splendour for the suitor of an earl's daughter, and the rival of a
rich viscount. Ah, you sly dog, you devilish sly dog!" he added, as he
seated himself on the edge of the table, winked portentously, and
poked me under the small ribs with the shank of his hunting-whip, "I
suspected that something of this kind would follow that aquatic
excursion of yours; and Winifred says she always knew of it."

"Winifred--Miss Lloyd!" said I, nervously.

"Why didn't you speak to _me_, and consult with me, about the matter
when at Craigaderyn? I am certain that I should have made all square
with the Countess. Egad, Harry, I will back you to any amount, for the
sake of those that are dead and gone," he added, shaking my hand
warmly, while his eyes glistened under the shaggy dark brows that in
hue contrasted so strongly with the whiteness of his silky hair.

"You got my letter, Sir Madoc?"

"Yes, and I am here in consequence. It cut short my shooting, though."

"I am so sorry--"

"Tush; no apologies. The season opened gloriously; but I missed you
sorely, Harry, when tramping alone over turnip fields, through miles
of beans and yellow stubble, though I had some jolly days of it down
in South Wales. Lady Naseby--

"She knows nothing of the secret engagement?" said I, hurriedly and

"Nothing as yet."

"As yet! Must she be told?"

"Of course; but I shall make all that right, by-and-by. She believes
now in the real character of her attaché, Mr. Guilfoyle, who intruded
himself among us, and who has disappeared. Your perfect innocence has
been proved alike to her and her daughter, and now you may win at a
canter. The photo of you in the locket was abstracted from Winifred's
album, and has _her_ name written on the back of it. You are to ride
over with me to Walcot Park, where I have left Winifred, as she
refused flatly to come to Winchester--why, I know not. She will afford
you an opportunity of slipping the ring again on your fair one's
finger, and doing anything else that may suggest itself at such a
time--you comprehend, eh? Winny bluntly asked Lady Naseby's permission
to invite you, as you were so soon to leave England."

"The dear girl! God bless her!"

"So say I. Lady Naseby said at first that though you had been
maligned, there had also been a _contretemps_ of which even her French
maid was cognisant; that she hated all _contretemps_ and so forth; but
Winny--you know how sweet the girl is, and how irresistible--carried
her point, so you spend this evening there. Tell Evans to have your
nag ready within the hour. That fellow is not forgetting his
mother-tongue among the Sassenachs. He comes from our namesake's
place, _Dolwrheiddiog_, 'the meadow of the salmon.' I know it well."

"If I could but meet Guilfoyle--" I was beginning.

"Forget him. I cannot comprehend how he found such favour in the sight
of Lady Naseby; but when I called him a thoroughbred rascal, she
quietly fanned herself, and fondling her beastly little cur said, 'My
dear Sir Madoc, this teaches us how careful we ought to be in choosing
our acquaintance, and how little we really know as to the true
character, the inner life and habits of our nearest friends. But our
mutual legal adviser Mr. Sharpus always spoke of Mr. Guilfoyle as a
man of the greatest probity, and of excellent means.' 'Probably,' said
I; 'but I never liked that fellow Sharpus; he always looked like a man
who has done something of which he is ashamed, and that is not the
usual expression of a legal face.'"

So poor Winifred Lloyd had been my chief good angel; yet _she_ was the
last whom I should have chosen as ambassadress in a love affair of
mine. She was a volunteer in the matter, and a most friendly one to
boot. Were this a novel, and not "an owre true tale," I think I should
have loved Winny; for "how comes it," asks a writer, "that the heroes
of novels seem to have in general a bad taste by their choice of
wives? The unsuccessful lady is the one we should have preferred.
Rebecca is infinitely more calculated to interest than Rowena."

My heart was brimming with joy, and with gratitude to Sir Madoc and
his elder daughter; the cloud that overhung me had been exhaled in
sunshine, and all again was happiness. I was about to pour forth my
thanks to my good old friend, whose beaming and rubicund face was as
bright as it could be with pleasure, when there came a sharp single
knock on the door of my room.

"Come in!" said I, mechanically.

My visitor was the sergeant-major of the dépôt battalion, a tall thin
old fellow who had burned powder at Burmah and Cabul, and who
instantly raised his hand to his forage-cap, saying,

"Beg pardon, sir; the adjutant's compliments--the route has just come
for your draft of the Royal Welsh, and all the others, for the East."

"Is this certain!" asked Sir Madoc, hurriedly.

"Quite, sir; it will be in orders this evening. They all embark
to-morrow at midday."

"Where?" asked I.

"At Southampton, as usual. The first bugle will sound after _réveil_

The door closed on my formal visitor, who left me a little bewildered
by this sudden sequel to the visit of Sir Madoc, who wrung my hand
warmly and said,

"Heaven bless and protect you, Harry! I feel for you like a son of my
own going forth in this most useless war. And so we are actually to
lose you, and so soon, too!"

"But only for a little time, I hope, Sir Madoc," said I, cheerfully,
thinking more of my early meeting with Estelle than the long
separation the morrow must inevitably bring about. I ordered Evans to
pack up and prepare everything, to leave my P.P.C. cards with a few
persons I named; and avoiding Price, Clavell, Mostyn, and others, rode
with Sir Madoc towards Walcot Park, as my mind somehow foreboded, amid
all my joy and excitement, for what I feared would be the _last_ time.


Close to, and yet quietly secluded from, the mighty tide of busy
humanity that daily surges to and fro between the Bank and the Mansion
House, all up Cheapside and Cornhill, in a small dark court off the
latter, was the office of Messrs. Sharpus and Juggles, solicitors. The
brick edifice towered to the height of many stories; a score of names
appeared on each side of the doorway in large letters; and many long
dark passages and intricate stairs led to the two dingy rooms where
those human spiders sat and spun the webs and meshes of the law. Their
dens had a damp and mouldy odour; no ray from heaven ever fell into
them, but a cold gray reflected light came from the white encaustic
tiles, with which the opposite wall of the court was faced for that
purpose; and of that borrowed light even the lower room, where their
half-starved clerks worked into the still hours of the night--a
veritable cave of Trophonius, if one might judge by their sad, seedy,
and dejected appearance--was deprived from its situation; and in all
these courts and chambers gas was burned daily in those terrible
seasons when the London fogs assume somewhat the solidity and hue of
pea-soup. Mr. Sharpus sat in his private room, surrounded by boxes of
wood or japanned tin and ticketed dockets of papers, that were mouldy
and dirty--as their contents too probably were--while fly-blown
prospectuses, plans, and advertisements of lands, houses, and
messuages for sale, and so forth, covered the discoloured walls.

Juggles, his partner, was a suave, slimy, and meekly-mannered man,
"with the eye of a serpent and the voice of a dove;" but our present
business is with the former, who was a thin round-shouldered
individual, with a cold keen face, an impending forehead, sunken dark
gray eyes, the expression of which varied between cunning and
solemnity, pride, vulgar assurance, and occasionally restlessness.
Shrewd of head and stony of heart, he was not quite the kind of man at
whose mercy one would wish to be. He had a hard-worked and sometimes
worried aspect; but now an abject white fear, with an unmistakably
hunted expression, came over his face, when one of the clerks from the
lower den ushered in, without much ceremony, Mr. Guilfoyle, who had in
his hand a sporting paper, which he was reading as he entered.

"_You_ here again?" exclaimed Sharpus, laying down his pen, and
carefully closing the door.

"Yes, by Jove, again!" replied Guilfoyle, with barely a nod, and
seating himself with his hat on.

"So soon!" groaned Sharpus; and reseating himself, he eyed, with an
expression of haggard hate, Guilfoyle, who continued to read from the
paper hurriedly, excitedly, and half aloud, some report of a

"The Devil--threw his rider--remounted; at the next fence Raglan took
the lead, followed by Fairy and Beauty, and Beau, the Devil lying
next; last fence but one taken by the quintette almost simultaneously,
when Raglan, Beauty, and Beau came away together, the first-named
winning a very fine race by half a length--Beauty being third, and
close upon Beau, but Fairy was nowhere. D--nation! there is a pot of
money gone, or not won, which amounts to the same thing in the end!"
and crushing up the paper, he threw it on the writing-table of

"Wanting more money?" said the latter, in a hollow voice.

"Precisely so; out at the elbows--in low water--phrase it as you will.
I have sold even my horse at last," replied the other, folding his
arms, and regarding the lawyer mockingly.

"And the ring given you by--by the King of Bavaria?" said Sharpus,
with a sickly smile.

"I retain but a paste imitation of that remarkable brilliant; and that
I may present you as a mark of my regard and esteem."

"I thought you had made something by a mercantile transaction, as you
phrased it, when last on the Continent?"

"So I did; 'the mercantile transaction' being nothing less than
breaking the bank at Homburg, by steadily and successfully backing the
red, and sending home all those who came for wool most decidedly

"You should have saved some of those ill-gotten gains for future
contingencies," said Sharpus.

"How much easier it is to advise and to speculate than to act with
care and decision!" sneered Guilfoyle.

"I pity your poor wife," said the lawyer, sincerely enough.

"She has no documentary proof that she is such," replied Guilfoyle,
angrily. "Pshaw! what is pity? an emotion that is often at war with
reason and with sense, too; for a handsome face or a well-turned ankle
may make us pity the most undeserving object."

The lawyer sighed, and at that moment sincerely pitied himself; for it
had chanced that, in earlier years, an intimacy with Guilfoyle led to
the latter discovering that which gave him such absolute power as to
reduce him--Sharpus--to be his very slave. This was nothing less than
the _forgery_ of a bill in the name of Guilfoyle; who, before
relinquishing the privilege of prosecution, on retiring the document,
had obtained a complete holograph confession of the act, which he now
retained as a wrench for money, and held over the head of Sharpus,
thereby compelling him to act as he pleased. After a minute's silence,
during which the two men had been surveying each other, the one with
hate and fear, the other with malignant triumph, Guilfoyle said, "I
did Lady Naseby, as you know, a service at Berlin, when at very low
water; being seen with her won me credit, which I failed not to turn
to advantage. I followed her and her daughter through all Germany--at
Ems, Gerolstein, Baden, and then to Wales, where I was in clover at
Craigaderyn. I was a fool to fly my hawks at game so high as the
peerage; and I feel sure it was that beast of a fellow Hardinge, of
the Royal Welsh, who blew the gaff upon me, and prevented me from
entering stakes, as I intended to do, for one of the daughters of that
horse-and-cow-breeding old Welsh baronet; and they are, bar one, the
handsomest girls in England."

"And that one?"

"Is Lady Estelle Cressingham."

Even the ghastly lawyer smiled at his profound assurance.

"Have you no remorse when you think of Miss Franklin?"

"No more than you have, when you have sucked a client dry, and leave
him to die in the streets," replied Guilfoyle, with his strange dry
mocking laugh; "remorse is the word for a fool--the unpunished crime,
I have read somewhere, is never regretted. Men mourn the consequences,
but never the sin or a crime itself. As for Hardinge, d--n him!" he
added, grinding his teeth; "I thought to put a spoke in his wheel, by
passing off Georgette as his wife, but Taffy came to his aid, and the
true story was told; and yet, do you know, there were times when I
played my cards exceedingly well with the Cressinghams. Besides, you
always represented me to be a man of fortune."

"I have invariably done so," groaned Sharpus.

"And have stumped out pretty well to maintain the story, while hinting

"Coal-mines in Labuan, shares in others in Mexico, and all manner of
things, to account for the sums wrung from me--from my wife and
children. But, God help me, I can do no more!"

"Bah! what do they or you want with that villa at Hampstead? But you
are a good fellow, Sharpus; and, thanks to your assistance, I worked
the oracle pretty well at Walcot Park for Mr. Henry Hardinge."

"Against him, you mean?"

"Of course; but, unluckily, our story wouldn't stand testing."

"Could you expect it to do so?"

"But I put a hitch in his gallop there, anyhow. By Jove, I was a great
fool not to make love to the old woman, instead of her daughter."

"Meaning Lady Naseby?" said Sharpus, with surprise.

"So Burke and Debrett name her. She is just at that age--twice her
daughter's--when the soft sex become remarkably soft indeed, and apt
to make fools of themselves."

"She would indeed have been one had she listened to you."

"Thanks, old tape-and-parchment; I did not come here for a character,
but to show you the state of my cash-book."

Again the lawyer groaned, and Guilfoyle laughed louder than ever.
Delight to have a lawyer under his heel rendered him merciless; but
even a worm will turn, so Sharpus said sternly, "How have you lived
since the last remittance--extortion?"

"Call it as you will," replied the other, putting his glass in his
eye, and smilingly switching his leg with his cane; "I have lived as
most men do who live by their wits, and the follies, or it may be the
_crimes_--O, you wince!--of others; meeting debts and emergencies as
they come, content with the peace or action of the present, and never
regretting the past, or fearing the future! With the help of an ace,
king, and queen, when my betting-book or a stroke of billiards failed
me, and with your great kindness, my dear old Sharpus, I have, till
now, always kept my funds far above zero."

"Your life is a great sham--a very labyrinth of deceit!" exclaimed the
lawyer, furiously.

"And yours, friend Sharpus?"

"Is spent in slaving for my family, and endeavouring to atone for, or
to buy the concealment of, one great error--the error that made
you--ay, men such as you--my master!"

Guilfoyle laughed heartily, and said,

"I require 600_l_. instantly!"

"Not a penny--not another penny!"

"We shall see. Sharpus, though a bad lot, I know that you are not the
utter rogue that most of your profession are--"

"Leave my office, scoundrel, or I shall kill you!" said Sharpus, in a
low voice of concentrated passion, as he became deadly pale, and a
dangerous white gleam came into his stealthy restless eyes, which
seemed to search in vain for a weapon.

"If I leave your office it will be for the purpose of laying before
the nearest police-magistrate a certain document you may remember to
have written; and I am so loth to kill the goose that lays my golden
eggs," continued the other, in his quiet mocking tone. "But remember,
Mr. Sharpus," he added, in a lofty and bullying manner, as he grasped
the shoulder of the listener, "that the forgery of a document is not
deemed an error in legal practice here, as in Spain or Scotland,
but a _crime_ meriting penal servitude; and shall I tell you what that
means--you, who have now wealth, ease, position, a handsome wife, and
several children? You will be torn from all these for ever, as a

Drops of perspiration poured over the poor wretch's temples as his
tormentor continued: "Think of being in Millbank, beside the muggy
Thames, and the years that would find you there, a bondsman and a
slave, who for the least misconduct would be lashed like a faulty
hound, and ironed in a blackhole. Hard work, aggravated by the
consciousness of infamy; clad in the gray livery of disgrace; your
name effaced from the Law List, and for it substituted the letter or
number on your prison garb!"

"For God's sake, hush!" implored the wretched lawyer, in terror, lest
the speaker's voice might reach the room of Juggles, or the ears of
the clerks below; "hush, and I shall do all you wish."

"Come--that is acting like a reasonable being."

"Will 200_l_. do you--this time?"

"Two hundred devils! I want 600_l_. at least."

"I shall be ruined with my partner; he must know ere long where all
these moneys have gone."

"That is nothing to me; tell him if you dare."

Sharpus burst into tears, and said, piteously,

"At present I can give but 200_l_.--the rest shall follow."

"Well, you can do something else for me, and I may trouble you no

"How?" asked Sharpus, eagerly and incredulously, with a dreary and
bewildered air.

"Get me some employment, where there is little to do; I hate

"Employment!--where? with whom?"

"Civil or military, I care not which."

"Military! impossible--too old. Stay, I have it!" exclaimed the
lawyer; "you have been in the Militia, I know."

"Three months in the Royal Diddlesex."

"What say you to an appointment in Lord Aberdeen's new Land Transport
Corps? It will be easily got--a handsome uniform and great _éclat_,
though the officers are nearly all taken from the ranks. The duties
are simple enough--conveyance of baggage, and carrying off the wounded
_after_ an action."

"Not to bury the dead?--ugly work that."

"No, no."

"By Jove, I'll go!" he exclaimed, as Sharpus filled up the cheque.

Sharpus strove in vain to conceal his delight.

"I have of course done a few things which would hardly bear the 'light
of the world's bull's-eye' turned upon them, but the Horse Guards know
nothing of them. You have noble and powerful clients, and can do this
easily for me. Bravo!" And they actually shook hands over the matter,
as if over a bargain.

Sharpus lost no time in using the necessary influence, and--though not
exactly a cadet after Mr. Cardwell's heart--this commission was
decidedly one without purchase; and on the strength of having been
once in the boasted constitutional force, "Henry Hawkesby Guilfoyle,
gent., _late_ Lieutenant, Diddlesex Militia," appeared in the
_Gazette_ ere long, as one of twenty-four comets of the long-since
disbanded Land Transport Corps, for service in the Crimea.


As Sir Madoc and I proceeded along the to me well-known Whitchurch
road, I asked myself mentally, could it really be that I was again
looking with farewell eyes on all this fair English scenery, and
perhaps for the last time; for our departure to the seat of war, where
we were to be face to face and foot to foot with an enemy, was very
different from other voyages to a peaceful British colony? Now, varied
by autumnal tints, brown, golden, or orange, I saw the long and shady
lane where Estelle had last seen me, and near it the low churchyard
wall, where our evil genius had rent away the locket from his wife.
Sir Madoc's eyes were turned chiefly to the tawny stubble-fields, and
he sighed with regret, as he saw the brown coveys of partridges
whirring up, that he had not his patent breech-loader in lieu of a

"Estelle--Estelle!" thought I. "How many temptations in mighty
London, and in the country, too--in Brighton, that other London by the
sea, and wherever she may go--will beset one so noble and so
beautiful--allurements that may teach her to forget and banish from
her memory the poor Fusileer subaltern, to whom she seems as the
centre of the universe!"

The evening was a lovely one, and the scenery was beautiful. Chestnuts
and oaks were, at every turn of the way we rode, forming natural
arches and avenues, beyond which were pleasant glimpses of quaint
cottages, whose walls and roofs were nearly hidden by masses of roses
and honeysuckle; short square village spires and ivy-covered
parsonages; widespreading pastures, where the sleepy cattle browsed
amid purple clover and golden cowslips, with the glory of the ruddy
sunset falling aslant upon them, while the ambient air was full of
earthy and leafy fragrance; for many fallen leaves, the earliest spoil
of autumn, lay with bursting cones in cool and sunless dells, or by
the wayside, where the fern and foxglove mingled under the old thick
hedgerows. And so I was looking, as I have said, on all this peaceful
scene, perhaps for the _last_ time; yet there was no sadness in my
heart, for the revulsion or change of feeling, from the gloom and
tumultuous anxiety of many, many days past, and even of that morning,
was great indeed to me, especially when we cantered through the
handsome iron gates of Walcot Park, the once suspicious keeper of
which gave me an unmistakable glance of recognition. I felt like one
in a dream as I threw my reins to a servant, and was led upstairs by
Sir Madoc.

"Where is Lady Estelle?" he asked of another valet, to whom I gave my
sword in the hall.

"In the front drawing-room."


"I think so, sir."

"All right, Harry!"

But he suddenly affected to remember that he had something to say to
his own groom, and as he turned back, I was ushered into the long and
stately apartment. I had a dreamy sense of being amid many buhl tables
and glass shades, much drapery, and several mirrors that reproduced
everything, amid which I saw Estelle advancing cordially to meet me.
She had a bright smile in her face, and held out both her hands; but I
could scarcely speak.

"Estelle," I whispered, "joy--joy! It is indeed joy, to see you once

"Then you quite forgive me, dearest Harry?"

"Forgive you? O Estelle!" I exclaimed, in a low and passionate voice,
as she turned up her adorable face to meet mine half-way.

I knew from past experience that caresses from her meant much more
than they did from most women; for Estelle, though proud and reticent,
and apparently cold and calm, was reluctant to give and to accept
them; so now I felt all the truth and sincerity of this reunion. "A
lovers' quarrel is but love renewed;" we, however, had not quarrelled,
but been cruelly wrenched asunder by the art and cunning of another.

"Are you on duty, Mr. Hardinge?" said a voice; and from a window where
she had been sitting, quite unseen and unnoticed by me, Winny Lloyd
came forth, looking, as I thought, a little paler and sadder than when
I had seen her last at Craigaderyn Court.

"What makes you think I am on duty, dear Miss Lloyd?--or rather let me
say, my dear, dear good friend and guardian angel Winifred, to whose
intercession I owe all the happiness of a time like this," said I,
pressing her hand caressingly between both of mine.

"Because you are in undress uniform, of course," said she, almost

"I can wear no other costume now; we bid good-bye to mufti, the sable
livery of civilisation, to-morrow."


"We march at daybreak."

"For the East?"

"Yes; for the East, at last."

"So soon?" exclaimed both girls at once.

"The order came within an hour or little more, when Sir Madoc was with

The eyes of the girls were full of sudden tears, and they gazed on me
with an honest emotion of tenderness and real interest, that,
considering the rare beauty and high position of both, were alike
flattering and bewildering; and I felt that this was one of those
moments when, to be a soldier or a sailor on the eve of departure to
the seat of war, was indeed worth something.

And Winifred, the impulsive Welsh fairy, so fresh-hearted, so simple
in her motives, and sweet in her disposition, uttered something very
like a little sob in her slender white throat, adding apologetically
to Estelle, "We have been such old friends, Harry Hardinge and I."

"You never wrote to me, Estelle," said I, softly, yet reproachfully.

"I dared not; you remember our arrangement," she replied, with

"Nor was I invited here, like Mostyn, Clavell, and others; thus I had
no opportunity of--"

"I had no control, darling Harry, over mamma's dinner-list: I could
but suggest to mamma; and then there was that terrible story. But here
comes mamma!"

And turning, I found myself face to face with the tall, handsome,
and stately Countess of Naseby, whom--nathless her chilling manner
and lofty presence--I hoped yet to hail as a very creditable

I was on the eve of departure, to go where glory waited me. I might
cross her exclusive path no more; so my Lady Naseby seemed quite
disposed to bury the hatchet, and received me with that which was--for
her--unusual kindness, and an _enmpressement_ which made the eyes of
her daughter to sparkle with pleasure. A late dinner made a sad hole
in the time I had hoped to spend with Estelle; yet I had the pleasure
of sitting beside her--a pleasure that was clouded by the conviction
that my presence would soon be imperatively requisite at the barracks,
where so much was to be done ere morning, and that I should be
compelled to abridge even this, my farewell visit, to pleasant Walcot
Park, and all who were there. Fortunately, Lady Naseby went quietly to
sleep in her boudoir after dinner, with Tiny on her lap; Sir Madoc
obligingly went into the library to write; and Winifred suggested a
turn in the conservatory, where for a little time she adroitly left
Estelle and me together.

There is no utility in dwelling on how we sealed our reconciliation
and renewed our troth, when once more I placed my ring upon her
finger; or in rehearsing the soft and tender words--perhaps (O
heaven!) the "twaddle"--we spoke for an indescribable few minutes, and
how each said to the other that our apparent separation had been as a
living death. But now all that misery was over; we loved each other
more than ever, and the grave alone could part us finally; words, the
prompting of the heart, came readily, till our emotions became too
deep, and she agreed that I should write to her boldly, "as ere long
mamma, through good Sir Madoc, must know all." And so we leaned
against a great flower-stand, almost hidden by gorgeous azaleas, our
hands tightly clasped in each other, eyes looking fondly into eyes,
and feeling that the depth of our tenderness formed for us one of
those few-and-far-between portions of existence when time seems to
stand still, when silence is made eloquent by the beatings of the
heart, when we almost forget we are mortal, and feel as if earth had
become heaven. From this species of happy trance we were roughly
roused by the crash of a great majolica vase containing a giant
cactus, and a voice exclaiming querulously,

"God bless my soul!--Pardon me; I did not know any one was here."

"The devil you didn't!" was my blunt rejoinder.

And there, with gold glasses on his long aristocratic nose, and in his
richly-tasselled _robe de chamber_ and embroidered slippers, stood my
Lord Pottersleigh, whom I knew not to be at Walcot Park, as he had
been nursing his gout upstairs; and now I wished his lordship in a
hotter climate than the quarters of the 2nd West India for his
unwelcome interruption. Of what he had seen or what he thought I cared
not a rush, so far as _he_ was concerned; and a few minutes later saw
me, after a hurried farewell to all, with the pleasure of remembered
kisses on my lips, and my heart full of mingled joy and sadness,
triumph and prayerful hope for the perilous future, flying at full
gallop back to Winchester.


"Weather bit your chain, and cast loose the topsails!" cried a hoarse
voice, rousing me from a reverie into which I had fallen--one of those
waking-dreams in which I am so apt to indulge.

By this time the quarter-boats had been hoisted in, and the anchor got
up "reluctant from its oozy cave"--no slight matter in the great
troopship Urgent--when there was a stiff breeze even under the lee of
the Isle of Wight; and as her head pitched into the sea, the water
rushed through the hawse-holes, and the chain cables surged in such a
fashion as almost to start the windlass-barrel when it revolved
beneath the strength of many sturdy arms, and tough, though bending,
handspikes. Leaning over the taffrail, and looking at the dim outline
of the coast of Hampshire from St. Helen's Roads, to which two tugs
had brought us from the great tidal dock at Southampton to a temporary
anchorage, and seeing Portsmouth, with its spires and shipping steeped
in a golden evening haze, I recalled the events of the past bustling
day--could it be that only _a day_ had passed?--since "the first bugle
sounded after _réveil_," and all our detachments, five in number,
destined for the army of the East had paraded amid the gray light of
dawn, in the barrack-square at Winchester, in heavy marching order,
with packs, blankets, and kettles, and marched thence, their caps and
muskets decked with laurel-leaves, the drums and fifes playing many a
patriotic air, accompanied by the cheers of our comrades, and the
tears of the girls who were left behind us--the girls "who doat upon
the military."

Yet so had we marched--the drafts of the Scots Royals and Kentish
Buffs, the two oldest regiments in the world, leading the way; then
came those of the 7th Fusileers, my own of the Royal Welsh, the 46th,
and the wild boys of the 88th bringing up the rear--to the railway
station, when they were packed in carriages, eight file to each
compartment--packed like sheep for the slaughter, yet all were singing
merrily, their spirits high though their purses were empty, the last
of their "clearings" having gone in the grog-shop and canteen over
night; and there by that railway platform many saw the last they were
to see, in this life, at least, of those they loved best on earth--the
wife of her husband, the parent of the child--separated all, with the
sound of the fatal drum in their ears, and the sadness of remembered
kisses on their lips, or tear-wetted cheeks, till, with a shriek and a
snort, the iron horse swept them away on his rapid journey. I caught
the enthusiasm of the brave fellows around me. It was impossible not
to do so; and yet, amid it all, there was the recollection of a
woman's face, so pale and beautiful, as I had seen it last (when
bidding a brief and formal farewell at the drawing-room door of Walcot
Park), with her mouth half open, her sorrowful eyes full of
earnestness, and the tender under lip clenched by the teeth above it,
as if to restrain emotion and repress tears--the face of Estelle

My heart and thoughts were with her, while mechanically I had, as in
duty bound, to see to the most prosaic wants of my detachment,
consisting of one officer (Hugh Price), two sergeants, and forty rank
and file of the Royal Welsh. To the latter were issued their coarse
canvas fatigue-frocks. I had to see their muskets racked, their berths
allotted, the messes and watches formed, the ammunition secured, and
fifty other things required by her Majesty's regulations. All baggage
not required for the voyage was sent below; and we heartily quizzed
poor Price, whose bullock trunks were alleged to contain only cambric
handkerchiefs, odd tiny kids, variously-tinted locks of hair, and
faded ribbons. But strict orders were issued concerning smoking, as we
had gunpowder in the lower hold; and a number of four-wheeled
hospital-waggons for the Land Transport Corps, grimly suggestive, as
each vehicle was divided into four compartments, fitted to receive
four killed or wounded men, on commodious stretchers, with
under-carriages, canopies, and medicine-chests.

Some of my brother officers were glad enough, glory apart, to be
leaving Jews and lawyers, "shent. per shent." and legal roguery,
behind them. One of the former tribe, having followed Raymond Mostyn
concerning a bill discounted at only sixty per cent., came alongside,
insisting that the balance should be taken half in cash, and half in a
"warranted Correggio," with some villainous wine for the voyage, and
some jewelry "for the girls at Malta;" but he was swamped in his boat
under the counter, when the first mate unceremoniously cast loose the
painter, and sent old Moses--"Mammon incarnate"--to leeward, shrieking
and cursing in rage and terror. So my short reverie was completely
broken now, as the great ship, with her deck crowded by soldiers in
forage-caps and gray greatcoats, swayed round, and our skipper, an old
man-o'-war lieutenant, from the poop continued his orders with that
promptitude and tone of authority which are best learned under the
long pennant.

"Make sail on her, my lads, with a will!" he cried. And the watch
rushed to the coils at the belaying-pins, aided by the soldiers told
off for deck duty. "Cast loose the topsails! hoist away, and sheet

"Bear a hand, forecastle, there! cat and fish the anchor!" added the
first mate; and in a few minutes, with a heavy head sea--the same sea
where, by that shore now lessening in the distance, Danish Canute
taught his servile Saxon courtiers the lesson of humility--we bore
past Sandown Bay, with its old square fort of bluff King Harry's day
upon its level beach: and Portsmouth's spires and Selsey Point sunk
fast upon our lee, while our bugles were announcing sunset. And then
something of sadness and silence seemed to steal over the once noisy
groups, as they gathered by the starboard side, when we cleared the
Isle of Wight. When the yards were squared, more sail was made on the
Urgent; and before the north wind we stood down the Channel, and ere
the same bugles sounded again, for all save the deck-watches to
turn-in below, we were standing well over to the coast of France. The
white cliffs had melted into the world of waters, and we had bidden a
long good-night to dear old England. The twinkling light on St.
Catharine's Point lingered long at the horizon, and was watched by
many an eye, as Mostyn, Clavell, and I, with others, cigar in mouth,
walked to and fro on the poop, surmising what awaited us in the land
for which we were bound.

As yet the land forces of the Allies had not come to blows with the
Russians; but the imperial fort and mole at Odessa (works constructed
at vast cost and care by Catharine and Alexander) had been destroyed,
and all their ships of war lying there had been burnt or sunk by the
Anglo-French fleet. The Russians had taken and burned our war-steamer
the Tiger, and cruelly bombarded Sinope. The Turks had driven them
across the Danube, and defeated them at Giurgevo, but had lost a
subsequent battle in Armenia. Napier had bombarded and destroyed the
forts upon the Aland Isles in the Baltic; and we on board the Urgent,
with many other successive drafts departing eastward, from every
British port south of Aberdeen, were full of ardour and of hope to be
in time to share in the landing that was to be made at _last_ upon the
coast of the enemy, though no one knew _where_.


And now, while the stately troopship Urgent is passing under the guns
of old Gib, and ploughing the waters of the Mediterranean, I may
explain that which may have been a puzzle to the non-military
reader--the meaning of "the Red Dragon." In the breasts of all who
serve or have served in the army there exists an _esprit de corps_, a
filial attachment, to all that belongs to their regiment, to its past
history, its conduct in peace and war, its badges won in battle--those
honours which are the heraldry of the service, and connected with the
glory of the empire--in its officers and soldiers of all ranks. This
sentiment is more peculiar to some regiments, perhaps, than others,
especially those which, like the Scottish and Irish, have distinct
nationalities to represent and uphold; but to none is it more
applicable than the old Fusileers, whose motto is at the head of this
chapter. By _esprit de corps_ the good and brave are excited to fresh
feats of valour, and the evil-disposed are frequently deterred from
risking disgrace by a secret consciousness of the duty it inculcates,
and what is required of them by their comrades; for, like a Highland
clan, a regiment has its own peculiar annals and traditions. It is a
community, a family, a brotherhood, and should be the soldier's happy
though movable home, while a regiment great in history "bears so far a
resemblance to the immortal gods as to be old in power and glory, yet
to have always the freshness of youth."

So it is and has been with mine, which was first embodied at Ludlow,
in Shropshire, in 1689, from thirteen companies of soldiers, raised
specially in Wales, under Lord Herbert, of Cherbury, whose cousin,
Colonel Charles Herbert, M.P. for Montgomery, was killed, at the head
of the Fusileers, in his buff coat and cuirass, at the battle of
Aughrim, after having led them through a bog up to the waist belt,
under a terrible fire from the Irish. His successor, the valiant Toby
Purcell, who had been major of the regiment, greatly distinguished
himself at the battle of the Boyne, and the huge spurs, worn by him on
that memorable occasion, are _still_ preserved in the corps, being
always in possession of the senior major for the time being.

To attempt a memoir of the regiment would be to compile a history of
all the wars of Britain since the Revolution. Suffice it to say, that
on every field, in the wars of the Spanish Succession, those of
Flanders (where "our army swore so terribly"), at Minden, in America,
Egypt, and the ever-glorious Peninsula, the Welsh Fusileers have been
in the van of honour, and, like their Scottish comrades, might well
term themselves "second to none."

Among the last shots fired _after_ Waterloo were those discharged by
the Fusileers, when, on the 24th of June, six days subsequent to the
battle, they entered Cambrai by the old breach near the Port du Paris.
As it is common for corps from mountainous districts to have some pet
animal--as the Highlanders often have a stag--as a fond symbol to
remind them of home and country, the regiment has the privilege of
passing in review preceded by a goat with gilded horns, adorned with
ringlets of flowers, and a plate inscribed with its badge.

No record is preserved of the actual loss of the regiment at Bunker's
Hill, though the assertion of Cooper, the American novelist, that on
that bloody day "the Welsh Fusileers had not a man left to saddle
their goat," which went into action with them, would seem to be
corroborated by the fact that only _five_ grenadiers escaped; while
Mrs. Adams, in a letter to her husband, the future President of the
United States, says of that battle, "our enemies were cut down like
grass; _and but one officer of all the Welsh Fusileers remains to tell
his story_." When old Billy, the favourite goat of the 23rd, departed
this life in peace in the Caribbean Isles, whence he had accompanied
the regiment from Canada in 1844, her Majesty the Queen, on learning
that he was greatly lamented by the soldiers, sent to them, from
Windsor Park, a magnificent pair of the pure Cashmerian breed, which
had been presented to her by the Shah of Persia. On every 1st of
March, on the anniversary of their tutelary patron--St. David--the
officers give a splendid entertainment; and when the cloth is removed,
and the leek duly eaten, the first toast is a bumper to the health of
the Prince of Wales; the memory of old Toby Purcell is not forgotten,
and, as the order has it, the band plays "'The noble Race of Shenkin,'
while a drum-boy mounted on the goat, which is richly caparisoned for
the occasion, is led thrice round the table by the drum-major."

At Boston, in 1775, a goat somewhat resented this exhibition, by
breaking away from the mess-room, and rushing into the barracks with
all his trappings on. There are few battlefields honourable to Britain
where the Welsh Fusileers have not left their bones. The colours which
wave over their ranks show a goodly list of hard-won honours--"bloody
and hard-won honours," says a writer. "Arthur himself, Cadwallader,
Glendower, and many an ancient Cambrian chief, might in ghostly
form--if ghosts can grudge--envy their bold descendants the fame of
these modern exploits, and confess that the lance and the corselet,
the falchion and the mace, have done no greater deeds than those of
the firelock and the buff-belt, the bayonet and sixty rounds of
ball-cartridge." On their colours are the two badges of Edward the
Black Prince--the Rising Sun and the Red Dragon; "a dragon addorsed
gules, passant, on a mountain vert," as the heralds have it. This was
the ancient symbol of the Cambrian Principality, with the significant
motto, _Ich dien_, "I serve." And now, at the very time the Urgent was
entering the Mediterranean, the regiment was on its way, with others,
to win fresh laurels by the shores of the Black Sea; and with his
horns gaily gilded, and a handsome, regimental, silver plate clasped
on his forehead, Cameydd Llewellyn, whilom the caressed pet of the
gentle Winny Lloyd, was landing with them at Kalamita Bay, and the
hordes of Menschikoff were pouring forward from Sebastopol.[2]


We came in sight of Malta at daybreak on the 28th of September, and
about noon dropped our anchor in the Marsamuscetta, or quarantine
harbour, where all ships under the rank of a frigate must go. This
celebrated isle, the master-key of the Mediterranean, the link that
connects us with Egypt and India, was a new scene to me. Mostyn and
some others on board the Urgent had been quartered there before, and
while I was surveying the vast strength of its batteries of white
sandstone, with those apparently countless cannon, that peer through
the deep embrasures, or frown _en barbette_ over the sea; the quaint
appearance of those streets of stairs, which Byron anathematised; the
singular architecture of the houses, so Moorish in style and aspect,
with heavy, overhanging balconies and flat roofs all connected, so
that the dwellers therein can make a common promenade of them; the
groups of picturesque, half-nude, and tawny Maltese; the monks and
clerical students in rusty black cloaks and triangular hats; the Greek
sailors, in short jackets and baggy blue breeches; the numbers of
scarlet uniforms, and those of the Chasseurs de Vincennes (for two
French three-deckers full of the latter had just come in); the naked
boys who dived for halfpence in the harbour, and jabbered a dialect
that was more Arabic than Italian--while surveying all this from the
poop, through my field-glass, Mostyn was pointing out to me the great
cathedral of St. John, some of the auberges of the knights, and
anticipating the pleasure of a fruit lunch in the Strada Reale, a
drive to Monte Benjemma, a dinner at Morell's, in the Strada Forni, a
cigar on the ramparts, and then dropping into the opera-house, which
was built by the Grand-master Manoel Vilhena, and where the best
singers from La Scala may be heard in the season; and Price of ours
was already soft and poetical in the ideas of faldettas of lace, black
eyes, short skirts, and taper ankles, and anticipating or suggesting
various soft things. While the soldiers clustered in the waist, as
thick as bees, the officers were all busy with their lorgnettes on the
poop, or in preparation for a run ashore, when the bells of Valetta
began to ring a merry peal, the ships in the harbour to show all their
colours, and a gun flashed redly from the massive granite ramparts of
St. Elmo, a place of enormous strength, having in its lower bastions a
sunk barrack, capable of holding two thousand infantry.

"Another gun!" exclaimed little Tom Clavell, as a second cannon sent
its peal over the flat roofs, and another; "a salute, by Jove! What is
up--is this an anniversary?"

It was _no_ anniversary, however, and on the troopship coming to
anchor in the crowded and busy harbour, and the quarantine boat coming
on board, we soon learned what was "up;" the news spread like
lightning through the vessel, from lip to lip and ear to ear; the hum
grew into a roar, and ended in the soldiers and sailors giving three
hearty cheers, to which many responded from other ships, and from the
shore; while the bands of the Chasseurs de Vincennes, on board the
three-deckers, struck up the "Marseillaise."

News had just come in that four days ago a battle had been fought by
Lord Raglan and Marshal St. Arnaud at a place called the Alma in Crim
Tartary; that the allied troops after terrible slaughter were
victorious, and the Russians were in full retreat. That evening a few
of us dined at the mess of the Buffs, a battalion of which was
quartered in the castle of St. Elmo. The officers occupied one of the
knights' palaces--the Auberge de Bavière--near that bastion where the
Scottish hero of Alexandria is lying in the grave that so becomes his
fate and character. This auberge is a handsome building overlooking
the blue sea, which almost washes its walls; and there we heard the
first hasty details of that glorious battle, the story of which filled
our hearts with regret and envy that we had not borne a share in it,
and which formed a source of terrible anxiety to the poor wives of
many officers who had left them behind at Malta, and who could only
see the fatal lists after their transmission to London. We heard the
brief story of that tremendous uphill charge made by the Light
Division--the Welsh Fusileers, the 19th, 33rd, 88th, and other
regiments--supported by the Guards and Highlanders; that the 33rd
alone had _nineteen_ reliefs shot under their two colours, which were
perforated by sixty-five bullet-holes. We heard how Colonel Chesters
of ours, and eight of his officers, fell dead at the same moment, and
that Charley Gwynne, Phil Caradoc, and many more were wounded.

"On, on, my gallant 23rd!" were the last words of Chesters, as he fell
from his horse.

We heard how two of our boy ensigns, Buller and little Anstruther of
Balcaskie, were shot dead with the colours in their hands; how
Connelly, Wynne, young Radcliffe, and many more, all fell sword in
hand; how the regiment had fought like tigers, and that Sir George
Brown, after his horse was shot under him, led them on foot, with his
hat in his hand, crying, "Hurrah for the Royal Welsh! Come on, my

And on they went, till Private Evans planted the Red Dragon on the
great redoubt, where nine hundred men were lying dead. The heights
were taken by a rush, and the first gun captured from the Russians was
by Major Bell of ours, who brought it out of the field. A passionate
glow of triumph and exultation filled my heart; I felt proud of our
army, but of my regiment in particular, for the brave fellows of the
Buffs were loud in their commendations of the 23rd; proud that I wore
the same uniform and the same badges in which so many had perished
with honour. None but a soldier, perhaps, can feel or understand all
this, or that _esprit de corps_ already referred to, and which sums up
love of country, kindred, pride of self and profession, in one. But
anon came the chilling and mortifying thought that I enjoyed only
reflected honours. Why was I now seated amid the splendour and luxury
of a mess in the Auberge de Bavière? Why was I not yonder, where so
many had won glory or a grave? How provoking was the chance, the mere
chain of military contingencies, by which I had lost all participation
in that great battle, the first fought in Europe since Waterloo--this
Alma, that was now in all men's mouths, and in the heart of many a
wife and mother, fought and won while we had been sailing on the sea,
and while the unconscious folks at home throughout the British Isles
were going about their peaceful avocations; when thousands of men and
women, parents and wives, whose tenderest thoughts were with our
gallant little host, were ignorant that those they loved best on earth
perhaps were already cold, mutilated, and buried in hasty graves
beneath its surface, in a place before unheard of, or by them unknown.

So great was the slaughter in my own regiment, that though I was only
a lieutenant, there seemed to be every prospect of my winning ere long
the huge spurs won by Toby Purcell at the Boyne Water; but my turn of
sharp service was coming; for, though I could not foresee it all then,
Inkermann was yet to be fought, the Quarries to be contested, the
Mamelon and Redan to be stormed, and Sebastopol itself had yet to
fall. Had I shared in that battle by the Alma, I might have perished,
and been lost to Estelle for ever; leaving her, perhaps, to be wooed
and won by another, when I was dead and forgotten like the last year's
snow. This reflection cooled my ardour a little; for love made me
selfish, or disposed to be more economical of my person, after my
enthusiasm and the fumes of the Buffs' champagne passed away; and now
from Malta I wrote the first letter I had ever addressed to her, full
of what the reader may imagine, and sent with it a suite of those
delicate and beautiful gold filigree ornaments, for the manufacture of
which the Maltese jewellers are so famed; and when I sealed my packet
at the Clarendon in the Strada San Paola, I sighed while reflecting
that I could receive no answer to it, with assurances of her love and
sorrow, until after I had been face to face with those same Muscovites
whom my comrades had hurled from the heights of the Alma.

Three days after this intelligence arrived we quitted Malta, and had a
fair and rapid run for the Dardanelles. The first morning found us,
with many a consort full of troops, skirting, under easy sail, the
barren-looking isle of Cerigo--of old, the fabled abode of the goddess
of love, now the Botany Bay of the Ionians; its picturesque old town
and fort encircled by a chain of bare, brown, and rugged mountains,
whose peaks the rising sun was tipping with fire. As if to remind us
that we were near the land of Minerva, and of the curious Ascalaphus,

                    "Begat in Stygian shades
          On Orphnè, famed among Avernal maids,"

many little dusky owls perched on the yards and booms, where they
permitted themselves to be caught. Ere long the Isthmus of Corinth
came in sight--that long tract of rock connecting the bleak-looking
Morea with the Grecian continent, and uniting two chains of lofty
mountains, the classical names of which recalled the days of our
school-boy tasks; thence on to Candia, the hills of which rose so pale
and white from the deep indigo blue of the sea, that they seemed as if
sheeted with the snow of an early winter; but when we drew nearer the
shore, the land-wind wafted towards us the aromatic odour that arises
from the rank luxuriance of the vast quantity of flowers and shrubs
which there grow wild, and form food for the wild goats and hares.

Every hour produced some new, or rather ancient, object of interest as
we ploughed the classic waters of the Ægean Sea, and no man among us,
who had read and knew the past glories, traditions, and poetry of the
shores we looked on, could hear uttered without deep interest the
names of those isles and bays--that on yonder plain, as we skirted the
mainland of Asia, stood the Troy of Priam; that yonder hill towering
in the background, a purple cone against a golden sky, was Mount Ida
capped with snow, Scamander flowing at its foot; Ida, where Paris, the
princely shepherd, adjudged the prize of beauty to Venus, and whence
the assembled gods beheld the Trojan strife; for every rock and peak
we looked on was full of the memories of ancient days, and of that
"bright land of battle and of song," which Byron loved with all a
poet's enthusiasm. Dusk was closing as we entered the Hellespont; the
castles of Europe and Asia were, however, distinctly visible, and we
could see the red lights that shone in the Turkish fort, and the
windmills whirling on the Sigean promontory, as we glided, with
squared yards, before a fair and steady breeze, into those famous
straits which Mohammed IV. fortified to secure his city and fleets
against the fiery energy of the Venetians; and now, as I do not mean
"to talk guide-book," our next chapter will find us in the land of
strife and toil, of battle and the pest; in that Crim Tartary which,
to so many among us, was to prove the land of death and doom.


The 4th of October found me with my regiment (my detachment "handed
over," and responsibility, so far as it was concerned, past) before
Sebastopol, which our army had now environed, on _one_ side at least.
And now I was face to face with the Russians at last, and war had
become a terrible reality. Tents had been landed, and all the troops
were fairly under canvas. Our camp was strengthened by a chain of
intrenchments dug all round it, and connected with those of the
French, which extended to the sea on their left, while our right lay
towards the valley of Inkermann, at the entrance of which, on a chalky
cliff, 190 feet high at its greatest elevation, rose the city of
Sebastopol, with all its lofty white mansions, that ran in parallel
streets up the steep acclivity. In memory I can see it now, as I used
to see it then, from the trenches, the advanced rifle-pits, or through
the triangular door of my tent, with all its green-domed churches, its
great round frowning batteries, forts Alexander and Constantine and
others, perforated for cannon, tier above tier; and far inland
apparently, for a distance after even the suburbs had ceased, were
seen the tall slender masts of the numerous shipping that had taken
shelter in the far recesses of the harbour, nearly to the mouth of the
Tchernaya, from our fleets (which now commanded all the Black Sea).
And a pretty sight they formed in a sunny day, when all their white
canvas was hanging idly on the yards to dry.

Nearer the mouth of the great harbour were the enormous dark hulls of
the line-of-battle ships--the Three Godheads of 120 guns, the
Silistria of 84, the Paris and Constantine, 120 each, and other
vessels of that splendid fleet which was soon after sunk to bar our
entrance. Daily the Russians threw shot and shell at us, while we
worked hard to get under cover. The sound of those missiles was
strange and exciting at first to the ears of the uninitiated; but
after a time the terrible novelty of it passed away, or was heard with
indifference; and with indifference, too, even those who had not been
at Alma learned to look on the killed and wounded, who were daily and
nightly borne from the trenches to the rear, the latter to be under
the care of the toil-worn surgeons, and the former to lie for a time
in the dead-tents. The siege-train was long in arriving. "War tries
the strength of the military framework," says Napier. "It is in peace
the framework itself must be formed, otherwise barbarians would be the
leading soldiers of the world. _A perfect army can only be made by
civil institutions_." Yet with us such was the state of the
"framework," by the results of a beggarly system of political economy,
that when war was declared--a war after forty years of peace--our
arsenals had not a sufficient quantity of shells for the first
battering-train, and the fuses issued had been in store rotting and
decaying since the days of Toulouse and Waterloo. This was but one
among the many instances of gross mismanagement which characterised
many arrangements of the expedition. And taking advantage of the
delays, nightly the Russians, with marvellous rapidity, were throwing
up additional batteries of enormous strength, mounted with cannon
taken from the six line-of-battle ships which, by a desperate
resolve of Prince Menschikoff's, were ultimately sunk across the
harbour-mouth, where we could see the sea-birds, scared by the adverse
cannonade, perching at times on their masts and royal-yards, which
long remained visible above the water. Occasionally our war-steamers
came near, and then their crews amused themselves by throwing shells
into the town. Far up the inlet lay a Russian man-of-war, with a
cannon ingeniously slung in her rigging. The shot from this, as they
could slue it in any direction, greatly annoyed our sappers, and
killed many of them, before one well-directed ball silenced it for

Two thousand seamen with their officers, forming the Naval Brigade of
gallant memory, were landed from our fleet, bringing with them a
magnificent battering-train of ship-guns of the largest calibre; and
these hardy and active fellows lent most efficient aid in dragging
their ordnance and the stores over the rough and hilly ground that
lies between Balaclava and the city. They were all in exuberant
spirits at the prospect of a protracted "spree" ashore; for as such
they viewed the circumstance of their forming a part of the combined
forces destined to take Sebastopol, and they amused and astonished the
redcoats by their freaks and pranks under fire, and their ready
alacrity, jollity, and muscular strength. Guns of enormous weight and
long range were fast being brought into position; the trenches were
"pushed" with vigour; and now the work of a regular siege--the
consecutive history of which forms no part of my narrative--was begun
in stern earnest when the batteries opened on the 16th October. Our
armies were placed in a semicircle, commanding the southern side of
this great fortified city and arsenal of the Black Sea. They were in
full possession of the heights which overlook it, and were most
favourably posted for the usual operations of a siege, which would
never have been necessary had it been entered after Alma was won. A
deep and beautiful ravine, intersecting the elevated ground, extended
from the harbour of the doomed city to Balaclava, dividing the area of
the allied camp into two portions. The French, I have said, were on
the left, and we held the right.

On the very day our batteries opened, I received the notification of
my appointment to a company. This rapid promotion was consequent to
the sad casualties of the Alma; and two days after, when the
trench-guards were relieved, and I came off duty before daybreak, I
crept back to my tent cold, miserable, and weary, to find my man
Evans--brother of the gallant private of the same name who planted the
Red Dragon on the great redoubt--busy preparing a breakfast for
_three_, with the information that Caradoc and Gwynne, who had been on
board the Hydaspes, an hospital ship for officers, had rejoined the
night before, and had added their repast to mine for the sake of
society. But food and other condiments were already scarce in the
camp, and tidings that they had come from Balaclava with their
haversacks _full_, caused more than one hungry fellow to visit my
humble abode, the canvas walls of which flapped drearily in the wind,
that came sweeping up the valley of Inkermann. Without undressing, as
the morning was almost in, I threw myself upon my camp-bed, which
served me in lieu of a sofa, and strove, with the aid of a plaid, a
railway-rug, and blanket, to get some warmth into my limbs, after the
chill of a night spent in the damp trenches; while Evans, poor fellow,
was doing his best to boil our green and ill-ground coffee in a
camp-kettle on a fire made of half-dried drift-wood, outside my tent,
which was pitched in a line with thousands of others, on the slope of
the hill that overlooked the valley where the Tchernaya flows. Though
the season was considerably advanced now, the days were hot, but the
nights were correspondingly chill; and at times a white dense fog came
rolling up from the Euxine, rendering still greater the discomfort of
a bell-tent, as it penetrated every crevice, and rendered everything
therein--one's bedding and wearing apparel, even that which was packed
in overlands and bullock-trunks--damp, while sugar, salt, and bread
became quite moist. Luckily, somehow it did not seem to affect our
ammunition. Then there came high winds, which blew every night,
whistling over the hill-tops, singing amongst the tent-ropes, and
bellowing down the valley of Inkermann.

These blasts sometimes cast the tent-ropes loose by uprooting the
pegs, causing fears lest the pole--whereon hung the revolvers, swords,
pans, and kettles of the occupants--might snap, and compel them, when
hoping to enjoy a comfortable night's rest off duty, to come forth
shivering from bed to grope for the loosened pegs amid the muddy soil
or wet grass, and by the aid of a stone or a stray shot--if the mallet
was not forthcoming--to secure them once more. This might be varied by
a shower of rain, which sputtered in your face as you lay abed, till
the canvas became thoroughly wetted, and so tightened. Anon it might
shrink; then the ropes would strain, and unless you were in time to
relax them, down might come the whole domicile in a wet mass on those
who were within it. Now and then a random shot fired from Sebastopol,
or the whistling shell, with a sound like t'wit-t'wit-t'wit,
describing a fiery arc as it soared athwart the midnight sky on its
errand of destruction, varied the silence and darkness of the hour.
The clink of shovels and pickaxes came ever and anon from the
trenches, where the miners and working-parties were pushing their sap
towards the city. The sentinels walked their weary round, or stood
still, each on his post shivering, it might be, in the passing blast,
but looking fixedly and steadily towards the enemy. The rest slept
soundly after their day of toil and danger, watching, starvation, and
misery; forgetful of the Russian watchfires that burned in the
distance, heedless of the perils of the coming day, and of _where_ the
coming night might find them. And so the night would pass, till the
morning bugle sounded; then the stir and bustle began, and there was
no longer rest for any, from the general of the day down to the goat
of the Welsh Fusileers; the cooking, and cleaning of arms, parade of
reliefs for outpost and the trenches, proceeded; but these without
sound of trumpet or drum, as men detailed for such duties do
everything silently; neither do their sentries take any complimentary
notice of officers passing near their posts. Ere long a thousand white
puffs, spirting up from the broken ground between us and the city,
would indicate the rifle-pits, where the skirmishers lay _en perdue_,
taking quiet pot-shots at each other from behind stones, caper-bushes,
sand-bags, and sap-rollers; and shimmering through haze and smoke--the
blue smoke of the "villainous saltpetre"--rose the city itself, with
its green spires and domes, white mansions, and bristling batteries.

And so I saw it through the tent-door as the morning drew on, and the
golden sunshine began to stream down the long valley of Inkermann,
"the city of caverns;" while our foragers were on the alert, and
Turkish horses laden with hay, and strings of low four-wheeled arabas,
driven by Tartars in fur skull-caps, brown jackets, and loose white
trousers, would vary the many costumes of the camp. And the morning
sunshine fell on other things which were less lively,--the long mounds
of fresh earth where the dead lay, many of them covered with white
lime dust to insure speedy decay. And then began that daily cannonade
against the city--the cannonade that was to last till we _alone_
expended more than one hundred thousand barrels of gunpowder, and
heaven alone knows how many tons of shot and shell.

Often I lay in that tent, with the roar of the guns in my ears,
pondering over the comfort of stone walls, of English sea-coal fires,
and oftener still of her who was so far away, she so nobly born and
rich, surrounded, as I knew she must always be, by all that wealth and
luxury, rank and station could confer; and I thought longingly, "O for
aunt Margaret's mirror, or Surrey's magic glass, or for the far-seeing
telescope of the nursery tale, that I might see her once again!"
Estelle's promises of writing to me had not been fulfilled as yet, or
her answers to my loving and earnest letters from Malta and the Crimea
had miscarried.

"Welcome, Caradoc! welcome, Gwynne!" cried I, springing off the
camp-bed as my two friends entered the tent, of which I was the sole
occupant, as my lieutenant was on board the Hydaspes ill with fever,
and my ensign, a poor boy fresh from Westminster school, was under one
of the horrid mounds in the shot-strewn valley.

"Harry, old fellow, how are you?--how goes it? Missed the Alma, eh?"
said they cheerfully, as we warmly shook hands.

"All the better, perhaps," said Mostyn, who now joined us, while Price
and Clavell soon after dropped in also; so two had to sit on the
camp-bed, while the rest squatted on chests or buckets, and as for a
table, we never missed it.

"And you were hit, Caradoc?"

"In the calf of the left leg, Harry, prodded by the rusty bayonet of a
fellow who lay wounded on the ground, and who continued to fire
_after_ us when we had left him in the rear, till one of ours gave him
the _coup de grâce_ with the butt-end of his musket. Would you believe
it?--the goat went up hill with us, and I couldn't, even while the
bullets fell like hail about us, resist caressing it, for the sake of
the donor."

"Poor Winny Lloyd!"

"Why poor?" asked Phil.

"Well, pretty, then. I saw her just before I left Southampton."

"This goat seems to be the peculiar care of Caradoc," said Gwynne; "he
rivals its keeper, little Dicky Roll the drummer, in his anxiety to
procure leaves, and buds of spurge, birch, and bird-cherry for it."

Phil Caradoc laughed, and muttered something about being "fond of
animals;" but a soft expression was in his handsome brown eyes, and I
knew he was thinking of sweet Winifred Lloyd, of his bootless suit,
and the pleasant woods of Craigaderyn.

"And you, Charley, were hit, too? Saw your name in the _Gazette_,"
said I.

"A ball right through the left fore-arm, clean as a whistle; but it is
almost well."

"And now to breakfast. Look sharp, Evans, there's a good fellow! A
morning walk from Balaclava to the front gives one an appetite," said

"Yes, that one may not often have, like us, the wherewith to satisfy.
An appetite is the most troublesome thing one can have in the vicinity
of Sebastopol," replied Phil.

A strange-looking group we were when contrasted with our appearance
when last we met.

Probably not one of us had enjoyed the luxury of a complete wash for a
week, and the use of the razor having long been relinquished, our
beards rivalled that of Carneydd Llewellyn in size, if not in hue. The
scarlet uniforms, with lace and wings[3] of gold, in which we had
landed, we had marched and fought and slept in for weeks, were purple,
covered with discolorations, and patched with any stuff that came to
hand. Our trousers had turned from Oxford gray to something of a red
hue, with Crimean mud. Each of us had a revolver in his sash (which we
then wore round the waist), and a canvas haversack or well-worn
courier-bag slung over his shoulder, to contain whatever he might pick
up, beg, borrow, or buy (some were less particular) in the shape of
biscuits, eggs, fowls, or potatoes. Caradoc carried a dead duck by the
legs as he entered, and Charley Gwynne had a loaf of Russian bread
hung by a cord over his left shoulder, like a pilgrim at La Scala
Santa; while Price had actually secured a lump of cheese from the wife
of a Tartar, a fair one, with whom the universal lover had found
favour when foraging in the lovely Baidar Valley. We were already too
miserable to laugh at each other's appearance, and our tatters had
ceased to be a matter of novelty. If such was the condition of our
officers, that of the privates was fully worse; and thanks to our
wretched commissariat and ambulance arrangements, the splendid
_physique_ of our men had begun to disappear; but their pluck was
undying as ever.

On this morning we six were to have a breakfast such as rarely fell to
our lot in the Crimea; for Evans, my Welsh factotum and _fidus
Achates_, was a clever fellow, and speedily had prepared for us, at a
fire improvised under the shelter of a rock, a large kettle of
steaming coffee, which, sans milk, we drank from tin canteens,
tumblers, or anything suitable, and Gwynne's loaf was shared
fraternally among us, together with a brace of fowls found by him in a
Tartar cottage. "Lineal descendants of the cock that crew to Mahomet,
no doubt," said he; "and now, thanks to Evans, there they are, brown,
savoury, appetising, gizzard under one wing, liver under the
other--done to a turn, and on an old ramrod."

And while discussing them, the events of the siege were also
discussed, as coolly as we were wont to do the most ordinary field
man[oe]uvres at home.

"The deuce!" said I, "how the breeze comes under the wall of this
wretched tent!"

"Don't abuse the tent, Harry," said Caradoc; "I am thankful to find
myself in one, after being on board the Hydaspes. It must be a
veritable luxury to be able to sleep, even on a camp-bed and alone,
after being in a hospital, with one sufferer on your right, another on
your left, dead or dying, groaning and in agony. May God kindly keep
us all from the 'bloody hospital of Scutari,' after all I have heard
of it!"

"You were with us last night in the trenches, Mostyn?" said I.

"Yes, putting Gwynne's Hythe theories into practice from a rifle pit.
I am certain that I potted at least three of the Ruskies as coolly as
ever I did grouse in Scotland. All squeamishness has left me now,
though I could not help shuddering when first I saw a man's heels in
the air, after firing at him. You will never guess what happened on
our left. A stout vivandière of the 3rd Zouaves, while in the act of
giving me a _petit verre_ from her little keg, was taken--"

"By the enemy?" exclaimed Price.

"Not at all--with the pains of maternity; and actually while the shot
and shell were flying over our heads."

"And what were the trench casualties?" asked Gwynne.

"About a hundred and twenty of all ranks, killed, wounded, and
missing. A piece more of the fowl--thanks."

"A guardsman was killed last night, I have heard," said Hugh Price.

"Yes; poor Evelyn of the Coldstreams; he was first blinded by dust and
earth blown into his eyes by the ricochetting of a 36-pound shot, and
as he was groping about in an exposed place between the gabions, he
fell close by me."


"Mortally--hit in the head; he' was just able to whisper some woman's
name, and then expired. He purchased all his steps up to the majority,
so there's a pot of money gone. I think I could enjoy a quiet weed
now; but, Clavell, there was surely an awful shindy in your quarter
last night?"

"Yes," replied Tom, who, since he had been under fire, seemed to have
grown an inch taller; "a sortie."

"A sortie?" said two or three, laughing.

"Well, something deuced like it," said Tom, testily, as he stroked the
place where his moustache was to be. "I was asleep between the gabions
about twelve at night, when all at once a terrible uproar awoke me.
'Stand to your arms, men, stand to your arms!' cried our adjutant;
'the Russians are scouring the trenches!' I sprang up, and tumbled
against a bulky brute in a spike-helmet and long coat, with a smoking
revolver in his hand, just as a sergeant of ours shot him. It was all
confusion--I can tell you nothing about it; but we will see it all in
the _Times_ by and by. 'Sound for the reserves!' cried one. 'By God,
they have taken the second parallel!' cried another. 'Fire!' 'Don't
fire yet!' But our recruits began to blaze away at random. The
Russians, however, fell back; it might have been only a reconnoitring
party; but, anyhow, they have levanted with the major of the 93rd

"The deuce they have!" we exclaimed. And this episode of the major's
capture was to have more interest for me than I could then foresee.

"These cigars, five in number," continued Tom, "were given to me by a
poor dying Zouave, who had lost his way and fallen among us. I gave
him a mouthful of brandy from my canteen, after which he said, Take
these, monsieur l'officier; they are all I have in the world now, and,
as you smoke them, think of poor Paul Ferrière of the 3rd Zouaves,
once a jolly student of the Ecole de Médecine, dying now, like a
beggar's dog!' he added, bitterly. 'Nay,' said I, 'like a brave
soldier.' 'Monsieur is right,' said he, with a smile. Our surgeons
could do nothing for him, and so he expired quite easily, while
watching his own blood gradually filling up a hole in the earth near

"Well, the Crimea, bad as it is," said Caradoc, as he prepared and lit
one of the Frenchman's cigars, "is better than serving in India, I
think; 'that union of well-born paupers,' as some fellow has it, 'a
penal servitude for those convicted of being younger sons.'"

"By Jove, I can't agree with you," said Mostyn, who had served in
India, and was also a younger son; "but glory is a fine thing, no

"Glory be hanged!" said Gwynne, testily; "a little bit of it goes a
long way with me."

"See, there go some of the Naval Brigade to have a little ball
practice with a big Lancaster!" cried Tom Clavell, starting to the

"Getting another gun into position apparently," added Raymond Mostyn.

As they spoke, a party of seamen, whiskered and bronzed, armed with
cutlasses and pistols, their officers with swords drawn, swept past
the tent-door at a swinging trot, all singing cheerily a forecastle
song, of which the monotonous burden seemed to be,

    "O that I had her, _O_ that I had her,
       Seated on my knee!
     O that I had her, _O_ that I had her,
       A black girl though she be!"

tallying on the while to the drag-ropes of a great Lancaster gun,
which they trundled up the slope, crushing stones, caper-bushes, and
everything under its enormous grinding wheels, till they got it into
position; and a loud ringing cheer, accompanied by a deep and sullen
boom, ere long announced that they had slued it round and sent one
more globe of iron to add to the hundreds that were daily hurled
against Sebastopol. On this occasion the fire of this especial
Lancaster gun was ordered to be directed against a bastion on the
extreme left of the city, where the officer in command, a man of
remarkable bravery, who had led several sorties against us, seemed to
work his cannon and direct their fire with uncommon skill; and it was
hoped that we should ere long dismount or disable them, and if
possible breach the place.


It was while the infantry and Naval Brigade were still before
Sebastopol, toiling, trenching, and pounding with cannon and mortar at
all its southern side, we had our ardour fired, our enthusiasm
kindled, and our sorrow keenly excited by the tidings of that glorious
but terrible death ride, the charge of the six hundred cavalry at
Balaclava; and of how only one hundred and fifty came alive out of
that mouth of fire, the valley where rained "the red artillery"--the
13th Hussars were said to have brought only twelve men out of the
action, and the 17th Lancers twenty--and how nobly they were avenged
by our "heavies" under the gallant Scarlett; and of the stern stand
made against six thousand Russian horse by the "thin red line" of the
Sutherland Highlanders.

On the day these tidings were circulated in the trenches by many who
had witnessed the events, we seemed to redouble our energies, and shot
and shell were poured with greater fury than ever on the city, while
sharper, nearer, and more deadly were the contests of man and man in
the rifle-pits between it and the trenches. Then followed the sortie
made by Menschikoff, supposing that most of the allied forces had been
drawn towards Balaclava--a movement met by the infantry and artillery
of the second division under Sir De Lacy Evans, and repulsed with a
slaughter which naturally added to the hatred on both sides; and
innumerable were the stories told, and authenticated, of the Russians
murdering our helpless wounded in cold blood. On the night of the 2nd
November I was again in the trenches opposite to the eastern flank of
Sebastopol, the whole regiment being on duty covering the batteries
and working-parties.

The day passed as usual in exciting and desultory firing, the Russians
and our fellows watching each other like lynxes, and never missing an
opportunity for taking a quiet shot at each other. A strong battalion
of the former was in our front, lurking among some mounds and thick
_abattis_, formed of trees felled and pegged to the earth with their
branches towards us; and above the barrier and the broken ground that
lay between it and the advanced trench-ground, strewed with fragments
of rusty iron nails, broken bottles, and the other amiable contents of
exploded bombs, torn, rent, upheaved, or sunk into deep holes by the
explosion of mines and countermines, shells and rockets, we could see
their bearded visages, their flat caps and tall figures, cross-belted
and clad in long gray shapeless coats, as from time to time they
yelled and started up to take aim at some unwary Welsh Fusileer,
heedless that from some _other_ point some comrade's bullet avenged
him, or anticipated his fate. To attempt a description of the trenches
to a non-military reader, in what Byron terms "engineering slang,"
would be useless, perhaps; suffice it to say that we were pretty
secure from round shot, but never from shells, the trenches or zigzags
being dug fairly parallel to the opposing batteries, with a thick bank
of earth towards Sebastopol, a banquette for our men to mount on when
firing became necessary.

Near us was a battery manned by our Royal Artillery--the guns being
run through rude portholes made in the earthen bank, with the addition
of sand-bags, baskets, and stuffed gabions, to protect the gunners.
All was in splendid order there: the breeching-guns ever ready for
action; the sponges, rammers, and handspikes lying beside the wheels;
the shot piled close by as tidily as if in Woolwich-yard; the carbines
of the men placed in racks against the gabions; the officers laughing
over an old _Punch_, or making sketches, varied by caricatures of the
Russians, their men sitting close by in their greatcoats, smoking and
singing while awaiting orders, and listening with perfect indifference
to the casual dropping fire maintained by us against the enemy in the
abbatis or pits along our front, though almost every shot was the
knell of a human existence.

Death and danger were now strangely familiar to us all, and we cared
as little for the _whish_ of a round bullet or the sharp _ping_ of the
Minie, while it cut the air, as for the deep hoarse booming of the
breaching-guns; it was the cry of "bomb!" from the look out men, that
usually made us start, and sprawl on our faces, or scamper away, for
shelter, to crouch with our heads stooped in our favourite or fancied
places of security among the gabions, till a soaring monster, with
death and mutilation in its womb, with its hoarse puffing that rose to
a whistle, concussed all the air by the crash of its explosion.

Our men were all in their greatcoats, with their white belts outside;
and, save when a section or so started angrily to arms, as those
fellows in the abattis became more annoying, they sat quietly on the
ground or against the wall of the trench, smoking, chatting with
perfect equanimity, and occasionally taking a sip of rum or raki from
their canteens; for, after weeks and months of this kind of duty,
especially after the severity of the Crimean war set in, our older
soldiers seemed utterly indifferent as to whether they lived or died.

All of them, even such boys as Tom Clavell, had been front to front
with death, again and again. Among ourselves, even, there was an
incessant scramble for food; hence in the expression of their
faces and eyes there was something hard, set, fierce, and
undefinable--half-wolfish at times, devil-may-care always; for in a
few weeks after the landing at Eupatoria, they had seen more and lived
longer than one can do in years upon years of a life of peace.

"What do you see, Hugh, that you look so earnestly to the front?" I
asked of Price, who was lying on his breast with a rifle close beside
him, and his field-glass, to which his eyes were applied, wedged in a
cranny between two sand-bags.

"A Russian devil has made a bolt out of the abattis into yonder hole
made by a shell."

"And what of that?"

"I am waiting to pot him, as he can't stay there long," replied Price,
usually the best of good-natured fellows, but now looking with a
tiger-like stare through the same lorgnette which he had used on many
a day at the Derby, and many a night at the opera; "there he comes,"
he added. In a moment the Minie rifle, already sighted, was firmly at
the shoulder of Price, who fired; a mass like a gray bundle, with
hands and arms outspread, rolled over and over again on the ground,
and then lay still; at _another_ time it might have seemed most
terribly still!

"Potted, by Jove!" exclaimed Hugh, as he restored the rifle to
Sergeant Rhuddlan, and quietly resumed his cigar.

"A jolly good shot, sir, at four hundred yards," added the
non-commissioned officer, as he proceeded to reload and cap.

At that time the life of a Russian was deemed by us of no more account
than that of a hare or rabbit in the shooting season; but, if reckless
of the lives of others, it must be remembered that we were equally
reckless of our own; and, with all its horrors, war is not without
producing some of the gentler emotions. Thus, even on those weary,
exciting, and perilous days and nights in the trenches, under the
influence of _camaraderie_, of general danger, and the most common
chance of a sudden and terrible death, men grew communicative, and
while interchanging their canteens and tobacco-pouches they were apt
to speak of friends and relations that were far away: the old mother,
whose nightly prayers went up for the absent; the ailing sister, who
had died since war had been declared; the absent wife, left on the
shore at Southampton with a begging-pass to her own parish; the little
baby that had been born since the transport sailed; the old fireside,
where their place remained vacant, their figure but a shadowy
remembrance; the girls they had left behind them; their
disappointments in life; their sorrows and joys and hopes for the
future; the green lanes, the green fields, the pleasant and familiar
places they never more might see: and officers and privates talked of
such things in common; so true it is that

         "One touch of nature makes the whole world kin."

On the 3rd of November, Caradoc and I were sitting in a sheltered
corner, between the gabions, chatting on some of the themes I have
enumerated, when a little commotion was observable among our men, and
we saw the adjutant and the major--the worthy holder of Toby Purcell's
spurs, he who had carried off the first gun at Alma, B-- of ours,
and who, since Colonel Chesters was killed, had commanded the
regiment--coming directly towards us.

"What the deuce is up?" said I.

"Their faces look important," added Caradoc.

"Sorry to disturb you; not that there is much pleasure here,
certainly," said the major, smiling; "but the adjutant tells me that
you, Hardinge, are the first officer for duty."

"We are all on duty," replied I, laughing; "if we are not, I don't
know what duty is. Well, major, what is to be done?"

"You are to convey a message from Lord Raglan into Sebastopol."

"To Sebastopol?"

"Yes, to that pleasant city by the sea," said the adjutant.

"To Prince Menschikoff?"

"No," replied the major; "to the officer commanding the nearest post."

"Under a flag of truce?"

"Of course; it would be perilous work otherwise."

"About what is the message?"

"The capture of Major MacG--, of the 93rd, who was carried off by a
kind of sortie the other night, and who is supposed to have been
afterwards killed in cold blood."

The seizure of the major of the Sutherland Highlanders, a brave old
fellow who had on his breast medals for Candahar, Afghanistan, and
Maharajapore, had created much interest in the army at this time, when
we so readily believed the Russians liable to commit atrocities on
wounded and prisoners.

"Lord Raglan wishes distinct information on the subject," added the
adjutant, after a pause.

"All right, I am his man," said I, starting up and looking carefully
to the chambers and capping of my Colt, ere I replaced it in its
pouch; and knocking some dust and mud off my somewhat dilapidated
regimentals, added, "now for a drummer and a flag of truce."

"You are to go to the officer in command of that bastion on the
Russian left," said the major.

"To that wasp of a fellow who is so active, and whose scoundrels have
killed so many of our wounded men, firing even on the burial parties?"

"The same. You must be sharp, wary, and watchful."

"His name?"

"Ah, that you may perhaps learn, not that it matters much; even Lord
Raglan cannot know that; but, doubtless, it will be something like a
sneeze or two, ending in 'off' or 'iski.'"

"Success, Harry!" cried Caradoc.

A few minutes after this saw me issue from the trenches of the right
attack, attended by Dicky Roll, with his drum slung before him; in my
right hand I carried a Cossack lance, to which a white handkerchief of
the largest dimensions was attached to attract attention, as the
Russians were not particular to a shade as to what or whom they fired
on, and the cruel and infamous massacre of an English boat's crew at
Hango was fresh in the minds of us all; consequently I was not without
feeling a certain emotion of anxiety, mingled with ardour and joy at
the prospect of Estelle seeing my name in the despatches, as Dicky and
I now advanced into the broken and open ground that lay between our
parallel and the abattis, amid which I saw head after head appear, as
the white emblem I bore announced that _pro tem_, hostilities in that
quarter must cease, by the rules of war.

Dicky Roll, who, poor little fellow, had been fraternally sharing his
breakfast and blanket with the goat, and did not seem happy in his
mind at our increasing proximity to "them Roosian hogres," as he
called them, beat a vigorous _chamade_ on his drum, and I waved my
impromptu banner. I was glad when a Russian drum responded, as flags
of truce had been more than once fired upon, on the miserable plea
that communications under them were merely designed for the purpose of
gaining intelligence, of reconnoitring Sebastopol and its outposts.
Hence our progress was watched with the deepest interest by the whole
regiment and others, all of whom were now lining the banquette of the
parallels, or clustering at the embrasures and fascines of the
breaching batteries.


In the rifle-pits many of our men lay dead or dying, and a few paces
beyond them brought me among Russians in the same pitiable condition.
One, who had been shot through the chest, lay on his back, half in and
half out of his lurking hole; his eyes were glazing, bubbles of blood
and froth were oozing through his thick black moustaches, which were
matted by the cartridges he had bitten. Another was shot through the
lungs, and his breath seemed to come with a wheezing sound through the

There, too, lay the luckless Russian "potted" by Hugh Price. He was
one of the imperial 26th, for that number was on his shoulder-straps.
On his breast were several copper medals. Others who were able, taking
advantage of the cessation of hostilities, were crawling away on their
hands or knees towards the town or trenches, in search of water, of
succour, and of some kind friend to bind their wounds; and encouraged
by the lull in the firing, the little birds were twittering about
those ghastly pits in search of biscuit-crumbs or other food.

The ground was studded thickly with rusty fragments of exploded
shells, nails, bottles, grape and canister shot; other places were
furrowed up, or almost paved with half-buried cannon-balls of every
calibre; and here and there, in the crater made by a mine, lay a
forgotten corpse in sodden uniform, gray faced with red; and yet
singularly enough, amid these horrors, there were springing through
the fertile earth many aromatic shrubs, and a vast number of the
_colchicum autumnale_, a beautiful blue crocus-like flower, with which
the Crimea abounds.

The Russian drum, hoarse, wooden, and ill-braced, again sounded, and
mine replied; then we saw an officer coming towards us from the
entanglements of the abattis, with his sword sheathed and waving a
white handkerchief. He was a tall grim-looking man, of what rank I
could not determine, as all the enemy's officers in the field, from
the general down to the last-joined praperchick, or ensign, wore long,
ungraceful greatcoats of brownish gray cloth, having simply facings
and shoulder-straps. He carried a wooden canteen and an old battered
telescope, worn crosswise by two leather straps, and had several
silver medals, won doubtless in battle against Schamyl in Circassia.

It is a common belief in England that every Russian gentleman speaks
French; but though he may do so better than another foreigner--for he
who can pronounce Muscovite "words of ten or twelve consonants apiece"
may well speak anything--it is chiefly the language of the court and
of diplomacy; and in this instance, when, after saluting each other
profoundly, and eyeing each other with stern scrutiny, I addressed the
officer in the language of our allies, he replied in German, which I
knew very imperfectly.

I made him understand, however, that my message was for the officer in
command of the left bastion.

He replied, that to be taken into Sebastopol, or even to be led
nearer, required that the eyes of myself and the drummer should be
blindfolded, to which I assented; and he proceeded carefully to muffle
Dicky Roll and me in such a manner as to place us in utter darkness.
He then gave me his arm, I took the drummer by the hand, and in this
grotesque fashion, which excited some laughter in the trenches, the
trio proceeded, stumbling and awkwardly, towards the city.

I heard the increasing buzz of many voices around us, the unbarring of
a heavy wicket, the clatter of musket-butts on the pavement, and
occasionally a hoarse order or word of command issued in what seemed
the language of necromancy. Caissons, and wagons heavily laden,
rattled along the streets; I felt that I was _inside_ Sebastopol; but
dared not without permission unbind my eyes, save at the risk of being
run through the body by this fellow in the long coat, or made a
prisoner of war, and despatched towards Perecop with my hands tied to
the mane of a Cossack pony.

The sensation and the conviction were most tantalising; but I was
compelled to submit, and knew that we were proceeding through the
thoroughfares of that place towards which I had daily turned my
field-glass with the most intense curiosity, and which we knew to be
one vast garrison rather than a town, with whole streets of barracks,
arsenals, and government houses.

A change of sounds and of atmosphere warned me that we were within
doors. My guide withdrew the bandages, and then Dicky and I looked
around us, dazzled with light, after being in darkness for nearly half
an hour. I was in a large whitewashed room, plainly furnished,
uncarpeted, heated by a stove of stone in one corner, with an _eikon_
in another. On the table of polished deal lay some books, a copy or
two of the _Invalide Russe_, the _Moskauer Zeitung_, Panaeff's
_Russian Snobs_, the vernacular for that familiar word being
_khlishch_. On the walls hung maps and documents--orders of the day,
perhaps--in Russian.

Through the two large windows, which we were warned not to approach, I
obtained a glimpse of the hill on which the residence of Prince
Menschikoff was situated. On one side I saw that the streets ran in
parallel lines down to the water edge; on the other to where the new
naval arsenals lay, in the old Tartar town which was known by the name
of Achtiare in the days of Thomas Mackenzie, the Scoto-Russian admiral
who first created Sebastopol, and whose _khutor_, farm or forest for
producing masts, excited so much speculation among our Highland
Brigade. Everywhere I saw great cannon bristling, all painted
pea-green, with a white cross on the breech.

The jingle of spurs caused me to turn, and Dicky to lift his hand to
his cap in salute. We saw a tall and handsome Russian officer, of
imposing appearance, enter the room. His eyes were dark, yet sharp and
keen in expression; he had black strongly-marked eyebrows and an
aquiline nose, with a complexion as clear as a woman's, a pretty ample
beard, and close-shorn hair. He, too, wore the inevitable greatcoat;
but it was open in this instance, and I could see the richly-laced
green uniform and curious flat silver epaulettes of the Vladimir
Regiment, with the usual number of medals and crosses, for all the
armies of Nicholas were well decorated. He bowed with great courtesy,
and said in French,

"You have, I understand, a message for me from my Lord Raglan?"

I bowed.

"Before I listen to it you must have some refreshment; your drummer
can wait outside."

I bowed again. A soldier-servant placed on the table decanters of
Crimskoi wine, with a silver salver of biscuits and pastilla, or
little cakes made of fruit and honey; and of these I was not loath to
partake, while the soldier in attendance led away Dicky Roll, who eyed
me wistfully, and said, as he went out,

"For God's sake don't forget me, Captain Hardinge; I don't like the
look of them long-coated beggars at all."

I was somewhat of Dicky's opinion; and being anxious enough to get
back to the trenches, stated briefly my message.

"You have, I fear, come on a bootless errand," replied the Russian,
"as no officer of your army was, to my knowledge, either killed or
taken by us on the night in question; though certainly a man may
easily be hit in the dark, and crawl away to some nook or corner, and
there die and lie unseen. But the Pulkovnick Ochterlony, who keeps the
list of prisoners, will be the best person to afford you information
on the matter. Remain with me, and assist yourself to the Crimskoi,
while I despatch a message to him."

He drew a glazed card from an embossed case, and pencilling a
memorandum thereon, sent his orderly with it, while we seated
ourselves, entered into conversation, and pushed the decanter
fraternally to and fro.

"I have just come from hearing the Bishop of Sebastopol preach in the
great church to all the garrison off duty," said he, laughing; "and he
has been promising us great things--honour in this world, and glory in
the next--if we succeed in driving you all into the Euxine."

"There are plenty of opportunities afforded here of going to heaven."

"A good many, too, of going the other way; however, I must not tell
you all, or even a part, of what the bishop said. He did all that
eloquence could do to fire the religious enthusiasm--superstition, if
you will--of our soldiers and his language was burning."

"Then you are on the eve of another sortie," said I, unwarily.

"I have not said so," he replied, abruptly, while his eyes gleamed,
and handing me his silver cigar-case, on which was engraved a coronet,
we lapsed into silence.

The sermon he referred to was that most remarkable one preached on the
evening of Saturday, the 4th of November, before one of the most
memorable events of the war. In that discourse, this Russian-Greek
bishop, with his coronal mitre on his head, glittering with precious
gems, a crozier whilom borne by St. Sergius in his hand, his silver
beard floating to his girdle over magnificent vestments, stood on the
altar-steps of the great church, and assured the masses of armed men
who thronged it to the portal that the blessing of God was upon their
forthcoming enterprise and the defence of the city; that crowns of
eternal glory awaited all those martyrs who fell in battle against the
heretical French and the island curs who had dared to levy war on holy
Russia and their father the Emperor.

He told them that the English were monsters of cruelty, who tortured
their prisoners, committing unheard-of barbarities on all who fell
into their hands; that "they were bloodthirsty and abominable
heretics, whose extermination was the solemn duty of all who wished to
win the favour of God and of the Emperor." He farther assured them
that the British camp contained enormous treasures--the spoil of
India, vessels of silver and gold, sacks and casks filled with
precious stones--one-third of which was to become the property of the
victors; and he conjured them, by the memory of Michael and Feodor,
who sealed their belief in Christ with their blood, before the savage
Batu-Khan, by the black flag unfurled by Demetri Donskoi when he
marched against Mamai the Tartar, "by the forty times forty churches
of Moscow the holy," and the memory of the French retreat from it, to
stand firm and fail not; and a hoarse and prayerful murmur of assent
responded to him.

My present host was too well-bred to tell all he had just heard,
whether he believed it or not. After a pause, "If another sortie is
made," said I, "the slaughter will be frightful."

"Bah!" replied he, cynically, while tipping the white ashes from his
cigar, "a few thousands are not missed among the millions of Russia; I
presume we only get rid of those who are unnecessary in the general
scheme of creation."

"Peasants and serfs, I suppose?"

"Well, perhaps so--peasants and serfs, as you islanders suppose all
our people to be."

"Nay, as you Russians deem them."

"We shall not dispute the matter, please," said he, coldly; and now,
as I sat looking at him, a memory of his face and voice came over me.

"Count Volhonski!" I exclaimed, "have you quite forgotten me and the
duel with the Prussian at Altona?"

He started and took his cigar from his mouth.

"The Hospodeen Hardinge!" said he, grasping my hand with honest
warmth; "I must have been blind not to recognise you; but I never
before saw you in your scarlet uniform."

"It is more purple than scarlet now, Count."

"Well, our own finery is not much to boast of, though we are in a
city, and you are under canvas. But how does the atmosphere of Crim
Tartary agree with you?" he asked, laughing.

"A little too much gunpowder in it, perhaps."

"I am sorry, indeed, to find that you and I are enemies, after those
pleasant days spent in Hamburg and Altona; but when we last parted in
Denmark--you remember our mutual flight across the frontier--you were
but a subaltern, a praperchick, a sub-lieutenant, I think."

"I am a captain now."

"Ah--the Alma did that, I presume."


"You will have plenty of promotion in your army, I expect, ere this
war is ended. You shall all be promoted in heaven, I hope, ere holy
Russia is vanquished."

"Well, Count, and you--"

"I am now Pulkovnick of the Vladimir Infantry."

"Did the Alma do that?"

"No; the Grand-Duchess Olga, to whom the regiment belongs, promoted me
from the Guards, as a reward for restoring her glove, which she
dropped one evening at a masked ball given in the hall of St. Vladimir
by the Emperor; so my rank was easily won."

A knock rang on the door; spurs and a steel scabbard clattered on the
floor, and then entered a stately old officer in the splendid uniform
of the Infantry of the Guard, the gilded plate on his high and
peculiarly-shaped cap bearing the perforation of more than one bullet,
and his breast being scarcely broad enough for all the orders that
covered it. He bowed to Volhonski, and saluted me with his right hand,
in which he carried a bundle of documents like lists. The Count
introduced him as "the Pulkovnick Ochterlony, commanding the
Ochterlony Battalion of the Imperial Guard." He was not at all like a
Russian, having clear gray eyes and a straight nose, and still less
like one did he seem when he addressed me in almost pure English.

"I have," said he, "gone over all the lists of officers of the Allies
now prisoners in Sebastopol, or taken since the siege and sent towards
Yekaterinoslav, and can find among them no such name as that of Major
MacG--, of the 93rd Regiment of Scottish Highlanders. If traces of him
are found, dead or alive, a message to that effect shall at once be
sent to my Lord Raglan."

"I thank you, sir," said I, rising and regarding him curiously; "you
speak very pure English for a Russian!"

"I am a Russian by birth and breeding only; in blood and race I am a
countryman of your own."

"Indeed!" said I, coldly and haughtily, "how comes it to pass that an

"Excuse me, sir," said he, with a manner quite as haughty as my own,
"I did not say that I was an Englishman; but as we have no time to
make explanations on the subject, let us have together a glass of
Crimskoi, and part, for the time, friends."

His manner was so suave, his bearing so stately, and his tone so
conciliating--moreover his age seemed so great--that I clinked my
glass with his, and withdrew with Volhonski, who, sooth to say, seemed
exceedingly loath to part with me.

"Who the deuce is that officer?" I asked.

"I introduced him to you by name. He is the colonel of the Ochterlony
Battalion of the Guard, which was raised by his father, one of the
many Scottish soldiers of fortune who served the Empress Catharine;
and the man is Russian to the core in all save blood, which he cannot
help; but here is the gate, and you must be again blinded by Tolstoff.
Adieu! May our next meeting be equally pleasant and propitious!"

As we separated, there burst from the soldiery who thronged near the
gates a roar of hatred and execration, excited doubtless by the
bishop's harangue; and poor Dicky Roll shrunk close to my side as we
passed out. The ancient Scoto-Muscovite, I afterwards learned, was
styled Ochterlony of Guynde, the soldiers of whose regiment had
enjoyed from his father's time the peculiar privilege of retaining and
wearing their old cap-plates, so long as a scrap of the brass
remained, if they had once been perforated by a shot in action; and it
is known that this identical old officer--who had some three or four
nephews in the Russian Guards--had been visiting his paternal place of
Guynde, in Forfarshire, but a few months before the war broke out.

In a few minutes more, Dicky Roll and I found ourselves, with our eyes
unbandaged, once more in that pleasant locality midway between the
abattis and the trenches, towards which we made our way in all haste,
that I might report the issue of my mission concerning the Scotch
major, who, as events proved, was found alive and unhurt, luckily; and
the moment my white flag disappeared among the gabions--where all
crowded round me for news, and where I became the hero of an
hour--again the firing was resumed on both sides with all its former
fury, and the old game went on--shot and shell, dust, the crash of
stones and fascines, thirst, hunger, slaughter, and mutilation. That
the Russians had some great essay _in petto_, the words of Volhonski
left us no doubt, nor were we long kept in ignorance of what was
impending over us.


Quietly and before day dawned the trench-guards were relieved, and
we marched wearily back towards the camp. I had dismissed my company,
and was betaking me to my tent, threading my way along the streets
formed by those of each regiment, when an ambulance wagon,
four-wheeled and covered by a canvas hood, drew near. It was drawn by
four half-starved-looking horses; the drivers were in the saddles; and
an escort rode behind, muffled in their blue cloaks. It was laden, no
doubt, with boots warranted not to fit, and bags of green or unripe
coffee for the troops, who had no means of grinding it or of cooking
it, firewood being our scarcest commodity. An officer of the Land
Transport Corps, in cloak and forage-cap, was riding leisurely in rear
of the whole, and as he passed I heard him singing, for his own
edification, apparently: the refrain of his ditty was,

         "Ach nein! ach nein! ich darf es nich.
          Leb'wohl! Leb'wohl!"

"Heavens!" thought I, pausing in my progress, "can this be my
quondam acquaintance, the _attaché_ at the Court of Catzenelnbogen
here--_here_, in the Crimea!"

"Can you direct me to the commissariat quarter of the Second
Division?" asked the singer, a little pompously.

"By all the devils it is Guilfoyle!" I exclaimed.

"Oho--You are Hardinge of the 23rd--well met, Horatio!" said he,
reining-in his horse, and with an air of perfect coolness.

"How came _you_ to be here, sir?" I asked, sternly.

"I question your right to ask, if I do not your tone," he replied;
"however, if you feel interested in my movements, I may mention that I
was going to the dogs or the devil, and thought I might as well take
Sebastopol on the way."

"It is not taken yet--but you, I hope, may be."

"Thanks for your good wishes," was the unabashed reply; "however, I am
wide enough awake, sir; be assured that I cut my eye-teeth some years

To find that such a creature as he had crept into her Majesty's
service, even into such an unaristocratic force as the Land Transport
Corps, and actually wore a sword and epaulettes, bewildered me,
excited my indignation and disgust; and I felt degraded that by a
reflected light he was sharing our dangers, our horrors, and the
honours of the war. I had never seen his name in the _Gazette_, as
being appointed a cornet of the Transport Corps, and the surprise I
felt was mingled with profound contempt, and something of amusement,
too, at his _insouciance_ and cool effrontery. This made me partially
forget the rage and hatred he had excited in me by the mischievous
game he had played at Walcot Park, his plot to ruin me with Estelle
Cressingham--a plot from which I had been so victoriously
disentangled. Hence circumstance, change of position and place,
induced me to talk to the fellow in a way that I should not have done
at home or elsewhere.

"How came you to deprive England of the advantages of your society?" I
asked, in a sneering tone, of which he was too well-bred not to be
conscious; so he replied in the same manner,

"A verse of an old song may best explain it:

        "'A plague on ill luck, now the ready's all gone,
            To the wars poor Pilgarlick must trudge;
          But had I the cash to rake on as I've done,
            The devil a foot I would budge!'

"And so Pilgarlick is serving his ungrateful country," he added, with
the mocking laugh that I remembered of old.

"You can actually laugh at your own--"

"Don't say anything unpleasant," said he, shortening his reins; "I do
so, but only as Reynard, who has lost his brush, laughs at the more
clever fox who has kept his from the hounds," he added, with a glance
of malevolence. "So you were not at the Alma? Doubtless it was
pleasanter to break a bone quietly at home than risk all your limbs
here in action."

Disdaining to notice either his sneer or the inference to be
drawn from his remark, I asked, "What has become of that unhappy
creature--your wife?"

"As you call her."

"Georgette Franklin--well?"

"It matters little now, and is no business of yours."

"That I know well--I only pitied her; but why do I waste words or time
with such as you?"

"So you would like to know what has become of her, eh?"

"Very much."

"Well," said he, grinding his teeth with anger or hate, perhaps both,
"there is a den in the Walworth-road, above a rag, bone, and
old-bottle shop, the master of which was not unknown to the police, as
apt to be roaming about intent to commit, as no doubt he often did,
felony; for a few articles of bijouterie, such as a bunch of
skeleton-keys, a crowbar, a brace of knuckle-dusters, and a 'barker,'
with a piece of wax-candle, were found upon his person, after an
investigation thereof, suggestive that his habits were nocturnal, and
that the propensities of his digits were knavish; and the landlord of
this den gave her lodgings--and there she died, this Georgette
Franklin, in whom you are so interested--died not without suspicion of
suicide. Now are _you_ satisfied?" he added, holding a cigar between
the first and second fingers of his right hand, and gazing lazily at
the smoke wreaths as they curled upward in the chill morning air.

There was something sublimely infernal--if I may be permitted the
paradox--in the gusto with which the fellow told all this, and in the
sneering expression of his face; and I could see his green eyes and
his white teeth glisten in the light of a great rocket--some secret
signal--that soared up from Fort Alexander, and broke with a thousand
sparkles, curving downward through the murky morning sky.

"Pass on, sir," said I, sternly; "and the best I can wish you is that
some Russian bullet may avenge her and rid the earth of you."

And with his old mocking laugh, he galloped after his wagon, as he
turned back in his saddle, "Compliments to old Taffy Lloyd, when you
write--may leave him my brilliant in my will if he behaves himself."


I told Phil Caradoc of the strange meeting with Mr. Hawkesby
Guilfoyle, and his emotions of astonishment and disgust almost
exceeded mine, though mingled with something of amusement, to think
that such a personage should be with the army before Sebastopol in any
capacity; and he predicted that he must inevitably do something that
would not add to the budding laurels of the Land Transport Corps,
which we scarcely recognised as a fighting force, though armed, of
course, for any sudden emergency. On this morning, the mail had come
in from Constantinople; but there was still no letter for me--no
letter from her with whom I had left my heart, and all its fondest
aspirations--yea, my very soul it seemed--in England, far away.

Many mails had gone missing; and I strove to flatter and to console
myself by the vague hope, that the letters of Estelle were lying
perhaps in the Gulf of Salonica, or in the Greek Archipelago, rather
than adopt the bitter and wounding conviction that none were written
at all. I counted the days and weeks that had elapsed since our
detachments sailed from Southampton; the weeks had now become months;
we were in November; yet, save when once or twice I had seen her name
among the fashionable intelligence in a stray newspaper, I knew and
heard nothing of Estelle, of her whose existence and future I so
fondly thought were for ever woven up with mine. For a time I had been
weak enough to conceal from kind-hearted Phil Caradoc the fact that I
had not been getting answers to my letters; and often over a quiet
cigar and a bottle of Greek wine I have listened nervously to his
congratulations on my success and hopes, blended with his own personal
regrets that Winifred Lloyd could not love him. He had sent to her and
Dora, from Malta and from Constantinople, some of those beautiful
articles of bijouterie, which the shops of the former and the bazaars
of the latter can so exquisitely produce to please the taste of women,
and they had been accepted with "kindest thanks," a commonplace on
which poor Phil seemed to base some hope of future success.

"Winifred Lloyd is very lovely," said I, as we sat in my tent that
night over a bottle of Crimskoi; "sweet and pure, happy in spirit, and
gentle in heart--all that a man could desire his wife and the mother
of his children to be."


"But what, Phil?" said I, curtly.

"She cannot love me, and she will never be mine," sighed Caradoc.

"Never despair of that; we have to take Sebastopol yet; and that once
achieved, we shall all go merrily sailing home to England."

"That I doubt much; some of the regiments here will be taken for the
Indian reliefs--our fighting here will count as service in Europe--but
surely the war cannot end with the fall of Sebastopol. A war between
three of the greatest countries in the world to dwindle down to the
somewhat ill-conducted siege of a fortified town would be absurd."

"Ill-conducted, Phil?"

"Of course.. We leave the city open for supplies of all kinds on the
Russian side, and have never, as we should have done, seized the
Isthmus of Perecop, and cut off the whole Crimea from the empire."

"Errors perhaps; but by the way, Phil, have you still Miss Lloyd's
miniature about you?"


"Do let me have a look at it. I am an old friend, you know."

"I gave her my solemn word that while I lived no man should look upon
it, Harry," said Phil, whose colour deepened. "When I am carried to
the dead-tent, if that day comes, or to the burial-trench, as many
better fellows have been, you may keep it or send it to her, which you
will, though I would rather it were buried with me."

His eyes filled with tender enthusiasm, and his voice faltered with
genuine emotion as he spoke.

"Pass the bottle, Phil, and don't be romantic--one more cigar is in
the box, and it is at your service," said I.

But full of his own thoughts, which were all of her, Caradoc made no
immediate reply. He sat with his eyes fixed sadly on the glowing
embers of my little fire; for, thanks to the ingenuity of Evans, I had
actually a _fire_ in my tent. He had made an excavation in the earth,
with a flue constructed out of the fragments of tin ammunition boxes,
and the cases which had held preserved meat. This conveyed the smoke
underneath the low wall of the tent, outside of which he had erected
another flue some three feet high of the same materials, to which were
added a few stones and some mud. The smoke at times was scarcely
endurable, and made one's eyes to water; but I was not yet "old
soldier" enough to heat a cannon-ball to sleep with, so Evans' patent
grate had quite a reputation in the regiment, and added greatly to the
comfort, if such a term can be used, of my somewhat draughty abode.

"Deuced hard lines, this sort of thing, Harry," said Caradoc, after a
pause, as, bearded and patched, unshaven and unkempt, we cowered over
the fire in our cloaks and wrappers; "I mean for men accustomed to
better things, especially to those of expensive tastes and extravagant
habits--your guardsman and man of pleasure, the lounger about town,
whose day was wont to begin about two P.M., and to end at four next
morning. Yet they are plucky for all that; by Jove! there is an amount
of mettle or stamina in our fellows such as those of no other nation
possess, the resolution to die game any way."

I fully agreed with him; for among our officers I knew hundreds of
men, like Raymond Mostyn and others I could name, who were enduring
this miserable gipsy-like life, and who, when at home, had hunters and
harriers in the country, a house in town, a villa at St. John's Wood
or elsewhere, with a tiny brougham and tiger for some "fair one with
the golden locks," a yacht at Cowes, a forest in the Highlands, a box
at the Opera, a French cook, perhaps, and vines and pines and other
rarities from their own forcing-pits and hothouses, and who were now
thankful for a mouthful of rum and hard ship-biscuit and some
half-roasted coffee boiled in a camp-kettle; and for what, or to what
useful end or purpose, was all this being endured? Perhaps the
non-reception of letters from Estelle was making me cynical, and
leading me to deem the great god of war but a rowdy, and the goddess
his sister no better than she should be, glory a delusion and a humbug
after all. But just when Phil, as the night was now far advanced, was
muffling himself prior to facing the cold frosty blast that swept up
the valley of Inkermann, and proceeding to his own tent, which was on
the other flank of the regiment, the visage of Evans, red as a lobster
with cold, while his greatcoat was whitened with hoar-frost, appeared
at the piece of tied canvas, which passed muster as a door.

"Letter for you, sir--an English one."

"For me! how, at this hour?" I exclaimed, starting up.

"It came by the mail this morning, sir; but was in the bag for the
88th. The address is almost obliterated, as you see, so the 88th
officers were tossing-up for it, when Mr. Mostyn--"

"Pshaw! give me the letter," said I, impatiently. "It is from Sir
Madoc--_only_ Sir Madoc!" I added, with unconcealed disappointment;
and in proportion as my countenance lowered, Phil's brightened with

I tore open what appeared to be a pretty long letter.

"It seems to have a postscript," said Phil, lingering ere he went.

"Kindest regards to Caradoc from Winny and Dora."

"Is that all?"

"All that seems to refer to you, Phil."

Phil sighed, and said,

"Well, a letter is an uncommon luxury here, so I shall not disturb
you. Good night, old fellow."

"Good night; and keep clear of the tent-pegs."

Again the canvas door was tied, and I was alone; so drawing the
lantern, that hung on the tent-pole, close to the empty flour-cask,
which now did duty as a table, I sat down to read the characteristic
epistle of my good old fatherly friend, Sir Madoc Lloyd, which was
dated from Craigaderyn Court. After some rambling remarks about the
war, and the mode in which he thought it should be conducted, and some
smart abuse of the administration in general, and Lord Aberdeen in
particular, over all of which I ran my eyes impatiently, at last they
caught a name that made my heart thrill, for this was the first letter
that had reached me from England.

"Lady Estelle's admirer Pottersleigh has been raised to an
earldom--Heaven only knows why or for what--his own distinguished
services, he says. It was all in last night's _Gazette_--that her
Majesty had been pleased to direct letters patent, &c., granting the
dignity of Earl of the United Kingdom, unto Viscount Pottersleigh,
K.G., and the heirs male of his body (good joke that, Harry: reckoning
his chickens before they are hatched), by the name and title of
Aberconway, in the principality of Wales. For some weeks past he has
been at Walcot Park, with the Cressinghams--seems quite to live there,
in fact. He has been very assiduous in his attentions to a certain
young lady there; he always flatters her quietly, and it seems to
please her; a sure sign it would seem to me that she is not displeased
with the flatterer. People say it is old Lady Naseby whom he affects;
but I don't think so; neither does Winny. You will probably have heard
much of this kind of gossip from Lady Estelle herself. She certainly
got your Malta letter, and one from the camp before Sebastopol--so
Winny, who is in her confidence, told me. You only can know if she
replied--Winny rather thinks not; but I hope she may be faithful to
you as Oriana herself.

"I heard all about poor Caradoc's affair from Dora; but Winny has
refused another offer of marriage--a most eligible one, too--from Sir
Watkins Vaughan; and since then he was nearly done for in another
fashion: for when he and I were cub-hunting last month near Hawkstone,
his horse, a hard-mouthed brute, swerved as we were crossing a fence,
and rolled over him; so between her blunt refusal and his ugly spill,
he is rather to be pitied. I don't understand Winny at all. I should
not like my girls to throw themselves away; but hay should be made
while the sun shines, and baronets are not to be found under every
bush. Beauty fades; it is but a thing of a season; and the most
blooming girl, in time, becomes passé and wrinkled, or it may be fat
and fusby, as her grandmother was before her. And then Sir Watkins
represents one of the best families in Wales, not so old as _us_
certainly, but still he is descended in a direct line from Gryffyth
Vychan, who was Lord of Glyndwyrdwy in Merionethshire, in Stephen's

(Why should Winifred Lloyd refuse and refuse again thus? As certain
little passages between us in days gone by came flashing back to my
memory, I felt my cheek flush by that wretched camp-fire, and then I
thrust the thoughts aside as vanity.)

"Poor Winny has not been very well of late," the letter proceeded.
"When she and Dora were decorating their poor mamma's grave, in the
old Welsh fashion, on Palm Sunday, at Craigaderyn church, I fear she
must have caught cold; it ended in a touch of fever, and I think the
dear girl grew delirious, for she had a strange dream about the ghost
of Jorwerth Du--you remember that absurd old story?--but the ghost was
_you_, and the red-haired daughter of the Gwylliad Cochion, who
spirited you away, was--whom think you?--but Lady Estelle!

"We had a jolly shooting-season at Vaughan's place in South Wales.
With Don and our double-barrelled breech-loader we soon filled a
spring-cart, and brought it back in state, with all the hares and the
long bright tails of the pheasants hanging over it. Vaughan--who will
not relinquish his hope of Winny--and a lot of other fine fellows--old
friends, some of them--are coming to have their annual Christmas
shooting with me, and I have got two kegs of ammunition all ready in
the gun-room. How I wish you were to be with us, Harry!

"Golden plover and teal, too, are appearing here now, and flocks of
white Norwegian pigeons in Scotland; all indications that we shall
have an unusually severe winter; so God help you poor fellows under
canvas in the Crimea! In common with all the girls in England, Winny
and Dora are busy making mufflings, knitted vests and cuffs, and so
forth for the troops; and I have despatched some special hampers of
good things, made up and packed by Owen Gwyllim and Gwenny Davis, the
housekeeper, for our own lads of the 23rd to make merry with at
Christmas, or on St. David's day."

(The warm wrappers arrived for us in summer, and as for the "special
hampers," they were never heard of at all.)

And so, with many warm wishes, almost prayers, for my preservation
from danger, and offers of money if I required it, the letter of my
kind old friend ended; but it gave me food for much thought, and far
into the hours of the chill night I sat and pondered over it. Why did
Winny refuse so excellent an offer as that of Sir Watkins, whom I knew
to be a wealthy and good-looking young baronet? I scarcely dared to
ask myself, and so, as before, dismissed _that_ subject. Why had not
Estelle's answers reached me, if she had actually written then? That
Lady Naseby had surreptitiously intercepted our correspondence, I
could not believe, though she might forbid it. Was my Lord
Pottersleigh, now Earl of Aberconway, at work; or had they, like many
others, perished at sea? Heaven alone new. His flatteries "pleased
her," his, the senile dotard! And he had taken up his residence at
Walcot Park; his earldom, too! I was full of sadness, mortification,
and bitter thoughts; thoughts too deep and fierce for utterance or
description. Could it be that the earldom and wealth on one hand were
proving too strong for love, with the stringent tenor of her father's
will on the other?

At the opera and theatre I had seen Estelle's beautiful eyes fill with
tears, as she sympathised with the maudlin love and mimic sorrow, the
wrongs or mishaps, of some well-rouged gipsy in rags, some peasant in
a steeple-crowned hat and red bandages, some half-naked fisherman,
like Masaniello, and her bosom would heave with emotion and
enthusiasm; and yet with all this natural commiseration and
fellow-feeling, she, who could almost weep with the hero or heroine of
the melodrama, while their situation was enhanced by the effects of
the orchestra, the lime-light, and the stage-carpenter, was perhaps
casting me from her heart and her memory, as coolly as if I were an
old ball-dress! So I strove yet awhile to think and to hope that her
letters were with the lost mails at the bottom of the Ægean or the
Black Sea; but Sir Madoc's letter occasioned me grave and painful
doubts; and memory went sadly back to many a little but
well-remembered episode of tenderness, a word, a glance, a stolen
caress, when we rode or drove by the Elwey or Llyn Aled, in the long
lime avenue, in the Martens' dingle, and in the woods and gardens of
pleasant Craigaderyn. The wretched light in my lantern was beginning
to fail; my little fire had died quite out, and the poor sentry
shivering outside had long since ceased to warm his hands at the flue.
The tent was cold and chill as a tomb, and I was just about to turn
in, when a sound, which a soldier never hears without starting
instinctively to his weapons, struck my ear.

A drum, far on the right, was beating _the long roll!_ Hundreds of
others repeated that inexorable summons all over the camp, while many
a bugle was blown, as the whole army stood to their arms. It was the
morning of the battle of Inkermann!


We had all long since forgotten the discomfort of early rising. In my
case I had never been to bed, so to buckle on my sword and revolver
was the work of one moment; in another I was threading my way among
the streets of tents, from which our men, cold, damp, pale, and
worn-looking, were pouring towards their various muster-places, many
of them arranging their belts as they hurried forward.

"What is the row? what is up?" were the inquiries of all.

But no one knew, and on all hands the mounted officers were riding
about and crying,

"Fall in, 19th Regiment!" "Fall in, 23rd Fusileers!" and so on. "Stand
to your arms; turn out the whole; uncase the colours, gentlemen!"

"It is gunpowder-plot day," cried a laughing aide-de-camp, galloping
past with such speed and recklessness that he nearly rode me down.

It proved to be a sortie from Sebastopol, made chiefly by a new
division of troops brought up by forced marches from Bessarabia and
Wallachia, many of them in wagons, kabitkas, and conveyances of all
kinds; and all these men, to the number of many thousands, left the
beleaguered city inflamed by the sermon I have described, by harangues
of a similar kind, by the money or martyrdom they hoped to win, and
by a plentiful distribution of coarse and ardent raki; while to
Osten-Sacken, Volhonski, and other officers of rank, one of the Grand
Dukes held out threats of degradation and Siberia if we were not
attacked and the siege raised! All our men, without breakfast or other
food, got briskly under arms, by regiments, brigades, and divisions;
they were in their gray greatcoats, hence some terrible mistakes
occurred in the hurry and confusion; many of our officers, however,
went into action in _scarlet_, with their epaulettes on--most fatally
for themselves. All the bells in Sebastopol--and some of these were
magnificent in size and tone--rang a tocsin, while the troops
composing the sortie, at the early hour of three A.M., stole, under
cloud of darkness and a thick mist, into the ravines near the
Tchernaya, to menace the British right, our weakest point; and,
unknown to our out-guards, and generally unheard by them--though more
than one wary old soldier asserted that he heard "something like the
rumble of artillery wheels"--in the gloom and obscurity several large
pieces of cannon were got into position, so as completely to command
the ground occupied by us. Cautiously and noiselessly the masses of
Russian infantry had stolen on, the sound of their footsteps hidden by
the jangle of the bells, till they, to the number of more than 50,000
men, were on the flank as well as in front of our line; and the first
indication we had of their close vicinity was when our outlying
pickets, amid the dense fog of that fatal November morning, found
themselves all but surrounded by this vast force, and fighting

Knapsacks were generally thrown aside, and the muskets of the pickets
were in some instances so wet by overnight exposure, that they failed
to explode, so others taken from the dead and wounded were substituted
for them. There was firing fast and furious on every hand; the
musketry flashing like red streaks through the gray gloom, towards the
head of the beautiful valley of Inkermann, even before our regiment
was formed and moved forward to the support of the pickets, who were
retreating towards a small two-gun battery which had been erected, but
afterwards abandoned during the progress of the siege. The great
Russian cannon now opened like thunder from those hills which had been
reached unseen by us, and then began one of the closest, because
confused, most ferocious, and bloody conflicts of modern times. The
Russian has certainly that peculiar quality of race, "which is
superior to the common fighting courage possessed indiscriminately by
all classes--the passive concentrated firmness which can take every
advantage so long as a chance is left, and die without a word at last,
when hope gives place to the sullen resignation of despair."

Descriptions of battles bear a strong family likeness, and the history
of one can only be written, even by a participant, long after it is
all over, and after notes are compared on all sides; so to the
subaltern, or any one under the rank of a general, during its
progress, it is all vile hurly-burly and confusion worse confounded;
and never in the annals of war was this more the case than at
Inkermann. Though hidden by mist at the time, the scene of this
contest was both picturesque and beautiful. In the foreground, a
romantic old bridge spanned the sluggish Tchernaya, which winds from
the Baidar valley through the most luxurious verdure, and thence into
the harbour of Sebastopol between precipitous white cliffs, which are
literally honeycombed with chapels and cells: thus Inkermann is well
named the "City of the Caverns." These are supposed to have been
executed by Greek monks during the reigns of the emperors in the
middle ages, and when the Arians were persecuted in the Chersonesus,
many of them found shelter in these singular and all but inaccessible
dwellings. Sarcophagi of stone, generally empty, are found in many of
the cells, which are connected with each other by stairs cut in the
living rock, and of these stairs and holes the skirmishers were not
slow to avail themselves. Over all these caverns are the ivied ruins
of an ancient fort but whether it was the Ctenos of Chersonesus
Taurica, built by Diophantes to guard the Heruclean wall, or was the
Theodori of the Greeks, mattered little to us then, as we moved to get
under fire beneath its shadow; and now, as if to farther distract the
attention of the Allies from the real point of assault--which at first
seemed to indicate a movement towards Balaclava--all the batteries of
the city opened a fearful cannonade, which tore to shreds the tents in
the camp, and did terrible execution on every hand. Louder and louder,
deeper and hoarser grew the sounds of strife; yet nothing was seen by
us save the red flashes of the musketry, owing to the density of the
fog, and the tall brushwood through which we had to move being in some
places quite breast-high; and so we struggled forward in line, till
suddenly we found the foe within pistol-shot of us, and our men
falling fast on every side. Till now, to many in our ranks, who saw
these long gray-coated and flat-capped or spike-helmeted masses, the
enemy had been a species of myth, read of chiefly in the newspapers;
_now_ they were palpable and real, and war, having ceased to be a
dream, had become a terrible fact. Vague expectancy had given place to
the actual excitement of the hour of battle, the hour when a man would
reflect soberly if he could; but when every moment may be his last,
little time or chance is given for reflection.

In this quarter were but twelve thousand British, to oppose the mighty
force of Osten-Sacken. Upon his advancing masses the brave fellows of
the 55th or Westmoreland Foot had kept up a brisk fire from the rude
embrasures of the small redoubt, till they were almost surrounded by a
force outnumbering them by forty to one, and compelled to fall back,
while the batteries on the hills swept their ranks with an iron
shower. But now the 41st Welsh, and 49th or Hertfordshire, came into
action, with their white-and-green colours waving, and storming up the
hill bore back the Russian hordes, hundreds of whom--as they were
massed in oblong columns--fell beneath the fatal fire of our Minie
rifles, and the desperate fury of the steady shoulder-to-shoulder
bayonet charge which followed it.

On these two regiments the batteries from the distant slope dealt
death and destruction; again the Russians rallied at its foot, and
advanced up the corpse-strewn ground to renew an attack before which
the two now decimated regiments were compelled to retire. Their number
and force were as overwhelming as their courage, inflamed by raki and
intense religious fervour, was undeniable; for deep in all their
hearts had sunk the closing words of the bishop's prayer: "Bless and
strengthen them, O Lord, and give them a manly heart against their
enemies. Send them an angel of light, and to their enemies an angel of
darkness and horror to scatter them, and place a stumbling-block
before them to weaken their hearts, and turn their courage into
flight." And for a time the Russians seemed to have it all their own
way, and deemed their bishop a prophet. Our whole army was now under
arms, but upon our right fell the brunt of the attack, and old Lord
Raglan was soon among us, managing his field-glass and charger with
one hand and a half-empty sleeve. Under Brigadier-general Strangeways,
who was soon after mortally wounded, our artillery, when the mist
lifted a little, opened on the Russian batteries, and soon silenced
their fire; but the 20th and 47th Lancashire, after making a gallant
attempt to recapture the petty redoubt, were repulsed; but not until
they had been in possession of it for a few dearly-bought minutes,
during which, all wedged together in wild _mêlée_, the most hideous
slaughter took place, with the bayonet and clubbed musket; and the
moment they gave way, the inhuman Russians murdered all our wounded
men, many of whom were found afterwards cold and stiff, with hands
uplifted and horror in their faces, as if they had died in the act of

Driven from that fatal redoubt at last by the Guards under the Duke of
Cambridge, it was held by a few hundred Coldstreamers against at least
_six thousand_ of the enemy. Thrice, with wild yells the gray-coated
masses, with all their bayonets glittering, swept madly and bravely
uphill, and thrice they were hurled back with defeat and slaughter.
Fresh troops were now pouring from Sebastopol, flushed with fury by
the scene, and in all the confidence that Russia and their cause were
alike holy, that defeat was impossible, and the redoubt was

Then back to back, pale with fury, their eyes flashing, their teeth
set, fearless and resolute, their feet encumbered with the dying and
the dead, fought the Coldstream Guardsmen, struggling for very life;
the ground a slippery puddle with blood and brains, and again and
again the clash of the bayonets was heard as the musket barrels were
crossed. Their ammunition was soon expended; but clubbing their
weapons they dashed at the enemy with the butt-ends; and hurling even
stones at their heads, broke through the dense masses, and leaving at
least one thousand Muscovites dead behind them, rejoined their
comrades, whom Sir George Cathcart was leading to the advance, when a
ball whistled through his heart, and he fell to rise no more.

The combat was quite unequal; our troops began slowly to retire
towards their own lines, but fighting every inch of the way and
pressed hard by the Russians, who bayonetted or brained by the
butt-end every wounded man they found; and by eleven o'clock they were
close to the tents of the Second Division.

The rain of bullets sowed thickly all the turf like a leaden shower,
and shred away clouds of leaves and twigs from the gorse and other
bushes; but long ere the foe had come thus far, we had our share and
more in the terrible game. Exchanging fire with them at twenty yards'
distance, the roar of the musketry, the shouts and cheers, the yells
of defiance or agony, the explosion of shells overhead, the hoarse
sound of the round shot, as they tore up the earth in deeper furrows
than ever ploughshare formed, made a very hell of Inkermann, that
valley of blood and suffering, of death and cruelty; but dense clouds
of smoke, replacing the mist, enveloped it for a time, and veiled many
of its horrors from the eye.

Bathurst and Sayer, Vane and Millet of ours were all down by this
time; many of our men had also fallen; and from the death-clutch or
the relaxed fingers of more than one poor ensign had the tattered
colour which bore the Red Dragon been taken, by those who were fated
to fall under it in turn. I could see nothing of Caradoc; but I heard
that three balls had struck the revolver in his belt. Poor Hugh Price
fell near me, shot through the chest, and was afterwards found, like
many others, with his brains dashed out. In the third repulse of the
Russians, as we rushed headlong after them with levelled bayonets, I
found myself suddenly opposed by an officer of rank mounted on a gray
horse, the flanks and trappings of which were splashed by blood,
whether its own or that of the rider, I knew not. Furiously, by every
energy, with his voice, which was loud and authoritative, and by
brandishing his sword, he was endeavouring to rally his men, a mingled
mass of the Vladimir Battalion and the flat-capped Kazan Light

"Pot that fellow; down with him!" cried several voices; "maybe he's
old Osten-Sacken himself."

Many shots missed him, as the men fired with fixed bayonets, when
suddenly he turned his vengeance on me, and checking his horse for a
second, cut at my head with his sword. Stooping, I avoided his attack,
but shot his horse in the head. Heavily the animal tumbled forward,
with its nose between its knees; and as the rider fell from the saddle
and his cap flew off, I recognised Volhonski. A dozen of Fusileers had
their bayonets at his throat, when I struck them up with my sword, and
interceding, took him prisoner.

"Allow me, if taken, to preserve my sword," said he, in somewhat
broken English.

"No, no; by ----, no! disarm him, Captain Hardinge," cried several of
our men, who had already shot more than one Russian officer when in
the act of killing the wounded.

He smiled with proud disdain, and snapping the blade across his knee,
threw the fragments from him.

"Though it is a disgrace alike for Russian to retreat or yield, I
yield myself to you, Captain Hardinge," said he in French, and
presenting his hand; but ere I could take it, I felt a shot strike me
on the back part of the head. Luckily it was a partially spent one,
though I knew it not then.

A sickness, a faintness, came over me, and I had a wild and clamorous
fear that all was up with me then; but I strove to ignore the emotion,
to brandish my sword, to shout to my company, "Come on, men, come on!"
to carry my head erect, soldierlike and proudly. Alas for human nerves
and poor human nature! My voice failed me; I reeled. "Spare me,
blessed God!" I prayed, then fell forward on my face, and felt the
rush of our own men, as they swept forward in the charge to the front;
and then darkness seemed to steal over my sight, and unconsciousness
over every other sense, and I remembered no more.

So while I lay senseless there, the tide of battle turned in the
valley, and re-turned again. But not till General Canrobert, with
three regiments of fiery little Zouaves, five of other infantry, and a
strong force of artillery, made a furious attack on the Russian flank,
with all his drums beating the _pas de charge_. The issue of the
battle was then no longer doubtful.

The Russians wavered and broke, and with a strange wail of despair,
such as that they gave at Alma, when they feared that the angel of
light had left them, they fled towards Sebastopol, trodden down like
sheep by the French and British soldiers, all mingled pell-mell, in
fierce and vengeful pursuit. By three in the afternoon all was over,
and we had won another victory.

But our losses were terrible. Seven of our generals were killed or
wounded; we had two thousand five hundred and nine officers and men
killed, wounded, or missing; but more than fourteen thousand Russians
lay on the ground which had been by both armies so nobly contested,
and of these five thousand were killed.


When consciousness returned, I found the dull red evening sun shining
down the long valley of Inkermann, and that, save moans and cries for
aid and water, all seemed terribly still now.

A sense of weakness and oppression, of incapacity for action and
motion, were my first sensations. I feared that other shot must have
struck me after I had fallen, and that both my legs were broken. The
cause of this, after a time, became plain enough: a dead artillery
horse was lying completely over my thighs, and above it and them lay
the wheel of a shattered gun carriage; and weak as I was then, to
attempt extrication from either unaided was hopeless. Thus I was
compelled to lie helplessly amid a sickening puddle of blood,
enduring a thirst that is unspeakable, but which was caused by
physical causes and excitement, with the anxiety consequent on the
battle. The aspect of the dead horse, which first attracted me, was
horrible. A twelve-pound shot had struck him below the eyes, making a
hole clean through his head; the brain had dropped out, and lay with
his tongue and teeth upon the grass. The dead and wounded lay thickly
around me, as indeed they did over all the field. Some of the former,
though with eyes unclosed and jaws relaxed, had a placid expression in
their white waxen faces. These had died of gun-shot wounds. The
expressions of pain or anguish lingered longest in those who had
perished by the bayonet. Over all the valley lay bodies in heaps,
singly or by two and threes, with swarms of flies settling over them;
shakoes, glazed helmets, bearskin-caps, bent bayonets, broken muskets,
swords, hairy knapsacks, bread-bags, shreds of clothing, torn from the
dead and the living by showers of grape and canister, cooking-kettles,
round shot and fragments of shells, with pools of noisome blood, lay
on every hand.

Truly the Angel of Horror, and of Death, too, had been there. I saw
several poor fellows, British as well as Russian, expire within the
first few minutes I was able to look around me. One whose breast bore
several medals and orders, an officer of the Kazan Light Infantry,
prayed very devoutly and crossed himself in his own blood ere he
expired. Near me a corporal of my own regiment named Prouse, who had
been shot through the brain, played fatuously for a time with a
handful of grass, and then, lying gently back, passed away without a
moan. A Zouave, a brown, brawny, and soldier-like fellow, who seemed
out of his senses also, was very talkative and noisy.

"Ouf!" I heard him say; "it is as wearisome as a sermon or a funeral
this! Were I a general, the capture of Sebastopol should be as easy as
a game of dominoes.--Yes, Isabeau, ma belle coquette, kiss me and hold
up my head. Vive la gloire! Vive l'eau de vie! A bas la mélancolie! A
bas la Russe!" he added through his clenched teeth hoarsely, as he
fell back. The jaw relaxed, his head turned on one side, and all was

Of Volhonski I could see nothing except his gray horse, which lay
dead, in all its trappings, a few yards off; but I afterwards learned
that he had been retaken by the Russians on their advance after the
fall of poor Sir George Cathcart.

There was an acute pain in the arm that had been
injured--fractured--when saving Estelle; and as a kind of stupor,
filled by sad and dreamy thoughts, stole over me, they were all of
her. The roar of the battle had passed away, but there was a kind of
drowsy hum in my ears, and, for a time, strangely enough, I fancied
myself with her in the Park or Rotten-row. I seemed to see the
brilliant scene in all the glory of the season: the carriages; the
horses, bay or black, with their shining skins and glittering
harness; the powdered coachmen on their stately hammer-cloths; the
gaily-liveried footmen; the ladies cantering past in thousands, so
exquisitely dressed, so perfectly mounted, so wonderful in their
loveliness--women the most beautiful in the world; and there, too,
were the young girls, whose season was to come, and the ample
dowagers, whose seasons were long since past, lying back among the
cushions, amid ermine and fur; and with all this Estelle was laughing
and cantering by my side. Then we were at the opera--another fantastic
dream--the voices of Grisi and Mario were blending there, and as its
music seemed to die away, once more we were at Craigaderyn, under its
shady woods, with the green Welsh hills, snow-capped Snowdon and
Carneydd Llewellyn, in the distance, and voices and music and
laughter--some memory of Dora's fête--seemed to be about us. So while
lying there, on that ghastly field of Inkermann, between sleeping and
waking, I dreamed of her who was so far away--of the sweet
companionship that might never come again; of the secret tie that
bound us; of the soft dark eyes that whilom had looked lovingly into
mine; of the sweetly-modulated voice that was now falling merrily,
perhaps, on other ears, and might fall on mine no more. And a vague
sense of happiness, mingled with the pain caused by the half-spent
shot and the wild confusion and suffering of the time, stole over me.
Waking, these memories became

    "Sad as remembered kisses after death,
     And sweet as those by hopeless _fancy_ feigned
     On lips that are for others--deep as love,
     Deep as first love, and wild with all regret,
     O death in life--the days that are no more!"

From all this I was thoroughly roused by a voice crying, "Up, up,
wounded--all you who are able! Cavalry are coming this way--you will
be trod to death. Arrah, get out of _that_, every man-jack of yees!"

The excited speaker was an Irish hussar, picking his way across the
field at a quick trot.

It was a false alarm; but the rumble of wheels certainly came next
day, and an ambulance-wagon passed slowly, picking up the wounded, who
groaned or screamed as their fractured limbs were handled, and their
wounds burst out afresh through the clotted blood. I waved an arm, and
the scarlet sleeve attracted attention.

"There is a wounded officer--one of the 23rd Fusileers," cried a
driver from his saddle.

"Where?" asked a mounted officer in the blue cloak and cap of the Land
Transport Corps.

"Under that dead horse, sir."

"One of the 23rd; let us see--Hardinge, by all the devils!" said
the officer, who proved to be no other than Hawkesby Guilfoyle.
"So-ho--steady, steady!" he added, while secretly touching his horse
with the spurs to make it rear and plunge in three several attempts to
tread me under its hoofs; but the terrible aspect of the dead animal
smashed by the cannon-shot so scared the one he rode, that he bore on
the curb in vain.

"Coward! coward!" I exclaimed, "if God spares me you shall hear of

"The fellow is mad or tipsy," said he; "drive on."

"But, sir--sir!" urged the driver in perplexity.

"Villain! you are my evil fate," said I faintly.

"I tell you the fellow is mad--drive on, I command you, or by----,
I'll make a prisoner of you!" thundered Guilfoyle, drawing a pistol
from his holster, while his shifty green eyes grew white with
suppressed passion and malice; so the ambulance-cart was driven on,
and I was left to my fate.

Giddy and infuriated by pain and just indignation, I lay under my cold
and ghastly load, perishing of thirst, and looking vainly about for

Scarcely were they gone, when out of the dense thick brushwood, that
grew in clumps and tufts over all the valley, there stole forth two
Russian soldiers, with their bayonets fixed, and their faces distorted
and pale with engendered fanaticism and fury at their defeat. There
was a cruel gleam in their eyes as they crept stealthily about. Either
they feared to fire or their ammunition was expended, for I saw them
deliberately pass their bayonets through the bodies of four or five
wounded men, and pin the writhing creatures to the earth. I lay very
still, expecting that my turn would soon come. The dead horse served
to conceal me for a little; but I panted rather than breathed, and my
breath came in gasps as they drew near me; for on discovering that I
was an officer, my gold wings and lace would be sure to kindle their
spirit of acquisition. I had my revolver in my right hand, and
remembered with grim joy that of its six chambers, three were yet
undischarged. Just as the first Russian came straight towards me, I
shot him through the head, and he fell backward like a log; the second
uttered a howl, and came rushing on with his butt in the air and his
bayonet pointed down. I fired both barrels. One ball took him right in
the shoulder, the other in the throat, and he fell wallowing in blood,
but not until he had hurled his musket at me. The barrel struck me
crosswise on the head, and I again became insensible. Moonlight was
stealing over the valley when consciousness returned again, and I felt
more stiff and more helpless than ever. Something was stirring near
me; I looked up, and uttered an exclamation on seeing our regimental
goat, Carneydd Llewellyn, quietly cropping some herbage among the
débris of dead bodies and weapons that lay around me. Like Caradoc, I
had made somewhat a pet of it. The poor animal knew my voice, and on
coming towards me, permitted me to stroke and pat it; and a strong
emotion of wonder and regard filled my heart as I did so, for it was a
curious coincidence that this animal, once the pet of Winifred Lloyd,
should discover me there upon the field of Inkermann.

After a little I heard a voice, in English, cry, "Here is our goat at
last, by the living Jingo!" and Dicky Roll, its custodian--from whose
tent it had escaped, when a shot from the batteries broke the
pole--came joyfully towards it.

"Roll, Dicky Roll," cried I, "for God's sake bring some of our
fellows, and have me taken from here!"

"Captain Hardinge! are you wounded, sir?" asked the little drummer,
stooping in commiseration over me.

"Badly, I fear, but cannot tell with certainty."

Dicky shouted in his shrill boyish voice, and in a few minutes some of
our pioneers and bandsmen came that way with stretchers. I was
speedily freed from my superincumbent load, and very gently and
carefully borne rearward to my tent, when it was found that a couple
of contusions on the head were all I had suffered, and that a little
rest and quiet would soon make me fit for duty again.

"You must be more than ever careful of our goat, Dicky," said I, as
the small warrior, who was not much taller than his own bearskin cap,
was about to leave me (by the bye, my poor fellow Evans had been cut
in two by a round shot). "But for Carneydd Llewellyn, I might have
lain all night on the field."

"There is a date scratched on one of his horns, sir," said Roll; "I
saw it to-day for the first time."

"A date!--what date?"

"Sunday, 21st August."

"Sunday, 21st August," I repeated; "what can that refer to?"

"I don't know, sir--_do you?_"

The drummer saluted and left the tent. I lay on my camp-bed weak and
feverish, so weak, that I could almost have wept; for now came
powerfully back to memory that episode, till then forgotten--the
Sunday ramble I had with Winifred Lloyd when we visited the goat, by
the woods of Craigaderyn, by the cavern in the glen, by the Maen Hir
or the Giant's Grave, and the rocking stone, and all that passed that
day, and how she wept when I kissed her. Poor Winifred! her pretty
white hand must have engraved the date which the little drummer
referred to--a date which was evidently dwelling more in her artless
mind than in mine.


After the living were mustered next morning, and burial parties
detailed to inter the dead, Caradoc and one or two others dropped into
my tent to share some tiffin and a cigar or two with me; for, as Digby
Grand has it, "whatever people's feelings may be, they go to dine all
the same."

Poor Phil looked as pale and weary, if not more so, than I did. He was
on the sick-list also, and had his head tied up by a bloody bandage,
necessitated by a pretty trenchant sword-cut, dealt, as we afterwards
discovered on comparing notes, by Volhonski just before his recapture.

"I was first knocked over by Cathcart's riderless horse--"

"Poor old Cathcart--a Waterloo man!" said Gwynne, parenthetically.
"Well, Phil?"

"It was wounded and mad with terror," continued Caradoc; "then the
splinter of a shell struck me on the left leg. Still I limped to the
front, keeping the men together and close to the colours, till that
fellow you call Volhonski cut me across the head; even my bearskin
failed to protect me from his sabre. Then, but not till _then_, when
blood blinded me, I threw up the sponge and went to the rear."

"What news of our friends in the 19th?" I asked.

"O, the old story, many killed and wounded."

"Little Tom Clavell?"

"Untouched. Had the staff of the Queen's colours smashed in his hands
by a grape shot. Tom is now a bigger man than ever," said Charley
Gwynne. "By the way, he was talking of Miss Dora Lloyd last night in
my bunk between the gabions, wondering what she and the girls in
England think of all this sort of thing."

"Thank God, they know nothing about it!" said Caradoc, lighting a
fresh cigar with a twisted cartridge paper; "the hearts of some of
them would break, could they see but yonder valley."

"Poor Hugh Price!" observed Charley, with a sigh and a grimace, for he
had a bayonet prod in the right arm; "he was fairly murdered in cold
blood by one of those Kazan fellows--brained clean by the heel of a
musket, ere our bandsmen could carry him off to the hospital tents;
but I am thankful the assassin did not escape."


"He too was finished the next moment by Evan Rhuddlan."

Other instances of assassination, especially by a Russian major, were
mentioned, and execrations both loud and deep were muttered by us all
at these atrocities, which ultimately caused Lord Raglan to send a
firm remonstrance on the subject to Sebastopol.

"Is it true, Charley, that the Duke of Cambridge has gone on board
ship, sick and exhausted?" asked I.

"I believe so."

"And that Marshal Canrobert was wounded yesterday?"

"Yes, and had his horse shot under him, too."

"The poor Coldstreamers were fearfully cut up in the redoubt!"

"I saw eight of their officers interred in one grave this morning, and
three of the Grenadier Guards in another."

"Poor fellows!" sighed Caradoc; "so full of life but a few hours ago."

For a time the conversation, being of this nature, languished; it was
the reverse of lively, so we smoked in silence. We were all in rather
low spirits. This was simply caused by reaction after the fierce
excitement of yesterday, and to regret for the friends who had
fallen--the brave and true-hearted fellows we had lost for ever.
Victorious though we were, we experienced but little exultation; and
from my tent door, we saw the burial parties, British and French, hard
at work in their shirt sleeves, interring the slain in great trenches,
where they were flung over each other in rows, with all their gory
clothing and accoutrements, just as they were found; and there they
lay in ghastly ranks, their pallid faces turned to heaven, the hope of
many a heart and household that were far away from that horrible
valley; their joys, their sorrows, their histories, and their passing
agonies all ended now, with no tears on their cheek save those with
which the hand of God bedews the dead face of the poor soldier.

A ring or a watch, or it might be a lock of hair, taken, or perhaps
hastily shorn by a friendly hand from the head of a dead officer as he
was borne away to these pits--the head that some one loved so well,
hanging earthward heavily and untended--shorn for a widowed wife or
anxious mother, then at home in peaceful England, or some secluded
Scottish glen; and there his obsequies were closed by the bearded and
surpliced chaplain, who stood book in hand by the edge of the ghastly
trench, burying the dead wholesale by the thousand; and amid the boom
of the everlasting and unrelenting cannonade, now going on at the left
attack, might be heard the solemn sentences attuned to brighter hopes
elsewhere than on earth, where "Death seemed scoffed at and derided by
the reckless bully Life."

"Here is an old swell, with no end of decorations," said a couple of
our privates, as they trailed past the body of a Russian officer, one
half of whose head had been shot away, and they threw him into a
trench where the gray-coats lay in hundreds. The "old swell" proved to
be the brave Pulkovnich Ochterlony of Guynde; he who had led his
regiment so bravely at Bayazid on the mountain slopes of the Aghri
Tagh in Armenia, when, in the preceding August, the Russians had
defeated the Turks, and laid two thousand scarlet fezzes in the dust.
The episode of meeting with Guilfoyle, his conduct after the action,
and the character he had borne as a civilian, formed a topic of
some interest for my friends, who were vehement in urging me to
denounce this distinguished "cornet" of the wagon-corps to the
commander-in-chief. And this I resolved to do so soon as I was
sufficiently recovered to write, or to visit Lord Raglan in person.

But to take action in the matter soon proved impossible, as he was
taken prisoner the next day by some Cossacks who were scouting near
the Baidar Valley, and who instantly carried him off. Some there were
in the camp who gave this capture the very different name of wilful
desertion, from two reasons; first, he had been gambling to a
wonderful extent, and with all his usual success, so that he had
completely rooked many of his brother officers, nearly all of whom
were deserving men from the ranks; and second, that on the day after
he was taken, the Russians opened a dreadful fire of shot and shell on
one of our magazines, the exact _locale_ of which could only have been
indicated to them by some traitor safe within their own lines; and
none knew better than I the savage treachery of which he was capable.

It was now asserted that we should not assault Sebastopol until the
arrival of fresh reinforcements, which were expected by the way of
Constantinople in a few weeks. There were said to be fifteen thousand
French, and our own 97th, or Earl of Ulster's, and 99th Lanarkshire
coming from Greece, with the 28th from Malta; but that we were likely
to _winter_ before the besieged city was now becoming pretty evident
to the Allies, and none of us liked the prospect, the French perhaps
least of all, with the freezing memories of their old Russian war and
the retreat from flaming Moscow still spoken of in their ranks; and
the cruel and taunting boast of the Emperor Nicholas concerning
Russia's two most conquering generals--January and February.

So when the wood for the erection of huts began to arrive at
Balaclava, and the winter siege became a prospect that was inevitable,
I thought of having a wigwam built for myself and two other officers;
and confess that as the season advanced, some such habitation would
have been more acceptable than my bell-tent, which, like much more of
our warlike gear, had probably lain in some of John Bull's shabby
peace-at-any-price repositories since Waterloo, and was all decaying.
Hence the door was always closed with difficulty, especially on cold
nights, the straps being rotten and the buckles rusty. Add to this,
that our camp-bedding and clothes were alike dropping to pieces--the
result of constant wet and damp. Already no two soldiers in our ranks
were clad alike; they looked like well-armed vagrants, and wore
comically-patched clothing, with caps of all kinds, gleaned off the
late field or near the burial trenches. Some of the Rifles, in lieu of
dark green, were fain to wear smocks made by themselves from old
blankets, and leggings made of the same material or old sacking, and
many linesmen, who were less fortunate, had to content them with the
rags of their uniforms. Happy indeed were the Highlanders, who had no
trousers that wore out. Alas for those to whom a flower in the
button-hole, kid gloves, glazed boots, and Rimmel's essences, were as
the necessaries of life! But ere the wished-for materials for _my_ hut
arrived, circumstances I could little have foreseen found me quarters
in a very different place. Every other day I was again on duty in the
trenches, and without the aid of my field-glass could distinctly see
the dark groups of the enemy's outposts, extending from the right up
the valley of Inkermann, towards Balaclava.

The rain rendered our nights and days in the trenches simply horrible;
as we had to shiver there for four-and-twenty hours, literally in mud
that rose nearly to our knees, and was sometimes frozen--especially
towards the darkest and earliest hours of the morning, when the cold
would cause even strong and brave fellows almost to sob with weakness
and debility, while we huddled together like sheep for animal warmth,
listening the while, perhaps, for a sound that might indicate a
Russian mine beneath us. Those who had tobacco smoked, of course, and
shared it freely with less fortunate comrades, who had none; and under
circumstances such as ours, great indeed was the solace of a pipe,
though some found their tobacco too wet to smoke; then the Russians
and the rain were cursed alike. The latter also often reduced the
biscuits in our havresacks to a wet and dirty pulp; but hunger made us
thankful to have it, even in that condition.

"By Jove," one would say, "how the rain comes down! Awful, isn't it?"

"Won't spoil our uniforms, Bill, anyhow."

"No, lads, they are past spoiling," said I, and often had to add,
"keep your firelocks under your greatcoats, men, and look to your

And such care was imperatively necessary, for on dark nights
especially we never knew the moment when an attempt to scour the
trenches might bring on another Inkermann. So we would sit cowering
between the gabions, while ever and anon the fiery bombs, often shot
at random, came in quick succession through the dark sky of night,
making bright and glittering arcs as they sped on their message of
destruction, sometimes falling short and bursting in mid-air, or on
the earth and throwing up a column of dust and stones, and sometimes
fairly into the trenches, scattering death and mutilation among us.
Erelong, as the season drew on, we had the snow to add to our
miseries, and for many an hour under the lee of a gabion I have sat,
half awake and half torpid, watching the white flakes falling, like
glittering particles, athwart the slanting moonlight on the pale and
upturned faces and glistening eyes of the dead, on their black and
gaping wounds, and tattered uniform; for many perished nightly in the
trenches, on some occasions over a hundred; and at times and places
their bodies were so frozen to the earth, that to remove or tear them
up was impossible, so they had to be left where they lay, or be
covered up _pro tem_, with a little loose soil, broken by a sapper's
pickaxe. And with the endurance of all this bodily misery, I had the
additional grief that no letters ever came from Estelle for me. My
dream-castle was beginning to crumble down. I began to feel vaguely
that something had been taken out of my life, that life itself was
less worth having now, and that the beauty of the past was fading
completely away. I had but one conviction or wish--that I had never
met, had never known, or had never learned to love her.


THE dreamy conviction or thought with which the last chapter closes,
proved, perhaps, but a foreshadowing of that which was looming in the
future. On the day after that terrible storm of wind, rain, and hail
in the Black Sea, when some five hundred seamen were drowned, and when
so many vessels perished, causing an immense loss to the Allies; a
terrific gale, such as our oldest naval officers had never seen; when
the tents in camp were uprooted in thousands, and swept in rags before
the blast; when the horses broke loose from their picketing-ropes, and
forty were found dead from cold and exposure; when every imaginable
article was blown hither and thither through the air; and when,
without food, fire, or shelter, even the sick and wounded passed a
night of privation and misery such as no human pen can describe, and
many of the Light Division were thankful to take shelter in the old
caverns and cells of Inkermann--on the 15th of November, the day
subsequent to this terrible destruction by land and water, there
occurred an episode in my own story which shall never be forgotten by

Singular to say, amid all the vile hurly-burly incident to the storm,
a disturbance increased by the roar of the Russian batteries, and a
sortie on the French, a mail from England reached our division, and it
contained one letter for me.

Prior to my opening it, as I failed to recognise the writing, Phil
Caradoc (wearing a blanket in the fashion of a poncho-wrapper, a
garment to which his black bearskin cap formed an odd finish) entered
my tent, which had just been re-erected with great difficulty, and I
saw that he had a newspaper in his hand, and very cloudy expression in
his usually clear brown eyes.

"What is up, Phil?" said; "a bad report of our work laid before the
public, or what?"

"Worse than that," said he, seating himself on the empty flour-cask
which served me for a table. "Can you steel yourself to hear bad

"From home?" I asked.

"Well, yes," said he, hesitating, and a chill came over my heart as I
said involuntarily,


"Yes, about Lady Cressingham."

"What--what--don't keep me in suspense!" I exclaimed, starting up.

"She is, I fear, lost to you for ever, Hardinge."

"Ill--dead--O, Phil, don't say dead!"

"No, no."

"Thank God! What, then, is the matter?"

"She is--married, that is all."


"Poor Harry! I am deuced sorry for you. Look at this paper. Perhaps I
shouldn't have shown it to you; but some one less a friend--Mostyn or
Clavell--might have thrown it in your way. Besides, you _must_ have
learned the affair in time. Take courage," he added, after a pause,
during which a very stunned sensation pervaded me; "be a man; she is
not worth regretting."

"To whom is she married?" I asked, in a low voice.

"Pottersleigh," said he, placing in my hand the paper, which was a
_Morning Post_.

I crushed it up into a ball, and then, spreading it out on the head of
the inverted cask, read, while my hands trembled, and my heart grew
sick with many contending emotions, a long paragraph which Phil
indicated, and which ran somewhat as follows, my friend the while
standing quietly by my side, manipulating a cheroot prior to lighting
it with a cinder from my little fire. The piece of fashionable gossip
was headed, "Marriage of the Right Hon. the Earl of Aberconway and the
Lady Estelle Cressingham;" and detailed, in the usual style of such
announcements, that, on a certain--I forget which day _now_--the
lovely and secluded little village of Walcot, in Hampshire, presented
quite a festive appearance in honour of the above-named event, the
union of the young and beautiful daughter of the late Earl of Naseby
to our veteran statesman; that along the route from the gates of
Walcot Park to the porch of the village church were erected several
arches of evergreen, tastefully surmounted by banners and appropriate
mottoes. Among the former "we observed the arms of the now united
noble houses of Potter and Cressingham, and the standards of the
Allies now before Sebastopol. The beautiful old church of Walcot was
adorned with flowers, and crowded to excess long before the hour
appointed. The lovely bride was charmingly attired in white satin,
elegantly trimmed with white lace, and wore a wreath of orange
blossoms on her splendid dark hair, covered with a long veil, _à la
juive_. The bridesmaids, six in number, were as follows:" but I omit
their names as well as the list of gifts bestowed upon the noble
bride, who was given away by her cousin, the young earl. "Lord
Aberconway, with his ribbon of the Garter, wore the peculiar uniform
of the Pottersleigh Yeomanry."

"Rather a necessary addition," said Phil, parenthetically; "his
lordship could scarcely have figured in the ribbon alone."

"--Yeomanry, of which gallant regiment he is colonel, and looked hale
and well for his years. After a choice _déjeûner_ provided for a
distinguished circle, the newly-wedded pair left Walcot Park, amid the
most joyous demonstrations, for Pottersleigh Hall, the ancestral seat
of the noble Earl, to spend the honeymoon."

"A precious flourish of penny whistles!" said Phil, when I had read,
deliberately folded the paper, and thrust it into the fire, to the end
that I might not be troubled by the temptation to read it all over
again; and then we looked at each other steadily for a minute in
silence. Forsaken! I remembered my strange forebodings now, when I had
ridden to Walcot Park. They were married--married, she and old
Pottersleigh! My heart seemed full of tears, yet when seating myself
wearily on the camp-bed, I laughed bitterly and scornfully, as I
thought over the inflated newspaper paragraph, and that the _sangre
azul_ of the Earl of Aberconway must be thin and blue indeed, when
compared with the red blood of my less noble self.

"Come, Harry, don't laugh--in that fashion at least," said Caradoc.
"I've some brandy here," he added, unslinging his canteen, "I got from
a confiding little vivandière of the 10th Regiment, Infanterie de
Ligne. Don't mix it with the waters of Marah, the springs of
bitterness, but take a good caulker neat, and keep up your heart.
_Varium et mutabile semper_--you know the last word is feminine. That
is it, my boy--nothing more. Even the wisest man in the world, though
he dearly loved them, could never make women out; and I fear, Harry,
that you and I are not even the wisest men in the Welsh Fusileers. And
now as a consolation,

         "'And that your sorrow may not be a dumb one,
          Write odes on the inconstancy of woman.'"

"I loved that girl very truly, very honestly, and very tenderly,
Phil," said I, in a low voice, and heedless of how he had been running
on; "and she kissed me when I left her, as I then thought and hoped a
woman only kisses _once_ on earth. In my sleep I have had a
foreshadowing of this. Can it be that the slumber of the body is but
the waking of the soul, that such thoughts came to me of what was to

"The question is too abstruse for me," said Caradoc, stroking his
brown beard, which was now of considerable length and volume; "but
don't worry yourself, Harry; you have but tasted, as I foresaw you
would, of the hollow-heartedness, the puerile usages, the petty
intrigues, and the high-born snobbery of those exclusives 'the upper
ten thousand.' Don't think me republican for saying so; but 'there is
one glory of the sun and another of the moon,' as some one writes;
'and there is one style of beauty among women which is angelic, and
another which is _not_,' referring, I presume, to beauty of the
spirit. We were both fated to be unlucky in our loves," continued
Caradoc, taking a vigorous pull at the little plug-hole of his
canteen, a tiny wooden barrel slung over his shoulder by a strap; "but
do take courage, old fellow, and remember there are other women in the
world in plenty."

"But not for me," said I, bitterly.

"Tush! think of me, of my affair--I mean my mistake with Miss Lloyd."

"But she never loved you."

"Neither did this Lady Estelle, now Countess of Aberconway" (I ground
my teeth), "love you."

"She said she did; and what has it all come to? promises broken, a
plight violated, a heart trod under foot."

"Come, come; don't be melodramatic--it's d--d absurd, and no use.
Besides, there sounds the bugle for orders, and we shall have to
relieve the trenches in an hour. So take another cigar ere you go."

"She never loved me--never! never! you are right, Phil."

"And yet I believe she did."

"Did!" said I, angrily; "what do you mean now, Caradoc? I am in no
mood to study paradoxes."

"I mean that she loved you to a certain extent; but not well enough to
sacrifice herself and her--"

"Don't say position--hang it!"


"What then?" I asked, impatiently.

"Her little luxuries, and all that she must have lost by the tenor of
her father's will and her mother's bad will, or that she should have
omitted to gain, had she married you, a simple captain of the 23rd
Foot, instead of this old Potter--this Earl of Aberconway."

"A simple captain, indeed!"

"Pshaw, Harry, be a man, and think no more about the affair. It is as
a tale that is told, a song that is sung, a bottle of tolerable wine
that has become a marine."

"_L'infidelité_ du _corps_, ou l'infidelité du _c[oe]ur_, I care not
now which it was; but I am done with her now and for ever," I
exclaimed, with a sudden gust of rage, while clasping on my sword.

"Done--so I should think, when she is married."

"But to such a contemptible dotard."

"Well, there is some revenge in that."

"And she could cast me aside like an old garment," said I, lapsing
into tenderness again; "I, to whose neck she clung as she did on that
evening we parted. There must have been some trickery--some treachery,
of which we are the victims!"

"Don't go on in this way, like a moonstruck boy, or, by Jove, the
whole regiment will find it out; so calm yourself, for we go to the
front in an hour;" and wringing my hand this kind-hearted fellow,
whose offhand consolation was but ill-calculated to soothe me, left
for his own tent, as he had forgotten his revolver.

I was almost stupefied by the shock. Could the story be real? I looked
to the little grate (poor Evans' contrivance) where the charred
remains of the _Morning Post_ still flickered in the wind. Was I the
same man of an hour ago? "The plains of life were free to traverse,"
as an elegant female writer says, "but the sunshine of old lay across
them no longer. There were roses, but they were scentless--fruits, but
they were tasteless--wine, but it had lost its flavour. Well, every
created being must come to an hour like this, when he feels there is
nothing pleasant to the palate, or grateful to the sense, agreeable to
the ear, or refreshing to the heart; when man delights him not and
woman still less, and when he is sick of the dream of existence."

To this state had I come, and yet I had neither seen nor heard the
last of her.

"Estelle--Estelle!" I exclaimed in a low voice, and my arms went out
into vacancy, to fall back on the camp-bed whereon I reclined.
Abandoned for another; forgotten it might too probably--nay, must be.
I stared up, and looked from the triangular door of the tent over the
wilderness of zigzags, the sand-bags, and fascines of the trenches;
over the gun-batteries to the white houses and green domes of
Sebastopol, and all down the long valley of Inkermann, where the
graves of the dead lay so thick and where the Russian pickets were
quietly cooking their dinners; but I could see nothing distinctly.
The whole features of the scenery seemed blurred, faint, and blended,
for my head was swimming, my heart was sick, and all, all this was
the doing of Estelle! Did no memory of sweet Winifred Lloyd come
to me in my desolation of the heart? None! I could but think of the
cold-blooded treachery of the one I had lost. My letter! I suddenly
remembered it, and tore it open, thinking that the writer, whose hand,
as I have said, I failed to recognise, might cast some light upon the
matter; and to my increasing bewilderment, it proved to be from
Winifred herself. A letter from her, and to _me_; what could it mean?
But the first few words sufficed to explain.

Craigaderyn, . . . .

"My dear Captain Hardinge,--Papa has sprained his whip hand when
hunting with Sir Watkins Vaughan, and so compels me to write for him."
(Why should compulsion be necessary? thought I.) "You will, no doubt,
have heard all about Lady Estelle's marriage by this time. She was
engaged to Lord Pottersleigh _before_ she came here, it would seem,
and matters were brought to an issue soon after your transport sailed.
She wished Dora and me to be among her bridesmaids, but we declined;
nor would papa have permitted us, had we desired to be present at the
ceremony. She bade me say, if I wrote to you, that you must forgive
her, as she is the victim of circumstances; that she shall ever esteem
and love you as a brother, and so forth; but I agree with papa, who
says that she is a cold-hearted jilt, undeserving of any man's love,
and that he 'will never forgive her, even if he lived as long as
Gwyllim ap Howel ap Jorwerth ap Tregaian,' the Old Parr of Wales.

"We are all well at Craigaderyn, and all here send you and Mr. Caradoc
kindest love. We are quite alone just now, and I often idle over my
music, playing 'The Men of Harlech,' and other Welsh airs to papa.
More often I wander and ride about the Martens' dingle, by Carneydd
Llewellyn's hut--you remember it?--by Glendower's oak, by the Elwey,
Llyn Aled, and the rocking stone, and think--think very much of you
and poor Mr. Caradoc, and all that might have been." (Pretty pointed
this--with which--Phil or me? Could I be uncertain?) "Next to hearing
from you, our greatest pleasure at Craigaderyn is to hear about you
and our own Welsh Fusileers, of whose bravery at Alma we are so justly
proud; so we devour the newspapers with avidity and too often with
sorrow. How is my dear pet goat?"

And so, with a pretty little prayer that I might be spared, her letter
ended; and hearing the voices of the adjutant and sergeant-major, I
thrust it into my pocket, and set off to relieve the trenches, with
less of enthusiasm and more recklessness of life than ever before
possessed me, and without reflecting that I did not deserve to receive
a letter so kind and prayerful as that of the dear little Welsh girl,
who was so far away. It was cold that night in the trenches, nathless
the Russian _fire_--yea, cold enough to freeze the marrow in one's
bones; but my heart seemed colder still. In the morning, four of my
company were found dead between the gabions, without a wound, and with
their muskets in their hands. The poor fellows had gone to their last
account--slipt away in sheer exhaustion, through lack of food, warmth,
and clothing--and this was glory!


I have said that, ere the regular hutting of the army for the winter
siege began, quarters were found for me by fate elsewhere; a
circumstance which came about in the following manner. All may have
heard of the famous solitary ride of Lieutenant Maxse of the Royal
Navy, to open a communication between headquarters and Balaclava; and
it was my chance to have a similar solitary ride to perform, but,
unfortunately, to fail in achieving the end that was in view. One
afternoon, on being informed by the adjutant of ours that I was wanted
at headquarters, I assumed my sword and sash--indeed, these
appurtenances were rarely off us--and putting my tattered uniform in
such order as the somewhat limited means of my "toilet-table"
admitted, repaired at once, and not without considerable surprise, and
some vague misgivings, to the house inhabited by Lord Raglan. I had
there to wait for some time, as he was busy with some of the
headquarter staff, and had just been holding a conference with certain
French officers of rank, who were accompanied by their aides and
orderlies. Among them I saw the fat and full-faced but soldier-like
Marshal Pelissier, the future Duc de Malakoff, with his cavalry escort
and banner; and grouped about the place, or departing therefrom, I saw
Chasseurs d'Afrique in sky-blue jackets and scarlet trousers; Imperial
Cuirassiers in helmets and corslets of glittering steel; French horse
artillery with caps of fur and pelisses covered with red braid. There,
too, were many of our own staff officers, with their plumed hats; even
the Turkish cavalry escort of some pasha, stolid-looking fellows in
scarlet fezzes, were there, their unslung carbines resting on the
right thigh; and I saw some of our Land Transport Corps, in red
jackets braided with black, loitering about, as if some important
movement was on the tapis; but whatever had been suggested, nothing
was fated to come of it.

Through the buzz and Babel of several languages, I was ushered at
last, by an orderly sergeant, into the little dingy room where the
Commander-in-chief of our Eastern army usually held his councils or
consultations, received reports, and prepared his plans. The military
secretary, the chief of the staff, the adjutant-general, and some
other officers, whose uniforms were all threadbare, darned, and
discoloured, and whose epaulettes were tattered, frayed, and reduced
almost to black wire, were seated with him at a table, which was
littered with letters, reports, despatches, telegrams, and plans of
Sebastopol, with the zigzags, the harbour, the valley of the
Tchernaya, and of the whole Crimea. And it was not without an emotion
of interest and pleasure, that I found myself before our old and
amiable leader, the one-armed Lord Raglan--he whose kindly nature,
charity, urbanity, and queer signature as _Fitzroy Somerset_, when
military secretary, had been so long known in our army during the days
of peace; and to whom the widow or the orphan of a soldier never
appealed in vain.

"Glad to see you, Captain Hardinge," said he, bowing in answer to my
salute; "I have a little piece of duty for you to perform, and the
chief of the staff" (here he turned to the future hero of the attack
on the Redan) "has kindly reminded me of how well you managed the
affair of the flag of truce sent to the officer on the Russian left,
concerning the major of the 93rd Highlanders."

I bowed again and waited.

"My personal aides," he continued, "are all knocked up or engaged
elsewhere just now, and I have here a despatch for Marshal Canrobert,
requiring an immediate answer, as there is said to be an insurrection
among the Polish troops within Sebastopol, and if so, you will readily
perceive the necessity for taking instant advantage of it. At this
precise time, the Marshal is at a Tartar village on the road to
Kokoz." (Here his lordship pointed to a map of the Crimea.) "It lies
beyond the Pass of Baidar, which you will perceive indicated there,
and consequently is about thirty English miles to our rear and right.
You can neither miss him nor the village, I think, by any possibility,
as it is occupied by his own old corps, the 3rd Zouaves, a French line
regiment, and four field guns. You will deliver to him this letter,
and bring me his answer without delay."

"Unless I fail, my lord."

"As Richelieu says in the play, 'there is no such word as fail!'" he
replied, smiling. "But, however, in case of danger, for there _are_
Cossacks about, you must take heed to destroy the despatch."

"Very good, my lord--I shall go with pleasure."

"You have a horse, I presume?"

"I had not thought of that, my lord--a horse, no; here I can scarcely
feed myself, and find no use for a horse."

"Take mine--I have a spare one," said the chief of the staff, who was
then a major-general and C.B. He rang the hand-bell for the orderly
sergeant, to whom he gave a message. Then I had a glass or two of
sherry from a simple black bottle; Lord Raglan gave me his missive
sealed, and shook my hand with that energy peculiar to the one-armed,
and a few minutes more saw me mounted on a fine black horse, belonging
to the chief of the staff, and departing on my lonely mission. The
animal I rode--round in the barrel, high in the forehead, and deep in
the chest, sound on its feet and light in hand--was a thorough English
roadster--a nag more difficult to find in perfection than even the
hunter or racer; but his owner was fated to see him no more.

I rode over to the lines of the regiment, to let some of our
fellows--who all envied me, yet wished me well--know of the duty
assigned me. What was it to me whether or not _she_ saw my name in
despatches, in orders, or in the death list? Whether I distinguished
myself or died mattered little to me, and less now to her. It was a
bitter conviction; so excitement and forgetfulness alike of the past
and of the present were all I sought--all I cared for. Caradoc,
however, wisely and kindly suggested some alteration or modification
in my uniform, as the country through which I had to pass was
certainly liable to sudden raids by scouting Cossacks. So, for my red
coat and bearskin, I hastily substituted the blue undress surtout,
forage cap, and gray greatcoat. I had my sword, revolver, and
ammunition pouch at my waist-belt. Perceiving that I was gloomy and
sullen, and somewhat low-spirited in eye and bearing, Caradoc and
Charley Gwynne, who could not comprehend what had "been up" with me
for some time past, and who openly assured me that they envied me this
chance of "honourable mention," accompanied me a little way beyond the
line of sentries on our right flank.

"Au revoir, old fellow! Keep up your heart and remember all I have
said to you," were Phil's parting words, "and together we shall sing
and be merry. I hope to keep the 1st of March in Sebastopol, and there
to chorus our old mess room song;" and as he waved his hand to me, the
light-hearted fellow sang a verse of a ditty we were wont to indulge
in on St. David's-day, while Toby Purcell's spurs were laid on the
table, and the band, preceded by the goat led by the drum-major with a
salver of leeks, marched in procession round it:

    "Then pledge me a toast to the glory of Wales--
     To her sons and her daughters, her hills and her vales;
     Once more--here's a toast to the mighty of old--
     To the fair and the gentle, the wise and the bold;
     Here's a health to whoever, by land or by sea,
     Has been true to the Wales of the brave and the free!"

And poor Phil Caradoc's voice, carolling this local ditty, was the
last sound I heard, as I took the path that led first towards
Balaclava and thence to the place of my destination, while the sun of
the last day of November was shedding lurid and farewell gleams on the
spires and white walls of Sebastopol. Many descriptions have rendered
the name and features of Balaclava so familiar to all, with its old
Genoese fort, its white Arnaout dwellings shaded by poplars and other
trees, that I mean to skip farther notice of it, and also of the mud
and misery of the place itself--the beautiful and landlocked harbour,
once so secluded, then crowded with man-of-war boats and steam
launches, and made horrible by the swollen and sweltering carcasses of
hundreds of troop-horses, which our seamen and marines used as
stepping-stones when leaping from boat to boat or to the shore. Some
little episodes made an impression upon me, which I am unlikely to
forget, after approaching Balaclava by a cleft between those rocky
heights where our cavalry were encamped, and where, by ignominiously
making draught-horses of their troopers for the conveyance of planks,
they were busily erecting a town of huts that looked like a "backwood"
hamlet. A picturesque group was formed by some of the kilted Highland
Brigade, brawny and bearded men, their muscular limbs displayed by
their singular costume, piling a cairn above the trench where some of
their dead comrades lay, thus fulfilling one of the oldest customs of
their country--in the words of Ossian, "raising the stones above the
mighty, that they might speak to the little sons of future years."
Elsewhere I saw two Frenchmen carrying a corpse on a stretcher, from
which they coolly tilted it into a freshly dug hole, and began to
cover it up, singing the while as cheerily as the grave-digger in
_Hamlet_, which I deemed a striking proof of the demoralising effect
of war--for their comrade was literally buried exactly as a dog would
have been in England; and yet, that the last element of civilisation
might not be wanting, a gang of "navvies" were laying down the
sleepers for the first portion of the camp-railway, through the main
street of Balaclava, the Bella-chiare of the adventurous Genoese.

Though I did not loiter there, the narrow way was so deep with mud,
and so encumbered by the débris and material of war, that my progress
was very slow, and darkness was closing in on land and sea when I
wheeled off to the left in the direction of Kokoz, after obtaining
some brandy from a vivandière of the 12th French Infantry--not the
pretty girl with the semi-uniform, the saucy smile, and slender
ankles, who beats the drum and pirouettes so prettily as the orthodox
stage vivandière--but a stout French female party, muffled in a
bloodstained Russian greatcoat, with a tawny imp squalling at her
back. I passed the ground whereon the picturesque Sardinian army was
afterwards to encamp, and soon entered the lovely Baidar valley. The
mountains and the dense forests made me think of Wales, for on my
right lay a deep ravine with rocks and water that reflected the stars;
on my left were abrupt but well-wooded crags, and I could not but look
first on one side, and then on the other, with some uneasiness; for
Russian riflemen might be lurking among the latter, and stray Cossacks
might come prowling down the former, far in rear of Canrobert's
advanced post at the Tartar village. A column such as he had with him
might penetrate with ease to a distance most perilous for a single
horseman; and this valley, lovely though it was--the Tempe of the
Crimea--I was particularly anxious to leave behind me. I have said
that I felt reckless of peril, and so I did, being reckless enough and
ready enough to face any danger in front; yet I disliked the idea of
being quietly "potted" by some Muscovite boor lying _en perdue_,
behind a bush, and then being brained or bayoneted by him afterwards;
for I knew well that those who were capable of murdering our helpless
wounded on the field, would have few compunctions elsewhere.
Reflection now brought another idea--a very unpleasant one--to mind.
Though I was in _rear_ of this French advanced post, there was nothing
to prevent Cossack scouts--active and ubiquitous as the Uhlans of
Prussia--from deeming me a spy and treating me as such, if they found
me there; for was not Major André executed most ignominiously by the
Americans on that very charge, though taken in the uniform of the
Cameronian regiment?

Unfortunately for me, there were and are two roads through the Baidar
valley: one by the pass, of recent construction; and the other, the
ancient horse-road, which is old, perhaps, as the days of the Greeks
of Klimatum. A zigzag ascent, and a gallery hewn through the granite
rocks for some fifty yards or so, lead to a road from whence, by its
lofty position, the whole line of shore can be seen for miles, and the
sea, as I saw it then, dotted by the red top-lights of our men-o'-war
and transports. The other follows for some little distance, certainly,
the same route nearly, but comes ere long to the Devil's Staircase,
the steps of which are trunks of trees alternated by others hewn out
of the solid rock; and this perilous path lies, for some part of the
way at least, between dark, shadowy, and enormous masses of impending
cliffs, where any number of men might be taken by surprise. And
certainly I felt my heart beat faster, with the mingled emotions of
fierce excitement and stern joy, as I hooked my sword-hilt close up to
my waist-belt, assured myself that the caps were on my revolver, and
spurred my roadster forward. Darkness was completely set in now, and
before me there twinkled one solitary star at the distant end of the
gloomy and rocky tunnel through which I was pursuing my solitary way.


I pursued the old road just described, urging my horse to a trot where
I dare do so, but often being compelled--by the rough construction and
nature of the way, and at times by my painful doubts as to whether I
was pursuing the right one--to moderate his pace to a walk.
Frequently, too, I had to dismount and lead him by the bridle,
especially at such parts as those steps of wood and stone by the
Merdven or Devil's Staircase, when after passing through forests of
beech and elm, walnut and filbert trees, I found myself on the summit
of a rock, which I have since learned is two thousand feet above the
Euxine, and from whence the snow-capped summits of the Caucasus can be
seen when the weather is clear. Around me were the mountains of Yaila,
rising in peaks and cliffs of every imaginable form, and fragments of
rock like inverted stalactites started up here and there amidst the
star-lighted scenery. Anon the way lay through a forest entirely of
oaks, where the fallen leaves of the past year lay deep, and the heavy
odour of their decay filled all the atmosphere. The country seemed
very lonely; no shepherd's cot appeared in sight, and an intense
conviction of utter solitude oppressed me. Frequently I reined in my
horse and hearkened for a sound, but in vain. I knew a smattering of
Arabic and that polyglot gibberish which we call Hindostani, but
feared that neither would be of much service to me if I met a Tartar;
and as for a Greek or Cossack, the revolver would be the only means of
conferring with them. Once the sound of a distant bell struck my ear,
announcing some service by night in a church or monastery among the
hills; and soon, on my left, towered up the range of which
Mangoup-Kaleh is the chief, crowned with the ruins of a deserted
Karaite or Jewish tower, and which overlooks Sebastopol on one side,
and Sebastopol on the other. After a time I came to a place where some
buffaloes were grazing, beside a fountain that plashed from a little
archway into a basin of stone. This betokened that some habitation
must be in the vicinity; but that which perplexed me most, was the
circumstance that there the old road was crossed by another: thus I
was at a loss which to pursue. One might lead me to the shore of the
Black Sea; another back towards Sebastopol, or to the Russian pickets
in the valley of Inkermann; and the third, if it failed to be the way
to Kokoz, might be a path to greater perils still.

While in this state of doubt, a light, hitherto unnoticed, attracted
my attention. It glimmered among some trees about a mile distant on my
left, and I rode warily towards it, prepared to fight or fly, as the
event might require. Other lights rapidly appeared, and a few minutes
more brought me before a long rambling building of Turkish aspect,
having large windows filled in with glass, a tiled roof, and broad
eaves. On one side was a spacious yard enclosed by a low wall, wherein
were several horses, oxen, and buffaloes tethered to the kabitkas or
quaintly-constructed country carts; on the other was a kind of open
shed like a penfold, where lighted lanterns were hanging and candles
burning in tin sconces; and by these I could perceive a number of
bearded Armenians and Tartars seated with chibouks and coffee before
them, chatting gaily and laughing merrily at the somewhat broad and
coarse jokes of a Stamboul Hadji, a pretended holy mendicant, whose
person was as unwashed and whose attire was as meagre and tattered as
that of any wandering Faquir I had ever seen in Hindostan. His beard
was ample, and of wonderful blackness; his glittering eyes, set under
beetling brows, were restless and cunning; his turban had once been
green, the sacred colour; and he carried a staff, a wallet, a
sandal-wood rosary of ninety-nine beads, and a bottle, which probably
held water when nothing stronger could be procured. The Tartars, six
in number, were lithe, active, and gaily-dressed fellows, with large
white fur caps, short jackets of red or blue striped stuff, and loose,
baggy, dark blue trousers, girt by scarlet sashes, wherein were stuck
their daggers and brass-butted pistols; for, though all civilians,
they were nevertheless well armed.

The Armenians seemed to be itinerant merchants, or pedlars, as their
packages were close beside them; and two Tartar women--the wife and
daughter probably of the keeper of the khan--who were in attendance,
bringing fresh relays of coffee, cakes, and tobacco, wore each a white
feredji, which permitted nothing of their form to be seen, save the
sparkling dark eyes and yellow-booted feet, as it covered them so
completely that each looked like nothing else than a walking and
talking bundle of white linen. The whole group, as I came upon it thus
suddenly, when seen by the flickering light of the candles and
lanterns, had a very picturesque effect; but the idea flashed upon me,
that as all these men were, too probably, subjects of the Russian
empire, I ran some risk among them; and on my unexpected appearance
the Tartars started, eyed each other and me, in doubt how to act, and
instinctively laid hands on their weapons, like men who were wont to
use them. The Armenians changed colour and laid down their pipes,
fearing that I was but the precursor of a foraging party; and even the
Hadji paused in his story, and placed a hand under his short cloak,
where no doubt a weapon was concealed. All seemed doubtful what to
make of me. I heard "Bashi-bazouk" (Irregular) muttered, and "Frank,"
too. My gray greatcoat enabled me, in their unprofessional eyes, to
pass for anything. If a Russian officer, they feared me; if one of the
Allies, I was the friend--however unworthy an instrument--of the
successor of Mahomet; one of those who had come to fight his battles
against the infidels of the Russian-Greek church; so either way I was
pretty secure of the Tartars' good will; and boldly riding forward, I
proceeded to "air" some of the Arabic I had picked up in the East, by
uttering the usual greeting; to which the keeper of the khan replied
by a low salaam, bending down as if to take the dust from my right
boot and carry it to his lips, while more than once he said,

"_Hosh ghieldiniz!_" (_i. e_., Welcome!)

Then a Tartar, as a token of goodwill, took a pipe from his mouth and
presented it to me, while another offered me sliced water-melon on an
English delph-plate.

"_Aan coon slaheet nahss?_" (Have you any coppers?) whined the Hadji.

I gave him a five-piastre piece, on which he salaamed to the earth
again and again, saying,

"_Kattel herac! kattel herac!_" (Thank you, sir.)

The meeting was a narrow escape, for I might have fallen among
Russians; but fortunately not one of their nation happened at that
moment to be about the place. I laid some money on the low board
around which they were seated, and asked for coffee and a chibouk,
which were brought to me, when I dismounted. However, I remained near
my horse, that I might vault into the saddle and be off on the
shortest notice. On inquiring if I was on the right road for Kokoz,
the host of the establishment shook his head, and informed me that I
was several versts to the left of it. I next asked whether there were
any Russian troops in the immediate neighbourhood. Still eyeing me
keenly and dubiously, several of the Tartars replied in the
affirmative; and the tattered Hadji, whose goodwill I had won by my
peace-offering, told me that a party of Cossacks were now hovering in
the Baidar Valley, the very place through which I had passed, and must
have to repass, unless for safety I remained with Canrobert's flying
column. But then my orders were to return with his answer, and without
delay. Here was a pleasant predicament! After mature consideration I
resolved to wait for daylight, when the Hadji promised to be my guide
to the Tartar village, where the Franks were posted, and which he led
me to understand was nearer the base of Mangoup-Kaleh than the town of
Kokoz; and in the meantime, he added, he should resume a story, in the
narration of which he had been interrupted by my arrival. This
announcement was greeted with a hearty clapping of hands; the women
came nearer; all adjusted themselves in attitudes of attention, for
oral storytelling is the staple literature of the East. Thus their
thoughts, suspicions, and conjectures were drawn from me; and as all
seemed good-humoured, I resolved to make the best of the situation and
remain passive and patient, though every moment expecting to hear the
clank of hoofs or the jingle of accoutrements, and to see the glitter
of Cossack lances; and while I sat there, surveying the singular group
of which I formed one, the quaint aspect of the caravanserai on one
side, the dark forest lands and starlit mountains on the other, my
thoughts, in spite of me, reverted to the news I had so lately
heard--to her I had now lost for ever, and who, in her splendid
English home, was far away from all such wild scenes and stirring
perils as those which surrounded me.

The story told by the Hadji referred to a piece of court scandal,
which, had he related it somewhere nearer the Golden Horn, might have
cost him his head; and to me it became chiefly remarkable from the
circumstance that, soon after the Crimean War, a portion of it
actually found its way as news from the East into the London papers;
but all who heard it in the khan listened with eyes dilated and mouth
agape, for it was replete with that treachery and lust of cruelty
which are so peculiarly oriental. After extolling in flowing and
exaggerated terms the beauty of Djemila Sultana, whom he called the
third and youngest daughter of the Sultan Abdul Medjid, the Hadji told
us that he had been present when she was bestowed in marriage upon
Mahmoud Jel-al-adeen Pasha, to whom, notwithstanding the charms of
this royal lady, the possession of her hand was anything but enviable,
as oriental princesses usually treat worse than slaves their husbands,
leading them most wretched lives, in consequence of their tyrannical
spirit, their caprice, pride, and jealousy of other women. Now the
Sultana Djemila was no exception to this somewhat general rule, and
having discovered by the aid of her royal papa's chief astrologer, the
Munadjim Bashee, that her husband had purchased and secluded in a
pretty little kiosk near the waterside at Pera a beautiful Circassian,
whom he was wont to visit during pretended absences on military duty,
she found means to have the girl carried off, and ordered the Capi
Aga, or chief of the White Eunuchs, an unscrupulous Greek, to
decapitate her; an operation which he performed by one stroke of his
sabre, for the neck of the victim was very slender, and shapely as
that of a white swan. Not contented with this, she resolved still
farther to be revenged upon her husband the Pasha when he returned to

Seating herself in the divan-hanee while the meal of which the Pasha
was to partake alone--as women, no matter what their rank may be,
never eat with men in the East--was being spread, she rose up at his
entrance, and rendering the usual homage accorded by wives (much to
his astonishment), she then clapped her white hands, on which the
diamonds flashed, as a signal to serve up the dinner. Crushed and
abashed by a long system of domestic tyranny and despair, Mahmoud
Jel-al-adeen, who feared his wife as he had never feared the Russians,
against whom he had fought valiantly at Silistria, failed to perceive
the malignant light that glittered in the beautiful black eyes of
Djemila. But a fear of coming evil was upon him, as on that day, when
he had ridden past the great Arsenal, he had seen a crow fly towards
him; in the East an infallible sign of something about to befall him,
as it was a crow that first informed Adam that Abel was slain.

"So I pray you, Djemila, neither to taunt nor revile me to-day," said
he, "for a strange gloom is upon me."

She laughed mockingly, and Mahmoud shivered, for this laugh was often
the precursor of taunts that could never be recalled or forgotten, and
of having his beard rent, his turban knocked off, and his lips--the
same lips at whose utterance his brigade of three thousand Mahomediyes
trembled--beaten with the heel of her tiny slipper. But she began to
storm as was her wont; and then, while her husband's fingers went into
the pillau from time to time, there began their usual taunting
discussion, with quotations from the Koran, "which, as all the world
knows, or ought to know," continued the Hadji, "is the one and only
book for laws, civil, moral, religious, and domestic."

"Doth not the Prophet say," she exclaimed, closing the slender tips of
her henna-dyed fingers, "in the fourth chapter entitled 'Women,' and
revealed at Mecca, act with equity towards them?"

"Yes; but he adds, 'If ye act not with equity towards orphans of the
female sex, take in marriage such other as please you, two, three, or
four; but not more."

"So--so; and your fancy was for a slave!"

"_Was?_" stammered Mahmoud; then he added, defiantly, yet tremulous
with apprehension the while, "A Circassian, whose skin is as the egg
of an ostrich--her hair as a shower of sunbeams."

"This to me!" she exclaimed; and starting from the divan, she smote
him thrice on the mouth with the heel of her embroidered slipper.

The eyes of the Pasha flashed fire; yet remembering who she was, he
sighed and restrained his futile wrath, and said,

"If you will quote the Prophet, remember that he says in chapter iv.,
'Men shall have pre-eminence above women, because of those advantages
wherein God hath caused one of them to excel the other.'"

Djemila laughed derisively and fanned herself.

"Who dared to tell you of this slave girl?" asked Mahmoud, glancing
nervously at the pretty little slipper; "who, I demand?"

"The wire of the Infidels, that passes over men's houses, and reveals
the secrets of all things therein--even those of the harem," said she,
laughing, but with fierce triumph now; "yea, telling more than is
known by the Munadjim Bashee himself."

The Pasha knew not what to say to this; he quaffed some sherbet to
keep himself cool, and then ground his teeth, resolving, if he dared,
to have all the telegraph wires in his neighbourhood cut down; indeed,
about this time, such was the terror the Turks had of those mysterious
speaking wires, that in Constantinople, to prevent their destruction
as telltales, a few human heads were placed upon the supporting poles
by order of Stamboul Effendi, or chief of the police.

"Thou shalt be stoned by order of my brother, and according to the
holy law!" said Djemila, her proud lips curling and quivering.

"Woman, she is but a slave--an odalisque!"

"Whom you would marry before the kadi?"

"Yes," said Mahmoud, through his teeth, for his temper was rising

"And you love her?"

"Alas, yes--God and the Prophet alone know how well!" said the Pasha,
whose head drooped as he mentally compared the sweet gentleness of his
Circassian girl with the fiery fury of the royal bride he had been
compelled to espouse, as _a cheap reward_ for his military services.

"_Chabauk!_" exclaimed Djemila. "Serve the next dish. Eat, eat, I say,
and no more of this!"

The cover was removed by a trembling servant, and there lay before the
Pasha Mahmoud the head of the poor Circassian girl--the masses of
golden hair he had so frequently caressed, the eyes, now glazed, he
had loved to look on, and the now pale lips he had kissed a thousand
times in that lonely kiosk beside the sea.

"There is your dessert--_alfiert olsun!_" (May it do you good!)
exclaimed Djemila, with flashing eyes and set teeth.

Mahmoud, horror-struck, had only power to exclaim, as he threw his
hands and turned his eyes upward, "My love--my murdered love--_Allah
bereket versin!_" (May God receive your soul!) and then fell back on
his divan, and expired.

As he had prior to this drunk some sherbet, it was whispered abroad,
ere long, that the poor Pasha had been poisoned; but as no examination
after death took place, the high rank of his wife precluding it, it
was given out that he had died of apoplexy. So he was laid in the
Place of Sleep, with his turban on, his toes tied together, and his
face turned towards Mecca, and there was an end of it with him; but
not so with the Capi Aga, whom the Sultan, for being guilty of obeying
Djemila's order to execute the odalisque, subjected to an old Turkish
punishment now, and long before that day, deemed as obsolete. He was
taken to the Sirdan Kapussi, or Dungeon Gate of Stamboul, close by the
Fruit Market, and placed in a vaulted room, where he was stripped of
all his clothes by the Capidgi Bashi, who then brought in a large
copper plate or table, supported by four pedestals of iron, and
underneath which was a grate of the same metal, containing a fire of
burning coals, at the sight of which a shriek of despair escaped the
miserable Greek. When the plate of copper had become quite hot, the
executioner took the turban-cloth of the doomed man, unwound it, and
placing it round his waist, by the aid of two powerful hamals had it
drawn tight, until his body was compressed into the smallest possible
place. Then by one blow of his sabre he slashed the hapless wretch in
_two_, and placing his upper half instantly upon the burning copper, the
hissing blood was staunched thereby, and he was kept alive, but in
exquisite torture, till the time for which he was ordained to endure
it was fulfilled. He was then lifted off, and instantly expired.

Eagerly, with fixed eyes, half-open mouths, and in hushed silence,
forgetting even to smoke, and permitting their chibouks to die out,
his audience listened to this most improbable story, which the cunning
Hadji related with wonderful spirit and gesticulation; and so "having
supped full with horrors," at its close they showered coins--kopecs,
paras, and even English pennies--upon the narrator. The whole story
was a hoax, the Sultan having no such daughter as Djemila, the names
of the three sultanas being quite unlike it; but that made as little
difference then in Crim Tartary as it did afterwards nearer Cornhill;
and Charley Gwynne and others of ours to whom I mentioned it were wont
to call it "the bounce of the cold chop and the hot plate."


The night passed slowly with me in the khan. After the conclusion of
the Hadji's story, the travellers who were halting there coiled
themselves up to sleep, on the divan or on their carpets or felt mats;
but I was too much excited, too wakeful and suspicious of the honest
intentions of all about me, too anxious for dawn and the successful
completion of the important duty confided to me, to attempt following
their example, or even to allow that my horse should be unsaddled. I
simply relaxed his girths, and remained in the travellers' common
apartment, listening to every passing sound, and watching the sharp
oriental features of the black-bearded and picturesque-looking
sleepers by the smoky light of a solitary oil-lamp, which swung from a
dormant beam that traversed the apartment. The arched rafters of the
ceiling were painted in alternate stripes of white and black. There
was a fireplace or open chimney, where smouldered on the hearthstone a
heap of branches and dry fir-cones, the embers of which reddened and
whitened in the downward puffs of wind that eddied in the vent; and
round the walls were rows of shining tin plates, and under these were
other rows of white cloths, like towels in shape and size, but worked
and embroidered with gold thread, all made and prepared before
marriage by the Tartar hostess in her bridal days. All these quaint
objects appeared to recede or fade from my sight, and sleep was just
beginning to overpower me, when my sleeve was twitched by the Hadji,
who pointed to the snow-covered summits of the mountains then visible
from the windows, and becoming tipped with red light; and stiff and
weary I started up, to have my horse corned and watered for the task
of that day, the close of which I could little foresee.

The wife of the Tartar placed before me, on a table only a foot high
and little more than a foot square, a large tin tray, containing some
hard boiled eggs, black rye bread, and a vessel filled with the sweet
juice of pears. It was a strange and humble repast, but proved quite
Apician to me after our mode of messing before Sebastopol. I had
barely ended this simple Tartar breakfast, when the Stamboul Hadji,
who was to be my guide to Canrobert's post near Kokoz, exclaimed, in a
startled voice, "_Allah kerim_--look!"

I followed the direction indicated by his hand and dark, gleaming
eyes, and with emotions of a very chequered kind saw, through an open
window, "a clump of spears," as Scott would have called them; in
short, a party of Cossacks riding slowly and leisurely down the
mountain-path that led straight towards the house. In the eastern
sunlight the tips of their lances shone like fiery stars; but no other
appointments glittered about them; for unlike the gay light cavalry of
France and Britain, their uniforms are generally of the most plain and
dingy description. As yet they were about a mile distant, and if I
would escape them, there was not a moment to be lost. I rushed to my
horse, looked hastily but surely to bridle-bit, to saddle-girth, and
stirrup-leather; and without waiting for the Hadji, who, being afoot,
would only serve to retard my pace and lead to my capture, I gave some
money to the Tartar hostess, and galloped away, diving deep into the
forest, hoping that I had been as yet unseen, and should escape if
none of the people at the caravanserai betrayed me, either under the
inspiration of cowardice or malevolence. To avoid this party, who, it
would appear, were coming right along the road I should pursue, I rode
due eastward towards the ridge of Mount Yaila, which rose between me
and the Black Sea, and which extends from Balaclava nearly to Alushta,
a distance of fifty miles.

The day was clear and lovely, though cold and wintry, as the season
was so far advanced, and I proceeded lightly along a narrow forest
path, the purely-bred animal I rode seeming scarcely to touch, but
merely to brush, the dewy grass with its small hoofs. The air was
loaded by the fragrance of the firs; here and there, between the dark
and bronze-looking glades, fell the golden gleams of the morning sun;
and at times I had a view of the sombre sea of cones that spread over
the hills in countless lines, and in places untrodden, perhaps, save
by the wolf and the badger; overhead the black Egyptian vulture
hovered in mid-air, the brown partridges whirred up before my horse's
feet, and the hare, too, fled from its lurking-place among the long
grass; but by wandering thus deviously in such a lonely place, though
I might avoid those ubiquitous Cossacks, who were scattered
"broadcast" over all Crim Tartary, I should never reach Kokoz, or
deliver that despatch, which, if taken by the enemy, I meant to
destroy. Once or twice I came upon some Tartar huts, whose occupants
seemed to be chiefly women--the men being all probably employed as
military wagoners, in the forest or afield; but they drew close their
yashmacs and shut their doors at my approach; so midday came on, and I
was still in ignorance of the route to pursue, and in a district so
primitive that, when the simple natives saw me scrape a lucifer-match
to light a cigar, they were struck dumb with fear and wonder. Vague,
wild, and romantic dreams and hopes came into my mind, that, if I
perished and my name appeared in the _Gazette_, Estelle would weep for
me; and in my absurd, most misplaced regard, and almost boyish
enthusiasm, I felt that I should cheerfully have given up the life God
gave me, for a tear from this false girl, could I be but certain that
she would have shed it. Ay, there was the rub! Would she shed it, or
the sacrifice be worth the return?

"Bah!" thought I, as I bit my lip, and uttering something like a
malediction rode sullenly and madly on.

"Why cling thus to the dead past?" thought I, after a time. "Pshaw!
Phil Caradoc was right in all he urged upon me. Yet that past is so
sweet--it was so brilliant and tender--that memory cannot but dwell
upon it with fondness and regret, with passion and bitterness."

Pausing for nearly an hour, my whole "tiffin" being a damp cheroot, I
loosened my horse's girths for the time, and turned his quivering and
distended nostrils to the keen winter blast that blew from the Euxine,
and then I remounted. After wandering dubiously backward and forward,
and seeking to guide my motions by the sun, just as I was about to
penetrate into a narrow rocky defile, the outer end of which I hoped
would bring me to some proper roadway or place where my route could be
ascertained, the distant sound of a Cossack trumpet fairly in my
front, and responded to by another apparently but some fifty yards in
my rear, made me rein in my horse, while my heart beat wildly.

"Cossacks again!" I exclaimed, for I was evidently between two
scouting parties, and if I escaped one, was pretty certain to be
captured by the other.

Instinctively I guided my horse aside into a clump of wild pear-trees,
the now leafless stems and branches of which I greatly feared would
fail to conceal either it or me; but no nearer lurking place was nigh,
and there I waited and watched, my spirit galled and my heart swollen
with natural excitement and anxiety. Death seemed very close to me at
that moment; yet I sat in my saddle, revolver in hand, the blade of my
drawn sword in the same grasp with my reins, and ready for instant
use, as I was resolved to sell my life dearly. Preoccupied, I had been
unconscious for some time past that the cold had been increasing; that
the sun, lately so brilliant, had become obscured in sombre gray
clouds, and even that snow had begun to fall. Delicate and white as
floating swans'-down fell the flakes over all the scenery. On my
clothing and on my horse-furniture it remained white and pure; but on
the roadway I had to traverse it speedily became half-frozen mud. If I
escaped these scouting parties my horse-tracks might yet betray me,
and I thought vainly of the foresight of Robert Bruce when he fled
from London over a snow-covered country with his horse-shoes inverted.
If I escaped them! I was not left long in uncertainty of my fate in
that respect.

Riding in double file, and led by an officer who wore the usual long
coat with silver shoulder-straps and a stiff flat forage-cap, a party
of forty Cossacks issued slowly from the defile. Their leader was
either a staff-officer or a member of some other force, as his uniform
was quite different from theirs, which declared them to be
Tchernimorski Cossacks, the tribe who inhabit the peninsula of Tamar,
and all the country between the Kuban and Asof, being literally the
Cossacks of the Black Sea, and natives of the district. They carried
their cartridges ranged across their breast in rows of tin tubes, _à
la Circassienne_, and were all bronzed, bearded, and rough-looking
men, whose whole bearing spoke of Crimean and Circassian service, of
hard outpost work among the wild Caucasus, of many a bloody conflict
with Schamyl--conflicts in which quarter was neither asked nor given!
I had never been quite so near those wild warriors of the Russian
steppes before, and have no desire ever to be so again, at least under
the same dubious circumstances. They wore little squab-shaped busbies
of brown fur; sheepskin shoubahs, or cloaks, over their coarse green
uniforms; and had trusses of straw and bags of corn so secured over
the shoulders and cruppers of their small shaggy horses, that but
little more of the latter were visible than their noses and tails.
They rode with their knees high and stirrup-leathers short, their
lances slung behind them, and carbines rested on the right thigh.
Captivity or escape, life or death, were in the balance as they slowly
rode onward; but favoured by the already failing light and the falling
snow, I am now inclined to think that my figure should have escaped
even their keen and watchful eyes, had not evil fortune caused my
horse, on discovering a mare or so among their cattle, after snuffing
the air with quivering nostrils, to whinny and to neigh! At that
moment we were not more than fifty yards apart.

A shout, or rather a series of wild cries, escaped the Cossacks. I
pressed the spurs into the flanks of my gallant black horse, and he
sprang away with a wild bound; while the bullets from nearly twenty
carbines whistled past me harmlessly, thank heaven, and I rode
steadily away--away. I cared not in what direction now, so that the
more pressing danger was eluded, while cries and threats, and shot
after shot followed me; but I had no great fear of them so long as
they fired from the saddle, experience having taught me that even the
best-trained cavalry are but indifferent marksmen. Before me rose the
green ridge of Mount Yaila; the ground was somewhat open there, being
pastoral hill-slopes gradually culminating in those peaks, from
whence, in a clear day, the snow-clad summits of the Caucasus can be
discerned; and to reach a ravine or cleft in the hills before me, I
strained every effort of my horse, hoping, with the coming night, to
escape, or find some shelter by the seashore.

The idea was vague, uncertain, and wild, I know; but I had no other
alternative save to halt, wheel about, and sell my life as best I
could at terrible odds; while to prevent me eluding them, the Cossacks
had gradually opened out their files into a wide semicircle, lest I
should seek to escape by some sudden flank movement; and all kept
their horses--wiry, fiery, and active little brutes--well in hand.
Their leader was better mounted and kept far in advance of
them--unpleasantly close on my flanks, indeed--but still his nag was
no match for the noble English horse I rode; and so as the blue
shadows lengthened and deepened in the snow-coated valley, I began to
breathe more freely, and to think, or hope, there was perhaps a chance
for me after all. Perhaps some of the Cossacks began to think so, for
they dismounted, and, while the rest kept fiercely and closely in
pursuit, levelled their carbines over their saddles, over each other's
shoulders, or with left elbow firmly planted on the knee, and thus
took quiet and deliberate pot-shots at me; and two had effect on the
hind legs of my horse, tending seriously to injure his speed and
strength; and as each ball struck him he gave a snort, and shivered
with pain and terror. On and on yet up the mountain valley!

An emotion of mockery, defiance, and exultation almost filled me--the
exultation of the genuine English racing spirit--on finding that I was
leaving the most of them behind, and was already well through the
vale, or cleft, in the mountains, the slopes of which were then as
easy to traverse as if coursing on the downs of Sussex; and already I
could see, some three miles distant, the waters of the Euxine, and the
smoke of our war-steamers cruising off Yalta and Livadia. I looked
back. The Cossack leader was very close to me now, and five of his
men, all riding with lance in hand, as they had probably expended
their ammunition, were but a few horse-lengths behind him. I could
perceive that he had also armed himself with a lance, and felt assured
that in his rage at having had so long and futile a pursuit, he would
certainly not receive my sword, even if I offered it, as a prisoner of
war; so I resolved to shoot him as soon as he came within range of my
"Colt," the six chambers of which I had been too wary to discharge as

Checking my panting and bleeding horse for a second or two, to let the
galloping Russian come closer, I fired at him under my bridle arm, and
a mocking laugh informed me that my Parthian shot had gone wide of its
mark. Not venturing to fire again, I continued to spur my black horse
on still; for now the friendly twilight had descended on the mountains
and the sea, whose waves at the horizon were yet reddened by the
farewell rays of the winter sun as he sank beyond them. Suddenly the
character of the ground seemed to change--vacancy yawned before me,
and I found myself within some twenty yards of a pretty high limestone
cliff that overhung the water!

The hand of fate seemed on me now, and reining round my horse, I found
myself almost face to face with the leader of the Cossacks; and all
that passed after this occurred in shorter time than I can take to
write it. Uttering an exulting cry, he raised himself in his stirrups,
and savagely launched at me with all his force the Cossack spear. I
eluded it by swerving my body round; but it pierced deeply the off
flank of my poor horse, and hung dangling there, with the crimson
blood pouring from the wound and smoking upward from the snow. The
animal was plunging wildly and madly now, yet I fired the five
remaining pistol shots full at the Russian ere he could draw his
sword; and one at least must have taken effect somewhere, for he fell
almost beneath my horse's hoofs, and as he did so his cap flew off,
and I recognised Volhonski--whom, by a singular coincidence, I thus
again encountered--Count Volhonski, the Colonel of the Vladimir
Infantry! At the same moment I was fiercely charged by the five
advanced Cossacks, with their levelled lances, and with my horse was
literally hurled over the cliffs into the sea, the waves of which I
heard bellowing below me.

Within the pace of one pulsation--one respiration--as we fell whizzing
through the air for some sixty feet together, I seemed to live all my
past life over again; but I have no language wherewith to express the
mingled bitterness and desolation that came over my soul at that time.
Estelle lost to me; life, too, it seemed, going, for I must be drowned
or taken--taken but to die. The remembrance of all I had loved and of
all who loved me; all that I had delighted in--the regiment, which was
my pride--my friends and comrades, and all that had ever raised hope
or fancy, or excited emulation--seemed lost to me, as the waves of the
Black Sea closed over my head, and I went down to die, my fate
unknown, and even in my grave, "unhousled, disappointed, unaneled."

Even now as I write, when the danger has long since passed away, and
when the sun has shone again in all his glory on me, in my dreams I am
sometimes once more the desperate and despairing fellow I was then.


It was Christmas-eve at Craigaderyn as well as before Sebastopol, and
all over God's land of Christendom--the "Land of Cakes," perhaps,
excepted, as Christmas and all such humanising holidays were banished
thence as paganish, by the acts of her Parliament and her "bigots of
the Iron Time," as in England by Cromwell, some eighty years later,
for a time. A mantle of gleaming white covered all mighty Snowdon, the
tremendous abysses of Carneydd Llewellyn, and the lesser ranges of
Mynyddhiraeth. Llyn Aled and Llyn Alwen were frozen alike, and the
Conway at some of its falls exhibited a beard of icicles that made all
who saw them think of the friendly giant--old Father Christmas
himself! Deep lay the snow in the Martens' dingle and under all the
oaks of the old forest and chase; for it was one of those hearty old
English yules that seem to be passing away with other things, or to
exist chiefly in the fancy of artists, and which, with their
concomitants of cold without and warmth and glowing hospitality
within, seemed so much in unison with an old Tudor mansion like
Craigaderyn--a genuine Christmas, like one of the olden time, when the
yule-log was an institution, when hands were shaken and faces
brightened, kind wishes expressed, and hearts grew glad and kind. But
on this particular Christmas-eve Winifred and Dora were not at the
Court, but with some of their lady friends were busy putting the
finishing touches to the leafy decorations of the parish church, for
the great and solemn festival of the morrow, with foliage cut from the
same woods and places where the Druids procured similar decorations
for their temples, as it is simply a custom--an ancient usage--which
has survived the shock of invading races and changing creeds.

The night was beautiful, clear, and frosty, and to those who journeyed
along the hard and echoing highway the square tower of the old church,
loaded alike by snow and ivy, could be seen to loom, darkly and huge,
against the broad face of the moon, that seemed to hang like a silver
shield or mighty lamp amid the floating clouds, and right in a cleft
between the mountains. The heavens were brilliant with stars; and
lines of light, varied by the tinting of heraldic blazons and quaint
scriptural subjects, fell from the traceried and mullioned windows of
the ancient church on the graves and headstones in the burial-place
around it; while shadows flitted to and fro within--those of the
merry-hearted and white-handed girls who were so cheerily at work, and
whose soft voices could be heard echoing under the groined arches in
those intervals when the chimes ceased in the belfry far above them.
Huge icicles depended from the wyverns and dragons, through whose
stony mouths the rain of fully five centuries had been disgorged by
the gutters of the old church, and being coated with snow, the
obelisks and other mementos of the dead had a weird and ghostlike
effect in the frosty moonlight.

In the cosy porch of the church were Sir Madoc Lloyd and his hunting
bachelor friend, Sir Watkins Vaughan, each solacing himself with a
cigar while waiting for the ladies, to escort whom home they had
driven over from the Court after dinner in Sir Watkins' bang-up
dog-cart. While smoking and chatting (about the war of course, as no
one spoke of anything else then), they peeped from time to time at the
picturesque vista of the church, where garlands of ivy and glistening
holly, green and white, with scarlet berries, and masses of artificial
flowers, were fast making gay the grim Norman arches and sturdy
pillars, with their grotesque capitals and quaint details. Nor were
the tombs and trophies of the Lloyds of other times forgotten; so the
old baronet watched with a pleased smile the slender fingers of his
young daughter as they deftly wreathed with holly and bay the rusty
helmet that whilom Madoc ap Meredyth wore at Flodden and Pinkey, her
blue eyes radiant the while with girlish happiness, and her hair as
usual in its unmanageable masses rolling down her back, and seeming in
the lights that flickered here and there like gold shaded away with

The curate, a tall, thin, and closely-shaven man, in a "Noah's-ark
coat" with a ritualistic collar, stood irresolutely between the
sisters, though generally preferring the graver Winifred to the
somewhat hoydenish Dora, who insisted on appropriating his services in
the task of weaving and tying the garlands; but he was little more
than an onlooker, as the ladies seemed to have taken entire possession
of the church and reduced him to a well-pleased cipher. At last Sir
Watkins, a pleasant and gentlemanly young man, though somewhat of the
"horsey" and fox-hunting type, who had a genuine admiration for
Winifred, and had actually proposed for her hand (but, like poor Phil
Caradoc, had done so in vain), seemed to think that he was letting his
reverence have the ladies' society too exclusively, tossed his cigar
into the snow, entered the church, and joined them; while Sir Madoc
preferred to linger in the porch and think over the changes each of
those successive festivals saw, and of the old friends who were no
longer here to share them with him.

"Here comes Sir Watkins, to make himself useful, at last!" said Dora,
clapping her hands, as she infinitely preferred the fox-hunter to the
parson. "I shall insist upon him going up the long ladder, and nailing
all those leaves over that arch."

But Winifred, to whom his rather clumsy attentions, however quietly
offered, were a source of secret annoyance, drew nearer her female
friends, four gay and handsome girls from London, who were spending
Christmas at the Court (but have nothing else to do with our story),
and whose eyes all brightened as the young and eligible baronet joined
them. But for the charm which the presence of Winifred always had for
him, and the pleasure of attending on her and the other ladies, Sir
Watkins would infinitely have preferred, to a cold draughty church on
Christmas night, Sir Madoc's cosy "snuggery," or the smoking-room at
the Court, where they could discuss matters equine and canine, reckon
again how many braces of grouse, black-cock, and ptarmigan they lad
"knocked over" that day, or discuss the comparative merits of coursing
in well-fenced Leicestershire, and in Sussex, where the downs are all
open and free as the highway, or other kindred topics, through the
medium of hot brandy-and-water.

"Now, Sir Watkins, here are my garlands and there is a ladder," said

"Any mistletoe among them, Miss Dora?" he asked, laughing.

"No; we leave the arrangement of that mysterious plant to such Druids
as you; but here are some lovely holly-berries," said Dora, holding a
bunch over the head of one of her companions, and kissing her with all
that _empressement_ peculiar to young ladies.

"By Jove," said the baronet, with a positive sigh, "I quite agree with
some fellow who has written that 'two women kissing each other is a
misapplication of one of God's best gifts.'"

Glancing at Winifred, who looked so handsome in her cosy sealskin
jacket, with its cuffs and collar of silver-coloured grebe, the
bachelor curate smiled faintly, and said, while playing nervously with
his clerical billycock.

"I do not plead for aught approaching libertinism, but I do think that
to kiss in friendship those we love seems a simple and innocent
custom. In Scripture we have it as a form of ceremonious salutation,
as we may find in the fourteenth chapter of Genesis, and in first
Samuel, where the consecration of the Jewish kings to regal authority
was sealed by a kiss from the officiator in the ceremony."

"And we have also in Genesis the courtship of Jacob and the 'fair
damsel' Rachel," said Dora, looking up from her task with her bright
face full of fun, "wherein we are told that 'Jacob kissed Rachel, and
then lifted up his voice, and _wept_.' If any gentleman did so after
kissing me, I am sure that I should die of laughter."

"We are having quite a dissertation on this most pleasant of civilised
institutions," said Sir Watkins, merrily, as he flicked away a cobweb
here and there with his silver-mounted tandem whip; "have you nothing
to say on the subject, Miss Lloyd--no apt quotation?"

"None," replied Winifred, dreamily, while twirling a spray of ivy
round her white and tapered fingers.

"None--after all your reading?"

"Save perhaps that a kiss one may deem valueless and but a jest may be
full of tender significance to another."

"You look quite _distraite_, Winny, dear, as you make this romantic
admission," said one of her friends.

"Do I--or did I?" she asked, colouring.

"Yes. Of what or of _whom_ were you thinking?"

"Such a deuced odd theme you have all got upon!" said Sir Watkins,
perceiving how Winifred's colour had deepened at her own thoughts.

"But how funny--how delightful!" exclaimed the girls, laughing
together; while Dora added, with something like a mock sigh, as she
held up a crape rose,

"When last I wore this rose in my hair, I danced with little Mr.
Clavell--and he is spending his Christmas before Sebastopol! Poor dear
fellow--poor Tom Clavell!"

Winifred's colour faded away, her usual calm and self-possessed look
returned; and, stooping down, she bent all her energies to weave an
obstinate spray of ivy round the carved base of a pillar, some yards
distant from the group.

"Permit me to be your assistant, Miss Lloyd," said the baronet, in a
low voice and with an earnest manner. "Miss Dora must excuse me; but I
don't see the fun of craning my neck up there from the top of a
twelve-foot ladder."

Winifred started a little impatiently, for as he stooped by her side,
his long fair whiskers brushed her brow. "Do I annoy you?" he asked,

"O no; but I feel nervous to-night, and wish our task were ended."

"It soon will be, if we work together thus. But you promised to tell
me, Miss Lloyd, why your old gamekeeper would not permit me to shoot
that hare in the Martens' dingle, to-day."

"Need I tell you, Sir Watkins--a Welshman?"

"You forget that my place is in South Wales, almost on the borders of
Monmouthshire, and this may be a local superstition."

"It is."

"Well, I am all attention," said he, looking softly down on the girl's
wonderfully thick and beautiful eyelashes.

"The story, as I heard it once from dear mamma, runs thus: Ages ago,
there took shelter in our forests at Pennant Melangell, the daughter
of a Celtic king, called St. Monacella, to whom a noble had proposed
marriage; one whom she could not love, and could never love, but on
whom her father was resolved to bestow her."

"By Jove!" commented Sir Watkins, while poor Winifred, feeling the
awkwardness of saying all this to a man she had rejected, became
troubled and coloured deeply; "and so, to escape her tormentors, she
fled to the wilderness."

"Yes, and there she dwelt in peace for fifteen years, without seeing
the face of a man, till one day Brochwel, Prince of Powis, when
hunting, discovered her, and was filled with wonder to find in the
depth of the wild forest a maiden of rare beauty, at prayer on her
knees beside a holy well; and still greater was his wonder to find
that a hare his dogs had pursued had sought refuge by her side, while
they shrank cowering back with awe. Brochwel heard her story; and
taking pity, gave to God and to her some land to be a sanctuary for
all who fled there; she became the patron saint of hares, and for
centuries the forest there teemed with them; and even at this hour our
old people believe that no bullet can touch a hare, if any one cries
in time, 'God and St. Monacella be with thee!'"

"A smart little nursery legend," said Sir Watkins, who perhaps knew it
well, though he had listened for the pure pleasure of having her to
talk to him, and him alone.

"It is one of the oldest of our Welsh superstitions," said Winifred,
somewhat piqued by his tone.

"Why are you so cross with me?" he asked, while venturing just to
touch her hand, as he tied a spray of ivy for her. "Cross--I, with

"Reserved, then."

"I am not aware, Sir Watkins, that I am either; but please don't begin
to revert to--to--"

"The subject on which we spoke so lately?"


"Ah, Miss Lloyd--my earnest and loving proposal to you."

"In pity say no more about it!" said Winifred, colouring again, but
with intense annoyance at herself for having drawn forth the remark.

"Well, Miss Lloyd, pardon me; I am but a plain fellow in my way, and
your good papa understands me better than you do."

"And likes you better," said she, smiling.

"I am sorry to be compelled to admit that such is the case; but
remember the maxim of Henry IV. of France."

"Why--the roses please--what was it?"

"There are more flies caught by one spoonful of honey than by ten tuns
of vinegar."

"Thanks, very much, for the maxim," replied Winifred, proudly and
petulantly; "but I hope I am not quite of the nature of vinegar, and I
don't wish to catch flies or anything else."

It was now Sir Watkins' turn to blush, which he did furiously, for her
proud little ways perplexed him; but she added, with a laugh,

"The base of the next pillar requires our attention, and then I think
the decorations are ended. Do let the cobwebs alone with your whip,
and assist me, if you would please me."

"There is not in all the world a girl I would do more to please," said
Sir Watkins, earnestly, his blue eyes lighting up with honest
enthusiasm as he spoke in a low and earnest tone, "and I know that
there is not in all England another girl like you, Winifred: you quite
distance them all, and it is more than I can understand how it comes
to pass that those who--who--don't love you--"

"Well, what, Sir Watkins?"

"Can love any one else!" said he, confusedly, while smoothing his fair
moustache, for there was a quick flash in the black eyes of Winifred
Lloyd that puzzled him. In fact, though he knew it not, or was without
sufficient perception to be aware of it, this was an offhand style of
love-making that was infinitely calculated to displease if not to
irritate her.

"You flatter me!" said she, her short upper lip curling with an
emotion of disdain she did not care at that moment to conceal.

"Does it please you?"


"I am sorry for that, as we are generally certain of the gratitude at
least, if not the love, of those we flatter."

Much more of this sort of thing, almost sparring, passed between them;
for Sir Watkins, piqued by her rejection of him, would not permit
himself again as yet to address her in the language of genuine
tenderness, and most unwisely adopted a manner that had in it a
_soupçon_ of banter. But Winifred Lloyd heard him as if she heard him
not: the memories of past days were strong at that time in her heart,
and glancing from time to time towards the old oak family pew, then
half lost in obscurity and gloom, she filled it up in fancy with the
figures of some who were far away--of Philip Caradoc and another; of
Estelle Cressingham, who, for obvious reasons of her own, had omitted
her and Dora from the Christmas circle at Pottersleigh House; and so,
while Sir Watkins continued to speak, she scarcely responded. The
girl's thoughts "were with her heart, and that was far away," to where
the lofty batteries of Sebastopol and the red-and-white marble cliffs
of Balaclava looked down upon the Euxine, where scenes of which her
gentle heart could form no conception were being enacted hourly; where
human life and human agony were of no account; and where the festival
of the Babe that was born at Bethlehem, as a token of salvation,
peace, and goodwill unto men, was being celebrated by Lancaster guns
and rifled cannon, by shot and shell and rockets, and every other
device by which civilisation and skill enable men to destroy each
other surely, and expeditiously.

Just as some such ideas occurred to her she saw her father, followed
by old Owen Gwyllim, enter the church, and in the faces of both she
read an expression of concern that startled her; and from her hands
she dropped the ivy sprays and paper roses, which she was entwining
together. Sir Madoc held in his hand an open newspaper, with which the
old butler had just ridden over from the Court, and he silently
indicated a certain paragraph to the curate, who read it and then
lifted up his hands and eyes, as with sorrow and perplexity.

"What the devil is up now?" asked Sir Watkins, bluntly; "no bad news
from the Crimea, I hope--eh?"

"Very--very bad news! we have lost a dear, dear friend!" replied Sir
Madoc, letting his chin drop on his breast; while Sir Watkins, taking
the journal from his hand, all unconscious of error or misjudgment,
read aloud:

"'It is now discovered beyond all doubt, by the Chief of the Staff,
that Captain Henry Hardinge, of the Royal Welsh Fusileers, whose
disappearance, when on a particular duty, was involved in so much
mystery, has been drowned in the Black Sea, by which casualty a most
promising young officer has been lost to her Majesty's service.'"

"Drowned--Harry Hardinge drowned in the Black Sea!" exclaimed Dora,
with sudden tears and horror.

"By Jove, the same poor fellow I met at your fête, I think--so sorry,
I am sure!" said Sir Watkins, with well-bred regret; "and see--I have
quite startled poor Miss Lloyd!"

Winifred, who for a moment seemed turned to stone, covered her face
with her handkerchief, while her whole delicate form shook with the
sobs she dared not utter.

Mothers, wives, and friends, the tender, the loving, and the true, had
all read, until their hearts grew sick and weary, of the perils and
sufferings of those who were before Sebastopol, as the horrors of the
Crimean winter, adding to those which are ever attendant on war,
deepened over them. And now here was one horror more--one that was
quite unlooked for in its nature, but which now came home to their own
hearts and circle.

"Take me away, papa--take me home!" said Winifred, in a faint voice,
as she laid her face on his shoulder, for her tears were
irrepressible; and the tall, slender curate in the long coat--an
Oxonian, who chanted some portions of his church service, turned to
the east when he prayed, had an altar whereon were sundry brazen
platters, like unto barbers' basins, and tall candles, which (as yet)
he dared not light, and who secretly, but hopelessly, admired Winifred
in his inner heart--knew not what to think of all this sudden emotion;
but he kindly caressed her passive white hands between his own, and
whispered lispingly in her ear, that "the Lord loved those whom He
chastened--afflictions come not out of the ground--all flesh was
grass--that God is the God of the widow and fatherless--yet there were
more thorns than roses in our earthly path," with various other old
stereotyped crumbs of comfort.

"To the Court--home!" cried Sir Madoc; "call round the carriages to
the porch, Owen, and let us begone."

A few minutes after this they had all quitted the church, and were
being driven home in their close vehicle, Sir Watkins excepted, who
drove in his dog-cart, sucking a cigar he had forgotten to light, and
wondering what the deuced fuss was all about. Had Hardinge stood in
his way? If so, by Jove, there was a chance for him yet, thought the
good-natured fellow. In the dark depth of the large family carriage,
as it bowled along noiselessly by a road where the white mantle of
winter lay so deep by hill and wood that one might have thought the
Snow-King of the Norsemen had come again, Winifred could weep freely;
and as she did so, her father's arm stole instinctively and
affectionately round her.

"Drowned," she whispered in his ear; "poor Harry drowned--and I loved
him so!"

"It may all be some d--d mistake," sighed Sir Madoc, in sore grief and

"But, O papa," whispered the girl, "I loved him so--loved him as
Estelle Cressingham never, never did!"

"You, my darling?"

"Yes, papa."

"My poor pet! I suspected as much all along. Well, well, we are all in
the hands of God. It is a black Christmas, this, for us at
Craigaderyn, and I shall sorrow for him even as Llywarch Hen sorrowed
of old for all the sons he lost in battle. But what a strange fatality
to escape so narrowly at the Bôd Mynach, and then to be drowned in the
distant East!"

And with a heart swollen alike by prayer and sorrow, the girl, whose
tender and long-guarded secret had at last escaped her in the shock of
grief, sat alone in her room that night, and heard the Christmas
chimes ringing out clearly and merrily to all, it seemed, but for her;
for those bells, those gladsome bells, which speak to every Christian
heart of bright hope here and brighter hope elsewhere, seemed to chime
in vain for Winifred Lloyd; so she thought in her innocent heart, "I
shall go to him yet, though he can never come back to me!"


I presume that I need scarcely inform my reader that, notwithstanding
the predicament in which a preceding chapter left me, and the tenor of
that paragraph which caused such consternation among my warm-hearted
Welsh friends at Craigaderyn, I was _not_ drowned in the Black Sea,
though my dip in the waters thereof was both a cold and deep one. Such
fellows as I, are, perhaps, hard to kill--at least, I hope so. On
rising to the surface, I found myself minus forage-cap, sword, and
revolver, and also my horse, which, being sorely wounded, floated away
out of the creek into which we had fallen (or been hurled by the
Cossack lances), and the poor animal was helplessly drowned, without
making any attempt to swim landward. This was, perhaps, fortunate for
me, as the Cossacks saw it drifting in the moonlight, and continued to
fire at it with their carbines, leaving me to scramble quietly ashore
unnoticed and unseen.

My swimming powers are very small; thus, when just about to sink a
second time, I was fortunate enough to grasp some sturdy juniper
bushes, that grew among the rocks and overhung the water. Aided by
these I gained footing on a ledge in safety, and remained there for a
few minutes, scarcely venturing to breathe, until all sounds ceased on
the cliffs above, and the flashing of the Cossacks' carbines, and
their wild hurrahs died away; and the moment I was assured of silence,
I proceeded steadily, but not without great difficulty, to climb to
the summit of the opposite side of the creek, my recently fractured
arm feeling stiff and feeble the while, three lance-prods bleeding
pretty freely, and my undress uniform wet, sodden, and becoming
powdered fast by the still falling flakes of snow. Even amid all that
bodily misery I thought more sorrowfully than bitterly of her I had

"Estelle gone from me, a terrible death before me, either by capture
or privation," thought I. "What have I done, O God, to be dealt with
thus hardly?"

Even mortification that I had failed in the execution of my once
coveted duty, existed no longer in my heart, at that time at least. At
last I gained the summit; the uprisen moon was shining on the
far-stretching Euxine, and casting a path of glittering splendour on
its waters, even to the foot of the cliffs on which I stood. On the
other side, to my comfort, the scouting Cossacks had entirely
disappeared. That Count Volhonski, once my pleasant companion in
Germany, and in whose way, coincidence and chance had so often cast
me, should have fallen by my hand, was certainly a source of deep
regret to me; but for a time only; a sense of my own pressing danger
soon became paramount to all minor considerations. Exposure to the
keen wind from the sea on ground so lofty, the night having closed in,
and the snow flakes falling, all rendered shelter, warmth, and dry
clothing, with dressing for the lance-thrusts, most necessary, if I
would save my life; and yet in seeking to obtain these, I ran the most
imminent risk of summarily losing it.

I was, I knew, far in rear of the advanced line of all the Russian
posts, and was certain to fall, alive or dead, into their hands at
some time or other; so drawing Lord Raglan's despatch to Marshal
Canrobert from my breast-pocket--a piece of wet pulpy paper--I
destroyed and cast it away; an unwise proceeding, perhaps, as it was
the only credential I possessed to prove that I was not a--spy, but
simply an officer on duty, who had lost his way. The cliffs of marble
that bordered the shore were silent and lonely. The tall mountains of
the Yaila range, their sides bristling with sombre pines and rent by
old volcanic throes into deep chasms and rugged ravines of rock, rose
on my left; a little Tartar village, the feeble lights of which I
could discern, nestled at their base about a mile distant. Should I
endeavour to reach it, and risk or lose all at once? By this time I
had struck upon a path which soon led to a roadway between vineyard
walls, and ere long these were replaced by what appeared to be the
trees of a park, between the branches of which the moon and the stars
shone on the slanting snow-flakes and turned them to diamonds and
prisms. In summer, the cypress and olive, the pomegranate and laurel
trees, the quince and the Byzantine poplar, made all that road lovely.
Then it was dreary enough, especially to me. Anon I came to a stately
gate of elaborate cast-iron work, between two ornate pillars of the
native red-and-white marble, surmounted each by some heraldic design.
It stood invitingly open; the track of recent carriage-wheels lay
there; and beyond the now white sheet of snow that covered a spacious
park, there towered a handsome mansion, in that quaint and almost
barbaric style of architecture peculiar to the châteaux of the Crimea,
half Russian, half Turkish, with four domes, shaped like inverted
onions, but of clearly-burnished copper, surmounting four slender
tourelles, and under the broad cornices of which the pigeons--the holy
birds of Muscovy--were clustered in cooing rows. In front was a pretty
porch, under the open arches of which hung a large coloured lamp;
while many lights, all suggestive of heat and comfort, were gleaming
through the rich hangings of the windows on the snowy waste without.
It was evidently the country residence of some wealthy Russian
landholder, and there I felt more certain and safe in seeking shelter
than among the wood-cutting boors or Tartar herdsmen of the village;
yet my heart had more misgivings than hope as I approached it.

If the Russians, even in time of peace, are ever suspicious of
strangers, how was I likely to be received there in time of war?
Should I fall among good Samaritans, kindly perhaps; if otherwise, I
might be accused of spying in an enemy's country, be hanged, shot,
knouted perhaps, and sent to Siberia, for my horrible surmises were
endless. But to remain where I was would be to die; so I boldly
approached, not the door, but a lower window that overlooked a
balustraded terrace on which a flood of light from within was falling.
Between hangings of pale blue satin laced with silver, and through the
double sashes of the windows, which were ornamented with false flowers
in the old Russian fashion, I perceived a handsome and lofty
apartment, the furniture of which was singularly elaborate and florid.
It seemed, with its drapery, sofas, fauteuils, statuettes under glass
shades, and its pretty watercolours hung on the wall, to be a tiny
drawing-room or ladies' boudoir; but on one side, built into the
partition and forming a part thereof, were the stone ribs of a
_peitchka_ or Russian stove, faced with brilliantly-coloured
porcelain. Through 'these ribs the light of a cheerful fire shone
across the softly carpeted floor; and above the stove was an _eikon_,
or Byzantine Madonna, with a bright metal halo like a gilt horseshoe
round the head; a little silver lamp hung before it. From this a tiny
jet of flame shot upward, while a golden tassel dangled below.

In the foreground, between the window and the glowing wall-stove at a
table littered with books and needlework, were seated two ladies in
easy-chairs, their feet resting on tabourettes, as they cosily read by
the softened light of a great shaded lamp. One seemed young; the other
somewhat portly and advanced in years; and she wore a red
_sarafan_--the ancient Russian dress--a readoption about that time,
when our invasion of the Crimea acted as a powerful and angry
stimulant to the national enthusiasm of the whole empire; and at that
precise moment, I should have preferred to find this noble matron--for
such I had no doubt she was--in some dress nearer the Parisian mode.
However, in my then predicament I felt more disposed to trust to the
protection of women than of men, and so knocked gently, and then more
loudly, on the window. Both ladies started, laid down their books, and
rose. The double sashes and the false flowers placed between them
rendered my figure indistinct, if not invisible. They conferred for a
moment, and then, most fortunately for me, instead of summoning
assistance by furiously ringing the bell, or indulging in outcries, as
some ladies might have done in a land of well-ordered police, the
younger drew out a drawer, in which probably pistols lay; while the
elder boldly unclasped the sashes, threw them open, and then both
surveyed me with perplexity and with something of pity, too, as I was
bareheaded, unarmed, deadly pale, and covered with snow that in some
places was streaked with blood. The elderly lady, a keen-looking
woman, evidently with a dash of the nomadic Tartar in her blood, asked
me rather imperiously some questions in Russian--that language which
Golovine so rightly says "is altogether inaccessible to foreigners;"
but the other added, in softer French,

"Who are you, and from whence do you come?"

I replied that I was a British officer from the army before
Sebastopol, wounded and unhorsed in a recent skirmish with Cossacks;
that I had lost my way, and was literally perishing of cold, hunger,
and loss of blood.

"How come you to be here, as you have no troops in this quarter?"
asked the young lady, to my surprise and pleasure, in English, which
she spoke fluently, but with a pretty foreign accent.

"I lost my way, I have said, and being pursued have ridden far in a
wrong direction."

"Far, indeed, from Sebastopol at least; do you know where you are,


"This is Prince Woronzow's castle of Yalta."


"On the shore of the Black Sea," she added, smiling brightly at my

"Then I am more than thirty miles in _rear_ of the Russian posts in
the valley of Inkermann!"

"Yes; and as a soldier, must know that you are in great danger of the
darkest suspicions if you are taken."

"I am aware of that," said I, faintly, as a giddiness came over me,
and I leaned against the open sash of the window; "but I care not what

The elder lady, who had a son with the army in Sebastopol, now said
something energetically, and in my favour apparently, and the other
added, softly and kindly, "Enter, sir, and we shall succour you."

The closed sashes excluded the icy air, I felt myself within the warm
influence of the peitchka, and then the three smarting lance-wounds
began to bleed afresh.

"Madame Tolstoff," said the younger lady, in French, "we must act
warily here, if we would prevent this poor fellow becoming a prisoner
of war, or worse. Bring here old Ivan Yourivitch the _dvornik_."

This was the butler, but it also signifies "servant."

"Can you trust him in this matter?"

"In any matter, implicitly. His wife nursed me and my brother too.
There is a perilous romance in all this, and to his care I shall
consign our unfortunate visitor, who does seem in a very bad way."

After a little explanation and some stringent directions, she confided
me to a white-headed butler, who wore a livery that looked like
semi-uniform, and he took me to his own rooms. He jabbered a great
deal in Russ, of which I knew not a word, but first he gave me a large
goblet of golden Crimskoi, the wine of the district. Then he exchanged
all my wet and sodden clothing for a suit which he selected from among
many in a large wardrobe: a caftan of dark green cloth, tied at the
waist by a scarlet sash; trousers also of dark green, with boots that
came half way up the calf of the leg. Under all I wore a soft red
shirt; and this attire I afterwards learned was the most thoroughly
national costume in Russia, being that of the Rifle Militia of the
Crown peasants--one worn by the Emperor himself on certain gala-days.
This old man, Ivan Yourivitch, also dressed tenderly the three
lance-prods, and though giddy and weak, I felt unusually comfortable
when he led me back to the presence of the two ladies, of whose names
and rank I was quite ignorant, while shrewdly suspecting that both
must be noble. Their mansion was evidently one of great magnificence,
and exhibited all that luxury in which the wealthier Russian nobles
are wont to indulge, displaying the extravagance and splendour of
petty monarchs. I saw there a broad staircase of Carrara marble, and
lackeys flitting about in the powdered wigs and liveries of the old
French court; apartments with tessellated floors and roofs of fretted
gold; furniture in ormolu and mother-of-pearl; hangings of silk and
cloth-of-gold; and in that castle of Yalta were ball, and card, and
tea rooms; a library, picture-gallery, and billiard-room; and
everywhere the aroma of exotic plants and perfumes; so I began to
flatter myself that I was quite as lucky as the Lieutenant of H.M.S.
Tiger, when _he_ fell into the hands of the Russians at Odessa in the
preceding May, and whose adventures made such a noise. When I rejoined
the ladies, they both laughed merrily at the rapid transformation
effected in my appearance; and the younger saying, "My brother's
shooting-clothes suit you exactly," relinquished her book, which, with
some surprise, I detected to be a Tauchnitz edition of "_Oliver

"In stumbling upon us here," she added, with great sweetness of
manner, "how fortunate it is that you lighted first on Madame Tolstoff
and myself, instead of any of our Tartar or Cossack servants!"

"Fortunate indeed! I may truly bless my stars that I have fallen into
such gentle hands."

"All Russians are not the barbarians you islanders deem them; yet you
deserve a heavier punishment than we shall mete out to you, for
venturing hither to fight against holy Russia and our father the

"May I ask if I have the honour of addressing any of the family of
Prince Woronzow!"

"O, no!" she replied. "Madame Tolstoff's son is serving in Sebastopol;
my brother serves there also; and the kind Prince has merely given us
the use of this mansion, as he has done the more regal one at Alupka
to other ladies similarly situated; and now that you know our secret,"
she added, archly, "pray what is yours?"

"Secret!--I have none."

"You were not--well, reconnoitring?"

I coloured, feeling certain that she had substituted that word for one
less pleasant to military ears.

"No, madam: while seeking to convey a despatch from Lord Raglan to
Marshal Canrobert I lost my way, fell among Cossacks, and am here."

"When my brother arrives--we expect him ere long--we shall be
compelled to confide you to his care; meantime you are safe, and here
are refreshments, of which you seem sorely in need; and for greater
secrecy, Ivan Yourivitch will serve you here."

"Who the deuce can this brother be of whom she talks so much, and
where can she have acquired such capital English?" were my surmises as
I seated myself at a side-table, and, with old Ivan standing towel in
hand at my back, fell _à la Cosaque_, on the good things before me,
with an appetite unimpaired by all that I had undergone. To the elder
lady's horror, I omitted previously to cross myself or turn towards
the _eikon_; but fragrant coffee made as only Orientals and
Continentals can make it, golden honey from the hills and woods of
Yaila, newly-laid eggs, salmon fresh from the Salghir, boar's ham from
the forests of Kaffa, and wine from Achmetchet, made a repast fit for
the gods--then how much so for a long-famished Briton! While I partook
of it the ladies conversed together in a low voice in Russian, seeming
to ignore my presence; for though full of natural female curiosity and
impatience to question me, they were too well-bred to trouble me just
then. Those who have starved as we starved in the Crimea can alone
relish and test the comforts of a good meal. You must sleep--or
doze--amid the half-frozen mud and ooze of the trenches, or in a cold
draughty tent, to know the actual luxury of clean sheets, a soft bed,
and cosy pillows. Hence it is, that though accustomed to "rough it" in
any fashion and degree, no one so keenly appreciates the warmth, the
food, and the genuine comforts of home as the old campaigner, or the
weather-worn seaman, who has perhaps doubled "the Horn," and known
what it is to hand a half-frozen topsail in a tempestuous night, with
his nails half torn out by the roots, as he lay out to windward. Yet
when I found myself in quarters so comfortable, hospitable, and
splendid, I could not but think regretfully of the regiment, of Phil
Caradoc, of Charley Gwynne, and others who were literally starving
before the enemy--starving and dying of cold and of hunger!


I had now time amply to observe and to appreciate that which had
impressed me powerfully at first--the wonderful beauty of the lady who
protected me, and who spoke English with such marvellous fluency. If
the artist's pencil sometimes fails to convey a correct idea of a
woman's loveliness--more than all of her expression--a description by
mere ink and type can give less than an outline. In stature she was
fully five feet seven, full-bosomed and roundly limbed, and yet seemed
just past girlhood, in her twentieth or twenty-second year. Her skin
was fair, dazzlingly pure as that of any Saxon girl at home; while, by
strange contrast, her eyes were singularly dark, the deepest,
clearest, and most melting hazel, with soft voluptuous dreamy-looking
lids, and long black lashes. Her eyebrows, which were rather straight,
were also dark, while the masses of her hair were as golden in hue as
ever were those of Lucrezia Borgia; they grew well down upon her
forehead, and in the light of the shaded lamp by which she had been
reading, ripples of sheen seemed to pass over them like rays of the
sun. Her features were very fine, and her ears were white and delicate
as if formed of biscuit china, and from them there dangled a pair of
the then fashionable Schogoleff earrings of cannon-balls of gold.

Her dress was violet-coloured silk, cut low but square at the neck,
with loose open sleeves, trimmed with white lace and ruches of white
satin ribbon, and its tint consorted well with the fair purity of her
complexion. Every way she was brilliant and picturesque, and seemed
one of those women whom a man may rapidly learn to love--yea, and to
love passionately--and yet know very little about. Once in a
lifetime a man may see such a face and such a figure, and never
forget them. The dame, in the red sarafan, was a somewhat plain but
pleasant-looking old Muscovite lady, whose angularity of feature and
general outline of face reminded me of a good-humoured tom cat; and
while playing idly with the leaves of her book, she regarded me with a
rather dubious expression of eye; for British prisoners did not quite
find themselves so much at home in Kharkoff and elsewhere, nor were
they so petted and fêted, as the Russian prisoners were at Lewes,
among the grassy downs of Sussex. My repast over, and the massive
silver tray removed by Ivan Yourivitch, a conversation was begun by
the younger lady saying, a little playfully,

"You must give me your parole of honour, that you will not attempt to
leave this place in secret, or without permission."

"From you?"

"From me, yes."

"Did not duty require it of me, I might never seek the permission, but
be too happy to be for ever your captive," said I, gallantly; but she
only laughed like one who was quite used to that sort of thing, and
held up a white hand, saying,

"Do you promise?"

"I do, on my honour. But will this pledge to a lady be deemed

"By whom?"

"Well, say Prince Menschikoff."

"We shall not consult him, unless we cannot help it; besides," she
added, with a proud expression on her upper lip, "what is he, though
Minister of Marine, Governor of Finland and Sebastopol, but the
grandson of a pastry-cook!"

"Prince Gortchakoff, then?"

"They are cousins; but do not take rank even in Russia with the old
families, like the Dolgourikis and others, who are nobles of the first

On the suggestion, apparently, of the elder lady, whom she named
Madame Tolstoff, she proceeded to ask me many questions, which I cared
not to answer, as they had direct reference to the strength of our
forces, and the plans and projects of the Allied Generals regarding
Sebastopol; and though my information was only limited to such as one
of subaltern rank could possess, I knew how artfully the most
important military and political secrets have been wormed from men by
women, and was on my guard. Her excellent English she accounted for by
telling me that in her girlhood she had an English governess. She told
me, among other things, that she had gone in her carriage, with
hundreds of other ladies from Sebastopol, Simpheropol, and Bagtchi
Serai (or "the Seraglio of Gardens"), to see the battle of the Alma.
It began quite like a _prasnik_ or holiday with them all, as they had
expected, among other marvels, to see St. Sergius, whose sacred image
was borne by the Kazan column, till the latter was routed by the
Highland Brigade, and bundled over the hill, image and all, though
Innocent, Archbishop of Odessa, in one of his sermons to the garrison
of Sebastopol (published in the _Russian Messenger_) confidently
predicted a fourth appearance of the patriotic saint on that occasion;
but my fair informant added, that when the fighting began, she had
driven away homeward in horror.

She quizzed me a little about the small dimensions of the island in
which we dwelt, an island where the people elbowed each other for lack
of room; she asked me if it were really true that our soldiers were
sailors; and if it was also true that our Admiral in the Baltic always
carried a little sword under one arm, and a great fish under the
other, alluding to a popular Moscow caricature of Sir Charles Napier.
It was impossible not to laugh with her, for her charming tricks of
foreign manner, the arch smiles of her occasionally half-closed eyes,
and her pretty ways of gesticulation with the loveliest of white
hands, from which she had now drawn the gloves, were all very
seductive; moreover the Russians have a natural mode of imbuing with
heartiness every phrase and expression, however simple or merely
polite. She always spoke of the Czar with more profound awe and
respect than even Catholics do of the Pope, or Mahometans do of the
Sultan; but it should be borne in mind that in Russia, as Golovine
says, "next to the King of Heaven, the Czar is the object of
adoration. He is, in the estimation of the Russian, the representative
and the elect of God; so he is the head of his church, the source of
all the beatitudes, and the first cause of all fear. His hand
distributes as bounteously as his arm strikes heavily. Love, fear, and
humble respect are blended in this deification of the monarch, which
serves most frequently only to task the cupidity of some, and the
pusillanimity of others. The Czar is the centre of all rays, the focus
to which every eye is directed; he is the 'Red Sun' of the Russians,
for thus they designate him. The Czar is the father of the whole
nation; no one has any relation that can be named in the same day with
the Emperor; and when his interest speaks, every other voice is

So, whenever this lady spoke of him, her eyes seemed to fill with
melting light, and her cheek to suffuse with genuine enthusiasm; and
as I listened to her, and looked upon her rare beauty, her singular
hair, her laughing lips; and her ease of manner that declared a
perfect knowledge of the world, I could not but confess that if there
is no absolute cure for a heart disappointed in love, there may be
found a most excellent _balm_ for it. I know not now all we talked of,
how much was said, and more left unsaid, for my new friend had all the
airs of a coquette, and could fill up her sentences in a very eloquent
fashion of her own, by a movement of the graceful hand, by the tapping
of a dainty foot that would peep out ever and anon from under her
violet-coloured skirt; with a blush, a smile, a drooping of the sunny
brown eyes! Had the wine, the golden Crimskoi, affected me, that,
while talking to the fair unknown, I seemed to tread on air; that
my love for Estelle--a love thrust back upon my heart--was
already--Heavens, already!--being replaced by an emotion of revenge
against her, and exultation that the dazzling Russian might love me in
her place? She was, indeed, gloriously beautiful; but, then, I have
ever been a famous builder of castles in the air, and I was in the
hands of one who felt her power and knew how to wield it. The Russian
women, it has been truly written, like the gentlewomen of other
European countries, who are reared in the lap of luxury, can employ
and practise all the accomplishments and seductive arts that most
enchant society, and employ them well! They have great vivacity of
mind, much grace of manner, and possess the most subtle and exquisite
taste in dress; yet the domestic virtues are but little cultivated
under the double-headed Eagle, and marriages are too often mere
matters of convenience; so there is little romance in the character,
and often much of intrigue in the conduct of the Russian lady.

"I trust that your wounds are not painful?" said she, with tender
earnestness, after a short pause, during which she perceived me to
wince once or twice.

"My immersion in salt water has made them smart, perhaps; and then the
blood I have lost has caused such a dimness of sight, that at times,
even while speaking with you, though I hear your voice, your figure
seems to melt from before me."

"I am so deeply sorry to hear this; but a night's repose, and perhaps
the rest of to-morrow may, nay, I doubt not shall, cure you of this

"I thank you for your good wishes and intentions."

"In that skirmish, fought single-handed by you against our Cossacks,
they thrust you into the water--actually into the sea?"

"Yes; by the mere force of their charged lances--horse and man we went
over together; but not before I had shot their leader--a resolute
fellow--poor Volhonski!"

At this name both ladies started and changed colour, though the
younger alone understood me.

"_Whom_ did you say?" she asked, in a voice of terror, while trembling

"Paulovitch Count Volhonski, a name well known in the Russian army, I
believe; he commanded the Vladimir regiment at the Alma and in

"And he--he fell by _your_ hand?"

"I regret to say that he did," I replied, slowly and perplexedly.

"You know him, and are certain of this?"

"Certain as that I now address you--most certain, to my sorrow."

"_O Gospodi pomiloui!_"[4] she exclaimed, clasping her hands together,
and seeming now pale as the new-fallen snow; "my brother--my brother!"

"Your _brother?_" I exclaimed, in genuine consternation.

"Slain by you--your hand!" she wailed out, wildly and reproachfully.

"O, it cannot be."

"Speak--how?" She stamped her foot as she spoke, and no prettier foot
in all Russia could have struck the carpet with a more imperial air.
Her eyes were flashing now through tears; even her teeth seemed to
glisten; her hands were clenched, and I felt that she regarded me, for
the time, with hate and loathing.

"He fell, and his horse, too--yet, now that I think of it," I urged,
"he may be untouched; and from my soul I hope that such may be the
case, for personally he is my friend."

I felt deeply distressed by the turn matters had so suddenly taken;
while Madame Tolstoff, to whom she now made some explanation in
Russian, regarded me with fierce and undisguised hostility.

"Then there is yet hope?" she asked, piteously.

"That he may be simply wounded--yes."

"For that hope I thank you, Hospodeen: a little time shall tell us

"I was attacked and outnumbered; my own life was in the balance, and I
knew him not, nor did he know me, until we were at close quarters, in
the moment of his fall. To defend oneself is a natural impulse; and it
has been truly said, that if a man armed with a red-hot poker were to
make a lunge even at the greatest philosopher, he would certainly
parry it, though he were jammed between two sacks of gunpowder. Then I
have the honour of addressing the Hospoza Valerie?"

"Yes," she replied, with hauteur; "but who are you, that know _my_

"I am Captain Henry Hardinge, who--"

"The Hospodeen Hardinge" (Hardin_ovitch_ she called it), "who so
greatly befriended my dear brother in Germany, and who saved his life
at Inkermann?"

"The same."

"I cannot receive you with joy; the present terrible tidings cloud all
the past. Yet I have promised to protect you," she added, giving me
both her hands to kiss, "and protected you shall be--even should my
dead brother be borne here to-night!"

So the slender girl with the dark orbs and golden hair, she of whose
miniature I had custody for a little time on that memorable and
exciting morning in the Heiligengeist Feld at Hamburg, was now a
lovely woman in all the budded bloom of past twenty--a fair Russian,
with "more peril in her eyes than fifty of their swords!"

I felt sincere sorrow for the grief and consternation I had so
evidently and so naturally excited, and I greatly feared that the
hostility of the elder lady, Madame Tolstoff, might yet work me some
mischief; though I knew not in what relation she could stand to
Volhonski, who, at Hamburg, had distinctly said that his sister
Valerie was the only one he had in the world. While I sat silently
listening, and not without an emotion of guiltiness in my heart, to
their sobs and exclamations of woe, uttered singly and together, the
rapid clatter of hoofs, partially muffled by the snow, was heard
without; bells sounded and doors were banged; and then Ivan
Yourivitch, his old wrinkled face full of excitement and importance,
entered the room unsummoned. My heart for a moment stood still.

"What fresh evil tidings," thought I, "does this old Muscovite bring
us now?"


Even while Ivan Yourivitch was conferring with his startled mistress,
I saw a tall figure in Russian uniform--the eternal long gray
greatcoat--appear at the room door, and I was instinctively glancing
round for some weapon wherewith to defend me, when to my astonishment
Volhonski entered, somewhat splashed with mud, certainly, and powdered
with snow, but whole and well, without a wound, and with a cry of joy
Valerie threw herself into his arms. Wholly occupied by his beautiful
sister, to whom he was tenderly attached, fully a minute elapsed
before he turned to address Madame Tolstoff and then me. Was it
selfishness, was it humanity, was it friendship, or what was the
sentiment that inspired me, and caused so much of genuine joy to see
Volhonski appear safe and untouched?--I, who from the trenches had
been daily wont to watch with grim satisfaction the murderous
"potting" of the Ruskies from the rifle-pits, and literal showers of
legs, arms, and other fragments of poor humanity, by their appearance
in the air, respond to the explosion of a well-directed shell! He now
turned to me with astonishment on recognising my face in that place,
and with the uniform of the Rifle Militia.

"By what strange caprice or whirligig of fortune do I find you here?"
he exclaimed, as he took my hand, but certainly with a somewhat
dubious expression of eye; "you have not come over to us, I hope, as
some of our Poles have lately gone to you?"

"No," I replied, almost laughing at the idea. "Don't mistake me; I
came here as a fugitive, glad to escape you and your confounded
Cossacks; but I thank God, Volhonski, that you eluded my pistol on the
cliffs yonder."

"Then it was _you_, Captain Hardinge, whom I followed so fast and so
far from that khan on the Kokoz road? By St. George, my friend, but
you were well mounted! In our skirmish one of your balls cut my left
shoulder-strap, as you may see; the other shred away my horse's ear on
the off side, making him swerve round so madly that he threw me--that
was all. You, however, fell into the sea--"

"And was soaked to the skin; the reason why, 'only for this night
positively,' as the play-bills have it, I appear in the uniform of the
Imperial Rifle Militia, after finding my way here by the happiest
chance in the world," I added, with a glance at his smiling sister.
"Marshal Canrobert--"

"Has fallen back with his slender force from Kokoz. You had a despatch
for him, I presume, by what fell from you at the Tartar caravanserai?"


"Ah, I thought as much."

"I should not have been touring so far from our own lines else. It
concerned, I believe--if I may speak of it--an _émeute_ among the
Poles in Sebastopol."

"A false rumour spread by some deserters; there was no such thing; and
be assured that our good father, the Emperor, is too much beloved,
even in Poland, to be troubled by disaffection again."

Volhonski now threw off his great coat, and appeared in the handsome
full uniform of the Vladimir Infantry, on a lapel of which he wore,
among other orders, the military star of St. George the Victorious,
which is only bestowed by the Czar, for acts of personal bravery, like
our Victoria Cross.

"How came you to know of me and of my despatch?" I inquired, while
Yourivitch replaced the wine and some other refreshments on the table.

"I had Menschikoff's express orders to watch, with a sotnia of
Cossacks, Canrobert's flying column on the Kokoz road; and the Tartars
were prompt enough in telling me of _your_ movements--at least of the
appearance of an officer of the Allies, where, in sooth, he had no
right to be. But, my friend, you look pale and weary."

"He has no less than three lance-wounds!" urged Valerie.


"In the arms and shoulder."

"This is serious; but take some more of the Crimskoi--it is harmless
wine. Excuse me, Captain Hardinge, but of course you are aware how
dangerous it is for you to remain long here?"

"I have no intention of remaining a moment absent from my duty, if I
can help it!" said I, energetically.

"So we must get you smuggled back to your own lines somehow--unless
you consent to become a prisoner of war."

"I have already given my parole of honour."

"Indeed! to whom?"

"To the Hospoza Volhonski," said I, laughing.

"More binding, perhaps, than if given to me; yet as I don't wish to
avail myself of your promises to Valerie, but for the memory of past
times," he added, with a pleasant smile, "to see you safe among your
friends, I must contrive some plan to get you hence without delay."

"Why such inhospitable haste?" asked Valerie.

"Think of the peril to him and to us of being discovered here--and in
that dress, too!"

"I fear I shall not be able to ride for days," said I, despondingly,
as sensations of lassitude stole over me.

"I fear that with Valerie for your nurse, you may never return to
health at all," said Volhonski, laughing, as he knew well the
coquettish proclivities of his sister; "hence, to insure at least
convalescence, I must commit you to the care of old Yourivitch or
Madame Tolstoff."

Joy for her brother's safe return made Valerie radiant and splendidly
brilliant; while some emotion of compunction for her temporary
hostility to me, led her to be somewhat marked in her manner, softly
suave; and this _he_ observed; for, after a little time, he said,

"You and my Valerie seem to have become quite old friends already; but
remember the moth and the candle--_gardez-vous bien, mon camarade

"I don't understand you, Paulovitch," said Valerie, pouting.

"As little do I," said I, colouring, for the Colonel's speech was
pointed and blunt, though his manner was scrupulously polite; but with
all that, foreigners frequently say things that sound abrupt and
strange to English ears.

"This stupid soldier is afraid that, if left in idleness, you will
fall in love with Madame Tolstoff--or me," said Valerie; "he is
thinking of the Spanish proverb, no doubt--_Puerto abierto al santo

"I am thinking of no such thing, and did but jest, Valerie," said her
brother, gravely, while he caressed her splendid hair. "Madame
Tolstoff, our dear friend, is an experienced chaperone; and beside
that, you are safe--set apart from the world--so far as concerns the
admiration of men."

"That I never shall be, I hope!" said she, smiling and pouting again.

By Jove, can it be that she is destined for a nunnery? What the deuce
can he mean by all these strange hints and out-of-place remarks?
thought I, and not without secret irritation. Perhaps the keen
Muscovite read something of this in my face, for he now clinked his
glass against mine, and filled it with beautifully golden-coloured
Château Yquem, bright, cool, and sparkling from its white crystal
flask; and to this champagne soon succeeded; unwisely for me, though
it was champagne in its best condition, that is, after being just six
years in bottle, as Yourivitch assured us; and now our conversation
became more gay and varied, and, as I thought, decidedly more
pleasant. He gave me some recent news from the immediate seat of war,
and from our own lines, that proved of interest to me.

The Retribution man-of-war, with the Duke of Cambridge on board, was
said to have been lost, or nearly so, in the late great storm, which
the Russians naturally hoped would delay the arrival of transports
with reinforcements and supplies for the Allies; and he added that if
the generals of the latter "had but the brains to _cut off all
communication with Simpheropol, Sebastopol would surrender in three
days!_" He mentioned, also, that the Greeks at Constantinople had
taken heavy bets that it would not fall before Christmas, which seemed
likely enough, as Christmas was close at hand now; and that there was
a rumour to the effect that General Buraguay d'Hilliers--one of the
veterans of the retreat from Moscow--had landed at Eupatoria, and
given battle to General Alexander Nicolaevitch von Luders, and
defeated him with the 5th Infantry Corps of the Russian Army; a most
improbable story, as D'Hilliers was at that moment with his army in
the Aland Isles! And now Valerie, wearying of war and politics,
shrugged her pretty shoulders, and gradually led us to talk on other
topics. As she was well read and highly accomplished, there were many
subjects on which we could converse in common, as she was wonderfully
familiar with the best works of the English and French writers of the
day, and knew them quite as well as those of Tourguéneff, Panaeff,
Longenoff, Zernina, and others who were barely known to me by name. I
was afterwards to learn, too, that she was a brilliant musician; and
with all these powers of pleasing, was a Russian convent, with its
oppressive atmosphere of religion and austerity, to be her doom?
When I compared, mentally, the Russian with the English woman of
rank--Valerie with Estelle--I could see that the latter, with less of
a nervous temperament, was more quiet and unimpressionable, and with
all her beauty less attractive; the former was more coquettish and
seductive, more full of minute, delicate, and piquante graces--the
real graces that win and enslave; more mistress of those witching
trifles that at all times can inspire tenderness, provoke gallantry,
and awaken love. The brilliant Valerie would have shone in a crowded
_salon_, while Estelle Cressingham, with all her pale loveliness,
would simply have seemed to be the cold, proud, aristocratic belle of
an English drawing-room.

Valerie was fascinating--she was magnetic--I know not how to phrase
it; and what now to me was Estelle--the Countess of Aberconway--that I
should shrink from drawing invidious comparisons?

When I retired that night to a spacious and magnificent apartment, and
to a luxurious Russian couch, the pillows of which were edged with the
finest lace--ye gods! a laced pillow after mine in the camp, a
tent-peg bag stuffed with dirty straw--I was soon sensible of the
difference of sleeping indoors and within a house, after being under
canvas and accustomed so long to my airy tent. I felt as if stifling;
and to this was added the effect of the wines, of which, incited by
the hospitality of Volhonski, I had partaken too freely. I forgot all
about my promises to be up betimes, even before daybreak, in the
morning, and to ride with him as near to our posts as he dared
venture, to leave me in a place of safety; I forgot that if I remained
in secret at the castle or château of Yalta, the great danger and the
grave suspicion to which I subjected him, his sister, and all there; I
forgot, too, the risk I ran personally of being taken and shot as a
spy, perhaps, after short inquiry, or no inquiry at all. I thought
only of the brilliant creature whose voice seemed hovering in my ear,
and the remembered touch of whose velvet hand seemed still to linger
in mine.

The more I saw of Valerie Volhonski, the more she dazzled, charmed,
and--must I admit it?--consoled me for the loss I had sustained in
England far away. She seemed quite aware of the admiration her beauty
excited--of the love that was inspiring me, and she seemed, I thought,
in my vanity, not unwilling to return it! Why, then, should I not ask
her to love me? What to us were the miserable ambitions of emperors
and sultans; the intrigues and treacheries of statesmen; the wars, the
battles, the difference of religion, race, and clime? And so, as the
sparkling cliquot did its work, I wove the shining web of the future,
and gave full reins to my heated fancy as the hours of the silent
night stole on. But the morning found me ill, feverish, decidedly
delirious; and Volhonski, to his great mortification, had to leave me
and ride off with his Cossacks, and reach Sebastopol by making a long
detour through that part of the country which we so stupidly left
_open_--round by Tepekerman and Bagtchi Serai, and thence by the
Belbeck into the Valley of Inkermann. I must have been in rather a
helpless condition for at least two days--days wherein the short
intervals of ease and sense seemed to me wearisome and perplexing
indeed; while to see Madame Tolstoff and old Ivan Yourivitch gliding
noiselessly about my room in fur slippers, caused me to marvel sorely
whether I was dreaming or awake; whether or not I was myself, or some
one else; for all about me seemed strange, unusual, and unreal.

On the morning of the third day I was greatly better, and on passing a
hand over my head, found that my hair was gone--shorn to a crop of the
true military Russian pattern, doubtless by a doctor's order. Then I
saw Madame Tolstoff and Valerie Volhonski standing near and smiling at
my perplexity.

"You miss your dark brown locks," said the latter, with one of her
most seducing smiles; "forgive me; but I am the Delilah who made a
Samson of you!"


Though convalescent, I was still too feeble to think of saddle-work;
and the Hospoza Volhonski had no means of transmitting me otherwise
than mounted, or of having me--even when able to travel--guided to the
British camp, without aid from her brother, of whom we had no tidings
for weeks; so the time slipped away at Yalta pleasantly enough for me.
To conceal me entirely from all the visitors who came there was an
impossibility; thus, though dressed in plain clothes now, and
generally passing for a German shut out from business at Sebastopol, I
ran hourly risks of suspicion and discovery. Some of Volhonski's
abrupt and ill-judged remarks, or some perhaps of mine, which had
escaped me when delirious under the double effect of wound and wine,
rendered Valerie a little reserved in her demeanour towards me for the
first day or two after I was able to leave my room; but she was so
frank in nature and so gay in spirit, that this unusual mood rapidly
wore away. We had many visitors from the Valley of Inkermann and from
Sebastopol itself, as the city was left unblockaded on one side; and
the tidings they brought us--tidings which we eagerly devoured--varied
strangely. Once we were informed that it had been assaulted, and that
all the outworks were in the hands of the Allies; next we heard that
another Inkermann had been fought--that the Allies had been scattered
and the siege raised; that the Austrians had entered Bulgaria; that
torpedoes had blown up the sunken ships; and that the British fleet
was actually in the harbour, shelling the town and burning it with
rockets and red-hot shot. But all reports converged in one unvarying
tale--the dreadful sufferings of our soldiers among the snow in the
trenches, where young men grew gray, and gray-haired men grew white
with misery. And so the Christmas passed; and when the Russian bells
by hundreds rang the old year out from the spires, the forts, and the
ships that lay above the booms and bridge of boats, the new year's
morning saw the black cross of St. Andrew still waving defiantly on
the Mamelon, and Redan, and all the forts of Sebastopol.

Once among our visitors came Prince Menschikoff himself, Valerie
advised my non-appearance, much to my relief; but I heard the din of
voices, the laughter, and the sound of music in the _salon_ or great
dining-room where a _déjeûner_ was served for him and his staff, while
the band of the Grand Duchess Olga's Hussars were stationed in the
marble vestibule, and played the grand national anthem of Russia and
Luloff's famous composition, _Borshoe zara brangie_--God save the
Emperor. After the Prince's departure we had the huge mansion entirely
to ourselves again, and any longings I might have to rejoin the Welsh
Fusileers and share the dangers they underwent, together with my
natural anxiety to hear of my friends in their ranks, I was compelled
to stifle and seek to forget, when tidings came that a great body of
Tchernimorski Cossacks had formed a temporary camp between Yalta and
the head of the long Baidar Valley, thus, while they remained,
completely cutting off all my chances of reaching either Balaclava or
the Allied camp; so there was nothing for me now but to resign myself
to a protracted residence in the same luxurious mansion with the
brilliant Valerie (and her watchful chaperone), with the somewhat
certain chance of losing my heart in the charms, of her society.
Madame Tolstoff assuredly kept guard over us with Argus eyes; but a
few of the devices in the heart that laugheth at locksmiths enabled me
to elude her at times; while, fortunately for me, the language we
spoke was perfectly unknown to her; yet "the Tolstoff," as I used to
call her, seemed, I knew not why, to exercise considerable control
over Valerie. In her youth she had been carried off by Schamyl's
mountaineers from a Russian outpost, and was a detained for three
years in the Caucasian chief's seraglio, where, with all my heart, I
wished her still. But while enjoying all the good things of this life
at Yalta--grapes, melons, and pineapples from Woronzow's hothouses at
Alupka, oysters from Hamburg, pickled salmon from Ladoga, sterlit from
the Volga, sturgeon from the Caspian Sea, reindeer's tongue from
Archangel, Crimean wines that nearly equalled champagne, imitation
Sillery from the Don, Cliquot, Burgundy, and Bordeaux,--I thought
often with compunction of the wretched rations and hard fare of our
poor fellows who were starving in the winter camp. Volhonski was
wealthy, and thus his sister and her attendants were able to command
every luxury. His rank was high, for he claimed, as usual with all the
Russian nobles of the first _tchinn_ or class, to be descended from
Ruric the Norman--Ruric of Kiev and Vladimir--who, more than a
thousand years ago, founded the dynasty by which Muscovy was governed
prior to the accession of the Romanoffs. All the best families in the
land boast of a descent from Gedemine the Lithuanian, or from this
Ruric and his followers; a weakness common also to the English
aristocracy, whose genealogical craze is a real or supposed descent
from those who were too probably the offscourings of Normandy. Beauty
belongs peculiarly to neither race nor nation; yet somehow Valerie
seemed to me, in her bearing and style, the embodiment of all that was
noble and lovely; and though always graceful, her air and sometimes
the carriage of her head seemed haughty--even defiant.

In the many opportunities afforded by propinquity and close residence
together in the same house, and by our speaking a language which we
alone understood, I know not all I said to her then, nor need I seek
to remember it now; suffice it, that softly and imperceptibly the
sentiments of those who love are communicated and adopted; and so it
was with me. She was catching my heart at the rebound--at the
ricochet, as we might say in the trenches. I was beginning to learn
that there were other women who might love me--others whom I might
love, and who were not worshippers of Mammon, like--ah, well--Estelle
Cressingham. If Pottersleigh died or broke his old neck in the
hunting-field, where he sometimes rashly ventured, would Estelle--I
thrust her image aside, and turned all my thoughts to Valerie; yet my
second choice seemed, by the peculiarity of our circumstances, a more
ambitious one and more hopeless of attainment than the first. Daily,
however, I strove to win her heart and to inspire her with that pure
passion which, as a casuist affirms, can only be felt by the pure in
spirit, as all virtues are closely connected with each other, and the
tenderness of the heart is one of them. Was the devil at my elbow, or
my evil angel, if such things be, whispering in my ear? Or how was it,
that whenever I grew tender with Valerie, the image of Estelle came
revengefully, yet sadly, to memory, as of an idol shattered, but
certainly not by me? Oddly enough I still wore her ring on my
finger--the single pearl set in blue and gold enamel--a gift I had as
yet no means of restoring, and could not give away. "Have you ever
looked at a portrait till it haunted you?" asks a writer. "Have you
ever seen the painted face of one, it may be, who was an utter
stranger to you, yet that seemed to fill your mind with a sort of
recognition that sent you out over the sea of speculation, wondering
where you had seen it before, or when you would see it again? The eyes
talk to you and the lips tell you a dreamy story."

Such, then, was the haunting character of the face of Valerie. Her
beauty and her graces of manner filled up all my thoughts, and her
strange dark eyes seemed to say that if it was impossible we had known
each other in the years that were past, we might be dear enough to
each other in the future; and I hoped in my heart that ours should be
one; thus yielding blindly to the influence, to the charm of her
presence and the whole situation. Once she was at the piano, and sang
to me with wonderful grace and brilliance "The Refusal," a Russian
gipsy song, in which a young man makes many desperate professions and
promises of love to a giddy young beauty, who laughs at them and
rejects him, because she values nothing so much as her own liberty.
When turning the leaves for her, the pearl ring of Estelle--a ring so
evidently that of a lady--caught her attention, and I saw Valerie's
colour heighten as she did so. I instantly drew it off; I felt no
compunction in doing so then, and said, "You admire this ring,

"Nay--do not say so, please," said she, bending over the instrument;
"when a lady admires thus, it seems only another fashion of coveting."

"In this instance that were useless," said I, laughing, "as the ring
is not mine to bestow; otherwise I should glory in your accepting it."

"Is it your wife's?"

"My wife's!"

"Yes. Have you one in that wretched little island of yours?" she
continued, sharply.

"No," I replied, delighted by this undisguised little ebullition of

"To whom does it belong, then?"

"The wife of another, to whom it shall be restored in England."

"This is very strange--it has, then, a history?" said she, bending her
dark eyes on mine.


"And this history--what is it?"

"I cannot--dare not tell you."

"Indeed!" Her black lashes drooped for a moment, and she passed a
white hand nervously over her golden braids. "And wherefore?"

"It would be to reveal the secrets of another."

"Another whom you love?" she asked, hurriedly, while her teeth seemed
to glitter as well as her eyes, for her lips were parted.

"No, no; on my honour, no!" said I, laying my right hand on my breast,
and feeling that then I spoke but the truth and without the
equivocation, to which her questions were forcing me. Then Valerie
seemed to blush with pleasure, and my heart beat lightly with joy. I
should certainly have done something rash; but the inevitable Madame
Tolstoff was in the room, embroidering a smoking cap for her son the
colonel, then in command of the 26th at Sebastopol; so I was compelled
to content myself by simply touching the hand of Valerie, and by
caressing it tenderly, while affecting to admire a beautiful opal ring
she wore, and urging her to continue her music. The whole episode
partook somewhat of the nature of a scene between us, and even the
usually self-possessed Valerie seemed a little confused, as she once
more laid her tapered fingers on the ivory keys.

"I am very far from perfect in my music, or anything else, perhaps,"
she said.

"Do not say so," I whispered; "yet had you been more perfect than you
are, I think no other woman in this world would have had the chance of
a lover."


"All men would be loving you, and you only."

"This is more like the inflated flattery of a Frenchman than the
speech of a sober Briton," said Valerie, a little disdainfully.

"Does it displease you?"

"Yes, certainly."


"People don't love when they flatter," was the pretty pointed and
coquettish response, and preluded an air with a crash on the keys,
thus interrupting something I was about to say--heaven only knows
what--a formal declaration, I fear.

"You admired my opal. Listen to the story of its _origin_; I doubt if
the story of your ring is half so pretty," said she. And then she sang
in English the following song, which she had been taught by her
governess, a song the author of which I have never been able to
discover; but then and there, situated as I was, the English words
came deliciously home to my heart, and I quote them now from memory:--

    "A dew-drop came, with a spark of flame
      It had caught from the sun's last ray,
     To a violet's breast, where it lay at rest,
      Till the hours brought back the day.
     With a blush and a frown a rose look'd down,
      But smiled at once to view,
     With its colouring warm, her own bright form
      Reflected back by the dew!
     Then a stolen look the stranger took
      At the sky so soft and blue,
     And a leaflet green, with its silvery sheen,
      Was seen by the idler, too.
     As he thus reclined, a cold north wind
      Of a sudden blew around,
     And a maiden fair, who was walking there,
      Next morning _an opal_ found!"

I ventured to pat her shoulder approvingly. I glanced furtively round;
the Tolstoff had gone out of the room, and somehow my arm slipped
round Valerie, who looked up at me, smiling archly, yet she said,

"Pray don't."

"How much longer am I to keep this silence?" I asked.

"How--what silence?"

"To be thus in suspense, Valerie," I added, lowering my voice and
bending my face towards her ear.

Her smile passed away, her white lids drooped, and perplexity and
trouble stole over her eyes, as she drew her head back.

"I do not know what you mean, or whither your conversation tends," she

"You know that I love you!"

"No, I don't."

"You must have seen it--must have guessed it--since the happy hour in
which I first saw you."

"Do not speak to me thus, I implore you," said she, colouring deeply,
and covering her face with her beautiful hands.

"Why, Valerie, dearest, dearest Valerie?"

"I must not--dare not listen to you."

"Dare not?"

"I speak the truth," said she, and her breast heaved.

"Will you marry me, Valerie?"

"I cannot marry you."


"O heavens, don't ask me! But enough of this; and here comes Madame
Tolstoff, to announce that the _samovar_--the tea-urn--is ready."

In my irritation I muttered something that she of the red _sarafan_,
Madame Tolstoff, would not wish graved on her tombstone, and resumed
my previous task of turning the leaves at the piano; but Valerie sang
no more then, and for two entire days gave me no opportunity of
learning why she had received my declaration in a manner so odd and
unexpected. I could but sigh and conjecture the cause, and recall the
words of her brother on the night he first met me at Yalta; and if it
were the case that a convent proved the only barrier, I was not
without hopes of smoothing all such scruples away.


In the growth of my passion for Valerie I forgot all about the
probable opposition of her brother, the Count, to my wishes. Indeed,
he entered very little into my schemes of the future; for the perilous
contingencies of war caused life to be held by a very slight tenure
indeed; so we might never see him again, though none would deplore
more than I the death of so gallant a fellow. Then, in that instance,
did one so lovely as Valerie require more than ever a legitimate
protector, and who could be more suitable than I? I felt convinced at
that time, that those who loved Valerie once could never feel for
another as they had loved her. She was so full of an individuality
that was all her own. Was it the coquetry of her manner, the strange
and indescribable beauty of her dark eyes, the coils of her golden
hair, the smile on her lips, or the subtle magnetism the kisses of
those lips might possess, that entangled them? God knows, but I have
heard that those who loved her once were never quite the same men
again. If Valerie married me, with what pride and exultation should I
display her beauty, if occasion served, before Estelle and her dotard
Earl, as a bright being I had won from hearts that were breaking for
her, and as one who was teaching me fast to forget _her_, even as she
had forgotten me! A Russian wife, at that crisis of hostility and
hatred, seemed a somewhat singular alliance certainly; what would the
regiment say, and what would my chief friend old Sir Madoc, with all
his strong national prejudices, think? I should be pretty certain to
find the doors of Craigaderyn closed for long against me. These,
however, were minor considerations amid my dreams; for dreams they
were, and visions that might never be realised; _châteaux en Espagne_
never, perhaps, to be mine!

On the morning of the third day after the musical performance recorded
in the preceding chapter, Valerie met me, accompanied by Madame
Tolstoff. Her face wore a bright smile, and interlacing her fingers,
she raised her eyes to the _eikon_ above the fireplace, and said to
me, "O Hospodeen, have I not cause to thank Heaven for the news a
Cossack has just brought me, in a letter from Colonel Tolstoff?"

"I hope so; but pray what is the news?" I. asked, while drawing nearer

"My brother Paulovitch has been taken prisoner by your people."

"Call you that good news?" I asked, with surprise.

"Yes, most happy tidings."


"My brother will now be safe, and I hope that they will keep him so
till this horrible and most unjust war is over."

"Unjust! how is it so?" I asked, laughing.

"Can it be otherwise, when it is waged against holy Russia and our
good father the Czar?"

I afterwards learned that Volhonski had been taken prisoner in that
affair which occurred on the night of Sunday, the 14th January, when
the Russians surprised our people in the trenches, and captured one
officer and sixteen men of the 68th, or Durham Light Infantry, into
whose hands Volhonski fell, and was disarmed and taken at once to the

"I am so happy," continued Valerie, clapping her hands like a child,
"though it may be long, long ere I see him again, my dear Paulovitch!
He will be taken to England, of course."

"Should you not like to join him there?" I asked, softly. "Yes, but I
cannot leave Russia."


"Do not ask me; but we may keep _you_ as a hostage for him," she
added, merrily; "do you agree?"

"Can I do otherwise?" said I, tenderly and earnestly.

"Of course not, while those Cossacks are in the Baidar Valley. Poor
Paulovitch! and this was his parting gift!" she continued, and drew
from her bosom--and none in the world could be whiter or more
lovely--a gold cross; and after kissing, she replaced it, looking at
me with a bright, coquettish, and most provoking smile, as it slipped
down into a receptacle so charming. "And dear Madame Tolstoff is so
happy, too, for her son arrives here to-morrow; he has been severely
bruised by the splinter of a shell in the Wasp Battery, and comes
hither to be nursed by us."

I cannot say that I shared in "dear Madame's" joy on this occasion,
and would have been better pleased had Valerie seemed to be less
excited than she was. Moreover, I feared that the arrival of a Russian
officer as an inmate might seriously complicate matters, and
completely alter my position; and a pang seemed to enter my heart, as
I already began to feel with wretchedness that Valerie might soon be
lost to me. I had no time to lose if I would seek to resume the
subject of conversation on that evening when Madame Tolstoff arrived
just in time to interrupt us; but Valerie seemed studiously never to
afford me an opportunity of being with her alone. This was most
tantalising, especially now when a crisis in my affairs seemed
approaching. Moreover, I had already been at Yalta longer than I could
ever have anticipated. The love of the brother and sister for each
other was, I knew, strong and tender; could I, therefore, but persuade
her to escape--"to fly" with me, as novels have it--to our camp, now
that he was a prisoner, and probably _en route_ for England! A meagre
choice of comforts would await her in the allied camp; but in the
excess of my love, my ardour, and folly, I forgot all about that, and
even about the Cossacks who occupied the Pass of the Baidar Valley.

It was not without emotions of undefined anxiety that on the following
day I heard from Ivan Yourivitch that Colonel Tolstoff had arrived,
and would meet me at dinner. The whole of that noon and afternoon
passed, but I could nowhere see Valerie; and on entering the room when
dinner was announced--a dinner _à la Russe_, the table covered with
flowers fresh from the conservatory--I was sensible that she received
me with an air of constraint which, in her, was very remarkable; while
something akin to malicious pleasure seemed to twinkle in the little
dark beadlike eyes of Madame Tolstoff as she introduced me to her son
the Colonel; at least, by his reception of me I understood so much of
what she said, for the old lady spoke in her native Russian. He was a
tall, grim-looking man, who, after laying aside the long military
_capote_, appeared in the dark green uniform of the 26th Infantry,
with several silver medals dangling on his well-padded breast. He had
fierce keen eyes, that seemed to glare at times under their bristling
brows; and he had an enormous sandy-coloured moustache, that appeared
to retain the blue curling smoke of his _papirosse_, or to emit it
grudgingly, as if it came through closely-laid thatch; a thick beard
of the same hue, streaked with grizzled gray hair, concealed a massive
jaw and most determined chin. He was huge, heavy-looking, and
muscular; and on seeing me, held out a strong, weather-beaten hand but
coldly and dryly, as he addressed me in German; and then we
immediately recognised each other, for he was the officer who
commanded the regiment which had occupied the abattis, and who
received me when I took the flag of truce into Sebastopol. Volhonski,
I have said, was a noble of the first class--that which traces
nobility back for a single century; but Tolstoff was only of the
second, or military class, being the son of a merchant, who after
serving eight years in the ranks as a _junker_, on being made an
officer becomes an hereditary noble, with the right to purchase a
landed estate. Tolstoff was quite lame--temporarily, however--by the
bruises his left leg had suffered from the explosion of a shell. He
spoke to me in bad and broken German, though I shall render his words
here in English.

"So my friend Volhonski is taken prisoner?" said I.

"Yes; less lucky than you, Herr Captain, who have to be taken yet," he
replied, tossing the fag end of his paper cigar into the _peitchka_.

"It was in a sortie, I understand?"

"A little one; his party was led astray by their guide towards the

"Their guide! could one be found?"

"Yes; an officer who deserted to us."

"An officer!" said I, with astonishment.

"Yes; one who was a prime favourite with the Lord Raglan. Strange that
he should desert, was it not!"

"With Lord Raglan!" I continued, more bewildered still.

"The devil! You are strangely fond of repeating my words! Anyway he
wears a diamond ring that was given him by Lord Raglan for some great
service he performed; but as he is to be here to-night, you shall see
him yourself."

Guilfoyle! The inevitable Guilfoyle and his ring!

I could have laughed, but for rage at his cowardice, villainy, and
treachery, in actually acting as guide in that affair which caused a
loss in killed, wounded, and prisoners to our 68th Foot. However,
thought I, through my clenched teeth, I shall see him to-night.

"Have you ever seen this officer?" I asked.

"No; but he comes to Yalta with certain reports for my signature. I
doubt if Prince Woronzow, who is now Governor of Tiflis in Georgia,
knows who--_all_--honour his mansion by a residence therein. You have
made a longer visit among us this time than you did under the flag of

"Circumstances have forced me to do so, with what willingness you may
imagine," said I, justly displeased by his tone and tenor of his
speech, which seemed to class me with a rascal and a traitor like
Guilfoyle. "I was most fortunate, however, in finding my way here,
after escaping death, first at the hands of your Cossacks, and
afterwards in the sea."

"Ah, they are troublesome fellows those Cossacks, and I fear you are
not quite done with them yet."

"They, and your infantry, too, found us pretty well prepared on that
misty morning at Inkermann," said I, growing more and more displeased
by his tone and manner.

"Well prepared! By----, I should think so; when people come on
frivolous errands with flags of truce, to see what an enemy is about
behind his own lines."

I felt the blood rush to my temples, and Valerie, with a piteous
expression in her soft face, said something in Russian, and with a
tone of expostulation; to which the grim Pulkovnick made no response,
but sat silently making such a dinner as seemed to indicate that
rations had been scarce in Sebastopol, and keeping Ivan Yourivitch in
constant attendance, but chiefly on himself. I could see that the man
was a soldier, and nothing but a soldier, a Russian military tyrant in
fact, and felt assured that the sooner I was out of Yalta, and beyond
his reach--risking even the Cossacks in the Valley--the better for

He was twice assisted by his amiable "mamma," to the _bativina_, i.e.,
soup made of roasted beef cut into small pieces, with boiled beetroot,
spring onions, carraway-seeds, purée of sorrel, with chopped eggs and
kvass. He was thrice helped to stuffed carrots with sauce, to roast
mutton with mushrooms, and compote of almonds; and he drank great
quantities of hydromel flavoured with spices, and so fermented with
hops that it foamed up in the silver tankard and over his vast
moustache. But in the intervals during dinner, and often speaking with
his mouth very full, he related for the express behoof of his mother
and Valerie, a very strange incident, which they seemed implicitly to
believe, and which the latter politely translated for me. It was to
the effect, that on the night Volhonski was taken prisoner, one of his
officers, a man of noble rank, and major of the Vladimir Regiment, was
carried into Sebastopol mortally wounded in an attempt to rescue him;
and as he was dying, the host was borne to him under a canopy by
Innocent, Bishop of Odessa, in person. As the procession passed a
tratkir, or tea-house, some soldiers and girls were dancing there to
the sound of a violin; and though they heard the voices of the
chanters, and the occasional ringing of the sanctus bell, they ceased
not their amusement, neither did they kneel, so the host passed on;
but like those who were enchanted by hearing the wonderful flute of
the German tale, they could not cease dancing, neither could the
violinist desist from playing, and for six-and-thirty hours they
continued to whirl in a wild waltz--in sorrow and tears, a ghastly
band--till, exhausted and worn nearly to skeletons, they sank gasping
and breathless on the floor, where they were still lying, paralysed in
all their limbs, and hopelessly insane!

Tolstoff seemed to hasten the ceremonies of the dinner-table to get
rid of the ladies; and the moment they rose he gave his mother some
_papirosses_, or cigarettes, to smoke, and then proceeded, leisurely,
to roll up one for himself, after pushing across the table towards me
the champagne, which he despised as very poor wine indeed.

"Hah, Yourivitch!" said he, taking up a decanter, and applying his
somewhat snub nose thereto; "what is this? corn-brandy!" he added,
draining a glassful; "as it is good, I must have a glass;" so he took
a second of the fiery fluid. "O, now I feel another man, and being
another man, require another glass;" so he took a _third_.

These additions to the hydromel did not seem to improve his temper,
and assuredly I would have preferred to follow the ladies to the
drawing-room, than to linger on with him

                            "In after-dinner talk
                 Across the walnuts and the wine,"

but that I feared to offend the man unnecessarily.

"Excuse me," said he, as he lay back in his seat, with his coat
unbuttoned, and proceeded, very coolly, to pick his teeth with one of
those small cross-hilted daggers, the slender blades of which are
about four inches long, and which are worn in secret by so many
Russian officers, and are all of the finest steel. After a pause,
during which he again dipped his long moustache in the foaming
hydromel, he said,

"Though Volhonski told me about you, I scarcely expected, Herr
Captain, to have found you here _still_."

"Where should I have gone--into the hands of the Cossacks, at Baidar?"

"Towards Kharkoff, at all events."

I coloured at this very pointed remark, as it was to that province in
the Ukraine that the Russians had transmitted many of the prisoners
taken during the war.

"Here I felt myself on a special footing."

"How, Herr Captain?"

"As the guest of the Volhonskis," said I, sternly.

"Though an enemy of Russia?"

"Politically or professionally, yes: but I have the honour to be
viewed as a friend by the Count, and also by his sister."

"Ah, indeed! I have heard as much. The Hospoza Valerie is, you see,

"Wondrously so," said I, with fervour, glad that I could cordially
agree with this odious fellow in one thing at least.

"Then beware," said Tolstoff, his face darkening; "for I don't believe
that much friendship can subsist between the sexes without its
assuming a warmer complexion."

"Colonel Tolstoff!"

"Besides, the Hospoza Valerie is a coquette--one who would flirt with
the tongs, if nothing better were at hand--so don't flatter yourself,
Herr Captain."

I felt inclined to fling the decanter at his head; for in his tone of
mentor he far exceeded even Volhonski.

"This is a somewhat offensive way to speak of a noble lady--the sister
of your friend," said I.

"We shall dismiss that subject; and now for another," said he. "It
must be pretty apparent to you, Herr Captain, that you cannot remain
here, unparoled, in your present anomalous position."

"I quite agree with you, and feel it most keenly; but I gave my parole
of honour to Valerie," I added, gaily and unwisely, for again the face
of Tolstoff lowered.

"To let you remain or go free were treason to Russia and the Czar; you
must therefore be sent as a prisoner of war to Kharkoff, and--"

"What then?"

"Be treated there according to the report I shall transmit with your

"What will Volhonski say?"

"Just what he pleases; the Count is a prisoner now himself."

I read some hidden meaning in his eyes, though he sat quietly cracking
walnuts and sipping his hydromel.

"An officer on duty, I fall into the hands of an enemy--" I was
beginning passionately, when he interrupted me, and his eyes gleamed
as he said,

"You had a despatch; I think you told Volhonski or his sister so?"

"Yes, Colonel--a despatch for Marshal Canrobert."

"Where is it?"

"I destroyed it."

"Bah!--I thought so," said he, scornfully.

"On my honour, I did so, Colonel Tolstoff!"

"Honour! ha, ha, you are a spy!"

"Rascal!" I exclaimed, feeling myself grow white with passion the
while; "recall this injurious epithet, or--"

"Or what? Dare you threaten me? I can pick the ace of hearts off a
card at twenty paces with a revolver, so beware; and yet I am not
obliged to meet any one who is amenable to the laws of war, and is in
a position so dubious as yours."

I was choking with rage; yet a conviction that he spoke with something
of warrant, so far as appearances went, and of the absolute necessity
for acting with policy, if I would leave myself a chance of winning
Valerie and escape greater perils than any I had encountered,
compelled me to assume a calmness of bearing I was far from feeling.

"Seek neither to threaten nor to trifle with me," said he, loftily and
grimly; "you may certainly know the common laws of war regarding the
retention of prisoners and the punishment of spies, but you know not
those of Russia. If I do not treat you as one of the latter, it is
because Volhonski is your friend; but I have it in my power, in
treating you as one of the former, to have you transmitted farther
than the Ukraine--to where you should never be heard of more. We are
not particular to a shade here," he continued, with a sneering smile;
"when the Emperor commanded a certain offender to be taken and
punished, the minister of police could not find the right individual.
What the deuce was to be done? Justice could not remain unsatisfied;
so, instead, he seized a poor German, who had just arrived and was
known to none. He slit his tongue, tore out his nostrils, sent him to
Siberia to hunt the ermine, and reported to the Czar that his orders
had been obeyed. So don't flatter yourself that any persons in office
among us would be very particular in analysing _any report_ that I may
transmit with you, a mere English captain!"

And rising from the table with these ominous words, he bowed to the
_eikon_, crossed himself after the Greek fashion, inserted a
_papirosse_ into his dense moustache, and limped away, leaving me in a
very unenviable frame of mind. Already I saw Valerie lost to me! I
beheld myself, in fancy, marched into the interior of Russia under
armed escort, maltreated and degraded, with my hands tied to the mane
of a Cossack pony, or a foot chained to a six-pound shot; a secret
report transmitted with me--a tissue of malevolent lies--to be acted
upon by some irresponsible official with a crackjaw name; to be never
more heard of, my sufferings and my ultimate fate to be--God alone
knew what!

I was weak enough to feel jealous of this ungainly Tolstoff--this
Muscovite Caliban--in addition to being seriously alarmed by his
threats, and enraged by his tone and bearing. Had Valerie ever viewed
him with favour? The idea was too absurd! If not, what right had _he_
to advise me concerning her? But then she was so beautiful, one could
not wonder that he--coarse though he was--might love her in secret.

Full of these and other thoughts that were vague and bitter, I quitted
the table just as Yourivitch was lighting the lamps, and wandered into
the long and now gloomy picture-gallery, one of the great windows of
which was open. Beyond it was a terrace, whereon I saw the figure of
Valerie. She was alone, and in defiance of all prudence and the
warning of Tolstoff, I followed her.


She seemed absorbed in thought as I drew near her, and did not
perceive my approach. She was leaning on the carved balustrade of the
terrace, and gazing at the sea and the scenery that lay below it,
steeped in the brilliance of a clear and frosty moonlight. The snow
had entirely departed from the vicinity of Yalta, though its white
mantle still covered all the peaks of the Yaila range of mountains.
About a mile distant on one side lay the town, its glaring
white-walled houses gleaming coldly in the moonshine. A beach was
there, with most civilised-looking bathing-machines upon it; for prior
to the war, Yalta had been the fashionable watering-place for the
ladies of Sebastopol, Bagtcheserai, and Odessa, who were wont there to
disport themselves in fantastic costumes, and take headers in the
Euxinus Pontus. On the other side were lovely valleys and hills,
covered with timber--pine-groves dark and huge as those that overhang
the fjords of Norway.

In the distance lay the Black Sea--so called from the dark fogs that
so often cover it--sleeping in silver light, its waves in shining
ripples rolling far away round the points of Orianda and Maragatsch;
and Valerie, absorbed in thought, and her dark eyes fixed apparently
on that point where the starry horizon met the distant sea.

She wore an ample jacket or pelisse of snow-white ermine lined with
rose-coloured silk, and clasped at the tender throat by a brooch which
was a cluster of bright amethysts. A kind of loose silken hood, such
as ladies when in full dress may wear in a carriage, was hastily
thrown over the masses of her golden hair, which formed a kind of soft
framework for her delicately-cut and warmly-tinted face, for the cold
air had brought an unwonted colour into her usually pale complexion.
Her eyes wore an expression of languor and anxiety. Heaven knows what
the girl was thinking of; but as she watched the shining sea I could
see her full pink nervous lips curling and quivering, as if with the
thoughts that ran through her impulsive mind. And this bright creature
might be mine! I had but to ask her, perhaps, and I had not so faint a
heart as to lose one so fair for the mere dread of asking her. Yet, as
I drew near, the reflection flashed upon my mind that for three days
at least she had purposely avoided me. Why was this? Had my love for
her been too apparent to others? had I underdone or overdone anything?
what had I omitted, or how committed myself?

"Valerie!" said I, softly.

She uttered a slight exclamation, as if startled, and then placing her
firm, cool, and velvet-like hands confidingly in mine, glanced
nervously round her, and more particularly up at the windows of the

"I would speak with you," said she, in a half whisper.

"And I with you, Valerie. O, how I have longed for a moment such as
this, when I might again be with you alone!"

"But we must not be seen together; and I have but that moment you have
so wished for to spare. Come this way--this way, quick; those
cypresses in the tubs will shield us from any curious eyes that may
lurk at yonder windows."

"O, Valerie!" I sighed with happiness, and as I passed a hand
caressingly over her jacket of ermine I thought vengefully of
Tolstoft's dark hint about hunting that small quadruped in Siberia;
and then as I gazed tenderly into her dark and glittering eyes, I
could perceive that their long tremulous lashes were matted.

"Tears--why tears, Valerie?"

She spoke hurriedly. "I have most earnestly to apologise to you for
much that I heard the Pulkovnick say during dinner; it was indeed

"Much that you have not heard was more horrid still."

"It is unbearable! His wounds or bruises must have exasperated his
temper. Yet I cannot speak to him of that which I did not hear, as to
do so would appear too much as if you and I had some secret
confidences, and Madame Tolstoff, I fear, has hinted at something of
this kind already."

"I asked you to marry me, dearest Valerie."

"Yes--vainly," said she, with a half-smile on her partly-averted face.


"Do not press me to say why."

"Could you love me, Valerie?"

"I might."

"Might, Valerie?" (I was never weary of repeating her sweet name; and
what meant this admission, if she declined me?) "You do not doubt my
love for you?" I urged.

"No, though I fear it is but a passing fancy, born of idleness and the
ennui of Yalta."

"Think you, Valerie, that any man could see, and only love you thus? O
no, no! But say that you will be mine--that you will come with me to
England, where your brother is, or soon shall be--to England, where
women are treated with a courtesy and tenderness all unknown in
Russia, and where the girl a man loves is indeed as an empress to him,
and has his fate in life in her own hands."

"I don't quite understand all this--nor should I listen to it," said
she, looking me fully in the face, with calm confidence and something
of sadness; too.

Her right hand was still clasped in mine, and as I pressed it against
my heart, I placed my left arm round her waist, modestly, tenderly,
and with a somewhat faltering manner; for she looked so stately, and
in her white ermine seemed taller and more ample than usual, a beauty
on a large scale and with "a presence." But starting back, she quickly
freed herself from my half-embrace, and said, "Captain Hardinge, you
forget yourself!"

"Can it be that you receive my tenderness thus?" said I,
reproachfully, and feeling alike disappointed and crestfallen. "I love
you most dearly, Valerie, and implore you to tell me of my future, for
on your answer depends my happiness or misery."

"I hope that I am the holder of neither. I did not ask you to love me;
and O, I would to Heaven that you had never come to Yalta--that we had
never, never met!"

"Why--O, why?" I asked, imploringly.

"Because I am on the very eve of being _married_."

"Married!" I repeated, breathlessly; and then added passionately and
hoarsely, "To whom?"

"Colonel Tolstoff, to whom I was betrothed in form by the Bishop of

Her refusal was really a double-shotted one, and for a moment I was
stupefied. Then I said, in a voice I could scarcely have recognised as
my own,

"It was to this tie, and not to a convent, that Volhonski alluded,
when hinting that you were set apart from the world?"

"Yes. I thank you from my soul for the love you offer me, though it
fills me with distress. I pity you; but can do no more. Alas! you have
been here only too long."

"Too long, indeed!" said I, sadly, while bending my lips to her hand;
and then hurrying into the house by the picture-gallery, she left
me--left me to my own miserable and crushing thoughts, with the
additional mortification of knowing that Madame Tolstoff, watchful as
a lynx, had overseen and overheard our interview from another angle of
the terrace, though she could not understand its nature; but of course
she suspected much, and was all aflame for the interests of her suave
and amiable son.

However, this was not to be my last moment of tenderness with Valerie.
But I was left little time for reflection, as events were now to
succeed each other with a degree of speed and brevity equalled only by
the transitions and discoveries of a drama on the stage.


I re-entered the château feeling sad, irresolute, and crushed in
spirit. I had lost that on which I had set my heart, and at the hands
of Tolstoff, my rival, I might yet lose more, if his threats meant
anything--liberty, perhaps life itself.

What, then, was to be done? I was without money, without arms, or a
horse. All these Valerie might procure for me; but how or where was I
to address her again? After the result of our last interview she would
be certain to avoid me more sedulously than ever. As I passed through
the magnificent vestibule, which was hung with rose-coloured lamps,
the light of which fell softly on the green malachite pedestals and
white marble Venuses, Dianas, and Psyches, which had no part of them
dressed but their hair, which was done to perfection, I met Ivan
Yourivitch, who made me understand that the officer whom the
Pulkovnick expected with certain papers from Sebastopol had arrived,
and was now in the dining-room; but the Pulkovnick had smoked himself
off to sleep, and must not, under certain pains and penalties, be
disturbed. Would I see him? And so, before I knew what to say, or had
made up my mind whether to avoid or meet the visitor, I was ushered
into the stately room, when I found myself once more face to face with
Mr. Hawkesby Guilfoyle!

The ex-cornet of wagoners was clad now in the gray Russian military
capote, with a sword and revolver at his girdle. His beard had grown
prodigiously; but his hair--once so well cared for--was now very thin
indeed, and he did not appear altogether to have thriven in the new
service to which he had betaken himself. His aspect was undoubtedly
haggard. Suspected by his new friends (who urged him on duties for
which he had not the smallest taste), and in perpetual dread of
falling into the hands of the old, by whom he would be certainly
hanged or shot, his life could not be a pleasant one; so he had
evidently betaken himself to drink, as his face was blotched and his
eyes inflamed in an unusual degree.

He was very busy with a decanter of sparkling Crimskoi and other good
things which the dvornick had placed before him, and on looking up he
failed to recognise me, clad as I was in a suit of Volhonski's plain
clothes, which were "a world too wide" for me; and no doubt I was the
last person in the world whom he wished or expected to see in such a
place and under such circumstances--being neither guest nor prisoner,
and yet somewhat of both characters. He bowed politely, however, and
said something in Russian, of which he had picked up a few words, and
then smiled blandly.

"You smile, sir," said I, sternly; "but remember the adage, a man may
smile and smile, and be----"

"Stay, sir!" he exclaimed, starting up; "this is intolerable! Who the
devil are you, and what do you mean?"

"Simply that you are a villain, and of the deepest die!"

His hand went from the neck of the decanter towards his revolver; then
he reseated himself, and with his old peculiar laugh said, while
inserting his glass in his right eye,

"O, this beats cock-fighting! Hardinge of the Welsh Fusileers! Now,
where on earth did you come from?"

"Not from the ranks of the enemy, at all events," I replied.

His whole character--the wrongs he had tried to do me and had done to
many others; the artful trick he had played me at Walcot Park his
pitiless cruelty to Georgette Franklin; his base conduct to me when
helpless on the field of Inkermann; his guiding a sortie in the night;
his entire career of unvarying cunning and treachery--caused me to
regard the man with something of wonder, mingled with loathing and
contempt, but contempt without anger. He was beneath that.

"So you are a prisoner of war?" said he, after a brief pause, during
which he had drained a great goblet of the Crimskoi--a kind of
imitation champagne.

"What I am is nothing to you--my position, mind, and character are the

"Perhaps so," he continued; "but I think that the most contemptible
mule on earth is a fellow in whom no experience or time can effect a
change of mind, or cure of those narrow opinions in which he is first
brought up, as the phrase is, in that little island of ours."

"So you have quite adopted the Russian idea of Britain?" said I, with
a scornful smile.

"Yes; and hope to have more scope for my talents on the Continent than
I ever had there. I should not have left the army of my good friend

"Who presented you with that ring, eh?"

"Had there not been the prospect of a row about a rooking one night in
camp, and a bill which some meddling fellow called a forgery. Bah! a
bad bill may be a very useful thing at times; it is like a gun
warranted to burst; but, as Lever says, you must always have it in the
right man's hands, when it comes for explosion. If you are a prisoner,
I am afraid that your chances of early seeing our dear mutual friends
in Taffyland--by the way, how _is_ old Sir Taffy?--are very slender,
if once you are sent towards the Ukraine," he went on mockingly, as he
lit a papirosse. "And so the fair Estelle threw you over, eh? Good
joke that! Preferred old Potter's company to yours, for the term of
his natural life? What a deuced sell! But what a touching picture of
love they must present--quite equal to Paul and Virginia, to Pyramus
and Thisbe!"

At that moment, and while indulging in a loud and mocking laugh, his
countenance suddenly changed; he grew very pale, the glass fell from
his pea-green eye, and the lighted papirosse from his lips; all his
natural assurance and insouciance deserted him, and he looked as
startled and bewildered as if a cannon-shot had just grazed his nose.
I turned with surprise at this sudden change, and saw the face and
figure of Colonel Tolstoff, who had limped into the room and been
regarding us for half a minute unperceived. He stood behind me, grim
and stern as Ajax, and was gazing at Guilfoyle with eyes that, under
their bristling brows, glittered like those of a basilisk, and seemed
to fascinate him.

"We have not met since that night at Dunamunde!" exclaimed Tolstoff,
in a voice of concentrated fury; "but, I thank God and St. Sergius, we
have met at last--yes, at last! And so you know each other--_you
two?_" he added, in German, while bestowing a withering glance on me.

"Dunamunde!" said I, sternly, as the name of that place recalled
something of a strange story concerning Tolstoff told by Guilfoyle to
Lord Pottersleigh at Craigaderyn; "and you two would seem to have
known each other and been friends of old, that is, if you are the same
Count Tolstoff whom he saved from the machinations of a certain
Colonel Nicolaevitch, then commanding the Marine Infantry at Riga."

"What rubbish is this you speak?" demanded the other, with angry
surprise; "there never was a _Count_ Tolstoff; and I am the Pulkovnick
Nicolaevitch Tolstoff who commanded in Dunamunde, and was custodian of
eighty thousand silver roubles, all government money. This ruffian was
my friend--my chief friend then, though of the gaming table; but he
joined in a plot, with others like himself, among whom was the Head of
the Police, to rob me. He admitted them masked into my rooms, when
they shot me down with my own pistols, and left me, with a broken
thigh, bound hand and foot and cruelly gagged, while they escaped in
safety across the Prussian frontier and got to Berlin, where they
started a gaming-house. But he is here--here in my power at last; and
sweetly and surely, I shall have such vengeance as that power gives
me. Ha! look at him, the speechless coward; he has no bones in his
tongue now!" he added, using a favourite Russian taunt.

"All over--run to earth, by Jove!" muttered Guilfoyle, with trembling
lips, forgetting about the papers he had brought, his new character of
a Russian officer, and forgetting even to deny his identity; "I have
thrown the dice for the last time, and d--nation, they have turned up

Ivan Yourivitch and other Cossack servants, who had heard the loud
voice of Tolstoff raised in undisguised anger, now appeared, and
received some orders from him in Russian. In a moment they threw
themselves upon Guilfoyle, disarmed, stripped him of his uniform, and
bound him with a silken cord torn from the window-curtains. At first I
was not without fears that they meant to strangle him with it, so
prompt and fierce was their manner; but they merely tied his hands
behind him, and thrust him into a closet, the door of which was
locked, and the key given to the Pulkovnick.

The latter, without deigning to take farther notice of me, turned on
his heel and limped away, muttering anathemas in Russian; and I felt
very thankful that he had not made me a close prisoner also, after the
humiliating fashion to which he had subjected the wretched Guilfoyle.
But he was not without secret and serious ulterior views regarding me.
All remained still now in the great mansion after this noisy and
sudden episode; and I heard no sound save once--the clatter of a
horse's hoofs, which seemed to leave the adjoining stable-yard and die
away, as I thought, in the direction of the Baidar Valley, where the
Cossacks lay encamped; and somehow my heart naturally connected these
circumstances and foreboded coming evil, as I sat alone in the recess
of a window overlooking the terrace, and the same moonlighted scenery
which Valerie had viewed from it so lately.


I was full of gloomy, perplexing, and irritating thoughts.

"If I am to drag on my life for years perhaps as a Russian prisoner,
better would it have been, O Lord, that a friendly shot had finished
my career for ever. What have I now to live for?" I exclaimed, in the
bitterness of my heart, as I struck my hands together.

"You speak thus--you so young?" said Valerie, reproachfully yet
softly, as she suddenly laid a hand on my shoulder, while her bright
eyes beamed into mine--eyes that could excite emotion by emitting it.

"Life seems so worthless."

"Why?" she asked, in a low voice.

"Can you ask me after what passed between us the other evening, and
more especially on yonder terrace, less than an hour ago?"

"But why is existence worthless?"

"Because I have lost you!"

(Had I not thought the same thing about Estelle, and deemed that "he
who has most of heart has most of sorrow"?)

"This is folly, dear friend," said she, looking down; "I never was
yours to lose."

"But you lured me to love you, Valerie; and now--now you would
cast--nay, you have cast--my poor heart back upon itself!"

"I lured you?" asked the gentle voice; "O unjust! How could I help
your loving me?"

"Perhaps not; nor could I help it myself."

"Tell me truly--has this--this misplaced passion for me lured you from
one who loves you well at home perhaps?"

"From no one," said I, bitterly.

"Thank Heaven for that; and we shall part as friends any way."

"As friends only?"


"But you will ever be more to me, Valerie."

She shook her head and smiled.

A desire for vengeance on Tolstoff, for his insulting bearing on one
hand, with, the love and admiration I had of herself on the other, and
the pictured triumph of taking her away from him, and by her aid and
presence with me reaching our camp in safety, all prompted me to urge
an elopement; nor could I also forget the coquettish admission that
she "might" love me; but just as I was about to renew my suit and had
taken possession of her hands, she withdrew them, and while glancing
nervously about her, informed me that the Pulkovnick had sent a
mounted messenger to the Baidar Valley for Cossacks, to escort me and
Guilfoyle to Kharkoff in the Ukraine; and when I remembered his
threats of probable ulterior measures, I felt quite certain that his
report would include us _both_, and thus be framed in terms alike
dangerous and injurious to me.

"What is to be done, Valerie?" I asked, in greater perplexity.

"If I cannot love, I can still serve you," said she, smiling with a
brightness that was cruel; "it is but just, in gratitude for the
regard you have borne me."

"That I still bear you and ever shall, beloved Valerie!" said I, with
tremulous energy; "but to serve me--how?"

"You must leave this place instantly, for in less than an hour the
Cossacks will be here, and Tolstoff may have you killed on the march;
the escort may be but a snare."

"Then come--come with me--let us escape together!"

"Impossible--you do but waste time in speaking thus."

"Why--O why, Valerie, when you know that I love you?"

"Race, religion, ties, all forbid such a step, even were I inclined
for it, which fortunately I am not," she replied, lifting for a
moment, as if for coolness, the rippling masses of her golden hair
from her white temples, and letting them fall again; "you might and
_must_ spare me more of this! Have I not told you it is useless to
speak of love to me, and wrong in me to listen to you?"

"And since when have you been engaged to this" (bear, I was about to
say)--"to this man Tolstoff? And by what magic or devilry has he
taught you to love him?"

"In what can either concern you, at such a time as this especially,
when you have not a moment to lose?" she asked, almost with
irritation. "But hush--O, hush! here is some one."

At that moment Ivan Yourivitch, with excitement on his usually stolid
Russian visage, entered the room almost on tiptoe, and whispered
something to her in haste, while his eyes were fixed the while on me.

"Ah!--thank you, Ivan, thank you--that is well!" she said, and turning
to me, she added, hurriedly and energetically, "If you would be free,
and choose, it may be, between liberty or death, you have not another
instant to lose! Ivan tells me that the crew of an English man-of-war
boat is at this moment filling casks with water at the well of St.
Basil on the beach yonder. Thrice has that ship been there for the
same purpose; and I was watching for her when you came to me on the
terrace, as I heard of her being off Alupka this morning."

"Your thoughts, then, were of me?" said I, tenderly.

"For you, rather; but away, and God be with you, sir!"

I lifted the window softly, and across the moonlit park that stretched
away towards the seashore she pointed to where four tall cypresses
rose like dark giants against the clear and starry sky, and where, at
the distance of a mile or little more, the white marble dome of the
well could be distinctly seen between them, its polished surface
shining like a star above a sombre belt of shrubbery.

"There is the sound of hoofs! The Cossacks, your escort, are coming
Away, sir; you cannot miss the well, though you may the boat!" said
Valerie, with her hands clasped and her dark eyes dilated; and as she
spoke the clank of galloping horses coming up the valley (and, as I
fancied, the cracking of the whips carried by the Cossacks at their
bridles) could be heard distinctly in the clear frosty air.

"If I had but my sword and pistols!" said I, with my teeth clenched.

"You do not require them. Farewell!

"Adieu, Valerie--adieu!"

I passionately kissed her lips and her cheek, too, ere she could
prevent me, waved my hand to old Yourivitch, vaulted over the window,
dropped from the balustrade of the terrace into the park, and at the
risk of being seen by some of the household crossed it with all the
speed I could exert in the direction that led to where I knew that the
well--a structure erected by Prince Woronzow--stood on a lonely part
of the shore. More than once did I look back at the lofty façade of
the beautiful château, with its four towers and onion-shaped domes of
shining copper, and all its stately windows that glittered in the
light of a cloudless moon; and just as I drew near the belt of
shrubbery, I could see the dark figures of mounted men encircling the
terrace! A fugitive, in danger of losing honour and life together! Was
this the end of my daydreams in Yalta? Once more I turned, and
hastened to where the four cypress-trees towered skyward.

"Ahoy! who comes there?" cried a somewhat gruff voice, in English,
accompanied by the sound of a slap on the butt of a musket; and then
the squat sturdy figure of a seaman, posted as sentinel, appeared
among the bushes, with an infantry pouch, belts, and bayonet worn
above his short pea-jacket.

"A friend!" I replied, mechanically, yet not without a glow of sincere

"Stand there, till I have a squint at you," replied Jack, cocking his
musket and giving a glance at the cap; but I was too much excited to
parley with him, and continued to advance, saying,

"I am an officer--Captain Hardinge, of the 23rd, a prisoner escaping
from the enemy."

"All right, sir--glad to see you; heave ahead," he replied, half
cocking his piece again.

"Who commands your party?"

"Lieutenant Jekyll, sir," said the seaman, saluting now, when he saw
me fully in the moonlight.

"Of what ship?"

"The Southesk, sir, of twenty guns."

"Let me pass to your rear. He must instantly shove off his boat, as
the Cossacks are within a mile of us--at yonder house."

In a minute more I reached the party at the well, twelve seamen and as
many marines under an officer, who had a brace of pistols in his belt,
and carried his sword drawn. They were in the act of carrying the last
cask of water into a ship's cutter, which lay alongside a ridge of
rock that ran into the sea, forming a species of natural pier or
jetty, close by the white marble fountain.

I soon made myself known, and ere long found myself seated among new
friends, and out on the shining water, which bubbled up at the bow and
foamed under the counter as the oarsmen bent to their task, and their
steadily and regularly feathered blades flashed in the silver sheen.
The shore receded fast; the belt of shrubs grew lower and lower; and
then the glittering domes of the distant mansion, which was ever in my
mind and memory to be associated with Valerie Volhonski, rose
gradually on our view, with the snow-clad range of Yaila in the
background. But all were blended in haze and distance by the time we
came sheering alongside H.M.S. Southesk, the water-tank of which had,
fortunately for me, been empty, thus forcing her crew to have recourse
to the well of St. Basil, by which circumstance I more than probably
escaped the fate that ultimately overtook, but deservedly, the
luckless Hawkesby Guilfoyle.

In the morning, under easy sail and half steam, the ship was off
Balaclava, where I saw the old Genoese fort that commands its
entrance, the white houses of the Arnaouts shaded by tall poplars, and
the sea breaking in foam upon its marble bluffs; and there the captain
kindly put me ashore in the first boat that left the ship.

It was not until long after the Crimean war, that by the merest
chance, through an exchanged prisoner--a private of our 68th
Foot--when having occasion to employ him as a commissionnaire in
London, I learned what the fate of Guilfoyle was. En route to
Kharkoff, he was run through the heart and killed by the lance of a
Cossack of his escort, who alleged that he was attempting to escape;
but my informant more shrewdly suspected that it was to obtain quiet
possession of his ring--the paste diamond which had figured so often
in his adventures, real and fictitious.


On the 28th of March, I found myself once more in my old tent, and
seeking hard to keep myself warm at the impromptu stove, constructed
by my faithful old servant, poor Jack Evans. I was received with
astonishment, and, I am pleased to say, with genuine satisfaction by
the regiment, even by those who had flattered themselves that they had
gained promotion by my supposed demise. I was welcomed by all, from
the Lieutenant-colonel down to little Dicky Roll, the junior drummer,
and for the first day my tent was besieged by old friends.

I had come back among them as from the dead; but more than one man,
whose name figured in the lists as missing, turned up in a similar
fashion during the war. My baggage had all been sent to Balaclava, the
railway to which was now partly in operation; my letters and papers
had been carefully sealed up in black wax by Philip Caradoc, and with
other private and personal mementos of me, packed for transmission to
Sir Madoc Lloyd, as my chief friend of whom he knew. Many came, I have
said, to welcome me; but I missed many a familiar face, especially
from among my own company, as the Fusileers had more than once been
severely engaged in the trenches.

Caradoc had been wounded in the left hand by a rifle-ball; Charley
Gywnne greeted me with his head in bandages, the result of a Cossack
sabre-cut; Dynely, the adjutant, had also been wounded; so had Mostyn,
of the Rifles, and Tom Clavell, of the 19th, when passing through "the
Valley of Death." Sergeant Rhuddlan, of my company, had just rejoined,
after having a ball in the chest (even Carneydd Llewellyn had lost a
horn): all who came to see me had something to tell of dangers dared
and sufferings undergone. All were in uniforms that were worn to rags;
but all were hearty as crickets, though sick of the protracted siege,
and longing to carry Sebastopol with the cold steel.

"How odd, my dear old fellow, that we should all think you drowned,
and might have been wearing crape on our sleeves, but for the lack
thereof in camp, and the fact that mourning has gone out of fashion
since death is so common among us; while all the time you have been
mewed up (by the Cossacks in the Baidar Valley) within some forty
miles of us; and so stupidly, too!" said Caradoc, as we sat late in
the night over our grog and tobacco in his hut.

"Not so stupidly, after all," I replied, while freely assisting myself
to his cavendish.


"There was _such_ a girl there, Phil!" I added, with a sigh.

"Oho! where?"

"At Yalta."

"Woronzow's palace, or château?"

"Yes; but why wink so knowingly?"

"So, after all, you found there was balm in Gilead?" said he,
laughing. "You must admit then, if she impressed you so much, that
all your bitter regrets about a certain newspaper paragraph were a
little overdone, and that I was a wise prophet? And what was this
girl--Russian, Tartar, Greek, a Karaite Jewess, or what?"

"A pure Russian."


"Beyond any I have ever seen, beautiful!"

"Whew! even beyond _la belle_--"

"There, don't mention her at present, please," said I, with a little
irritation, which only made him laugh the more.

"If you were love-making at Yalta, with three lance-prods in you,
there was no malingering anyhow."

"I should think not."

"And so she was engaged to be married to that Russian bear, Tolstoff,"
he added, after I had told him the whole of my affair with Valerie.

"Yes," said I, with an unmistakable sigh.

"I think we are both destined to live and die bachelors," he resumed,
in a bantering way; for though Phil had in these matters undergone, at
Craigaderyn and elsewhere, "the baptism of fire" himself, he was not
the less inclined to laugh at me; for of all sorrows, those of love
alone excite the risible propensities.

"And so, Phil, the world's a kaleidoscope--always shifting."

"Not always _couleur de rose_, though?"

"And I am here again!"

"Thank God!" said he, as we again shook hands, "Faith, Harry, you must
have as many lives as a cat, and so you may well have as many loves as
Don Juan; but, _entre nous_, and excuse me, she seems to have been a
bit of a flirt, your charming Valerie."

"How--why do you think so?"

"From all you have told me; moreover every woman to be attractive,
should be a little so," replied Caradoc, curling his heavy brown

"I don't think she was; indeed, I am certain she was not. But if this
be true, how then about Miss Lloyd; and she is attractive enough?"

At the tenor of this retort Phil's face flushed from his Crimean beard
to his temples.

"There you are wrong," said he, with the slightest asperity possible;
"she has not in her character a grain of coquetry, or of that which
Horace calls 'the art that is not to be taught by art.' She is a
pure-minded and warm-hearted English girl, and is as perfect as all
those wives and daughters of England, who figure in the volumes of
Mrs. Ellis; and in saying this I am genuine, for I feel that I am
praising some other fellow's bride--not mine, God help me!" he added,
with much of real feeling.

"You have heard nothing of the Lloyds since I left you?"


"Well, take courage, Phil; we may be at Craigaderyn one day yet," said
I; and he, as if ashamed of his momentary sentimental outburst,
exclaimed, with a laugh,

"By Jove, now that I have heard all your amours and amourettes, they
surpass even those of Hugh Price."

"Poor Hugh! his lieutenancy is filled up, I suppose?"

"Yes--as another week would have seen your company, for we could not
conceive that you were a prisoner at Yalta. Awkward that would have

"Deucedly so."

"But now you must console yourself, old fellow, by seeing what Madame
la Colonelle Tolstoff----"

"Don't call her by that name, Phil--I hate to hear it!"

"By what, then?"

"Valerie--anything but the other."

"Then what, as Mrs. Henry Hardinge, she might become, if all
this author (whose book I have been reading) says of the Russian
ladies be true." And drawing from his pocket a small volume, he gave
me the following paragraph to read, and I own it consoled me--a

"The domestic virtues are little known or cultivated in Russia, and
marriage is a mere matter of convenience. There is little of romance
in the character or conduct of the Russian lady. Intrigue and
sensuality, rather than sentiment or passion, guide her in her amours,
and these in after-life are followed by other inclinations. She
becomes a greedy gamester, and a great _gourmande_, gross in person,
masculine in views, a shrewd observer of events, an oracle at court,
and a tyrant over her dependents. There are, of course, exceptions to
this rule."

"Ah, Valerie would be one of these!"

"Perhaps--but as likely not," said Phil; "and on the whole, if this
traveller Maxwell is right, I have reason to congratulate you on your
escape. But we must turn in now, as we relieve the trenches an hour
before daybreak to-morrow; and by a recent order every man, without
distinction, carries one round shot to the front, so a constant supply
is kept up for the batteries."

Soon after this, on the 2nd of April, a working party of ours suffered
severely in the trenches, and Major Bell, who commanded, was thanked
in general orders for his distinguished conduct on that occasion. As
yet it seemed to me that no very apparent progress had been made with
the siege. The cold was still intense. Mustard froze the moment it was
made, and half-and-half grog nearly did so, too. The hospital tents
and huts were filled with emaciated patients suffering under the many
diseases incident to camp life; and the terrible hospital at Scutari
was so full, that though the deaths there averaged fifty daily in
February, our last batch of wounded had to be kept on board-ship.

Phil and I burned charcoal in our hut, using old tin mess-kettles with
holes punched in them. We, like all the officers, wore long Crimean
boots; but our poor soldiers had only their wretched ankle bluchers,
which afforded them no protection when the snow was heavy, or when in
thaws the mud became literally knee-deep; and they suffered so much,
that in more than one instance privates dropped down dead without a
wound after leaving the trenches. So great were the disasters of one
regiment--the 63rd, I think--that only seven privates and four
officers were able to march to Balaclava on the 1st of February; by
the 12th the effective strength of the brigade of Guards was returned
at 350 men; and all corps--the Highland, perhaps, excepted--were in a
similarly dilapidated state.

The camp was ever full of conflicting rumours concerning combined
assaults, expected sorties, the probabilities of peace, or a
continuance of the war; alleged treasons among certain French
officers, who were at one time alleged to have given the Russians
plans of their own batteries; that Menschikoff was dead from a wound,
and also Yermiloff the admiral; that _General_ Tolstoff was now in
command of the left towards Inkermann. (If so, was Valerie now in
Sebastopol? How I longed for the united attack--the storm and capture
that might enable me to see her once again!) And amid all these varied
rumours there came one--carried swiftly by horsemen through Bucharest
and Varna--which reached us on the 7th of April, to the effect that
Nicholas the mighty Czar of All the Russias, had gone to his last
account; and I do not think it was a demise we mourned much. We sent
intelligence of it by a flag of truce to the Russians; but they
received it with scorn, as a "weak invention of the enemy."

And now the snow began to wear away; the clouds that floated over the
blue Euxine and the green spires of Sebastopol became light and
fleecy; the young grass began to sprout, and the wild hyacinths, the
purple crocuses, and tender snowdrops, the violet and the primrose,
were blooming in the Valley of Death, and on the fresh mould that
marked where the graves of our comrades lay.


It was impossible for me not to feel lingering in my heart a deep and
tender interest for Valerie. She had not deceived or ill-used me; we
had simply been separated by the force of circumstances; by her
previous troth to Tolstoff, whom I flattered myself she could not
love, even if she respected or esteemed him.

That they were married by this time I could scarcely doubt, as she had
assured me that she was on "the very eve" of her nuptials (one of
those "marriages of convenience," according to Caradoc's book); and if
he held a command so high in Sebastopol, there was every reason to
conclude she must be with him. In the event of a general assault, I
was fully resolved to send my card to headquarters as a volunteer for
the storming column, though I knew right well that I dare not allow
myself to fall alive, into _his_ hands, at all events; thus the whole
situation gave me an additional and more personal interest in the fall
and capture of that place than, perhaps, inspired any other man in the
whole allied army. What if Tolstoff should be killed? This surmise
opened up a wide field for speculation.

Any of those balls that were incessantly poured against the city might
send that amiable commander to kingdom come, and if Valerie were left
a widow--well, I did not somehow like to think of her as a widow,
Tolstoff's especially, yet I was exasperated to think of her, so
brilliant, so gentle, and so highly cultured, as the wife of one so
coarse and even brutal in bearing, and if he did happen to stand in
the way of a bullet, why should he not be killed as well as another;
and so I reasoned, so true it is, that "with all our veneering and
French polish, the tiger is only half dead in any of us."

If I were again unluckily sent with a flag of truce into Sebastopol,
on any mission such as the burial of the dead and removal of the
wounded, or so forth, it would, I knew, be certainly violated by
Tolstoff, and myself be made prisoner for the affairs at Yalta. Then
if such a duty were again offered me, on what plea could I, with
honour, decline it? I could but devoutly hope that no such contingency
might happen for me again.

Times there were when, brooding over the past, and recalling the
strange magnetism of the smile of Valerie, and in the touch of her
hand, the contour of her face, her wonderful hair, and pleading
winning dark eyes, there came into my heart the tiger feeling referred
to, the jealousy that makes men feel mad, wild, fit for homicide or
anything; and as hourly "human lives were lavished everywhere, as the
year closing whirls the scarlet leaves," I had--heroics apart--a
terrible longing to have my left hand upon the throat of Tolstoff,
with her Majesty's Sheffield regulation blade in the other, to help
him on his way to a better world.

In these, or similar visions and surmises, I ceased to indulge when
with Caradoc, as he was wont to quiz me, and say that if I got a wife
out of Sebastopol, I should be the only man who gained anything by the
war, and even my gain might be a loss; that, like himself, I had twice
burned my fingers at the torch of Hymen, and that I should laugh at
the Russian episode or loving interlude, as he called it, as there
were girls in England whose shoe-strings he was sure she was not fit
to tie. Though she had rightly told me that my passion was but a
passing fancy, she knew not that it was one fed by revenge and

"Lady Estelle may perhaps have destroyed your faith in women," added
Phil, "but any way she has not destroyed _mine_."

"Have you still the locket with the likeness of Winifred Lloyd?" said

"Yes--God bless her--she left it with me," he replied, with a kindling
eye. How true Phil was to her! and yet she knew it not, and as far as
we knew, recked but little of the faith he bore her.

On a Saturday night--the night of that 21st of April, on which we
captured the rifle-pits--as we sat in our hut talking over the affair,
weary with toil of that incessant firing to which the cannonading at
Shoeburyness is a joke, Phil said,

"Let us drink 'sweethearts and wives,' as we used to do in the

"Agreed," said I; and as we clinked our glasses together and exchanged
glances, I knew that his thoughts went back to Craigaderyn, even as
mine recurred to that moonlight night on the terrace at Yalta.

"You remained with the burial party," said he, after a pause.

"Yes, and I saw something which convinced me that the fewer tender
ties we fighting men have, the better for our own peace. An officer of
the 19th lay among the dead, a man past forty apparently. A paper was
peeping from the breast of his coat; I pulled it out, and it proved to
be a letter, received perhaps that morning--a letter from his wife,
thrust hastily into his breast, as we marched to the front. A little
golden curl was in it, and there was written in a child's hand,
'Cecil's love to dearest papa.' I must own that the incident, at such
a time and place, affected me; so I replaced the letter in the poor
fellow's breast, and we buried it with him. So papa lies in a
rifle-pit, with mamma's letter and little Cecil's lock of hair; but,
after all, king Death did not get much of him--the poor man had been
nearly torn to pieces by a cannon shot."

"I saw you in advance of the whole line of skirmishers to-day, Harry,
far beyond the zigzags."

"I was actually at the foot of the glacis."

"The glacis--was not that madness?" exclaimed Phil.

"The truth is, I did so neither through enthusiastic courage nor in a
spirit of bravado. I was only anxious to see if from behind the
sap-roller that protected me, my field-glass could enable me to detect
among the gray-coated figures at the embrasures, the tall person and
grim visage of old Tolstoff."

"By Jove, I thought as much!"

"But I looked in vain, and retired in crab-fashion, the bullets
falling in a shower about me the while."

At that moment a knock rung on the door of the hut, and Sergeant
Rhuddlan, who acted as our regimental postman, handed a small packet
to me.

"The second battalion of the Scots Royals, the 48th, and the 72nd
Highlanders have just come in, sir, from Balaclava, and have brought a
mail with them," said he, in explanation; and while he was speaking,
we heard the sound of drums and bagpipes, half drowned by cheers in
the dark, as those in camp welcomed the new arrivals from home, and
helped to get them tented and hutted.

"From Craigaderyn!" said I, on seeing the seal--Sir Madoc's antique
oval--with the lion's head _erased_, as the heralds have it.

I had written instantly to the kind old man on my return to camp, and
this proved to be the answer by the first mail. On opening the packet
I found a letter, and a cigar-case beautifully worked in beads of the
regimental colours, red, blue, and gold, with _my_ initials on one
side, and those of Winifred Lloyd on the _other_. Poor Phil Caradoc
looked wistfully at the work her delicate hands had so evidently
wrought--so wistfully that, but for the ungallantry of the proceeding,
I should have presented the case to him. However, he had the simple
gratification of holding it, while I read the letter of Sir Madoc, and
did so aloud, as being of equal interest to us both. It was full of
such warm expressions of joy for my safety and of regard for me
personally, that I own they moved me; but some passages proved a
little mysterious and perplexing.

"Need I repeat to you, my dear Harry, how the receipt of your letter
caused every heart in the Court to rejoice--that of Winny especially?
She is more impressionable than Dora, less volatile, and I have now
learned _why_ the poor girl refused Sir Watkins, and, as I understand,

"That is me," said Phil, parenthetically.

"But of that unexpected refusal of Sir Watkins Vaughan nothing can be
said here."

"What on earth can he mean!" said I, looking up; "perhaps she has some
lingering compunction about you, Phil."

"If so, she might have sent the cigar-case to me--or something else;
just to square matters, as it were."

Remembering my old suspicions and fears--they were fears _then_--as I
drove away from Craigaderyn for Chester, I read the letter in haste,
and with dread of what it might contain or reveal; as I would not for
worlds have inflicted a mortification, however slight, on my dear
friend Caradoc, who gnawed the ends of his moustache at the following:

"Young Sir Watkins had been most attentive to Winny during the past
season in town--that gay London season, which, notwithstanding the
war, was quite as brilliant as usual; when every one had come back
from the Scotch moors, from Ben Nevis, Mont Blanc, the Matterhorn, and
everywhere else that the roving Englishman is wont to frequent, to
kill game, or time, or himself, as it sometimes happens. But Winny
won't listen to him, and I think he is turning his attention to Dora,
though whether or not the girl--who has another adorer, in the shape
of a long-legged Plunger with parted hair and a lisp--only laughs at
him, I can't make out.

"Tell Caradoc, Gwynne, and other true-hearted Cymri in the Welsh
Fusileers, that when in London I attended more than one meeting,
inaugurating a movement to secure for Wales judges and counsel who
shall speak Welsh, and Welsh only. The meetings were failures, and the
d--d Sassenachs only laughed at us; but from such injustice, _Gwared
ni Argylywd daionus!_[5] say I.

"And so poor Hugh Price of yours is gone. A good-hearted fellow, who
could do anything, from crossing the stiffest hunting country to
making a champagne cup, singing a love song or mixing a salad--one of
the old line of the Rhys of Geeler in Denbighshire. My God, how many
other fine fellows lie in that hecatomb in the Valley of Inkermann!
Sebastopol seems to be left quite open on one side, so that the
Russians may pour in stores and fresh troops, and go and come at their
pleasure? It is pleasant for tax-payers at home and the troops abroad
to think that things are so arranged in Downing-street, by my Lords
Aberdeen, Aberconway, and suchlike Whig incapables and incurables.

"I fear your regimental dinner would be a scanty one on St.
David's-days." (On that day I had dined with Valerie, and forgot all
about the yearly festival of the Fusileers!) "I thought of it and of
you all--the more so, perhaps, that I had just seen the old colours of
the Royal Welsh in St. Peter's Church at Carmarthen."

The old baronet, after a few Welsh words, of which I could make
nothing, rambled away into such subjects as mangold-wurzels and
subsoil, scab-and-foot rot, and food for pheasants, all of which I
skipped; ditto about the close of the hunting-season, which he and Sir
Watkins--Winny's admirer--had shared together; and how the rain had
deluged Salop, throwing the scent breast-high, so that in many a run
the fox and the hounds had it all to themselves, and that following
them was as bad as going all round the Wrekin to Shrewsbury, mere
brooks having become more than saddle-girth deep; moreover, the
mischievous, execrable, and pestilent wire fences were playing the
devil with the noble old sport of fox-hunting; then, with a few more
expressions of regard, and a hint about Coutts & Co., if I wanted
cash, his characteristic letter closed, and just when folding it, I
detected Master Phil Caradoc surreptitiously placing Winny's cigar
case very near his bushy moustache--about to kiss it, in fact. He grew
very red, and looked a little provoked.

"So that is all Sir Madoc's news?" said he.

"All--a dear old fellow."

"To-morrow is Sunday, when we shall have the chaplain at the
drum-head, and be confessing that we have done those things which we
ought not to have done, and left undone those things which we ought to
have done, while the whistling dicks are bursting and the shot
booming, as the Ruskies seek to have a quiet shy at our hollow square,
and the Naval Brigade, with their long 'Lancasters,' are making, as
usual, the devil's own row against the Redan--so till then, adieu!" he
added, adopting a bantering tone, as men will at times, when ashamed
of having exhibited any emotion or weakness.

Not long after this, with my company, I had to escort to Balaclava,
and to guard for some days, till embarked, some Russian prisoners, who
had been taken by the Turks in an affair between Kamara and the
Tchernaya, and who were afterwards transmitted to Lewes in Sussex; and
I had a little opportunity afforded me for studying their character
and composition; and brave though these men undoubtedly were, I felt
something of pity and contempt for them; nor was I mistaken, though
Prince Dolgorouki maintains, in _La Vérité sur la Russie_, that a
Muscovite alone can write on a Russian subject. A British soldier
never forgets that he is a citizen and a free-born man; but to the
Russian these terms are as untranslatable as that of _slave_ into the

In the empire, when fresh levies are wanted, the chief of each village
makes a selection; the wretched serfs have then one side of the head
shaved, to prevent desertion, and, farther still, are manacled and
marched like felons to the headquarters of their regiment. There they
are stripped, bathed--rather a necessary ceremony--and deprived of all
they may possess, save the brass crosses and medals which are chained
round their neck--the holy amulet of the Russian soldier, and spared
to him as the only consolation of his miserable existence. He is
docile, submissive, and gallant, but supple, subservient, and cunning,
though his gallantry and courage are the result of dull insensibility,
tinged with ferocity rather than moral force.

The recruit bemoans the loss of his beard, and carefully preserves it
that it may be buried with him, as an offering to St. Nicholas, who
would not admit him into heaven without it. Once enrolled--we cannot
say _enlisted_--he makes a solemn vow never to desert the colours of
his regiment, each of which has its own _artel_ or treasury, its own
chaplain, sacred banners, and relics. The pay of these warriors
averages about a halfpenny English per diem. Their food is of the most
wretched description, and it is known that when the troops of Suwarrow
served in the memorable campaign of Italy, they devoured with keen
relish the soap and candles wherever they went; but many of the
Russian battalions, and even the Cossack corps, have vocal companies
that sing on the march, or at a halt, where they form themselves into
a circle, in the centre of which stands the principal singer or
leader. And thus I heard some of these poor fellows sing, when I
halted them outside Balaclava, at a place where, as I remember,
there lay a solitary grave--that probably of a Frenchman, as it was
marked by a cross, had a wreath of immortelles upon it, and was
inscribed--alas for the superstitions of the poor human heart!--"the
last tribute of love."

The snow and the rain had frittered it nearly away.

Among my prisoners were four officers--dandies who actually wore
glazed boots, and were vain of their little hands and feet. I was more
than usually attentive to them for the sake of Valerie, and as they
certainly seemed--whatever the rank and file might be--thorough
gentlemen. One knew Volhonski, and all seemed to know Valerie, and had
probably danced--perhaps flirted--with her, for they had met at balls
in St. Petersburg. All knew Tolstoff, and laughed at him; but none
could tell me whether or not she and that northern bear were as yet
"one flesh," or married in _facie ecclesia_.


It is the morning of Saturday, the 8th September, 1855. For a year now
the allied forces have been before Sebastopol; but the flag of St.
Andrew is still flying in defiance upon its forts, and on this
memorable morning the columns of attack are forming for the great
assault. In the preceding June, amid the din of the ceaseless
cannonade, poor Lord Raglan had passed away to a quieter world; and
the picturesque Sardinians, with their green uniforms, billycock hats,
and Bersaglieri plumes--each private a species of _Fra Diavolo_--had
come to aid us in the reduction of this place, the Gibraltar of the

It was a cheerless morning. From the sea, a biting wind swept over the
land; clouds of white dust and dusky-brown smoke, that came from more
than one blazing street and burning ship--among the latter was a
two-decker, fired by the French rockets--rose high above the green
spires and batteries of Sebastopol, and overhung it like a sombre
pall, while shorn of its rays the sun resembled a huge red globe hung
in mid-air above us. Gradually it seemed to fade out altogether, and
then the whole sky became of a dull, leaden, and wintry gray. By this
time our epaulettes had entirely disappeared, and our uniforms were
hopeless rags; in some instances eked out by plain clothes, or
whatever one could pick up; and the government contractors had such
vague ideas of the dimensions of the human foot, that some of the
boots issued to the soldiers would not have fitted a child of ten
years old, and as they dared not throw away her Majesty's property,
many men went bare-footed, with their boots dangling from their
knapsack or waist-belt.

"In our present toggery we may meet the Russians," said Dyneley, our
adjutant; "but I should scarcely like to figure in them before the
girls at Winchester, in 'the Row,' or at the windows of 'the Rag.'"

In great masses, 30,000 Frenchmen were forming to assault the
Malakoff, with 5,000 Sardinians as supports.

A long line of cavalry--Hussars with their braided dolmans, Lancers
with their fluttering banneroles, Dragoons with glittering helmets,
and all with loaded carbine on thigh, had been, from an early hour,
thrown to the front, to form a cordon of sentinels, to prevent
straggling; while a similar line was formed in our rear to keep back
idlers from Balaclava; yet to obtain glimpses of the impending attack,
groups of red-fezzed Turks, of picturesque-looking Eupatorians, and
fur-capped Tartars, began to cluster on every green knoll at a safe
distance, where, in their excitement, they jabbered and gesticulated
in a manner most unusual for people so generally placid and stolid.

At half-past eleven A.M. the pipes of the Highland Brigade were
heard, as it marched in from Kamara, and got into position in reserve
of the right attack; and the fine appearance of the men of those
mountains--"the backbone of Britain," as Pope Sylvester called them of
old--elicited a hearty cheer from the Royal Welsh as they defiled
past, with all their black plumes and striped tartans waving in the
biting wind.

During all the preceding day, the batteries had thundered in salvoes
against Sebastopol; and hence vast gaps were now visible in the
streets and principal edifices, most of which were half hidden in
lurid sheets of fire; and by the bridge of boats that lay between the
north and south side, thousands of fugitives, laden with their goods
and household lares, their children, sick, and aged, had been seen to
pour so long as light remained.

Until the French began to move, the eyes of all in our division were
turned on our famous point of attack--the Redan; and I may inform the
non-military reader, that a _redan_ in field fortification means simply
an indented work with lines and faces; but this one resembled an
unfinished square, with two sides meeting at the salient angle in
front of our parallels, _i. e_., the trenches by which we had dug our
way under cover towards it.

With a strong reinforcement, Nicholaevitch Tolstoff, now, as before
stated, a general, had entered the Redan by its rear or open face; and
since his advent, it had been greatly strengthened. In the walls of
the parapet he had constructed little chambers roofed with sacks of
earth, and these secure places rendered the defenders quite safe from
falling shells. In the embrasures were excavations wherein the gunners
might repose close by their guns, but ever armed and accoutred; and by
a series of trenches it communicated with the great clumsy edifice
known as the Malakoff Tower.

By a road to the right, the Redan also communicated with the extensive
quadrangle of buildings forming the Russian barracks, one hundred
yards distant; and in its fear there lay the Artillery or Dockyard
Creek. The flat caps, and in other instances the round glazed helmets,
of the Russians and the points of their bayonets, bristling like a
hedge of steel, could be seen above the lines of its defence and at
the deeply-cut embrasures, where the black cannon of enormous calibre
peered grimly down upon us.

Our arrangements were very simple. At noon the French were to attack
the Malakoff; and as soon as they fell to work we were to assault the
Redan, and I had volunteered for the scaling-ladder party, which
consisted of 320 picked men of the Kentish Buffs and 97th or Ulster

In the trenches of our left attack could be seen the black bearskins
of our Brigade of Guards, and massed in dusky column on the hill
before their camp, their red now changed to a very neutral tint
indeed, were the slender battalions of the Third Division, motionless
and still, save when the wind rustled the tattered silk of the
colours, or the sword of an officer gleamed as he dressed the ranks. A
cross cannonade was maintained, as usual, between our batteries and
those of the enemy. The balls were skipping about in all directions,
and several "roving Englishmen," adventurous tourists, "own
correspondents," and unwary amateurs, who were there, had to scuttle
for their lives to some place of shelter.

As I joined the ladder party, I could not help thinking of many a past
episode in my life: of Estelle, who had been false; of Valerie, who
was lost to me; and of the suspicion that Winifred Lloyd loved me. Ere
another hour, I might be lying dead before the Redan, and there forget
them all! Our covering party consisted of 200 of the Buffs and Rifles
under Captain Lewes; but alas for the weakness of our force, as
compared with thousands of men to oppose. The strength of the Second
Division detailed against the Redan consisted only of 760 men of the
3rd, 41st, and 62nd regiments, with a working party of 100 from the
Royal Welsh. The rest of Colonel Windham's brigade was in reserve.

Brigadier Shirley, who was to command the whole, had been ill on
board-ship; but the moment the gallant fellow heard that an assault
was resolved on, he hastened to join us. Prior, however, to his
coming, Colonel Windham and Colonel Unett of the 29th were deciding
which of them should take precedence in leading the attack. They
coolly tossed up a shilling, and the latter won. Thus he had the
alternative of saying whether he would go first, or follow Windham;
but a glow spread over his face, and he exclaimed,

"I have made my choice, and I shall be the _first_ man inside the

However, it was doomed to be otherwise, as soon afterwards a ball from
the abattis severely wounded and disabled him. When we had seen that
our men had carefully loaded and capped and cast loose their
cartridges, all became very still, and there was certainly more of
thought than conversation among us. Many of the men in some regiments
were little better than raw recruits, and were scarcely masters of
their musketry drill. Disease in camp and death in action had fast
thinned our ranks of the carefully-trained and well-disciplined
soldiers who landed in Bulgaria; and when these--the pest and
bullet--failed, the treachery of contractors, and the general
mismanagement of the red-tapists, did the rest. Accustomed as we had
been to the daily incidents of this protracted siege, there was a
great hush over all our ranks; the hush of anticipation, and perhaps
of grave reflection, came to the lightest-hearted and most heedless

"What is the signal for us to advance?" I inquired.

"Four rockets," replied Dyneley, our adjutant, who was on foot, with
his sword drawn, and a revolver in his belt.

"There go the French to attack the tower!" cried Gwynne; and then a
hum of admiration stole along our lines as we saw them, at precisely
five minutes to twelve o'clock, "like a swarm of bees," issue from
their trenches, the Linesmen in kepis and long blue coats, the Zouaves
in turbans and baggy red breeches, under a terrible shower of cannon
and musketry, fiery in their valour, quick, ardent, and eager! They
swept over the little space of open ground that lay between the head
of their sap, and, irresistible in their number, poured on a sea of
armed men, a living tide, a human surge, section after section, and
regiment after regiment, to the assault.

    "O'er ditch and stream, o'er crest and wall,
     They jump and swarm, they rise and fall;
     With _vives_ and _cris_, with cheers and cries.
     Like thunderings in autumnal skies;
     Till every foot of ground is mud,
     With tears and brains and bones and blood.
     Yet, faith, it was a grim delight
     To see the little devils fight!"

With wonderful speed and force, their thousands seemed to drift
through the gaping embrasures of the tower, which appeared to swallow
them up--all save the dead and dying, who covered the slope of the
glacis; and in _two_ minutes more the tricolor of France was waving on
the summit of the Korniloff bastion!

But the work of the brave French did not end there. From twelve till
seven at night, they had to meet and repulse innumerable attempts of
the Russians to regain what they had lost--the great tower, which was
really the key of the city; till, in weariness and despair, the latter
withdrew, leaving the slopes covered with corpses that could only be
reckoned by thousands. The moment the French standard fluttered out
above the blue smoke and grimy dust of the tower, a vibration seemed
to pass along all our ranks. Every face lit up; every eye kindled;
every man instinctively grasped more tightly the barrel of his musket,
or the blade of his sword, or set his cap more firmly on his head, for
the final rush.

"The tricolor is on the Malakoff! By heavens, the French are in!
hurrah!" cried several officers.

"Hurrah!" responded the stormers of the Light and Second Divisions.

"There go the rockets!" cried Phil Caradoc, pointing with his sword to
where the tiny jets of sparkles were seen to curve in the wind against
the dull leaden sky, their explosion unheard amid the roar of musketry
and of human voices in and beyond the Malakoff.

"Ladders, to the front! eight men per ladder!" said Welsford, of the

"It is our turn now, lads; forward, forward!" added some one
else--Raymond Mostyn, of the Rifles, I think.

"There is a five-pound note offered to the first man inside the
Redan!" exclaimed little Owen Tudor, a drummer of ours, as he slung
his drum and went scouring to the front: but a bullet killed the poor
boy instantly, and Welsford had his head literally blown off by a
cannon ball.

In their dark green uniforms, which were patched with many a rag, a
hundred men of the Rifle Brigade who carried the scaling ladders
preceded us; and the moment they and we began to issue, which we did
at a furious run, with bayonets fixed and rifles at the short trail,
from the head of the trenches, the cannon of the Redan opened a
withering fire upon us. The round shot tore up the earth beneath our
feet, or swept men away by entire sections, strewing limbs and other
fragments of humanity everywhere; the exploding shells also dealt
death and mutilation; the grape and cannister swept past in whistling
showers; and wicked little shrapnels were flying through the air like
black spots against the sky; while, with a hearty and genuine English
"hurrah!" that deepened into a species of fierce roar, we swept
towards the ditch which so few of us might live to recross.

Thick fall our dead on every hand, and the hoarse boom of the cannon
is sounding deep amid the roar of the concentrated musketry. Crawling
and limping back to the trenches for succour and shelter, the groaning
or shrieking wounded are already pouring in hundreds to the rear,
reeking with blood; and, within a minute, the whole slope of the Redan
is covered with our redcoats--the dead or the helpless--thick as the
leaves lie "when forests are rended!"


One enormous cannon-shot that struck the earth and stones threw up a
cloud of dust which totally blinded the brave brigadier who led us; he
was thus compelled to grope his way to the rear, while his place was
taken by Lieutenant-colonel W. H. Bunbury of ours--a tried soldier,
who had served in the Kohat-Pass expedition five years before this,
and been Napier's aide-de-camp during the wars of India. The
Honourable Colonel Handcock, who led three hundred men of the 97th and
of the Perthshire Volunteers, fell mortally by a ball in the head.
Colonel Lysons of ours (who served in the Canadian affair of St.
Denis), though wounded in the thigh and unable to stand, remained on
the ground, and with brandished sword cheered on the stormers.

The actual portion of the latter followed those who bore the scaling
ladders, twenty of which were apportioned to the Buffs; and no time
was to be lost now, as the Russians from the Malakoff, inflamed by
blood, defeat, and fury, were rushing down in hordes to aid in the
defence of the Redan. In crossing the open ground between our trenches
and the point of attack, some of the ladders were lost or left behind,
in consequence of their bearers being shot down; yet we reached the
edge of the ditch and planted several without much difficulty, till
the Russians, after flocking to the traverses which enfiladed them,
opened a murderous fusillade upon those who were crossing or getting
into the embrasures, when we planted them on the other side; and then
so many officers and men perished, that Windham and three of the
former were the only leaders of parties who got in untouched.

The scene in the ditch, where the dead and the dying, the bleeding,
the panting, and exhausted lay over each other three or four deep, was
beyond description; and at a place called the Picket House was one
solitary English lady, watching this terrible assault, breathless and
pale, putting up prayers with her white lips; and her emotions at such
a time may be imagined when I mention that she was the wife of an
officer engaged in the assault, Colonel H----, whose body was soon
after borne past her on a stretcher.

When my ladder was planted firmly, I went up with the stormers, men of
all regiments mixed pell-mell, Buffs and Royal Welsh, 90th and 97th. A
gun, depressed and loaded with grape, belched a volume of flame and
iron past me as I sprang, sword in hand, into the embrasure, firing my
revolver almost at random; and the stormers, their faces flushed with
ardour and fierce excitement, cheering, stabbing with the bayonet,
smashing with the butt-end, or firing wildly, swarmed in at every
aperture, and bore the Russians back; but I, being suddenly wedged
among a number of killed and wounded men, between the cannon and the
side of the embrasure could neither advance nor retire, till dragged
out by the strong hand of poor Charley Gwynne, who fell a minute
after, shot dead; and for some seconds, while in that most exposed and
terrible position, I saw a dreadful scene of slaughter before me; for
there were dense gray masses of the Russian infantry, their usually
stolid visages inflamed by hate, ferocity, by fiery _vodka_, and
religious rancour, the front ranks kneeling as if to receive cavalry,
and all the rear ranks, which were three or four deep, firing over
each other's heads, exactly as we are told the Scottish brigades of
the "Lion of the North" did at Leipzig, to the annihilation of those
of Count Tilly.

We were fairly IN this terrible Redan; but the weakness of our force
was soon painfully apparent, and in short, when the enemy made a
united rush at us, they drove us all into an angle of the work, and
ultimately over the parapet to the outer slope, where men of the Light
and Second Divisions were packed in a dense mass and firing into it,
which they continued to do even till their ammunition became expended,
when fresh supplies from the pouches of those in rear were handed to
those in front. An hour and a half of this disastrous strife elapsed,
"the Russians having cleared the Redan," to quote the trite
description of Russell, "but not yet being in possession of its
parapets, when they made a second charge with bayonets under a heavy
fire of musketry, and throwing great quantities of large stones, grape
and small round shot, drove those in front back upon the men in rear,
who were thrown into the ditch. The gabions in the parapet now gave
way, and rolled down with those who were upon them; and the men in
rear, thinking all was lost, retired into the fifth parallel."

Many men were buried alive in the ditch by the falling earth; Dora's
admirer, poor little Torn Clavell of the 19th, among others, perished
thus horribly. Just as we reached our shelter, there to breathe,
re-form, and await supports, I saw poor Phil Caradoc reel wildly and
fall, somewhat in a heap, at the foot of the gabions. In a moment I
was by his side. His sword-arm had been upraised as he was
endeavouring to rally the men, and a ball had passed--as it eventually
proved--through his lungs; though a surgeon, who was seated close by
with all his apparatus and instruments, assured him that it was not

"I know better--something tells me that it is all over with me--and
that I am bleeding internally," said he, with difficulty. "Hardinge,
old fellow--lift me up--gently, so--so--thank you."

I passed an arm under him, and raised his head, removing at the same
time his heavy Fusileer cap. There was a gurgle in his throat, and the
foam of agony came on his handsome brown moustache.

"I am going fast," said he, grasping my hand; "God bless you,
Harry--see me buried alone."

"If I escape--but there is yet hope for you, Phil."

But he shook his head and said, while his eye kindled,

"If I was not exactly the first man _in_, I was not long behind
Windham. I risked my life freely," he added, in a voice so low that
I heard him with difficulty amid the din of the desultory fire, and
the mingled roar of other sounds in and around the Malakoff; "yet I
should like to have gone home and seen my dear old mother once again,
in green Llangollen--and _her_--she, you know who I mean, Harry.
But God has willed it all otherwise, and I suppose it is for the
best. . . . Turn me on my side . . . dear fellow--so. . . . I am
easier now."

As I did what he desired, his warm blood poured upon my hand, through
the orifice in his poor, faded, and patched regimentals, never so much
as then like "the old red coat that tells of England's glory."

"Have the Third or Fourth Division come yet? Where are the Scots
Royals?" he asked, eagerly, and then, without waiting for a reply,
added, very faintly, "If spared to see her--Winny Lloyd--tell her that
my last thoughts were of her--ay, as much as of my poor mother . . . and
. . . that though she will get a better fellow than I----"

"That is impossible, Phil!"

"She can never get one who . . . . who loves her more. The time is
near now when I shall be but a memory to her and you .  . . . and to
all our comrades of the old 23rd."

His lips quivered and his eyes closed, as he said, with something of
his old pleasant smile,

"I am going to heaven, I hope, Harry--if I have not done much good in
the world, I have not done much harm; and in heaven I'll meet with
more red coats, I believe, than black ones . . . . and tell
her . . . tell Winny----"

What I was to tell her I never learned; his voice died away, and he
never spoke again; for just as the contest became fiercer between the
French and the masses of Russians--temporarily released from the Redan
or drawn from the city--his head fell over on one side, and he
expired. I closed his eyes, for there was yet time to do so. Poor Phil
Caradoc! I looked sadly for a minute on the pale and stiffening face
of my old friend and jovial chum, and saw how fast the expression of
bodily pain passed away from the whitening forehead. I could scarcely
assure myself that he was indeed gone, and so suddenly; that his once
merry eyes and laughing lips would open never again. Turning away, I
prepared once more for the assault, and then, for the first time, I
perceived Lieutenants Dyneley and Somerville of ours lying near him;
the former mortally wounded and in great pain, the latter quite dead.

My soul was full of a keen longing for vengeance, to grapple with the
foe once more, foot to foot and face to face. The blood was fairly up
in all our hearts; for the Russians had now relined their own
breastworks, where a tall officer in a gray capote made himself very
conspicuous by his example and exertions. He was at last daring enough
to step over the rampart and tear down a wooden gabion, to make a kind
of extempore embrasure through which an additional field-piece might
be run.

"As you are so fond of pot-firing," said Colonel Windham to the
soldiers, with some irritation at the temporary repulse, "why the
deuce don't you shoot that Russian?"

On looking through my field-glass, to my astonishment I discovered
that he was Tolstoff. Sergeant Rhuddlan of ours now levelled his rifle
over the bank of earth which protected the parallel, took a steady
aim, and fired. Tolstoff threw up his arms wildly, and his sword
glittered as it fell from his hand. He then wheeled round, and fell
heavily backward into the ditch--which was twenty feet broad and ten
feet deep--dead; at least, I never saw or heard of him again.

Just as a glow of fierce exultation, pardonable enough, perhaps, at
such a time (and remembering all the circumstances under which this
distinguished Muscovite and I had last met and parted), thrilled
through me, I experienced a terrible shock--a shock that made me reel
and shudder, with a sensation as if a hot iron had pierced my left arm
above the elbow. It hung powerless by my side, and then I felt my own
blood trickling heavily over the points of my fingers!

"Wounded! My God, hit at last!" was my first thought; and I lost much
blood before I could get any one, in that vile burly-burly, to tie my
handkerchief as a temporary bandage round the limb to stanch the flow.

I was useless now, and worse than useless, as I was suffering greatly,
but I could not leave the parallel for the hospital huts, and remained
there nearly to dusk fell. Before that, I had seen Caradoc interred
between the gabions; and there he lay in his hastily-scooped grave,
uncoffined and unknelled, his heart's dearest longings unfulfilled,
his brightest hopes and keenest aspirations crushed out like his young
life; and the evanescent picture, the poor photo of the girl he had
loved in vain, buried with him; and when poor Phil was being covered
up, I remembered his anecdote about the dead officer, and the letter
that was replaced in his breast.

Well, my turn for such uncouth obsequies might come soon enough now.
In the affair of the Redan, if I mistake not, 146 officers and men of
ours, the Welsh Fusileers, were killed and wounded; and every other
regiment suffered in the same proportion.

The attack was to be renewed at five in the morning by the Guards and
Highlanders, under Lord Clyde of gallant memory, then Sir Colin
Campbell; but on their approaching, it was found that the Russians had
spiked their guns, and bolted by the bridge of boats, leaving
Sebastopol one sheet of living fire. Fort after fort was blown into
the air, each with a shock as if the solid earth were being split
asunder. The sky was filled with live shells, which burst there like
thousands of scarlet rockets, and thus showers of iron fell in every
direction. Columns of dark smoke, that seemed to prop heaven itself,
rose above the city, while its defenders in thousands, without beat of
drum or sound of trumpet, poured away by the bridge of boats. When the
last fugitive had passed, the chains were cut, and then the mighty
pontoon, a quarter of a mile in length, swung heavily over to the
north side, when we were in full possession of Sebastopol!


I must have dropped asleep of sheer weariness and loss of blood, when
tottering to the rear; for on waking I found the moon shining, and
myself lying not far from the fifth parallel, which was now occupied,
like the rest of the trenches, by the kilted Highlanders, whose bare
legs, and the word _Egypt_ on their appointments, formed a double
source of wonder to our Moslem allies, especially to the contingent
that came from the Land of Bondage. These sturdy fellows were
chatting, laughing, and smoking, or quietly sleeping and waiting for
their turn of service against the Redan, in the dark hours of the

I had lain long in a kind of dreamy agony. Like many who were in the
Redan and in the ditch around it, I had murmured "water, water," often
and vainly. The loss of Estelle, or of Valerie, for times there were
when my mind wandered to the former _now_, the love of dear friends, the
death of comrades, honour, glory, danger from pillaging Russians or
Tartars, all emotions, in fact, were merged or swallowed up in the
terrible agony I endured in my shattered arm, and the still more
consuming craving for something wherewith to moisten my cracked lips
and parched throat. Poor Phil Caradoc had perhaps endured this before
me, while his heart and soul were full of Winifred Lloyd; but Phil,
God rest him! was at peace now, and slept as sound in his uncouth
grave as if laid under marble in Westminster Abbey.

In my uneasy slumber I had been conscious of this sensation of thirst,
and had visions of champagne goblets, foaming and iced; of humble
bitter beer and murmuring water; of gurgling brooks that flowed over
brown pebbles, and under long-bladed grass and burdocks in leafy
dingles; of Llyn Tegid, deep and blue; of the marble fountain, with
the lilies and golden fish, at Craigaderyn. Then with this idea the
voice of Winifred Lloyd came pleasantly to my ear; her white fingers
played with the sparkling water, she raised some to my lips, but the
cup fell to pieces, and starting, I awoke to find a tall Highlander,
of the Black Watch, bending over me, and on my imploring him to get me
some water, he placed his wooden canteen to my lips, and I drank of
the contents, weak rum-grog, greedily and thankfully.

It seemed strange to me that I should dream of Winifred, there and
then; but no doubt the last words of Caradoc had led me to think of
her. It is only when waking after long weariness of the body, and
over-tension of the nerves, the result of such keen excitement as we
had undergone since yesterday morning, that the full extremity of
exhaustion and fatigue can be felt, as I felt them then. Add to these,
that my shattered arm had bled profusely, and was still undressed.

Staggering up, I looked around me. The moon was shining, and flakes of
her silver light streamed through the now silent embrasures of the
Redan, silent save for the groans of the dying within it. There and in
the ditch the dead lay thick as sheaves in a harvest-field--thick as
the Greeks, at Troy, lay under the arrows of Apollo. How many a man
was lying there, mutilated almost out of the semblance of humanity,
whose thoughts, when the death shot struck him down, or the sharp
bayonet pierced him, had flashed _home_, quicker than the electric
telegraph, yea, quicker than light, to his parents' hearth, to his
lonely wife, to the little cots where their children lay abed--little
ones, the memory of whose waxen faces and pink hands then filled his
heart with tears; how many a resolution for prayer and repentance if
spared by God; how many a pious invocation; how many a fierce
resolution to meet the worst, and die like a man and a soldier, had
gone up from that hell upon earth, the Redan--the fatal Redan, which
we should never have attacked, but should have aided the French in the
capture of the Malakoff, after which it must inevitably have fallen
soon, if not at once.

Many of our officers were afterwards found therein, each with a hand
clutching a dead Russian's throat, or coat, or belt, their fingers
stiffened in death--man grasping man in a fierce and last embrace.
Among others, that stately and handsome fellow, Raymond Mostyn, of the
Rifles, and an officer of the Vladimir regiment were thus locked
together, the same grape-shot having killed them both. Some of our
slain soldiers were yet actually clinging to the parapet and slope of
the glacis, as if still alive, thus showing the reluctance with which
they had retired--the desperation with which they died. In every
imaginable position of agony, of distortion, and bloody mutilation
they lay, heads crushed and faces battered, eyes starting from their
sockets, and swollen tongues protruding; and on that terrible scene
the pale moon, "sweet regent of the sky," the innocent queen of night,
as another poet calls her, looked softly down in her glory, as the
same moon in England, far away, was looking on the stubble-fields
whence the golden grain had been gathered, on peaceful homesteads, old
church steeples and quiet cottage roofs, on the ruddy furnaces of the
Black country, on peace and plenty, and where war was unknown, save by

She glinted on broken and abandoned weapons; she silvered the upturned
faces of the dead--kissing them, as it were, for many a loving one who
should see them no more; and gemming as if with diamonds the dewy
grass and the autumnal wild-flowers; and there, too, amid that
horrible débris, were the little birds--the goldfinch, the tit, and
the sparrow--hopping and twittering about, too terrified to seek their
nests, scared as they were by the uproar of the day that was past.

I felt sick at heart and crushed in spirit now. In the immediate
foreground the moonlight glinted on the tossing dark plumes, the
picturesque costume, and bright bayonets of the Highlanders in the
trenches. In the distance was the town; its ports, arsenals, barracks,
theatres, palaces, churches, and streets sheeted with roaring flames,
that lighted up all the roadstead, where, one after the other, the
Russian ships were disappearing beneath the waves, in that lurid glare
which tipped with a fiery gleam the white walls and spiked cannon of
the now abandoned forts.

I began to creep back towards the camp, in search of surgical aid, and
on the way came to a place where, with their uniforms off, their
shirt-sleeves rolled up, their boxes of instruments open, lint and
bandages ready, three officers of the medical staff were busy upon a
group of wounded men, who sat or lay near, waiting their turn, some
impatiently, some with passive endurance, but all, more or less, in
pain, as their moans and sighs declared.

"Don't bother about that Zouave, Gage," I heard one Æsculapius say, as
I came near, "I have overhauled him already!"

"Is his wound mortal?"

"Yes--brain lacerated. By Jove! here is an officer of the 23rd!"

"Well, he must wait a little."

So I sighed, and seated myself on a stone, and clenched my teeth to
control the agony I was enduring. The men who lay about us, with pale,
woe-begone visages and lack-lustre eyes, belonged chiefly to the
Light Division, but among them I saw, to my surprise, a Russian hussar
lying dead, with the blood dry and crusted on his pale blue and
yellow-braided dolman. How he came to be _there_, I had not the
curiosity to inquire. A mere bundle of gory rags, he seemed; for a
cannon-shot had doubled him up, and now his Tartar horse stood over
him, eyeing him wildly, and sniffing as if in wonder about his bearded
face and fallen jaw.

The Zouave referred to was a noisy and loquacious fellow,
notwithstanding his perilous predicament. He had strayed hither
somehow from the Malakoff, and was mortally wounded, as the surgeon
said, and dying. A tiny plaster image of the blessed Virgin lay before
him; he was praying intently at times, but being fatuous, he wildly
and oddly mingled with his orisons the name of a certain Mademoiselle
Auréle, a _fleuriste_,  with whom he imagined himself in the second
gallery of the Théâtre Français, or supping at the Barrière de
l'Etoile; anon he imagined they were on the Boulevardes, or in a café
chantant; and then as his mind--or what remained of it--seemed to
revert to the events of the day, he drew his "cabbage-cutter," as the
French call their sword-bayonet, and brandished it, crying,

"Cut and hew, strike, mes camarades--frappez vite et frappez forte!
Vive la France! Vive l'Empéreur!"

This was the last effort; a gush of fresh blood poured into his eyes,
and the poor Zouave was soon cold and stiff. In a kind of stupor I sat
there and watched by moon and lantern light the hasty operations:
bullets probed for and snipped out by forceps, while the patients
writhed and yelled; legs and arms dressed or cut off like branches
lopped from a tree, and chucked into a heap for interment. I shuddered
with apprehensive foreboding of what might ensue when my own turn
came, and heard, as in a dream, the three surgeons talking with the
most placid coolness about their little bits of practice.

"Jones, please," said one, a very young staff medico, "will you kindly
take off this fellow's leg for me? I have ripped up his trousers and
applied the tourniquet--he is quite ready."

"But must it come off?" asked Jones, who was patching up a bullet-hole
with lint.

"Yes; gun-shot fracture of the knee-joint--patella totally gone."

"Why don't you do it yourself, my good fellow?" asked the third, who,
with an ivory-handled saw between his teeth, was preparing to operate
on the fore-arm of a 19th man, whose groans were terrible. "Gage, did
you never amputate?"

"Never on the living subject."

"On a dead one then, surely?"

"Often--of course.'

"By Jove, you can't begin too soon--so why not now?"

"I am too nervous--do it for me."

"In one minute; but only this once, remember. Now give me your knife
for the flap; and look to that officer of the Welsh Fusileers--his
left arm is wounded."

So while Dr. Jones, whom the haggard eyes of the man, whose limb was
doomed, watched with a terrible expression of anxiety, applied himself
to the task of amputation, the younger doctor, a hand fresh from
London, came to _me_.

After ripping up the sleeve of my uniform, and having a brief
examination, which caused me such bitter agony that I could no longer
stand, but lay on the grass, he said,

"Sorry to tell you, that yours is a compound fracture of the most
serious kind."

"Is it reducible?" I asked, in a low voice.

"No; I regret to say that your arm must come off."

"My arm--must I lose it?" I asked, feeling keener anguish with the
unwelcome announcement.

"Yes; and without delay," he replied, stooping towards his instrument

"I cannot spare it--I must have some other--excuse me, sir--some older
advice," I exclaimed, passionately.

"As you please, sir," replied the staff-surgeon, coolly; "but we have
no time to spare here, either for opposition or indecision."

The other two glanced at my arm, poked it, felt it as if it had been
that of a lay figure in a studio, and supported the opinion of their
brother of the knife. But the prospect of being mutilated, armless,
for life, and all the pleasures of which such a fate must deprive me,
seemed so terrible, that I resolved to seek for other advice at the
hospital tents, and towards them I took my way, enduring such pain of
body and misery of mind that on reaching them I should have sunk, had
brandy not been instantly given to me by an orderly. It was Sunday
morning now, and the gray light of the September dawn was stealing
over the waters of the Euxine, and up the valley of Inkermann. The
fragrant odour of the wild thyme came pleasantly on the breeze; but
now the rain was falling heavily, as it generally does after an
action--firing puts down the wind, and so the rain comes; but to me
then it was like the tears of heaven--"Nature's tear-drop," as Byron
has it, bedewing the unburied dead. A red-faced and irritable-looking
little Deputy Inspector of Hospitals, in a blue frogged surtout,
received me, and from him I did not augur much. The patients were
pouring in by hundreds, and the medical staff had certainly no
sinecure there. After I had been stripped and put to bed, I remember
this personage examining my wound and muttering,

"Bad case--very!"

"Am I in danger, doctor?" I inquired.

"Yes, of course, if it should gangrene," said he, sharply.

"I don't care much for life, but I should not like to lose my arm. Do
you think that--that--"

"What?" he asked, opening his box of tools with _sangfroid_.

"I shall die of this?"

"Of a smashed bone?"


"Well, my dear fellow, not yet, I hope."

"Yet?" said I, doubtfully.

"Well, immediately, I mean. There is already much sign of
inflammation, and consequent chance of fever. The os humerus is, as I
say, smashed to pieces, and the internal and external condyles of the
elbow are most seriously injured. Corporal Mulligan, a basin and
sponge, and desire Dr.----" (I did not catch the name) "to step this

The corporal, a black-bearded Connaught Ranger, who had lost an eye at
Alma, brought what the surgeon required; he then placed a handkerchief
to my nostrils; there was a bubbling sensation in the brain, but
momentary, as the handkerchief contained chloroform; then something
peaceful, soporific, and soothing stole over me, and for a time I
became oblivious of all around me.


To be brief, when the effect of the chloroform passed away, I became
sensible of a strange sensation of numbness about my left shoulder.
Instinctively and shudderingly I turned my eyes towards it, and found
that my left arm was--gone! Gone, and near me stood Corporal Mulligan
coolly wiping the fat little surgeon's instruments for the next case.
Some wine, Crimskoi, and water were given me, and then I closed my
eyes and strove, but in vain, to sleep and to think calmly over my
misfortune, which, for a time, induced keen misanthropy indeed.

"Armless!" thought I; "I was pretty tired of life before this, and am
utterly useless now. Would that the shot had struck me in a more vital
place, and finished me--polished me off at once! That old staff
sawbones should have left me to my fate; should have let
mortification, gangrene, and all the rest of it, do their worst, and I
might have gone quietly to sleep where so many lay, under the crocuses
and caper-bushes at Sebastopol."

"After life's fitful fever" men sleep well; and so, I hoped, should I.

Such reflections were, I own, ungrateful and bitter; but suffering,
disappointment, and more than all, the great loss of blood I had
suffered, had sorely weakened me; and yet, on looking about me, and
seeing the calamities of others, I felt that the simple loss of an arm
was indeed but a minor affair.

Close by me, on the hospital pallets, I saw men expiring fast, and
borne forth to the dead-pits only to make room for others; I saw the
poor human frame, so delicate, so wondrous, and so divine in its
organisation, cut, stabbed, bruised, crushed, and battered, in every
imaginable way, and yet with life clinging to it, when life had
become worthless. From wounds, and operations upon wounds, there was
blood--blood everywhere; on the pallets, the straw, the earthen floor,
the canvas of the tents, in buckets and basins, on sponges and towels,
and on the hands of the attendants. Incessantly there were moans and
cries of anguish, and, ever and anon, that terrible sound in the
throat known as the death-rattle.

Sergeant Rhuddlan, Dicky Roll the drummer (the little keeper of the
regimental goat), and many rank and file of the old 23rd--relics of
the Redan--were there, and some lay near me. The sergeant was mortally
wounded, and soon passed away; the poor boy was horribly mutilated, a
grape shot having torn off his lower jaw, and he survived, to have
perhaps a long life of misery and penury before him; and will it be
believed that, through red-tapery and wretched Whig parsimony, two
hours before the attack on the Redan, the senior surgeon in the
Quarries was "run out" of lint, plasters, bandages, and every other
appliance for stanching blood?

I heard some of our wounded, in their triumph at the general success
of the past day, attempting feebly and in quavering tones to sing
"Cheer, boys, cheer;" while others, in the bitterness of their hearts,
or amid the pain they endured, were occasionally consigning the eyes,
limbs, and souls of the Ruskies to a very warm place indeed. Estelle's
ring, which I had still worn, was gone with my unfortunate arm, and
was now the prize, no doubt, of some hospital orderly. Next day, as
the wounded were pouring in as fast as the dripping stretchers and
ambulances could bring them, I was sent to the monastery of St.
George, which had been turned into a convalescent hospital. The
removal occasioned fever, and I lay long there hovering between life
and death; and I remember how, as portions of a seeming
phantasmagoria, the faces of the one-eyed corporal who attended me,
and of the staff doctors Gage and Jones, became drearily familiar.

This monastery is situated about five miles from Balaclava and six
from Sebastopol, near Cape Fiolente, and consists of two long ranges
of buildings, two stories in height, with corridors off which the
cells of the religious open. The chapel, full of hospital pallets,
there faces the sea, and the view in that direction is both charming
and picturesque. A zigzag pathway leads down from the rocks of red
marble, past beautiful terraces clothed with vines and flowering
shrubs, to a tiny bay, so sheltered that there the ocean barely
ripples on the snow-white sand. But then the Greek monks, in their
dark-brown gowns, their hair plaited in two tails down their back,
their flowing beards, with rosary and crucifix and square black cap,
had given place to convalescents of all corps, Guardsmen, Riflemen,
Dragoons, and Linesmen, who cooked and smoked, laughed and sang,
patched their clothes and pipe-clayed their belts, where whilom mass
was said and vespers chanted. Others were hopping about on crutches,
or, propped by sticks, dozed dreamily in the sunshine under shelter of
the wall that faced the sparkling sea--the blessed high road to old

My room, a monk's cell, was whitewashed, and on the walls were hung
several gaudy prints of Russian saints and Madonnas with oval shining
metal halos round their faces; but most of these the soldiers, with an
eye to improvement in art, had garnished with short pipes, moustaches,
and eyeglasses; and with scissors and paste-pot Corporal Mulligan
added other decorations from the pages of _Punch_.

Sebastopol had fallen; "Redan Windham," as we named him, then a
Brigadier-general, was its governor; and by the Allies the place had
been plundered of all the flames had spared (not much certainly), even
to the cannon and church bells; and now peace was at hand. But many a
day I sighed and tossed wearily on my hard bed, and more wearily still
in the long nights of winter, when the bleak wind from the Euxine
howled round the monastery and the rain lashed its walls, though
Corporal Mulligan would wink his solitary eye, and seek to console me
by saying,

"Your honour's in luck--there is no trinch-guard to-night, thank God!"

"Nor will there ever be again for me," I would reply.

The inspector of hospitals had informed me that, so soon as I could
travel, sick leave would be granted me, that I might proceed to
England; but I heard him with somewhat of indifference. Would Valerie
join her brother Volhonski at Lewes in Sussex, was, however, my first
thought; she would be free to do as she pleased now that the odious
Tolstoff--But _was_ he killed by Rhuddlan's bullet, or merely wounded,
with the pleasure of having Valerie, perhaps, for a nurse? He
certainly seemed to fall from the parapet as if he were shot dead. Why
had I not gone back and inspected the slain in the ditch of the Redan,
to see if he lay there? But I had other thoughts then, and so the
opportunity--even could I have availed myself of it--was gone for
ever. These calculations and surmises may seem very cool now; but to
us then human life, and human suffering, too, were but of small
account indeed.

One evening the fat little staff surgeon came to me with a cheerful
expression on his usually cross face, and two packets in his hand.

"Well, doctor," said I, with a sickly smile, but unable to lift my
head; "so I didn't die, after all."

"No; close shave though. Wish you joy, Captain Hardinge."


"Tut; I took the two legs off a rifleman the other day close to the
tibia--ticklish operation, very, but beautifully done--and he'll
toddle about in a bowl or on a board, and be as jolly as a sand-boy.
Suppose _your_ case had been his?"

"When may I leave this?"

"Can't say yet awhile. You don't want to rejoin, I presume?"

"Would to God that I could! but the day is past now When I do leave,
it will be by ship or steamer."

"Unless you prefer a balloon. Well, it was of these I came to wish you
joy," said he, placing before me, and opening it (for I was unable to
do so, single-handed), the packet, which contained two medals; one for
the Crimea, with its somewhat unbecoming ribbon, and two clasps for
"Inkermann" and "Sebastopol."

"They are deuced like labels for wine-bottles," said the little
doctor; "but a fine thing for you to have, and likely to catch the
eyes of the girls in England."

"And this other medal with the pink ribbon?"

"Is the Sardinian one, given by Victor Emanuel; and more welcome than
these perhaps, here is a letter from home--from England--for you;
which, if you wish, I shall open" (every moment I was some way thus
reminded, even kindly, of my own helplessness), "and leave you to
peruse. Good evening; I've got some prime cigars at your service, if
you'll send Mulligan to me."

"Thanks, doctor."

And he rolled away out of the cell, to visit some other unfortunate
fellow. The medals were, of course, a source of keen satisfaction to
me; but as I toyed with them and inspected them again and again, they
woke an old train of thought; for there was _one_, who had no longer
perhaps an interest in me (if a woman ever ceases to have an interest
in the man who has loved her), and who was another's now, in whose
white hands I should once with honest pride have laid them. Viewed
through that medium, they seemed almost valueless for a time; though
there was to come a day when I was alike vain of them--ay, and of my
empty sleeve--as became one who had been at the fall of Sebastopol,
the queen of the Euxine.

"I fear I am a very discontented dog," thought I, while turning to the
letter, which proved to be from kind old Sir Madoc Lloyd.

For months no letters had reached me, and for the same period I had
been unable to write home; so in all that time I had heard nothing
from my friends in England--who were dead, who alive; who marrying, or
being given in marriage. Sir Madoc's missive was full of kind thoughts
and expressions, of warm wishes and offers of service, that came to me
as balm, especially at such a time and in such a place. Poor Phil
Caradoc, and many others, were sorrowfully and enthusiastically
referred to. Sir Watkins Vaughan was still hovering about the girls,
"but with remarkable indecision apparently." The tall Plunger with the
parted hair had proposed to Dora, and been declined; for no very
visible reason, as he was a pleasant fellow with a handsome fortune.

On an evening early in September, the very day that a telegram
announcing the fall of the Redan reached Craigaderyn, they were
dressing for a county ball at Chester--a long-looked-for and most
brilliant affair--when their sensibility, and fear that I might have
been engaged, made them relinquish all ideas of pleasure, and
countermand the carriage, to the intense chagrin of Sir Watkins and
also of the Plunger, who had come from town expressly to attend it.
Two day afterwards the lists were published, and the account of the
slaughter of our troops, and the death of so many dear friends, had
made Winifred positively ill, so change of air was recommended for
her, at Ventnor or some such place.

A postscript to this, in Dora's rapid hand, and written evidently
surreptitiously (perhaps while Sir Madoc had left his desk for a
moment), added the somewhat significant intelligence, that "Winny had
wept very much indeed on reading the account of that horrible Redan"
(for Phil's death, thought I; if so, she mourns him too late!) "and
now declares that she will die an old maid." (It _is_ so!) "When that
interesting period of a lady's life begins," continued Dora, "I know
not; if unmarried, before thirty, I suppose; thus I am eleven years
off that awful period yet, and have a decidedly vulgar prejudice
against ever permitting myself to become one. Papa writes that Sir
Watkins is undecided; but I may add that I, for one, know that he is
_not_. Our best love to you, dear old Harry; but O, I can't fancy you
_without an arm!_"

I was in a fair way of recovery now. The state I had been in so long,
within the four walls of that quaint little chamber--a state that
hovered between sense and insensibility, between sleeping and waking,
time and eternity--had passed away; and, after all I had undergone, it
had seemed as if

         "Thrice the double twilight rose and fell,
          About a land where nothing seemed the same,
          At morn or eve, as in the days gone by."

This had all passed and gone; but I was weak as a child, and worn to a
shadow; and by neglect had become invested with hirsute appendages of
the most ample proportions.

And so, without the then hackneyed excuse of "urgent private affairs,"
on an evening in summer, when the last rays of the sun shone redly on
the marble bluffs and copper-coloured rocks of Cape Khersonese--the
last point of that fatal peninsula towards the distant Bosphorus--and
when the hills that look down on the lovely Pass of Baidar and the
grave-studded valley of Inkermann were growing dim and blue, I found
myself again at sea, on board the Kangaroo--a crowded transport (or
rather a floating hospital)--speeding homeward, and bidding "a long
good-night to the Crimea," to the land of glory and endurance.

Sebastopol seemed a dream now, but a memory of the past; and a dream,
too, seemed my new life when I lay on my couch at the open port, and
saw the crested waves flying past, as we sped through them under sail
and steam.

Onward, onward, three hundred miles and more across the Euxine, to
where the green range of the Balkan looks down upon its waters, and
where the lighthouses of Anatolia on one side, and those of Roumelia
on the other, guide to the long narrow channel of Stamboul; but ere
the latter was reached--and on our starboard bow we saw the white
waves curling over the blue Cyanean rocks, where Jason steered the
Argonauts--we had to deposit many a poor fellow in the deep; for we
had four hundred convalescent and helpless men on board, and only one
surgeon, with scarcely any medicines or comforts for them, as John
Bull, if he likes glory, likes to obtain it _cheap_. It was another
case of Whig parsimony; so every other hour an emaciated corpse,
rolled in a mud-stained greatcoat or well-worn blanket, without prayer
or ceremony of any kind, was quietly dropped to leeward, the 32-pound
shot at its heels making a dull plunge in that huge grave, the world
of water, which leaves no mark behind.

I gladly left the Kangaroo at Pera, and, establishing myself at the
Hôtel d'Angleterre, wrote from thence to Sir Madoc that I should take
one of the London liners at Malta for England, and to write me to the
United Service Club in London; that all my plans for the future were
vague and quite undecided; but I was not without hope of getting some
military employment at home. The Frankish hotel was crowded by wounded
officers, also _en route_ for England or France, all in sorely faded
uniforms, on which the new Crimean medals glittered brightly. As all
the world travels nowadays, I am not going to "talk guide-book," or
break into ecstasies about the glories of Stamboul as viewed from a
distance, and not when floundering mid-leg deep in the mud of its
picturesque but rickety old thoroughfares; yet certainly the daily
scene before the hotel windows was a singular one; for there were
stalwart Turkish porters, veritable sons of Anak; stagey-looking
dragomen, with brass pistols and enormous sabres in wooden sheaths;
the Turk of the old school in turban, beard, slippers, and flowing
garments; the Turk of the new, whom he despised, close shaven, with
red fez and glazed boots; water-carriers; Osmanli infantry, solemn,
brutal, and sensual, jostled by rollicking British tars and merry
little French Zouaves; and for a background, the city of the Sultans,
with all its casements, domes, and minarets glittering in the
unclouded sunshine.

Two light cavalry subs, who had ridden in the death ride at Balaclava,
and bore some cuts and slashes won therein, three others of the Light
Division, and myself, agreed to travel homeward together; and pleasant
days we had of it while skirting the mountainous isles of Greece,

    "Isles of Greece, where burning Sappho loved and sung,"

and the tints of which seemed all brown or gray as we saw them through
the vapour exhaled in summer from the Ægean Sea, with their little
white villages shadowed by trees, their rocks like sea-walls, crowned
here and there by the columns, solitary and desolate, of some temple
devoted to the gods of other days--"a country rich in historic
reminiscence, but poor as Sahara in everything else."

And so on by Malta and old Gib; and exactly fourteen days after
leaving the former we were cleaving the muddy bosom of Father Thames;
and that night saw me in my old room at "the Rag," with the dull roar
of mighty London in my ears; and after the rapid travelling I went to
sleep, as addled as a fly could be in a drum.


The comfort and splendour of the fashionable club-house, the tall
mirrors, the gilded cornices, the soft carpets, the massive furniture,
the powdered and liveried waiters gliding noiselessly about, all
impressed me with a high sense of the intense snugness of England and
of _home_, after my airy tent, with its embankment of earth for
shelter, its smoky funnel of mess-tins, and the tiny trench cut round
it to carry away the rainwater. Then I was discussing a breakfast
which, after my Crimean experience, seemed a feast fit for Lucullus or
Apicius, and listening with something of a smile to the rather loud
conversation of some members of the club--wiry old Peninsulars,
Waterloo and India men, who were certain "the service was going to the
devil," and who drew somewhat disparaging comparisons between the way
matters had been conducted by our generals and those of the war under
Sir John Moore, Lynedoch, Hill, and "the Iron Duke;" and to me it
seemed that the old fellows were right, and that after forty years of
peace we had learned nothing new in the art of campaigning.

"Captain Hardinge, a gentleman for you, sir," said a waiter,
presenting me with a card on a silver salver; and I had barely time to
look at it ere Sir Madoc Lloyd, in top-boots and corded breeches as
usual--his ruddy sunburnt face, his white hair and sparkling dark
eyes, in his cheery breezy way the same as ever--entered, hat and whip
in hand, and welcomed me home so warmly, that for a moment he drew
the eyes of all in the room upon us. He had breakfasted two hours
before--country time--and had a canter round the Park. He was in town
on Parliamentary business, but was starting that afternoon for
Craigaderyn. I should accompany him, of course, he added, in his
hearty impetuous way. Then ere I could speak,--

"God bless my soul!" he exclaimed. "Poor Harry! till I have seen you I
could not realise the idea of your being mutilated thus! No more
hunting, no more shooting, no more fishing----"

"And no more dancing, the ladies would add," said I, smiling.

"And no more soldiering."

"Unless the Queen kindly permits me."

"Gad! I think you have had enough of it!"

"And--and Miss Lloyd and Dora?"

"Are both well and looking beautiful. There are not many girls in
Wales like my girls. A seaside trip has brought back the bloom to
Winny's cheeks; and as for Dora, she never loses it."

"And why did Miss Lloyd refuse an offer so eligible as that of Sir
Watkins Vaughan?" I asked, after a pause.

"Can't for the life of me say," replied Sir Madoc, rubbing his chin,
and turning to the decanter as a waiter set some dry sherry and
biscuits before us.

"And why would not my little friend Dora have her Guardsman?"

"Can't say that, either. Perhaps she hated a 'swell' with an affected
'yaw-haw' impediment in his speech. Girls are so odd; but mine are
dear girls for all that. I'll telegraph to Owen Gwyllim to have the
carriage awaiting us at Chester; and we shall leave town before
luncheon-time, if you have no other plans or engagements."

"I have neither; but--but, Sir Madoc, why so soon?" I asked, as
certain passages in my later visits to Craigaderyn gave me a twinge of
compunction. "Now that I think of it, I had an idea of taking a run
down to Lewes in Sussex," said I.

"Lewes in Sussex--a dreary place, though in a first-rate coursing
country. I've ridden there with the Brighton Hunt. What would take you
there--before coming to us, at least?"

I coloured a little, and said,

"I have a friend there, among the Russian prisoners."

"By Jove, I think you've had enough of those fellows! Nonsense, Harry!
We shall start without delay. Why waste time and money in London?"
said Sir Madoc, who never liked his plans or wishes thwarted. "I have
just to give a look at a brace of hunters at Tattersall's for Vaughan,
and then I am with you. Down there, with our fine mountain breezes,
our six-months' Welsh mutton, and seven-years' cliquot, we'll make a
man of you again. I can't get you an arm, Harry; but, by Jove, it will
go hard with us if we don't get you _two_ belonging to some one else!"

I laughed at this idea; and so that evening saw me again far from
London, and being swept as fast as the express could speed along the
North-Western line towards Chester. I had quite a load of Russian
trophies--such were then in great request--for Sir Madoc: sabres,
muskets, and bayonets; glazed helmets of the 26th and Vladimir
Regiments, a Zouave trumpet (with a banner attached), trod flat as a
pancake under the feet of the stormers as they poured into the
Malakoff. There, too, were several rusty fragments of exploded
shells, hand-grenades, and the last cannon-shot fired from the Mamelon
Vert. For Winifred and Dora I had mother-of-pearl trunks of rare
essences and perfumes; slender gilt vials of attar of roses;
daintily-embroidered Turkish slippers, with turned-up toes, and
bracelets of rose-pearls from Stamboul; Maltese jewelry, lace, veils,
and as many pretty things as might have stocked a little shop in the
Palais Royal or the Burlington Arcade.

The month was June, and my spirits became more and more buoyant, as in
the open carriage we bowled along between the green mountains and the
waving woodlands. Now the mowers, scythe in hand, were bending over
the fragrant and bearded grass; the ploughmen were turning up the
fallow soil; the squirrels were feasting in the blossom; the sheep
were being driven to fold; and the crow was flying aloft, ere he
sought his nest "in the rooky wood." It was a thorough English June
evening: the air pure, the sunshine bright, and casting the shadows of
the mountains far across the vales and fresh green meadows; the
blackbird, thrush, and linnet sang on every tree, and a glow of
happiness came over me; for all around the land looked so peaceful and
so lovely, the gray smoke curling up from copse and dingle to mark
where stood those "free fair homes of England," of which Mrs. Hemans
sang so sweetly. Sir Madoc was discoursing on the cultivation of
turnips and mangold wurzels, and on the mode of extirpating annual
darnel-grass, coltsfoot, wild charlock, and other mysterious plants to
me unknown; and I heard him as one in a dream, when we entered the
long lime avenue.

How pleasant and picturesque looked the old house of the Tudor times
at the end of that long leafy vista, with all its tinted oriels, its
gilded vanes, and quaint stone finials! The woodbine, clematis, and
ivy, hops and honeysuckle, all blended in luxuriant masses, aspiring
to peep in at the upper windows. Craigaderyn, so redolent of fruit and
flowers, of fresh sweet air, of bright green leaves, of health and
every bracing element--a hearty old house, where for generations the
yule log had blazed, and the holly-branch and the mistletoe hung from
the old oak roof, when the snow lay deep on Carneydd Llewellyn; where
the boar's head was served up in state at Christmas, and at Michaelmas
the goose; where so many brides had come home happy, and so many old
folks, full of years and honour, gone to the vault of the old church
among the hills; where lay all the line of Lloyd, save the luckless
Sir Jorwerth Du; and where--. But here my somewhat discursive reverie
was interrupted by the carriage being pulled sharply up at the perron
before the entrance; and Owen Gwyllim, with his wrinkled face beaming,
and his white head glistening in the sunshine, hastened down to open
the door, arrange the steps, and shake the only hand the Russians had
left me.

"Where are the young ladies?" asked Sir Madoc, impatiently glancing up
at all the windows.

"Gone for a ride so far as Llandudno, with Miss Vaughan."


"No, Sir Madoc, attended by Spurrit, the groom. They were gone before
your telegram arrived, but are to be back before the first bell rings
for dinner."

And now, after a little attention to my toilet, I was ushered into the
drawing-room, every object in which was so familiar to me; and seating
myself in the corner of an oriel, I gave way to a long train of deep
thought; for I was left quite alone just then, as Sir Madoc found
letters of importance awaiting him; and now, induced by the heat of
evening, the stillness broken only by the tinkle of a sheep-bell and
the hum of the bees at the open window, and by the length and rapidity
of my journey, I actually dozed quietly off to sleep.


Brief though my nap of "forty winks," I had within it a little dream,
induced, no doubt, by my return to Wales, and by my surroundings, as
it was of Winifred Lloyd, of past tenderness, and our old kind,
flirting, cousinly intercourse, before _others_ came between us; for
Winifred had ever been as a sister to me, and dearer, perhaps. Now I
thought she was hanging over me with much of sorrowful yearning in her
soft face, and saying,

"Papa will not be here for an hour, perhaps, and for that hour I may
have him all to myself, to watch. Poor Harry, so bruised, so battered,
and so ill-used by those odious wretches!"

Her lips were parted; her breath came in short gasps.

Was it imagination or reality that a kiss or a tress of her hair
touched my cheek so lightly? There was certainly a tear, too!

I started and awoke fully, to see her I dreamt of standing at the side
of my chair, with one hand resting on it, while her soft eyes regarded
me sadly, earnestly, and--there is no use evading it--lovingly. She
wore her blue riding-habit, her skirt gathered in the hand which held
her switch and buff gauntlets; and though her fine hair was
beautifully dressed under her riding-hat, one tress _was_ loose.

"Dear Winifred, my appearance does not shock you, I hope?" said I,
clasping her hand tenderly, and perhaps with some of that energy
peculiar to those who have but one.

"Thank Heaven, it is no worse!" she replied; "but, poor Harry
Hardinge, an arm is a serious loss."

"Yet I might have come home, like _Le Diable Boiteux_, on two wooden
stumps, as Dora once half predicted; but even as it is, my
round-dancing is at an end now. By the way, I have a sorrowful message
for you."

"Then I don't want to hear it. But from whom?"

"One who can return no more, but one who loved you well--Phil

A shade of irritation crossed her face for a moment; and then, with
something of sorrow, she asked,

"And this message?--poor fellow, he fell at the Redan!"

"His last thoughts and words were of you, Winny--amid the anguish of a
mortal wound," said I; and then I told her the brief story of his
death, and of his interment in the fifth parallel. Her eyes were very
full of tears; yet none fell, and somehow my little narrative failed
to excite her quite so much as I expected.

"Did you not love him?"

"No," she replied, curtly, and gathering up the skirt of her habit
more tightly, as if to leave me.

"Did you never do so?"

"Why those questions?--never, save as a friend--poor dear Mr. Caradoc!
But let us change the subject," she added, her short lip quivering,
and her half-drooped eyelids, too.

I was silent for a minute. I knew that, with a knowledge of the secret
sentiment which Winifred treasured in her heart for myself, I was
wrong in pursuing thus the unwelcome theme of Caradoc's rejection;
moreover, there are few men, if any, who would not have felt immensely
flattered by the preferences of a girl so bright and beautiful, so
soft and artless, as Miss Lloyd; and I found myself rapidly yielding
to the whole charm of the situation.

"How odd that you should have returned on my birthday!" said she,
playing with her jewelled switch, and permitting me to retain her
ungloved hand in mine.

"Your birthday."

"Yes; I am just twenty-three."

"The number of the old corps, Winifred--the number, see it when he
may, a soldier never forgets."

"But I hope you have bidden good-bye to it for ever."

"Too probably; and you cannot know, dear Winifred, how deep is the
pleasure I feel in being here again, after all I have undergone--here
in pleasant Craigaderyn; and more than all with you--hearing your
familiar voice, and looking into your eyes."

"Why?" she asked, looking out on the sunlit chase.

"Can you ask me why, when you know that I love you, Winny, and have
always loved you?"

"As a friend, of course," said she, trembling very much; "yes--but
nothing more."

"I repeat that I love you tenderly and truly; have I not ever known
your worth, your goodness--"

"Is this true, Harry Hardinge?" she asked, in a low voice, as my arm
encircled her, and she looked coyly but tremblingly down.

"True as that God now hears us, my darling, whom I hope yet to call my

"O, say it again and again, dear Harry," said she, in a low voice like
a whisper; "I did so doubt it once--did so doubt that you would ever,
ever love me, who--who--loved you so," she continued, growing very
pale. "It may be unwomanly in me to say this, Harry; but I am not
ashamed to own it now."

"To a poor cripple, a warlike fragment from the Crimea," said I, with
a smile, as caressingly I drew her head down on my shoulder; and while
I toyed with her dark-brown hair, and gazed into her tender
violet-coloured eyes, I thought, "How can a man love any but a woman
with eyes and hair like Winny's?"

(At that moment I quite forgot how fatuously I had worshipped the
thick golden tresses, the snow-white skin, and deep black eyes of
Valerie. And it was for _me_ that Winny had declined poor Phil, Sir
Watkins, and some one else! O, I certainly owed her some reparation!)

"Bless you, darling, for your love," said I; "and I think our marriage
will make good Sir Madoc so happy."

"You were ever his favourite, Harry."

"And you have actually loved me, Winny--"

"Ever since I was quite a little girl," she replied, in a low voice,
while blushing deeply now.

"Ah, how blind I have been to the best interests of my heart! I always
loved you, Winifred; but I never knew how much until now."

"I am sure, Harry, that I--that I shall--"

"What, love?"

"Make you a very, very good little wife, and be so kind to you after
all you have undergone."

As she said this, with something between coyness and artlessness that
proved very bewitching, I pressed her close to me, and there flashed
upon my memory the dream of her, as I lay wounded and athirst near the
ditch of the Redan, and also the singular coincidence of her pet goat
leading to my discovery when lying half buried under the dead horse
and cannon-wheel on the field of Inkermann.

"Papa and Dora," said she, in a low broken voice, "on that day when my
great grief came--"

"Which grief?"

"The tidings of your being drowned," she continued, weeping at the
recollection, "and when I let out the long-hidden secret of my heart,
told me not to weep for you, Harry; that you were far happier
elsewhere than on earth; that you were in Heaven; and poor papa said
over and over again the Welsh prayer which ends Gogoniant ir Tad, ac
ir Mab, ac ir Yspryd Glan."

"What on earth is all that!" I asked, smiling.

"Glory to the Father, the Son, and so on. Well, Harry, it was all in
vain. I felt that in losing you I had lost the desire of my eyes, the
love of my girl's heart--for I always did love you, and I care not to
tell you so openly again," she added, as the tender arms went round
me, and the loving lips sought mine. "My crave for news from the seat
of war, and the terror with which I read those horrible lists, Harry,
are known to myself only; yet why should I say so? many others, whose
dearest were there, must have felt and endured as I did."

"All that is over now, pet Winny."

"And you are here with us again, Harry."

"And am yours--yours only!"

"But there is the bell to dress for dinner, Harry--and here come Dora
and Gwenny Vaughan," she added, giving a hasty smooth to her hair,
which somehow had been a little rumpled during the preceding

The two girls came in for a minute or so, in their hats and riding
habits; the last-named was a very beautiful and distinguished-looking
blonde, who could talk about hunting like an old whipper-in, and who
received me with kind interest, while Dora did so with her usual
gushing _empressement_.

The dinner, which came subsequently in due course, was rather a tame
affair to Winny and me, when contrasted with our recent interview in
the drawing-room; but the tender secret we now shared, and the perfect
consciousness that no obstacle existed to our marriage, made us both
so radiantly happy, that Sir Madoc's rubicund face wore a comical and
somewhat perplexed expression, till we had our postprandial cigar
together in the conservatory. So the whole affair came about in the
fashion I have narrated; yet but a day or two before, I had been
affecting a desire to visit the Russian prisoners at Lewes!

At table, of course, I required much assistance, and though I urged
that Owen Gwyllim or one of the footmen should attend me, there was
often a friendly contention among the three girls to cut my food for
me, as if I were a great baby; and like something of that kind, I was
flattered, petted, and made much of; and there was something so
pleasant in being thus made a fuss with, and viewed as a "Crimean
hero," that I scarcely regretted the bones I had left at the Redan.

"And so, poor Harry," said Dora, after hearing the story of that
affair, "you had no brave beautiful Sister of Mercy to nurse you?"

"No; I had only Corporal Mulligan, a true and brave-hearted Irishman,
who lost an eye at Alma; and a kind-hearted fellow he was!"

Winifred did not talk much; but in her place as hostess seemed
brilliantly happy, and quite her old self. We had all a thousand
things to talk of, to tell, and to ask each other; and the fate of
that strange creature Guilfoyle, or rather the mystery which then
attended it, excited almost the commiseration of Sir Madoc, who, once
upon a time, was on the point of horse-whipping him. On certain points
connected with my residence at Yalta, I was, of course, as mute as a

Of Caradoc he spoke with genuine sorrow--the more so, as he was the
last of an old, old Welsh line.

"Poor fellow!" said he; "Phil was a man of whom we may say that which
was averred of Colonel Mountain, of the Cameronians, 'that though he
were cut into twenty pieces, yet every piece would be a gentleman!'"

Over our cigars, I told Sir Madoc all that had passed between Winifred
and me, and begged his approbation; and I have no words to express how
enthusiastic the large-hearted and jolly old man became; how rejoiced,
and how often he shook my hand, assuring me that he had ever loved me
quite as much as if I had been a son of his own; that his Winny was
one of the best girls in all Wales--true as steel, and one who, when
she loved, did so for ever.

"I thank Heaven," he added, "you didn't get that slippery eel, my Lady

"So do I, now, Sir Madoc," was my earnest response.

But I had not yet seen quite the last of Estelle Cressingham.

Of her Winifred must, at times, have been keenly and bitterly jealous,
yet she was too gentle, too ladylike and enduring, to permit such an
emotion to be visible to others.


And so it came to pass, as perhaps Sir Madoc had foreseen, by the
doctrine of chances, and without any romance or sensationalism, that
in the bright season of summer, Winifred and I--after a short
engagement, and many a delicious ramble by the Elwey and Llyn Aled, in
the Martens' dingle and by the old rocking-stone--were married in
Craigaderyn Church, by her secret admirer, the tall pale curate in the
long, long coat, "assisted" by another (as if aid in such cases were
necessary); and amid the summer sounds that came floating through the
open porch and pointed windows, with the yellow flakes of hazy
sunshine, when I heard the voice of the pastor uniting us, I
remembered the Sunday we were all last in the same place, and the
daydreams in which I had indulged during the prosy sermon, when I
fancied the same solemn service being said, and when, by some magic,
the image of Winifred _would_ ever come in the place of another.

Sir Watkins Vaughan, a purpose-like and gentlemanly young fellow, a
prime bat and bowler, a good shot and good horseman, a thorough
Englishman and lover of all field sports, and who acted as my
groomsman, was so intent on looking at Dora--radiant in white crape
and tulle as one of her sister's bridesmaids--that he made, as he
said, "a regular mull" of drawing off my glove, an office which I
could not have done for myself.

At last the whole was over; the golden hoop had been slid on the
slender figure of a tremulous little hand; we were made one "till
death do us part;" and after the usual kisses and congratulations,
came forth into the glorious sunshine, while overhead the marriage
chimes rang merrily in the old square tower which Jorwerth ap Davydd
Lloyd had founded in honour of St. David five hundred years ago. Then
came the cheers in the churchyard--cheers that might wake the dead
below the green turf; the guttural Celtic voices of the tenants and
peasantry, the general jollity, with much twangle-dangling of harps
borne by certain itinerant and tipsy bards, attracted thither by the
coin and the well-known Cymric proclivities of Sir Madoc; and loud on
all hands were praises of the beauty of the _Briodasferch_ (Welsh
euphony for bride), with prayers for her future happiness, as we drove
away to luncheon.

All the household held high festival. Owen Gwyllim wept in his glee,
and drank our healths in mulled port with Mrs. Davis (for whom he had
a tenderness) in her room; and Bob Spurrit and Morgan Roots, and all
the valets and gamekeepers, did ditto with mulled ale in the
"servants' 'all," while we, leaving all to feast and speechify at
Craigaderyn, were speeding, as fast as four horses could take us, to
hide our blushes at Brighton. . . . After the stormy life I had led
how sweet and blessed were home-rest with Winifred! No tempests of
thought, of pique or jealousy, of disappointment or bitterness,
agitated me now. It was all like first love, and calmly as the summer
gloaming among the mountains, the joyous time glided away with us. I
felt how truly she had clung to me, and loved me as only those who
have long been loved in secret, and whose value, to the heart at
least, has been ascertained, by having been to all appearance lost in
life, and lost in death, too--for had I not been so to her?--and been
mourned for as only the dead, who can return no more, are mourned. Yet
I had survived all the perils of war, and her arms were round me now.

How strange it seemed, that I should once have been so indifferent to
all the graces of her mind and person; that I had been wont to quiz
poor Caradoc about her, and had more than once actually suggested that
he should "propose;" and so, when I looked into her tender and loving
eyes, I recalled her words on that day when, on a time that seemed so
long ago, we had a ramble by the rocking-stone, and when she said,
"the eye may be pleased, the vanity flattered, and ambition excited by
a woman of beauty, especially if she is one of rank; yet the heart may
be won by one her inferior." But I considered my little wife inferior
to none and second to none. After all my wild work in the field and
trenches, there was something wonderfully refreshing, bewitching, and
attractive in having her hovering and gliding about me, and all her
sweet companionship; and it was _so_ delightful and novel to have
those quick and white and fairy-like fingers to adjust one's necktie,
to settle one's collar, and give, perhaps, just a finishing touch with
a carved ivory brush to the back-parting of one's hair. It _had_
seemed odd to me, at first, those bracelets, tiny rings, and hair-pins
at times on my toilet table; and equally odd to her my collars, ties,
studs, and razors sometimes left on hers; and we were laughing and
chatting merrily of this community in matters one lovely morning at
Brighton, when the sun was shining on the sea, that was dotted by a
thousand pleasure-boats, and was all rippling in golden light from the
snow-white cliffs of Beachy Head to Selsea Bill, and while the merry
voices of children came pleasantly on the warm air from the Marine
Parade, as we were seated at breakfast with the hotel windows open.

Winifred was looking as only a young bride in her first bloom can
look. She was more radiant than she had ever seemed even at
Craigaderyn; and through the frills of her morning dress, a marvel of
white lace and millinery, her slender throat and delicate arms,
without necklet or bracelet, were seen to perfection, and I thought
she never seemed so charming, as she sat smiling at me over the silver
urn. Thus one quite forgot the fragrant coffee, the French rolls that
lay cosily hidden in the damask napkin, the dainty fresh eggs, the
game-pie, the ham done up in Madeira, and as for the well-aired
morning papers, they were never thought of at all. On the morning in
question my valet, Lance-corporal Mulligan, entered the room with our
letters on a salver. I had picked up the poor fellow by the merest
chance one night at the Brighton Theatre, where he had been receiving,
as a super and sham soldier in a suit of tin armour, one shilling per
night, exactly what he got from her Majesty's most liberal government
for risking his life night and day as a real one; and so, minus an
eye, he had betaken himself, after fighting at Alma and storming the
Redan, to figuring at the Battle of Bosworth and marching to
Dunsinane. So he came to me gladly, while his Biddy and a chubby Pat,
born under canvas among the tents of the Connaught Rangers, were
snugly located in one of the gate-lodges at Craigaderyn.

Erect as a pike he marched up to the table and laid the letters before
Winny, all save one, which he handed to me. It was oblong, official,
and inscribed "On her Majesty's Service," words at the sight of which
his solitary eye brightened, while he regarded them with respect, as
an Osmanli might the cipher of the Sultan; and then he stood at
"attention," lingering by, napkin in hand, to hear what the contents
were. They were, as usual in such communications from the Horse
Guards, very brief, but not the less gratifying. The Military
Secretary had the honour to inform me that her Majesty had been
graciously pleased to signify her intention of conferring the new
order of merit, entitled the Victoria Cross, on certain officers,
seamen, and soldiers, for acts of bravery during the late war;
that my name was on the list for it, on the recommendation of
Brigadier-general Windham, as a reward for volunteering with the
ladder party at the storming and capture of the Redan on the 8th
September; and that my presence was required at a parade before her
Majesty, on a certain day named.

"That is all, Mulligan--you may go," said I, and he wheeled about
sharply, as if on a pivot, and stalked out; while Winny kissed me, ran
her white fingers caressingly through my hair, her face beaming with

"But, Winny, by Jove, I've done nothing to deserve this. I only
tumbled into an embrasure of the Redan, to be tumbled out again," said
I; "and I got jambed among the dead."

"Nothing, darling--do you call that nothing?" she exclaimed. "O, this
is indeed delightful--a real decoration! How proud I am of you! and
yet--and yet--I am loth to leave Brighton for town. We are so happy
here; we have been so jolly, Harry."

"But, Winny, we shall return; we have 'done' the pier, the parade, and
the pavilion, again and again."

"Have you wearied?"

"When with _you!_"

"And I with you, Harry! But I am so happy that I fear at times such
happiness cannot last."

"Town will be a pleasant change for a time; and then the spectacle in
the Park will be most brilliant, and--all the world of fashion will be

"And one, perhaps, whom--I don't wish to see," said she, pouting.


"Lady Aberconway will be there, no doubt," she replied, with a little
nervous laugh.

"What of that, in the world of London? And what now is Es--the
Marchioness of Aberconway, or Aber-anything-else, to me, Winny,

"Nothing now, of course--but--but--"

"But what?"

"I cannot forget that she _has been_ something to you."

"Never what you are now," said I, clasping her to my breast with one
arm, and kissing her on the eyes and hair.

"You pet me too much, Harry, and I fear will quite spoil me," said
she, laughing merrily again.

"Who could live with you and not pet you? Would you have me to wrap
myself up in a toga, a mantle of marital dignity, and remain solemnly
on a pedestal like an armless statue, for my little wife to worship?
But there was something in one of your letters that made you laugh?"

"It is from Dora."

"And her news?"

"Is that she has accepted Vaughan."

"I am so glad to hear it! Then we shall have another marriage, and
more feasting and harping at Craigaderyn?"

"Yes; about the middle of August, or after the grouse-shooting begins,
as dear papa would date it."


It was in the height of the gay London season that this interesting
ceremony, which formed the last scene connected with the Crimean
War--the last chapter in its glorious yet melancholy history--was to
be closed under the auspices of Royalty on a day in June, when the air
was clear, bright, and sunny, the sky without a cloud. The place
selected for the celebration, though perhaps not the most suitable in
London, was appropriate enough, by its local and historical
associations; and Hyde Park seemed beautiful and stirring when viewed
through the mellow haze of the midsummer morning, with its long rows
of trees and far expanse of green grass, on which the masses of
cavalry and infantry, chiefly of the Household Brigade, were ranged,
their arms and gay appointments flashing and glittering in the sun,
and the mighty assemblage of fashionables, in splendid carriages, on
horseback, or on foot--such an assemblage as London alone can
produce--with the bronze Achilles, the trophy of another and far more
glorious war, towering over all.

There were present not less than a hundred thousand of the
sight-loving Londoners, full of generous enthusiasm. A grand review
formed a portion of the programme; but as such displays are all alike,
I shall skip that part of the day's proceedings; though there were
present the 79th Highlanders, whom I had last seen in the trenches
before the Redan, preparing for the final assault at daybreak; the
19th, that with the 23rd went side by side in the uphill charge at
Alma; the showy 11th Hussars in blue with scarlet pelisses, who had
ridden in the terrible death ride at Balaclava; and with glittering
brass helmets the gallant Enniskillens, who, with the Greys, had
followed Scarlett in the task of avenging them. And there, too,
commanding the whole, in his plumed bonnet and tartan trews, was old
Colin Campbell, riding as quietly and as grimly, amid the youth, rank,
and beauty of London, as when he brought his Highland Brigade in
stately échelon of regiments along the green slopes of the Kourgané
Hill, and heard the gray Kazan columns, ere they fled, send up their
terrible wail to heaven, that "the angel of Death had come!" This
veteran soldier, who had carried the colours of the 9th Regiment under
Moore at Corunna, looked old now, worn, and service-stricken, yet he
had the wars of the Indian Mutiny before him still. By his side rode
the hero of Kars in artillery uniform, and that brilliant Hussar
officer, the Earl of Cardigan, mounted on the same horse he had ridden
at Balaclava. The royal stand, as yet empty, was elaborately
decorated; gilded chairs of state were placed within it; and in front,
covered with scarlet cloth, was a table whereon lay sixty-two of those
black crosses, cast from Russian cannon, rude in design, but named
after her Majesty, and inscribed "For Valour"--sixty-two being the
number who, on that day, were to receive them.

We, "the observed of all observers," had not as yet fallen in, so I
lingered near the stand, where Winifred, Dora, and Gwenny Vaughan, and
many other ladies were seated, and seeking, by the aid of parasol and
fan, to shield themselves from the heat of the sun, and using their
lorgnettes freely in looking for friends among the crowd, and in
watching the proceedings, chatting and laughing gaily the while, with
all the freedom of happy and heedless girls; for the troops were
"standing at ease," and her Majesty had not yet come. Winifred was
looking charming in her bridal bonnet, charming amid the loveliest
women in the world--and they were there by thousands; for she had the
beauty of perfect goodness, and of the purest and gentlest attributes
of woman-kind; for she was an artless and generous creature, too
simpleminded at times, even in this cold-blooded and well-bred age, to
have the power of concealing her emotions.

I wore my old and faded red coat of the Welsh Fusileers for the _last_
time; and though there was something sad in the conviction that it was
so, I never felt so proud of it, or of my looped-up sleeve, as on that
day in Hyde Park. I felt that my occupation was gone, and that any
other was unsuited to me, for "it is the speciality of a soldier's
career, that it unfits most men for any other life. They cannot throw
off the old habitudes. They cannot turn from the noisy stir of war to
the tame quiet of every-day life; and even when they fancy themselves
wearied and worn out, and willing to retire from the service, their
souls are stirred by every sound of the distant contest, as the
war-steed is roused by the blast of a trumpet." Often in fancy before
this, for I was ever addicted to daydreams, I had pictured some such
fête, some such ceremony, some such reward, for all our army had
endured in Bulgaria, and done by the shores of the Black Sea; but the
reality far exceeded all I had ever imagined. In my school-days, how I
had longed, with all a boy's ardour, to fight for my country and
Queen! Well, I _had_ fought--not for either, certainly, but for the
lazy, wretched, and contemptible Turks--and her royal hand was about
to reward me, by placing an order on my breast.

The longing, the wild desire to achieve, to do something great, or
grand, or dashing, had ever since those school-boy days been mine; now
that mysterious "something" was achieved, and I was about to be made a
V.C. before that vast multitude, and more than all, beneath the soft
kind eyes of one who loved me more than all the world.

"Who the dooce is that handsome woman, on whom----" (I failed to catch
the name) "of ours is so devilish spooney?" I heard one tall Plunger,
in a marvellously new panoply, lisp to another, as he checked his
beautiful black horse for a moment in passing.

"What! can it be possible you don't know? It is the talk of all town,"
replied the other, laughing, and in a low tone; "she is Lady
Aberconway, old Pottersleigh's wife--a more ill-mated pair don't exist
in Europe, by Jove!"

"So she has found consolation?"


And the two glittering warriors with black boots, shining
breastplates, and fly-away whiskers, winked to each other knowingly,
and separated.

I looked in the direction they had indicated. Close by me an officer
of the Oxford Blues, with his horse reined in close to the stand, was
engaged in a conversation, by turns gay and animated, or low and
confidential, with--Estelle! She was seated near her mother, Lady
Naseby, who looked as impassible and passionless as ever, with her
cold and imperious dignity of face and manner, and her odious white
shock, now somewhat aged and wheezy, in her lap.

"Love," it is said, "is hard as any snake to kill." Perhaps so; but I
could regard her daughter now without any special throb of my pulse,
or thrill in my heart.

Still I could not but confess that her high class of beauty, in style,
polish, and finish, was wonderful, and when in repose, cold and
aristocratic to a degree. She had achieved already that which has been
justly described as "that queenly standard women so often attain after
marriage, while losing none of their early charms," unless I except a
little heartless flippancy of manner in the conversation, which, as I
was pressed near her by the crowd, I was compelled to overhear. Her
toilette was as perfect as lace, tulle, and flowers could make it. How
often had I gazed tenderly and passionately on that face, so false and
yet so fair, and kissed it on lips, and eyes, and cheek! and now it
was turned, smilingly, laughingly, and, I am sorry to add, lovingly,
to the boyish and insipid face of that long-legged, curled, and
pomatumed Guardsman, who had "never set a squadron in the field," nor
smelt powder elsewhere than at Wormwood Scrubs or Bushey Park.

I turned from her with something of sublime contempt, and yet, odd to
say, I felt a nervous twinge, as if in the arm that was now no longer
in my sleeve, when her voice reached me; but after all that had come
and gone, that voice could find no echo now in my heart. Sweetly
modulated it was still, but seemed to me only "low and clear as the
song of a snake-charmer."

"It will be the ball of the season--you will be there, of course?" she

"Only if _you_ go, Lady Aberconway--not unless," replied the trooper,
in a low tone; "what or who else should take me there?"

"So they have made your uncle a K.C.B."

"Yes--and somebody is going to marry him on Tuesday at eleven in

"And your brother is coming up for his little exam. I have heard

"Yes--at Woolwich. The idea of any fellow fancying the Artillery!"

"Is he handsome--is he anything like _you?_" Then, without waiting for
a reply to these important queries, she suddenly said, "Gracious,
mamma, there is another poor creature without an arm!"

"Poor deyvil--so there is," drawled her male friend, and then I knew
by these flattering remarks that their august regards were turned on
me; but my bushy Crimean beard, my empty sleeve, and, as yet, rather
pale cheek, and moreover my face being half averted, prevented Estelle
from recognising me; or it might be, that I dwelt but little in her

"What is that officer's regiment?" she asked, adding doubtfully, "he
is an officer, isn't he--but his uniform is deplorable!"

"Twenty-third--Welsh Fusileers."

"Ah, indeed!"

I now turned fully round; for a moment our eyes met, and then I moved
back to where Winifred sat. Estelle eyed me keenly enough now, and
fanned herself, as I thought, with a little air of vexation, from time
to time. Yet that was not flattering; for I knew that though a woman
may forget, she does not like the idea of being forgotten, or that
even when flirting with another, her empire over an old lover's heart
is at an end.

She had deteriorated in style, and her tone of flippancy was not that
of the Estelle I had once loved; and as for the boy Guardsman, with
whom gossip was already linking her name, poor fool! his love for her
and her extravagance soon ruined him. Bills were dishonoured thick and
threefold; cent. per cent., London, and Judea between them cleaned him
out. A meeting of the Guards' Club passed such resolutions that he was
compelled to begin the sliding scale--from "the Guards to Line, and
from thence to the devil," as the phrase is--and to recruiting for
H.M. 2nd West India Regiment in Sierra Leone, where drink and fever
finished him; and he lies now by the bank of the Bunce river, as
completely forgotten by Estelle as if he never had been.

"Do you see who is there, Harry?" asked Winifred, with a rather
agitated voice.

"Yes; what of it, little one?"

"Only that I--hate her!"


"For her treatment of you."

"How odd!" said I, laughing; "had it been otherwise, Winny, we should
not have had our delightful little trip to Brighton. Think of that, my
British matron!"

"I am not a matron yet, but only your bride; the honeymoon is not yet
over, sir."

"Thank God you are so, darling! What an escape I have had from being
in old Pottersleigh's place! But there sound the trumpets, and I must
fall in--fall in for the last time."

And as drum and bugle sounded on all sides, and the arms flashed in
the sunshine when the order was given to "shoulder," a brightness
seemed to pass over all the eyes and expectant faces in the grand
stand. The Queen had come, and all that passed subsequently was like a
dream to me then, and is more so now. The sixty-two officers and men
who were to receive the cross (and twelve of whom belonged to the
navy) were all, irrespective of rank, marshalled according to the
number of their regiment under Lieutenant John Knox, of the Rifles,
who, like myself, had an empty sleeve. The braided breast of his
dark-green uniform seemed ablaze with medals, for he had been with the
ladder party in the attack on the Redan, where he lost an arm by a
grape-shot. There were but two officers of the 23rd to win the
decoration, and we were posted between two privates of the 19th, and
two of the 34th; but all passed the royal stand in single file. I had
never seen the Queen hitherto, and suddenly I found myself before
her--a smiling-faced, graceful, though stout little lady, in a low
hat, adorned with a beautiful plume, and wearing a scarlet tunic and
blue skirt; and I certainly felt my heart vibrate, as with her own
hands she pinned the decoration on my breast--vibrate with a flush of
pride and joy only to be felt at such a time and at such a ceremony;
and yet amid it all I thought of the dear little wife who, with her
eyes dim with tears of happiness, was watching me. I then passed on,
giving place to a lame private of the 34th Foot, the Prince Consort
saluting each recipient as they passed him--many slowly, painfully,
and with difficulty; for some poor maimed and haggard-faced fellows
were hobbling on sticks and crutches, and some, like the gallant Sir
Thomas Trowbridge, who had lost both legs, were wheeled to the very
feet of the Queen in Bath-chairs. At last all was over--this closing
episode of our war in the Crimea; and as we drove from the crowded
park to get the train for Brighton--the honeymoon was not yet
finished--I had forgotten all about Estelle and her Plunger; and I
thanked God in my heart that I was not lying where so many lay in the
land we had left, and for the tender and true-hearted wife He had
given me, as I laughingly hung round her pretty neck the black-iron
order of valour--the Victoria Cross.

Fifteen years have passed since that auspicious day. And now, as I
write these closing lines, I can see, through the lozenged and
mullioned windows of the library, the old woods of Craigaderyn tossing
their leafy branches on the evening wind, and the sunset lingering
redly on the lofty peaks of Snowdon and Carneydd Llewellyn. Old Sir
Madoc--too old now to back even his most favourite hunter--is sitting
yonder in the sunshine, looking dreamily down the far-stretched vista
of the chase to where the bright sea is rippling in the distance.

The flowers are blooming as gaily on the terrace as they did on the
day of Dora's fête, and she has long been _Aunt_ Vaughan; for at
Craigaderyn there are little ones now--a violet-eyed Winifred, who
scampers through the park on a Welsh pony; a dark-haired Madoc, who
can almost handle a gun; and a golden-curled Harry to run after the
tossing leaves, to shout to the deer and hare as they lurk among the
fern; to seek for birds' nests among the shrubbery; to grab at the
gold fish in the fountain with his fat little fists; to clamber about
Sir Madoc's chair and knees; to ride on the backs of Owen Gwyllim and
old Corporal Mulligan, and in whom we see mamma's eyes, papa's
expression--nods, winks, and blinks, and so forth, all so exactly
reproduced and blended, that our best friends don't know which of us
he most resembles; so "Time, the avenger" of all things, has brought
nothing but joy and happiness to us at Craigaderyn.


[Footnote 1: Without God, without everything.]

[Footnote 2: The artillery of the Prussian Guard have also had
constantly a goat, its neck encircled by a beautiful collar, and one,
named by the soldiers "Herr Schneider," accompanied them in every
battle, from the war which broke out in 1866 till the peace in 1870.
He always marched with the men of the first gun. At Köninghof, Herr
Schneider was left in the rear, tied to a powder caisson; but he broke
loose, came to the front at full gallop, and was recaptured under
fire; the soldiers afterwards attached to his collar a copper medal,
made from a pan found among the captured cooking utensils of General
Coronini. His death was formally announced by the artillery of the
Guard in the Berlin _Vossische Zeitung_.]

[Footnote 3: Fusileer regiments did not then wear epaulettes.]

[Footnote 4: May God preserve us!]

[Footnote 5: Good Lord deliver us.]



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