Part 3 out of 10
"Was it so very difficult a thing to accomplish?" said she, slyly.
"He seems to say so, at least. And the lady, how does she appear to receive
"Oh, I should say with evident pleasure and satisfaction, as all girls do
the advances of men they don't care for, nor intend to care for."
"Indeed," said I, slowly, "indeed, Senhora?" looking into her eyes as I
spoke, as if to read if the lesson were destined for my benefit.
"There, don't stare so!--every one knows that."
"So you don't think, then, that Lucy,--I mean Miss Dashwood--Why are you
"How can I help it; your calling her Lucy is so good, I wish she heard it;
she's the very proudest girl I ever knew."
"But to come back; you really think she does not care for him?"
"Not more than for you; and I may be pardoned for the simile, having seen
your meeting. But let me give you the news of our own _fête_. Saturday is
the day fixed; and you must be quite well,--I insist upon it. Miss Dashwood
has promised to come,--no small concession; for after all she has never
once been here since the day you frightened her. I can't help laughing at
my blunder,--the two people I had promised myself should fall desperately
in love with each other, and who will scarcely meet."
"But I trusted," said I, pettishly, "that you were not disposed to resign
your own interest in me?"
"Neither was I," said she, with an easy smile, "except that I have so many
admirers. I might even spare to my friends; though after all I should be
sorry to lose you, I like you."
"Yes," said I half bitterly, "as girls do those they never intend to care
for; is it not so?"
"Perhaps, yes, and perhaps--But is it going to rain? How provoking! and I
have ordered my horse. Well, Signor Carlos, I leave you to your delightful
newspaper, and all the magnificent descriptions of battles and sieges and
skirmishes of which you seem doomed to pine without ceasing. There, don't
kiss my hand twice; that's not right."
"Well, let me begin again--"
"I shall not breakfast with you any more. But tell me, am I to order a
costume for you in Lisbon; or will you arrange all that yourself? You must
come to the _fête_, you know."
"If you would be so very kind."
"I will, then, be so very kind; and once more, _adios_." So saying, and
with a slight motion of her hand, she smiled a good-by, and left me.
"What a lovely girl!" thought I, as I rose and walked to the window,
muttering to myself Othello's line, and--
"When I love thee not, chaos is come again."
In fact, it was the perfect expression of my feeling; the only solution
to all the difficulties surrounding me, being to fall desperately,
irretrievably in love with the fair senhora, which, all things considered,
was not a very desperate resource for a gentleman in trouble. As I thought
over the hopelessness of one attachment, I turned calmly to consider all
the favorable points of the other. She was truly beautiful, attractive in
every sense; her manner most fascinating, and her disposition, so far as
I could pronounce, perfectly amiable. I felt already something more than
interest about her; how very easy would be the transition to a stronger
feeling! There was an _éclat_, too, about being her accepted lover that had
its charm. She was the belle _par excellence_ of Lisbon; and then a sense
of pique crossed my mind as I reflected what would Lucy say of him whom
she had slighted and insulted, when he became the husband of the beautiful
millionnaire Senhora Inez?
As my meditations had reached thus far, the door opened stealthily, and
Catherine appeared, her finger upon her lips, and her gesture indicating
caution. She carried on her arm a mass of drapery covered by a large
mantle, which throwing off as she entered, she displayed before me a rich
blue domino with silver embroidery. It was large and loose in its folds, so
as thoroughly to conceal the figure of any wearer. This she held up before
me for an instant without speaking; when at length, seeing my curiosity
fully excited, she said,--
"This is the senhora's domino. I should be ruined if she knew I showed it;
but I promised--that is, I told--"
"Yes, yes, I understand," relieving her embarrassment about the source of
her civilities; "go on."
"Well, there are several others like it, but with this small difference,
instead of a carnation, which all the others have embroidered upon the
cuff, I have made it a rose,--you perceive? La Senhora knows nothing of
this,--none save yourself knows it. I'm sure I may trust you with the
"Fear not in the least, Catherine; you have rendered me a great service.
Let me look at it once more; ah, there's no difficulty in detecting it. And
you are certain she is unaware of it?"
"Perfectly so; she has several other costumes, but in this one I know she
intends some surprise, so be upon your guard."
With these words, carefully once more concealing the rich dress beneath the
mantle, she withdrew; while I strolled forth to wonder what mystery might
lie beneath this scheme, and speculate how far I myself was included in the
plot she spoke of.
For the few days which succeeded, I passed my time much alone. The senhora
was but seldom at home; and I remarked that Power rarely came to see me. A
strange feeling of half-coolness had latterly grown between us, and instead
of the open confidence we formerly indulged in when together, we appeared
now rather to chat over things of mere every-day interest than of our own
immediate plans and prospects. There was a kind of pre-occupation, too, in
his manner that struck me; his mind seemed ever straying from the topics he
talked of to something remote, and altogether, he was no longer the frank
and reckless dragoon I had ever known him. What could be the meaning of
this change? Had he found out by any accident that I was to blame in my
conduct towards Lucy; had any erroneous impression of my interview with her
reached his ears? This was most improbable; besides, there was nothing in
that to draw down his censure or condemnation, however represented; and was
it that he was himself in love with her, that, devoted heart and soul to
Lucy, he regarded me as a successful rival, preferred before him! Oh, how
could I have so long blinded myself to the fact! This was the true solution
of the whole difficulty. I had more than once suspected this to be so; now
all the circumstances of proof poured in upon me. I called to mind his
agitated manner the night of my arrival in Lisbon, his thousand questions
concerning the reasons of my furlough; and then, lately, the look of
unfeigned pleasure with which he heard me resolve to join my regiment the
moment I was sufficiently recovered. I remembered also how assiduously he
pressed his intimacy with the senhora, Lucy's dearest friend here; his
continual visits at the villa; those long walks in the garden, where his
very look betokened some confidential mission of the heart. Yes, there was
no doubt of it, he loved Lucy Dashwood! Alas, there seemed to be no end to
the complication of my misfortunes; one by one I appeared fated to lose
whatever had a hold upon my affections, and to stand alone, unloved and
uncared for in the world. My thoughts turned towards the senhora, but
I could not deceive myself into any hope there. My own feelings were
untouched, and hers I felt to be equally so. Young as I was, there was no
mistaking the easy smile of coquetry, the merry laugh of flattered vanity,
for a deeper and holier feeling. And then I did not wish it otherwise. One
only had taught me to feel how ennobling, how elevating in all its impulses
can be a deep-rooted passion for a young and beautiful girl! From her
eyes alone had I caught the inspiration that made me pant for glory and
distinction. I could not transfer the allegiance of my heart, since it had
taught that very heart to beat high and proudly. Lucy, lost to me forever
as she must be, was still more than any other woman ever could be; all the
past clung to her memory, all the prestige of the future must point to it
And Power, why had he not trusted, why had he not confided in me? Was this
like my old and tried friend? Alas! I was forgetting that in his eye I was
the favored rival, and not the despised, rejected suitor.
"It is past now," thought I, as I rose and walked into the garden; "the
dream that made life a fairy tale is dispelled; the cold reality of the
world is before me, and my path lies a lonely and solitary one." My first
resolution was to see Power, and relieve his mind of any uneasiness as
regarded my pretentions; they existed no longer. As for me, I was no
obstacle to his happiness; it was, then, but fair and honorable that I
should tell him so; this done, I should leave Lisbon at once. The cavalry
had for the most part been ordered to the rear; still there was always
something going forward at the outposts.
The idea of active service, the excitement of a campaigning life, cheered
me, and I advanced along the dark alley of the garden with a lighter and a
freer heart. My resolves were not destined to meet delay; as I turned the
angle of a walk, Power was before me. He was leaning against a tree, his
hands crossed upon his bosom, his head bowed forward, and his whole air and
attitude betokening deep reflection.
He started as I came up, and seemed almost to change color.
"Well, Charley," said he, after a moment's pause, "you look better this
morning. How goes the arm?"
"The arm is ready for service again, and its owner most anxious for it. Do
you know, Fred, I'm thoroughly weary of this life."
"They're little better, however, at the lines. The French are in position,
but never adventure a movement; and except some few affairs at the pickets,
there is really nothing to do."
"No matter, remaining here can never serve one's interests, and besides, I
have accomplished what I came for--"
I was about to add, "the restoration of my health," when he suddenly
interrupted me, eying me fixedly as he spoke.
"Indeed! indeed! Is that so?"
"Yes," said I, half puzzled at the tone and manner of the speech; "I can
join now when I please; meanwhile, Fred, I have been thinking of you. Yes,
don't be surprised, at the very moment we met you were in my thoughts."
I took his arm as I said this, and led him down the alley.
"We are too old and, I trust, too true friends, Fred, to have secrets from
each other, and yet we have been playing this silly game for some weeks
past. Now, my dear fellow, I have yours, and it is only fair justice you
should have mine, and, faith, I feel you'd have discovered it long since,
had your thoughts been as free as I have known them to be. Fred, you are in
love; there, don't wince, man, I know it; but hear me out. You believe me
to be so also; nay, more, you think that my chances of success are better,
stronger than your own; learn, then, that I have none,--absolutely none.
Don't interrupt me now, for this avowal cuts me deeply; my own heart alone
knows what I suffer as I record my wrecked fortunes; but I repeat it, my
hopes are at end forever; but, Fred, my boy, I cannot lose my friend too.
If I have been the obstacle to your path, I am so no more. Ask me not why;
it is enough that I speak in all truth and sincerity. Ere three days I
shall leave this, and with it all the hopes that once beamed upon my
fortunes, and all the happiness,--nay, not all, my boy, for I feel some
thrill at my heart yet, as I think that I have been true to you."
I know not what more I spoke nor how he replied to me. I felt the warm
grasp of his hand, I saw his delighted smile; the words of grateful
acknowledgment his lips uttered conveyed but an imperfect meaning to my
ear, and I remembered no more.
The courage which sustained me for the moment sank gradually as I meditated
over my avowal, and I could scarce help accusing Power of a breach of
friendship for exacting a confession which, in reality, I had volunteered
to give him. How Lucy herself would think of my conduct was ever occurring
to my thoughts, and I felt, as I ruminated upon the conjectures it might
give rise to, how much more likely a favorable opinion might now be formed
of me, than when such an estimation could have crowned me with delight.
"Yes," thought I, "she will at last learn to know him who loved her with
truth and with devoted affection; and when the blight of all his hopes is
accomplished, the fair fame of his fidelity will be proved. The march,
the bivouac, the battle-field, are now all to me; and the campaign alone
presents a prospect which may fill up the aching void that disappointed and
ruined hopes have left behind them."
How I longed for the loud call of the trumpet, the clash of the steel, the
tramp of the war-horse; though the proud distinction of a soldier's life
were less to me in the distance than the mad and whirlwind passion of a
charge, and the loud din of the rolling artillery.
It was only some hours after, as I sat alone in my chamber, that all the
circumstances of our meeting came back clearly to my memory, and I could
not help muttering to myself,--
"It is indeed a hard lot, that to cheer the heart of my friend, I must bear
witness to the despair that shed darkness on my own."
Although I felt my heart relieved of a heavy load by the confession I had
made to Power, yet still I shrank from meeting him for some days after;
a kind of fear lest he should in any way recur to our conversation
continually beset me, and I felt that the courage which bore me up for my
first effort would desert me on the next occasion.
My determination to join my regiment was now made up, and I sent forward a
resignation of my appointment to Sir George Dashwood's staff, which I
had never been in health to fulfil, and commenced with energy all my
preparations for a speedy departure.
The reply to my rather formal letter was a most kind note written by
himself. He regretted the unhappy cause which had so long separated us, and
though wishing, as he expressed it, to have me near him, perfectly approved
of my resolution.
"Active service alone, my dear boy, can ever place you in the
position you ought to occupy; and I rejoice the more at your decision
in this matter, as I feared the truth of certain reports here,
which attributed to you other plans than those which a campaign
suggests. My mind is now easy on this score, and I pray you forgive
me if my congratulations are _mal à propos_."
After some hints for my future management, and a promise of some letters to
his friends at headquarters, he concluded:--
"As this climate does not seem to suit my daughter, I have
applied for a change, and am in daily hope of obtaining it. Before
going, however, I must beg your acceptance of the charger which my
groom will deliver to your servant with this. I was so struck with
his figure and action that I purchased him before leaving England
without well knowing why or wherefore. Pray let him see some
service under your auspices, which he is most unlikely to do under
mine. He has plenty of bone to be a weight carrier, and they tell
me also that he has speed enough for anything."
Mike's voice in the lawn beneath interrupted my reading farther, and on
looking out, I perceived him and Sir George Dashwood's servant standing
beside a large and striking-looking horse, which they were both examining
with all the critical accuracy of adepts.
"Arrah, isn't he a darling, a real beauty, every inch of him?"
"That 'ere splint don't signify nothing; he aren't the worse of it," said
the English groom.
"Of coorse it doesn't," replied Mike. "What a fore-hand, and the legs,
clean as a whip!"
"There's the best of him, though," interrupted the other, patting the
strong hind-quarters with his hand. "There's the stuff to push him along
through heavy ground and carry him over timber."
"Or a stone wall," said Mike, thinking of Galway.
My own impatience to survey my present had now brought me into the
conclave, and before many minutes were over I had him saddled, and was
cantering around the lawn with a spirit and energy I had not felt for
months long. Some small fences lay before me, and over these he carried me
with all the ease and freedom of a trained hunter. My courage mounted with
the excitement, and I looked eagerly around for some more bold and dashing
"You may take him over the avenue gate," said the English groom, divining
with a jockey's readiness what I looked for; "he'll do it, never fear him."
Strange as my equipment was, with an undress jacket flying loosely open,
and a bare head, away I went. The gate which the groom spoke of was a
strongly-barred one of oak timber, nearly five feet high,--its difficulty
as a leap only consisted in the winding approach, and the fact that it
opened upon a hard road beyond it.
In a second or two a kind of half fear came across me. My long illness had
unnerved me, and my limbs felt weak and yielding; but as I pressed into the
canter, that secret sympathy between the horse and his rider shot suddenly
through me, I pressed my spurs to his flanks, and dashed him at it.
Unaccustomed to such treatment, the noble animal bounded madly forward.
With two tremendous plunges he sprang wildly in the air, and shaking his
long mane with passion, stretched out at the gallop.
[Illustration: CHARLEY TRYING A CHARGER.]
My own blood boiled now as tempestuously as his; and with a shout of
reckless triumph, I rose him at the gate. Just at the instant two figures
appeared before it,--the copse had concealed their approach hitherto,--but
they stood now as if transfixed. The wild attitude of the horse, the not
less wild cry of his rider, had deprived them for a time of all energy; and
overcome by the sudden danger, they seemed rooted to the ground. What I
said, spoke, begged, or imprecated, Heaven knows--not I. But they stirred
not! One moment more and they must lie trampled beneath my horse's
hoofs,--he was already on his haunches for the bound,--when, wheeling half
aside, I faced him at the wall. It was at least a foot higher and of solid
stone masonry, and as I did so I felt that I was perilling my life to save
theirs. One vigorous dash of the spur I gave him, as I lifted him to the
leap. He bounded beneath it quick as lightning; still, with a spring like
a rocket, he rose into the air, cleared the wall, and stood trembling and
frightened on the road outside.
"Safe, by Jupiter! and splendidly done, too," cried a voice near me, that I
immediately recognized as Sir George Dashwood's.
"Lucy, my love, look up,--Lucy, my dear, there's no danger now. She has
fainted! O'Malley, fetch some water,--fast. Poor fellow, your own nerves
seem shaken. Why, you've let your horse go! Come here, for Heaven's sake!
Support her for an instant. I'll fetch some water."
It appeared to me like a dream; I leaned against the pillar of the gate;
the cold and death-like features of Lucy Dashwood lay motionless upon my
arm; her hand, falling heavily upon my shoulder, touched my cheek. The
tramp of my horse, as he galloped onward, was the only sound that broke the
silence, as I stood there, gazing steadfastly upon the pale brow and paler
cheek, down which a solitary tear was slowly stealing. I knew not how the
minutes passed; my memory took no note of time, but at length a gentle
tremor thrilled her frame, a slight, scarce-perceptible blush colored her
fair face, her lips slightly parted, and heaving a deep sigh, she looked
around her. Gradually her eyes turned and met mine. Oh, the bliss
unutterable of that moment! It was no longer the look of cold scorn she had
given me last; the expression was one of soft and speaking gratitude. She
seemed to read my very heart, and know its truth; there was a tone of deep
and compassionate interest in the glance; and forgetting all,--everything
that had passed,--all save my unaltered, unalterable love, I kneeled beside
her, and in words burning as my own heart burned, poured out my tale
of mingled sorrow and affection with all the eloquence of passion. I
vindicated my unshaken faith,--reconciling the conflicting evidences with
the proofs I proffered of my attachment. If my moments were measured, I
spent them not idly. I called to witness how every action of my soldier's
life emanated from her; how her few and chance words had decided the
character of my fate; if aught of fame or honor were my portion, to her I
owed it. As, hurried onwards by my ardent hopes, I forgot Power and all
about him, a step up the gravel walk came rapidly nearer, and I had but
time to assume my former attitude beside Lucy as her father came up.
"Well, Charley, is she better? Oh, I see she is. Here, we have the whole
household at our heels." So saying, he pointed to a string of servants
pressing eagerly forward with every species of restorative that Portuguese
ingenuity has invented.
The next moment we were joined by the senhora, who, pale with fear, seemed
scarcely less in need of assistance than her friend.
Amidst questions innumerable; explanations sought for on all sides;
mistakes and misconceptions as to the whole occurrence,--we took our way
towards the villa, Lucy walking between Sir George and Donna Inez, while I
followed, leaning upon Power's arm.
"They've caught him again, O'Malley," said the general, turning half round
to me; "he, too, seemed as much frightened as any of us."
"It is time, Sir George, I should think of thanking you. I never was so
mounted in my life--"
"A splendid charger, by Jove!" said Power; "but, Charley, my lad, no more
feats of this nature, if you love me. No girl's heart will stand such
continual assaults as your winning horsemanship submits it to."
I was about making some half-angry reply, when he continued: "There, don't
look sulky; I have news for you. Quill has just arrived. I met him at
Lisbon; he has got leave of absence for a few days, and is coming to our
masquerade here this evening."
"This evening!" said I, in amazement; "why, is it so soon?"
"Of course it is. Have you not got all your trappings ready? The Dashwoods
came out here on purpose to spend the day; but come, I'll drive you into
town. My tilbury is ready, and we'll both look out for our costumes." So
saying, he led me along towards the house, when, after a rapid change of my
toilet, we set out for Lisbon.
It seemed a conceded matter between Power and myself that we should never
recur to the conversation we held in the garden; and so, although we dined
_tête-à-tête_ that day, neither of us ventured, by any allusion the most
distant, to advert to what it was equally evident was uppermost in the
minds of both.
All our endeavors, therefore, to seem easy and unconcerned were in vain;
a restless anxiety to seem interested about things and persons we were
totally indifferent to, pervaded all our essays at conversation. By
degrees, we grew weary of the parts we were acting, and each relapsed
into a moody silence, thinking over his plans and projects, and totally
forgetting the existence of the other.
The decanter was passed across the table without speaking, a half nod
intimated the bottle was standing; and except an occasional malediction
upon an intractable cigar, nothing was heard.
Such was the agreeable occupation we were engaged in, when, towards nine
o'clock, the door opened, and the great Maurice himself stood before us.
"Pleasant fellows, upon my conscience, and jovial over their liquor!
Confound your smoking! That may do very well in a bivouac. Let us have
Quill's interruption was a most welcome one to both parties, and we
rejoiced with a sincere pleasure at his coming.
"What shall it be, Maurice? Port or sherry mulled, and an anchovy?"
"Or what say you to a bowl of bishop?" said I.
"Hurrah for the Church, Charley! Let us have the bishop; and not to
disparage Fred's taste, we'll be eating the anchovy while the liquor's
"Well, Maurice, and now for the news. How are matters at Torres Vedras?
Anything like movement in that quarter?"
"Nothing very remarkable. Massena made a reconnoissance some days since,
and one of our batteries threw a shower of grape among the staff, which
spoiled the procession, and sent them back in very disorderly time. Then
we've had a few skirmishes to the front with no great results,--a few
courts-martial, bad grub, and plenty of grumbling."
"Why, what would they have? It's a great thing to hold the French army in
check within a few marches of Lisbon."
"Charley, my man, who cares twopence for the French army or Lisbon or the
Portuguese or the Junta or anything about it?--every man is pondering over
his own affairs. One fellow wants to get home again, and be sent upon some
recruiting station. Another wishes to get a step or two in promotion, to
come to Torres Vedras, where even the _grande armée_ can't. Then some of us
are in love, and some of us are in debt. Their is neither glory nor profit
to be had. But here's the bishop, smoking and steaming with an odor of
"And our fellows, have you seen them lately?"
"I dined with yours on Tuesday. Was it Tuesday? Yes. I dined with them.
By-the-bye, Sparks was taken prisoner that morning."
"Sparks taken prisoner! Poor fellow. I am sincerely sorry. How did it
"Very simply. Sparks had a forage patrol towards Vieda, and set out early
in the morning with his party. It seemed that they succeeded perfectly, and
were returning to the lines, when poor Sparks, always susceptible where the
sex are concerned, saw, or thought he saw, a lattice gently open as he rode
from the village, and a very taper finger make a signal to him. Dropping a
little behind the rest, he waited till his men had debouched upon the road,
when riding quietly up, he coughed a couple of times to attract the fair
unknown; a handkerchief waved from the lattice in reply, which was speedily
closed, and our valiant cornet accordingly dismounted and entered the
"The remainder of the adventure is soon told; for in a few seconds after,
two men mounted on one horse were seen galloping at top speed towards the
French lines,--the foremost being a French officer of the 4th Cuirassiers,
the gentleman with his face to the tail, our friend Sparks; the lovely
unknown being a, _vieille moustache_ of Loison's corps, who had been
wounded in a skirmish some days before, and lay waiting an opportunity of
rejoining his party. One of our prisoners knew this fellow well; he had
been promoted from the ranks, and was a Hercules for feats of strength; so
that, after all, Sparks could not help himself."
"Well, I'm really sorry; but as you say, Sparks's tender nature is always
the ruin of him."
"Of him! ay, and of you; and of Power; and of myself; of all of us. Isn't
it the sweet creatures that make fools of us from Father Adam down to
Maurice Quill, neither sparing age nor rank in the service, half-pay nor
the veteran battalion--it's all one? Pass the jug, there. O'Shaughnessy--"
"Ah, by-the-bye, how's the major?"
"Charmingly; only a little bit in a scrape just now. Sir Arthur--Lord
Wellington, I mean--had him up for his fellows being caught pillaging, and
gave him a devil of a rowing a few days ago.
"'Very disorderly corps yours, Major O'Shaughnessy,' said the general;
'more men up for punishment than any regiment in the service.'
"Shaugh muttered something; but his voice was lost in a loud
cock-a-doo-do-doo, that some bold chanticleer set up at the moment.
"'If the officers do their duty, Major O'Shaughnessy, these acts of
insubordination do not occur.'
"'Cock-a-doo-do-doo,' was the reply. Some of the staff found it hard not to
laugh; but the general went on,--
"'If, therefore, the practice does not cease, I'll draft the men into West
"'And if any articles pillaged from the inhabitants are detected in the
quarters, or about the person of the troops--'
"'Cock-a-doo-do-_doo_,' screamed louder here than ever.
"'Damn that cock! Where is it?'
"There was a general look around on all sides, which seemed in vain; when
a tremendous repetition of the cry resounded from O'Shaughnessy's coat
pocket,--thus detecting the valiant major himself in the very practice of
his corps. There was no standing this: every one burst out into a peal of
laughing; and Lord Wellington himself could not resist, but turned away,
muttering to himself as he went, 'Damned robbers--every man of them!' while
a final war-note from the major's pocket closed the interview."
"Confound you, Maurice, you've always some villanous narrative or other.
You never crossed a street for shelter without making something out of it."
"True this time, as sure as my name's Maurice; but the bowl is empty."
"Never mind, here comes its successor. How long can you stay among us?"
"A few days at most. Just took a run off to see the sights. I was all over
Lisbon this morning; saw the Inquisition and the cells and the place where
they tried the fellows,--the kind of grand jury room with the great picture
of Adam and Eve at the end of it. What a beautiful creature she is; hair
down to her waist, and such eyes! 'Ah, ye darling!' said I to myself,
'small blame to him for what he did. Wouldn't I ate every crab in the
garden, if ye asked me!'"
"I must certainly go to see her, Maurice. Is she very Portuguese in her
"Devil a bit of it! She might be a Limerick-woman with elegant brown hair
and blue eyes and a skin like snow."
"Come, come, they've pretty girls in Lisbon too, Doctor."
"Yes, faith," said Power, "that they have."
"Nothing like Ireland, boys; not a bit of it; they're the girls for my
money; and where's the man can resist them? From Saint Patrick, that had to
go and live in the Wicklow mountains--"
"Saint Kevin, you mean, Doctor."
"Sure it's all the same, they were twins. I made a little song about them
one evening last week,--the women I mean."
"Let us have it, Maurice; let us have it, old fellow. What's the measure?"
"Short measure; four little verses, devil a more!"
"But the time, I mean?"
"Whenever you like to sing it; here it is,"--
THE GIRLS OF THE WEST.
Air,--"_Teddy, ye Gander_."
(_With feeling: but not too slow_.)
You may talk, if you please,
Of the brown Portuguese,
But wherever you roam, wherever you roam,
You nothing will meet,
Half so lovely or sweet,
As the girls at home, the girls at home.
Their eyes are not sloes,
Nor so long is their nose,
But between me and you, between me and you,
They are just as alarming,
And ten times more charming,
With hazel and blue, with hazel and blue.
They don't ogle a man,
O'er the top of their fan
Till his heart's in a flame, till his heart's in a flame
But though bashful and shy,
They've a look in their eye
That just comes to the same, just comes to the same.
No mantillas they sport,
But a petticoat short
Shows an ankle the best, an ankle the best,
And a leg--but, O murther!
I dare not go further;
So here's to the west, so here's to the west.
"Now that really is a sweet little thing. Moore's isn't it?"
"Not a bit of it; my own muse, every word of it."
"And the music?" said I.
"My own, too. Too much spice in that bowl; that's an invariable error in
your devisers of drink, to suppose that the tipple you start with can
please your palate to the last; they forget that as we advance, either in
years or lush, our tastes simplify."
"_Nous revenons à nos premières amours_. Isn't that it?"
"No, not exactly, for we go even further; for if you mark the progression
of a sensible man's fluids, you'll find what an emblem of life it presents
to you. What is his initiatory glass of 'Chablis' that he throws down with
his oysters but the budding expectancy of boyhood,--the appetizing sense of
pleasure to come; then follows the sherry with his soup, that warming glow
which strength and vigor in all their consciousness impart, as a glimpse of
life is opening before him. Then youth succeeds--buoyant, wild, tempestuous
youth--foaming and sparkling like the bright champagne whose stormy surface
subsides into a myriad of bright stars."
"_Oeil de perdrix_."
"Not a bit of it; woman's own eye, brilliant, sparkling, life-giving--"
"Devil take the fellow, he's getting poetical!"
"Ah, Fred! if that could only last; but one must come to the burgundies
with his maturer years. Your first glass of hermitage is the algebraic sign
for five-and-thirty,--the glorious burst is over; the pace is still good,
to be sure, but the great enthusiasm is past. You can afford to look
forward, but confound it, you've along way to look back also."
"I say, Charley, our friend has contrived to finish the bishop during his
disquisition; the bowl's quite empty."
"You don't say so, Fred. To be sure, how a man does forget himself in
abstract speculations; but let us have a little more, I've not concluded my
"Not a glass, Maurice; it's already past nine. We are all pledged to
the masquerade, and before we've dressed and got there, 't will be late
"But I'm not disguised yet, my boy, nor half."
"Well, they must take you _au naturel_, as our countrymen do their
"Yes, Doctor, Fred's right; we had better start."
"Well, I can't help it; I've recorded my opposition to the motion, but I
must submit; and now that I'm on my legs, explain to me what's that very
dull-looking old lamp up there?"
"That's the moon, man; the full moon."
"Well, I've no objection; I'm full too: so come along, lads."
To form one's impression of a masked ball from the attempts at this mode
of entertainment in our country, is but to conceive a most imperfect and
erroneous notion. With us, the first _coup d'oeil_ is everything; the
nuns, the shepherdesses, the Turks, sailors, eastern princes, watchmen,
moonshees, milestones, devils, and Quakers are all very well in their way
as they pass in the review before us, but when we come to mix in the
crowd, we discover that, except the turban and the cowl, the crook and
the broad-brim, no further disguise is attempted or thought of. The nun,
forgetting her vow and her vestments, is flirting with the devil; the
watchman, a very fastidious elegant, is ogling the fishwomen through his
glass; while the Quaker is performing a _pas seul_ Alberti might be proud
of, in a quadrille of riotous Turks and half-tipsy Hindoos; in fact, the
whole wit of the scene consists in absurd associations. Apart from this,
the actors have rarely any claims upon your attention; for even supposing
a person clever enough to sustain his character, whatever it be, you must
also supply the other personages of the drama, or, in stage phrase, he'll
have nothing to "play up to." What would be Bardolph without Pistol; what
Sir Lucius O'Triuger without Acres? It is the relief which throws out the
disparities and contradictions of life that afford us most amusement; hence
it is that one swallow can no more make a summer, than one well-sustained
character can give life to a masquerade. Without such sympathies, such
points of contact, all the leading features of the individual, making him
act and be acted upon, are lost; the characters being mere parallel lines,
which, however near they approach, never bisect or cross each other.
This is not the case abroad: the domino, which serves for mere concealment,
is almost the only dress assumed, and the real disguise is therefore thrown
from necessity upon the talents, whatever they be, of the wearer. It is
no longer a question of a beard or a spangled mantle, a Polish dress or
a pasteboard nose; the mutation of voice, the assumption of a different
manner, walk, gesture, and mode of expression, are all necessary, and no
small tact is required to effect this successfully.
I may be pardoned this little digression, as it serves to explain in some
measure how I felt on entering the splendidly lit up _salons_ of the
villa, crowded with hundreds of figures in all the varied costumes of a
carnival,--the sounds of laughter mingled with the crash of the music;
the hurrying hither and thither of servants with refreshments; the crowds
gathered around fortune-tellers, whose predictions threw the parties
at each moment into shouts of merriment; the eager following of some
disappointed domino, interrogating every one to find out a lost mask.
For some time I stood an astonished spectator at the kind of secret
intelligence which seemed to pervade the whole assemblage, when suddenly a
mask, who for some time had been standing beside me, whispered in French,--
"If you pass your time in this manner, you must not feel surprised if your
place be occupied."
I turned hastily round, but she was gone. She, I say, for the voice was
clearly a woman's; her pink domino could be no guide, for hundreds of the
same color passed me every instant. The meaning of the allusion I had
little doubt of. I turned to speak to Power, but he was gone; and for the
first moment of my life, the bitterness of rivalry crossed my mind. It was
true I had resigned all pretensions in his favor. My last meeting with Lucy
had been merely to justify my own character against an impression that
weighed heavily on me; still, I thought he might have waited,--another day
and I should be far away, neither to witness nor grieve over his successes.
"You still hesitate," whispered some one near me.
I wheeled round suddenly, but could not detect the speaker, and was again
relapsing into my own musings, when the same voice repeated,--
"The white domino with the blue cape. Adieu."
Without waiting to reflect upon the singularity of the occurrence, I now
hurried along through the dense crowd, searching on every side for the
"Isn't that O'Malley?" said an Englishman to his friend.
"Yes," replied the other; "the very man we want. O'Malley, find a partner;
we have been searching a _vis-à-vis_ this ten minutes."
The speaker was an officer I had met at Sir George Dashwood's. "How did you
discover me?" said I, suddenly.
"Not a very difficult thing if you carry your mask in your hand that way,"
was the answer.
And I now perceived that in the distraction of my thoughts I had been
carrying my mask in this manner since my coming into the room.
"There now, what say you to the blue domino? I saw her foot, and a girl
with such an instep must be a waltzer."
I looked round, a confused effort at memory passing across my mind; my eyes
fell at the instant upon the embroidered sleeve of the domino, where a
rosebud worked in silver at once reminded me of Catrina's secret. "Ah,"
thought I, "La Senhora herself!" She was leaning upon the arm of a tall and
portly figure in black; who this was I knew not, nor sought to discover,
but at once advancing towards Donna Inez asked her to waltz.
Without replying to me she turned towards her companion, who seemed as it
were to press her acceptance of my offer; she hesitated, however, for an
instant, and curtsying deeply, declined it. "Well," thought I, "she at
least has not recognized me."
"And yet, Senhora," said I, half jestingly, "I _have_ seen you join a
bolero before now."
"You evidently mistake me," was the reply, but in a voice so well feigned
as almost to convince me she was right.
"Nay, more," said I, "under your own fair auspices did I myself first
"Still in error, believe me; I am not known to you."
"And yet I have a talisman to refresh your memory, should you dare me
At this instant my hand was grasped warmly by a passing mask. I turned
round rapidly, and Power whispered in my ear,--
"Yours forever, Charley; you've made my fortune."
As he hurried on I could perceive that he supported a lady on his arm, and
that she wore a loose white domino with a deep blue cape. In a second all
thought of Inez was forgotten, and anxious only to conceal my emotion, I
turned away and mingled in the crowd. Lost to all around me, I wandered
carelessly, heedlessly on, neither noticing the glittering throng around,
nor feeling a thought in common with the gay and joyous spirits that
flitted by. The night wore on, my melancholy and depression growing ever
deeper, yet so spell-bound was I that I could not leave the place. A
secret sense that it was the last time we were to meet had gained entire
possession of me, and I longed to speak a few words ere we parted forever.
I was leaning on a window which looked out upon the courtyard, when
suddenly the tramp of horses attracted my attention, and I saw by the
clear moonlight a group of mounted men, whose long cloaks and tall helmets
announced dragoons, standing around the porch. At the same moment the
door of the _salon_ opened, and an officer in undress, splashed and
travel-stained, entered. Making his way rapidly through the crowd, he
followed the servant, who introduced him towards the supper-room. Thither
the dense mass now pressed to learn the meaning of the singular apparition;
while my own curiosity, not less excited, led me towards the door. As
I crossed the hall, however, my progress was interrupted by a group of
persons, among whom I saw an aide-de-camp of Lord Wellington's staff,
narrating, as it were, some piece of newly-arrived intelligence. I had
no time for further inquiry, when a door opened near me, and Sir George
Dashwood, accompanied by several general officers, came forth, the officer
I had first seen enter the ball-room along with them. Every one was by this
unmasked, and eagerly looking to hear what had occurred.
"Then, Dashwood, you'll send off an orderly at once?" said an old general
officer beside me.
"This instant, my Lord. I'll despatch an aide-de-camp. The troops shall be
in marching order before noon. Oh, here's the man I want! O'Malley, come
here. Mount your horse and dash into town. Send for Brotherton and M'Gregor
to quarters, and announce the news as quickly as possible."
"But what am I to announce, Sir George?"
"That the French are in retreat,--Massena in retreat, my lad."
A tremendous cheer at this instant burst from the hundreds in the
_salon_, who now heard the glorious tidings. Another cheer and another
followed,--ten thousand _vivas_ rose amidst the crash of the band, as it
broke into a patriotic war chant. Such a scene of enthusiasm and excitement
I never witnessed. Some wept with joy. Others threw themselves into their
"They're all mad, every mother's son of them!" said Maurice Quill, as he
elbowed his way through the mass; "and here's an old vestal won't leave my
arm. She has already embraced me three times, and we've finished a flask of
Malaga between us."
"Come, O'Malley, are you ready for the road?"
My horse was by this time standing saddled at the front. I sprang at once
to the saddle, and without waiting for a second order, set out for Lisbon.
Ten minutes had scarce elapsed,--the very shouts of joy of the delighted
city were still ringing in my ears,--when I was once again back at the
villa. As I mounted the steps into the hall, a carriage drew up,--it was
Sir George Dashwood's. He came forward, his daughter leaning upon his arm.
"Why, O'Malley, I thought you had gone."
"I have returned, Sir George. Colonel Brotherton is in waiting, and the
staff also. I have received orders to set out for Benejos, where the 14th
are stationed, and have merely delayed to say adieu."
"Adieu, my dear boy, and God bless you!" said the warm-hearted old man, as
he pressed my hand between both his. "Lucy, here's your old friend about to
leave; come and say good-by."
Miss Dashwood had stopped behind to adjust her shawl. I flew to her
assistance. "Adieu, Miss Dashwood, and forever!" said I, in a broken voice,
as I took her hand in mine. "This is not your domino," said I, eagerly, as
a blue silk one peeped from beneath her mantle; "and the sleeve, too,--did
you wear this?" She blushed slightly, and assented.
"I changed with the senhora, who wore mine all the evening."
"And Power, then, was not your partner?"
"I should think not,--for I never danced."
"Lucy, my love, are you ready? Come, be quick."
"Good-by, Mr. O'Malley, and _au revoir, n'est-ce pas?_"
I drew her glove from her hand as she spoke, and pressing my lips upon her
fingers, placed her within the carriage. "Adieu, and _au revoir!_" said I.
The carriage turned away, and a white glove was all that remained to me of
The carriage had turned the angle of the road, and its retiring sounds were
growing gradually fainter, ere I recovered myself sufficiently to know
where I stood. One absorbing thought alone possessed me. Lucy was not lost
to me forever; Power was not my rival in that quarter,--that was enough for
me. I needed no more to nerve my arm and steel my heart. As I reflected
thus, the long loud blast of a trumpet broke upon the silence of the
night, and admonished me to depart. I hurried to my room to make my few
preparations for the road; but Mike had already anticipated everything
here, and all was in readiness.
But one thing now remained,--to make my adieu to the senhora. With this
intent, I descended a narrow winding stair which led from my dressing-room,
and opened by a little terrace upon the flower-garden beside her
As I crossed the gravelled alley, I could not but think of the last time I
had been there. It was on the eve of departure for the Douro. I recalled
the few and fleeting moments of our leave-taking, and a thought flashed
upon me,--what if she cared for me! What if, half in coquetry, half in
reality, her heart was mixed up in those passages which daily association
gives rise to?
I could not altogether acquit myself of all desire to make her believe me
her admirer; nay, more, with the indolent _abandon_ of my country, I had
fallen into a thousand little schemes to cheat the long hours away, which,
having no other object than the happiness of the moment, might yet color
all her after-life with sorrow.
Let no one rashly pronounce me a coxcomb, vain and pretentious, for all
this. In my inmost heart I had no feeling of selfishness mingled with the
consideration. It was from no sense of my own merits, no calculation of my
own chances of success, that I thought thus. Fortunately, at eighteen one's
heart is uncontaminated with such an alloy of vanity. The first emotions of
youth are pure and holy things, tempering our fiercer passions, and calming
the rude effervescence of our boyish spirit; and when we strive to please,
and hope to win affection, we insensibly fashion ourselves to nobler and
higher thoughts, catching from the source of our devotion a portion of that
charm that idealizes daily life, and makes our path in it a glorious and a
Who would not exchange all the triumph of his later days, the proudest
moments of successful ambition, the richest trophies of hard-won
daring,--for the short and vivid flash that first shot through his heart
and told him he was loved. It is the opening consciousness of life, the
first sense of power that makes of the mere boy a man,--a man in all his
daring and his pride; and hence it is that in early life we feel ever prone
to indulge those fancied attachments which elevate and raise us in our own
esteem. Such was the frame of my mind when I entered the little boudoir
where once before I had ventured on a similar errand.
As I closed the sash-door behind me, the gray dawn of breaking day scarcely
permitted my seeing anything around me, and I felt my way towards the door
of an adjoining room, where I supposed it was likely I should find the
senhora. As I proceeded thus, with cautious step and beating heart, I
thought I heard a sound near me. I stopped and listened, and was about
again to move on, when a half-stifled sob fell upon my ear. Slowly and
silently guiding my steps towards the sounds, I reached a sofa, when, my
eyes growing by degrees more accustomed to the faint light, I could detect
a figure which, at a glance, I recognized as Donna Inez. A cashmere shawl
was loosely thrown around her, and her face was buried in her hands. As she
lay, to all seeming, still and insensible before me, her beautiful hair
fell heavily upon her back and across her arm, and her whole attitude
denoted the very abandonment of grief. A short convulsive shudder which
slightly shook her frame alone gave evidence of life, except when a sob,
barely audible in the death-like silence, escaped her.
I knelt silently down beside her, and gently withdrawing her hand, placed
it within mine. A dreadful feeling of self-condemnation shot through me as
I felt the gentle pressure of her taper fingers, which rested without a
struggle in my grasp. My tears fell hot and fast upon that pale hand, as
I bent in sadness over it, unable to utter a word. A rush of conflicting
thoughts passed through my brain, and I knew not what to do. I now had no
doubt upon my mind that she loved me, and that her present affliction was
caused by my approaching departure.
"Dearest Inez!" I stammered out at length, as I pressed her hands to my
lips,--"dearest Inez!"--a faint sob, and a slight pressure of her hand, was
the only reply. "I have come to say good-by," continued I, gaining a little
courage as I spoke; "a long good-by, too, in all likelihood. You have heard
that we are ordered away,--there, don't sob, dearest, and, believe me, I
had wished ere we parted to have spoken to you calmly and openly; but,
alas, I cannot,--I scarcely know what I say."
"You will not forget me?" said she, in a low voice, that sank into my very
heart. "You will not forget me?" As she spoke, her hand dropped heavily
upon my shoulder, and her rich luxuriant hair fell upon my cheek. What a
devil of a thing is proximity to a downy cheek and a black eyelash, more
especially when they belong to one whom you are disposed to believe not
indifferent to you! What I did at this precise moment there is no necessity
for recording, even had not an adage interdicted such confessions, nor can
I now remember what I said; but I can well recollect how, gradually warming
with my subject, I entered into a kind of half-declaration of attachment,
intended most honestly to be a mere _exposé_ of my own unworthiness to win
her favor, and my resolution to leave Lisbon and its neighborhood forever.
Let not any one blame me rashly if he has not experienced the difficulty of
my position. The impetus of love-making is like the ardor of a fox-hunt.
You care little that the six-bar gate before you is the boundary of another
gentleman's preserves or the fence of his pleasure-ground. You go slap
along at a smashing-pace, with your head up, and your hand low, clearing
all before you, the opposing difficulties to your progress giving half
the zest, because all the danger to your career. So it is with love; the
gambling spirit urges one ever onward, and the chance of failure is a
reason for pursuit, where no other argument exists.
"And you do love me?" said the senhora, with a soft, low whisper that most
unaccountably suggested anything but comfort to me.
"Love you, Inez? By this kiss--I'm in an infernal scrape!" said I,
muttering this last half of my sentence to myself.
"And you'll never be jealous again?"
"Never, by all that's lovely!--your own sweet lips. That's the very last
thing to reproach me with."
"And you promise me not to mind that foolish boy? For, after all, you know,
it was mere flirtation,--if even that."
"I'll never think of him again," said I, while my brain was burning to make
out her meaning. "But, dearest, there goes the trumpet-call--"
"And, as for Pedro Mascarenhas, I never liked him."
"Are you quite sure, Inez?"
"I swear it!--so no more of him. Gonzales Cordenza--I've broke with him
long since. So that you see, dearest Frederic--"
"Frederic!" said I, starting almost to my feet with, amazement, while she
"I'm your own,--all your own!"
"Oh, the coquette, the heartless jilt!" groaned I, half-aloud.
"And O'Malley, Inez, poor Charley!--what of him?"
"Poor thing! I can't help him. But he's such a puppy, the lesson may do him
"But perhaps he loved you, Inez?"
"To be sure he did; I wished him to do so,--I can't bear not to be loved.
But, Frederic, tell me, may I trust you,--will you keep faithful to me?"
"Sweetest Inez! by this last kiss I swear that such as I kneel before you
now, you'll ever find me."
A foot upon the gravel-walk without now called me to my feet; I sprang
towards the door, and before Inez had lifted her head from the sofa, I had
reached the garden. A figure muffled in a cavalry cloak passed near me, but
without noticing me, and the next moment I had cleared the paling, and was
hurrying towards the stable, where I had ordered Mike to be in waiting.
The faint streak of dull pink which announces the coming day stretched
beneath the dark clouds of the night, and the chill air of the morning was
already stirring in the leaves.
As I passed along by a low beech hedge which skirted the avenue, I was
struck by the sound of voices near me. I stopped to listen, and soon
detected in one of the speakers my friend Mickey Free; of the other I was
not long in ignorance.
"Love you, is it, bathershin? It's worship you, adore you, my
darling,--that's the word! There, acushla, don't cry; dry your eyes--Oh,
murther, it's a cruel thing to tear one's self away from the best of
living, with the run of the house in drink and kissing! Bad luck to it for
campaigning, any way, I never liked it!"
Catrina's reply,--for it was she,--I could not gather; but Mike resumed:--
"Ay, just so, sore bones and wet grass, _accadenté_, and half-rations. Oh,
that I ever saw the day when I took to it! Listen to me now, honey; here it
is, on my knees I am before you, and throth it's not more nor three, may be
four, young women I'd say the like to; bad scran to me if I wouldn't marry
you out of a face this blessed morning just as soon as I'd look at ye.
Arrah, there now, don't be screeching and bawling; what'll the neighbors
think of us, and my own heart's destroyed with grief entirely."
Poor Catrina's voice returned an inaudible answer, and not wishing any
longer to play the eavesdropper, I continued my path towards the stable.
The distant noises from the city announced a state of movement and
preparation, and more than one orderly passed the road near me at a gallop.
As I turned into the wide courtyard, Mike, breathless and flurried with
running, overtook me.
"Are the horses ready, Mike?" said I; "we must start this instant?"
"They've just finished a peck of oats apiece, and faix, that same may be a
stranger to them this day six months."
"And the baggage, too?"
"On the cars, with the staff and the light brigade. It was down there I was
now, to see all was right."
"Oh, I'm quite aware; and now bring out the cattle. I hope Catrina received
your little consolations well. That seems a very sad affair."
"Murder, real murder, devil a less! It's no matter where you go, from
Clonmel to Chayney, it's all one; they've a way of getting round you. Upon
my soul, it's like the pigs they are."
"Like pigs, Mike? That appears a strange compliment you've selected to pay
"Ay, just like the pigs, no less. May be you've heard what happened to
myself up at Moronha?"
"Look to that girth there. Well, go on."
"I was coming along one morning, just as day was beginning to break, when I
sees a slip of a pig trotting before me, with nobody near him; but as the
road was lonely, and myself rather down in heart, I thought, Musha! but yer
fine company, anyhow, av a body could only keep you with him. But, ye see,
a pig--saving your presence--is a baste not easily flattered, so I didn't
waste time and blarney upon him, but I took off my belt, and put it round
its neck as neat as need be; but, as the devil's luck would have it, I
didn't go half an hour when a horse came galloping up behind me. I turned
round, and, by the blessed light, it was Sir Dinny himself was on it!"
"Sir Dennis Pack?"
"Yes, bad luck to his hook nose. 'What are you doing there, my fine
fellow?' says he. 'What's that you have dragging there behind you?'
"'A boneen, sir,' says I. 'Isn't he a fine crayture?--av he wasn't so
"'Troublesome, troublesome--what do you mean?'
"'Just so,' says I. 'Isn't he parsecutiug the life out of me the whole
morning, following me about everywhere I go? Contrary bastes they always
"'I advise you to try and part company, my friend, notwithstanding,' says
he; 'or may be it's the same end you'll be coming to, and not long either.'
And faix, I took his advice; and ye see, Mister Charles, it's just as I was
saying, they're like the women, the least thing in life is enough to bring
them after us, _av ye only put the 'comether'_ upon them."
"And now adieu to the Villa Nuova," said I, as I rode slowly down the
avenue, turning ever and anon in my saddle to look back on each well-known
A heavy sigh from Mike responded to my words.
"A long, a last farewell!" said I, waving my hand towards the trellised
walls, now half-hidden by the trees; and, as I spoke, that heaviness of the
heart came over me that seems inseparable from leave-taking. The hour of
parting seems like a warning to us that all our enjoyments and pleasures
here are destined to a short and merely fleeting existence; and as each
scene of life passes away never to return, we are made to feel that youth
and hope are passing with them; and that, although the fair world be as
bright, and its pleasures as rich in abundance, our capacity of enjoyment
is daily, hourly diminishing; and while all around us smiles in beauty and
happiness, that we, alas! are not what we were.
Such was the tenor of my thoughts as I reached the road, when they were
suddenly interrupted by my man Mike, whose meditations were following
a somewhat similar channel, though at last inclining to different
conclusions. He coughed a couple of times as if to attract my attention,
and then, as it were half thinking aloud, he muttered,--
"I wonder if we treated the young ladies well, anyhow, Mister Charles, for,
faix, I've my doubts on it."
When we reached Lescas, we found that an officer of Lord Wellington's staff
had just arrived from the lines, and was occupied in making known the
general order from headquarters; which set forth, with customary brevity,
that the French armies, under the command of Massena, had retired from
their position, and were in full retreat,--the second and third corps,
which had been stationed at Villa Franca, having marched, during the
night of the 15th, in the direction of Manal. The officers in command of
divisions were ordered to repair instantly to Pero Negro, to consult upon a
forward movement, Admiral Berkeley being written to to provide launches to
pass over General Hill's, or any other corps which might be selected, to
the left bank of the Tagus. All now was excitement, heightened by the
unexpected nature of an occurrence which not even speculation had
calculated upon. It was but a few days before, and the news had reached
Torres Vedras that a powerful reinforcement was in march to join Massena's
army, and their advanced guard had actually reached Santarem. The confident
expectation was, therefore, that an attack upon the lines was meditated.
Now, however, this prospect existed no longer; for scarcely had the heavy
mists of the lowering day disappeared, when the vast plain, so lately
peopled by the thickened ranks and dark masses of a great army, was seen in
its whole extent deserted and untenanted.
The smouldering fires of the pickets alone marked where the troops had been
posted, but not a man of that immense force was to be seen. General Fane,
who had been despatched with a brigade of Portuguese cavalry and some
artillery, hung upon the rear of the retiring army, and from him we learned
that the enemy were continuing their retreat northward, having occupied
Santarem with a strong force to cover the movement. Crawfurd was ordered
to the front with the light division, the whole army following in the same
direction, except Hill's corps, which, crossing the river at Velada, was
intended to harass the enemy's flank, and assist our future operations.
Such, in brief, was the state of affairs when I reached Villa Franca
towards noon, and received orders to join my regiment, then forming part of
Sir Stapleton Cotton's brigade.
It must be felt to be thoroughly appreciated, the enthusiastic pleasure
with which one greets his old corps after some months of separation: the
bounding ecstasy with which the weary eye rests on the old familiar faces,
dear by every association of affection and brotherhood; the anxious look
for this one and for that; the thrill of delight sent through the heart as
the well-remembered march swells upon the ear; the very notes of that rough
voice which we have heard amidst the crash of battle and the rolling of
artillery, speak softly to our senses like a father's welcome; from the
well-tattered flag that waves above us to the proud steed of the war-worn
trumpeter, each has a niche in our affection.
If ever there was a corps calculated to increase and foster these
sentiments, the 14th Light Dragoons was such. The warm affection, the truly
heart-felt regard, which existed among my brother officers, made of our
mess a happy home. Our veteran colonel, grown gray in campaigning, was like
a father to us; while the senior officers, tempering the warm blood of
impetuous youth with their hard-won experience, threw a charm of peace and
tranquillity over all our intercourse that made us happy when together, and
taught us to feel that, whether seated around the watch-fire or charging
amidst the squadrons of the enemy, we were surrounded by those devoted
heart and soul to aid us.
Gallant Fourteenth!--ever first in every gay scheme of youthful jollity, as
foremost in the van to meet the foe--how happy am I to recall the memory
of your bright looks and bold hearts; of your manly daring and your bold
frankness; of your merry voices, as I have heard them in the battle or in
the bivouac! Alas and alas, that I should indulge such recollections alone!
How few--how very few--are left of those with whom I trod the early steps
of life, whose bold cheer I have heard above the clashing sabres of the
enemy, whose broken voice I have listened to above the grave of a comrade!
The dark pines of the Pyrenees wave above some, the burning sands of India
cover others, and the wide plains of Salamanca are the abiding-place of
"Here comes O'Malley!" shouted a well-known voice, as I rode down the
little slope at the foot of which a group of officers were standing beside
"Welcome, thou man of Galway!" cried Hampden; "delighted to have you once
more among us. How confoundedly well the fellow is looking!"
"Lisbon beef seems better prog than commissariat biscuit!" said another.
"A'weel, Charley?" said my friend the Scotch doctor; "how's a' wi' ye man?
Ye seem to thrive on your mishaps! How cam' ye by that braw beastie ye're
"A present, Doctor; the gift of a very warm friend."
"I hope you invited him to the mess, O'Malley! For, by Jove, our stables
stand in need of his kind offices! There he goes! Look at him! What a
slashing pace for a heavy fellow!" This observation was made with
reference to a well-known officer on the commander-in-chief's staff, whose
weight--some two and twenty stone--never was any impediment to his bold
"Egad, O'Malley, you'll soon be as pretty a light-weight as our friend
yonder. Ah, there's a storm going on there! Here comes the colonel!"
"Well, O'Malley, are you come back to us? Happy to see you, boy! Hope
we shall not lose you again in a hurry! We can't spare the scapegraces!
There's plenty of skirmishing going on! Crawfurd always asks for the
scapegraces for the pickets!"
I shook my gallant colonel's hand, while I acknowledged, as best I might,
his ambiguous compliment.
"I say, lads," resumed the colonel, "squad your men and form on the road!
Lord Wellington's coming down this way to have a look at you! O'Malley, I
have General Crawfurd's orders to offer you your old appointment on his
staff; without you prefer to remaining with the regiment!"
"I can never be sufficiently grateful, sir, to the general: but, in fact--I
think--that is, I believe--"
"You'd rather be among your own fellows. Out with it boy! I like you all
the better! But come, we mustn't let the general know that; so that I shall
forget to tell you all about it. Eh, isn't that best? But join your troop
now; I hear the staff coming this way."
As he spoke, a crowd of horseman were seen advancing towards us at a sharp
trot, their waving plumes and gorgeous aiguillettes denoting their rank
as generals of division. In the midst, as they came nearer, I could
distinguish one whom once seen there was no forgetting; his plain blue
frock and gray trousers, unstrapped beneath his boots, not a little unlike
the trim accuracy of costume around him. As he rode to the head of the
leading squadron, the staff fell back and he stood alone before us; for a
second there was a dead silence, but the next instant--by what impulse tell
who can--one tremendous cheer burst from the entire regiment. It was like
the act of one man; so sudden, so spontaneous. While every cheek glowed,
and every eye sparkled with enthusiasm, he alone seemed cool and unexcited,
as, gently raising his hand, he motioned them to silence.
"Fourteenth, you are to be where you always desire to be,--in the advanced
guard of the army. I have nothing to say on the subject of your conduct
in the field. I know _you_; but if in pursuit of the enemy, I hear of any
misconduct towards the people of the country, or any transgression of the
general orders regarding pillage, by G----, I'll punish you as severely as
the worst corps in the service, and you know _me!_"
"Oh, tear an ages, listen to that; and there's to be no plunder after all!"
said Mickey Free; and for an instant the most I could do was not to burst
into a fit of laughter. The word, "Forward!" was given at the moment, and
we moved past in close column, while that penetrating eye, which seemed to
read our very thoughts, scanned us from one end of the line to the other.
"I say, Charley," said the captain of my troop, in a whisper,--"I say, that
confounded cheer we gave got us that lesson; he can't stand that kind of
"By Jove! I never felt more disposed than to repeat it," said I.
"No, no, my boy, we'll give him the honors, nine times nine; but wait till
evening. Look at old Merivale there. I'll swear he's saying something
devilish civil to him. Do you see the old fellow's happy look?"
And so it was; the bronzed, hard-cast features of the veteran soldier
were softened into an expression of almost boyish delight, as he sat,
bare-headed, bowing to his very saddle, while Lord Wellington was speaking.
As I looked, my heart throbbed painfully against my side, my breath came
quick, and I muttered to myself, "What would I not give to be in his place
THE RETREAT OF THE FRENCH.
It is not my intention, were I even adequate to the task, to trace with
anything like accuracy the events of the war at this period. In fact, to
those who, like myself, were performing a mere subaltern character, the
daily movements of our own troops, not to speak of the continual changes
of the enemy, were perfectly unknown, and an English newspaper was more
ardently longed for in the Peninsula than by the most eager crowd of a
London coffee-room; nay, the results of the very engagements we were
ourselves concerned in, more than once, first reached us through the press
of our own country. It is easy enough to understand this. The officer in
command of the regiment, and how much more, the captain of a troop, or the
subaltern under him, knows nothing beyond the sphere of his own immediate
duty; by the success or failure of his own party his knowledge is bounded,
but how far he or his may influence the fortune, of the day, or of what is
taking place elsewhere, he is totally ignorant; and an old Fourteenth man
did not badly explain, his ideas on the matter, who described Busaco as "a
great noise and a great smoke, booming artillery and rattling small-arms,
infernal confusion, and to all seeming, incessant blundering, orders
and counter-orders, ending with a crushing charge; when, not being hurt
himself, nor having hurt anybody, he felt much pleased to learn that they
had gained a victory." It is then sufficient for all the purposes of my
narrative, when I mention that Massena continued his retreat by Santarem
and Thomar, followed by the allied army, who, however desirous of pressing
upon the rear of their enemy, were still obliged to maintain their
communication with the lines, and also to watch the movement of the large
armies which, under Ney and Soult, threatened at any unguarded moment to
attack them in flank.
The position which Massena occupied at Santarem, naturally one of great
strength, and further improved by intrenchments, defied any attack on
the part of Lord Wellington, until the arrival of the long-expected
reinforcements from England. These had sailed in the early part of January,
but delayed by adverse winds, only reached Lisbon on the 2d of March; and
so correctly was the French marshal apprised of the circumstance, and so
accurately did he anticipate the probable result, that on the fourth he
broke up his encampment, and recommenced his retrograde movement, with an
army now reduced to forty thousand fighting men, and with two thousand
sick, destroying all his baggage and guns that could not be horsed. By a
demonstration of advancing upon the Zezere, by which he held the allies
in check, he succeeded in passing his wounded to the rear, while Ney,
appearing with a large force suddenly at Leiria, seemed bent upon attacking
the lines. By these stratagems two days' march were gained, and the French
retreated upon Torres Novas and Thomar, destroying the bridges behind them
as they passed.
The day was breaking on the 12th of March, when the British first came in
sight of the retiring enemy. We were then ordered to the front, and broken
up into small parties, threw out our skirmishers. The French chasseurs,
usually not indisposed to accept this species of encounter, showed now less
of inclination than usual, and either retreated before us, or hovered in
masses to check our advance; in this way the morning was passed, when
towards noon we perceived that the enemy was drawn up in battle array,
occupying the height above the village of Redinha. This little straggling
village is situated in a hollow traversed by a narrow causeway which opens
by a long and dangerous defile upon a bridge, on either side of which a
dense wood afforded a shelter for light troops, while upon the commanding
eminence above a battery of heavy guns was seen in position.
In front of the village a brigade of artillery and a division of infantry
were drawn up so skilfully as to give the appearance of a considerable
force, so that when Lord Wellington came up he spent some time in examining
the enemy's position. Erskine's brigade was immediately ordered up, and the
Fifty-second and Ninety-fourth, and a company of the Forty-third were led
against the wooded slopes upon the French right. Picton simultaneously
attacked the left, and in less than an hour, both were successful, and
Ney's position was laid bare; his skirmishers, however, continued to hold
their ground in front, and La Ferrière, a colonel of hussars, dashing
boldly forward at this very moment, carried off fourteen prisoners from
the very front of our line. Deceived by the confidence of the enemy, Lord
Wellington now prepared for an attack in force. The infantry were therefore
formed into line, and, at the signal of three shots fired from the centre,
began their foremost movement.
Bending up a gentle curve, the whole plain glistened with the glancing
bayonets, and the troops marched majestically onward; while the light
artillery and the cavalry, bounding forward from the left and centre,
rushed eagerly towards the foe. One deafening discharge from the French
guns opened at the moment, with a general volley of small-arms. The smoke
for an instant obscured everything, and when that cleared away, no enemy
was to be seen.
The British pressed madly on, like heated blood-hounds; but when they
descended the slope, the village of Redinha was in flames, and the French
in full retreat beyond it. A single howitzer seemed our only trophy, and
even this we were not destined to boast of, for from the midst of the
crashing flame and dense smoke of the burning village, a troop of dragoons
rushed forward, and charging our infantry, carried it off. The struggle,
though but for a moment, cost them dear: twenty of their comrades lay dead
upon the spot; but they were resolute and determined, and the officer who
led them on, fighting hand to hand with a soldier of the Forty-second,
cheered them as they retired. His gallant bearing, and his coat covered
with decorations, bespoke him one of note, and well it might; he who
thus perilled his life to maintain the courage of his soldiers at the
commencement of a retreat, was none other than Ney himself, _le plus brave
des braves_. The British pressed hotly on, and the light troops crossed the
river almost at the same time with the French. Ney, however, fell back upon
Condeixa, where his main body was posted, and all farther pursuit was for
the present abandoned.
At Casa Noval and at Foz d'Aronce, the allies were successful; but the
French still continued to retire, burning the towns and villages in their
rear, and devastating the country along the whole line of march by every
expedient of cruelty the heart of man has ever conceived. In the words of
one whose descriptions, however fraught with the most wonderful power of
painting, are equally marked by truth, "Every horror that could make war
hideous attended this dreadful march. Distress, conflagration, death in
all modes,--from wounds, from fatigue, from water, from the flames, from
starvation,--vengeance, unlimited vengeance, was on every side." The
country was a desert!
Such was the exhaustion of the allies, who suffered even greater privations
than the enemy, that they halted upon the 16th, unable to proceed farther;
and the river Ceira, swollen and unfordable, flowed between the rival
The repose of even one day was a most grateful interruption to the
harassing career we had pursued for some time past; and it seemed that my
comrades felt, like myself, that such an opportunity was by no means to
be neglected; but while I am devoting so much space and trespassing on my
reader's patience thus far with narrative of flood and field, let me steal
a chapter for what will sometimes seem a scarcely less congenial topic, and
bring back the recollection of a glorious night in the Peninsula.
PATRICK'S DAY IN THE PENINSULA.
The _réveil_ had not yet sounded, when I felt my shoulder shaken gently as
I lay wrapped up in my cloak beneath a prickly pear-tree.
"Lieutenant O'Malley, sir; a letter, sir; a bit of a note, your honor,"
said a voice that bespoke the bearer and myself were countrymen. I opened
it, and with difficulty, by the uncertain light, read as follows:--
Dear Charley,--As Lord Wellington, like a good Irishman as
he is, wouldn't spoil Patrick's Day by marching, we've got a little
dinner at our quarters to celebrate the holy times, as my uncle would
call it. Maurice, Phil Grady, and some regular trumps will all come,
so don't disappoint us. I've been making punch all night, and
Casey, who has a knack at pastry, has made a goose-pie as big as a
portmanteau. Sharp seven, after parade. The second battalion of
the Fusiliers are quartered at Melanté, and we are next them. Bring
any of yours worth their liquor. Power is, I know, absent with the
staff; perhaps the Scotch doctor would come; try him. Carry over
a little mustard with you, if there be such in your parts.
Patrick's day, and raining like blazes.
Seeing that the bearer expected an answer, I scrawled the words, "I'm
there," with my pencil on the back of the note, and again turned myself
round to sleep. My slumbers were, however, soon interrupted once more; for
the bugles of the light infantry and the hoarse trumpet of the cavalry
sounded the call, and I found to my surprise that, though halted, we were
by no means destined to a day of idleness. Dragoons were already mounted,
carrying orders hither and thither, and staff-officers were galloping right
and left. A general order commanded an inspection of the troops, and within
less than an hour from daybreak the whole army was drawn up under arms. A
thin, drizzling rain continued to fall during the early part of the day,
but the sun gradually dispelled the heavy vapor; and as the bright verdure
glittered in its beams, sending up all the perfumes of a southern clime, I
thought I had never seen a more lovely morning. The staff were stationed
upon a little knoll beside the river, round the base of which the troops
defiled, at first in orderly, then in quick time, the bands playing and the
colors flying. In the same brigade with us the Eighty-eighth came, and as
they neared the commander-in-chief, their quick-step was suddenly stopped,
and after a pause of a few seconds, the band struck up "St. Patrick's Day;"
the notes were caught up by the other Irish regiments, and amidst one
prolonged cheer from the whole line, the gallant fellows moved past.
The grenadier company were drawn up beside the road, and I was not long in
detecting my friend O'Shaughnessy, who wore a tremendous shamrock in his
"Left face, wheel! Quick march! Don't forget the mustard!" said the bold
major; and a loud roar of laughing from my brother officers followed him
off the ground. I soon explained the injunction, and having invited some
three or four to accompany me to the dinner, waited with all patience for
the conclusion of the parade.
The sun was setting as I mounted, and joined by Hampden, Baker, the doctor,
and another, set out for O'Shaughnessy's quarters. As we rode along, we
were continually falling in with others bent upon the same errand as
ourselves, and ere we arrived at Melanté our party was some thirty strong;
and truly a most extraordinary procession did we form. Few of the
invited came without some contribution to the general stock; and while a
staff-officer flourished a ham, a smart hussar might be seen with a plucked
turkey, trussed for roasting; most carried bottles, as the consumption of
fluid was likely to be considerable; and one fat old major jogged along on
a broken-winded pony, with a basket of potatoes on his arm. Good fellowship
was the order of the day, and certainly a more jovial squadron seldom was
met together than ours. As we turned the angle of a rising ground, a hearty
cheer greeted us, and we beheld in front of an old ordnance marquee a party
of some fifty fellows engaged in all the pleasing duties of the _cuisine_.
Maurice, conspicuous above all, with a white apron and a ladle in his hand,
was running hither and thither, advising, admonishing, instructing, and
occasionally imprecating. Ceasing for a second his functions, he gave us a
cheer and a yell like that of an Indian savage, and then resumed his duties
beside a huge boiler, which, from the frequency of his explorations into
its contents, we judged to be punch.
"Charley, my son, I've a place for you; don't forget. Where's my learned
brother?--haven't you brought him with you? Ah, Doctor, how goes it?"
[Illustration: GOING OUT TO DINNER.]
"Nae that bad, Master Quell: a' things considered, we've had an awfu' time
of it lately."
"You know my friend Hampden, Maurice. Let me introduce Mr. Baker, Mr.
Maurice Quill. Where's the major?"
"Here I am, my darling, and delighted to see you. Some of yours, O'Malley,
ain't they? Proud to have you, gentlemen. Charley, we are obliged to have
several tables; but you are to be beside Maurice, so take your friends with
you. There goes the 'Roast Beef;' my heart warms to that old tune."
Amidst a hurried recognition, and shaking of hands on every side, I elbowed
my way into the tent, and soon reached a corner, where, at a table for
eight, I found Maurice seated at one end; a huge, purple-faced old major,
whom he presented to us as Bob Mahon, occupied the other. O'Shaughnessy
presided at the table next to us, but near enough to join in all the
conviviality of ours.
One must have lived for some months upon hard biscuit and harder beef
to relish as we did the fare before us, and to form an estimate of our
satisfaction. If the reader cannot fancy Van Amburgh's lions in red coats
and epaulettes, he must be content to lose the effect of the picture. A
turkey rarely fed more than two people, and few were abstemious enough to
be satisfied with one chicken. The order of the viands, too, observed no
common routine, each party being happy to get what he could, and satisfied
to follow up his pudding with fish, or his tart with a sausage. Sherry,
champagne, London porter, Malaga, and even, I believe, Harvey's sauce were
hobnobbed in; while hot punch, in teacups or tin vessels, was unsparingly
distributed on all sides. Achilles himself, they say, got tired of eating,
and though he consumed something like a prize ox to his own cheek, he at
length had to call for cheese, so that we at last gave in, and having
cleared away the broken tumbrels and baggage-carts of our army, cleared for
a general action.
"Now, lads!" cried the major, "I'm not going to lose your time and mine by
speaking; but there are a couple of toasts I must insist upon your drinking
with all the honors; and as I like despatch, we'll couple them. It so
happens that our old island boasts of two of the finest fellows that
ever wore Russia ducks. None of your nonsensical geniuses, like poets or
painters or anything like that; but downright, straightforward, no-humbug
sort of devil-may-care and bad-luck-to-you kind of chaps,--real Irishmen!
Now, it's a strange thing that they both had such an antipathy to vermin,
they spent their life in hunting them down and destroying them; and whether
they met toads at home or Johnny Crapaud abroad, it was all one. [Cheers.]
Just so, boys; they made them leave that; but I see you are impatient, so
I'll not delay you, but fill to the brim, and with the best cheer in your
body, drink with me the two greatest Irishmen that ever lived, 'Saint
Patrick and Lord Wellington.'"
The Englishmen laughed long and loud, while we cheered with an energy that
satisfied even the major.
"Who is to give us the chant? Who is to sing Saint Patrick?" cried Maurice.
"Come, Bob, out with it."
"I'm four tumblers too low for that yet," growled out the major.
"Well, then, Charley, be you the man; or why not Dennis himself? Come,
Dennis, we cannot better begin our evening than with a song; let us have
our old friend 'Larry M'Hale.'"
"Larry M'Hale!" resounded from all parts of the room, while O'Shaughnessy
rose once more to his legs.
"Faith, boys, I'm always ready to follow your lead; but what analogy can
exist between 'Larry M'Hale' and the toast we have just drank I can't see
for the life of me; not but Larry would have made a strapping light company
man had he joined the army."
"The song, the song!" cried several voices.
"Well, if you will have it, here goes:"--
AIR,--_"It's a bit of a thing_," _etc_.
Oh, Larry M'Hale he had little to fear,
And never could want when the crops didn't fail;
He'd a house and demesne and eight hundred a year,
And the heart for to spend it, had Larry M'Hale!
The soul of a party, the life of a feast,
And an illigant song he could sing, I'll be bail;
He would ride with the rector, and drink with the priest,
Oh, the broth of a boy was old Larry M'Hale!
It's little he cared for the judge or recorder,
His house was as big and as strong as a jail;
With a cruel four-pounder, he kept in great order,
He'd murder the country, would Larry M'Hale.
He'd a blunderbuss too, of horse-pistols a pair;
But his favorite weapon was always a flail.
I wish you could see how he'd empty a fair,
For he handled it neatly, did Larry M'Hale.
His ancestors were kings before Moses was born,
His mother descended from great Grana Uaile;
He laughed all the Blakes and the Frenches to scorn;
They were mushrooms compared to old Larry M'Hale.
He sat down every day to a beautiful dinner,
With cousins and uncles enough for a tail;
And, though loaded with debt, oh, the devil a thinner,
Could law or the sheriff make Larry M'Hale!
With a larder supplied and a cellar well stored,
None lived half so well, from Fair-Head to Kinsale,
As he piously said, "I've a plentiful board,
And the Lord he is good to old Larry M'Hale."
So fill up your glass, and a high bumper give him,
It's little we'd care for the tithes or repale;
For ould Erin would be a fine country to live in,
If we only had plenty like LARRY M'HALE.
"Very singular style of person your friend Mr. M'Hale," lisped a
spooney-looking cornet at the end of the table.
"Not in the country he belongs to, I assure you," said Maurice; "but I
presume you were never in Ireland."
"You are mistaken there," resumed the other; "I was in Ireland, though I
confess not for a long time."
"If I might be so bold," cried Maurice, "how long?"
"Half an hour, by a stop-watch," said the other, pulling up his stock; "and
I had quite enough of it in that time."
"Pray give us your experiences," cried out Bob Mahon; "they should be
interesting, considering your opportunities."
"You are right," said the cornet; "they were so; and as they illustrate a
feature in your amiable country, you shall have them."
A general knocking upon the table announced the impatience of the company,
and when silence was restored the cornet began:--
When the 'Bermuda' transport sailed from Portsmouth for Lisbon, I happened
to make one of some four hundred interesting individuals who, before they
became food for powder, were destined to try their constitutions on pickled
pork. The second day after our sailing, the winds became adverse; it blew
a hurricane from every corner of the compass but the one it ought, and the
good ship, that should have been standing straight for the Bay of Biscay,
was scudding away under a double-reefed topsail towards the coast of
Labrador. For six days we experienced every sea-manoeuvre that usually
preludes a shipwreck, and at length, when, what from sea-sickness and fear,
we had become utterly indifferent to the result, the storm abated, the sea
went down, and we found ourselves lying comfortably in the harbor of Cork,
with a strange suspicion on our minds that the frightful scenes of the past
week had been nothing but a dream.
"'Come, Mr. Medlicot,' said the skipper to me, 'we shall be here for a
couple of days to refit; had you not better go ashore and see the country?'
"I sprang to my legs with delight; visions of cowslips, larks, daisies, and
mutton-chops floated before my excited imagination, and in ten minutes I
found myself standing at that pleasant little inn at Cove which, opposite
Spike Island, rejoices in the name of the 'Goat and Garters.'
"'Breakfast, waiter,' said I; 'a beefsteak,--fresh beef, mark ye,--fresh
eggs, bread, milk, and butter, all fresh. No more hard tack,' thought I;
'no salt butter, but a genuine land breakfast.'
"Up-stairs, No. 4, sir,' said the waiter, as he flourished a dirty napkin,
indicating the way.
"Up-stairs I went, and in due time the appetizing little meal made its
appearance. Never did a minor's eye revel over his broad acres with more
complacent enjoyment than did mine skim over the mutton and the muffin,
the tea-pot, the trout, and the devilled kidney, so invitingly spread out
before me. 'Yes,' thought I, as I smacked my lips, 'this is the reward of
virtue; pickled pork is a probationary state that admirably fits us for
future enjoyments.' I arranged my napkin upon my knee, seized my knife
and fork, and proceeded with most critical acumen to bisect a beefsteak.
Scarcely, however, had I touched it, when, with a loud crash, the plate
smashed beneath it, and the gravy ran piteously across the cloth. Before I
had time to account for the phenomenon, the door opened hastily, and the
waiter rushed into the room, his face beaming with smiles, while he rubbed
his hands in an ecstasy of delight.
"'It's all over, sir,' said he; 'glory be to God! it's all done.'
"'What's over? What's done?' inquired I, with impatience.
"'Mr. M'Mahon is satisfied,' replied he, 'and so is the other gentleman.'
"'Who and what the devil do you mean?'
[Illustration: DISADVANTAGE OF BREAKFASTING OVER A DUELLING-PARTY.]
"'It's over, sir, I say,' replied the waiter again; 'he fired in the air.'
"'Fired in the air! Was there a duel in the room below stairs?'
"'Yes, sir,' said the waiter, with a benign smile.
"'That will do,' said I, as seizing my hat, I rushed out of the house, and
hurrying to the beach, took a boat for the ship. Exactly half an hour had
elapsed since my landing, but even those short thirty minutes had fully as
many reasons that although there may be few more amusing, there are some
safer places to live in than the Green Isle."
A general burst of laughter followed the cornet's story, which was
heightened in its effect by the gravity with which he told it.
"And after all," said Maurice Quill, "now that people have given up making
fortunes for the insurance companies by living to the age of Methuselah,
there's nothing like being an Irishman. In what other part of the habitable
globe can you cram so much adventure into one year? Where can you be so
often in love, in liquor, or in debt; and where can you get so merrily out
of the three? Where are promises to marry and promises to pay treated with
the same gentleman-like forbearance; and where, when you have lost your
heart and your fortune, are people found so ready to comfort you in your
reverses? Yes," said Maurice, as he filled his glass up to the brim, and
eyed it lusciously for a moment,--"yes, darling, here's your health; the
only girl I ever loved--in that part of the country, I mean. Give her a
bumper, lads, and I'll give you a chant."
"Name! name! name!" shouted several voices from different parts of the
"Mary Draper!" said Maurice, filling his glass once more, while the name
was re-echoed by every lip at table.
"The song! the song!"
"Faith, I hope I haven't forgotten it," quoth Maurice. "No; here it is."
So saying, after a couple of efforts to assure the pitch of his voice, the
worthy doctor began the following words to that very popular melody, "Nancy
Don't talk to me of London dames,
Nor rave about your foreign flames,
That never lived, except in drames,
Nor shone, except on paper;
I'll sing you 'bout a girl I knew,
Who lived in Ballywhacmacrew,
And let me tell you, mighty few
Could equal Mary Draper.
Her cheeks were red, her eyes were blue,
Her hair was brown of deepest hue,
Her foot was small, and neat to view,
Her waist was slight and taper;
Her voice was music to your ear,
A lovely brogue, so rich and clear,
Oh, the like I ne'er again shall hear,
As from sweet Mary Draper.
She'd ride a wall, she'd drive a team,
Or with a fly she'd whip a stream,
Or may be sing you "Rousseau's Dream,"
For nothing could escape her;
I've seen her, too,--upon my word,--
At sixty yards bring down her bird,
Oh, she charmed all the Forty-third,
Did lovely Mary Draper.
And at the spring assizes' ball,
The junior bar would one and all
For all her fav'rite dances call,
And Harry Dean would caper;
Lord Clare would then forget his lore;
King's Counsel, voting law a bore,
Were proud to figure on the floor,
For love of Mary Draper.
The parson, priest, sub-sheriff too,
Were all her slaves, and so would you,
If you had only but one view,
Of such a face and shape, or
Her pretty ankles--But, ohone,
It's only west of old Athlone
Such girls were found--and now they're gone--
So here's to Mary Draper!
"So here's to Mary Draper!" sang out every voice, in such efforts to catch
the tune as pleased the taste of the motley assembly.
"For Mary Draper and Co., I thank you," said Maurice. "Quill drinks to
Dennis," added he, in a grave tone, as he nodded to O'Shaughnessy. "Yes,
Shaugh, few men better than ourselves know these matters; and few have had
more experience of the three perils of Irishmen,--love, liquor, and the law
"It's little the latter has ever troubled my father's son," replied
O'Shaughnessy. "Our family have been writ proof for centuries, and he'd
have been a bold man who would have ventured with an original or a true
copy within the precincts of Killinahoula."
"Your father had a touch of Larry M'Hale in him," said I, "apparently."
"Exactly so," replied Dennis; "not but they caught him at last, and a
scurvy trick it was and well worthy of him who did it! Yes," said he, with
a sigh, "it is only another among the many instances where the better
features of our nationality have been used by our enemies as instruments
for our destruction; and should we seek for the causes of unhappiness in
our wretched country, we should find them rather in our virtues than in
our vices, and in the bright rather than in the darker phases of our
"Metaphysics, by Jove!" cried Quill; "but all true at the same time. There
was a mess-mate of mine in the 'Roscommon' who never paid car-hire in his
life. 'Head or harp, Paddy!' he would cry. 'Two tenpennies or nothing.'
'Harp, for the honor of ould Ireland!' was the invariable response, and my
friend was equally sure to make head come uppermost; and, upon my soul,
they seem to know the trick at the Home Office."
"That must have been the same fellow that took my father," cried
O'Shaughnessy, with energy.
"Let us hear the story, Dennis," said I.
"Yes," said Maurice, "for the benefit of self and fellows, let us hear the
"The way of it was this," resumed O'Shaughnessy. "My father, who for
reasons registered in the King's Bench spent a great many years of his life
in that part of Ireland geographically known as lying west of the law,
was obliged, for certain reasons of family, to come up to Dublin. This he
proceeded to do with due caution. Two trusty servants formed an advance
guard, and patrolled the country for at least five miles in advance; after
them came a skirmishing body of a few tenants, who, for the consideration
of never paying rent, would have charged the whole Court of Chancery, if
needful. My father himself, in an old chaise victualled like a fortress,
brought up the rear; and as I said before, he were a bold man who would
have attempted to have laid siege to him. As the column advanced into the
enemy's country, they assumed a closer order, the patrol and the picket
falling back upon the main body; and in this way they reached that most
interesting city called Kilbeggan. What a fortunate thing it is for us in
Ireland that we can see so much of the world without foreign travel, and
that any gentleman for six-and-eightpence can leave Dublin in the morning,
and visit Timbuctoo against dinner-time. Don't stare! it's truth I'm
telling; for dirt, misery, smoke, unaffected behavior, and black faces,
I'll back Kilbeggan against all Africa. Free-and-easy, pleasant people ye
are, with a skin, as begrimed and as rugged as your own potatoes! But, to
resume. The sun was just rising in a delicious morning of June, when my
father,--whose loyal antipathies I have mentioned made him also an early
riser,--was preparing for the road. A stout escort of his followers were
as usual under arms to see him safe in the chaise, the passage to and from
which every day being the critical moment of my father's life.
"'It's all right, your honor,' said his own man, as, armed with a
blunderbuss, he opened the bed-room door.
"'Time enough, Tim,' said my father; 'close the door, for I haven't
finished my breakfast.'
"Now, the real truth was, that my father's attention was at that moment
withdrawn from his own concerns by a scene which was taking place in a
field beneath his window.
"But a few minutes before, a hack-chaise had stopped upon the roadside, out
of which sprang three gentlemen, who, proceeding into the field, seemed
bent upon something, which, whether a survey or a duel, my father could not
make out. He was not long, however, to remain in ignorance. One, with an
easy, lounging gait, strode towards a distant corner; another took an
opposite direction; while a third, a short, pursy gentleman, in a red
handkerchief and rabbit-skin waistcoat, proceeded to open a mahogany
box, which, to the critical eyes of my respected father, was agreeably
suggestive of bloodshed and murder.
"'A duel, by Jupiter!' said my father, rubbing his hands. 'What a heavenly
morning the scoundrels have,--not a leaf stirring, and a sod like a
"Meanwhile the little man who officiated as second, it would appear to
_both_ parties, bustled about with an activity little congenial to his
shape; and what between snapping the pistols, examining the flints, and
ramming down the charges, had got himself into a sufficient perspiration
before he commenced to measure the ground.
"'Short distance and no quarter!' shouted one of the combatants, from the
corner of the field.
"'Across a handkerchief, if you like!' roared the other.
"'Gentlemen, every inch of them!' responded my father.
"'Twelve paces!' cried the little man. 'No more and no less. Don't forget
that I am alone in this business!'
"'A very true remark!' observed my father; 'and an awkward predicament
yours will be if they are not both shot!'
"By this time the combatants had taken their places, and the little man,
having delivered the pistols, was leisurely retiring to give the word.
My father, however, whose critical eye was never at fault, detected a
circumstance which promised an immense advantage to one at the expense of
the other; in fact, one of the parties was so placed with his back to the
sun, that his shadow extended in a straight line to the very foot of his
"'Unfair, unfair!' cried my father, opening the window as he spoke, and
addressing himself to him of the rabbit-skin. 'I crave your pardon for the
interruption,' said he; 'but I feel bound to observe that that gentleman's
shadow is likely to make a shade of him.'
"'And so it is,' observed the short man; 'a thousand thanks for your
kindness, but the truth is, I am totally unaccustomed to this kind of
thing, and the affair will not admit of delay.'
"'Not an hour!' said one.
"'No, not five minutes!' growled the other of the combatants.
"'Put them up north and south,' said my father.
"'Is it thus?'
"'Exactly so. But now, again, the gentleman in the brown coat is covered
with the ash-tree.'
"'And so he is!' said rabbit-skin, wiping his forehead with agitation.
"'Move them a little to the left,' said he.
"'That brings me upon an eminence,' said the gentleman in blue. 'I'll be
d--d if I be made a cock shot of!'
"'What an awkward little thief it is in the hairy waistcoat!' said my
father; 'he's lucky if he don't get shot himself!'