Part 8 out of 10
It was at length, after innumerable objections, agreed upon that we
should be placed back to back, and at a word given each walk forward to a
certain distance marked out by a stone, where we were to halt, and at the
signal, "une," "deux," turn round and fire.
This, which is essentially a French invention in duelling, was perfectly
new to me, but by no means to Trevanion, who was fully aware of the
immense consequence of not giving even a momentary opportunity for aim to
my antagonist; and in this mode of firing the most practised and deadly
shot is liable to err--particularly if the signal be given quickly.
While Trevanion and the Captain were measuring out the ground, a little
circumstance which was enacted near me was certainly not over calculated
to strengthen my nerve. The stranger who had led us to the ground had
begun to examine the pistols, and finding that one of them was loaded,
turned towards my adversary, saying, "De Haultpenne, you have forgotten
to draw the charge. Come let us see what vein you are in." At the same
time, drawing off his large cavalry glove, he handed the pistol to his
"A double Napoleon you don't hit the thumb."
"Done," said the other, adjusting the weapon in his hand.
The action was scarcely performed, when the bettor flung the glove into
the air with all his force. My opponent raised his pistol, waited for an
instant, till the glove, having attained its greatest height, turned to
fall again. Then click went the trigger--the glove turned round and
round half-a-dozen times, and fell about twenty yards off, and the thumb
was found cut clearly off at the juncture with the hand.
This--which did not occupy half as long as I have spent in recounting it
--was certainly a pleasant introduction to standing at fifteen yards from
the principal actor; and I should doubtless have felt it in all its
force, had not my attention been drawn off by the ludicrous expression of
grief in O'Leary's countenance, who evidently regarded me as already
"Now, Lorrequer, we are ready," said Trevanion, coming forward; and then,
lowering his voice, added, "All is in your favour; I have won the 'word,'
which I shall give the moment you halt. So turn and fire at once: be
sure not to go too far round in the turn--that is the invariable error in
this mode of firing; only no hurry--be calm."
"Now, Messieurs," said Derigny, as he approached with his friend leaning
upon his arm, and placed him in the spot allotted to him. Trevanion then
took my arm, and placed me back to back to my antagonist. As I took up
my ground, it so chanced that my adversary's spur slightly grazed me,
upon which he immediately turned round, and, with the most engaging
smile, begged a "thousand pardons," and hoped I was not hurt.
O'Leary, who saw the incident, and guessed the action aright, called out:
"Oh, the cold-blooded villain; the devil a chance for you, Mr.
"Messieurs, your pistols," said Le Capitaine la Garde, who, as he handed
the weapons, and repeated once more the conditions of the combat, gave
the word to march.
I now walked slowly forward to the place marked out by the stone; but it
seemed that I must have been in advance of my opponent, for I remember
some seconds elapsed before Trevanion coughed slightly, and then with a
clear full voice called out "Une," "Deux." I had scarcely turned myself
half round, when my right arm was suddenly lifted up, as if by a galvanic
shock. My pistol jerked upwards, and exploded the same moment, and then
dropped powerlessly from my hand, which I now felt was covered with warm
blood from a wound near the elbow. From the acute but momentary pang
this gave me, my attention was soon called off; for scarcely had my arm
been struck, when a loud clattering noise to my left induced me to turn,
and then, to my astonishment, I saw my friend O'Leary about twelve feet
from the ground, hanging on by some ash twigs that grew from the clefts
of the granite. Fragments of broken rock were falling around him, and
his own position momentarily threatened a downfall. He was screaming
with all his might; but what he said was entirely lost in the shouts of
laughter of Trevanion and the Frenchmen, who could scarcely stand with
the immoderate exuberance of their mirth.
I had not time to run to his aid--which, although wounded, I should have
done--when the branch he clung to, slowly yielded with his weight, and
the round, plump figure of my poor friend rolled over the little cleft of
rock, and, after a few faint struggles, came tumbling heavily down, and
at last lay peaceably in the deep heather at the bottom--his cries the
whole time being loud enough to rise even above the vociferous laughter
of the others.
I now ran forward, as did Trevanion, when O'Leary, turning his eyes
towards me, said, in the most piteous manner--
"Mr. Lorrequer, I forgive you--here is my hand--bad luck to their French
way of fighting, that's all--it's only good for killing one's friend.
I thought I was safe up there, come what might."
"My dear O'Leary," said I, in an agony, which prevented my minding the
laughing faces around me, "surely you don't mean to say that I have
"No, dear, not wounded, only killed me outright--through the brain it
must be, from the torture I'm suffering."
The shout with which this speech was received, sufficiently aroused me;
while Trevanion, with a voice nearly choked with laughter, said--
"Why, Lorrequer, did you not see that your pistol, on being struck, threw
your ball high up on the quarry; fortunately, however, about a foot and a
half above Mr. O'Leary's head, whose most serious wounds are his
scratched hands and bruised bones from his tumble."
This explanation, which was perfectly satisfactory to me, was by no means
so consoling to poor O'Leary, who lay quite unconscious to all around,
moaning in the most melancholy manner. Some of the blood, which
continued to flow fast from my wound, having dropped upon his face,
roused him a little--but only to increase his lamentation for his own
destiny, which he believed was fast accomplishing.
"Through the skull--clean through the skull--and preserving my senses to
the last! Mr. Lorrequer, stoop down--it is a dying man asks you--don't
refuse me a last request. There's neither luck nor grace, honor nor
glory in such a way of fighting--so just promise me you'll shoot that
grinning baboon there, when he's going off the ground, since it's the
fashion to fire at a man with his back to you. Bring him down, and I'll
And with these words he closed his eyes, and straightened out his legs--
stretched his arm at either side, and arranged himself as much corpse
fashion as the circumstances of the ground would permit--while I now
freely participated in the mirth of the others, which, loud and
boisterous as it was, never reached the ears of O'Leary.
My arm had now become so painful, that I was obliged to ask Trevanion to
assist me in getting off my coat. The surprise of the Frenchmen on
learning that I was wounded was very considerable--O'Leary's catastrophe
having exclusively engaged all attention. My arm was now examined, when
it was discovered that the ball had passed through from one side to the
other, without apparently touching the bone; the bullet and the portion
of my coat carried in by it both lay in my sleeve. The only serious
consequence to be apprehended was the wound of the blood-vessel, which
continued to pour forth blood unceasingly, and I was just surgeon enough
to guess that an artery had been cut.
Trevanion bound his handkerchief tightly across the wound, and assisted
me to the high road, which, so sudden was the loss of blood, I reached
with difficulty. During all these proceedings, nothing could be possibly
more kind and considerate than the conduct of our opponents. All the
farouche and swaggering air which they had deemed the "rigueur" before,
at once fled, and in its place we found the most gentlemanlike attention
and true politeness.
As soon as I was enabled to speak upon the matter, I begged Trevanion to
look to poor O'Leary, who still lay upon the ground in a state of perfect
unconsciousness. Captain Derigny, on hearing my wish, at once returned
to the quarry, and, with the greatest difficulty, persuaded my friend to
rise and endeavour to walk, which at last he did attempt, calling him to
bear witness that it perhaps was the only case on record where a man with
a bullet in his brain had made such an exertion.
With a view to my comfort and quiet, they put him into the cab of Le
Baron; and, having undertaken to send Dupuytrien to me immediately on my
reaching Paris, took their leave, and Trevanion and I set out homeward.
Not all my exhaustion and debility--nor even the acute pain I was
suffering, could prevent my laughing at O'Leary's adventure; and it
required all Trevanion's prudence to prevent my indulging too far in my
recollection of it.
When we reached Meurice's, I found Dupuytrien in waiting, who immediately
pronounced the main artery of the limb as wounded; and almost as
instantaneously proceeded to pass a ligature round it. This painful
business being concluded, I was placed upon a sofa, and being plentifully
supplied with lemonade, and enjoined to keep quiet, left to my own
meditations, such as they were, till evening--Trevanion having taken upon
him to apologize for our absence at Mrs. Bingham's dejeune, and O'Leary
being fast asleep in his own apartments.
EARLY RECOLLECTIONS--A FIRST LOVE.
I know of no sensations so very nearly alike, as those felt on awaking
after very sudden and profuse loss of blood, and those resulting from a
large dose of opium. The dizziness, the confusion, and the abstraction
at first, gradually yielding, as the senses became clearer, to a vague
and indistinct consciousness; then the strange mistiness, in which fact
and fiction are wrapped up--the confounding of persons, and places, and
times, not so as to embarrass and annoy--for the very debility you feel
subdues all irritation--but rather to present a panoramic picture of odd
and incongruous events more pleasing than otherwise.
Of the circumstances by which I was thus brought to a sick couch, I had
not even the most vague recollection--the faces and the dress of all
those I had lately seen were vividly before me; but how, and for what
purpose I knew not. Something in their kindness and attention had left
an agreeable impression upon my mind, and without being able, or even
attempting to trace it, I felt happy in the thought. While thus the
"hour before" was dim and indistinct, the events of years past were
vividly and brightly pictured before me; and strange, too, the more
remote the period, the more did it seem palpable and present to my
imagination. For so it is, there is in memory a species of mental long-
sightedness, which, though blind to the object close beside you, can
reach the blue mountains and the starry skies, which lie full many a
league away. Is this a malady? or is it rather a providential gift to
alleviate the tedious hours of the sick bed, and cheer the lonely
sufferer, whose thoughts are his only realm?
My school-boy days, in all their holiday excitement; the bank where I had
culled the earliest cowslips of the year; the clear but rapid stream,
where days long I have watched the speckled trout, as they swam
peacefully beneath, or shook their bright fins in the gay sunshine; the
gorgeous dragon-fly that played above the water, and dipped his bright
wings in its ripple--they were all before me. And then came the thought
of school itself, with its little world of boyish cares and emulations;
the early imbibed passion for success; the ardent longing for
superiority; the high and swelling feeling of the heart, as home drew
near, to think that I had gained the wished for prize--the object of many
an hour's toil--the thought of many a long night's dream; my father's
smile; my mother's kiss! Oh! what a very world of tender memory that one
thought suggests; for what are all our later successes in life--how
bright soever our fortune be--compared with the early triumphs of our
infancy? Where, among the jealous rivalry of some, the cold and half-
wrung praise of others, the selfish and unsympathising regard of all,
shall we find any thing to repay us for the swelling extacy of our young
hearts, as those who have cradled and loved us grow proud in our
successes? For myself, a life that has failed in every prestige of those
that prophesied favourably--years that have followed on each other only
to blight the promise that kind and well-wishing friends foretold--leave
but little to dwell upon, that can be reckoned as success. And yet, some
moments I have had, which half seemed to realize my early dream of
ambition, and rouse my spirit within me; but what were they all compared
to my boyish glories? what the passing excitement one's own heart
inspires in the lonely and selfish solitude, when compared with that
little world of sympathy and love our early home teemed with, as, proud
in some trifling distinction, we fell into a mother's arms, and heard our
father's "God bless you, boy?" No, no; the world has no requital for
this. It is like the bright day-spring, which, as its glories gild the
east, display before us a whole world of beauty and promise--blighted
hopes have not withered, false friendships have not scathed, cold,
selfish interest has not yet hardened our hearts, or dried up our
affections, and we are indeed happy; but equally like the burst of
morning is it fleeting and short-lived; and equally so, too, does it pass
away, never, never to return.
From thoughts like these my mind wandered on to more advanced years,
when, emerging from very boyhood, I half believed myself a man, and was
fully convinced I was in love.
Perhaps, after all, for the time it lasted--ten days, I think--it was the
most sincere passion I ever felt. I had been spending some weeks at a
small watering-place in Wales with some relatives of my mother. There
were, as might be supposed, but few "distractions" in such a place, save
the scenery, and an occasional day's fishing in the little river of
Dolgelly, which ran near. In all these little rambles which the younger
portion of the family made together, frequent mention was ever being made
of a visit from a very dear cousin, and to which all looked forward with
the greatest eagerness--the elder ones of the party with a certain air of
quiet pleasure, as though they knew more than they said, and the younger
with all the childish exuberance of youthful delight. Clara Mourtray
seemed to be, from all I was hourly hearing, the very paragon and pattern
of every thing. If any one was praised for beauty, Clara was immediately
pronounced much prettier--did any one sing, Clara's voice and taste were
far superior. In our homeward walk, should the shadows of the dark hills
fall with a picturesque effect upon the blue lake, some one was sure to
say, "Oh! how Clara would like to sketch that." In short, there was no
charm nor accomplishment ever the gift of woman, that Clara did not
possess; or, what amounted pretty much to the same thing, that my
relatives did not implicitly give her credit for. The constantly
recurring praises of the same person affect us always differently as we
go on in life. In youth the prevailing sentiment is an ardent desire to
see the prodigy of whom we have heard so much--in after years, heartily
to detest what hourly hurts our self-love by comparisons. We would take
any steps to avoid meeting what we have inwardly decreed to be a "bore."
The former was my course; and though my curiosity was certainly very
great, I had made up my mind to as great a disappointment, and half
wished for the longed arrival as a means of criticising what they could
see no fault in.
The wished-for evening at length came, and we all set out upon a walk to
meet the carriage which was to bring the bien aime Clara among us. We
had not walked above a mile when the eager eye of the foremost detected a
cloud of dust upon the road at some distance; and, after a few minutes
more, four posters were seen coming along at a tremendous rate. The next
moment she was making the tour of about a dozen uncles, aunts, cousins,
and cousines, none of whom, it appeared to me, felt any peculiar desire
to surrender the hearty embrace to the next of kin in succession. At
last she came to me, when, perhaps, in the confusion of the moment, not
exactly remembering whether or not she had seen me before, she stood for
a moment silent--a deep blush mantling her lovely cheek--masses of waving
brown hair disordered and floating upon her shoulders--her large and
liquid blue eyes beaming upon me. One look was enough. I was deeply--
irretrievably in love.
"Our cousin Harry--Harry Lorrequer--wild Harry, as we used to call him,
Clara," said one of the girls introducing me.
She held out her hand, and said something with a smile. What, I know
not--nor can I tell how I replied; but something absurd it must have
been, for they all laughed heartily, and the worthy papa himself tapped
my shoulder jestingly, adding,
"Never mind, Harry--you will do better one day, or I am much mistaken in
Whether I was conscious that I had behaved foolishly or not, I cannot
well say; but the whole of that night I thought over plans innumerable
how I should succeed in putting myself forward before "Cousin Clara," and
vindicating myself against any imputation of schoolboy mannerisms that my
first appearance might have caused.
The next day we remained at home. Clara was too much fatigued to walk
out, and none of us would leave her. What a day of happiness that was!
I knew something of music, and could sing a second. Clara was delighted
at this, for the others had not cultivated singing much. We therefore
spent the whole morning in this way. Then she produced her sketch-book,
and I brought out mine, and we had a mutual interchange of prisoners.
What cutting out of leaves and detaching of rice-paper landscapes! The
she came out upon the lawn to see my pony leap, and promised to ride him
the following day. She patted the greyhounds, and said Gipsy, which was
mine, was the prettiest. In a word, before night fell Clara had won my
heart in its every fibre, and I went to my room the very happiest of
I need not chronicle my next three days--to me the most glorious "trois
jours" of my life. Clara had evidently singled me out and preferred me
to all the rest. It was beside me she rode--upon my arm she leaned in
walking--and, to comble me with delight unutterable, I overheard her say
to my uncle, "Oh, I doat upon poor Harry! And it is so pleasant, for I'm
sure Mortimer will be so jealous."
"And who is Mortimer," thought I; "he is a new character in the piece, of
whom we have seen nothing."
I was not long in doubt upon this head, for that very day, at dinner, the
identical Mortimer presented himself. He was a fine, dashing-looking,
soldier-like fellow, of about thirty-five, and with a heavy moustache,
and a bronzed cheek--rather grave in his manner, but still perfectly
good-natured, and when he smiled showing a most handsome set of regular
teeth. Clara seemed less pleased (I thought) at his coming than the
others, and took pleasure in tormenting him by a thousand pettish and
frivolous ways, which I was sorry for, as I thought he did not like it;
and used to look half chidingly at her from time to time, but without any
effect, for she just went on as before, and generally ended by taking my
arm and saying, "Come away, Harry; you always are kind, and never look
sulky. I can agree with you." These were delightful words for me to
listen to, but I could not hear them without feeling for him, who
evidently was pained by Clara's avowed preference for me; and whose
years--for I thought thirty-five at that time a little verging upon the
patriarchal--entitled him to more respect.
"Well," thought I, one evening, as this game had been carried rather
farther than usual, "I hope she is content now, for certainly Mortimer is
jealous;" and the result proved it, for the whole of the following day he
absented himself, and never came back till late in the evening. He had
been, I found, from a chance observation I overheard, at the bishop's
palace, and the bishop himself, I learned, was to breakfast with us in
"Harry, I have a commission for you," said Clara. "You must get up
very early to-morrow, and climb the Cader mountain, and bring me a grand
bouquet of the blue and purple heath that I liked so much the last time
I was there. Mind very early, for I intend to surprise the bishop
to-morrow with my taste in a nosegay."
The sun had scarcely risen as I sprang from my bed, and started upon my
errand. Oh! the glorious beauty of that morning's walk. As I climbed
the mountain, the deep mists lay upon all around, and except the path I
was treading, nothing was visible; but before I reached the top, the
heavy masses of vapour were yielding to the influence of the sun; and as
they rolled from the valleys up the mountain sides, were every instant
opening new glens and ravines beneath me--bright in all their verdure,
and speckled with sheep, whose tingling bells reached me even where I
I counted above twenty lakes at different levels, below me; some
brilliant, and shining like polished mirrors; others not less beautiful,
dark and solemn with some mighty mountain shadow. As I looked landward,
the mountains reared their huge crests, one above the other, to the
farthest any eye could reach. Towards the opposite side, the calm and
tranquil sea lay beneath me, bathed in the yellow gold of a rising sun; a
few ships were peaceably lying at anchor in the bay; and the only thing
in motion was a row-boat, the heavy monotonous stroke of whose oars rose
in the stillness of the morning air. Not a single habitation of man
could I descry, nor any vestige of a human being, except that mass of
something upon the rock far down beneath be one, and I think it is, for I
see the sheep-dog ever returning again and again to the same spot.
My bouquet was gathered; the gentian of the Alps, which is found here,
also contributing its evidence to show where I had been to seek it, and I
The family were at breakfast as I entered; at least so the servants said,
for I only remembered then that the bishop was our guest, and that I
could not present myself without some slight attention to my dress. I
hastened to my room, and scarcely had I finished, when one of my cousins,
a little girl of eight years, came to the door and said,
"Harry, come down; Clara wants you."
I rushed down stairs, and as I entered the breakfast parlour, stood still
with surprise. The ladies were all dressed in white, and even my little
cousin wore a gala costume that amazed me.
"My bouquet, Harry; I hope you have not forgotten it," said Clara, as I
I presented it at once, when she gaily and coquettishly held out her hand
for me to kiss. This I did, my blood rushing to my face and temples the
while, and almost depriving me of consciousness.
"Well, Clara, I am surprised at you," said Mortimer. "How can you treat
the poor boy so?"
I grew deadly pale at these words, and, turning round, looked at the
speaker full in the face. Poor fellow, thought I, he is jealous, and I
am really grieved for him; and turned again to Clara.
"Here it is--oh! how handsome, papa," said one of the younger children,
running eagerly to the window, as a very pretty open carriage with four
horses drew up before the house.
"The bishop has taste," I murmured to myself, scarcely deigning to give a
second look at the equipage.
Clara now left the room, but speedily returned--her dress changed, and
shawled as if for a walk. What could all this mean?--and the whispering,
too, what is all that?--and why are they all so sad?--Clara has been
"God bless you, my child--good by," said my aunt, as she folded her in
her arms for the third time.
"Good by, good by," I heard on every side. At length, approaching me,
Clara took my hand and said--
"My poor Harry, so we are going to part. I am going to Italy."
"To Italy, Clara? Oh! no--say no. Italy! I shall never see you again."
"Won't you wear this ring for me, Harry? It is an old favourite of
yours--and when we meet again"--
"Oh! dearest Clara," I said, "do not speak thus."
"Good by, my poor boy, good by," said Clara hurriedly; and, rushing
out of the room, she was lifted by Mortimer into the carriage, who,
immediately jumping in after her, the whip cracked, the horses clattered,
and all was out of sight in a second.
"Why is she gone with him?" said I, reproachfully, turning towards my
"Why, my dear, a very sufficient reason. She was married this morning."
This was my first love.
Musing over this boyish adventure, I fell into a deep slumber, and on
awakening it took me some minutes before I could recall my senses
sufficiently to know where I was. The whole face of things in my room
was completely changed. Flowers had been put in the china vases upon the
tables--two handsome lamps, shaded with gauzes, stood upon the consoles--
illustrated books, prints, and caricatures, were scattered about. A
piano-forte had also, by some witchcraft, insinuated itself into a recess
near the sofa--a handsome little tea service, of old Dresden china,
graced a marquetry table--and a little picquet table stood most
invitingly beside the fire. I had scarcely time to turn my eyes from one
to the other of these new occupants, when I heard the handle of my door
gently turn, as if by some cautious hand, and immediately closed my eyes
and feigned sleep. Through my half-shut lids I perceived the door
opened. After a pause of about a second, the skirt of a white muslin
dress appeared--then a pretty foot stole a little farther--and at last
the slight and graceful figure of Emily Bingham advanced noiselessly into
the room. Fear had rendered her deadly pale; but the effect of her rich
brown hair, braided plainly on either side of her cheek, suited so well
the character of her features, I thought her far handsomer than ever.
She came forward towards the table, and I now could perceive that she had
something in her hand resembling a letter. This she placed near my hand
--so near as almost to touch it. She leaned over me--I felt her breath
upon my brow, but never moved. At this instant, a tress of her hair,
becoming unfastened, fell over upon my face. She started--the motion
threw me off my guard, and I looked up. She gave a faint, scarce audible
shriek, and sank into the chair beside me. Recovering, however, upon the
instant, she grasped the letter she had just laid down, and, having
crushed it between her fingers, threw it into the fire. This done--as if
the effort had been too much for her strength--she again fell back upon
her seat, and looked so pale I almost thought she had fainted.
Before I had time to speak, she rose once more; and now her face was
bathed in blushes, her eyes swam with rising tears, and her lips trembled
with emotion as she spoke.
"Oh, Mr. Lorrequer, what will you--what can you think of this? If you
but knew--;" and here she faltered and again grew pale, while I with
difficulty rising from the sofa, took her hand, and led her to the chair
"And may I not know?" said I; "may I not know, my dear"--I am not sure
I did not say dearest--"Miss Bingham, when, perhaps, the knowledge might
make me the happiest of mortals?"
This was a pretty plunge as a sequel to my late resolutions. She hid her
face between her hands, and sobbed for some seconds.
"At least," said I, "as that letter was destined for me but a few moments
since, I trust that you will let me hear its contents."
"Oh no--not now--not now," said she entreatingly; and, rising at the same
time, she turned to leave the room. I still held her hand, and pressed
it within mine. I thought she returned the pressure. I leaned forward
to catch her eye, when the door was opened hastily, and a most
extraordinary figure presented itself.
It was a short, fat man, with a pair of enormous moustaches, of a fiery
red; huge bushy whiskers of the same colour; a blue frock covered with
braiding, and decorated with several crosses and ribbons; tight
pantaloons and Hessian boots, with long brass spurs. He held a large
gold-headed cane in his hand, and looked about with an expression of very
equivocal drollery, mingled with fear.
"May I ask, sir," said I, as this individual closed the door behind him,
"may I ask the reason for this intrusion?"
"Oh, upon my conscience, I'll do--I'm sure to pass muster now," said the
well-known voice of Mr. O'Leary, whose pleasant features began to dilate
amid the forest of red hair he was disguised in. "But I see you are
engaged," said he, with a sly look at Miss Bingham, whom he had not yet
recognised; "so I must contrive to hide myself elsewhere, I suppose."
"It is Miss Bingham," said I, "who has been kind enough to come here
with her maid, to bring me some flowers. Pray present my respectful
compliments to Mrs. Bingham, and say how deeply I feel her most kind
Emily rose at the instant, and recovering her self-possession at once,
"You forget, Mr. Lorrequer, it is a secret from whom the flowers came;
at least mamma hoped to place them in your vases without you knowing.
So, pray, don't speak of it--and I'm sure Mr. O'Leary will not tell."
If Mr. O'Leary heard one word of this artful speech, I know not, but he
certainly paid no attention to it, nor the speaker, who left the room
without his appearing aware of it.
"Now that she is gone--for which heaven be praised," said I to myself;
"let me see what this fellow can mean."
As I turned from the door, I could scarcely avoid laughing aloud at the
figure before me. He stood opposite a large mirror, his hat on one side
of his head, one arm in his breast, and the other extended, leaning upon
his stick; a look of as much ferocity as such features could accomplish
had been assumed, and his whole attitude was a kind of caricature of a
melo-dramatic hero in a German drama.
"Why, O'Leary, what is all this?"
"Hush, hush," said he, in a terrified whisper--"never mention that name
again, till we are over the frontier."
"But, man, explain--what do you mean?"
"Can't you guess," said he drily.
"Impossible; unless the affair at the saloon has induced you to take this
disguise, I cannot conceive the reason."
"Nothing farther from it, my dear friend; much worse than that."
"Out with it, then, at once."
"She's come--she's here--in this very house--No. 29, above the entre
"Who is here, in No. 29, above the entre sol?"
"Who, but Mrs. O'Leary herself. I was near saying bad luck to her."
"And does she know you are here?"
"That is what I can't exactly say," said he, "but she has had the Livre
des Voyageurs brought up to her room, and has been making rather
unpleasant inquiries for the proprietor of certain hieroglyphics
beginning with O, which have given me great alarm--the more, as all the
waiters have been sent for in turn, and subjected to long examination by
her. So I have lost no time, but, under the auspices of your friend
Trevanion, have become the fascinating figure you find me, and am now
Compte O'Lieuki, a Pole of noble family, banished by the Russian
government, with a father in Siberia, and all that; and I hope, by the
end of the week, to be able to cheat at ecarte, and deceive the very
The idea of O'Leary's assuming such a metamorphosis was too absurd not
to throw me into a hearty fit of laughing, in which the worthy emigre
"But why not leave this at once," said I, "if you are so much in dread of
"You forget the trial," added O'Leary, "I must be here on the 18th or all
my bail is forfeited."
"True--I had forgot that. Well, now, your plans?"--
"Simply to keep very quiet here till the affair of the tribunal is over,
and then quit France at once. Meanwhile, Trevanion thinks that we may,
by a bold stratagem, send Mrs. O'Leary off on a wrong scent, and has
requested Mrs. Bingham to contrive to make her acquaintance, and ask her
to tea in her room, when she will see me, en Polonais, at a distance, you
know--hear something of my melancholy destiny from Trevanion--and leave
the hotel quite sure she has no claim on me. Meanwhile, some others of
the party are to mention incidentally having met Mr. O'Leary somewhere,
or heard of his decease, or any pleasant little incident that may occur
"The plan is excellent," said I, "for in all probability she may never
come in your way again, if sent off on a good errand this time."
"That's what I'm thinking," said O'Leary; "and I am greatly disposed to
let her hear that I'm with Belzoni in Egypt, with an engagement to spend
the Christmas with the Dey of Algiers. That would give her a very pretty
tour for the remainder of the year, and show her the pyramids. But, tell
me fairly, am I a good Pole?"
"Rather short," said I, "and a little too fat, perhaps."
"That comes from the dash of Tartar blood, nothing more; and my mother
was a Fin," said he, "she'll never ask whether from Carlow or the
Caucasus. How I revel in the thought, that I may smoke in company
without a breach of the unities. But I must go: there is a gentleman
with a quinsey in No. 9, that gives me a lesson in Polish this morning.
So good-by, and don't forget to be well enough to-night, for you must be
present at my debut."
O'Leary had scarcely gone, when my thoughts reverted to Emily Bingham.
I was not such a coxcomb as to fancy her in love with me; yet certainly
there was something in the affair which looked not unlike it; and though,
by such a circumstance, every embarrassment which pressed upon me had
become infinitely greater, I could not dissemble from myself a sense of
pleasure at the thought. She was really a very pretty girl, and improved
vastly upon acquaintance. "Le absens ont toujours torts" is the truest
proverb in any language, and I felt it in its fullest force when
Trevanion entered my room.
"Well, Lorrequer," said he, "your time is certainly not likely to hang
heavily on your hands in Paris, if occupation will prevent it, for I find
you are just now booked for a new scrape."
"What can you mean?" said I, starting up.
"Why, O'Leary, who has been since your illness, the constant visiter at
the Binghams--dining there every day, and spending his evenings--has just
told me that the mamma is only waiting for the arrival of Sir Guy
Lorrequer in Paris to open the trenches in all form; and from what she
has heard of Sir Guy, she deems it most likely he will give her every aid
and support to making you the husband of the fair Emily."
"And with good reason, too," said I; "for if my uncle were only given to
understand that I had once gone far in my attentions, nothing would
induce him to break off the match. He was crossed in love himself when
young, and has made a score of people miserable since, in the benevolent
idea of marrying them against every obstacle."
"How very smart you have become," said Trevanion, taking a look round my
room, and surveying in turn each of the new occupants. "You must
certainly reckon upon seeing your fair friend here, or all this propriete
is sadly wasted."
This was the time to explain all about Miss Bingham's visit; and I did
so, of course omitting any details which might seem to me needless, or
involving myself in inconsistency.
Trevanion listened patiently to the end--was silent for some moments--
"And you never saw the letter?"
"Of course not. It was burned before my eyes."
"I think the affair looks very serious, Lorrequer. You may have won this
girl's affections. It matters little whether the mamma be a hacknied
match-maker, or the cousin a bullying duellist. If the girl have a
heart, and that you have gained it"--
"Then I must marry, you would say."
"Exactly so--without the prompting of your worthy uncle, I see no
other course open to you without dishonour. My advice, therefore, is,
ascertain--and that speedily--how far your attentions have been attended
with the success you dread--and then decide at once. Are you able to get
as far as Mrs. Bingham's room this morning? If so, come along. I shall
take all the frais of la chere mamma off your hands, while you talk to
the daughter; and half-an-hour's courage and resolution will do it all."
Having made the most effective toilet my means would permit, my right arm
in a sling, and my step trembling from weakness, I sallied forth with
Trevanion to make love with as many fears for the result as the most
bashful admirer ever experienced, when pressing his suit upon some
haughty belle--but for a far different reason.
On reaching Mrs. Bingham's apartments, we found that she had just left
home to wait upon Mrs. O'Leary, and consequently, that Miss Bingham was
alone. Trevanion, therefore, having wished me a safe deliverance through
my trying mission, shook my hand warmly, and departed.
I stood for some minutes irresolutely, with my hand upon the lock of the
door. To think that the next few moments may decide the fortune of one's
after life, is a sufficiently anxious thought; but that your fate may be
so decided, by compelling you to finish in sorrow what you have begun in
folly, is still more insupportable. Such, then, was my condition. I had
resolved within myself, if the result of this meeting should prove that I
had won Miss Bingham's affections, to propose for her at once in all
form, and make her my wife. If, on the other hand, I only found that she
too had amused herself with a little passing flirtation, why then, I was
a free man once more: but, on catechising myself a little closer, also,
one somewhat disposed to make love de novo.
With the speed of lightning, my mind ran over every passage of our
acquaintance--our first meeting--our solitary walks--our daily, hourly
associations--our travelling intimacy--the adventure at Chantraine;--
There was, it is true, nothing in all this which could establish the fact
of wooing, but every thing which should convince an old offender like
myself that the young lady was "en prise," and that I myself--despite my
really strong attachment elsewhere--was not entirely scathless.
"Yes," said I, half aloud, as I once more reviewed the past, "it is but
another chapter in my history in keeping with all the rest--one step has
ever led me to a second, and so on to a third; what with other men have
passed for mere trifles, have ever with me become serious difficulties,
and the false enthusiasm with which I ever follow any object in life,
blinds me for the time, and mistaking zeal for inclination, I never feel
how little my heart is interested in success, till the fever of pursuit
These were pleasant thoughts for one about to throw himself at a pretty
girl's feet, and pour out his "soul of love before her;" but that with me
was the least part of it. Curran, they say, usually picked up his facts
in a case from the opposite counsel's statements; I always relied for my
conduct in carrying on any thing, to the chance circumstances of the
moment, and trusted to my animal spirits to give me an interest in
whatever for the time being engaged me.
I opened the door. Miss Bingham was sitting at a table, her head leaning
upon her hands--some open letters which lay before her, evidently so
occupying her attention, that my approach was unheard. On my addressing
her, she turned round suddenly, and became at first deep scarlet, then
pale as death: while, turning to the table, she hurriedly threw her
letters into a drawer, and motioned me to a place beside her.
After the first brief and common-place inquiry for my health, and hopes
for my speedy recovery, she became silent; and I too, primed with topics
innumerable to discuss--knowing how short my time might prove before Mrs.
Bingham's return--could not say a word.
"I hope, Mr. Lorrequer," said she, at length, "that you have incurred no
risque by leaving your room so early."
"I have not," I replied, "but, even were there a certainty of it, the
anxiety I laboured under to see and speak with you alone, would have
overcome all fears on this account. Since this unfortunate business
has confined me to my chamber, I have done nothing but think over
circumstances which have at length so entirely taken possession of me,
that I must, at any sacrifice, have sought an opportunity to explain to
you"--here Emily looked down, and I continued--"I need scarcely say what
my feelings must long since have betrayed, that to have enjoyed the daily
happiness of living in your society, of estimating your worth, of feeling
your fascinations, were not the means most in request for him, who knew,
too well, how little he deserved, either by fortune or desert, to hope,
to hope to make you his; and yet, how little has prudence or caution to
do with situations like this." She did not guess the animus of this
speech. "I felt all I have described; and yet, and yet, I lingered on,
prizing too dearly the happiness of the present hour, to risque it by any
avowal of sentiments, which might have banished me from your presence for
ever. If the alteration of these hopes and fears have proved too strong
for my reason at last, I cannot help it; and this it is which now leads
me to make this avowal to you." Emily turned her head away from me; but
her agitated manner showed how deeply my words had affected her; and I
too, now that I had finished, felt that I had been "coming it rather
"I hoped, Mr. Lorrequer," said she, at length, "I hoped, I confess, to
have had an opportunity of speaking with you." Then, thought I, the game
is over, and Bishop Luscombe is richer by five pounds, than I wish him.--
"Something, I know not what, in your manner, led me to suspect that your
affections might lean towards me; hints you have dropped, and, now and
then, your chance allusions strengthened the belief, and I determined, at
length, that no feeling of maidenly shame on my part should endanger the
happiness of either of us, and I determined to see you; this was so
difficult, that I wrote a letter, and that letter, which might have saved
me all distressing explanation, I burned before you this morning."
"But, why, dearest girl,"--here was a plunge--"why, if the letter could
remove any misconstruction, or could be the means of dispelling any
doubt--why not let me see it?"
"Hear me out," cried she, eagerly, and evidently not heeding my
interruption, "I determined if your affections were indeed"--a flood of
tears here broke forth, and drowned her words; her head sank between her
hands, and she sobbed bitterly.
"Corpo di Baccho!" said I to myself, "It is all over with me; the poor
girl is evidently jealous, and her heart will break."
"Dearest, dearest Emily," said I, passing my arm round her, and
approaching my head close to her's, "if you think that any other love
than yours could ever beat within this heart--that I could see you hourly
before me--live beneath your smile, and gaze upon your beauty--and, still
more than all--pardon the boldness of the thought--feel that I was not
indifferent to you."--
"Oh! spare me this at least," said she, turning round her tearful eyes
upon me, and looking most bewitchingly beautiful. "Have I then showed
you this plainly?"
"Yes, dearest girl! That instinct which tells us we are loved has spoken
within me. And here in this beating heart"--
"Oh! say not more," said she, "if I have, indeed, gained your
"If--if you have," said I, clasping her to my heart, while she continued
to sob still violently, and I felt half disposed to blow my brains out
for my success. However, there is something in love-making as in fox-
hunting, which carries you along in spite of yourself; and I continued to
pour forth whole rhapsodies of love that the Pastor Fido could not equal.
"Enough," said she, "it is enough that you love me and that I have
encouraged your so doing. But oh! tell me once more, and think how much
of future happiness may rest upon your answer--tell me, may not this be
some passing attachment, which circumstances have created, and others may
dispel? Say, might not absence, time, or another more worthy"--
This was certainly a very rigid cross-examination when I thought the
trial was over; and not being exactly prepared for it, I felt no other
mode of reply than pressing her taper fingers alternately to my lips, and
muttering something that might pass for a declaration of love
unalterable, but, to my own ears, resembled a lament on my folly.
"She is mine now," thought I, "so we must e'en make the best of it; and
truly she is a very handsome girl, though not a Lady Jane Callonby. The
next step is the mamma; but I do not anticipate much difficulty in that
"Leave me now," said she, in a low and broken voice; "but promise not to
speak of this meeting to any one before we meet again. I have my
reasons; believe me they are sufficient ones, so promise me this before
Having readily given the pledge required, I again kissed her hand and
bade farewell, not a little puzzled the whole time at perceiving that
ever since my declaration and acceptance Emily seemed any thing but
happy, and evidently struggling against some secret feeling of which I
knew nothing. "Yes," thought I, as I wended my way along the corridor,
"the poor girl is tremendously jealous, and I must have said may a thing
during our intimacy to hurt her. However, that is all past and gone; and
now comes a new character for me: my next appearance wil be 'en bon
THOUGHTS UPON MATRIMONY IN GENERAL, AND IN THE ARMY IN PARTICULAR--THE
KNIGHT OF KERRY AND BILLY M'CABE.
"So," thought I, as I closed the door of my room behind me, "I am
accepted--the die is cast which makes me a Benedict: yet heaven knows
that never was a man less disposed to be over joyous at his good
fortune!" What a happy invention it were, if when adopting any road in
life, we could only manage to forget that we had ever contemplated any
other! It is the eternal looking back in this world that forms the
staple of all our misery; and we are but ill-requited for such
unhappiness by the brightest anticipations we can conjure up for the
future. How much of all that "past" was now to become a source of
painful recollection, and to how little of the future could I look
forward with even hope!
Our weaknesses are much more constantly the spring of all our annoyances
and troubles than even our vices. The one we have in some sort of
subjection: we are perfectly slaves to the others. This thought came
home most forcibly to my bosom, as I reflected upon the step which led me
on imperceptibly to my present embarrassment. "Well, c'est fini, now,"
said I, drawing upon that bountiful source of consolation ever open to
the man who mars his fortune--that "what is past can't be amended;" which
piece of philosophy, as well as its twin brother, that "all will be the
same a hundred years hence," have been golden rules to me from my
The transition from one mode of life to another perfectly different has
ever seemed to me a great trial of a man's moral courage; besides that
the fact of quitting for ever any thing, no matter how insignificant or
valueless, is always attended with painful misgivings. My bachelor life
had its share of annoyances and disappointments, it is true; but, upon
the whole it was a most happy one--and now I was about to surrender it
for ever, not yielding to the impulse of affection and love for one
without whom life were valueless to me, but merely a recompense for the
indulgence of that fatal habit I had contracted of pursuing with
eagerness every shadow that crossed my path. All my early friends--
all my vagrant fancies--all my daydreams of the future I was now to
surrender--for, what becomes of any man's bachelor friends when he is
once married? Where are his rambles in high and bye-ways when he has a
wife? and what is left for anticipation after his wedding except,
perhaps, to speculate upon the arrangement of his funeral? To a military
man more than to any other these are serious thoughts. All the
fascinations of an army life, in war or peace, lie in the daily, hourly
associations with your brother officers--the morning cigar, the barrack-
square lounge--the afternoon ride--the game of billiards before dinner--
the mess (that perfection of dinner society)--the plans for the evening--
the deviled kidney at twelve--forming so many points of departure whence
you sail out upon your daily voyage through life. Versus those you have
that awful perversion of all that is natural--an officer's wife. She has
been a beauty when young, had black eyes and high complexion, a good
figure, rather inclined to embonpoint, and a certain springiness in her
walk, and a jauntiness in her air, that are ever sure attractions to a
sub in a marching regiment. She can play backgammon, and sing "di tanti
palpiti," and, if an Irishwoman, is certain to be able to ride a steeple-
chase, and has an uncle a lord, who (en parenthese) always turns out to
be a creation made by King James after his abdication. In conclusion,
she breakfasts en papillote--wears her shoes down at heel--calls every
officer of the regiment by his name--has a great taste for increasing his
majesty's lieges, and delights in London porter. To this genus of Frow I
have never ceased to entertain the most thrilling abhorrence; and yet how
often have I seen what appeared to be pretty and interesting girls fall
into something of this sort! and how often have I vowed any fate to
myself rather than become the husband of a baggage-waggon wife!
Had all my most sanguine hopes promised realizing--had my suit with Lady
Jane been favourable, I could scarcely have bid adieu to my bachelor life
without a sigh. No prospect of future happiness can ever perfectly
exclude all regret at quitting our present state for ever. I am sure if
I had been a caterpillar, it would have been with a heavy heart that I
would have donned my wings as a butterfly. Now the metamorphosis was
reversed: need it be wondered if I were sad?
So completely was I absorbed in my thoughts upon this matter, that I had
not perceived the entrance of O'Leary and Trevanion, who, unaware of my
being in the apartment, as I was stretched upon a sofa in a dark corner,
drew their chairs towards the fire and began chatting.
"Do you know, Mr. Trevanion," said O'Leary, "I am half afraid of this
disguise of mine. I sometimes think I am not like a Pole; and if she
should discover me"--
"No fear of that in the world; your costume is perfect, your beard
unexceptionable. I could, perhaps, have desired a little less paunch;
"That comes of fretting, as Falstaff says; and you must not forget that
I am banished from my country."
"Now, as to your conversation, I should advise you saying very little--
not one word in English. You may, if you like, call in the assistance of
Irish when hard pressed?
"I have my fears on that score. There is no knowing where that might
lead to discovery. You know the story of the Knight of Kerry and Billy
"I fear I must confess my ignorance--I have never heard of it."
"Then may be you never knew Giles Daxon?"
"I have not had that pleasure either."
"Lord bless me, how strange that is! I thought he was better known than
the Duke of Wellington or the travelling piper. Well, I must tell you
the story, for it has a moral, too--indeed several morals; but you'll
find that out for yourself. Well, it seems that one day the Knight of
Kerry was walking along the Strand in London, killing an hour's time,
till the house was done prayers, and Hume tired of hearing himself
speaking; his eye was caught by an enormous picture displayed upon the
wall of a house, representing a human figure covered with long dark hair,
with huge nails upon his hands, and a most fearful expression of face.
At first the Knight thought it was Dr. Bowring; but on coming nearer he
heard a man with a scarlet livery and a cocked hat, call out, 'Walk in,
ladies and gentlemen--the most vonderful curiosity ever exhibited--only
one shilling--the vild man from Chippoowango, in Africay--eats raw
wittles without being cooked, and many other surprising and pleasing
"The knight paid his money, and was admitted. At first the crowd
prevented his seeing any thing--for the place was full to suffocation,
and the noise awful--for, besides the exclamations and applause of the
audience, there were three barrel-organs, playing 'Home, sweet Home!' and
'Cherry Ripe,' and the wild man himself contributed his share to the
uproar. At last, the Knight obtained, by dint of squeezing, and some
pushing a place in the front, when, to his very great horror, he beheld a
figure that far eclipsed the portrait without doors.
"It was a man nearly naked, covered with long, shaggy hair, that grew
even over his nose and cheek bones. He sprang about, sometimes on his
feet, sometimes, all-fours, but always uttering the most fearful yells,
and glaring upon the crowd, in a manner that was really dangerous. The
Knight did not feel exactly happy at the whole proceeding, and began
heartily to wish himself back in the 'House,' even upon a committee of
privileges, when, suddenly, the savage gave a more frantic scream than
before, and seized upon a morsel of raw beef, which a keeper extended to
him upon a long fork, like a tandem whip--he was not safe, it appears, at
close quarters;--this he tore to pieces eagerly and devoured in the most
voracious manner, amid great clapping of hands, and other evidences of
satisfaction from the audience. I'll go, now, thought the Knight: for,
God knows whether, in his hungry moods, he might not fancy to conclude
his dinner by a member of parliament. Just at this instant, some sounds
struck upon his ear that surprised him not a little. He listened more
attentively; and, conceive if you can, his amazement, to find that, amid
his most fearful cries, and wild yells, the savage was talking Irish.
Laugh, if you like; but it's truth I am telling you; nothing less than
Irish. There he was, jumping four feet high in the air, eating his raw
meat: pulling out his hair by handfuls; and, amid all this, cursing the
whole company to his heart's content, in as good Irish as ever was heard
in Tralee. Now, though the Knight had heard of red Jews and white
Negroes, he had never happened to read any account of an African
Irishman; so, he listened very closely, and by degrees, not only the
words were known to him, but the very voice was familiar. At length,
something he heard, left no further doubt upon his mind, and, turning to
the savage, he addressed him in Irish, at the same time fixing a look of
most scrutinizing import upon him.
"'Who are you, you scoundrel' said the Knight.
"'Billy M'Cabe your honour.'
"'And what do you mean by playing off these tricks here, instead of
earning your bread like an honest man?'
"'Whisht,' said Billy, 'and keep the secret. I'm earning the rent for
your honour. One must do many a queer thing that pays two pound ten an
acre for bad land.'
"This was enough: the Knight wished Billy every success, and left him
amid the vociferous applause of a well satisfied audience. This
adventure, it seems, has made the worthy Knight a great friend to the
introduction of poor laws; for, he remarks very truly, 'more of Billy's
countrymen might take a fancy to a savage life, if the secret was found
It was impossible for me to preserve my incognito, as Mr. O'Leary
concluded his story, and I was obliged to join in the mirth of Trevanion,
who laughed loud and long as he finished it.
O'Leary and Trevanion had scarcely left the room when the waiter entered
with two letters--the one bore a German post-mark, and was in the well-
known hand of Lady Callonby--the other in a writing with which I was no
less familiar--that of Emily Bingham.
Let any one who has been patient enough to follow me through these
"Confessions," conceive my agitation at this moment. There lay my fate
before me, coupled, in all likelihood, with a view of what it might have
been under happier auspices--at least so in anticipation did I read the
two unopened epistles. My late interview with Miss Bingham left no doubt
upon my mind that I had secured her affections; and acting in accordance
with the counsel of Trevanion, no less than of my own sense of right, I
resolved upon marrying her, with what prospect of happiness I dared not
to think of!
Alas! and alas! there is no infatuation like the taste for flirtation--
mere empty, valueless, heartless flirtation. You hide the dice-box and
the billiard queue, lest your son become a gambler--you put aside the
racing calendar, lest he imbibe a jockey predilection--but you never
tremble at his fondness for white muslin and a satin slipper, far more
dangerous tastes though they be, and infinitely more perilous to a man's
peace and prosperity than all the "queens of trumps" that ever figured,
whether on pasteboard or the Doncaster. "Woman's my weakness, yer
honor," said an honest Patlander, on being charged before the lord mayor
with having four wives living; and without having any such "Algerine act"
upon my conscience, I must, I fear, enter a somewhat similar plea for my
downfallings, and avow in humble gratitude, that I have scarcely had a
misfortune through life unattributable to them in one way or another.
And this I say without any reference to country, class, or complexion,
"black, brown or fair," from my first step forth into life, a raw sub. in
the gallant 4_th, to this same hour, I have no other avowal, no other
confession to make. "Be always ready with the pistol," was the dying
advice of an Irish statesman to his sons: mine, in a similar
circumstance, would rather be "Gardez vous des femmes," and more
especially if they be Irish.
There is something almost treacherous in the facility with which an
Irish girl receives your early attentions and appears to like them,
that invariably turns a young fellow's head very long before he has any
prospect of touching her heart. She thinks it so natural to be made love
to, that there is neither any affected coyness nor any agitated surprise.
She listens to your declaration of love as quietly as the chief justice
would to one of law, and refers the decision to a packed jury of her
relatives, who rarely recommend you to mercy. Love and fighting, too,
are so intimately united in Ireland, that a courtship rarely progresses
without at least one exchange of shots between some of the parties
concerned. My first twenty-four hours in Dublin is so pleasantly
characteristic of this that I may as well relate it here, while the
subject is before us; besides, as these "Confessions" are intended as
warnings and guides to youth, I may convey a useful lesson, showing why
a man should not "make love in the dark."
It was upon a raw, cold, drizzling morning in February, 18__, that our
regiment landed on the North-wall from Liverpool, whence we had been
hurriedly ordered to repress some riots and disturbances then agitating
We marched to the Royal Barracks, our band playing Patrick's Day, to the
very considerable admiration of as naked a population as ever loved
music. The __th dragoons were at the same time quartered there--right
pleasant jovial fellows, who soon gave us to understand that the troubles
were over before we arrived, and that the great city authorities were now
returning thanks for their preservation from fire and sword, by a series
of entertainments of the most costly, but somewhat incongruous kind--the
company being scarce less melee than the dishes. Peers and playactors,
judges and jailors, archbishops, tailors, attorneys, ropemakers and
apothecaries, all uniting in the festive delight of good feeding, and
drinking the "glorious memory"--but of whom half the company knew not,
only surmising "it was something agin the papists." You may smile, but
these were pleasant times, and I scarcely care to go back there since
they were changed. But to return. The __th had just received an
invitation to a ball, to be given by the high sheriff, and to which they
most considerately said we should also be invited. This negociation was
so well managed that before noon we all received our cards from a green
liveried youth, mounted on a very emaciated pony--the whole turn-out not
auguring flatteringly of the high sheriff's taste in equipage.
We dined with the __th, and, as customary before going to an evening
party, took the "other bottle" of claret that lies beyond the frontier of
prudence. In fact, from the lieutenant-colonel down to the newly-joined
ensign, there was not a face in the party that did not betray "signs of
the times" that boded most favourably for the mirth of the sheriff's
ball. We were so perfectly up to the mark, that our major, a Connemara
man, said, as we left the mess-room, "a liqueure glass would spoil us."
In this acme of our intellectual wealth, we started about eleven o'clock
upon every species of conveyance that chance could press into the
service. Of hackney coaches there were few--but in jingles, noddies, and
jaunting-cars, with three on a side and "one in the well," we mustered
strong--Down Barrack-street we galloped, the mob cheering us, we
laughing, and I'm afraid shouting a little, too--the watchmen springing
their rattles, as if instinctively at noise, and the whole population up
and awake, evidently entertaining a high opinion of our convivial
qualities. Our voices became gradually more decorous, however, as we
approached the more civilized quarter of the town; and with only the
slight stoppage of the procession to pick up an occasional dropper-off,
as he lapsed from the seat of a jaunting-car, we arrived at length at our
host's residence, somewhere in Sackville-street.
Had our advent conferred the order of knighthood upon the host, he could
not have received us with more "empressement." He shook us all in turn
by the hand, to the number of eight and thirty, and then presented us
seriatim to his spouse, a very bejewelled lady of some forty years--who,
what between bugles, feathers, and her turban, looked excessively like a
Chinese pagoda upon a saucer. The rooms were crowded to suffocation--the
noise awful--and the company crushing and elbowing rather a little more
than you expect where the moiety are of the softer sex. However, "on
s'habitue a tout," sayeth the proverb, and with truth, for we all so
perfectly fell in with the habits of the place, that ere half an hour,
we squeezed, ogled, leered, and drank champagne like the rest of the
"Devilish hot work, this," said the colonel, as he passed me with two
rosy-cheeked, smiling ladies on either arm; "the mayor--that little
fellow in the punch-coloured shorts--has very nearly put me hors de
combat with champagne; take care of him, I advise you."
Tipsy as I felt myself, I was yet sufficiently clear to be fully alive
to the drollery of the scene before me. Flirtations that, under other
circumstances, would demand the secrecy and solitude of a country green
lane, or some garden bower, were here conducted in all the open
effrontery of wax lights and lustres; looks were interchanged, hands
were squeezed, and soft things whispered, and smiles returned; till
the intoxication of "punch negus" and spiced port, gave way to the far
greater one of bright looks and tender glances. Quadrilles and country
dances--waltzing there was none, (perhaps all for the best)--whist,
backgammon, loo--unlimited for uproar--sandwiches, and warm liquors,
employed us pretty briskly till supper was announced, when a grand
squeeze took place on the stairs--the population tending thitherward with
an eagerness that a previous starvation of twenty-four hours could alone
justify. Among this dense mass of moving muslin, velvet and broad-cloth,
I found myself chaperoning an extremely tempting little damsel, with a
pair of laughing blue eyes and dark eyelashes, who had been committed to
my care and guidance for the passage.
"Miss Moriarty, Mr. Lorrequer," said an old lady in green and spangles,
who I afterwards found was the lady mayoress.
"The nicest girl in the room," said a gentleman with a Tipperary accent,
"and has a mighty nice place near Athlone."
The hint was not lost upon me, and I speedily began to faire l'amiable to
my charge; and before we reached the supper room, learned certain
particulars of her history, which I have not yet forgot. She was, it
seems, sister to a lady then in the room, the wife of an attorney, who
rejoiced in the pleasing and classical appellation of Mr. Mark Anthony
Fitzpatrick; the aforesaid Mark Anthony being a tall, raw-boned, black-
whiskered, ill-looking dog, that from time to time contrived to throw
very uncomfortable looking glances at me and Mary Anne, for she was so
named, the whole time of supper. After a few minutes, however, I totally
forgot him, and, indeed, every thing else, in the fascination of my fair
companion. She shared her chair with me, upon which I supported her by
my arm passed round the back; we eat our pickled salmon, jelly, blanc
mange, cold chicken, ham, and custard; off the same plate, with an
occasional squeeze of the finger, as our hands met--her eyes making sad
havoc with me all the while, as I poured my tale of love--love, lasting,
burning, all-consuming--into her not unwilling ear.
"Ah! now, ye'r not in earnest?"
"Yes, Mary Anne, by all that's"--
"Well, there now, don't swear, and take care--sure Mark Anthony is
"Mark Anthony be--"
"Oh! how passionate you are; I'm sure I never could live easy with you.
There, now, give me some sponge cake, and don't be squeezing me, or
they'll see you."
"Yes, to my heart, dearest girl."
"Och, it's cheese you're giving me," said she, with a grimace that nearly
cured my passion.
"A cottage, a hut, with you--with you," said I, in a cadence that I defy
Macready to rival--"what is worldly splendour, or the empty glitter of
I here glanced at my epaulettes, upon which I saw her eyes rivetted.
"Isn't the ginger beer beautiful," said she, emptying a glass of
Still I was not to be roused from my trance, and continued my courtship
as warmly as ever.
"I suppose you'll come home now," said a gruff voice behind Mary Anne.
I turned and perceived Mark Anthony with a grim look of peculiar import.
"Oh, Mark dear, I'm engaged to dance another set with this gentleman."
"Ye are, are ye?" replied Mark, eyeing me askance. "Troth and I think
the gentleman would be better if he went off to his flea-bag himself."
In my then mystified intellect this west country synonyme for a bed a
little puzzled me.
"Yes sir, the lady is engaged to me: have you any thing to say to that?"
"Nothing at present, at all," said Mark, almost timidly.
"Oh dear, oh dear," sobbed Mary Anne; "they're going to fight, and he'll
be killed--I know he will."
For which of us this fate was destined, I stopped not to consider, but
amid a very sufficient patting upon the back, and thumping between the
shoulders, bestowed by members of the company who approved of my
proceedings. The three fiddles, the flute, and bassoon, that formed our
band, being by this time sufficiently drunk, played after a fashion of
their own, which by one of those strange sympathies of our nature,
imparted its influence to our legs, and a country dance was performed in
a style of free and easy gesticulation that defies description. At the
end of eighteen couple, tired of my exertions--and they were not slight--
I leaned my back against the wall of the room, which I now, for the first
time, perceived was covered with a very peculiar and novel species of
hanging--no less than a kind of rough, green baize cloth, that moved and
floated at every motion of the air. I paid little attention to this,
till suddenly turning my head, something gave way behind it. I felt
myself struck upon the back of the neck, and fell forward into the room,
covered by a perfect avalanche of fenders, fire-irons, frying-pans, and
copper kettles, mingled with the lesser artillery of small nails, door
keys, and holdfasts. There I lay amid the most vociferous mirth I ever
listened to, under the confounded torrent of ironmongery that half-
stunned me. The laughter over, I was assisted to rise, and having drank
about a pint of vinegar, and had my face and temples washed in strong
whiskey punch--the allocation of the fluids being mistaken, I learned
that our host, the high sheriff, was a celebrated tin and iron man, and
that his salles de reception were no other than his magazine of metals,
and that to conceal the well filled shelves from the gaze of his
aristocratic guests, they were clothed in the manner related; which my
unhappy head, by some misfortune, displaced, and thus brought on a
calamity scarcely less afflicting to him than to myself. I should
scarcely have stopped to mention this here, were it not that Mary
Anne's gentle nursing of me in my misery went far to complete what her
fascination had begun; and although she could not help laughing at the
occurrence, I forgave her readily for her kindness.
"Remember," said I, trying to ogle through a black eye, painted by the
angle of a register grate--"remember, Mary Anne, I am to see you home."
"Oh! dear, sir, sure I don't know how you can manage it--"
Here Mark Anthony's entrance cut short this speech, for he came to
declare that some of the officers had taken his coach, and was, as might
be supposed, in a towering passion.
"If, sir," said I, with an air of the most balmy courtesy--"If I can be
of any use in assisting you to see your friends home--"
"Ah! then, ye'r a nice looking article to see ladies home. I wish you
seen yourself this minute," said he.
As I felt it would be no breach of the unities--time, place, and every
thing considered--to smash his skull, I should certainly have proceeded
to do so, had not a look of the most imploring kind from Mary Anne
restrained me. By this time, he had taken her under the arm, and was
leading her away. I stood irresolute, till a glance from my charmer
caught me; when I rallied at once, and followed them down stairs. Here
the scene was the full as amusing as above; the cloaking, shawling,
shoeing, &c., of the ladies being certainly as mirth-moving a process
as I should wish to see. Here were mothers trying to collect their
daughters, as a hen her chickens, and as in that case, the pursuit of one
usually lost all the others; testy papas swearing, lovers leering, as
they twisted the boas round the fair throats of their sweethearts; vows
of love, mingling with lamentations for a lost slipper, or a stray
mantle. Sometimes the candles were extinguished, and the melee became
greater, till the order and light were restored together. Meanwhile,
each of our fellows had secured his fair one, save myself, and I was
exposed to no small ridicule for my want of savoir faire. Nettled at
this, I made a plunge to the corner of the room, where Mary Anne was
shawling; I recognized her pink sash, threw her cloak over her shoulders,
and at the very moment that Mark Anthony drew his wife's arm within his,
I performed the same by my friend, and followed them to the door. Here,
the grim brother-in-law turned round to take Mary Anne's arm, and seeing
her with me, merely gave a kind of hoarse chuckle, and muttered, "Very
well, sir: upon my conscience you will have it, I see." During this
brief interval, so occupied was I in watching him, that I never once
looked in my fair friend's face; but the gentle squeeze of her arm, as
she leaned upon me, assured me that I had her approval of what I was
What were the precise train of my thoughts, and what the subjects of
conversation between us, I am unfortunately now unable to recollect.
It is sufficient to remember, that I could not believe five minutes had
elapsed, when we arrived at York-street. "Then you confess you love me,"
said I, as I squeezed her arm to my side.
"Then, by this kiss," said I, "I swear, never to relinquish."--
What I was about to add, I am sure I know not; but true it is, that a
certain smacking noise here attracted Mr. Mark Anthony's attention, who
started round, looked as full in the face, and then gravely added,
"Enough is as good as a feast. I wish you pleasant drames, Mr. Larry
Kar, if that's your name; and you'll hear from me in the morning."
"I intend it," said I. "Good night, dearest; think of--" The slam of
the street door in my face spoiled the peroration, and I turned towards
By the time I reached the barracks, the united effects of the champagne,
sherry, and Sheffield iron, had, in a good measure subsided, and my head
had become sufficiently clear to permit a slight retrospect of the
From two illusions I was at least awakened:--First, the high sheriff's
ball was not the most accurate representation of high society; secondly,
I was not deeply enamoured of Mary Anne Moriarty. Strange as it may
seem, and how little soever the apparent connexion between those two
facts, the truth of one had a considerable influence in deciding the
other. N'importe, said I, the thing is over; it was rather good fun,
too, upon the whole--saving the "chute des casseroles;" and as to the
lady, she must have seen it was a joke as well as myself. At least, so I
am decided it shall be; and as there was no witness to our conversation,
the thing is easily got out of.
The following day, as I was dressing to ride out, my servant announced no
less a person than Mr. Mark Anthony Fitzpatrick, who said "that he came
upon a little business, and must see me immediately."
Mr. Fitzpatrick, upon being announced, speedily opened his negociation by
asking in very terse and unequivocal phrase, my intentions regarding his
sister-in-law. After professing the most perfect astonishment at the
question, and its possible import, I replied, that she was a most
charming person, with whom I intended to have nothing whatever to do.
"And maybe you never proposed for her at the ball last night?"
"Propose for a lady at a ball the first time I ever met her!"
"Just so. Can you carry your memory so far back? or, perhaps I had
better refresh it;" and he here repeated the whole substance of my
conversation on the way homeward, sometimes in the very words I used.
"But, my dear sir, the young lady could never have supposed I used such
language as this you have repeated?"
"So, then, you intend to break off? Well, then, it's right to tell you
that you're in a very ugly scrape, for it was my wife you took home last
night--not Miss Moriarty; and I leave you to choose at your leisure
whether you'd rather be defendant in a suit for breach of promise or
seduction; and, upon my conscience, I think it's civil in me to give you
What a pretty disclosure was here! So that while I was imaging myself
squeezing the hand and winning the heart of the fair Mary Anne, I was
merely making a case of strong evidence for a jury, that might expose me
to the world, and half ruin me in damages. There was but one course
open--to make a fight for it; and, from what I saw of my friend Mark
Anthony, this did not seem difficult.
I accordingly assumed a high tone--laughed at the entire affair--said it
was a "way we had in the army"--that "we never meant any thing by it,"
In a few minutes I perceived the bait was taking. Mr. Fitzpatrick's west
country blood was up: all thought of the legal resource was abandoned;
and he flung out of the room to find a friend, I having given him the
name of "one of ours" as mine upon the occasion.
Very little time was lost, for before three o'clock that afternoon a
meeting was fixed for the following morning at the North Bull; and I had
the satisfaction of hearing that I only escaped the malignant eloquence
of Holmes in the King's Bench, to be "blazed" at by the best shot on the
western circuit. The thought was no way agreeable, and I indemnified
myself for the scrape by a very satisfactory anathema upon the high
sheriff and his ball, and his confounded saucepans; for to the lady's
sympathy for my sufferings I attributed much of my folly.
At eight the next morning I found myself standing with Curzon and the
doctor upon that bleak portion of her majesty's dominion they term the
North Bull, waiting in a chilly rain, and a raw fog, till it pleased Mark
Anthony Fitzpatrick, to come and shoot me--such being the precise terms
of our combat, in the opinion of all parties.
The time, however, passed on, and half-past eight, three quarters, and at
last nine o'clock, without his appearing; when, just as Curzon had
resolved upon our leaving the ground, a hack jaunting-car was seen
driving at full speed along the road near us. It came nearer and at
length drew up; two men leaped off and came towards us; one of whom, as
he came forward, took off his hat politely, and introduced himself as Mr.
O'Gorman, the fighting friend of Mark Anthony.
"It's a mighty unpleasant business I'm come upon, gentlemen," said he,
"Mr. Fitzpatrick has been unavoidedly prevented from having the happiness
to meet you this morning--"
"Then you can't expect us, sir, to dance attendance upon him here to-
morrow," said Curzon, interrupting.
"By no manner of means," replied the other, placidly; "for it would be
equally inconvenient for him to be here then. But I have only to say,
maybe you'd have the kindness to waive all etiquette, and let me stand in
"Certainly and decidedly not," said Curzon. "Waive etiquette!--why, sir,
we have no quarrel with you; never saw you before."
"Well, now, isn't this hard?" said Mr. O'Gorman, addressing his friend,
who stood by with a pistol-case under his arm; "but I told Mark that I
was sure they'd be standing upon punctilio, for they were English. Well,
sir," said he, turning towards Curzon, "there's but one way to arrange it
now, that I see. Mr. Fitzpatrick, you must know, was arrested this
morning for a trifle of L140. If you or your friend there, will join us
in the bail we can get him out, and he'll fight you in the morning to
When the astonishment this proposal had created subsided, we assured
Mr. O'Gorman that we were noways disposed to pay such a price for our
amusement--a fact that seemed considerably to surprise both him and his
friend--and adding, that to Mr. Fitzpatrick personally, we should feel
bound to hold ourselves pledged at a future period, we left the ground,
Curzon laughing heartily at the original expedient thus suggested, and I
inwardly pronounced a most glowing eulogy on the law of imprisonment for
Before Mr. Fitzpatrick obtained the benefit of the act, we were ordered
abroad, and I have never since heard of him.
THE TWO LETTERS.
From the digression of the last chapter I was recalled by the sight of
the two letters which lay during my reverie unopened before me. I first
broke the seal of Lady Callonby's epistle, which ran thus:
"Munich, La Croix Blanche,
"My dear Mr. Lorrequer--I have just heard from Kilkee, that you are
at length about to pay us your long promised visit, and write these
few lines to beg that before leaving Paris you will kindly execute
for me the commissions of which I enclose a formidable list, or at
least as many of them as you can conveniently accomplish. Our stay
here now will be short, that it will require all your despatch to
overtake us before reaching Milan, Lady Jane's health requiring an
immediate change of climate. Our present plans are, to winter in
Italy, although such will interfere considerably with Lord Callonby,
who is pressed much by his friends to accept office. However, all
this and our other gossip I reserve for our meeting. Meanwhile,
adieu, and if any of my tasks bore you, omit them at once, except
the white roses and the Brussels veil, which Lady Jane is most
How much did these few and apparently common-place lines convey to me?
First, my visit was not only expected, but actually looked forward to,
canvassed--perhaps I might almost whisper to myself the flattery--wished
for. Again, Lady Jane's health was spoken of as precarious, less actual
illness--I said to myself--than mere delicacy requiring the bluer sky and
warmer airs of Italy. Perhaps her spirits were affected--some mental
malady--some ill-placed passion--que sais je? In fact my brain run on
so fast in its devisings, that by a quick process, less logical than
pleasing, I satisfied myself that the lovely Lady Jane Callonby was
actually in love, with whom let the reader guess at. And Lord Callonby
too, about to join the ministry--well, all the better to have one's
father-in-law in power--promotion is so cursed slow now a-days. And
lastly, the sly allusion to the commissions--the mechancete of
introducing her name to interest me. With such materials as these to
build upon, frail as they may seem to others, I found no difficulty in
regarding myself as the dear friend of the family, and the acknowledged
suitor of Lady Jane.
In the midst, however, of all my self-gratulation, my eye fell upon the
letter of Emily Bingham, and I suddenly remembered how fatal to all such
happy anticipations it might prove. I tore it open in passionate haste
"My dear Mr. Lorrequer--As from the interview we have had this
morning I am inclined to believe that I have gained your affections,
I think that I should ill requite such a state of your feeling for
me, were I to conceal that I cannot return you mine--in fact they
are not mine to bestow. This frank avowal, whatever pain it may
have cost me, I think I owe to you to make. You will perhaps say,
the confession should have been earlier; to which I reply, it should
have been so, had I known, or even guessed at the nature of your
feelings for me. For--and I write it in all truth, and perfect
respect for you--I only saw in your attentions the flirting habits
of a man of the world, with a very uninformed and ignorant girl of
eighteen, with whom as it was his amusement to travel, he deemed it
worth his while to talk. I now see, and bitterly regret my error,
yet deem it better to make this painful confession than suffer you
to remain in a delusion which may involve your happiness in the
wreck of mine. I am most faithfully your friend,
What a charming girl she is, I cried, as I finished the letter; how full
of true feeling, how honourably, how straight-forward: and yet it is
devilish strange how cunningly she played her part--and it seems now that
I never did touch her affections; Master Harry, I begin to fear you are
not altogether the awful lady-killer you have been thinking. Thus did I
meditate upon this singular note--my delight at being once more "free"
mingling with some chagrin that I was jockied, and by a young miss of
eighteen, too. Confoundedly disagreeable if the mess knew it, thought I.
Per Baccho--how they would quiz upon my difficulty to break off a match,
when the lady was only anxious to get rid of me.
This affair must never come to their ears, or I am ruined; and now, the
sooner all negociations are concluded the better. I must obtain a
meeting with Emily. Acknowledge the truth and justice of all her views,
express my deep regret at the issue of the affair, slily hint that I have
been merely playing her own game back upon her; for it would be the devil
to let her go off with the idea that she had singed me, yet never caught
fire herself; so that we both shall draw stakes, and part friends.
This valiant resolution taken, I wrote a very short note, begging an
interview, and proceeded to make as formidable a toilet as I could for
the forthcoming meeting; before I had concluded which, a verbal answer by
her maid informed me, that "Miss Bingham was alone, and ready to receive
As I took my way along the corridor, I could not help feeling that among
all my singular scrapes and embarassing situations through life, my
present mission was certainly not the least--the difficulty, such as it
was, being considerably increased by my own confounded "amour propre,"
that would not leave me satisfied with obtaining my liberty, if I could
not insist upon coming off scathless also. In fact, I was not content to
evacuate the fortress, if I were not to march out with all the honours of
war. This feeling I neither attempt to palliate nor defend, I merely
chronicle it as, are too many of these confessions, a matter of truth,
yet not the less a subject for sorrow.
My hand was upon the lock of the door. I stopped, hesitated, and
listened. I certainly heard something. Yes, it is too true--she is
sobbing. What a total overthrow to all my selfish resolves, all my
egotistical plans, did that slight cadence give. She was crying--her
tears for the bitter pain she concluded I was suffering--mingling
doubtless with sorrow for her own sources of grief--for it was clear to
me that whoever may have been my favoured rival, the attachment was
either unknown to, or unsanctioned by the mother. I wished I had not
listened; all my determinations were completely routed and as I opened
the door I felt my heart beating almost audibly against my side.
In a subdued half-light--tempered through the rose-coloured curtains,
with a small sevres cup of newly-plucked moss-roses upon the table--sat,
or rather leaned, Emily Bingham, her face buried in her hands as
I entered. She did not hear my approach, so that I had above a minute
to admire the graceful character of her head, and the fine undulating
curve of her neck and shoulders, before I spoke.
"Miss Bingham," said I--
She started--looked up--her dark blue eyes, brilliant though tearful,
were fixed upon me for a second, as if searching my very inmost thoughts.
She held out her hand, and turning her head aside, made room for me on
the sofa beside her. Strange girl, thought I, that in the very moment
of breaking with a man for ever, puts on her most fascinating toilette--
arrays herself in her most bewitching manner, and gives him a reception
only calculated to turn his head, and render him ten times more in love
than ever. Her hand, which remained still in mine, was burning as if in
fever, and the convulsive movement of her neck and shoulders showed me
how much this meeting cost her. We were both silent, till at length,
feeling that any chance interruption might leave us as far as ever from
understanding each other, I resolved to begin.
"My dear, dear Emily," I said, "do not I entreat of you add to the misery
I am this moment enduring by letting me see you thus. Whatever your
wrongs towards me, this is far too heavy a retribution. My object was
never to make you wretched, if I am not to obtain the bliss, to strive
and make you happy."
"Oh, Harry"--this was the first time she had ever so called me--"how like
you, to think of me--of me, at such a time, as if I was not the cause of
all our present unhappiness--but not wilfully, not intentionally. Oh,
no, no--your attentions--the flattery of your notice, took me at once,
and, in the gratification of my self-esteem, I forgot all else. I heard,
too, that you were engaged to another, and believing, as I did, that you
were trifling with my affections, I spared no effort to win your's. I
confess it, I wished this with all my soul."
"And now," said I, "that you have gained them"--Here was a pretty sequel
to my well matured plans!--"And now Emily"--
"But have I really done so?" said she, hurriedly turning round and fixing
her large full eyes upon me, while one of her hands played convulsively
through my hair--"have I your heart? your whole heart?"
"Can you doubt it, dearest," said I, passionately pressing her to my
bosom; and at the same time muttering, "What the devil's in the wind now;
we are surely not going to patch up our separation, and make love in
There she lay, her head upon my shoulder, her long, brown, waving
ringlets falling loosely across my face and on my bosom, her hand in
mine. What were her thoughts I cannot guess--mine, God forgive me, were
a fervent wish either for her mother's appearance, or that the hotel
would suddenly take fire, or some other extensive calamity arise to put
the finishing stroke to this embarassing situation.
None of these, however, were destined to occur; and Emily lay still and
motionless as she was, scarce seeming to breathe, and pale as death.
What can this mean, said I, surely this is not the usual way to treat
with a rejected suitor; if it be, why then, by Jupiter the successful one
must have rather the worst of it--and I fervently hope that Lady Jane be
not at this moment giving his conge to some disappointed swain. She
slowly raised her long, black fringed eyelids, and looked into my face,
with an expression at once so tender and so plaintive, that I felt a
struggle within myself whether to press her to my heart, or--what the
deuce was the alternative. I hope my reader knows, for I really do not.
And after all, thought I, if we are to marry, I am only anticipating a
little; and if not, why then a "chaste salute," as Winifred Jenkins calls
it, she'll be none the worse for. Acting at once upon this resolve, I
leaned downwards, and passing back her ringlets from her now flushed
cheek, I was startled by my name, which I heard called several times in
the corridor. The door at the same instant was burst suddenly open, and
"Harry, Harry Lorrequer," cried he, as he entered; then suddenly checking
himself, added "a thousand, ten thousand pardons. But--"
"But what," cried I passionately, forgetting all save the situation of
poor Emily at the moment, "what can justify--"
"Nothing certainly can justify such an intrusion," said Trevanion,
finishing my sentence for me, "except the very near danger you run this
moment in being arrested. O'Leary's imprudence has compromised your
safety, and you must leave Paris within an hour."
"Oh, Mr. Trevanion," said Emily, who by this time had regained a more
befitting attitude, "pray speak out; what is it? is Harry--is Mr.
Lorrequer, I mean, in any danger?"
"Nothing of consequence, Miss Bingham, if he only act with prudence, and
be guided by his friends. Lorrequer, you will find me in your apartments
in half an hour--till then, adieu."
While Emily poured forth question after question, as to the nature and
extent of my present difficulty, I could not help thinking of the tact
by which Trevanion escaped, leaving me to make my adieux to Emily as best
I might--for I saw in a glance that I must leave Paris at once.
I, therefore, briefly gave her to understand the affair at the salon--
which I suspected to be the cause of the threatened arrest--and was about
to profess my unaltered and unalterable attachment, when she suddenly
"No, Mr. Lorrequer, no. All is over between us. We must never meet
again--never. We have been both playing a part. Good by--good by: do
not altogether forget me--and once more, Harry good by."
What I might have said, thought, or done, I know not; but the arrival of
Mrs. Bingham's carriage at the door left no time for any thing but
escape. So, once more pressing her hand firmly to my lips, I said--"au
revoir, Emily, au revoir, not good by," and rushing from the room,
regained my own, just as Mrs. Bingham reached the corridor.
MR. O'LEARY'S CAPTURE.
Does she really care for me? was my first question to myself as I left
the room. Is this story about pre-engaged affections merely a got up
thing, to try the force of my attachment for her? for, if not, her
conduct is most inexplicable; and great as my experience has been in
such affairs, I avow myself out maneuvered. While I thought over this
difficulty, Trevanion came up, and in a few words, informed me more fully
upon what he hinted at before. It appeared that O'Leary, much more alive
to the imperative necessity of avoiding detection by his sposa, than of
involving himself with the police, had thrown out most dark and
mysterious hints in the hotel as to the reason of his residence at Paris;
fully impressed with the idea that, to be a good Pole, he need only talk
"revolutionary;" devote to the powers below, all kings, czars, and
kaisers; weep over the wrongs of his nation; wear rather seedy
habiliments, and smoke profusely. The latter were with him easy
conditions, and he so completely acted the former to the life, that he
had been that morning arrested in the Tuilleries gardens, under several
treasonable charges--among others, the conspiracy, with some of his
compatriots to murder the minister of war.
However laughable such an accusation against poor O'Leary, one
circumstance rendered the matter any thing but ludicrous. Although he
must come off free of this grave offence, yet, the salon transaction
would necessarily now become known; I should be immediately involved,
and my departure from Paris prevented.
"So," said Trevanion, as he briefly laid before me the difficulty of my
position, "you may perceive that however strongly your affections may be
engaged in a certain quarter, it is quite as well to think of leaving
Paris without delay. O'Leary's arrest will be followed by yours, depend
upon it; and once under the surveillance of the police, escape is
"But, seriously, Trevanion," said I, nettled at the tone of raillery he
spoke in, "you must see that there is nothing whatever in that business.
I was merely taking my farewell of the fair Emily. Her affections have
been long since engaged, and I--"
"Only endeavouring to support her in her attachment to the more favoured
rival. Is it not so?"
"Come, no quizzing. Faith I began to feel very uncomfortable about
parting with her, the moment that I discovered that I must do so."
"So I guessed," said Trevanion, with a dry look, "from the interesting
scene I so abruptly trespassed upon. But you are right; a little bit of
tendresse is never misplaced, so long as the object is young, pretty, and
still more than all, disposed for it."
"Quite out; perfectly mistaken, believe me. Emily not only never cared
for me; but she has gone far enough to tell me so."
"Then, from all I know of such matters," replied he, "you were both in a
very fair way to repair that mistake on her part. But hark! what is
this?" A tremendous noise in the street here interrupted our colloquy,
and on opening the window, a strange scene presented itself to our eyes.
In the middle of a dense mass of moving rabble, shouting, yelling, and
screaming, with all their might, were two gens d'armes with a prisoner
between them. The unhappy man was followed by a rather well-dressed,
middle-aged looking woman, who appeared to be desirous of bestowing the
most covam publico endearments upon the culprit, whom a second glance
showed us was O'Leary.
"I tell you, my dear madam, you are mistaken," said O'Leary, addressing
her with great sternness of manner and voice.
"Mistaken! Never, never. How could I ever be mistaken in that dear
voice, those lovely eyes, that sweet little nose?"
"Take her away; she's deranged," said O'Leary to the gens d'armes.
"Sure, if I'm a Pole, that's enough of misfortune."
"I'll follow him to the end of the earth, I will."
"I'm going to the galleys, God be praised," said O'Leary.
"To the galleys--to the guillotine--any where," responded she, throwing
herself upon his neck, much less, as it seemed, to his gratification,
than that of the mob, who laughed and shouted most uproariously.
"Mrs. Ram, ain't you ashamed?"
"He calls me by my name," said she, "and he attempts to disown me. Ha!
ha! ha! ha!" and immediately fell off into a strong paroxysm of kicking,
and pinching, and punching the bystanders, a malady well known under the
name of hysterics; but being little more than a privileged mode, among
certain ladies, of paying off some scores, which it is not thought decent
to do in their more sober moments.
"Lead me away--anywhere--convict me of what you like," said he, "but
don't let her follow me."
The gens d'armes, who little comprehended the nature of the scene before
them, were not sorry to anticipate a renewal of it on Mrs. Ram's
recovery, and accordingly seized the opportunity to march on with
O'Leary, who turned the corner of the Rue Rivoli, under a shower of
"meurtriers" and "scelerats" from the mob, that fell fortunately most
unconsciously upon his ears.
The possibility of figuring in such a procession contributed much to the
force of Trevanion's reasonings, and I resolved to leave Paris at once.
"Promise me, then, to involve yourself in no more scrapes for half-an-
hour. Pack every thing you shall want with you, and, by seven o'clock,
I shall be here with your passport and all ready for a start."
With a beating brain, and in a whirlwind of conflicting thoughts, I threw
my clothes hither and thither into my trunk; Lady Jane and Emily both
flitting every instant before my imagination, and frequently an
irresolution to proceed stopping all my preparations for departure, I sat
down musing upon a chair, and half determined to stay where I was, coute
qui coute. Finally, the possibility of exposure in a trial, had its
weight. I continued my occupation till the last coat was folded, and the
lock turned, when I seated myself opposite my luggage, and waited
impatiently for my friend's return.
Trevanion came at last. He had obtained my passport, and engaged a
carriage to convey me about eight miles, where I should overtake the
diligence--such a mode of travelling being judged more likely to favour
my escape, by attracting less attention than posting. It was past ten
when I left the Rue St. Honore, having shaken hands with Trevanion for
the last time, and charged him with ten thousand soft messages for the
"friends" I left behind me.
When I arrived at the village of St. Jacques, the diligence had not come
up. To pass away the time, I ordered a little supper and a bottle of St.
Julien. Scarcely had I seated myself to my "cotelette," when the rapid
whirl of wheels was heard without, and a cab drew up suddenly at the
door. So naturally does the fugitive suspect pursuit, that my immediate
impression was, that I was followed. In this notion I was strengthened
by the tones of a cracked, discordant voice, asking in very peculiar
French if the "diligence had passed?" Being answered in the negative he
walked into the room where I was, and speedily by his appearance, removed
any apprehensions I had felt as to my safety. Nothing could less
resemble the tall port and sturdy bearing of a gendarme, than the
diminutive and dwarfish individual before me. His height could scarcely
have reached five feet, of which the head formed fully a fourth part; and
even this was rendered in appearance still greater by a mass of loosely
floating black hair that fell upon his neck and shoulders, and gave him
much the air of a "black lion" on a sign board. His black frock, fur-
collared and braided--his ill-made boots, his meerschaum projecting from
his breast-pocket, above all, his unwashed hands, and a heavy gold ring
upon his thumb--all made up an ensemble of evidences that showed he could
be nothing but a German. His manner was bustling, impatient, and had it
not been ludicrous, would certainly be considered as insolent to every
one about him, for he stared each person abruptly in the face, and
mumbled some broken expressions of his opinion of them half-aloud in
German. His comments ran on:--"Bon soir, Monsieur," to the host: "Ein
boesewicht, ganz sicher"--"a scoundrel without doubt;" and then added,
still lower, "Rob you here as soon as look at you." "Ah, postillion!
comment va?"--"much more like a brigand after all--I know which I'd take
you for." "Ver fluchte fraw"--"how ugly the woman is." This compliment
was intended for the hostess, who curtsied down to the ground in her
ignorance. At last approaching me, he stopped, and having steadily
surveyed me, muttered, "Ein echter Englander"--"a thorough Englishman,
always eating." I could not resist the temptation to assure him that I
was perfectly aware of his flattering impression in my behalf, though I
had speedily to regret my precipitancy, for, less mindful of the rebuke
than pleased at finding some one who understood German, he drew his chair
beside me and entered into conversation.
Every one has surely felt, some time or other in life, the insufferable
annoyance of having his thoughts and reflections interfered with, and
broken in upon by the vulgar impertinence and egotism of some "bore,"
who, mistaking your abstraction for attention and your despair for
delight, inflicts upon you his whole life and adventures, when your own
immediate destinies are perhaps vacillating in the scale.
Such a doom was now mine! Occupied as I was by the hope of the future,
and my fears lest any impediment to my escape should blast my prospects
for ever, I preferred appearing to pay attention to this confounded
fellow's "personal narrative" lest his questions, turning on my own
affairs, might excite suspicions as to the reasons of my journey.
I longed most ardently for the arrival of the diligence, trusting that
with true German thrift, by friend might prefer the cheapness of the
"interieure" to the magnificence of the "coupe," and that thus I should
see no more of him. But in this pleasing hope I was destined to be
disappointed, for I was scarcely seated in my place when I found him
beside me. The third occupant of this "privileged den," as well as my
lamp-light survey of him permitted, afforded nothing to build on as a
compensation for the German. He was a tall, lanky, lantern-jawed man,
with a hook nose and projecting chin; his hair, which had only been
permitted to grow very lately, formed that curve upon his forehead we
see in certain old fashioned horse-shoe wigs; his compressed lip and
hard features gave the expression of one who had seen a good deal of the
world, and didn't think the better of it in consequence. I observed that
he listened to the few words we spoke while getting in with some
attention, and then, like a person who did not comprehend the language,
turned his shoulder towards us, and soon fell asleep. I was now left to
the "tender mercies" of my talkative companion, who certainly spared me
not. Notwithstanding my vigorous resolves to turn a deaf ear to his
narratives, I could not avoid learning that he was the director of music
to some German prince--that he had been to Paris to bring out an opera
which having, as he said, a "succes pyramidal," he was about to repeat in
Strasbourg. He further informed me that a depute from Alsace had
obtained for him a government permission to travel with the courier; but
that he being "social" withal, and no ways proud, preferred the democracy
of the diligence to the solitary grandeur of the caleche, (for which
heaven confound him,) and thus became my present companion.
Music, in all its shapes and forms made up the staple of the little
man's talk. There was scarcely an opera or an overture, from Mozart to
Donizetti, that he did not insist upon singing a scene from; and wound up
all by a very pathetic lamentation over English insensibility to music,
which he in great part attributed to our having only one opera, which he
kindly informed me was "Bob et Joan." However indisposed to check the
current of his loquacity by any effort of mine, I could not avoid the
temptation to translate for him a story which Sir Walter Scott once
related to me, and was so far apropos, as conveying my own sense of the
merits of our national music, such as we have it, by its association with
scenes, and persons, and places we are all familiar with, however
unintelligible to the ear of a stranger.
A young French viscomte was fortunate enough to obtain in marriage the
hand of a singularly pretty Scotch heiress of an old family and good
fortune, who, amongst her other endowments, possessed a large old-
fashioned house in a remote district of the highlands, where her
ancestors had resided for centuries. Thither the young couple repaired
to pass their honeymoon; the enamoured bridegroom gladly availing himself
of the opportunity to ingratiate himself with his new connexion, by
adopting the seclusion he saw practised by the English on such occasions.
However consonant to our notions of happiness, and however conducive to
our enjoyment this custom be--and I have strong doubts upon the subject
--it certainly prospered ill with the volatile Frenchman, who pined for
Paris, its cafes, its boulevards, its maisons de jeu, and its soirees.
His days were passed in looking from the deep and narrow windows of some
oak-framed room upon the bare and heath-clad moors, or watching the
cloud's shadows as they passed across the dark pine trees that closed the
Ennuyee to death, and convinced that he had sacrificed enough and more
than enough to the barbarism which demanded such a "sejour," he was
sitting one evening listlessly upon the terrace in front of the house,
plotting a speedy escape from his gloomy abode, and meditating upon the
life of pleasure that awaited him, when the discordant twang of some
savage music broke upon his ear, and roused him from his reverie. The
wild scream and fitful burst of a highland pibroch is certainly not the
most likely thing in nature to allay the irritable and ruffled feelings
of an irascible person--unless, perhaps, the hearer eschew breeches. So
thought the viscomte. He started hurriedly up, and straight before him,
upon the gravel-walk, beheld the stalwart figure and bony frame of an old
highlander, blowing, with all his lungs, the "Gathering of the clans."
With all the speed he could muster, he rushed into the house, and,
calling his servants, ordered them to expel the intruder, and drive him
at once outside the demesne. When the mandate was made known to the old
piper, it was with the greatest difficulty he could be brought to
comprehend it--for, time out of mind, his approach had been hailed
with every demonstration of rejoicing; and now--but no; the thing was
impossible--there must be a mistake somewhere. He was accordingly about
to recommence, when a second and stronger hint suggested to him that it
were safer to depart. "Maybe the 'carl' did na like the pipes," said the
highlander musingly, as he packed them up for his march. "Maybe he did
na like me;" "perhaps, too, he was na in the humour of music." He paused
for an instant as if reflecting--not satisfied, probably, that he had hit
upon the true solution--when suddenly his eye brightened, his lips
curled, and fixing a look upon the angry Frenchman, he said--"Maybe ye
are right enow--ye heard them ower muckle in Waterloo to like the skirl
o' them ever since;" with which satisfactory explanation, made in no
spirit of bitterness or raillery, but in the simple belief that he had
at last hit the mark of the viscomte's antipathy, the old man gathered
up his plaid and departed.
However disposed I might have felt towards sleep, the little German
resolved I should not obtain any, for when for half an hour together I
would preserve a rigid silence, he, nowise daunted, had recourse to some
German "lied," which he gave forth with an energy of voice and manner
that must have aroused every sleeper in the diligence: so that, fain to
avoid this, I did my best to keep him on the subject of his adventures,
which, as a man of successful gallantry, were manifold indeed. Wearying
at last, even of this subordinate part, I fell into a kind of half doze.
The words of a student song he continued to sing without ceasing for
above an hour--being the last waking thought on my memory.