Part 7 out of 16
the tiger-hunt story was put aside for more stirring narratives
which he had to tell about the great campaign of Waterloo. As soon
as he had agreed to escort his sister abroad, it was remarked that
he ceased shaving his upper lip. At Chatham he followed the parades
and drills with great assiduity. He listened with the utmost
attention to the conversation of his brother officers (as he called
them in after days sometimes), and learned as many military names as
he could. In these studies the excellent Mrs. O'Dowd was of great
assistance to him; and on the day finally when they embarked on
board the Lovely Rose, which was to carry them to their destination,
he made his appearance in a braided frock-coat and duck trousers,
with a foraging cap ornamented with a smart gold band. Having his
carriage with him, and informing everybody on board confidentially
that he was going to join the Duke of Wellington's army, folks
mistook him for a great personage, a commissary-general, or a
government courier at the very least.
He suffered hugely on the voyage, during which the ladies were
likewise prostrate; but Amelia was brought to life again as the
packet made Ostend, by the sight of the transports conveying her
regiment, which entered the harbour almost at the same time with the
Lovely Rose. Jos went in a collapsed state to an inn, while Captain
Dobbin escorted the ladies, and then busied himself in freeing Jos's
carriage and luggage from the ship and the custom-house, for Mr. Jos
was at present without a servant, Osborne's man and his own pampered
menial having conspired together at Chatham, and refused point-blank
to cross the water. This revolt, which came very suddenly, and on
the last day, so alarmed Mr. Sedley, junior, that he was on the
point of giving up the expedition, but Captain Dobbin (who made
himself immensely officious in the business, Jos said), rated him
and laughed at him soundly: the mustachios were grown in advance,
and Jos finally was persuaded to embark. In place of the well-bred
and well-fed London domestics, who could only speak English, Dobbin
procured for Jos's party a swarthy little Belgian servant who could
speak no language at all; but who, by his bustling behaviour, and by
invariably addressing Mr. Sedley as "My lord," speedily acquired
that gentleman's favour. Times are altered at Ostend now; of the
Britons who go thither, very few look like lords, or act like those
members of our hereditary aristocracy. They seem for the most part
shabby in attire, dingy of linen, lovers of billiards and brandy,
and cigars and greasy ordinaries.
But it may be said as a rule, that every Englishman in the Duke of
Wellington's army paid his way. The remembrance of such a fact
surely becomes a nation of shopkeepers. It was a blessing for a
commerce-loving country to be overrun by such an army of customers:
and to have such creditable warriors to feed. And the country which
they came to protect is not military. For a long period of history
they have let other people fight there. When the present writer
went to survey with eagle glance the field of Waterloo, we asked the
conductor of the diligence, a portly warlike-looking veteran,
whether he had been at the battle. "Pas si bete"--such an answer
and sentiment as no Frenchman would own to--was his reply. But, on
the other hand, the postilion who drove us was a Viscount, a son of
some bankrupt Imperial General, who accepted a pennyworth of beer on
the road. The moral is surely a good one.
This flat, flourishing, easy country never could have looked more
rich and prosperous than in that opening summer of 1815, when its
green fields and quiet cities were enlivened by multiplied red-
coats: when its wide chaussees swarmed with brilliant English
equipages: when its great canal-boats, gliding by rich pastures and
pleasant quaint old villages, by old chateaux lying amongst old
trees, were all crowded with well-to-do English travellers: when the
soldier who drank at the village inn, not only drank, but paid his
score; and Donald, the Highlander, billeted in the Flemish farm-
house, rocked the baby's cradle, while Jean and Jeannette were out
getting in the hay. As our painters are bent on military subjects
just now, I throw out this as a good subject for the pencil, to
illustrate the principle of an honest English war. All looked as
brilliant and harmless as a Hyde Park review. Meanwhile, Napoleon
screened behind his curtain of frontier-fortresses, was preparing
for the outbreak which was to drive all these orderly people into
fury and blood; and lay so many of them low.
Everybody had such a perfect feeling of confidence in the leader
(for the resolute faith which the Duke of Wellington had inspired in
the whole English nation was as intense as that more frantic
enthusiasm with which at one time the French regarded Napoleon), the
country seemed in so perfect a state of orderly defence, and the
help at hand in case of need so near and overwhelming, that alarm
was unknown, and our travellers, among whom two were naturally of a
very timid sort, were, like all the other multiplied English
tourists, entirely at ease. The famous regiment, with so many of
whose officers we have made acquaintance, was drafted in canal boats
to Bruges and Ghent, thence to march to Brussels. Jos accompanied
the ladies in the public boats; the which all old travellers in
Flanders must remember for the luxury and accommodation they
afforded. So prodigiously good was the eating and drinking on board
these sluggish but most comfortable vessels, that there are legends
extant of an English traveller, who, coming to Belgium for a week,
and travelling in one of these boats, was so delighted with the fare
there that he went backwards and forwards from Ghent to Bruges
perpetually until the railroads were invented, when he drowned
himself on the last trip of the passage-boat. Jos's death was not
to be of this sort, but his comfort was exceeding, and Mrs. O'Dowd
insisted that he only wanted her sister Glorvina to make his
happiness complete. He sate on the roof of the cabin all day
drinking Flemish beer, shouting for Isidor, his servant, and talking
gallantly to the ladies.
His courage was prodigious. "Boney attack us!" he cried. "My dear
creature, my poor Emmy, don't be frightened. There's no danger.
The allies will be in Paris in two months, I tell you; when I'll
take you to dine in the Palais Royal, by Jove! There are three
hundred thousand Rooshians, I tell you, now entering France by
Mayence and the Rhine--three hundred thousand under Wittgenstein and
Barclay de Tolly, my poor love. You don't know military affairs, my
dear. I do, and I tell you there's no infantry in France can stand
against Rooshian infantry, and no general of Boney's that's fit to
hold a candle to Wittgenstein. Then there are the Austrians, they
are five hundred thousand if a man, and they are within ten marches
of the frontier by this time, under Schwartzenberg and Prince
Charles. Then there are the Prooshians under the gallant Prince
Marshal. Show me a cavalry chief like him now that Murat is gone.
Hey, Mrs. O'Dowd? Do you think our little girl here need be afraid?
Is there any cause for fear, Isidor? Hey, sir? Get some more
Mrs. O'Dowd said that her "Glorvina was not afraid of any man alive,
let alone a Frenchman," and tossed off a glass of beer with a wink
which expressed her liking for the beverage.
Having frequently been in presence of the enemy, or, in other words,
faced the ladies at Cheltenham and Bath, our friend, the Collector,
had lost a great deal of his pristine timidity, and was now,
especially when fortified with liquor, as talkative as might be. He
was rather a favourite with the regiment, treating the young
officers with sumptuosity, and amusing them by his military airs.
And as there is one well-known regiment of the army which travels
with a goat heading the column, whilst another is led by a deer,
George said with respect to his brother-in-law, that his regiment
marched with an elephant.
Since Amelia's introduction to the regiment, George began to be
rather ashamed of some of the company to which he had been forced to
present her; and determined, as he told Dobbin (with what
satisfaction to the latter it need not be said), to exchange into
some better regiment soon, and to get his wife away from those
damned vulgar women. But this vulgarity of being ashamed of one's
society is much more common among men than women (except very great
ladies of fashion, who, to be sure, indulge in it); and Mrs. Amelia,
a natural and unaffected person, had none of that artificial
shamefacedness which her husband mistook for delicacy on his own
part. Thus Mrs. O'Dowd had a cock's plume in her hat, and a very
large "repayther" on her stomach, which she used to ring on all
occasions, narrating how it had been presented to her by her
fawther, as she stipt into the car'ge after her mar'ge; and these
ornaments, with other outward peculiarities of the Major's wife,
gave excruciating agonies to Captain Osborne, when his wife and the
Major's came in contact; whereas Amelia was only amused by the
honest lady's eccentricities, and not in the least ashamed of her
As they made that well-known journey, which almost every Englishman
of middle rank has travelled since, there might have been more
instructive, but few more entertaining, companions than Mrs. Major
O'Dowd. "Talk about kenal boats; my dear! Ye should see the kenal
boats between Dublin and Ballinasloe. It's there the rapid
travelling is; and the beautiful cattle. Sure me fawther got a
goold medal (and his Excellency himself eat a slice of it, and said
never was finer mate in his loif) for a four-year-old heifer, the
like of which ye never saw in this country any day." And Jos owned
with a sigh, "that for good streaky beef, really mingled with fat
and lean, there was no country like England."
"Except Ireland, where all your best mate comes from," said the
Major's lady; proceeding, as is not unusual with patriots of her
nation, to make comparisons greatly in favour of her own country.
The idea of comparing the market at Bruges with those of Dublin,
although she had suggested it herself, caused immense scorn and
derision on her part. "I'll thank ye tell me what they mean by that
old gazabo on the top of the market-place," said she, in a burst of
ridicule fit to have brought the old tower down. The place was full
of English soldiery as they passed. English bugles woke them in the
morning; at nightfall they went to bed to the note of the British
fife and drum: all the country and Europe was in arms, and the
greatest event of history pending: and honest Peggy O'Dowd, whom it
concerned as well as another, went on prattling about Ballinafad,
and the horses in the stables at Glenmalony, and the clar't drunk
there; and Jos Sedley interposed about curry and rice at Dumdum; and
Amelia thought about her husband, and how best she should show her
love for him; as if these were the great topics of the world.
Those who like to lay down the History-book, and to speculate upon
what MIGHT have happened in the world, but for the fatal occurrence
of what actually did take place (a most puzzling, amusing,
ingenious, and profitable kind of meditation), have no doubt often
thought to themselves what a specially bad time Napoleon took to
come back from Elba, and to let loose his eagle from Gulf San Juan
to Notre Dame. The historians on our side tell us that the armies
of the allied powers were all providentially on a war-footing, and
ready to bear down at a moment's notice upon the Elban Emperor. The
august jobbers assembled at Vienna, and carving out the kingdoms of
Europe according to their wisdom, had such causes of quarrel among
themselves as might have set the armies which had overcome Napoleon
to fight against each other, but for the return of the object of
unanimous hatred and fear. This monarch had an army in full force
because he had jobbed to himself Poland, and was determined to keep
it: another had robbed half Saxony, and was bent upon maintaining
his acquisition: Italy was the object of a third's solicitude. Each
was protesting against the rapacity of the other; and could the
Corsican but have waited in prison until all these parties were by
the ears, he might have returned and reigned unmolested. But what
would have become of our story and all our friends, then? If all
the drops in it were dried up, what would become of the sea?
In the meanwhile the business of life and living, and the pursuits
of pleasure, especially, went on as if no end were to be expected to
them, and no enemy in front. When our travellers arrived at
Brussels, in which their regiment was quartered, a great piece of
good fortune, as all said, they found themselves in one of the
gayest and most brilliant little capitals in Europe, and where all
the Vanity Fair booths were laid out with the most tempting
liveliness and splendour. Gambling was here in profusion, and
dancing in plenty: feasting was there to fill with delight that
great gourmand of a Jos: there was a theatre where a miraculous
Catalani was delighting all hearers: beautiful rides, all enlivened
with martial splendour; a rare old city, with strange costumes and
wonderful architecture, to delight the eyes of little Amelia, who
had never before seen a foreign country, and fill her with charming
surprises: so that now and for a few weeks' space in a fine handsome
lodging, whereof the expenses were borne by Jos and Osborne, who was
flush of money and full of kind attentions to his wife--for about a
fortnight, I say, during which her honeymoon ended, Mrs. Amelia was
as pleased and happy as any little bride out of England.
Every day during this happy time there was novelty and amusement for
all parties. There was a church to see, or a picture-gallery--there
was a ride, or an opera. The bands of the regiments were making
music at all hours. The greatest folks of England walked in the
Park--there was a perpetual military festival. George, taking out
his wife to a new jaunt or junket every night, was quite pleased
with himself as usual, and swore he was becoming quite a domestic
character. And a jaunt or a junket with HIM! Was it not enough to
set this little heart beating with joy? Her letters home to her
mother were filled with delight and gratitude at this season. Her
husband bade her buy laces, millinery, jewels, and gimcracks of all
sorts. Oh, he was the kindest, best, and most generous of men!
The sight of the very great company of lords and ladies and
fashionable persons who thronged the town, and appeared in every
public place, filled George's truly British soul with intense
delight. They flung off that happy frigidity and insolence of
demeanour which occasionally characterises the great at home, and
appearing in numberless public places, condescended to mingle with
the rest of the company whom they met there. One night at a party
given by the general of the division to which George's regiment
belonged, he had the honour of dancing with Lady Blanche
Thistlewood, Lord Bareacres' daughter; he bustled for ices and
refreshments for the two noble ladies; he pushed and squeezed for
Lady Bareacres' carriage; he bragged about the Countess when he got
home, in a way which his own father could not have surpassed. He
called upon the ladies the next day; he rode by their side in the
Park; he asked their party to a great dinner at a restaurateur's,
and was quite wild with exultation when they agreed to come. Old
Bareacres, who had not much pride and a large appetite, would go for
a dinner anywhere.
"I hope there will be no women besides our own party," Lady
Bareacres said, after reflecting upon the invitation which had been
made, and accepted with too much precipitancy.
"Gracious Heaven, Mamma--you don't suppose the man would bring his
wife," shrieked Lady Blanche, who had been languishing in George's
arms in the newly imported waltz for hours the night before. "The
men are bearable, but their women--"
"Wife, just married, dev'lish pretty woman, I hear," the old Earl
"Well, my dear Blanche," said the mother, "I suppose, as Papa wants
to go, we must go; but we needn't know them in England, you know."
And so, determined to cut their new acquaintance in Bond Street,
these great folks went to eat his dinner at Brussels, and
condescending to make him pay for their pleasure, showed their
dignity by making his wife uncomfortable, and carefully excluding
her from the conversation. This is a species of dignity in which
the high-bred British female reigns supreme. To watch the behaviour
of a fine lady to other and humbler women, is a very good sport for
a philosophical frequenter of Vanity Fair.
This festival, on which honest George spent a great deal of money,
was the very dismallest of all the entertainments which Amelia had
in her honeymoon. She wrote the most piteous accounts of the feast
home to her mamma: how the Countess of Bareacres would not answer
when spoken to; how Lady Blanche stared at her with her eye-glass;
and what a rage Captain Dobbin was in at their behaviour; and how my
lord, as they came away from the feast, asked to see the bill, and
pronounced it a d--- bad dinner, and d--- dear. But though Amelia
told all these stories, and wrote home regarding her guests'
rudeness, and her own discomfiture, old Mrs. Sedley was mightily
pleased nevertheless, and talked about Emmy's friend, the Countess
of Bareacres, with such assiduity that the news how his son was
entertaining peers and peeresses actually came to Osborne's ears in
Those who know the present Lieutenant-General Sir George Tufto,
K.C.B., and have seen him, as they may on most days in the season,
padded and in stays, strutting down Pall Mall with a rickety swagger
on his high-heeled lacquered boots, leering under the bonnets of
passers-by, or riding a showy chestnut, and ogling broughams in the
Parks--those who know the present Sir George Tufto would hardly
recognise the daring Peninsular and Waterloo officer. He has thick
curling brown hair and black eyebrows now, and his whiskers are of
the deepest purple. He was light-haired and bald in 1815, and
stouter in the person and in the limbs, which especially have shrunk
very much of late. When he was about seventy years of age (he is
now nearly eighty), his hair, which was very scarce and quite white,
suddenly grew thick, and brown, and curly, and his whiskers and
eyebrows took their present colour. Ill-natured people say that his
chest is all wool, and that his hair, because it never grows, is a
wig. Tom Tufto, with whose father he quarrelled ever so many years
ago, declares that Mademoiselle de Jaisey, of the French theatre,
pulled his grandpapa's hair off in the green-room; but Tom is
notoriously spiteful and jealous; and the General's wig has nothing
to do with our story.
One day, as some of our friends of the --th were sauntering in the
flower-market of Brussels, having been to see the Hotel de Ville,
which Mrs. Major O'Dowd declared was not near so large or handsome
as her fawther's mansion of Glenmalony, an officer of rank, with an
orderly behind him, rode up to the market, and descending from his
horse, came amongst the flowers, and selected the very finest
bouquet which money could buy. The beautiful bundle being tied up in
a paper, the officer remounted, giving the nosegay into the charge
of his military groom, who carried it with a grin, following his
chief, who rode away in great state and self-satisfaction.
"You should see the flowers at Glenmalony," Mrs. O'Dowd was
remarking. "Me fawther has three Scotch garners with nine helpers.
We have an acre of hot-houses, and pines as common as pays in the
sayson. Our greeps weighs six pounds every bunch of 'em, and upon
me honour and conscience I think our magnolias is as big as
Dobbin, who never used to "draw out" Mrs. O'Dowd as that wicked
Osborne delighted in doing (much to Amelia's terror, who implored
him to spare her), fell back in the crowd, crowing and sputtering
until he reached a safe distance, when he exploded amongst the
astonished market-people with shrieks of yelling laughter.
"Hwhat's that gawky guggling about?" said Mrs. O'Dowd. "Is it his
nose bleedn? He always used to say 'twas his nose bleedn, till he
must have pomped all the blood out of 'um. An't the magnolias at
Glenmalony as big as taykettles, O'Dowd?"
"'Deed then they are, and bigger, Peggy," the Major said. When the
conversation was interrupted in the manner stated by the arrival of
the officer who purchased the bouquet.
"Devlish fine horse--who is it?" George asked.
"You should see me brother Molloy Malony's horse, Molasses, that won
the cop at the Curragh," the Major's wife was exclaiming, and was
continuing the family history, when her husband interrupted her by
"It's General Tufto, who commands the ---- cavalry division"; adding
quietly, "he and I were both shot in the same leg at Talavera."
"Where you got your step," said George with a laugh. "General Tufto!
Then, my dear, the Crawleys are come."
Amelia's heart fell--she knew not why. The sun did not seem to
shine so bright. The tall old roofs and gables looked less
picturesque all of a sudden, though it was a brilliant sunset, and
one of the brightest and most beautiful days at the end of May.
Mr. Jos had hired a pair of horses for his open carriage, with which
cattle, and the smart London vehicle, he made a very tolerable
figure in the drives about Brussels. George purchased a horse for
his private riding, and he and Captain Dobbin would often accompany
the carriage in which Jos and his sister took daily excursions of
pleasure. They went out that day in the park for their accustomed
diversion, and there, sure enough, George's remark with regard to
the arrival of Rawdon Crawley and his wife proved to be correct. In
the midst of a little troop of horsemen, consisting of some of the
very greatest persons in Brussels, Rebecca was seen in the prettiest
and tightest of riding-habits, mounted on a beautiful little Arab,
which she rode to perfection (having acquired the art at Queen's
Crawley, where the Baronet, Mr. Pitt, and Rawdon himself had given
her many lessons), and by the side of the gallant General Tufto.
"Sure it's the Juke himself," cried Mrs. Major O'Dowd to Jos, who
began to blush violently; "and that's Lord Uxbridge on the bay. How
elegant he looks! Me brother, Molloy Malony, is as like him as two
Rebecca did not make for the carriage; but as soon as she perceived
her old acquaintance Amelia seated in it, acknowledged her presence
by a gracious nod and smile, and by kissing and shaking her fingers
playfully in the direction of the vehicle. Then she resumed her
conversation with General Tufto, who asked "who the fat officer was
in the gold-laced cap?" on which Becky replied, "that he was an
officer in the East Indian service." But Rawdon Crawley rode out of
the ranks of his company, and came up and shook hands heartily with
Amelia, and said to Jos, "Well, old boy, how are you?" and stared in
Mrs. O'Dowd's face and at the black cock's feathers until she began
to think she had made a conquest of him.
George, who had been delayed behind, rode up almost immediately with
Dobbin, and they touched their caps to the august personages, among
whom Osborne at once perceived Mrs. Crawley. He was delighted to
see Rawdon leaning over his carriage familiarly and talking to
Amelia, and met the aide-de-camp's cordial greeting with more than
corresponding warmth. The nods between Rawdon and Dobbin were of
the very faintest specimens of politeness.
Crawley told George where they were stopping with General Tufto at
the Hotel du Parc, and George made his friend promise to come
speedily to Osborne's own residence. "Sorry I hadn't seen you three
days ago," George said. "Had a dinner at the Restaurateur's--rather
a nice thing. Lord Bareacres, and the Countess, and Lady Blanche,
were good enough to dine with us--wish we'd had you." Having thus
let his friend know his claims to be a man of fashion, Osborne
parted from Rawdon, who followed the august squadron down an alley
into which they cantered, while George and Dobbin resumed their
places, one on each side of Amelia's carriage.
"How well the Juke looked," Mrs. O'Dowd remarked. "The Wellesleys
and Malonys are related; but, of course, poor I would never dream of
introjuicing myself unless his Grace thought proper to remember our
"He's a great soldier," Jos said, much more at ease now the great
man was gone. "Was there ever a battle won like Salamanca? Hey,
Dobbin? But where was it he learnt his art? In India, my boy! The
jungle's the school for a general, mark me that. I knew him myself,
too, Mrs. O'Dowd: we both of us danced the same evening with Miss
Cutler, daughter of Cutler of the Artillery, and a devilish fine
girl, at Dumdum."
The apparition of the great personages held them all in talk during
the drive; and at dinner; and until the hour came when they were all
to go to the Opera.
It was almost like Old England. The house was filled with familiar
British faces, and those toilettes for which the British female has
long been celebrated. Mrs. O'Dowd's was not the least splendid
amongst these, and she had a curl on her forehead, and a set of
Irish diamonds and Cairngorms, which outshone all the decorations in
the house, in her notion. Her presence used to excruciate Osborne;
but go she would upon all parties of pleasure on which she heard her
young friends were bent. It never entered into her thought but that
they must be charmed with her company.
"She's been useful to you, my dear," George said to his wife, whom
he could leave alone with less scruple when she had this society.
"But what a comfort it is that Rebecca's come: you will have her
for a friend, and we may get rid now of this damn'd Irishwoman." To
this Amelia did not answer, yes or no: and how do we know what her
The coup d'oeil of the Brussels opera-house did not strike Mrs.
O'Dowd as being so fine as the theatre in Fishamble Street, Dublin,
nor was French music at all equal, in her opinion, to the melodies
of her native country. She favoured her friends with these and other
opinions in a very loud tone of voice, and tossed about a great
clattering fan she sported, with the most splendid complacency.
"Who is that wonderful woman with Amelia, Rawdon, love?" said a lady
in an opposite box (who, almost always civil to her husband in
private, was more fond than ever of him in company).
"Don't you see that creature with a yellow thing in her turban, and
a red satin gown, and a great watch?"
"Near the pretty little woman in white?" asked a middle-aged
gentleman seated by the querist's side, with orders in his button,
and several under-waistcoats, and a great, choky, white stock.
"That pretty woman in white is Amelia, General: you are remarking
all the pretty women, you naughty man."
"Only one, begad, in the world!" said the General, delighted, and
the lady gave him a tap with a large bouquet which she had.
"Bedad it's him," said Mrs. O'Dowd; "and that's the very bokay he
bought in the Marshy aux Flures!" and when Rebecca, having caught
her friend's eye, performed the little hand-kissing operation once
more, Mrs. Major O'D., taking the compliment to herself, returned
the salute with a gracious smile, which sent that unfortunate Dobbin
shrieking out of the box again.
At the end of the act, George was out of the box in a moment, and he
was even going to pay his respects to Rebecca in her loge. He met
Crawley in the lobby, however, where they exchanged a few sentences
upon the occurrences of the last fortnight.
"You found my cheque all right at the agent's? George said, with a
"All right, my boy," Rawdon answered. "Happy to give you your
revenge. Governor come round?"
"Not yet," said George, "but he will; and you know I've some private
fortune through my mother. Has Aunty relented?"
"Sent me twenty pound, damned old screw. When shall we have a meet?
The General dines out on Tuesday. Can't you come Tuesday? I say,
make Sedley cut off his moustache. What the devil does a civilian
mean with a moustache and those infernal frogs to his coat! By-bye.
Try and come on Tuesday"; and Rawdon was going-off with two
brilliant young gentlemen of fashion, who were, like himself, on the
staff of a general officer.
George was only half pleased to be asked to dinner on that
particular day when the General was not to dine. "I will go in and
pay my respects to your wife," said he; at which Rawdon said, "Hm,
as you please," looking very glum, and at which the two young
officers exchanged knowing glances. George parted from them and
strutted down the lobby to the General's box, the number of which he
had carefully counted.
"Entrez," said a clear little voice, and our friend found himself in
Rebecca's presence; who jumped up, clapped her hands together, and
held out both of them to George, so charmed was she to see him. The
General, with the orders in his button, stared at the newcomer with
a sulky scowl, as much as to say, who the devil are you?
"My dear Captain George!" cried little Rebecca in an ecstasy. "How
good of you to come. The General and I were moping together tete-a-
tete. General, this is my Captain George of whom you heard me
"Indeed," said the General, with a very small bow; "of what regiment
is Captain George?"
George mentioned the --th: how he wished he could have said it was a
crack cavalry corps.
"Come home lately from the West Indies, I believe. Not seen much
service in the late war. Quartered here, Captain George?"--the
General went on with killing haughtiness.
"Not Captain George, you stupid man; Captain Osborne," Rebecca said.
The General all the while was looking savagely from one to the
"Captain Osborne, indeed! Any relation to the L------ Osbornes?"
"We bear the same arms," George said, as indeed was the fact; Mr.
Osborne having consulted with a herald in Long Acre, and picked the
L------ arms out of the peerage, when he set up his carriage fifteen
years before. The General made no reply to this announcement; but
took up his opera-glass--the double-barrelled lorgnon was not
invented in those days--and pretended to examine the house; but
Rebecca saw that his disengaged eye was working round in her
direction, and shooting out bloodshot glances at her and George.
She redoubled in cordiality. "How is dearest Amelia? But I needn't
ask: how pretty she looks! And who is that nice good-natured
looking creature with her--a flame of yours? O, you wicked men!
And there is Mr. Sedley eating ice, I declare: how he seems to enjoy
it! General, why have we not had any ices?"
"Shall I go and fetch you some?" said the General, bursting with
"Let ME go, I entreat you," George said.
"No, I will go to Amelia's box. Dear, sweet girl! Give me your
arm, Captain George"; and so saying, and with a nod to the General,
she tripped into the lobby. She gave George the queerest,
knowingest look, when they were together, a look which might have
been interpreted, "Don't you see the state of affairs, and what a
fool I'm making of him?" But he did not perceive it. He was
thinking of his own plans, and lost in pompous admiration of his own
irresistible powers of pleasing.
The curses to which the General gave a low utterance, as soon as
Rebecca and her conqueror had quitted him, were so deep, that I am
sure no compositor would venture to print them were they written
down. They came from the General's heart; and a wonderful thing it
is to think that the human heart is capable of generating such
produce, and can throw out, as occasion demands, such a supply of
lust and fury, rage and hatred.
Amelia's gentle eyes, too, had been fixed anxiously on the pair,
whose conduct had so chafed the jealous General; but when Rebecca
entered her box, she flew to her friend with an affectionate rapture
which showed itself, in spite of the publicity of the place; for she
embraced her dearest friend in the presence of the whole house, at
least in full view of the General's glass, now brought to bear upon
the Osborne party. Mrs. Rawdon saluted Jos, too, with the kindliest
greeting: she admired Mrs. O'Dowd's large Cairngorm brooch and
superb Irish diamonds, and wouldn't believe that they were not from
Golconda direct. She bustled, she chattered, she turned and twisted,
and smiled upon one, and smirked on another, all in full view of the
jealous opera-glass opposite. And when the time for the ballet came
(in which there was no dancer that went through her grimaces or
performed her comedy of action better), she skipped back to her own
box, leaning on Captain Dobbin's arm this time. No, she would not
have George's: he must stay and talk to his dearest, best, little
"What a humbug that woman is!" honest old Dobbin mumbled to George,
when he came back from Rebecca's box, whither he had conducted her
in perfect silence, and with a countenance as glum as an
undertaker's. "She writhes and twists about like a snake. All the
time she was here, didn't you see, George, how she was acting at the
General over the way?"
"Humbug--acting! Hang it, she's the nicest little woman in
England," George replied, showing his white teeth, and giving his
ambrosial whiskers a twirl. "You ain't a man of the world, Dobbin.
Dammy, look at her now, she's talked over Tufto in no time. Look
how he's laughing! Gad, what a shoulder she has! Emmy, why didn't
you have a bouquet? Everybody has a bouquet."
"Faith, then, why didn't you BOY one?" Mrs. O'Dowd said; and both
Amelia and William Dobbin thanked her for this timely observation.
But beyond this neither of the ladies rallied. Amelia was
overpowered by the flash and the dazzle and the fashionable talk of
her worldly rival. Even the O'Dowd was silent and subdued after
Becky's brilliant apparition, and scarcely said a word more about
Glenmalony all the evening.
"When do you intend to give up play, George, as you have promised
me, any time these hundred years?" Dobbin said to his friend a few
days after the night at the Opera. "When do you intend to give up
sermonising?" was the other's reply. "What the deuce, man, are you
alarmed about? We play low; I won last night. You don't suppose
Crawley cheats? With fair play it comes to pretty much the same
thing at the year's end."
"But I don't think he could pay if he lost," Dobbin said; and his
advice met with the success which advice usually commands. Osborne
and Crawley were repeatedly together now. General Tufto dined
abroad almost constantly. George was always welcome in the
apartments (very close indeed to those of the General) which the
aide-de-camp and his wife occupied in the hotel.
Amelia's manners were such when she and George visited Crawley and
his wife at these quarters, that they had very nearly come to their
first quarrel; that is, George scolded his wife violently for her
evident unwillingness to go, and the high and mighty manner in which
she comported herself towards Mrs. Crawley, her old friend; and
Amelia did not say one single word in reply; but with her husband's
eye upon her, and Rebecca scanning her as she felt, was, if
possible, more bashful and awkward on the second visit which she
paid to Mrs. Rawdon, than on her first call.
Rebecca was doubly affectionate, of course, and would not take
notice, in the least, of her friend's coolness. "I think Emmy has
become prouder since her father's name was in the--since Mr.
Sedley's MISFORTUNES," Rebecca said, softening the phrase charitably
for George's ear.
"Upon my word, I thought when we were at Brighton she was doing me
the honour to be jealous of me; and now I suppose she is scandalised
because Rawdon, and I, and the General live together. Why, my dear
creature, how could we, with our means, live at all, but for a
friend to share expenses? And do you suppose that Rawdon is not big
enough to take care of my honour? But I'm very much obliged to
Emmy, very," Mrs. Rawdon said.
"Pooh, jealousy!" answered George, "all women are jealous."
"And all men too. Weren't you jealous of General Tufto, and the
General of you, on the night of the Opera? Why, he was ready to eat
me for going with you to visit that foolish little wife of yours; as
if I care a pin for either of you," Crawley's wife said, with a pert
toss of her head. "Will you dine here? The dragon dines with the
Commander-in-Chief. Great news is stirring. They say the French
have crossed the frontier. We shall have a quiet dinner."
George accepted the invitation, although his wife was a little
ailing. They were now not quite six weeks married. Another woman
was laughing or sneering at her expense, and he not angry. He was
not even angry with himself, this good-natured fellow. It is a
shame, he owned to himself; but hang it, if a pretty woman WILL
throw herself in your way, why, what can a fellow do, you know? I
AM rather free about women, he had often said, smiling and nodding
knowingly to Stubble and Spooney, and other comrades of the mess-
table; and they rather respected him than otherwise for this
prowess. Next to conquering in war, conquering in love has been a
source of pride, time out of mind, amongst men in Vanity Fair, or
how should schoolboys brag of their amours, or Don Juan be popular?
So Mr. Osborne, having a firm conviction in his own mind that he was
a woman-killer and destined to conquer, did not run counter to his
fate, but yielded himself up to it quite complacently. And as Emmy
did not say much or plague him with her jealousy, but merely became
unhappy and pined over it miserably in secret, he chose to fancy
that she was not suspicious of what all his acquaintance were
perfectly aware--namely, that he was carrying on a desperate
flirtation with Mrs. Crawley. He rode with her whenever she was
free. He pretended regimental business to Amelia (by which
falsehood she was not in the least deceived), and consigning his
wife to solitude or her brother's society, passed his evenings in
the Crawleys' company; losing money to the husband and flattering
himself that the wife was dying of love for him. It is very likely
that this worthy couple never absolutely conspired and agreed
together in so many words: the one to cajole the young gentleman,
whilst the other won his money at cards: but they understood each
other perfectly well, and Rawdon let Osborne come and go with entire
George was so occupied with his new acquaintances that he and
William Dobbin were by no means so much together as formerly.
George avoided him in public and in the regiment, and, as we see,
did not like those sermons which his senior was disposed to inflict
upon him. If some parts of his conduct made Captain Dobbin
exceedingly grave and cool; of what use was it to tell George that,
though his whiskers were large, and his own opinion of his
knowingness great, he was as green as a schoolboy? that Rawdon was
making a victim of him as he had done of many before, and as soon as
he had used him would fling him off with scorn? He would not
listen: and so, as Dobbin, upon those days when he visited the
Osborne house, seldom had the advantage of meeting his old friend,
much painful and unavailing talk between them was spared. Our
friend George was in the full career of the pleasures of Vanity
There never was, since the days of Darius, such a brilliant train of
camp-followers as hung round the Duke of Wellington's army in the
Low Countries, in 1815; and led it dancing and feasting, as it were,
up to the very brink of battle. A certain ball which a noble
Duchess gave at Brussels on the 15th of June in the above-named year
is historical. All Brussels had been in a state of excitement about
it, and I have heard from ladies who were in that town at the
period, that the talk and interest of persons of their own sex
regarding the ball was much greater even than in respect of the
enemy in their front. The struggles, intrigues, and prayers to get
tickets were such as only English ladies will employ, in order to
gain admission to the society of the great of their own nation.
Jos and Mrs. O'Dowd, who were panting to be asked, strove in vain to
procure tickets; but others of our friends were more lucky. For
instance, through the interest of my Lord Bareacres, and as a set-
off for the dinner at the restaurateur's, George got a card for
Captain and Mrs. Osborne; which circumstance greatly elated him.
Dobbin, who was a friend of the General commanding the division in
which their regiment was, came laughing one day to Mrs. Osborne, and
displayed a similar invitation, which made Jos envious, and George
wonder how the deuce he should be getting into society. Mr. and
Mrs. Rawdon, finally, were of course invited; as became the friends
of a General commanding a cavalry brigade.
On the appointed night, George, having commanded new dresses and
ornaments of all sorts for Amelia, drove to the famous ball, where
his wife did not know a single soul. After looking about for Lady
Bareacres, who cut him, thinking the card was quite enough--and
after placing Amelia on a bench, he left her to her own cogitations
there, thinking, on his own part, that he had behaved very
handsomely in getting her new clothes, and bringing her to the ball,
where she was free to amuse herself as she liked. Her thoughts were
not of the pleasantest, and nobody except honest Dobbin came to
Whilst her appearance was an utter failure (as her husband felt with
a sort of rage), Mrs. Rawdon Crawley's debut was, on the contrary,
very brilliant. She arrived very late. Her face was radiant; her
dress perfection. In the midst of the great persons assembled, and
the eye-glasses directed to her, Rebecca seemed to be as cool and
collected as when she used to marshal Miss Pinkerton's little girls
to church. Numbers of the men she knew already, and the dandies
thronged round her. As for the ladies, it was whispered among them
that Rawdon had run away with her from out of a convent, and that
she was a relation of the Montmorency family. She spoke French so
perfectly that there might be some truth in this report, and it was
agreed that her manners were fine, and her air distingue. Fifty
would-be partners thronged round her at once, and pressed to have
the honour to dance with her. But she said she was engaged, and
only going to dance very little; and made her way at once to the
place where Emmy sate quite unnoticed, and dismally unhappy. And
so, to finish the poor child at once, Mrs. Rawdon ran and greeted
affectionately her dearest Amelia, and began forthwith to patronise
her. She found fault with her friend's dress, and her hairdresser,
and wondered how she could be so chaussee, and vowed that she must
send her corsetiere the next morning. She vowed that it was a
delightful ball; that there was everybody that every one knew, and
only a VERY few nobodies in the whole room. It is a fact, that in a
fortnight, and after three dinners in general society, this young
woman had got up the genteel jargon so well, that a native could not
speak it better; and it was only from her French being so good, that
you could know she was not a born woman of fashion.
George, who had left Emmy on her bench on entering the ball-room,
very soon found his way back when Rebecca was by her dear friend's
side. Becky was just lecturing Mrs. Osborne upon the follies which
her husband was committing. "For God's sake, stop him from
gambling, my dear," she said, "or he will ruin himself. He and
Rawdon are playing at cards every night, and you know he is very
poor, and Rawdon will win every shilling from him if he does not
take care. Why don't you prevent him, you little careless creature?
Why don't you come to us of an evening, instead of moping at home
with that Captain Dobbin? I dare say he is tres aimable; but how
could one love a man with feet of such size? Your husband's feet are
darlings--Here he comes. Where have you been, wretch? Here is Emmy
crying her eyes out for you. Are you coming to fetch me for the
quadrille?" And she left her bouquet and shawl by Amelia's side, and
tripped off with George to dance. Women only know how to wound so.
There is a poison on the tips of their little shafts, which stings a
thousand times more than a man's blunter weapon. Our poor Emmy, who
had never hated, never sneered all her life, was powerless in the
hands of her remorseless little enemy.
George danced with Rebecca twice or thrice--how many times Amelia
scarcely knew. She sat quite unnoticed in her corner, except when
Rawdon came up with some words of clumsy conversation: and later in
the evening, when Captain Dobbin made so bold as to bring her
refreshments and sit beside her. He did not like to ask her why she
was so sad; but as a pretext for the tears which were filling in her
eyes, she told him that Mrs. Crawley had alarmed her by telling her
that George would go on playing.
"It is curious, when a man is bent upon play, by what clumsy rogues
he will allow himself to be cheated," Dobbin said; and Emmy said,
"Indeed." She was thinking of something else. It was not the loss
of the money that grieved her.
At last George came back for Rebecca's shawl and flowers. She was
going away. She did not even condescend to come back and say good-
bye to Amelia. The poor girl let her husband come and go without
saying a word, and her head fell on her breast. Dobbin had been
called away, and was whispering deep in conversation with the
General of the division, his friend, and had not seen this last
parting. George went away then with the bouquet; but when he gave
it to the owner, there lay a note, coiled like a snake among the
flowers. Rebecca's eye caught it at once. She had been used to
deal with notes in early life. She put out her hand and took the
nosegay. He saw by her eyes as they met, that she was aware what
she should find there. Her husband hurried her away, still too
intent upon his own thoughts, seemingly, to take note of any marks
of recognition which might pass between his friend and his wife.
These were, however, but trifling. Rebecca gave George her hand
with one of her usual quick knowing glances, and made a curtsey and
walked away. George bowed over the hand, said nothing in reply to a
remark of Crawley's, did not hear it even, his brain was so
throbbing with triumph and excitement, and allowed them to go away
without a word.
His wife saw the one part at least of the bouquet-scene. It was
quite natural that George should come at Rebecca's request to get
her her scarf and flowers: it was no more than he had done twenty
times before in the course of the last few days; but now it was too
much for her. "William," she said, suddenly clinging to Dobbin, who
was near her, "you've always been very kind to me--I'm--I'm not
well. Take me home." She did not know she called him by his
Christian name, as George was accustomed to do. He went away with
her quickly. Her lodgings were hard by; and they threaded through
the crowd without, where everything seemed to be more astir than
even in the ball-room within.
George had been angry twice or thrice at finding his wife up on his
return from the parties which he frequented: so she went straight
to bed now; but although she did not sleep, and although the din and
clatter, and the galloping of horsemen were incessant, she never
heard any of these noises, having quite other disturbances to keep
Osborne meanwhile, wild with elation, went off to a play-table, and
began to bet frantically. He won repeatedly. "Everything succeeds
with me to-night," he said. But his luck at play even did not cure
him of his restlessness, and he started up after awhile, pocketing
his winnings, and went to a buffet, where he drank off many bumpers
Here, as he was rattling away to the people around, laughing loudly
and wild with spirits, Dobbin found him. He had been to the card-
tables to look there for his friend. Dobbin looked as pale and
grave as his comrade was flushed and jovial.
"Hullo, Dob! Come and drink, old Dob! The Duke's wine is famous.
Give me some more, you sir"; and he held out a trembling glass for
"Come out, George," said Dobbin, still gravely; "don't drink."
"Drink! there's nothing like it. Drink yourself, and light up your
lantern jaws, old boy. Here's to you."
Dobbin went up and whispered something to him, at which George,
giving a start and a wild hurray, tossed off his glass, clapped it
on the table, and walked away speedily on his friend's arm. "The
enemy has passed the Sambre," William said, "and our left is already
engaged. Come away. We are to march in three hours."
Away went George, his nerves quivering with excitement at the news
so long looked for, so sudden when it came. What were love and
intrigue now? He thought about a thousand things but these in his
rapid walk to his quarters--his past life and future chances--the
fate which might be before him--the wife, the child perhaps, from
whom unseen he might be about to part. Oh, how he wished that
night's work undone! and that with a clear conscience at least he
might say farewell to the tender and guileless being by whose love
he had set such little store!
He thought over his brief married life. In those few weeks he had
frightfully dissipated his little capital. How wild and reckless he
had been! Should any mischance befall him: what was then left for
her? How unworthy he was of her. Why had he married her? He was
not fit for marriage. Why had he disobeyed his father, who had been
always so generous to him? Hope, remorse, ambition, tenderness, and
selfish regret filled his heart. He sate down and wrote to his
father, remembering what he had said once before, when he was
engaged to fight a duel. Dawn faintly streaked the sky as he closed
this farewell letter. He sealed it, and kissed the superscription.
He thought how he had deserted that generous father, and of the
thousand kindnesses which the stern old man had done him.
He had looked into Amelia's bedroom when he entered; she lay quiet,
and her eyes seemed closed, and he was glad that she was asleep. On
arriving at his quarters from the ball, he had found his regimental
servant already making preparations for his departure: the man had
understood his signal to be still, and these arrangements were very
quickly and silently made. Should he go in and wake Amelia, he
thought, or leave a note for her brother to break the news of
departure to her? He went in to look at her once again.
She had been awake when he first entered her room, but had kept her
eyes closed, so that even her wakefulness should not seem to
reproach him. But when he had returned, so soon after herself, too,
this timid little heart had felt more at ease, and turning towards
him as he stept softly out of the room, she had fallen into a light
sleep. George came in and looked at her again, entering still more
softly. By the pale night-lamp he could see her sweet, pale face--
the purple eyelids were fringed and closed, and one round arm,
smooth and white, lay outside of the coverlet. Good God! how pure
she was; how gentle, how tender, and how friendless! and he, how
selfish, brutal, and black with crime! Heart-stained, and shame-
stricken, he stood at the bed's foot, and looked at the sleeping
girl. How dared he--who was he, to pray for one so spotless! God
bless her! God bless her! He came to the bedside, and looked at
the hand, the little soft hand, lying asleep; and he bent over the
pillow noiselessly towards the gentle pale face.
Two fair arms closed tenderly round his neck as he stooped down. "I
am awake, George," the poor child said, with a sob fit to break the
little heart that nestled so closely by his own. She was awake,
poor soul, and to what? At that moment a bugle from the Place of
Arms began sounding clearly, and was taken up through the town; and
amidst the drums of the infantry, and the shrill pipes of the
Scotch, the whole city awoke.
"The Girl I Left Behind Me"
We do not claim to rank among the military novelists. Our place is
with the non-combatants. When the decks are cleared for action we
go below and wait meekly. We should only be in the way of the
manoeuvres that the gallant fellows are performing overhead. We
shall go no farther with the --th than to the city gate: and leaving
Major O'Dowd to his duty, come back to the Major's wife, and the
ladies and the baggage.
Now the Major and his lady, who had not been invited to the ball at
which in our last chapter other of our friends figured, had much
more time to take their wholesome natural rest in bed, than was
accorded to people who wished to enjoy pleasure as well as to do
duty. "It's my belief, Peggy, my dear," said he, as he placidly
pulled his nightcap over his ears, "that there will be such a ball
danced in a day or two as some of 'em has never heard the chune of";
and he was much more happy to retire to rest after partaking of a
quiet tumbler, than to figure at any other sort of amusement.
Peggy, for her part, would have liked to have shown her turban and
bird of paradise at the ball, but for the information which her
husband had given her, and which made her very grave.
"I'd like ye wake me about half an hour before the assembly beats,"
the Major said to his lady. "Call me at half-past one, Peggy dear,
and see me things is ready. May be I'll not come back to breakfast,
Mrs. O'D." With which words, which signified his opinion that the
regiment would march the next morning, the Major ceased talking, and
Mrs. O'Dowd, the good housewife, arrayed in curl papers and a
camisole, felt that her duty was to act, and not to sleep, at this
juncture. "Time enough for that," she said, "when Mick's gone"; and
so she packed his travelling valise ready for the march, brushed his
cloak, his cap, and other warlike habiliments, set them out in order
for him; and stowed away in the cloak pockets a light package of
portable refreshments, and a wicker-covered flask or pocket-pistol,
containing near a pint of a remarkably sound Cognac brandy, of which
she and the Major approved very much; and as soon as the hands of
the "repayther" pointed to half-past one, and its interior
arrangements (it had a tone quite equal to a cathaydral, its fair
owner considered) knelled forth that fatal hour, Mrs. O'Dowd woke up
her Major, and had as comfortable a cup of coffee prepared for him
as any made that morning in Brussels. And who is there will deny
that this worthy lady's preparations betokened affection as much as
the fits of tears and hysterics by which more sensitive females
exhibited their love, and that their partaking of this coffee, which
they drank together while the bugles were sounding the turn-out and
the drums beating in the various quarters of the town, was not more
useful and to the purpose than the outpouring of any mere sentiment
could be? The consequence was, that the Major appeared on parade
quite trim, fresh, and alert, his well-shaved rosy countenance, as
he sate on horseback, giving cheerfulness and confidence to the
whole corps. All the officers saluted her when the regiment marched
by the balcony on which this brave woman stood, and waved them a
cheer as they passed; and I daresay it was not from want of courage,
but from a sense of female delicacy and propriety, that she
refrained from leading the gallant--th personally into action.
On Sundays, and at periods of a solemn nature, Mrs. O'Dowd used to
read with great gravity out of a large volume of her uncle the
Dean's sermons. It had been of great comfort to her on board the
transport as they were coming home, and were very nearly wrecked, on
their return from the West Indies. After the regiment's departure
she betook herself to this volume for meditation; perhaps she did
not understand much of what she was reading, and her thoughts were
elsewhere: but the sleep project, with poor Mick's nightcap there
on the pillow, was quite a vain one. So it is in the world. Jack
or Donald marches away to glory with his knapsack on his shoulder,
stepping out briskly to the tune of "The Girl I Left Behind Me." It
is she who remains and suffers--and has the leisure to think, and
brood, and remember.
Knowing how useless regrets are, and how the indulgence of sentiment
only serves to make people more miserable, Mrs. Rebecca wisely
determined to give way to no vain feelings of sorrow, and bore the
parting from her husband with quite a Spartan equanimity. Indeed
Captain Rawdon himself was much more affected at the leave-taking
than the resolute little woman to whom he bade farewell. She had
mastered this rude coarse nature; and he loved and worshipped her
with all his faculties of regard and admiration. In all his life he
had never been so happy, as, during the past few months, his wife
had made him. All former delights of turf, mess, hunting-field, and
gambling-table; all previous loves and courtships of milliners,
opera-dancers, and the like easy triumphs of the clumsy military
Adonis, were quite insipid when compared to the lawful matrimonial
pleasures which of late he had enjoyed. She had known perpetually
how to divert him; and he had found his house and her society a
thousand times more pleasant than any place or company which he had
ever frequented from his childhood until now. And he cursed his
past follies and extravagances, and bemoaned his vast outlying debts
above all, which must remain for ever as obstacles to prevent his
wife's advancement in the world. He had often groaned over these in
midnight conversations with Rebecca, although as a bachelor they had
never given him any disquiet. He himself was struck with this
phenomenon. "Hang it," he would say (or perhaps use a still
stronger expression out of his simple vocabulary), "before I was
married I didn't care what bills I put my name to, and so long as
Moses would wait or Levy would renew for three months, I kept on
never minding. But since I'm married, except renewing, of course, I
give you my honour I've not touched a bit of stamped paper."
Rebecca always knew how to conjure away these moods of melancholy.
"Why, my stupid love," she would say, "we have not done with your
aunt yet. If she fails us, isn't there what you call the Gazette?
or, stop, when your uncle Bute's life drops, I have another scheme.
The living has always belonged to the younger brother, and why
shouldn't you sell out and go into the Church?" The idea of this
conversion set Rawdon into roars of laughter: you might have heard
the explosion through the hotel at midnight, and the haw-haws of the
great dragoon's voice. General Tufto heard him from his quarters on
the first floor above them; and Rebecca acted the scene with great
spirit, and preached Rawdon's first sermon, to the immense delight
of the General at breakfast.
But these were mere by-gone days and talk. When the final news
arrived that the campaign was opened, and the troops were to march,
Rawdon's gravity became such that Becky rallied him about it in a
manner which rather hurt the feelings of the Guardsman. "You don't
suppose I'm afraid, Becky, I should think," he said, with a tremor
in his voice. "But I'm a pretty good mark for a shot, and you see
if it brings me down, why I leave one and perhaps two behind me whom
I should wish to provide for, as I brought 'em into the scrape. It
is no laughing matter that, Mrs. C., anyways."
Rebecca by a hundred caresses and kind words tried to soothe the
feelings of the wounded lover. It was only when her vivacity and
sense of humour got the better of this sprightly creature (as they
would do under most circumstances of life indeed) that she would
break out with her satire, but she could soon put on a demure face.
"Dearest love," she said, "do you suppose I feel nothing?" and
hastily dashing something from her eyes, she looked up in her
husband's face with a smile.
"Look here," said he. "If I drop, let us see what there is for you.
I have had a pretty good run of luck here, and here's two hundred
and thirty pounds. I have got ten Napoleons in my pocket. That is
as much as I shall want; for the General pays everything like a
prince; and if I'm hit, why you know I cost nothing. Don't cry,
little woman; I may live to vex you yet. Well, I shan't take either
of my horses, but shall ride the General's grey charger: it's
cheaper, and I told him mine was lame. If I'm done, those two ought
to fetch you something. Grigg offered ninety for the mare
yesterday, before this confounded news came, and like a fool I
wouldn't let her go under the two o's. Bullfinch will fetch his
price any day, only you'd better sell him in this country, because
the dealers have so many bills of mine, and so I'd rather he
shouldn't go back to England. Your little mare the General gave you
will fetch something, and there's no d--d livery stable bills here
as there are in London," Rawdon added, with a laugh. "There's that
dressing-case cost me two hundred--that is, I owe two for it; and
the gold tops and bottles must be worth thirty or forty. Please to
put THAT up the spout, ma'am, with my pins, and rings, and watch and
chain, and things. They cost a precious lot of money. Miss
Crawley, I know, paid a hundred down for the chain and ticker. Gold
tops and bottles, indeed! dammy, I'm sorry I didn't take more now.
Edwards pressed on me a silver-gilt boot-jack, and I might have had
a dressing-case fitted up with a silver warming-pan, and a service
of plate. But we must make the best of what we've got, Becky, you
And so, making his last dispositions, Captain Crawley, who had
seldom thought about anything but himself, until the last few months
of his life, when Love had obtained the mastery over the dragoon,
went through the various items of his little catalogue of effects,
striving to see how they might be turned into money for his wife's
benefit, in case any accident should befall him. He pleased himself
by noting down with a pencil, in his big schoolboy handwriting, the
various items of his portable property which might be sold for his
widow's advantage as, for example, "My double-barril by Manton, say
40 guineas; my driving cloak, lined with sable fur, 50 pounds; my
duelling pistols in rosewood case (same which I shot Captain
Marker), 20 pounds; my regulation saddle-holsters and housings; my
Laurie ditto," and so forth, over all of which articles he made
Rebecca the mistress.
Faithful to his plan of economy, the Captain dressed himself in his
oldest and shabbiest uniform and epaulets, leaving the newest
behind, under his wife's (or it might be his widow's) guardianship.
And this famous dandy of Windsor and Hyde Park went off on his
campaign with a kit as modest as that of a sergeant, and with
something like a prayer on his lips for the woman he was leaving. He
took her up from the ground, and held her in his arms for a minute,
tight pressed against his strong-beating heart. His face was purple
and his eyes dim, as he put her down and left her. He rode by his
General's side, and smoked his cigar in silence as they hastened
after the troops of the General's brigade, which preceded them; and
it was not until they were some miles on their way that he left off
twirling his moustache and broke silence.
And Rebecca, as we have said, wisely determined not to give way to
unavailing sentimentality on her husband's departure. She waved him
an adieu from the window, and stood there for a moment looking out
after he was gone. The cathedral towers and the full gables of the
quaint old houses were just beginning to blush in the sunrise.
There had been no rest for her that night. She was still in her
pretty ball-dress, her fair hair hanging somewhat out of curl on her
neck, and the circles round her eyes dark with watching. "What a
fright I seem," she said, examining herself in the glass, "and how
pale this pink makes one look!" So she divested herself of this
pink raiment; in doing which a note fell out from her corsage, which
she picked up with a smile, and locked into her dressing-box. And
then she put her bouquet of the ball into a glass of water, and went
to bed, and slept very comfortably.
The town was quite quiet when she woke up at ten o'clock, and
partook of coffee, very requisite and comforting after the
exhaustion and grief of the morning's occurrences.
This meal over, she resumed honest Rawdon's calculations of the
night previous, and surveyed her position. Should the worst befall,
all things considered, she was pretty well to do. There were her
own trinkets and trousseau, in addition to those which her husband
had left behind. Rawdon's generosity, when they were first married,
has already been described and lauded. Besides these, and the
little mare, the General, her slave and worshipper, had made her
many very handsome presents, in the shape of cashmere shawls bought
at the auction of a bankrupt French general's lady, and numerous
tributes from the jewellers' shops, all of which betokened her
admirer's taste and wealth. As for "tickers," as poor Rawdon called
watches, her apartments were alive with their clicking. For,
happening to mention one night that hers, which Rawdon had given to
her, was of English workmanship, and went ill, on the very next
morning there came to her a little bijou marked Leroy, with a chain
and cover charmingly set with turquoises, and another signed
Brequet, which was covered with pearls, and yet scarcely bigger than
a half-crown. General Tufto had bought one, and Captain Osborne had
gallantly presented the other. Mrs. Osborne had no watch, though,
to do George justice, she might have had one for the asking, and the
Honourable Mrs. Tufto in England had an old instrument of her
mother's that might have served for the plate-warming pan which
Rawdon talked about. If Messrs. Howell and James were to publish a
list of the purchasers of all the trinkets which they sell, how
surprised would some families be: and if all these ornaments went to
gentlemen's lawful wives and daughters, what a profusion of
jewellery there would be exhibited in the genteelest homes of Vanity
Every calculation made of these valuables Mrs. Rebecca found, not
without a pungent feeling of triumph and self-satisfaction, that
should circumstances occur, she might reckon on six or seven hundred
pounds at the very least, to begin the world with; and she passed
the morning disposing, ordering, looking out, and locking up her
properties in the most agreeable manner. Among the notes in
Rawdon's pocket-book was a draft for twenty pounds on Osborne's
banker. This made her think about Mrs. Osborne. "I will go and get
the draft cashed," she said, "and pay a visit afterwards to poor
little Emmy." If this is a novel without a hero, at least let us lay
claim to a heroine. No man in the British army which has marched
away, not the great Duke himself, could be more cool or collected in
the presence of doubts and difficulties, than the indomitable little
And there was another of our acquaintances who was also to be left
behind, a non-combatant, and whose emotions and behaviour we have
therefore a right to know. This was our friend the ex-collector of
Boggley Wollah, whose rest was broken, like other people's, by the
sounding of the bugles in the early morning. Being a great sleeper,
and fond of his bed, it is possible he would have snoozed on until
his usual hour of rising in the forenoon, in spite of all the drums,
bugles, and bagpipes in the British army, but for an interruption,
which did not come from George Osborne, who shared Jos's quarters
with him, and was as usual occupied too much with his own affairs or
with grief at parting with his wife, to think of taking leave of his
slumbering brother-in-law--it was not George, we say, who interposed
between Jos Sedley and sleep, but Captain Dobbin, who came and
roused him up, insisting on shaking hands with him before his
"Very kind of you," said Jos, yawning, and wishing the Captain at
"I--I didn't like to go off without saying good-bye, you know,"
Dobbin said in a very incoherent manner; "because you know some of
us mayn't come back again, and I like to see you all well, and--and
that sort of thing, you know."
"What do you mean?" Jos asked, rubbing his eyes. The Captain did
not in the least hear him or look at the stout gentleman in the
nightcap, about whom he professed to have such a tender interest.
The hypocrite was looking and listening with all his might in the
direction of George's apartments, striding about the room, upsetting
the chairs, beating the tattoo, biting his nails, and showing other
signs of great inward emotion.
Jos had always had rather a mean opinion of the Captain, and now
began to think his courage was somewhat equivocal. "What is it I
can do for you, Dobbin?" he said, in a sarcastic tone.
"I tell you what you can do," the Captain replied, coming up to the
bed; "we march in a quarter of an hour, Sedley, and neither George
nor I may ever come back. Mind you, you are not to stir from this
town until you ascertain how things go. You are to stay here and
watch over your sister, and comfort her, and see that no harm comes
to her. If anything happens to George, remember she has no one but
you in the world to look to. If it goes wrong with the army, you'll
see her safe back to England; and you will promise me on your word
that you will never desert her. I know you won't: as far as money
goes, you were always free enough with that. Do you want any? I
mean, have you enough gold to take you back to England in case of a
"Sir," said Jos, majestically, "when I want money, I know where to
ask for it. And as for my sister, you needn't tell me how I ought
to behave to her."
"You speak like a man of spirit, Jos," the other answered good-
naturedly, "and I am glad that George can leave her in such good
hands. So I may give him your word of honour, may I, that in case
of extremity you will stand by her?"
"Of course, of course," answered Mr. Jos, whose generosity in money
matters Dobbin estimated quite correctly.
"And you'll see her safe out of Brussels in the event of a defeat?"
"A defeat! D--- it, sir, it's impossible. Don't try and frighten ME,"
the hero cried from his bed; and Dobbin's mind was thus perfectly
set at ease now that Jos had spoken out so resolutely respecting his
conduct to his sister. "At least," thought the Captain, "there will
be a retreat secured for her in case the worst should ensue."
If Captain Dobbin expected to get any personal comfort and
satisfaction from having one more view of Amelia before the regiment
marched away, his selfishness was punished just as such odious
egotism deserved to be. The door of Jos's bedroom opened into the
sitting-room which was common to the family party, and opposite this
door was that of Amelia's chamber. The bugles had wakened
everybody: there was no use in concealment now. George's servant
was packing in this room: Osborne coming in and out of the
contiguous bedroom, flinging to the man such articles as he thought
fit to carry on the campaign. And presently Dobbin had the
opportunity which his heart coveted, and he got sight of Amelia's
face once more. But what a face it was! So white, so wild and
despair-stricken, that the remembrance of it haunted him afterwards
like a crime, and the sight smote him with inexpressible pangs of
longing and pity.
She was wrapped in a white morning dress, her hair falling on her
shoulders, and her large eyes fixed and without light. By way of
helping on the preparations for the departure, and showing that she
too could be useful at a moment so critical, this poor soul had
taken up a sash of George's from the drawers whereon it lay, and
followed him to and fro with the sash in her hand, looking on mutely
as his packing proceeded. She came out and stood, leaning at the
wall, holding this sash against her bosom, from which the heavy net
of crimson dropped like a large stain of blood. Our gentle-hearted
Captain felt a guilty shock as he looked at her. "Good God,"
thought he, "and is it grief like this I dared to pry into?" And
there was no help: no means to soothe and comfort this helpless,
speechless misery. He stood for a moment and looked at her,
powerless and torn with pity, as a parent regards an infant in pain.
At last, George took Emmy's hand, and led her back into the bedroom,
from whence he came out alone. The parting had taken place in that
moment, and he was gone.
"Thank Heaven that is over," George thought, bounding down the
stair, his sword under his arm, as he ran swiftly to the alarm
ground, where the regiment was mustered, and whither trooped men and
officers hurrying from their billets; his pulse was throbbing and
his cheeks flushed: the great game of war was going to be played,
and he one of the players. What a fierce excitement of doubt, hope,
and pleasure! What tremendous hazards of loss or gain! What were
all the games of chance he had ever played compared to this one?
Into all contests requiring athletic skill and courage, the young
man, from his boyhood upwards, had flung himself with all his might.
The champion of his school and his regiment, the bravos of his
companions had followed him everywhere; from the boys' cricket-match
to the garrison-races, he had won a hundred of triumphs; and
wherever he went women and men had admired and envied him. What
qualities are there for which a man gets so speedy a return of
applause, as those of bodily superiority, activity, and valour?
Time out of mind strength and courage have been the theme of bards
and romances; and from the story of Troy down to to-day, poetry has
always chosen a soldier for a hero. I wonder is it because men are
cowards in heart that they admire bravery so much, and place
military valour so far beyond every other quality for reward and
So, at the sound of that stirring call to battle, George jumped away
from the gentle arms in which he had been dallying; not without a
feeling of shame (although his wife's hold on him had been but
feeble), that he should have been detained there so long. The same
feeling of eagerness and excitement was amongst all those friends of
his of whom we have had occasional glimpses, from the stout senior
Major, who led the regiment into action, to little Stubble, the
Ensign, who was to bear its colours on that day.
The sun was just rising as the march began--it was a gallant sight--
the band led the column, playing the regimental march--then came the
Major in command, riding upon Pyramus, his stout charger--then
marched the grenadiers, their Captain at their head; in the centre
were the colours, borne by the senior and junior Ensigns--then
George came marching at the head of his company. He looked up, and
smiled at Amelia, and passed on; and even the sound of the music
In Which Jos Sedley Takes Care of His Sister
Thus all the superior officers being summoned on duty elsewhere, Jos
Sedley was left in command of the little colony at Brussels, with
Amelia invalided, Isidor, his Belgian servant, and the bonne, who
was maid-of-all-work for the establishment, as a garrison under him.
Though he was disturbed in spirit, and his rest destroyed by
Dobbin's interruption and the occurrences of the morning, Jos
nevertheless remained for many hours in bed, wakeful and rolling
about there until his usual hour of rising had arrived. The sun was
high in the heavens, and our gallant friends of the --th miles on
their march, before the civilian appeared in his flowered dressing-
gown at breakfast.
About George's absence, his brother-in-law was very easy in mind.
Perhaps Jos was rather pleased in his heart that Osborne was gone,
for during George's presence, the other had played but a very
secondary part in the household, and Osborne did not scruple to show
his contempt for the stout civilian. But Emmy had always been good
and attentive to him. It was she who ministered to his comforts,
who superintended the dishes that he liked, who walked or rode with
him (as she had many, too many, opportunities of doing, for where
was George?) and who interposed her sweet face between his anger and
her husband's scorn. Many timid remonstrances had she uttered to
George in behalf of her brother, but the former in his trenchant way
cut these entreaties short. "I'm an honest man," he said, "and if I
have a feeling I show it, as an honest man will. How the deuce, my
dear, would you have me behave respectfully to such a fool as your
brother?" So Jos was pleased with George's absence. His plain hat,
and gloves on a sideboard, and the idea that the owner was away,
caused Jos I don't know what secret thrill of pleasure. "HE won't
be troubling me this morning," Jos thought, "with his dandified airs
and his impudence."
"Put the Captain's hat into the ante-room," he said to Isidor, the
"Perhaps he won't want it again," replied the lackey, looking
knowingly at his master. He hated George too, whose insolence
towards him was quite of the English sort.
"And ask if Madame is coming to breakfast," Mr. Sedley said with
great majesty, ashamed to enter with a servant upon the subject of
his dislike for George. The truth is, he had abused his brother to
the valet a score of times before.
Alas! Madame could not come to breakfast, and cut the tartines that
Mr. Jos liked. Madame was a great deal too ill, and had been in a
frightful state ever since her husband's departure, so her bonne
said. Jos showed his sympathy by pouring her out a large cup of tea
It was his way of exhibiting kindness: and he improved on this; he
not only sent her breakfast, but he bethought him what delicacies
she would most like for dinner.
Isidor, the valet, had looked on very sulkily, while Osborne's
servant was disposing of his master's baggage previous to the
Captain's departure: for in the first place he hated Mr. Osborne,
whose conduct to him, and to all inferiors, was generally
overbearing (nor does the continental domestic like to be treated
with insolence as our own better-tempered servants do), and
secondly, he was angry that so many valuables should be removed from
under his hands, to fall into other people's possession when the
English discomfiture should arrive. Of this defeat he and a vast
number of other persons in Brussels and Belgium did not make the
slightest doubt. The almost universal belief was, that the Emperor
would divide the Prussian and English armies, annihilate one after
the other, and march into Brussels before three days were over:
when all the movables of his present masters, who would be killed,
or fugitives, or prisoners, would lawfully become the property of
As he helped Jos through his toilsome and complicated daily
toilette, this faithful servant would calculate what he should do
with the very articles with which he was decorating his master's
person. He would make a present of the silver essence-bottles and
toilet knicknacks to a young lady of whom he was fond; and keep the
English cutlery and the large ruby pin for himself. It would look
very smart upon one of the fine frilled shirts, which, with the
gold-laced cap and the frogged frock coat, that might easily be cut
down to suit his shape, and the Captain's gold-headed cane, and the
great double ring with the rubies, which he would have made into a
pair of beautiful earrings, he calculated would make a perfect
Adonis of himself, and render Mademoiselle Reine an easy prey. "How
those sleeve-buttons will suit me!" thought he, as he fixed a pair
on the fat pudgy wrists of Mr. Sedley. "I long for sleeve-buttons;
and the Captain's boots with brass spurs, in the next room, corbleu!
what an effect they will make in the Allee Verte!" So while Monsieur
Isidor with bodily fingers was holding on to his master's nose, and
shaving the lower part of Jos's face, his imagination was rambling
along the Green Avenue, dressed out in a frogged coat and lace, and
in company with Mademoiselle Reine; he was loitering in spirit on
the banks, and examining the barges sailing slowly under the cool
shadows of the trees by the canal, or refreshing himself with a mug
of Faro at the bench of a beer-house on the road to Laeken.
But Mr. Joseph Sedley, luckily for his own peace, no more knew what
was passing in his domestic's mind than the respected reader, and I
suspect what John or Mary, whose wages we pay, think of ourselves.
What our servants think of us!--Did we know what our intimates and
dear relations thought of us, we should live in a world that we
should be glad to quit, and in a frame of mind and a constant
terror, that would be perfectly unbearable. So Jos's man was marking
his victim down, as you see one of Mr. Paynter's assistants in
Leadenhall Street ornament an unconscious turtle with a placard on
which is written, "Soup to-morrow."
Amelia's attendant was much less selfishly disposed. Few dependents
could come near that kind and gentle creature without paying their
usual tribute of loyalty and affection to her sweet and affectionate
nature. And it is a fact that Pauline, the cook, consoled her
mistress more than anybody whom she saw on this wretched morning;
for when she found how Amelia remained for hours, silent,
motionless, and haggard, by the windows in which she had placed
herself to watch the last bayonets of the column as it marched away,
the honest girl took the lady's hand, and said, Tenez, Madame, est-
ce qu'il n'est pas aussi a l'armee, mon homme a moi? with which she
burst into tears, and Amelia falling into her arms, did likewise,
and so each pitied and soothed the other.
Several times during the forenoon Mr. Jos's Isidor went from his
lodgings into the town, and to the gates of the hotels and lodging-
houses round about the Parc, where the English were congregated, and
there mingled with other valets, couriers, and lackeys, gathered
such news as was abroad, and brought back bulletins for his master's
information. Almost all these gentlemen were in heart partisans of
the Emperor, and had their opinions about the speedy end of the
campaign. The Emperor's proclamation from Avesnes had been
distributed everywhere plentifully in Brussels. "Soldiers!" it
said, "this is the anniversary of Marengo and Friedland, by which
the destinies of Europe were twice decided. Then, as after
Austerlitz, as after Wagram, we were too generous. We believed in
the oaths and promises of princes whom we suffered to remain upon
their thrones. Let us march once more to meet them. We and they,
are we not still the same men? Soldiers! these same Prussians who
are so arrogant to-day, were three to one against you at Jena, and
six to one at Montmirail. Those among you who were prisoners in
England can tell their comrades what frightful torments they
suffered on board the English hulks. Madmen! a moment of
prosperity has blinded them, and if they enter into France it will
be to find a grave there!" But the partisans of the French
prophesied a more speedy extermination of the Emperor's enemies than
this; and it was agreed on all hands that Prussians and British
would never return except as prisoners in the rear of the conquering
These opinions in the course of the day were brought to operate upon
Mr. Sedley. He was told that the Duke of Wellington had gone to try
and rally his army, the advance of which had been utterly crushed
the night before.
"Crushed, psha!" said Jos, whose heart was pretty stout at
breakfast-time. "The Duke has gone to beat the Emperor as he has
beaten all his generals before."
"His papers are burned, his effects are removed, and his quarters
are being got ready for the Duke of Dalmatia," Jos's informant
replied. "I had it from his own maitre d'hotel. Milor Duc de
Richemont's people are packing up everything. His Grace has fled
already, and the Duchess is only waiting to see the plate packed to
join the King of France at Ostend."
"The King of France is at Ghent, fellow," replied Jos, affecting
"He fled last night to Bruges, and embarks today from Ostend. The
Duc de Berri is taken prisoner. Those who wish to be safe had
better go soon, for the dykes will be opened to-morrow, and who can
fly when the whole country is under water?"
"Nonsense, sir, we are three to one, sir, against any force Boney
can bring into the field," Mr. Sedley objected; "the Austrians and
the Russians are on their march. He must, he shall be crushed," Jos
said, slapping his hand on the table.
"The Prussians were three to one at Jena, and he took their army and
kingdom in a week. They were six to one at Montmirail, and he
scattered them like sheep. The Austrian army is coming, but with the
Empress and the King of Rome at its head; and the Russians, bah! the
Russians will withdraw. No quarter is to be given to the English,
on account of their cruelty to our braves on board the infamous
pontoons. Look here, here it is in black and white. Here's the
proclamation of his Majesty the Emperor and King," said the now
declared partisan of Napoleon, and taking the document from his
pocket, Isidor sternly thrust it into his master's face, and already
looked upon the frogged coat and valuables as his own spoil.
Jos was, if not seriously alarmed as yet, at least considerably
disturbed in mind. "Give me my coat and cap, sir, said he, "and
follow me. I will go myself and learn the truth of these reports."
Isidor was furious as Jos put on the braided frock. "Milor had
better not wear that military coat," said he; "the Frenchmen have
sworn not to give quarter to a single British soldier."
"Silence, sirrah!" said Jos, with a resolute countenance still, and
thrust his arm into the sleeve with indomitable resolution, in the
performance of which heroic act he was found by Mrs. Rawdon Crawley,
who at this juncture came up to visit Amelia, and entered without
ringing at the antechamber door.
Rebecca was dressed very neatly and smartly, as usual: her quiet
sleep after Rawdon's departure had refreshed her, and her pink
smiling cheeks were quite pleasant to look at, in a town and on a
day when everybody else's countenance wore the appearance of the
deepest anxiety and gloom. She laughed at the attitude in which Jos
was discovered, and the struggles and convulsions with which the
stout gentleman thrust himself into the braided coat.
"Are you preparing to join the army, Mr. Joseph?" she said. "Is
there to be nobody left in Brussels to protect us poor women?" Jos
succeeded in plunging into the coat, and came forward blushing and
stuttering out excuses to his fair visitor. "How was she after the
events of the morning--after the fatigues of the ball the night
before?" Monsieur Isidor disappeared into his master's adjacent
bedroom, bearing off the flowered dressing-gown.
"How good of you to ask," said she, pressing one of his hands in
both her own. "How cool and collected you look when everybody else
is frightened! How is our dear little Emmy? It must have been an
awful, awful parting."
"Tremendous," Jos said.
"You men can bear anything," replied the lady. "Parting or danger
are nothing to you. Own now that you were going to join the army
and leave us to our fate. I know you were--something tells me you
were. I was so frightened, when the thought came into my head (for
I do sometimes think of you when I am alone, Mr. Joseph), that I ran
off immediately to beg and entreat you not to fly from us."
This speech might be interpreted, "My dear sir, should an accident
befall the army, and a retreat be necessary, you have a very
comfortable carriage, in which I propose to take a seat." I don't
know whether Jos understood the words in this sense. But he was
profoundly mortified by the lady's inattention to him during their
stay at Brussels. He had never been presented to any of Rawdon
Crawley's great acquaintances: he had scarcely been invited to
Rebecca's parties; for he was too timid to play much, and his
presence bored George and Rawdon equally, who neither of them,
perhaps, liked to have a witness of the amusements in which the pair
chose to indulge. "Ah!" thought Jos, "now she wants me she comes to
me. When there is nobody else in the way she can think about old
Joseph Sedley!" But besides these doubts he felt flattered at the
idea Rebecca expressed of his courage.
He blushed a good deal, and put on an air of importance. "I should
like to see the action," he said. "Every man of any spirit would,
you know. I've seen a little service in India, but nothing on this
"You men would sacrifice anything for a pleasure," Rebecca answered.
"Captain Crawley left me this morning as gay as if he were going to
a hunting party. What does he care? What do any of you care for
the agonies and tortures of a poor forsaken woman? (I wonder
whether he could really have been going to the troops, this great
lazy gourmand?) Oh! dear Mr. Sedley, I have come to you for
comfort--for consolation. I have been on my knees all the morning.
I tremble at the frightful danger into which our husbands, our
friends, our brave troops and allies, are rushing. And I come here
for shelter, and find another of my friends--the last remaining to
me--bent upon plunging into the dreadful scene!"
"My dear madam," Jos replied, now beginning to be quite soothed,
"don't be alarmed. I only said I should like to go--what Briton
would not? But my duty keeps me here: I can't leave that poor
creature in the next room." And he pointed with his finger to the
door of the chamber in which Amelia was.
"Good noble brother!" Rebecca said, putting her handkerchief to her
eyes, and smelling the eau-de-cologne with which it was scented. "I
have done you injustice: you have got a heart. I thought you had
"O, upon my honour!" Jos said, making a motion as if he would lay
his hand upon the spot in question. "You do me injustice, indeed
you do--my dear Mrs. Crawley."
"I do, now your heart is true to your sister. But I remember two
years ago--when it was false to me!" Rebecca said, fixing her eyes
upon him for an instant, and then turning away into the window.
Jos blushed violently. That organ which he was accused by Rebecca
of not possessing began to thump tumultuously. He recalled the days
when he had fled from her, and the passion which had once inflamed
him--the days when he had driven her in his curricle: when she had
knit the green purse for him: when he had sate enraptured gazing at
her white arms and bright eyes.
"I know you think me ungrateful," Rebecca continued, coming out of
the window, and once more looking at him and addressing him in a low
tremulous voice. "Your coldness, your averted looks, your manner
when we have met of late--when I came in just now, all proved it to
me. But were there no reasons why I should avoid you? Let your own
heart answer that question. Do you think my husband was too much
inclined to welcome you? The only unkind words I have ever had from
him (I will do Captain Crawley that justice) have been about you--
and most cruel, cruel words they were."
"Good gracious! what have I done?" asked Jos in a flurry of pleasure
and perplexity; "what have I done--to--to--?"
"Is jealousy nothing?" said Rebecca. "He makes me miserable about
you. And whatever it might have been once--my heart is all his. I
am innocent now. Am I not, Mr. Sedley?"
All Jos's blood tingled with delight, as he surveyed this victim to
his attractions. A few adroit words, one or two knowing tender
glances of the eyes, and his heart was inflamed again and his doubts
and suspicions forgotten. From Solomon downwards, have not wiser
men than he been cajoled and befooled by women? "If the worst comes
to the worst," Becky thought, "my retreat is secure; and I have a
right-hand seat in the barouche."
There is no knowing into what declarations of love and ardour the
tumultuous passions of Mr. Joseph might have led him, if Isidor the
valet had not made his reappearance at this minute, and begun to
busy himself about the domestic affairs. Jos, who was just going to
gasp out an avowal, choked almost with the emotion that he was
obliged to restrain. Rebecca too bethought her that it was time she
should go in and comfort her dearest Amelia. "Au revoir," she said,
kissing her hand to Mr. Joseph, and tapped gently at the door of his
sister's apartment. As she entered and closed the door on herself,
he sank down in a chair, and gazed and sighed and puffed
portentously. "That coat is very tight for Milor," Isidor said,
still having his eye on the frogs; but his master heard him not:
his thoughts were elsewhere: now glowing, maddening, upon the
contemplation of the enchanting Rebecca: anon shrinking guiltily
before the vision of the jealous Rawdon Crawley, with his curling,
fierce mustachios, and his terrible duelling pistols loaded and
Rebecca's appearance struck Amelia with terror, and made her shrink
back. It recalled her to the world and the remembrance of
yesterday. In the overpowering fears about to-morrow she had
forgotten Rebecca--jealousy--everything except that her husband was
gone and was in danger. Until this dauntless worldling came in and
broke the spell, and lifted the latch, we too have forborne to enter
into that sad chamber. How long had that poor girl been on her
knees! what hours of speechless prayer and bitter prostration had
she passed there! The war-chroniclers who write brilliant stories
of fight and triumph scarcely tell us of these. These are too mean
parts of the pageant: and you don't hear widows' cries or mothers'
sobs in the midst of the shouts and jubilation in the great Chorus
of Victory. And yet when was the time that such have not cried out:
heart-broken, humble protestants, unheard in the uproar of the
After the first movement of terror in Amelia's mind--when Rebecca's
green eyes lighted upon her, and rustling in her fresh silks and
brilliant ornaments, the latter tripped up with extended arms to
embrace her--a feeling of anger succeeded, and from being deadly
pale before, her face flushed up red, and she returned Rebecca's
look after a moment with a steadiness which surprised and somewhat
abashed her rival.
"Dearest Amelia, you are very unwell," the visitor said, putting
forth her hand to take Amelia's. "What is it? I could not rest
until I knew how you were."
Amelia drew back her hand--never since her life began had that
gentle soul refused to believe or to answer any demonstration of
good-will or affection. But she drew back her hand, and trembled
all over. "Why are you here, Rebecca?" she said, still looking at
her solemnly with her large eyes. These glances troubled her
"She must have seen him give me the letter at the ball," Rebecca
thought. "Don't be agitated, dear Amelia," she said, looking down.
"I came but to see if I could--if you were well."
"Are you well?" said Amelia. "I dare say you are. You don't love
your husband. You would not be here if you did. Tell me, Rebecca,
did I ever do you anything but kindness?"
"Indeed, Amelia, no," the other said, still hanging down her head.
"When you were quite poor, who was it that befriended you? Was I
not a sister to you? You saw us all in happier days before he
married me. I was all in all then to him; or would he have given up
his fortune, his family, as he nobly did to make me happy? Why did
you come between my love and me? Who sent you to separate those
whom God joined, and take my darling's heart from me--my own
husband? Do you think you could I love him as I did? His love was
everything to me. You knew it, and wanted to rob me of it. For
shame, Rebecca; bad and wicked woman--false friend and false wife."
"Amelia, I protest before God, I have done my husband no wrong,"
Rebecca said, turning from her.
"Have you done me no wrong, Rebecca? You did not succeed, but you
tried. Ask your heart if you did not."
She knows nothing, Rebecca thought.
"He came back to me. I knew he would. I knew that no falsehood, no
flattery, could keep him from me long. I knew he would come. I
prayed so that he should."
The poor girl spoke these words with a spirit and volubility which
Rebecca had never before seen in her, and before which the latter
was quite dumb. "But what have I done to you," she continued in a
more pitiful tone, "that you should try and take him from me? I had
him but for six weeks. You might have spared me those, Rebecca.
And yet, from the very first day of our wedding, you came and
blighted it. Now he is gone, are you come to see how unhappy I am?"
she continued. "You made me wretched enough for the past fortnight:
you might have spared me to-day."
"I--I never came here," interposed Rebecca, with unlucky truth.
"No. You didn't come. You took him away. Are you come to fetch
him from me?" she continued in a wilder tone. "He was here, but he
is gone now. There on that very sofa he sate. Don't touch it. We
sate and talked there. I was on his knee, and my arms were round
his neck, and we said 'Our Father.' Yes, he was here: and they came
and took him away, but he promised me to come back."
"He will come back, my dear," said Rebecca, touched in spite of
"Look," said Amelia, "this is his sash--isn't it a pretty colour?"
and she took up the fringe and kissed it. She had tied it round her
waist at some part of the day. She had forgotten her anger, her
jealousy, the very presence of her rival seemingly. For she walked
silently and almost with a smile on her face, towards the bed, and
began to smooth down George's pillow.
Rebecca walked, too, silently away. "How is Amelia?" asked Jos, who
still held his position in the chair.
"There should be somebody with her," said Rebecca. "I think she is
very unwell": and she went away with a very grave face, refusing
Mr. Sedley's entreaties that she would stay and partake of the early
dinner which he had ordered.
Rebecca was of a good-natured and obliging disposition; and she
liked Amelia rather than otherwise. Even her hard words,
reproachful as they were, were complimentary--the groans of a person
stinging under defeat. Meeting Mrs. O'Dowd, whom the Dean's sermons
had by no means comforted, and who was walking very disconsolately
in the Parc, Rebecca accosted the latter, rather to the surprise of
the Major's wife, who was not accustomed to such marks of politeness
from Mrs. Rawdon Crawley, and informing her that poor little Mrs.
Osborne was in a desperate condition, and almost mad with grief,
sent off the good-natured Irishwoman straight to see if she could
console her young favourite.
"I've cares of my own enough," Mrs. O'Dowd said, gravely, "and I
thought poor Amelia would be little wanting for company this day.
But if she's so bad as you say, and you can't attend to her, who
used to be so fond of her, faith I'll see if I can be of service.
And so good marning to ye, Madam"; with which speech and a toss of
her head, the lady of the repayther took a farewell of Mrs. Crawley,
whose company she by no means courted.
Becky watched her marching off, with a smile on her lip. She had
the keenest sense of humour, and the Parthian look which the
retreating Mrs. O'Dowd flung over her shoulder almost upset Mrs.
Crawley's gravity. "My service to ye, me fine Madam, and I'm glad to
see ye so cheerful," thought Peggy. "It's not YOU that will cry
your eyes out with grief, anyway." And with this she passed on, and
speedily found her way to Mrs. Osborne's lodgings.
The poor soul was still at the bedside, where Rebecca had left her,
and stood almost crazy with grief. The Major's wife, a stronger-
minded woman, endeavoured her best to comfort her young friend.
"You must bear up, Amelia, dear," she said kindly, "for he mustn't
find you ill when he sends for you after the victory. It's not you
are the only woman that are in the hands of God this day."
"I know that. I am very wicked, very weak," Amelia said. She knew
her own weakness well enough. The presence of the more resolute
friend checked it, however; and she was the better of this control
and company. They went on till two o'clock; their hearts were with
the column as it marched farther and farther away. Dreadful doubt
and anguish--prayers and fears and griefs unspeakable--followed the
regiment. It was the women's tribute to the war. It taxes both
alike, and takes the blood of the men, and the tears of the women.
At half-past two, an event occurred of daily importance to Mr.
Joseph: the dinner-hour arrived. Warriors may fight and perish, but
he must dine. He came into Amelia's room to see if he could coax
her to share that meal. "Try," said he; "the soup is very good. Do
try, Emmy," and he kissed her hand. Except when she was married, he
had not done so much for years before. "You are very good and kind,
Joseph," she said. "Everybody is, but, if you please, I will stay
in my room to-day."
The savour of the soup, however, was agreeable to Mrs. O'Dowd's
nostrils: and she thought she would bear Mr. Jos company. So the
two sate down to their meal. "God bless the meat," said the Major's
wife, solemnly: she was thinking of her honest Mick, riding at the
head of his regiment: "'Tis but a bad dinner those poor boys will
get to-day," she said, with a sigh, and then, like a philosopher,
Jos's spirits rose with his meal. He would drink the regiment's
health; or, indeed, take any other excuse to indulge in a glass of
champagne. "We'll drink to O'Dowd and the brave --th," said he,
bowing gallantly to his guest. "Hey, Mrs. O'Dowd? Fill Mrs.
O'Dowd's glass, Isidor."
But all of a sudden, Isidor started, and the Major's wife laid down
her knife and fork. The windows of the room were open, and looked
southward, and a dull distant sound came over the sun-lighted roofs
from that direction. "What is it?" said Jos. "Why don't you pour,
"Cest le feu!" said Isidor, running to the balcony.
"God defend us; it's cannon!" Mrs. O'Dowd cried, starting up, and
followed too to the window. A thousand pale and anxious faces might
have been seen looking from other casements. And presently it
seemed as if the whole population of the city rushed into the
In Which Jos Takes Flight, and the War Is Brought to a Close
We of peaceful London City have never beheld--and please God never
shall witness--such a scene of hurry and alarm, as that which
Brussels presented. Crowds rushed to the Namur gate, from which
direction the noise proceeded, and many rode along the level
chaussee, to be in advance of any intelligence from the army. Each
man asked his neighbour for news; and even great English lords and
ladies condescended to speak to persons whom they did not know. The
friends of the French went abroad, wild with excitement, and
prophesying the triumph of their Emperor. The merchants closed
their shops, and came out to swell the general chorus of alarm and
clamour. Women rushed to the churches, and crowded the chapels, and
knelt and prayed on the flags and steps. The dull sound of the
cannon went on rolling, rolling. Presently carriages with
travellers began to leave the town, galloping away by the Ghent
barrier. The prophecies of the French partisans began to pass for
facts. "He has cut the armies in two," it was said. "He is
marching straight on Brussels. He will overpower the English, and
be here to-night." "He will overpower the English," shrieked Isidor
to his master, "and will be here to-night." The man bounded in and
out from the lodgings to the street, always returning with some
fresh particulars of disaster. Jos's face grew paler and paler.
Alarm began to take entire possession of the stout civilian. All
the champagne he drank brought no courage to him. Before sunset he
was worked up to such a pitch of nervousness as gratified his friend
Isidor to behold, who now counted surely upon the spoils of the
owner of the laced coat.
The women were away all this time. After hearing the firing for a
moment, the stout Major's wife bethought her of her friend in the
next chamber, and ran in to watch, and if possible to console,
Amelia. The idea that she had that helpless and gentle creature to
protect, gave additional strength to the natural courage of the
honest Irishwoman. She passed five hours by her friend's side,
sometimes in remonstrance, sometimes talking cheerfully, oftener in
silence and terrified mental supplication. "I never let go her hand
once," said the stout lady afterwards, "until after sunset, when the
firing was over." Pauline, the bonne, was on her knees at church
hard by, praying for son homme a elle.
When the noise of the cannonading was over, Mrs. O'Dowd issued out
of Amelia's room into the parlour adjoining, where Jos sate with two
emptied flasks, and courage entirely gone. Once or twice he had
ventured into his sister's bedroom, looking very much alarmed, and
as if he would say something. But the Major's wife kept her place,
and he went away without disburthening himself of his speech. He
was ashamed to tell her that he wanted to fly.
But when she made her appearance in the dining-room, where he sate
in the twilight in the cheerless company of his empty champagne
bottles, he began to open his mind to her.
"Mrs. O'Dowd," he said, "hadn't you better get Amelia ready?"
"Are you going to take her out for a walk?" said the Major's lady;
"sure she's too weak to stir."
"I--I've ordered the carriage," he said, "and--and post-horses;
Isidor is gone for them," Jos continued.
"What do you want with driving to-night?" answered the lady. "Isn't
she better on her bed? I've just got her to lie down."
"Get her up," said Jos; "she must get up, I say": and he stamped
his foot energetically. "I say the horses are ordered--yes, the
horses are ordered. It's all over, and--"
"And what?" asked Mrs. O'Dowd.
"I'm off for Ghent," Jos answered. "Everybody is going; there's a
place for you! We shall start in half-an-hour."
The Major's wife looked at him with infinite scorn. "I don't move
till O'Dowd gives me the route," said she. "You may go if you like,
Mr. Sedley; but, faith, Amelia and I stop here."
"She SHALL go," said Jos, with another stamp of his foot. Mrs.
O'Dowd put herself with arms akimbo before the bedroom door.
"Is it her mother you're going to take her to?" she said; "or do you
want to go to Mamma yourself, Mr. Sedley? Good marning--a pleasant
journey to ye, sir. Bon voyage, as they say, and take my counsel,
and shave off them mustachios, or they'll bring you into mischief."
"D--n!" yelled out Jos, wild with fear, rage, and mortification; and
Isidor came in at this juncture, swearing in his turn. "Pas de
chevaux, sacre bleu!" hissed out the furious domestic. All the
horses were gone. Jos was not the only man in Brussels seized with
panic that day.
But Jos's fears, great and cruel as they were already, were destined
to increase to an almost frantic pitch before the night was over.
It has been mentioned how Pauline, the bonne, had son homme a elle
also in the ranks of the army that had gone out to meet the Emperor
Napoleon. This lover was a native of Brussels, and a Belgian
hussar. The troops of his nation signalised themselves in this war
for anything but courage, and young Van Cutsum, Pauline's admirer,
was too good a soldier to disobey his Colonel's orders to run away.
Whilst in garrison at Brussels young Regulus (he had been born in
the revolutionary times) found his great comfort, and passed almost
all his leisure moments, in Pauline's kitchen; and it was with
pockets and holsters crammed full of good things from her larder,
that he had take leave of his weeping sweetheart, to proceed upon
the campaign a few days before.
As far as his regiment was concerned, this campaign was over now.
They had formed a part of the division under the command of his
Sovereign apparent, the Prince of Orange, and as respected length of
swords and mustachios, and the richness of uniform and equipments,
Regulus and his comrades looked to be as gallant a body of men as
ever trumpet sounded for.
When Ney dashed upon the advance of the allied troops, carrying one
position after the other, until the arrival of the great body of the
British army from Brussels changed the aspect of the combat of
Quatre Bras, the squadrons among which Regulus rode showed the
greatest activity in retreating before the French, and were
dislodged from one post and another which they occupied with perfect
alacrity on their part. Their movements were only checked by the
advance of the British in their rear. Thus forced to halt, the
enemy's cavalry (whose bloodthirsty obstinacy cannot be too severely
reprehended) had at length an opportunity of coming to close
quarters with the brave Belgians before them; who preferred to
encounter the British rather than the French, and at once turning