Part 2 out of 10
complain of our quarters. But you're not eating your supper; and the
beautiful hare-pie that I stole this morning, won't you taste it? Well, a
glass of Malaga? Not a glass of Malaga? Oh, mother of Moses! what's this
Unfortunately, the fever produced by the long and toilsome journey had
gained considerably on me, and except copious libations of cold water, I
could touch nothing; my arm, too, was much more painful than before. Mike
soon perceived that rest and quietness were most important to me at the
moment, and having with difficulty been prevailed upon to swallow a few
hurried mouthfuls, the poor fellow disposed cushions around me in every
imaginable form for comfort; and then, placing my wounded limb in its
easiest position, he extinguished the lamp, and sat silently down beside
the hearth, without speaking another word.
Fatigue and exhaustion, more powerful than pain, soon produced their
effects upon me, and I fell asleep; but it was no refreshing slumber which
visited my heavy eyelids; the, slow fever of suffering had been hour by
hour increasing, and my dreams presented nothing but scenes of agony and
torture. Now I thought that, unhorsed and wounded, I was trampled beneath
the clanging hoofs of charging cavalry; now I felt the sharp steel piercing
my flesh, and heard the loud cry of a victorious enemy; then, methought, I
was stretched upon a litter, covered by gore and mangled by a grape-shot.
I thought I saw my brother officers approach and look sadly upon me, while
one, whose face I could not remember, muttered: "I should not have known
him." The dreadful hospital of Talavera, and all its scenes of agony, came
up before me, and I thought that I lay waiting my turn for amputation. This
last impression, more horrible to me than all the rest, made me spring from
my couch, and I awoke. The cold drops of perspiration stood upon my brow,
my mouth was parched and open, and my temples throbbed so that I could
count their beatings; for some seconds I could not throw off the frightful
illusion I labored under, and it was only by degrees I recovered
consciousness and remembered where I was. Before me, and on one side of the
bright wood-fire, sat Mike, who, apparently deep in thought, gazed fixedly
at the blaze. The start I gave on awaking had not attracted his attention,
and I could see, as the flickering glare fell upon his features, that he
was pale and ghastly, while his eyes were riveted upon the fire; his lips
moved rapidly, as if in prayer, and his locked hands were pressed
firmly upon his bosom; his voice, at first inaudible, I could gradually
distinguish, and at length heard the following muttered sentences:--
"Oh, mother of mercy! So far from his home and his people, and so young to
die in a strange land--There it is again." Here he appeared listening
to some sounds from without. "Oh, wirra, wirra, I know it well!--the
winding-sheet, the winding-sheet! There it is; my own eyes saw it!"
The tears coursed fast upon his pale cheeks, and his voice grew almost
inaudible, as rocking to and fro, for some time he seemed in a very stupor
of grief; when at last, in a faint, subdued tone, he broke into one of
those sad and plaintive airs of his country, which only need the moment of
depression to make them wring the very heart in agony.
His song was that to which Moore has appended the beautiful lines, "Come
rest on this bosom." The following imperfect translation may serve to
convey some impression of the words, which in Mike's version were Irish:--
"The day was declining,
The dark night drew near,
And the old lord grew sadder
And paler with fear:
'Come listen, my daughter,
Come nearer, oh, near!
Is't the wind or the water
That sighs in my ear?'
"Not the wind nor the water
Now stirred the night air,
But a warning far sadder,--.
The Banshee was there!
Now rising, now swelling,
On the night wind it bore
One cadence, still telling,
'I want thee, Rossmore!'
"And then fast came his breath,
And more fixed grew his eye;
And the shadow of death
Told his hour was nigh.
Ere the dawn of that morning
The struggle was o'er,
For when thrice came the warning
A corpse was Rossmore!"
The plaintive air to which these words were sung fell heavily upon my
heart, and it needed but the low and nervous condition I was in to make me
feel their application to myself. But so it is; the very superstition your
reason rejects and your sense spurns, has, from old association, from
habit, and from mere nationality too, a hold upon your hopes and fears that
demands more firmness and courage than a sick-bed possesses to combat with
success; and I now listened with an eager ear to mark if the Banshee
cried, rather than sought to fortify myself by any recurrence to my own
convictions. Meanwhile Mike's attitude became one of listening attention.
Not a finger moved; he scarce seemed even to breathe; the state of suspense
I suffered from was maddening; and at last, unable to bear it longer, I
was about to speak, when suddenly, from the floor beneath us, one
long-sustained note swelled upon the air and died away again, and
immediately after, to the cheerful sounds of a guitar, we heard the husky
voice of our Portuguese guide indulging himself in a love-ditty.
Ashamed of myself for my fears, I kept silent; but Mike, who felt only one
sensation,--that of unmixed satisfaction at his mistake,--rubbed his hands
pleasantly, filled up his glass, drank it, and refilled; while with an
accent of reassured courage, he briefly remarked,--
"Well, Mr. Jose, if that be singing, upon my conscience I wonder what
crying is like!"
I could not forbear a laugh at the criticism; and in a moment, the poor
fellow, who up to that moment believed me sleeping, was beside me. I saw
from his manner that he dreaded lest I had been listening to his melancholy
song, and had overheard any of his gloomy forebodings; and as he cheered
my spirits and spoke encouragingly, I could remark that he made more than
usual endeavors to appear light-hearted and at ease. Determined, however,
not to let him escape so easily, I questioned him about his belief in
ghosts and spirits, at which he endeavored, as he ever did when the subject
was an unpleasing one, to avoid the discussion; but rather perceiving that
I indulged in no irreverent disrespect of these matters, he grew gradually
more open, treating the affair with that strange mixture of credulity and
mockery which formed his estimate of most things,--now seeming to suppose
that any palpable rejection of them might entail sad consequences in
future, now half ashamed to go the whole length in his credulity.
"And so, Mike, you never saw a ghost yourself?--that you acknowledge?"
"No, sir, I never saw a real ghost; but sure there's many a thing I never
saw; but Mrs. Moore, the housekeeper, seen two. And your grandfather that's
gone--the Lord be good to him!--used to walk once a year in Lurra Abbey;
and sure you know the story about Tim Clinchy that was seen every Saturday
night coming out of the cellar with a candle and a mug of wine and a pipe
in his mouth, till Mr. Barry laid him. It cost his honor your uncle ten
pounds in Masses to make him easy; not to speak of a new lock and two bolts
on the cellar door."
"I have heard all about that; but as you never yourself saw any of these
"But sure my father did, and that's the same any day. My father seen the
greatest ghost that ever was seen in the county Cork, and spent the evening
with him, that's more."
"Spent the evening with him!--what do you mean?"
"Just that, devil a more nor less. If your honor wasn't so weak, and the
story wasn't a trying one, I'd like to tell it to you."
"Out with it by all means, Mike; I am not disposed to sleep; and now that
we are upon these matters, my curiosity is strongly excited by your worthy
Thus encouraged, having trimmed the fire and reseated himself beside the
blaze, Mike began; but as a ghost is no every-day personage in our history,
I must give him a chapter to himself.
"Well, I believe your honor heard me tell long ago how my father left the
army, and the way that he took to another line of life that was more to his
liking. And so it was, he was happy as the day was long; he drove a hearse
for Mr. Callaghan of Cork for many years, and a pleasant place it was; for
ye see, my father was a 'cute man, and knew something of the world; and
though he was a droll devil, and could sing a funny song when he was among
the boys, no sooner had he the big black cloak on him and the weepers, and
he seated on the high box with the six long-tailed blacks before him, you'd
really think it was his own mother was inside, he looked so melancholy and
miserable. The sexton and gravedigger was nothing to my father; and he had
a look about his eye--to be sure there was a reason for it--that you'd
think he was up all night crying; though it's little indulgence he took
"Well, of all Mr. Callaghan's men, there was none so great a favorite as my
father. The neighbors were all fond of him.
"'A kind crayture, every inch of him!' the women would say. 'Did ye see his
face at Mrs. Delany's funeral?'
"'True for you,' another would remark; 'he mistook the road with grief, and
stopped at a shebeen house instead of Kilmurry church.'
"I need say no more, only one thing,--that it was principally among the
farmers and the country people my father was liked so much. The great
people and the quality--ax your pardon; but sure isn't it true, Mister
Charles?--they don't fret so much after their fathers and brothers, and
they care little who's driving them, whether it was a decent, respectable
man like my father, or a chap with a grin on him like a rat-trap. And so
it happened that my father used to travel half the county; going here and
there wherever there was trade stirring; and faix, a man didn't think
himself rightly buried if my father wasn't there; for ye see, he knew all
about it: he could tell to a quart of spirits what would be wanting for a
wake; he knew all the good criers for miles round; and I've heard it was a
beautiful sight to see him standing on a hill, arranging the procession as
they walked into the churchyard, and giving the word like a captain,--
"'Come on, the stiff; now the friends of the stiff; now the pop'lace.'
"That's what he used to say, and troth he was always repeating it, when he
was a little gone in drink,--for that's the time his spirits would rise,
and he'd think he was burying half Munster.
"And sure it was a real pleasure and a pride to be buried in them times;
for av it was only a small farmer with a potato garden, my father would
come down with the black cloak on him, and three yards of crape behind his
hat, and set all the children crying and yelling for half a mile round;
and then the way he'd walk before them with a spade on his shoulder, and
sticking it down in the ground, clap his hat on the top of it, to make it
look like a chief mourner. It was a beautiful sight!"
"But Mike, if you indulge much longer in this flattering recollection of
your father, I'm afraid we shall lose sight of the ghost entirely."
"No fear in life, your honor; I'm coming to him now. Well, it was this
way it happened: In the winter of the great frost, about forty-two or
forty-three years ago, the ould priest of Tullonghmurray took ill and died.
He was sixty years priest of the parish, and mightily beloved by all
the people, and good reason for it; a pleasanter man, and a more
social crayture never lived,--'twas himself was the life of the whole
country-side. A wedding nor a christening wasn't lucky av he wasn't there,
sitting at the top of the table, with may be his arm round the bride
herself, or the baby on his lap, a smoking jug of punch before him, and as
much kindness in his eye as would make the fortunes of twenty hypocrites if
they had it among them. And then he was so good to the poor; the Priory was
always so full of ould men and ould women sitting around the big fire in
the kitchen that the cook could hardly get near it. There they were, eating
their meals and burning their shins till they were speckled like a trout's
back, and grumbling all the time; but Father Dwyer liked them, and he would
"'Where have they to go,' he'd say, 'av it wasn't to me? Give Molly
Kinshela a lock of that bacon. Tim, it's a could morning; will ye have a
taste of the "dew?"'
"Ah, that's the way he'd spake to them; but sure goodness is no warrant
for living, any more than devilment, and so he got could in his feet at a
station, and he rode home in the heavy snow without his big coat,--for he
gave it away to a blind man on the road; in three days he was dead.
"I see you're getting impatient, so I'll not stop to say what grief was
in the parish when it was known; but troth, there never was seen the like
before,--not a crayture would lift a spade for two days, and there was more
whiskey sold in that time than at the whole spring fair. Well, on the third
day the funeral set out, and never was the equal of it in them parts:
first, there was my father,--he came special from Cork with the six horses
all in new black, and plumes like little poplar-trees,--then came Father
Dwyer, followed by the two coadjutors in beautiful surplices, walking
bare-headed, with the little boys of the Priory school, two-and-two."
"Well, Mike, I'm sure it was very fine; but for Heaven's sake, spare me all
these descriptions, and get on to the ghost!"
"'Faith, yer honor's in a great hurry for the ghost,--may be ye won't like
him when ye have him; but I'll go faster, if ye please. Well, Father Dwyer,
ye see, was born at Aghan-lish, of an ould family, and he left it in his
will that he was to be buried in the family vault; and as Aghan-lish was
eighteen miles up the mountains, it was getting late when they drew near.
By that time the great procession was all broke up and gone home. The
coadjutors stopped to dine at the 'Blue Bellows' at the cross-roads; the
little boys took to pelting snowballs; there was a fight or two on the way
besides,--and in fact, except an ould deaf fellow that my father took to
mind the horses, he was quite alone. Not that he minded that same; for when
the crowd was gone, my father began to sing a droll song, and told the deaf
chap that it was a lamentation. At last they came in sight of Aghan-lish.
It was a lonesome, melancholy-looking place with nothing near it except two
or three ould fir-trees and a small slated house with one window, where the
sexton lived, and even that was shut up and a padlock on the door. Well,
my father was not over much pleased at the look of matters; but as he was
never hard put to what to do, he managed to get the coffin into the vestry,
and then when he had unharnessed the horses, he sent the deaf fellow with
them down to the village to tell the priest that the corpse was there, and
to come up early in the morning and perform Mass. The next thing to do was
to make himself comfortable for the night; and then he made a roaring fire
on the ould hearth,--for there was plenty of bog-fir there,--closed the
windows with the black cloaks, and wrapping two round himself, he sat down
to cook a little supper he brought with him in case of need.
"Well, you may think it was melancholy enough to pass the night up there
alone with a corpse, in an ould ruined church in the middle of the
mountains, the wind howling about on every side, and the snowdrift beating
against the walls; but as the fire burned brightly, and the little plate of
rashers and eggs smoked temptingly before him, my father mixed a jug of the
strongest punch, and sat down as happy as a king. As long as he was eating
away he had no time to be thinking of anything else; but when all was done,
and he looked about him, he began to feel very low and melancholy in his
heart. There was the great black coffin on three chairs in one corner; and
then the mourning cloaks that he had stuck up against the windows moved
backward and forward like living things; and outside, the wild cry of the
plover as he flew past, and the night-owl sitting in a nook of the old
church. 'I wish it was morning, anyhow,' said my father, 'for this is a
lonesome place to be in; and faix, he'll be a cunning fellow that catches
me passing the night this way again.' Now there was one thing distressed
him most of all,--my father used always to make fun of the ghosts and
sperits the neighbors would tell of, pretending there was no such thing;
and now the thought came to him, 'May be they'll revenge themselves on me
to-night when they have me up here alone;' and with that he made another
jug stronger than the first, and tried to remember a few prayers in case of
need, but somehow his mind was not too clear, and he said afterwards he
was always mixing up ould songs and toasts with the prayers, and when he
thought he had just got hold of a beautiful psalm, it would turn out to be
'Tatter Jack Walsh' or 'Limping James' or something like that. The storm,
meanwhile, was rising every moment, and parts of the old abbey were falling
as the wind shook the ruin; and my father's spirits, notwithstanding the
punch, wore lower than ever.
"'I made it too weak,' said he, as he set to work on a new jorum; and
troth, this time that was not the fault of it, for the first sup nearly
"'Ah,' said he, now, 'I knew what it was; this is like the thing; and Mr.
Free, you are beginning to feel easy and comfortable. Pass the jar. Your
very good health and song. I'm a little hoarse, it's true, but if the
company will excuse--'
"And then he began knocking on the table with his knuckles, as if there was
a room full of people asking him to sing. In short, my father was drunk as
a fiddler; the last brew finished him; and he began roaring away all kinds
of droll songs, and telling all manner of stories as if he was at a great
"While he was capering this way about the room, he knocked down his hat,
and with it a pack of cards he put into it before leaving home, for he was
mighty fond of a game.
"'Will ye take a hand, Mr. Free?' said he, as he gathered them up and sat
down beside the fire.
"'I'm convanient,' said he, and began dealing out as if there was a partner
"When my father used to get this far in the story, he became very confused.
He says that once or twice he mistook the liquor, and took a pull at the
bottle of poteen instead of the punch; and the last thing he remembers was
asking poor Father Dwyer if he would draw near to the fire, and not be
lying there near the door.
"With that he slipped down on the ground and fell fast asleep. How long he
lay that way he could never tell. When he awoke and looked up, his hair
nearly stood on an end with fright. What do you think he seen fornenst him,
sitting at the other side of the fire, but Father Dwyer himself. There he
was, divil a lie in it, wrapped up in one of the mourning cloaks, trying to
warm his hands at the fire. "'_Salve hoc nomine patri!_' said my father,
crossing himself, 'av it's your ghost, God presarve me!'
"'Good-evening t'ye, Mr. Free,' said the ghost; 'and av I might be bould,
what's in the jug?'--for ye see, my father had it under his arm fast, and
never let it go when he was asleep.
"'_Pater noster qui es in_,--poteen, sir,' said my father; for the ghost
didn't look pleased at his talking Latin.
"'Ye might have the politeness to ax if one had a mouth on him, then,' says
"'Sure, I didn't think the likes of you would taste sperits.'
"'Try me,' said the ghost; and with that he filled out a glass, and tossed
it off like a Christian.
"'Beamish!' says the ghost, smacking his lips.
"'The same,' says my father; 'and sure what's happened you has not spoiled
"'If you'd mix a little hot,' says the ghost, 'I'm thinking it would be
better,--the night is mighty sevare.'
"'Anything that your reverance pleases,' says my father, as he began to
blow up a good fire to boil the water.
"'And what news is stirring?' says the ghost.
"'Devil a word, your reverance,--your own funeral was the only thing doing
last week. Times is bad; except the measles, there's nothing in our parts.'
"'And we're quite dead hereabouts, too,' says the ghost.
"'There's some of us so, anyhow, says my father, with a sly look. 'Taste
that, your reverance.'
"'Pleasant and refreshing,' says the ghost; 'and now, Mr. Free, what do you
say to a little "spoilt five," or "beggar my neighbor"?'
"'What will we play for? 'says my father, for a thought just struck
him,--'may be it's some trick of the Devil to catch my soul.'
"'A pint of Beamish,' says the ghost.
"'Done!' says my father; 'cut for deal. The ace of clubs,--you have it.'
"Now the whole time the ghost was dealing the cards, my father never took
his eyes off of him, for he wasn't quite aisy in his mind at all; but when
he saw him turn up the trump, and take a strong drink afterwards, he got
more at ease, and began the game.
"How long they played it was never rightly known; but one thing is sure,
they drank a cruel deal of sperits. Three quart bottles my father brought
with him were all finished, and by that time his brain was so confused with
the liquor, and all he lost,--for somehow he never won a game,--that he was
getting very quarrelsome.
"'You have your own luck to it,' says he, at last.
"'True for you; and besides, we play a great deal where I come from.'
"'I've heard so,' says my father. 'I lead the knave, sir; spades! Bad cess
to it, lost again!'
"Now it was really very distressing; for by this time, though they only
began for a pint of Beamish, my father went on betting till he lost the
hearse and all the six horses, mourning cloaks, plumes, and everything.
"'Are you tired, Mr. Free? May be you'd like to stop?'
"'Stop! faith it's a nice time to stop; of course not.'
"'Well, what will ye play for now?'
"The way he said these woods brought a trembling all over my father, and
his blood curdled in his heart. 'Oh, murther!' says he to himself, 'it's my
sowl he's wanting all the time.'
"'I've mighty little left,' says my father, looking at him keenly, while he
kept shuffling the cards quick as lightning.
"'Mighty little; no matter, we'll give you plenty of time to pay,--and if
you can't do it, it shall never trouble you as long as you live.'
"'Oh, you murthering devil!' says my father, flying at him with a spade
that he had behind his chair, 'I've found you out.'
"With one blow he knocked him down, and now a terrible fight begun, for the
ghost was very strong, too; but my father's blood was up, and he'd have
faced the Devil himself then. They rolled over each other several times,
the broken bottles cutting them to pieces, and the chairs and tables
crashing under them. At last the ghost took the bottle that lay on the
hearth, and levelled my father to the ground with one blow. Down he fell,
and the bottle and the whiskey were both dashed into the fire. That was
the end of it, for the ghost disappeared that moment in a blue flame that
nearly set fire to my father as he lay on the floor.
"Och, it was a cruel sight to see him next morning, with his cheek cut open
and his hands all bloody, lying there by himself,--all the broken glass and
the cards all round him,--the coffin, too, was knocked down off the chair,
may be the ghost had trouble getting into it. However that was, the funeral
was put off for a day, for my father couldn't speak; and as for the sexton,
it was a queer thing, but when they came to call him in the morning, he had
two black eyes, and a gash over his ear, and he never knew how he got them.
It was easy enough to know the ghost did it; but my father kept the secret,
and never told it to any man, woman, or child in them parts."
I have little power to trace the events which occupied the succeeding three
weeks of my history. The lingering fever which attended my wound detained
me during that time at the chateau; and when at last I did leave for
Lisbon, the winter was already beginning, and it was upon a cold raw
evening that I once more took possession of my old quarters at the Quay de
My eagerness and anxiety to learn something of the campaign was ever
uppermost, and no sooner had I reached my destination than I despatched
Mike to the quartermaster's office to pick up some news, and hear which of
my friends and brother officers were then at Lisbon. I was sitting in a
state of nervous impatience watching for his return, when at length I heard
footsteps approaching my room, and the next moment Mike's voice, saying,
"The ould room, sir, where he was before." The door suddenly opened, and my
friend Power stood before me.
"Charley, my boy!"--"Fred, my fine fellow!" was all either could say for
some minutes. Upon my part, the recollection of his bold and manly bearing
in my behalf choked all utterance; while upon his, my haggard cheek and
worn look produced an effect so sudden and unexpected that he became
In a few minutes, however, we both rallied, and opened our store of mutual
remembrances since we parted. My career I found he was perfectly acquainted
with, and his consisted of nothing but one unceasing round of gayety and
pleasure. Lisbon had been delightful during the summer,--parties to Cintra,
excursions through the surrounding country, were of daily occurrence; and
as my friend was a favorite everywhere, his life was one of continued
"Do you know, Charley, had it been any other man than yourself, I should
not have spared him; for I have fallen head over ears in love with your
little dark-eyed Portuguese."
"Ah, Donna Inez, you mean?"
"Yes, it is she I mean, and you need not affect such an air of uncommon
_nonchalance_. She's the loveliest girl in Lisbon, and with fortune to pay
off all the mortgages in Connemara."
"Oh, faith! I admire her amazingly; but as I never flattered myself upon
"Come, come, Charley, no concealment, my old fellow; every one knows the
thing's settled. Your old friend, Sir George Dashwood, told me yesterday."
"Yesterday! Why, is he here, at Lisbon?"
"To be sure he is; didn't I tell you that before? Confound it, what a head
I have! Why, man, he's come out as deputy adjutant-general; but for him I
should not have got renewed leave."
"And Miss Dashwood, is she here?"
"Yes, she came with him. By Jove, how handsome she is,--quite a different
style of thing from our dark friend, but, to my thinking, even handsomer.
Hammersley seems of my opinion, too."
"How! Is Hammersley at Lisbon?"
"On the staff here. But, confound it, what makes you so red, you have no
ill-feeling towards him now. I know he speaks most warmly of you; no later
than last night, at Sir George's--"
What Power was about to add I know not, for I sprang from my chair with a
sudden start, and walked to the window, to conceal my agitation from him.
"And so," said I, at length regaining my composure in some measure, "Sir
George also spoke of my name in connection with the senhora?"
"To be sure he did. All Lisbon does. What can you mean? But I see, my dear
boy; you know you are not of the strongest, and we've been talking far too
long. Come now, Charley, I'll say good-night. I'll be with you at breakfast
to-morrow, and tell you all the gossip; meanwhile promise me to get quietly
to bed, and so good-night."
Such was the conflicting state of feeling I suffered from that I made no
effort to detain Power. I longed to be once more alone, to think, calmly if
I could, over the position I stood in, and to resolve upon my plans for the
My love for Lucy Dashwood had been long rather a devotion than a hope. My
earliest dawn of manly ambition was associated with the first hour I met
her. She it was who first touched my boyish heart, and suggested a sense
of chivalrous ardor within me; and even though lost to me forever, I could
still regard her as the mainspring of my actions, and dwell upon my passion
as the thing that hallowed every enterprise of my life.
In a word, my love, however little it might reach her heart, was everything
to mine. It was the worship of the devotee to his protecting saint. It was
the faith that made me rise above misfortune and mishap, and led me onward;
and in this way I could have borne anything, everything, rather than the
imputation of fickleness.
Lucy might not--nay, I felt she did not--love me. It was possible that some
other was preferred before me; but to doubt my own affection, to suspect my
own truth, was to destroy all the charm of my existence, and to extinguish
within me forever the enthusiasm that made me a hero to my own heart.
It may seem but poor philosophy; but alas, how many of our happiest, how
many of our brightest thoughts here are but delusions like this! The
dayspring of youth gilds the tops of the distant mountains before us, and
many a weary day through life, when clouds and storms are thickening around
us, we live upon the mere memory of the past. Some fast-flitting prospect
of a bright future, some passing glimpse of a sunlit valley, tinges all our
It is true that he will suffer fewer disappointments, he will incur fewer
of the mishaps of the world, who indulges in no fancies such as these; but
equally true is it that he will taste none of that exuberant happiness
which is that man's portion who weaves out a story of his life, and who, in
connecting the promise of early years with the performance of later, will
seek to fulfil a fate and destiny.
Weaving such fancies, I fell sound asleep, nor woke before the stir and
bustle of the great city aroused me. Power, I found, had been twice at my
quarters that morning, but fearing to disturb me, had merely left a few
lines to say that, as he should be engaged on service during the day,
we could not meet before the evening. There were certain preliminaries
requisite regarding my leave which demanded my appearing before a board of
medical officers, and I immediately set about dressing; resolving that, as
soon as they were completed, I should, if permitted, retire to one of the
small cottages on the opposite bank of the Tagus, there to remain until my
restored health allowed me to rejoin my regiment.
I dreaded meeting the Dashwoods. I anticipated with a heavy heart how
effectually one passing interview would destroy all my day-dreams of
happiness, and I preferred anything to the sad conviction of hopelessness
such a meeting must lead to.
While I thus balanced with myself how to proceed, a gentle step came to the
door, and as it opened slowly, a servant in a dark livery entered.
"Mr. O'Malley, sir?"
"Yes," said I, wondering to whom my arrival could be thus early known.
"Sir George Dashwood requests you will step over to him as soon as you go
out," continued the man; "he is so engaged that he cannot leave home, but
is most desirous to see you."
"It is not far from here?"
"No, sir; scarcely five minutes' walk."
"Well, then, if you will show me the way, I'll follow you."
I cast one passing glance at myself to see that all was right about my
costume, and sallied forth.
In the middle of the Black Horse Square, at the door of a large,
stone-fronted building, a group of military men were assembled, chatting
and laughing away together,--some reading the lately-arrived English
papers; others were lounging upon the stone parapet, carelessly puffing
their cigars. None of the faces were known to me; so threading my way
through the crowd, I reached the steps. Just as I did so, a half-muttered
whisper met my ear:--
"Who did you say?"
"O'Malley, the young Irishman who behaved so gallantly at the Douro."
The blood rushed hotly to my cheek, my heart bounded with exultation; my
step, infirm and tottering but a moment before, became fixed and steady,
and I felt a thrill of proud enthusiasm playing through my veins. How
little did the speaker of those few and random words know what courage he
had given to a drooping heart, what renewed energy to a breaking spirit!
The voice of praise, too, coming from those to whom we had thought
ourselves unknown, has a magic about it that must be felt to be understood.
So it happened that in a few seconds a revolution had taken place in all
my thoughts and feelings, and I, who had left my quarters dispirited and
depressed, now walked confidently and proudly forward.
"Mr. O'Malley, sir," said the servant to the officer waiting, as we entered
"Ah, Mr. O'Malley," said the aide-de-damp, in his blandest accent, "I hope
you're better. Sir George is most anxious to see you; he is at present
engaged with the staff--"
A bell rang at that moment, and cut short the sentence; he flew to the door
of the inner room, and returning in an instant, said,--
"Will you follow me? This way, if you please."
The room was crowded with general officers and aides-de-camp, so that for
a second or two I could not distinguish the parties; but no sooner was my
name announced, than Sir George Dashwood, forcing his way through, rushed
forward to meet me.
"O'Malley, my brave fellow, delighted to shake your hand again! How much
grown you are,--twice the man I knew you; and the arm, too, is it getting
Scarcely giving me a moment to reply, and still holding my hand tightly in
his grasp, he introduced me on every side.
"My young Irish friend, Sir Edward, the man of the Douro. My Lord, allow me
to present Lieutenant O'Malley, of the Fourteenth."
"A very dashing thing, that of yours, sir, at Ciudad Rodrigo."
"A very senseless one, I fear, my Lord."
"No, no, I don't agree with you at all; even when no great results follow,
the _morale_ of an army benefits by acts of daring."
A running fire of kind and civil speeches poured in on me from all
quarters, and amidst all that crowd of bronzed and war-worn veterans, I
felt myself the lion of the moment. Crawfurd, it appeared, had spoken most
handsomely of my name, and I was thus made known to many of those whose own
reputations were then extending over Europe.
In this happy trance of excited pleasure I passed the morning. Amidst
the military chit-chat of the day around me, treated as an equal by the
greatest and the most distinguished, I heard all the confidential opinions
upon the campaign and its leaders; and in that most entrancing of
all flatteries,--the easy tone of companionship of our elders and
betters,--forgot my griefs, and half believed I was destined for great
Fearing, at length, that I had prolonged my visit too far, I approached
Sir George to take my leave, when, drawing my arm within his, he retired
towards one of the windows.
"A word, O'Malley, before you go. I've arranged a little plan for you;
mind, I shall insist upon obedience. They'll make some difficulty about
your remaining here, so that I have appointed you one of our extra
aides-de-camp. That will free you from all trouble, and I shall not be very
exacting in my demands upon you. You must, however, commence your duties
to-day, and as we dine at seven precisely, I shall expect you. I am
aware of your wish to stay in Lisbon, my boy, and if all I hear be true,
congratulate you sincerely; but more of this another time, and so good-by."
So saying, he shook my hand once more, warmly; and without well feeling how
or why, I found myself in the street.
The last few words Sir George had spoken threw a gloom over all my
thoughts. I saw at once that the report Power had alluded to had gained
currency at Lisbon. Sir George believed it; doubtless, Lucy, too; and
forgetting in an instant all the emulative ardor that so lately stirred my
heart, I took my path beside the river, and sauntered slowly along, lost in
I had walked for above an hour before paying any attention to the path I
followed. Mechanically, as it were, retreating from the noise and tumult-of
the city, I wandered towards the country. My thoughts fixed but upon
one theme, I had neither ears nor eyes for aught around me; the great
difficulty of my present position now appearing to me in this light,--my
attachment to Lucy Dashwood, unrequited and unreturned as I felt it,
did not permit of my rebutting any report which might have reached her
concerning Donna Inez. I had no right, no claim to suppose her sufficiently
interested about me to listen to such an explanation, had I even the
opportunity to make it. One thing was thus clear to me,--all my hopes had
ended in that quarter; and as this conclusion sank into my mind, a species
of dogged resolution to brave my fortune crept upon me, which only waited
the first moment of my meeting her to overthrow and destroy forever.
Meanwhile I walked on,--now rapidly, as some momentary rush of passionate
excitement, now slowly, as some depressing and gloomy notion succeeded;
when suddenly my path was arrested by a long file of bullock cars which
blocked up the way. Some chance squabble had arisen among the drivers, and
to avoid the crowd and collision, I turned into a gateway which opened
beside me, and soon found myself in a lawn handsomely planted and adorned
with flowering shrubs and ornamental trees.
In the half-dreamy state my musings had brought me to, I struggled to
recollect why the aspect of the place did not seem altogether new. My
thoughts were, however, far away,--now blending some memory of my distant
home with scenes of battle and bloodshed, or resting upon my first
interview with her whose chance word, carelessly and lightly spoken, had
written the story of my life. From this revery I was rudely awakened by a
rustling noise in the trees behind me, and before I could turn my head, the
two fore-paws of a large stag-hound were planted upon my shoulders, while
the open mouth and panting tongue were close beside my face. My day-dream
was dispelled quick as lightning; it was Juan, himself, the favorite dog of
the senhora, who gave me this rude welcome, and who now, by a thousand wild
gestures and bounding caresses, seemed to do the honors of his house. There
was something so like home in these joyful greetings that I yielded myself
at once his prisoner, and followed, or rather was accompanied by him
towards the villa.
Of course, sooner or later, I should have called upon my kind friends; then
why not now, when chance has already brought me so near? Besides, if I
held to my resolution, which I meant to do,--of retiring to some quiet and
sequestered cottage till my health was restored,--the opportunity might not
readily present itself again. This line of argument perfectly satisfied my
reason; while a strong feeling of something like curiosity piqued me to
proceed, and before many minutes elapsed, I reached the house. The door, as
usual, lay wide open; and the ample hall, furnished like a sitting-room,
had its customary litter of books, music, and flowers scattered upon the
tables. My friend Juan, however, suffered me not to linger here, but
rushing furiously at a door before me, began a vigorous attack for
As I knew this to be the drawing-room, I opened the door and walked in, but
no one was to be seen; a half-open book lay upon an ottoman, and a fan,
which I recognized as an old acquaintance, was beside it, but the owner was
I sat down, resolved to wait patiently for her coming, without any
announcement of my being there. I was not sorry, indeed, to have some
moments to collect my thoughts, and restore my erring faculties to
something like order.
As I looked about the room, it seemed as if I had been there but yesterday.
The folding-doors lay open to the garden, just as I had seen them last; and
save that the flowers seemed fewer, and those which remained of a darker
and more sombre tint, all seemed unchanged. There lay the guitar to whose
thrilling chords my heart had bounded; there, the drawing over which I had
bent in admiring pleasure, suggesting some tints of light or shadow, as the
fairy fingers traced them; every chair was known to me, and I greeted them
as things I cared for.
While thus I scanned each object around me, I was struck by a little china
vase which, unlike its other brethren, contained a bouquet of dead and
faded flowers; the blood rushed to my cheek; I started up; it was one I had
myself presented to her the day before we parted. It was in that same vase
I placed it; the very table, too, stood in the same position beside that
narrow window. What a rush of thoughts came pouring on me! And oh!--shall I
confess it?--how deeply did such a mute testimony of remembrance speak
to my heart, at the moment that I felt myself unloved and uncared for by
another! I walked hurriedly up and down, a maze of conflicting resolves
combating in my mind, while one thought ever recurred: "Would that I had
not come there!" and yet after all it may mean nothing; some piece of
passing coquetry which she will be the very first to laugh at. I remembered
how she spoke of poor Howard; what folly to take it otherwise! "Be it so,
then," said I, half aloud; "and now for my part of the game;" and with this
I took from my pocket the light-blue scarf she had given me the morning we
parted, and throwing it over my shoulder, prepared to perform my part in
what I had fully persuaded myself to be a comedy. The time, however, passed
on, and she came not; a thousand high-flown Portuguese phrases had time to
be conned over again and again by me, and I had abundant leisure to enact
my coming part; but still the curtain did not rise. As the day was wearing,
I resolved at last to write a few lines, expressive of my regret at not
meeting her, and promising myself an early opportunity of paying my
respects under more fortunate circumstances. I sat down accordingly, and
drawing the paper towards me, began in a mixture of French and Portuguese,
as it happened, to indite my billet.
"Senhora Inez--" no--"Ma chere Mademoiselle Inez--" confound it, that's too
intimate; well, here goes: "Monsieur O'Malley presente ses respects--" that
will never do; and then, after twenty other abortive attempts, I began
thoughtlessly sketching heads upon the paper, and scribbling with wonderful
facility in fifty different ways: "Ma charmante amie--Ma plus chere Inez,"
etc., and in this most useful and profitable occupation did I pass another
How long I should have persisted in such an employment it is difficult to
say, had not an incident intervened which suddenly but most effectually put
an end to it. As the circumstance is one which, however little striking in
itself, had the greatest and most lasting influence upon my future career,
I shall, perhaps, be excused in devoting another chapter to its recital.
A PLEASANT PREDICAMENT.
As I sat vainly endeavoring to fix upon some suitable and appropriate
epithet by which to commence my note, my back was turned towards the door
of the garden; and so occupied was I in my meditations, that even had any
one entered at the time, in all probability I should not have perceived it.
At length, however, I was aroused from my study by a burst of laughter,
whose girlish joyousness was not quite new to me. I knew it well; it was
the senhora herself; and the next moment I heard her voice.
"I tell you, I'm quite certain I saw his face in the mirror as I passed.
Oh, how delightful! and you'll be charmed with him; so, mind, you must not
steal him from me; I shall never forgive you if you do; and look, only
look! he has got the blue scarf I gave him when he marched to the Douro."
While I perceived that I was myself seen, I could see nothing of the
speaker, and wishing to hear something further, appeared more than ever
occupied in the writing before me.
What her companion replied I could not, however, catch, but only guess at
its import by the senhora's answer. "_Fi done!_--I really am very fond of
him; but, never fear, I shall be as stately as a queen. You shall see how
meekly he will kiss my hand, and with what unbending reserve I'll receive
"Indeed!" thought I; "mayhap, I'll mar your plot a little; but let us
Again her friend spoke, but too low to be heard.
"It is so provoking," continued Inez; "I never can remember names, and his
was something too absurd; but never mind, I shall make him a grandee of
Portugal. Well, but come along, I long to present him to you."
Here a gentle struggle seemed to ensue; for I heard the senhora coaxingly
entreat her, while her companion steadily resisted.
"I know very well you think I shall be so silly, and perhaps wrong; eh, is
it not so? but you are quite mistaken. You'll be surprised at my cold and
dignified manner. I shall draw myself proudly up, thus, and curtsying
deeply, say, 'Monsieur, j'ai l' honneur de vous saluer.'"
A laugh twice as mirthful as before interrupted her account of herself,
while I could hear the tones of her friend evidently in expostulation.
[Illustration: O'MALLEY FOLLOWING THE CUSTOM OF HIS COUNTRY.]
"Well, then, to be sure, you are provoking, but you really promise to
follow me. Be it so; then give me that moss-rose. How you have fluttered
me; now for it!"
So saying, I heard her foot upon the gravel, and the next instant upon the
marble step of the door. There is something in expectation that sets the
heart beating, and mine throbbed against my side. I waited, however, till
she entered, before lifting my head, and then springing suddenly up, with
one bound clasped her in my arms, and pressing my lips upon her roseate
"_Mar charmante amie!_" To disengage herself from me, and to spring
suddenly back was her first effort; to burst into an immoderate fit of
laughing, her second; her cheek was, however, covered with a deep blush,
and I already repented that my malice had gone so far.
"Pardon, Mademoiselle," said I, in affected innocence, "if I have so far
forgotten myself as to assume a habit of my own country to a stranger."
A half-angry toss of the head was her only reply, and turning towards the
garden, she called to her friend:--
"Come here, dearest, and instruct my ignorance upon your national customs;
but first let me present to you,--never know his name,--the Chevalier de
----What is it?"
The glass door opened as she spoke; a tall and graceful figure entered, and
turning suddenly round, showed me the features of Lucy Dashwood. We both
stood opposite each other, each mute with amazement. _My_ feelings let me
not attempt to convey; shame, for the first moment stronger than aught
else, sent the blood rushing to my face and temples, and the next I was
cold and pale as death. As for her, I cannot guess at what passed in
her mind. She curtsied deeply to me, and with a half-smile of scarce
recognition passed by me, and walked towards a window.
"_Comme vous etes amiable!_" said the lively Portuguese, who comprehended
little of this dumb show; "here have I been flattering myself what friends
you'd be the very moment you meet, and now you'll not even look at each
What was to be done? The situation was every instant growing more and more
embarrassing; nothing but downright effrontery could get through with
it now; and never did a man's heart more fail him than did mine at this
conjuncture. I made the' effort, however, and stammered out certain
unmeaning commonplaces. Inez replied, and I felt myself conversing with the
headlong recklessness of one marching to a scaffold, a coward's fear at his
heart, while he essayed to seem careless and indifferent.
Anxious to reach what I esteemed safe ground, I gladly adverted to the
campaign; and at last, hurried on by the impulse to cover my embarrassment,
was describing some skirmish with a French outpost. Without intending, I
had succeeded in exciting the senhora's interest, and she listened with
sparkling eye and parted lips to the description of a sweeping charge in
which a square was broken, and several prisoners carried off. Warming with
the eager avidity of her attention, I grew myself more excited, when just
as my narrative reached its climax, Miss Dashwood walked gently towards the
bell, rang it, and ordered her carriage. The tone of perfect _nonchalance_
of the whole proceeding struck me dumb; I faltered, stammered, hesitated,
and was silent. Donna Inez turned from one to the other of us with a look
of unfeigned astonishment and I heard her mutter to herself something
like a reflection upon "national eccentricities." Happily, however,
her attention was now exclusively turned towards her friend, and while
assisting her to shawl, and extorting innumerable promises of an early
visit, I got a momentary reprieve; the carriage drew up also, and as the
gravel flew right and left beneath the horses' feet, the very noise and
bustle relieved me. "_Adios_," then said Inez, as she kissed her for the
last time, while she motioned to me to escort her to her carriage. I
advanced, stopped, made another step forward, and again grew irresolute;
but Miss Dashwood speedily terminated the difficulty; for making me a
formal curtsey, she declined my scarce-proffered attention, and left the
As she did so, I perceived that on passing the table, her eyes fell upon
the paper I had been scribbling over so long, and I thought that for
an instant an expression of ineffable scorn seemed to pass across her
features, save which--and perhaps even in this I was mistaken--her manner
was perfectly calm, easy, and indifferent.
Scarce had the carriage rolled from the door, when the senhora, throwing
herself upon her chair, clapped her hands in childish ecstasy, while she
fell into a fit of laughing that I thought would never have an end. "Such
a scene!" cried she; "I would not have lost it for the world; what
cordiality! what _empressement_ to form acquaintance! I shall never forget
it, Monsieur le Chevalier; your national customs seem to run sadly in
extremes. One would have thought you deadly enemies; and poor me, after a
thousand delightful plans about you both!"
As she ran on thus, scarce able to control her mirth at each sentence, I
walked the room with impatient strides, now, resolving to hasten after the
carriage, stop it, explain in a few words how all had happened, and then
fly from her forever; then the remembrance of her cold, impassive look
crossed me, and I thought that one bold leap into the Tagus might be the
shortest and easiest solution to all my miseries. Perfect abasement,
thorough self-contempt had broken all my courage, and I could have cried
like a child. What I said, or how I comforted myself after, I know not; but
my first consciousness came to me as I felt myself running at the top of my
speed far upon the road towards Lisbon.
It may easily be imagined that I had little inclination to keep my promise
of dining that day with Sir George Dashwood. However, there was nothing
else for it; the die was cast,--my prospects as regarded Lucy were ruined
forever. We were not, we never could be anything to each other; and as for
me, the sooner I braved my altered fortunes the better; and after all, why
should I call them altered. She evidently never had cared for me; and even
supposing that my fervent declaration of attachment had interested her, the
apparent duplicity and falseness of my late conduct could only fall the
more heavily upon me.
I endeavored to philosophize myself into calmness and indifference. One by
one I exhausted every argument for my defence, which, however ingeniously
put forward, brought no comfort to my own conscience. I pleaded the
unerring devotion of my heart, the uprightness of my motives, and when
called on for the proofs,--alas! except the blue scarf I wore in memory of
another, and my absurd conduct at the villa, I had none. From the current
gossip of Lisbon, down to my own disgraceful folly, all, all was against
Honesty of intention, rectitude of purpose, may be, doubtless they are,
admirable supports to a rightly constituted mind; but even then they must
come supported by such claims to probability as make the injured man feel
he has not lost the sympathy of all his fellows. Now, I had none of these,
had even my temperament, broken by sickness and harassed by unlucky
conjectures, permitted my appreciating them.
I endeavored to call my wounded pride to my aid, and thought over the
glance of haughty disdain she gave me as she passed on to her carriage; but
even this turned against me, and a humiliating sense of my own degraded
position sank deeply into my heart. "This impression at least," thought I,
"must be effaced. I cannot permit her to believe--"
"His Excellency is waiting dinner, sir," said a lackey, introducing a
finely powdered head gently within the door. I looked at my watch, it was
eight o'clock; so snatching my sabre, and shocked at my delay, I
hastily followed the servant down-stairs, and thus at once cut short my
The man must be but little observant or deeply sunk in his own reveries,
who, arriving half-an-hour too late for dinner, fails to detect in the
faces of the assembled and expectant guests a very palpable expression of
discontent and displeasure. It is truly a moment of awkwardness, and one
in which few are found to manage with success; the blushing, hesitating,
blundering apology of the absent man, is scarcely better than the
ill-affected surprise of the more practised offender. The bashfulness of
the one is as distasteful as the cool impertinence of the other; both are
so thoroughly out of place, for we are thinking of neither; our thoughts
are wandering to cold soups and rechauffed pates, and we neither care for
nor estimate the cause, but satisfy our spleen by cursing the offender.
Happily for me I was clad in a triple insensibility to such feelings,
and with an air of most perfect unconstraint and composure walked into
a drawing-room where about twenty persons were busily discussing what
peculiar amiability in my character could compensate for my present
"At last, O'Malley, at last!" said Sir George. "Why, my dear boy, how very
late you are!"
I muttered something about a long walk,--distance from Lisbon, etc.
"Ah! that was it. I was right, you see!" said an old lady in a spangled
turban, as she whispered something to her friend beside her, who appeared
excessively shocked at the information conveyed; while a fat, round-faced
little general, after eying me steadily through his glass, expressed a
_sotto voce_ wish that I was upon _his_ staff. I felt my cheek reddening
at the moment, and stared around me like one whose trials were becoming
downright insufferable, when happily dinner was announced, and terminated
As the party filed past, I perceived that Miss Dashwood was not among them;
and with a heart relieved for the moment by the circumstance, and inventing
a hundred conjectures to account for it, I followed with the aides-de-camp
and the staff to the dinner-room.
The temperament is very Irish, I believe, which renders a man so elastic
that from the extreme of depression to the very climax of high spirits,
there is but one spring. To this I myself plead guilty, and thus, scarcely
was I freed from the embarrassment which a meeting with Lucy Dashwood must
have caused, when my heart bounded with lightness.
When the ladies withdrew, the events of the campaign became the subject of
conversation, and upon these, very much to my astonishment, I found myself
consulted as an authority. The Douro, from some fortunate circumstance, had
given me a reputation I never dreamed of, and I heard my opinions quoted
upon topics of which my standing as an officer, and my rank in the service,
could not imply a very extended observation. Power was absent on duty; and
happily for my supremacy, the company consisted entirely of generals in the
commissariat or new arrivals from England, all of whom knew still less than
What will not iced champagne and flattery do? Singly, they are strong
impulses; combined, their power is irresistible. I now heard for the first
time that our great leader had been elevated to the peerage by the title of
Lord Wellington, and I sincerely believe--however now I may smile at the
confession--that, at the moment, I felt more elation at the circumstance
than he did. The glorious sensation of being in any way, no matter how
remotely, linked with the career of those whose path is a high one, and
whose destinies are cast for great events, thrilled through me; and in
all the warmth of my admiration and pride for our great captain, a secret
pleasure stirred within me as I whispered to myself, "And I, too, am a
I fear me that very little flattery is sufficient to turn the head of a
young man of eighteen; and if I yielded to the "pleasant incense," let my
apology be that I was not used to it; and lastly, let me avow, if I did get
tipsy, I liked the liquor. And why not? It is the only tipple I know of
that leaves no headache the next morning to punish you for the glories of
the past night. It may, like all other strong potations, it is true, induce
you to make a fool of yourself when under its influence; but like the
nitrous-oxide gas, its effects are passing, and as the pleasure is an
ecstasy for the time, and your constitution none the worse when it is over,
I really see no harm in it.
Then the benefits are manifest; for while he who gives becomes never the
poorer for his benevolence, the receiver is made rich indeed. It matters
little that some dear, kind friend is ready with his bitter draught to
remedy what he is pleased to call its unwholesome sweetness; you betake
yourself with only the more pleasure to the "blessed elixir," whose
fascinations neither the poverty of your pocket, nor the penury of your
brain, can withstand, and by the magic of whose spell you are great and
gifted. "_Vive la bagatelle!_" saith the Frenchman. "Long live flattery!"
say I, come from what quarter it will,--the only wealth of the poor man,
the only reward of the unknown one; the arm that supports us in failure;
the hand that crowns us in success; the comforter in our affliction; the
gay companion in our hours of pleasure; the lullaby of the infant; the
staff of old age; the secret treasure we lock up in our own hearts, and
which ever grows greater as we count it over. Let me not be told that the
coin is fictitious, and the gold not genuine; its clink is as musical to
the ear as though it bore the last impression of the mint, and I'm not the
man to cast an aspersion upon its value.
This little digression, however seemingly out of place, may serve to
illustrate what it might be difficult to convey in other words,--namely,
that if Charles O'Malley became, in his own estimation, a very considerable
personage that day at dinner, the fault lay not entirely with himself, but
with his friends, who told him he was such. In fact, my good reader, I was
the lion of the party, the man who saved Laborde, who charged through a
brigade of guns, who performed feats which newspapers quoted, though he
never heard of them himself. At no time is a man so successful in society
as when his reputation heralds him; and it needs but little conversational
eloquence to talk well, if you have but a willing and ready auditory. Of
mine, I could certainly not complain; and as, drinking deeply, I poured
forth a whole tide of campaigning recital, I saw the old colonels of
recruiting districts exchanging looks of wonder and admiration with
officers of the ordnance; while Sir George himself, evidently pleased at my
_debut_, went back to an early period of our acquaintance, and related the
rescue of his daughter in Galway.
In an instant the whole current of my thoughts was changed. My first
meeting with Lucy, my boyhood's dream of ambition, my plighted faith,
my thought of our last parting in Dublin, when, in a moment of excited
madness, I told my tale of love. I remembered her downcast look, as her
cheek now flushing, now growing pale, she trembled while I spoke. I thought
of her, as in the crash of battle her image flashed across my brain, and
made me feel a rush of chivalrous enthusiasm to win her heart by "doughty
I forgot all around and about me. My head reeled, the wine, the excitement,
my long previous illness, all pressed upon me; and as my temples throbbed
loudly and painfully, a chaotic rush of discordant, ill-connected ideas
flitted across my mind. There seemed some stir and confusion in the room,
but why or wherefore I could not think, nor could I recall my scattered
senses, till Sir George Dashwood's voice roused me once again to
"We are going to have some coffee, O'Malley. Miss Dashwood expects us in
the drawing-room. You have not seen her yet?"
I know not my reply; but he continued:--
"She has some letters for you, I think."
I muttered something, and suffered him to pass on; no sooner had he done
so, however, than I turned towards the door, and rushed into the street.
The cold night air suddenly recalled me to myself, and I stood for a moment
endeavoring to collect myself; as I did so, a servant stopped, and saluting
me, presented me with a letter. For a second, a cold chill came over me; I
knew not what fear beset me. The letter, I at last remembered, must be that
one alluded to by Sir George, so I took it in silence, and walked on.
As I hurried to my quarters, I made a hundred guesses from whom the letter
could have come; a kind of presentiment told me that it bore, in some
measure, upon the present crisis of my life, and I burned with anxiety to
No sooner had I reached the light, than all my hopes on this head vanished;
the envelope bore the well-known name of my old college chum, Frank Webber,
and none could, at the moment, have more completely dispelled all chance
of interesting me. I threw it from me with disappointment, and sat moodily
down to brood over my fate.
At length, however, and almost without knowing it, I drew the lamp towards
me, and broke the seal. The reader being already acquainted with my amiable
friend, there is the less indiscretion in communicating the contents, which
TRINITY COLLEGE, DUBLIN, No. 2,
October 5, 1810.
My Dear O'Malley,--Nothing short of your death and burial,
with or without military honors, can possibly excuse your very
disgraceful neglect of your old friends here. Nesbitt has never
heard of you, neither has Smith. Ottley swears never to have seen
your handwriting, save on the back of a protested bill. You have
totally forgotten _me_, and the dean informs me that you have never
condescended a single line to him; which latter inquiry on my part
nearly cost me a rustication.
A hundred conjectures to account for your silence--a new feature
in you since you were here--are afloat. Some assert that your
soldiering has turned your head, and that you are above corresponding
with civilians. Your friends, however, who know you better and
value your worth, think otherwise; and having seen a paragraph
about a certain O'Malley being tried by court-martial for stealing a
goose, and maltreating the woman that owned it, ascribe your not
writing to other motives. Do, in any case, relieve our minds; say,
is it yourself, or only a relative that's mentioned?
Herbert came over from London with a long story about your
doing wonderful things,--capturing cannon and general officers by
scores,--but devil a word of it is extant; and if you have really
committed these acts, they have "misused the king's press damnably,"
for neither in the "Times" nor the "Post" are you heard of.
Answer this point, and say also if you have got promotion; for what
precise sign you are algebraically expressed by at this writing, may
serve Fitzgerald for a fellowship question. As for us, we are jogging
along, _semper eadem_,--that is, worse and worse. Dear Cecil
Cavendish, our gifted friend, slight of limb and soft of voice, has
been rusticated for immersing four bricklayers in that green
receptacle of stagnant water and duckweed, yeleped the "Haha."
Roper, equally unlucky, has taken to reading for honors, and obtained
a medal, I fancy,--at least his friends shy him, and it must be
something of that kind. Belson--poor Belson (fortunately for him he
was born in the nineteenth, not the sixteenth century, or he'd be most
likely ornamenting a pile of fagots) ventured upon some stray
excursions into the Hebrew verbs,--the professor himself never having
transgressed beyond the declensions, and the consequence is, he is
in disgrace among the seniors. And as for me, a heavy charge hangs
over my devoted head even while I write. The senior lecturer, it
appears, has been for some time instituting some very singular
researches into the original state of our goodly college at its
founding. Plans and specifications showing its extent and magnificence
have been continually before the board for the last month; and in such
repute have been a smashed door-sill or an old arch, that freshmen
have now abandoned conic sections for crowbars, and instead of the
"Principia" have taken up the pickaxe. You know, my dear fellow,
with what enthusiasm I enter into any scheme for the aggrandizement
of our Alma Mater, so I need not tell you how ardently I
adventured into the career now opened to me. My time was completely
devoted to the matter; neither means nor health did I spare,
and in my search for antiquarian lore, I have actually undermined
the old wall of the fellows' garden, and am each morning in expectation
of hearing that the big bell near the commons-hall has descended
from its lofty and most noisy eminence, and is snugly reposing in
the mud. Meanwhile accident put me in possession of a most
singular and remarkable discovery. Our chambers--I call them
ours for old association sake--are, you may remember, in the Old
Square. Well, I have been fortunate enough, within the very precincts
of my own dwelling, to contribute a very wonderful fact to the
history of the University; alone, unassisted, unaided, I labored
at my discovery. Few can estimate the pleasure I felt, the fame
and reputation I anticipated. I drew up a little memoir for the
board, most respectfully and civilly worded, having for title the
Of a remarkable Subterranean Passage lately discovered in the
Old Building of Trinity College, Dublin;
With Observations upon its Extent, Antiquity, and Probable Use.
By F. WEBBER, Senior Freshman.
My dear O'Malley, I'll not dwell upon the pride I felt in my new
character of antiquarian; it is enough to state, that my very
remarkable tract was well considered and received, and a commission
appointed to investigate the discovery, consisting of the
vice-provost, the senior lecturer, old Woodhouse, the sub-dean, and
a few more.
On Tuesday last they came accordingly in full academic costume.
I, being habited most accurately in the like manner, conducted
them with all form into my bed-room, where a large screen concealed
from view the entrance to the tunnel alluded to. Assuming a very
John Kembleish attitude, I struck this down with one hand, pointing
with the other to the wall, as I exclaimed, "There! look
I need only quote Barret's exclamation to enlighten you upon my
discovery as, drawing in his breath with a strong effort, he burst
"May the Devil admire me, but it's a rat-hole!"
I fear, Charley, he's right, and what's more, that the board will
think so, for this moment a very warm discussion is going on among
that amiable and learned body whether I shall any longer remain an
ornament to the University. In fact, the terror with which they
fled from my chambers, overturning each other in the passage,
seemed to imply that they thought me mad, and I do believe my
voice, look, and attitude would not have disgraced a blue cotton
dressing-gown and a cell in "Swift's." Be this as it may, few men
have done more for college than I have. The sun never stood still
for Joshua with more resolution than I have rested in my career of
freshman; and if I have contributed little to the fame, I have done
much for the funds of the University; and when they come to compute
the various sums I have paid in, for fines, penalties, and what
they call properly "impositions," if they don't place a portrait of me
in the examination hall, between Archbishop Ussher and Flood, then
do I say there is no gratitude in mankind; not to mention the impulse
I have given to the various artisans whose business it is to
repair lamps, windows, chimneys, iron railings, and watchmen, all
of which I have devoted myself to with an enthusiasm for political
economy well known, and registered in the College Street police-office.
After all, Charley, I miss you greatly. Your second in a ballad is
not to be replaced; besides, Carlisle Bridge has got low; medical
students and young attorneys affect minstrelsy, and actually frequent
the haunts sacred to our muse.
Dublin is, upon the whole, I think, worse; though one scarcely
ever gets tired laughing at the small celebrities--
Master Frank gets here indiscreet, so I shall skip.
And so the Dashwoods are going too; this will make mine a
pitiable condition, for I really did begin to feel tender in that
quarter. You may have heard that she refused me; this, however, is not
correct, though I have little doubt it might have been,--had I
Hammersley has, you know, got his dismissal. I wonder how the
poor fellow took it when Power gave him back his letters and his
picture. How _you_ are to be treated remains to be seen; in any
case, you certainly stand first favorite.
I laid down the letter at this passage, unable to read farther. Here, then,
was the solution of the whole chaos of mystery; here the full explanation
of what had puzzled my aching brain for many a night long. These were the
very letters I had myself delivered into Hammersley's hands; this the
picture he had trodden to dust beneath his heel the morning of our meeting.
I now felt the reason of his taunting allusion to my "success," his cutting
sarcasm, his intemperate passion. A flood of light poured at once across
all the dark passages of my history; and Lucy, too,--dare I think of her! A
rapid thought shot through my brain. What if she had really cared for me!
What if for me she had rejected another's love! What if, trusting to my
faith, my pledged and sworn faith, she had given me her heart! Oh, the
bitter agony of that thought! To think that all my hopes were shipwrecked
with the very land in sight.
I sprang to my feet with some sudden impulse, but as I did so the blood
rushed madly to my face and temples, which beat violently; a parched and
swollen feeling came about my throat; I endeavored to open my collar
and undo my stock, but my disabled arm prevented me. I tried to call
my servant, but my utterance was thick and my words would not come; a
frightful suspicion crossed me that my reason was tottering. I made towards
the door; but as I did so, the objects around me became confused and
mingled, my limbs trembled, and I fell heavily upon the floor. A pang of
dreadful pain shot through me as I fell; my arm was rebroken. After this I
knew no more; all the accumulated excitement of the evening bore down with
one fell swoop upon my brain. Ere day broke, I was delirious.
I have a vague and indistinct remembrance of hurried and anxious faces
around my bed, of whispered words and sorrowful looks; but my own thoughts
careered over the bold hills of the far west as I trod them in my
boyhood, free and high of heart, or recurred to the din and crash of the
battle-field, with the mad bounding of the war-horse, and the loud clang of
the trumpet. Perhaps the acute pain of my swollen and suffering arm gave
the character to my mental aberration; for I have more than once observed
among the wounded in battle, that even when torn and mangled by grape
from a howitzer, their ravings have partaken of a high feature of
enthusiasm,--shouts of triumph and exclamations of pleasure, even
songs have I heard, but never once the low muttering of despair or the
half-stifled cry of sorrow and affliction.
Such were the few gleams of consciousness which visited me; and even to
such as these I soon became insensible.
Few like to chronicle, fewer still to read, the sad history of a sick-bed.
Of mine, I know but little. The throbbing pulses of the erring brain, the
wild fancies of lunacy, take no note of time. There is no past nor future;
a dreadful present, full of its hurried and confused impressions, is all
that the mind beholds; and even when some gleams of returning reason flash
upon the mad confusion of the brain, they come like sunbeams through a
cloud, dimmed, darkened, and perverted.
It is the restless activity of the mind in fever that constitutes its
most painful anguish; the fast-flitting thoughts that rush ever onwards,
crowding sensation on sensation, an endless train of exciting images
without purpose or repose; or even worse, the straining effort to pursue
some vague and shadowy conception which evades us ever as we follow, but
which mingles with all around and about us, haunting us at midnight as in
the noontime. Of this nature was a vision which came constantly before
me, till at length, by its very recurrence, it assumed a kind of real and
palpable existence; and as I watched it, my heart thrilled with the high
ardor of enthusiasm and delight, or sunk into the dark abyss of sorrow and
despair. "The dawning of morning, the daylight sinking," brought no other
image to my aching sight; and of this alone, of all the impressions of the
period, has my mind retained any consciousness.
Methought I stood within an old and venerable cathedral, where the dim
yellow light fell with a rich but solemn glow upon the fretted capitals,
or the grotesque tracings of the oaken carvings, lighting up the fading
gildings of the stately monuments, and tinting the varied hues of time-worn
banners. The mellow notes of a deep organ filled the air, and seemed to
attune the sense to all the awe and reverence of the place, where the very
footfall, magnified by its many echoes, seemed half a profanation. I stood
before an altar, beside me a young and lovely girl, whose bright brown
tresses waved in loose masses upon a neck of snowy whiteness; her hand,
cold and pale, rested within my own; we knelt together, not in prayer, but
a feeling of deep reverence stole over my heart, as she repeated some few
half-uttered words after me; I knew that she was mine. Oh, the ecstasy of
that moment, as, springing to my feet, I darted forward to press her to my
heart! When, suddenly, an arm was interposed between us, while a low but
solemn voice rang in my ears, "Stir not; for thou art false and traitorous,
thy vow a perjury, and thy heart a lie!" Slowly and silently the fair form
of my loved Lucy--for it was her--receded from my sight. One look, one last
look of sorrow--it was scarce reproach--fell upon me, and I sank back upon
the cold pavement, broken-hearted and forsaken.
This dream came with daybreak, and with the calm repose of evening; the
still hours of the waking night brought no other image to my eyes, and when
its sad influence had spread a gloom and desolation over my wounded heart,
a secret hope crept over me, that again the bright moment of happiness
would return, and once more beside that ancient altar I'd kneel beside my
bride, and call her mine.
For the rest, my memory retains but little; the kind looks which came
around my bedside brought but a brief pleasure, for in their affectionate
beaming I could read the gloomy prestige of my fate. The hurried but
cautious step, the whispered sentences, the averted gaze of those who
sorrowed for me, sunk far deeper into my heart than my friends then thought
of. Little do they think, who minister to the sick or dying, how each
passing word, each flitting glance is noted, and how the pale and stilly
figure which lies all but lifeless before them counts over the hours he has
to live by the smiles or tears around him!
Hours, days, weeks rolled over, and still my fate hung in the balance; and
while in the wild enthusiasm of my erring faculties, I wandered far in
spirit from my bed of suffering and pain, some well-remembered voice beside
me would strike upon my ear, bringing me back, as if by magic, to all the
realities of life, and investing my almost unconscious state with all the
hopes and fears about me.
One by one, at length, these fancies fled from me, and to the delirium of
fever succeeded the sad and helpless consciousness of illness, far, far
more depressing; for as the conviction of sense came back, the sorrowful
aspect of a dreary future came with it.
The gentle twilight of an autumnal evening, calm, serene, and mellow, was
falling as I opened my eyes to consciousness of life and being, and looked
around me. I lay in a large and handsomely-furnished apartment, in which
the hand of taste was as evident in all the decorations as the unsparing
employment of wealth; the silk draperies of my bed, the inlaid tables, the
ormolu ornaments which glittered upon the chimney, were one by one so many
puzzles to my erring senses, and I opened and shut my eyes again and again,
and essayed by every means in my power to ascertain if they were not the
visionary creations of a fevered mind. I stretched out my hands to feel the
objects; and even while holding the freshly-plucked flowers in my grasp I
could scarce persuade myself that they were real. A thrill of pain at this
instant recalled me to other thoughts, and I turned my eyes upon my wounded
arm, which, swollen and stiffened, lay motionless beside me. Gradually, my
memory came back, and to my weak faculties some passages of my former
life were presented, not collectedly it is true, nor in any order, but
scattered, isolated scenes. While such thoughts flew past, my ever-rising
question to myself was, "Where am I now?" The vague feeling which illness
leaves upon the mind, whispered to me of kind looks and soft voices; and
I had a dreamy consciousness about me of being watched and cared for, but
wherefore, or by whom, I knew not.
From a partly open door which led into a garden, a mild and balmy air
fanned my temples and soothed my heated brow; and as the light curtain
waved to and fro with the breeze, the odor of the rose and the orange-tree
filled the apartment.
There is something in the feeling of weakness which succeeds to long
illness of the most delicious and refined enjoyment. The spirit emerging as
it were from the thraldom of its grosser prison, rises high and triumphant
above the meaner thoughts and more petty ambitions of daily life. Purer
feelings, more ennobling hopes succeed; and dreams of our childhood,
mingling with our promises for the future, make up an ideal existence
in which the low passions and cares of ordinary life enter not or are
forgotten. 'Tis then we learn to hold converse with ourselves; 'tis then we
ask how has our manhood performed the promises of its youth, or have our
ripened prospects borne out the pledges of our boyhood? 'Tis then, in
the calm justice of our lonely hearts, we learn how our failures are but
another name for our faults, and that what we looked on as the vicissitudes
of fortune are but the fruits of our own vices. Alas, how short-lived are
such intervals! Like the fitful sunshine in the wintry sky, they throw one
bright and joyous tint over the dark landscape: for a moment the valley and
the mountain-top are bathed in a ruddy glow; the leafless tree and the dark
moss seem to feel a touch of spring; but the next instant it is past; the
lowering clouds and dark shadows intervene, and the cold blast, the moaning
wind, and the dreary waste are once more before us.
I endeavored to recall the latest events of my career, but in vain; the
real and the visionary were inextricably mingled, and the scenes of my
campaigns were blended with hopes and fears and doubts which had no
existence save in my dreams. My curiosity to know where I was grew now my
strongest feeling, and I raised myself with one arm to look around me. In
the room all was still and silent, but nothing seemed to intimate what I
sought for. As I looked, however, the wind blew back the curtain which
half-concealed the sash-door, and disclosed to me the figure of a man
seated at a table; his back was towards me, but his broad sombrero hat
and brown mantle bespoke his nation; the light blue curl of smoke
which wreathed gently upwards, and the ample display of long-necked,
straw-wrapped flasks, also attested that he was enjoying himself with true
Peninsular gusto, having probably partaken of a long siesta.
It was a perfect picture in its way of the indolent luxury of the
South,--the rich and perfumed flowers, half-closing to the night air, but
sighing forth a perfumed _buonas noches_ as they betook themselves to rest;
the slender shadows of the tall shrubs, stretching motionless across the
walks; the very attitude of the figure himself was in keeping as supported
by easy chairs he lounged at full length, raising his head ever and anon as
if to watch the wreath of eddying smoke as it rose upwards from his cigar
and melted away in the distance.
[Illustration: MR. FREE TURNED SPANIARD.]
"Yes", thought I, as I looked for some time, "such is the very type of his
nation. Surrounded by every luxury of climate, blessed with all that earth
can offer of its best and fairest, and yet only using such gifts as mere
sensual gratifications." Starting with this theme, I wove a whole story for
the unknown personage whom, in my wandering fancy, I began by creating
a grandee of Portugal, invested with rank honors, and riches; but who,
effeminated by the habits and usages of his country, had become the mere
idle voluptuary, living a life of easy and inglorious indolence. My further
musings were interrupted at this moment for the individual to whom I
had been so complimentary in my revery, slowly arose from his recumbent
position, flung his loose mantle carelessly across his left shoulder, and
pushing open the sash-door, entered my chamber. Directing his steps to a
large mirror, he stood for some minutes contemplating himself with what,
from his attitude, I judged to be no small satisfaction. Though his back
was still towards me, and the dim twilight of the room too uncertain to see
much, yet I could perceive that he was evidently admiring himself in the
glass. Of this fact I had soon the most complete proof; for as I looked,
he slowly raised his broad-leafed Spanish hat with an air of most imposing
pretension, and bowed reverently to himself.
"_Come sta vostra senoria?_" said he.
The whole gesture and style of this proceeding struck me as so ridiculous,
that in spite of all my efforts I could scarcely repress a laugh. He turned
quickly round and approached the bed. The deep shadow of the sombrero
darkened the upper part of his features, but I could distinguish a pair of
fierce-looking mustaches beneath, which curled upwards towards his eyes,
while a stiff point beard stuck straight from his chin. Fearing lest my
rude interruption had been overheard, I was framing some polite speech in
Portuguese, when he opened the dialogue by asking in that language how I
I replied, and was about to ask some questions relative to where, and
under whose protection I then was, when my grave-looking friend, giving a
pirouette upon one leg, sent his hat flying into the air, and cried out in
a voice that not even my memory could fail to recognize,--
"By the rock of Cashel he's cured!--he's cured!--the fever's over! Oh,
Master Charles, dear! oh, Master, darling, and you ain't mad, after all?"
"Mad! no, faith! but I shrewdly suspect you must be."
"Oh, devil a taste! But spake to me, honey; spake to me, acushla!"
"Where am I? Whose house is this? What do you mean by that disguise, that
"Whisht, I'll tell you all, av you have patience? But are you cured? Tell
me that first. Sure they was going to cut the arm off you, till you got out
of bed, and with your pistols, sent them flying, one out of the window and
the other down-stairs; and I bate the little chap with the saw myself till
he couldn't know himself in the glass."
While Mike ran on at this rate, I never took my eyes from him, and it was
all my poor faculties were equal to, to convince myself that the whole
scene was not some vision of a wandering intellect. Gradually, however, the
well-known features recalled me to myself, and as my doubts gave way at
length, I laughed long and heartily at the masquerade absurdity of his
Mike, meanwhile, whose face expressed no small mistrust at the sincerity of
my mirth, having uncloaked himself, proceeded to lay aside his beard and
mustaches, saying, as he did so,--
"There now, darling; there now, Master, dear,--don't be grinning that
way,--I'll not be a Portigee any more, av you'll be quiet and listen to
"But, Mike, where am I? Answer me that one question."
"You're at home, dear; where else would you be?"
"At home?" said I, with a start, as my eye ranged over the various articles
of luxury and elegance around, so unlike the more simple and unpretending
features of my uncle's house,--"at home?"
"Ay, just so; sure, isn't it the same thing. It's ould Don Emanuel that
owns it; and won't it be your own when you're married to that lovely
I started up, and placing my hand upon my throbbing temples, asked myself
if I were really awake, or if some flight of fancy had not carried me away
beyond the bounds of reason and sense. "Go on, go on!" said I, at length,
in a hollow voice, anxious to gather from his words something like a clew
to this mystery. "How did this happen?"
"Av ye mean how you came here, faith, it was just this way. After you got
the fever, and beat the doctors, devil a one would go near you but myself
and the major."
"The major,--Major Monsoon?"
"No, Major Power himself. Well, he told your friends up here how it was
going very hard with you, and that you were like to die; and the same
evening they sent down a beautiful litter, as like a hearse as two peas,
for you, and brought you up here in state,--devil a thing was wanting but
a few people to raise the cry to make it as fine a funeral as ever I seen.
And sure, I set up a whillilew myself in the Black Horse Square, and the
devils only laughed at me.
"Well, you see they put you into a beautiful, elegant bed, and the young
lady herself sat down beside you, betune times fanning you with a big
fan, and then drying her eyes, for she was weeping like a waterfall. 'Don
Miguel,' says she to me,--for ye see, I put your cloak on by mistake when I
was leaving the quarters,--'Don Miguel, questa hidalgo e vostro amigo?'
"'My most particular friend,' says I; 'God spare him many years to be so.'
"'Then take up your quarters here,' says she, 'and don't leave him; we'll
do everything in our power to make you comfortable.'
"'I'm not particular,' says I; 'the run of the house--'
"Then this is the Villa Nuova?" said I, with a faint sigh.
"The same," replied Mike; "and a sweet place it is for eating and
drinking,--for wine in buckets full, av ye axed for it, for dancing and
singing every evening, with as pretty craytures as ever I set eyes upon.
Upon my conscience, it's as good as Galway; and good manners it is they
have. What's more, none of your liberties or familiarities with strangers;
but it's Don Miguel, devil a less. 'Don Miguel, av it's plazing to you to
take a drop of Xeres before your meat?' or, 'Would you have a shaugh of a
pipe or cigar when you're done?' That's the way of it."
"And Sir George Dashwood," said I, "has he been here? Has he inquired for
"Every day either himself or one of the staff comes galloping up at
luncheon time to ask after you; and then they have a bit of tender
discourse with the senhora herself. Oh, devil a bit need ye fear them,
she's true blue; and it isn't the major's fault,--upon my conscience it
isn't,--for he does be coming the blarney over her in beautiful style."
"Does Miss Dashwood ever visit here?" said I, with a voice faltering and
uncertain enough to have awakened suspicion in a more practised observer.
"Never once; and that's what I call unnatural behavior, after you saving
her life; and if she wasn't--"
"Be silent, I say."
"Well, well, there, I won't say any more; and sure it's time for me to be
putting on my beard again. I'm going to the Casino with Catrina, and sure
it's with real ladies I might be going av it wasn't for Major Power, that
told them I wasn't a officer; but it's all right again. I gave them a great
history of the Frees from the time of Cuilla na Toole, that was one of the
family and a cousin of Moses, I believe; and they behave well to one that
comes from an ould stock."
"Don Miguel! Don Miguel!" said a voice from the garden.
"I'm coming, my angel! I'm coming, my turtle-dove!" said Mike, arranging
his mustaches and beard with amazing dexterity. "Ah, but it would do your
heart good av you could take a peep at us about twelve o'clock, dancing
'Dirty James' for a bolero, and just see Miss Catrina, the lady's maid,
doing 'cover the buckle' as neat as Nature. There now, there's the lemonade
near your hand, and I'll leave you the lamp, and you may go asleep as soon
as you please, for Miss Inez won't come in to-night to play the guitar, for
the doctor said it might do you harm now."
So saying, and before I could summon presence of mind to ask another
question, Don Miguel wrapped himself in the broad folds of his Spanish
cloak, and strode from the room with the air of an hidalgo.
I slept but little that night; the full tide of memory, rushing in upon me,
brought back the hour of my return to Lisbon and the wreck of all my hopes,
which from the narrative of my servant I now perceived to be complete. I
dare not venture upon recording how many plans suggested themselves to my
troubled spirit, and were in turn rejected. To meet Lucy Dashwood; to make
a full and candid declaration; to acknowledge that flirtation alone with
Donna Inez (a mere passing, boyish flirtation) had given the coloring to
my innocent passion, and that in heart and soul I was hers, and hers
only,--this was my first resolve; but alas! if I had not courage to sustain
a common interview, to meet her in the careless crowd of a drawing-room,
what could I do under circumstances like these? Besides, the matter would
be cut very short by her coolly declaring that she had neither right nor
inclination to listen to such a declaration. The recollection of her look
as she passed me to her carriage came flashing across my brain and decided
this point. No, no! I'll not encounter that; however appearances for the
moment had been against me, she should not have treated me thus coldly and
disdainfully. It was quite clear she had never cared for me,--wounded pride
had been her only feeling; and so as I reasoned I ended by satisfying
myself that in that quarter all was at end forever.
Now then for dilemma number two, I thought. The senhora, my first impulse
was one of anything but gratitude to her by whose kind, tender care my
hours of pain and suffering had been soothed and alleviated. But for her,
I should have been spared all my present embarrassment, all my shipwrecked
fortunes; but for her I should now be the aide-de-camp residing in Sir
George Dashwood's own house, meeting with Lucy every hour of the day,
dining beside her, riding out with her, pressing my suit by every means and
with every advantage of my position; but for her and her dark eyes--and,
by-the-bye, what eyes they are! how full of brilliancy, yet how teeming
with an expression of soft and melting sweetness; and her mouth, too,
how perfectly chiselled those full lips,--how different from the cold,
unbending firmness of Miss Dashwood's! Not but I have seen Lucy smile too,
and what a sweet smile! How it lighted up her fair cheek, and made her blue
eyes darken and deepen till they looked like heaven's own vault. Yes, there
is more poetry in a blue eye. But still Inez is a very lovely girl, and
her foot never was surpassed. She is a coquette, too, about that foot and
ankle,--I rather like a woman to be so. What a sensation she would make in
England; how she would be the rage! And then I thought of home and Galway,
and the astonishment of some, the admiration of others, as I presented her
as my wife,--the congratulations of my friends, the wonder of the men, the
tempered envy of the women. Methought I saw my uncle, as he pressed her in
his arms, say, "Yes, Charley, this is a prize worth campaigning for."
The stray sounds of a guitar which came from the garden broke in upon my
musings at this moment. It seemed as if a finger was straying heedlessly
across the strings. I started up, and to my surprise perceived it was Inez.
Before I had time to collect myself, a gentle tap at the window aroused me;
it opened softly, while from an unseen hand a bouquet of fresh flowers was
thrown upon my bed. Before I could collect myself to speak, the sash closed
again and I was alone.
Mike's performances at the masquerade had doubtless been of the most
distinguished character, and demanded a compensating period of repose, for
he did not make his appearance the entire morning. Towards noon, however,
the door from the garden gently opened, and I heard a step upon the stone
terrace, and something which sounded to my ears like the clank of a sabre.
I lifted my head, and saw Fred Power beside me.
I shall spare my readers the recital of my friend, which, however, more
full and explanatory of past events, contained in reality little more than
Mickey Free had already told me. In fine, he informed me that our army, by
a succession of retreating movements, had deserted the northern provinces,
and now occupied the intrenched lines of Torres Vedras. That Massena, with
a powerful force, was still in march, reinforcements daily pouring in
upon him, and every expectation pointing to the probability that he would
attempt to storm our position.
"The wise-heads," remarked Power, "talk of our speedy embarkation, the
sanguine and the hot-brained rave of a great victory and the retreat of
Massena; but I was up at headquarters last week with despatches, and saw
Lord Wellington myself."
"Well, what did you make out? Did he drop any hint of his own views?"
"Faith, I can't say he did. He asked me some questions about the troops
just landed; he spoke a little of the commissary department, damned the
blankets, said that green forage was bad food for the artillery horses,
sent me an English paper to read about the O. P. riots, and said the
harriers would throw off about six o'clock, and that he hoped to see me at
I could not restrain a laugh at Power's catalogue of his lordship's topics.
"So," said I, "he at least does not take any gloomy views of our present
"Who can tell what he thinks? He's ready to fight if fighting will do
anything, and to retreat, if that be better. But that he'll sleep an hour
less, or drink a glass of claret more--come what will of it--I'll believe
from no man living.
"We've lost one gallant thing in any case, Charley," resumed Power. "Busaco
was, I'm told, a glorious day, and our people were in the heat of it. So
that, if we do leave the Peninsula now, that will be a confounded chagrin.
Not for you, my poor fellow, for you could not stir; but I was so cursed
foolish to take the staff appointment,--thus one folly ever entails
There was a tone of bitterness in which these words were uttered that left
no doubt upon my mind some _arriere pensee_ remained lurking behind them.
My eyes met his; he bit his lip, and coloring deeply, rose from the chair,
and walked towards the window.
The chance allusion of my man Mike flashed upon me at the moment, and I
dared not trust myself to break silence. I now thought I could trace in my
friend's manner less of that gay and careless buoyancy which ever marked
him. There was a tone, it seemed, of more grave and sombre character, and
even when he jested, the smile his features bore was not his usual frank
and happy one, and speedily gave way to an expression I had never before
remarked. Our silence which had now lasted for some minutes was becoming
embarrassing; that strange consciousness that, to a certain extent, we were
reading each other's thoughts, made us both cautious of breaking it; and
when at length, turning abruptly round, he asked, "When I hoped to be up
and about again?" I felt my heart relieved from I knew not well what load
of doubt and difficulty that oppressed it. We chatted on for some little
time longer, the news of Lisbon, and the daily gossip finishing our topics.
"Plenty of gayety, Charley, dinners and balls to no end! so get well, my
boy, and make the most of it."
"Yes," I replied, "I'll do my best; but be assured the first use I'll make
of health will be to join the regiment. I am heartily ashamed of myself for
all I have lost already,--though not altogether my fault."
"And will you really join at once?" said Power, with a look of eager
anxiety I could not possibly account for.
"Of course I will; what have I, what can I have to detain me here?"
What reply he was about to make at this moment I know not, but the door
opened, and Mike announced Sir George Dashwood.
"Gently, my worthy man, not so loud, if you please?" said the mild voice of
the general, as he stepped noiselessly across the room, evidently shocked
at the indiscreet tone of my follower. "Ah, Power, you here! and our poor
friend, how is he?"
"Able to answer for himself at last, Sir George," said I, grasping his
"My poor lad! you've had a long bout of it; but you've saved your arm, and
that's well worth the lost time. Well, I've come to bring you good news;
there's been a very sharp cavalry affair, and our fellows have been the
"There again, Power,--listen to that! We are losing everything!"
"Not so, not so, my boy," said Sir George, smiling blandly, but archly.
"There are conquests to be won here, as well as there; and in your present
state, I rather think you better fitted for such as these."
Power's brow grew clouded; he essayed a smile, but it failed, and he rose
and hurried towards the window.
As for me, my confusion must have led to a very erroneous impression of my
real feelings, and I perceived Sir George anxious to turn the channel of
"You see but little of your host, O'Malley," he resumed; "he is ever from
home; but I believe nothing could be kinder than his arrangements for you.
You are aware that he kidnapped you from us? I had sent Forbes over to
bring you to us; your room was prepared, everything in readiness, when he
met your man Mike, setting forth upon a mule, who told him you had just
taken your departure for the villa. We both had our claim upon you and, I
believe, pretty much on the same score. By-the-bye, you have not seen Lucy
since your arrival. I never knew it till yesterday, when I asked if she did
not find you altered."
I blundered out some absurd reply, blushed, corrected myself, and got
confused. Sir George attributing this, doubtless, to my weak state, rose
soon after, and taking Power along with him, remarked as he left the
"We are too much for him yet, I see that; so we'll leave him quiet some
Thanking him in my heart for his true appreciation of my state, I sank back
upon my pillow to think over all I had heard and seen.
"Well, Mister Charles," said Mike as he came forward with a smile, "I
suppose you heard the news? The Fourteenth bate the French down at Merca
there, and took seventy prisoners; but sure it's little good it'll do,
"And why not, Mike?"
"Musha! isn't Boney coming himself? He's bringing all the Roossians down
with him, and going to destroy us entirely."
"Not at all, man; you mistake. He's nothing to do with Russia, and has
quite enough on his hands at this moment."
"God grant it was truth you were talking! But, you see, I read it myself in
the papers (or Sergeant Haggarty did, which is the same thing) that he's
coming with the Cusacks."
"With who?--with what?"
"With the Cusacks."
"What the devil do you mean? Who are they?"
"Oh, Tower of Ivory! did you never hear of the Cusacks, with the red beards
and the red breeches and long poles with pike-heads on them, that does all
the devilment on horseback,--spiking and spitting the people like larks?"
"The Cossacks, is it, you mean? The Cossacks?"
"Ay, just so, the Cusacks. They're from Clare Island, and thereabouts; and
there's more of them in Meath. They're my mother's people, and was always
real devils for fighting."
I burst out into an immoderate fit of laughing at Mike's etymology, which
thus converted Hetman Platoff into a Galway man.
"Oh, murder! isn't it cruel to hear you laugh that way! There now, alanna!
be asy, and I'll tell you more news. We've the house to ourselves to-day.
The ould gentleman's down at Behlem, and the daughter's in Lisbon, making
great preparations for a grand ball they're to give when you are quite
"I hope I shall be with the army in a few days, Mike; and certainly, if I'm
able to move about, I'll not remain longer in Lisbon."
"Arrah, don't say so, now! When was you ever so comfortable? Upon my
conscience, it's more like Paradise than anything else. If ye see the
dinner we sit down to every day; and as for drink,--if it wasn't that I
sleep on a ground-floor, I'd seldom see a blanket!"
"Well, certainly, Mike, I agree with you, these are hard things to tear
ourselves away from."
"Aren't they now, sir? And then Miss Catherine, I'm taching her Irish!"
"Teaching her Irish! for Heaven's sake, what use can she make of Irish?"
"Ah, the crayture, she doesn't know better; and as she was always bothering
me to learn her English, I promised one day to do it; but ye see, somehow,
I never was very proficient in strange tongues; so I thought to myself
Irish will do as well. So, you perceive, we're taking a course of Irish
literature, as Mr. Lynch says in Athlone; and, upon my conscience, she's an
"'Good-morning to you, Katey,' says Mr. Power to her the other day, as he
passed through the hall. 'Good-morning, my dear; I hear you speak English
"'_Honia mon diaoul_,' says she, making a curtsey.
"Be the powers, I thought he'd die with the laughing.
"'Well, my dear, I hope you don't mean it,--do you know what you're
"'Honor bright, Major!' says I,--'honor bright!' and I gave him a wink at
the same time.
"'Oh, that's it!' said he, 'is it!' and so he went off holding his hands to
his sides with the bare laughing; and your honor knows it wasn't a blessing
she wished him, for all that."
"What a strange position this of mine!" thought I, a few mornings after
the events detailed in the last chapter. "How very fascinating in some
respects, how full of all the charm of romance, and how confoundly
difficult to see one's way through!"
To understand my cogitation right, _figurez-vous_, my dear reader, a large
and splendidly furnished drawing-room, from one end of which an orangery
in full blossom opens; from the other is seen a delicious little boudoir,
where books, bronzes, pictures and statues, in all the artistique disorder
of a lady's sanctum, are bathed in a deep purple light from a stained glass
window of the seventeenth century.
On a small table beside the wood fire, whose mellow light is flirting with
the sunbeams upon the carpet, stands an antique silver breakfast-service,
which none but the hand of Benvenuto could have chiselled; beside it sits
a girl, young and beautiful; her dark eyes, beaming beneath their long
lashes, are fixed with an expression of watchful interest upon a pale and
sickly youth, who, lounging upon a sofa opposite, is carelessly turning
over the leaves of a new journal, or gazing steadfastly on the fretted
gothic of the ceiling, while his thoughts are travelling many a mile away.
The lady being the Senhora Inez; the nonchalant invalid, your unworthy
acquaintance, Charles O'Malley.
What a very strange position to be sure.
"Then you are not equal to this ball to-night?" said she, after a pause of
I turned as she spoke; her words had struck audibly upon my ear, but, lost
in my revery, I could but repeat my own fixed thought,--how strange to be
"You are really very tiresome, Signor; I assure you, you are. I have
been giving you a most elegant description of the Casino _fete_, and the
beautiful costume of our Lisbon belles, but I can get nothing from you but
this muttered something, which may be very shocking for aught I know. I'm
sure your friend, Major Power, would be much more attentive to me; that
is," added she, archly, "if Miss Dashwood were not present."
"What! why! You don't mean that there is anything there--that Tower is
paying attention to--"
"_Madre divina_, how that seems to interest you, and how red you are! If it
were not that you never met her before, and that your acquaintance did not
seem to make rapid progress, then I should say you are in love with her
I had to laugh at this, but felt my face flushing more. "And so," said I,
affecting a careless and indifferent tone, "the gay Fred Power is smitten