Part 6 out of 7
course of the evening Merle's division, in order to divert attention from
the points Soult had fixed upon for the attack, moved towards the
Portuguese left, when a tremendous fire of artillery and musketry opened
upon it. The division made its way forward, and occupied some hollow
ground which shielded it from fire, within a very short distance of the
intrenchments. Feeling that the crisis was at hand, Terence had everything
prepared. The boatmen were told that they might be required that night,
and that they were to have the boat in readiness to start at any moment.
Herrara had warned his friends, and went to their house with six of his
men, as soon as it became dusk, to escort them over. Terence with his two
troopers, clad in the dresses of two of the tallest of the men and wrapped
in cloaks, with their broad hats pressed low down upon their foreheads,
went down to the end of the bridge as soon as it became quite dark. The
river was three hundred yards broad, but the sound of the confusion and
alarm that prevailed in the city could be plainly heard, although the
evening had set in rough and tempestuous. The shouts of the excited mob
mingled with the clanging of the church bells.
"That does not sound like confidence in victory," Terence remarked.
"Quite the other way, sir. I should say that after all their bragging
every man in the place is in a blue funk."
A great many people, especially women with children, were making their way
across the bridge. About nine o'clock a little knot of five or six men,
following a tall figure, passed them.
"That is the bishop," Terence whispered, and in pursuance of the orders
that he had previously given them, the two men followed him as he fell in
at a short distance behind the group. These turned off from the main road
and took one that led up to the Serra Convent, standing on the crest of a
rugged hill. As soon as they had passed beyond the houses at the foot of
the hill, and the road was altogether deserted, Terence said to the men:
"Now is our time. Do you take the attendants; I will manage the bishop."
They moved forward quickly and silently until they were close to the
group, then they dashed forward. As the startled attendants turned round
the troopers fell upon them, and with heavy blows from their fists knocked
them to the ground like nine-pins. The bishop turned round and shouted:
"Villains, I am the bishop!"
"I know that!" Terence exclaimed, and sprang at him.
The prelate reeled and fell. Terence threw himself upon him, and seizing
his hand wrested from it the episcopal ring. Then, upon seeing that the
bishop had fainted, probably from fright, Terence leapt to his feet. The
five attendants were lying on the ground.
"All right, lads," he said, "we have got what we wanted, but just strip
off one of these fellows' clothes. Take this one, he is a priest."
It took but a minute for the two troopers to strip off the garment and
pick up the three-cornered hat.
"Now, come along, men."
They reached the houses again without hearing so much as a cry from the
astounded Portuguese, who as yet had but a vague idea of what had happened
to them. The capture of the clothes had been rendered necessary by
Herrara's report, two days before, that the young lady had failed to get
the clothes, for the shopman had asked so many questions concerning them
that she had said carelessly that it made no matter. She had intended to
give them as a present and a surprise, but as there seemed a difficulty
about it she would give money instead, and let the priest choose his own
clothes. She had purposely entered a shop in the opposite end of the town
from that in which her father lived, so that there would be less chance of
her being recognized.
Herrara said that she would try elsewhere, but Terence at once begged him
to tell her not to do so.
"The bishop is sure to have some of his priests with him," he said, "and
if I rob him of his ring, I might just as well rob one of them of his
On returning to the camp Terence found that his comrade had already
arrived with a gentleman and three ladies. The tent had been given up for
the use of the latter. Herrara had warned him not to say a word to the old
gentleman of his adventure.
"He and the others know nothing about it," he said, "and it is just as
well that they shouldn't, for he is somewhat rigid in his notions, and
might be rather horrified at your assaulting a bishop, however great a
scoundrel he might be, and would be specially so at the borrowing of his
At twelve o'clock heavy peals of thunder were heard, followed by a
tremendous outbreak of firing from the intrenchments, two hundred guns and
a terrific musketry fire opening suddenly.
"The French are attacking!" Herrara exclaimed.
"I don't think so," Terence replied. "It is more likely to be a false
alarm. The troops may have thought that the thunder was the roar of French
guns. Soult would hardly make an attack at night, or, not knowing the
nature of the ground behind the intrenchments, his men would be falling
into confusion, and perhaps fire into each other."
As, after a quarter of an hour of prodigious din, the fire slackened and
presently ceased altogether, it was evident that this supposition was a
correct one. The morning broke bright and still, and an hour later the
cannonade began again. Terence at once, after telling Herrara to form the
troops up and march them down to the end of the bridge, left the camp, and
after proceeding a short distance took off his uniform and donned the
attire of the ecclesiastic, and then hurried down into the town. He was
accompanied by the two troopers in their peasant dress. These left him at
the bridge. The din was now tremendous, every church bell was ringing
furiously, and frightened women were already crowding down towards the
Their point of crossing had already been decided upon--it was at the end
of a street close to the convent, and when Terence reached the convent the
two men were already standing at the end of the street, awaiting him.
"Now, you do your part of the business and I will do mine," Terence said,
and he moved forward to the door of the convent, where he would be unseen
should anyone look out.
The two troopers went to the middle of the street, opposite the window
which the officer had described to Terence, and both shouted in a
The shout was heard above the tumult of the battle and the din in the
city, and a head appeared at the window and looked down with a bewildered
"Mary O'Connor," Bull shouted again, "a friend is here to rescue you. You
will leave the convent directly with the rest. Look out for us."
Then they walked on, and passed Terence.
"Have you seen her face?"
"We have, sir. We shall know her again, never fear."
Terence now seized the bell and rung it vigorously. The door opened, and a
terrified face appeared at the window.
"I have a message from the bishop to the lady superior."
The door was opened, and was at once closed and barred behind him. He was
led along some passages to the room where the lady superior, pale and
agitated, was awaiting him.
"Have the French entered the intrenchments?" she asked.
"I trust they have not entered yet, but they may do so at any moment. The
bishop is at the Serra Convent, and from there has a view over the town to
the intrenchments. He begs you to instantly bring the nuns across, for
they will be in safety there, whereas no one can say what may happen in
the town. Here is his episcopal ring in proof that I am the bearer of his
orders I pray you to hasten, sister, for a crowd of fugitives are already
pouring over the bridge, and there is not a moment to be lost."
"The nuns are just coming down to prayer in the chapel, and we will start
In two minutes upward of a hundred frightened women were gathered in the
"Are all here?" Terence asked the lady superior.
"All of them."
"I asked because I know that he is specially anxious that one, who is a
sort of prisoner, should not fall into the hands of the French, as that
might cause serious trouble."
"I know whom you mean," and she called out "Sister Theresa!" There was no
[Illustration: "MACWITTY WAS STANDING COVERING THE TWO BOATMEN WITH HIS
"It is well you asked," she said. "They have forgotten her." She gave
orders to one of the sisters, who at once entered the house, and returned
in a minute with a young nun. The door was now opened, and they moved out
in procession. Terence could hear regular volleys amidst the roar of guns
and the incessant crack of muskets.
"I fear that they have entered the intrenchments," he said. "Hasten,
sister, or we shall be too late."
With hurried steps they passed along the deserted streets. As they neared
the bridge a crowd of fugitives were hastening in that direction, and when
they approached its head they found it blocked by a struggling mass.
"What is to be done?" the lady superior asked in consternation.
"We must wait a minute or two; they may clear off."
But every second the crowd increased, and was soon thick behind them.
Already the line of nuns was broken up by the pressure. Terence had kept
his eyes on the two tall figures who had followed, at first behind them,
and had then quickened their footsteps until abreast of the centre of the
line, and to his satisfaction saw that they had one of the nuns between
them, and were forcing their way with her through the crowd behind. At
this moment a terrible cry arose from the crowd. A troop of Portuguese
dragoons rode furiously down the street leading to the bridge, and dashed
into the crowd, trampling down all in their way in their reckless terror,
until they gained the end of the bridge. As they rode on to it, two of the
boats, already low in the water from the weight upon them, gave a surge
and sank, carrying with them hundreds of people. The crowd recoiled with a
cry of horror.
"There is no escape now, sister," Terence said; "go back to the convent."
"Home, sisters!" she cried in a loud, shrill voice, that made itself heard
even over the screams of the drowning people and the wails and cries of
Terence placed himself before the lady superior, and by main force made a
way through the crowd; which was the more easy as, seeing their only
escape cut off, numbers were now beginning to disperse to their homes. The
movement was converted into a wild rush when a troop of French cavalry
came thundering down to the bridge. In a moment all was mad confusion and
fright. The nuns followed their superior, and all thought of decorum being
now lost, fled with her like a flock of frightened sheep along the street
leading to the convent. Terence paused a moment. He saw that the French
troopers threw themselves from their horses, and, all animosity being for
the moment forgotten in the horror of the scene, set to work to endeavour
to save the drowning wretches, regardless of the fire which, as soon as
the French appeared, was opened by the battery on the height of Villa
Then he sped away after the nuns, whom he soon passed. He turned down the
street next to the convent, and, on reaching the end, saw the two troopers
with a nun in a boat ten yards away. Macwitty was standing covering the
two boatmen with his pistols.
"Row back to the shore again," he roared out in English, "and take off
that gentleman there." The men did not understand his words, but they
understood his gestures, and a stroke or two took them alongside. Terence
leapt in and told the men to row across the river.
"This is an unexpected meeting, cousin," he said to the girl.
"They have been telling me who you are, and how you have effected my
rescue," she said, bursting into tears. "How can I thank you?"
"Well, this is hardly a time for thanks," he said, "and I am as glad as
you are that it has all turned out well. I will tell you all about it as
soon as we are across."
They were nearly over when he exclaimed to the troopers:
"The French have repaired the bridge with planks. See, they are crossing!"
They sprang out on reaching the opposite shore. A moment later a rattle of
musketry broke out.
"Macwitty," he said, "I will give this young lady into your charge. Take
her straight up to the camp. There are three ladies there," he said to his
cousin, "and in the tent they have some clothes for you to change into. It
will not be long before I shall rejoin you. But I must join my regiment
now; they are engaged with the enemy."
As he hurried along with Bull, he could hear above the sound of the
musketry the sharp crack of the field-guns from the opposite side of the
"They are covering the passage, Bull."
As he came up he found that Herrara had taken possession of the houses
near the end of the bridge. A part of his troops filled the windows, while
the main body lined the quay. The French were recoiling, but a mass of
their troops could be seen at the further end of the bridge, and two field
batteries were keeping up an incessant fire. Herrara was posted with a
company at the end of the bridge.
"We had better fall back, Herrara, before they form a fresh column of
attack. We might repulse them again, but they will be able to cross by
boats elsewhere, and we shall be taken in front and rear. Let us draw off
in good order. The infantry will be sure to march straight against the
battery on the hill behind, and it will be half an hour before the cavalry
can cross, and by that time we shall be well on our way; whereas, if we
stop here until we are taken in flank and rear, we shall be cut to
"I quite agree with you," Herrara said, and ordered the man with the horn
standing beside him to sound the retreat.
The men near at once formed up and got in motion, those in the houses
poured out, and in two minutes the whole force were going up the hill at a
trot, but still preserving their order. Five minutes later the head of the
French column poured over the bridge. Just as the troops reached the place
of encampment the fire of the battery ceased suddenly.
Never was a large force of men driven from a very strong position,
carefully prepared and defended by a vast number of guns, so quickly and
easily as were the Portuguese before Oporto. The bishop, after rejecting
Soult's summons and disregarding his prayers to save the city from ruin,
suddenly lost heart, and after all his boasting, slipped away after dark
to the Serra Convent, leaving the command to the generals of the army. The
feint which Soult had made with Merle's division the night before against
the Portuguese left succeeded perfectly, the Portuguese massing their
forces on that side to resist the expected attack.
Soult's real intentions, however, were to break through the centre of the
line and then to drive the Portuguese right and left away from the town,
while he pushed a body of troops straight through the city to seize the
bridge and thus cut off all retreat. Accordingly he commenced the attack
on both wings. The Portuguese weakened their centre to meet these, and
then the central division of the French rushed forward, burst through the
intrenchments, and carried at once the two principal forts. Then two
battalions marched into the town and made for the bridge, while the rest
fell on the Portuguese rear. The French right carried in succession a
number of forts, took fifty pieces of artillery, and drove off a great
mass of the Portuguese from the town, while Merle met with equal success
on the other flank. Half the Portuguese, therefore, were driven up the
valley of the Douro, and the other half down towards the sea.
Maddened by terror, some of them strove to swim across, others to get over
in small boats. Lima, their general, shouted to them that the river was
too wide to swim, and that those who took to boats would be shot down by
the pursuing French. Whereupon his own troops turned upon him and murdered
him, although the French were but a couple of hundred yards away; they
then renewed their attempt to cross, and many perished. Similar scenes
took place in the valley above the town, but here the French cavalry
interposed between the panic-stricken fugitives and the river, and so
prevented them throwing away their lives in the hopeless attempt to swim
across. In the meantime incessant firing was going on in the city. The
French column arriving at the bridge, after doing their best to rescue the
drowning people, sacrificed to the heartless cowardice of the Portuguese
cavalry, speedily repaired the break caused by the sinking boats and
prepared to cross the river, while others scattered through the town.
The inhabitants fired upon them from the roofs and windows, and two
hundred men defended the bishop's palace to the last. Every house was the
scene of conflict. The French on entering one of the principal squares
found a number of their comrades, who had been taken prisoners and sent to
the town, still alive but horribly mutilated, some of them having been
blinded, others having legs cut off, and all mutilated in various ways.
This terrible sight naturally goaded them to such a state of fury that
Soult in vain endeavoured to stop the work of slaughter and pillage. This
continued for several hours, and altogether the number of Portuguese who
perished by drowning and slaughter in the streets was estimated at ten
thousand, of which the number killed in the defence of the works formed
but an insignificant portion.
Terence on his arrival at the camp in the wood resumed his uniform.
Herrara had, on the previous day, purchased a light waggon and two horses
for the use of the ladies, and as soon as the men had strapped on the
cloaks and blankets which they had left behind them when they advanced to
the defence of the bridge, the retreat began. Not until he had seen the
column fairly on its way did Terence ride up to speak to the occupants of
the waggon. He had not been introduced by Herrara to his friends, for on
his return from his encounter with the bishop the ladies had already
retired to their tent.
"I must introduce myself to you, Don Jose. I am Terence O' Connor, an
ensign in his Britannic Majesty's regiment of Mayo Fusiliers and an
aide-de-camp of General Cradock, a very humble personage, though at
present in command of these troops--irregular regiments of the Portuguese
"Lieutenant Herrara has told us so much about you, Senor O'Connor, that we
have been looking forward with much pleasure to meeting you. Allow me to
present you to my wife and daughters, who have been as anxious as myself
to meet an officer who has done such good services to the cause, and to
whom it is due at the present moment that we are here, instead of being in
the midst of the terrible scenes that are no doubt at this moment being
enacted in Oporto."
Terence bowed deeply to the ladies, and then said to his cousin:
"I almost require introducing to you, for I caught but a glimpse of you as
we crossed the river, and you look so different now that you have got rid
of that hideous attire that I don't think that I should have known you."
"You have changed greatly, too, Senor O'Connor."
Terence burst into a laugh.
"My dear cousin, it is evident that you know very little of English
customs, though you speak English so well. We don't call our cousins Mr.
and Miss; you will have to call me Terence and I shall certainly call you
Mary. Macwitty brought you back to camp all right?"
"Yes; but it was terrible to hear all that firing, and I was wondering all
the time whether you were being hurt."
"There is a great deal of powder fired away to every one that gets hit."
"Do you know what has happened in the town?" Don Jose asked.
"I know no more than what my cousin has no doubt told you of that terrible
scene at the bridge. It is evident that the French burst through the lines
without any difficulty, as we saw no soldiers, except those cowardly
cavalrymen, before the French arrived. It is probable that the
intrenchments were carried in the centre, and Soult evidently sent a body
of soldiers straight through the town to secure the bridge. I think he
must have cut off the main body of the defenders of the intrenchments from
entering the town and must either have captured them or driven them off.
The fire of cannon had ceased over there before we retired, and it is
clear from that that the whole of the intrenchments must have been
captured. There was, however, a heavy rattle of musketry in the town, and
I suppose that the houses, and perhaps some barricades, were being
defended. It was a mad thing to do, for it would only excite the fury of
the French troops, and get them out of hand altogether. If there had been
no resistance the columns might have marched in in good order; but even
then I fear there might have been trouble, for unfortunately, your
peasants have behaved with such merciless cruelty to all stragglers who
fell into their hands, that the thirst for vengeance would in any case
have been irrepressible. Still, the officers might possibly have preserved
order had there been no resistance."
"Shall we be pursued, do you think, senor?" Don Jose's wife asked.
"I do not think so. Possibly parties of horse may scour the country for
some distance round, to see if there is a body of troops here, but we are
too strong to be attacked by any but a very numerous body of horse; and if
they should attempt it, you may be sure that we can render a very good
account of ourselves. We have beaten off the French horse once, and, as
since then we have had some stiff fighting, I have no fear of the men
being unsteady, even if all Franceschi's cavalry came down upon us. Of
that, however, there will be little chance; the French have their hands
full for some days, and a few scouting parties are all that they are
likely to send out."
"You speak Portuguese very well, Terence," Mary O'Connor said, in that
language, hesitating a little before she used his Christian name.
"I have been nearly nine months in the country, during most of which I
have been on the staff, and have had to communicate with peasants and
others, and for the past two months I have spoken nothing else; necessity
is a good teacher. Besides which, Lieutenant Herrara has been good enough
to take great pains in correcting my mistakes and teaching me the proper
idioms; another six months of this work and I have no doubt I shall be
able to pass as a native."
After marching fifteen miles the column halted, Terence feeling assured
that the French would not push out their scouting parties more than three
or four miles from Villa Nova. They halted at the edge of a forest, and a
party under one of the officers was at once despatched to a village two
miles away, and returned in an hour with a drove of pigs that had been
bought there, and a cart laden with bread and wine. Fires had already been
lighted, and after seeing that the rations were divided among the various
companies, Terence went to the tent. Herrara was chatting with his
friends, and Mary O'Connor came out at once and joined him.
"That is right, Mary; we will take a stroll in the wood and have a talk
together. Now tell me how you have got on. I had expected to find you
quite thin and almost starving."
"No, I have had plenty of bread to eat," she laughed; "the sisters kept me
well supplied. I am sure that most of them were sorry for me, and they
used to hide away some of their own bread and bring it to me when they had
a chance. The lady superior was very hard, and if I had had to depend
entirely on what she sent me up I should have done very badly. I always
ate as much as I could, as I wanted to keep up my strength; for I knew
that if I got weak I might give way and do what they wanted, and I was
quite determined that I would not, if I could help it."
"Macwitty told you, I suppose, how I came to hear where you were
"Yes; he said that the officer had given you the letter that I dropped to
him; yet how did he come to know that you were my cousin?"
"It was quite an accident; just the similarity of name. We were chatting,
and he said, casually, 'I suppose that you have no relatives at Oporto,'
and I at once said I had, for fortunately my father had been telling me
about your father and you, the last time I saw him, that is four months
ago. He was badly wounded at Vimiera and invalided home. Then Captain
Travers told me about getting your letter and what was in it, and I felt
sure that it was you, and of course made up my mind to do what I could to
get you out, though at the time I did not think that I should be in Oporto
until I entered with the British army."
"But I cannot think how you got us all to start, and walked along with the
lady superior as if you were a friend of hers. Macwitty had not time to
tell me that. I was so frightened and bewildered with the dreadful noise
and the strangeness of it all that I could not ask him many questions."
"It was by virtue of this ring," he said, holding up his hand.
"Why," she exclaimed in surprise, "that is the bishop's! I noticed it on
his finger when he came one day to me and scolded me, and said that I
should remain a prisoner if it was for years until my obstinate spirit was
broken. But how did you get it?"
"Not with the bishop's good-will, you may be sure, Mary," Terence laughed;
and he then told her how he had become possessed of it.
The girl looked quite scared.
"It sounds dreadful, doesn't it, Mary, to think that I should have laid
hands upon a bishop, and such a bishop, a man who regards himself as the
greatest in Portugal. However, there was no other way of getting the ring,
and I could not see how, without it, I could persuade the lady superior to
leave her convent with you all; and to tell you the truth, I would rather
have got it that way than any other. The bishop is, in my opinion, a man
who deserves no respect. He has terrorized all the north of Portugal, has
caused scores of better men than himself to be imprisoned or put to death,
and has now by his folly and ignorance cost the lives of no one knows how
many thousand men, and brought about the sack of Oporto."
"Did you hear anything of my mother?" the girl asked.
"No; my Portuguese was not good enough for me to ask questions without
risking being detected as a foreigner at once. She has behaved shamefully
to you, Mary."
"She never liked me," the girl said, simply. "She and father never got on
well together, and I think her dislike began by his taking to me, and my
liking to be with him and getting to talk English. There was a terrible
quarrel between them once because she accused him of teaching me to be a
Protestant, although he never did so. He did give me a Bible, and I used
to ask him questions and he answered them, that was all; but as it did
seem to me that he was much wiser in all things than she was, I thought
that he might be wiser in religion too. I would have given up the property
directly they wanted me to, if they would have let me go away to England;
but when they took me to the convent and cut off my hair, and forced me to
become a nun, I would not give way to them. I never took the vows,
Terence; I would not open my lips, but they went on with the service just
the same. I was determined that I would not yield. I thought that the
English would come some day, and that I might be freed then."
"What would you have done in England if you had gone there, Mary?"
"I should have found your father out, and gone to him. Father told me that
your father was his greatest friend, and just before he died he told me
that he had privately sent over all his own money to a bank at Cork, and
ordered it to be put in your father's name. It was a good deal of money,
for he would not give up the business when he married my mother, though
she wanted him to; but he said that he could not live in idleness on her
money, and that he must be doing something. And I know that he kept up the
house in Oporto, while she kept up her place in the country. He told me
that the sum he had sent over was L20,000. That will be enough to live on,
"Plenty," Terence laughed. "I had no idea that I was rescuing such an
heiress. I was sure that there was no chance of your getting your mother's
money, at any rate, as long as the bishop was leader of Oporto. However
just your claim, no judge would decide in your favour."
"Now tell me about yourself, Terence, and your home in Ireland, and all
"My home has been the regiment, Mary. My father has a few hundred acres in
County Mayo, and a tumble-down house; that is to say, it was a tumble-down
house when I saw it four years ago, but it had been shut up for a good
many years, and I should not be surprised if it has quite tumbled down
now. However, my father was always talking of going to live there when he
left the army. The land is not worth much, I think. There are five hundred
acres, and they let for about a hundred a year. However, my father has
been in the regiment now for about eighteen years; and as I was born in
barracks I have only been three or four times to Ballinagra, and then only
because father took a fancy to have a look at the old house. My mother
died when I was ten years old, and I ran almost wild until I got my
commission last June."
"And how did you come to be a staff-officer of the English general?" she
"I have had awfully good luck," Terence replied. "It happened in all sorts
"Please tell me everything," she said. "I want to know all about you."
"It is a long story, Mary."
"So much the better," she said. "I know nothing of what has passed for the
last year, and I dare say I shall learn about it from your story. You
don't know how happy I am feeling to be out in the sun and in the air
again, and to see the country after being shut up in one room for a year.
Suppose we sit down here and you tell me the whole story."
Terence accordingly related the history of his adventures since he had
left England. The girl asked a great many questions, and specially
insisted upon hearing his own adventures very fully.
"It is no use your keeping on saying that it is all luck," she said when
he had finished. "Your colonel could not have thought that it was luck
when he wrote the report about that adventure at sea, and your general
could not have thought so, either, or he would not have praised you in his
despatch. Then, you know, General Fane must have thought that it was quite
out of the way or he would not have chosen you to be on his staff. Then
afterwards the other general must have been pleased with you, or he would
not have put you on his staff and sent you off on a mission to General
Romana. It is quite certain that these things could not have been all
luck, Terence. And anyhow, you cannot pretend that it was luck that this
regiment of yours fought so well against the French, while none of the
others seem to have fought at all. I suppose that you will say next that
it was all luck that you got me out of the convent."
"There was a great deal of luck in it, Mary. If that cowardly bishop
hadn't left Oporto secretly, after declaring that he would defend it until
the last, I could never have got his ring."
"You would have got me out some other way if he hadn't," the girl said,
with confidence. "No, Terence, you can say what you like, but I shall
always consider that you have been wonderfully brave and clever."
"Then you will always think quite wrong," Terence said, bluntly.
"I shall begin to think that you are a tyrant, like the Bishop of Oporto,
if you speak in that positive way. How old are you, sir?"
"I was sixteen six months ago."
"And I was sixteen three days ago," she said. "Fancy your commanding two
thousand soldiers and only six months older than I am."
"It is not I, it is the uniform," Terence said. "They obey me when they
won't obey their own officers, because I am on the English general's
staff. They know that we have thrashed the French, and that their own
officers know nothing at all about fighting, and they have no respect
whatever for them. More than that, they despise them because they know
that they are always intriguing, and that really, although they may be
called generals, they are but politicians. You will see, when they get
English officers to discipline them, they will turn out capital soldiers;
but they think so little of their own, that if anything goes wrong their
first idea is that their officers must be traitors, and so fall upon them
and murder them.
"You look older than I do, Mary. You seem to me quite a woman, while, in
spite of my uniform and my command, and all that, I am really only a boy."
"I suppose I am almost a woman, Terence, but I don't feel so. You see out
here girls often marry at sixteen. I know father said once that he hoped I
shouldn't marry until I was eighteen, and that he wanted to keep me young.
I never thought about getting almost a woman until the bishop told me one
day that if I chose to marry a senor that he would choose for me, he would
get me absolution from my vows, and that I need not then resign my
"The old blackguard!" Terence exclaimed, angrily. "And what did you say to
"I said that, in the first place, I had never thought of marrying; that in
the second place, I had not taken any vows; and in the third place that
when I did marry I would choose for myself. He got into a terrible rage,
and said that I was an obstinate heretic, and that some day when I was
tired of my prison I would think better of it."
"I would have hit the bishop hard if I had known about that," Terence
grumbled. "If ever I fall in with him again I will pay him out for it.
Well, anyhow, I may as well take off his ring; it might lead to awkward
questions if anyone noticed it."
"I think that you had certainly better do so, Terence; it might cost you
your life. The bishop is a bad man, and he is a very dangerous enemy. If
he heard that an English officer was wearing an episcopal ring, and upon
inquiring found that that officer had been in Oporto at its capture, he
would know at once that it was you who assaulted him, and he would never
rest until he had your life. You had better throw it away."
"All right, here goes!" Terence said, carelessly, and he threw the ring
into a clump of bushes. "Now, Mary, it is getting dark, and I should think
supper must be waiting for us."
"Yes, it is late; we have been a long while, indeed," the girl said,
getting up hastily. "I forgot all about time."
"We are in plenty of time," Terence said, looking at his watch. "As we all
had some cold meat for lunch as soon as we arrived, I ordered dinner at
six o'clock, and it wants twenty minutes of that time now."
"It is shocking, according to our Portuguese ideas," she said, demurely,
"for a young lady and gentleman to be talking together for nearly three
hours without anyone to look after them."
"It is not at all shocking, according to Irish ideas," Terence said,
laughing, "especially when the young lady and gentleman happen to be
They walked a short time in silence, then she said:
"I have obeyed you, Terence, and haven't uttered a word of thanks for what
you have done for me."
"That shows that you are a good girl," Terence laughed.
"Good girls always do as they are told; at least they are supposed to,
though as to the fact I never had any experience, for I have no sisters,
and there were no girls in barracks; still, I am glad that you kept your
promise, and hope that you will always do so. Being a cousin, of course it
was natural that I should try to rescue you."
"And you would not if I hadn't been a cousin?"
"No, I don't say that. I dare say I should have tried the same if I had
heard that any English or Irish girl was shut up here. I am sure I should
if I had seen you beforehand."
She coloured a little at the compliment, and said, lightly: "Father told
me once that Irishmen were great hands at compliments. He told me that
there was some stone that people went to an old castle to kiss--I think
that he called it the Blarney Stone--and after that they were able to say
all sorts of absurd things."
"I have never kissed the Blarney Stone," Terence said, laughing. "If I
wanted to kiss anything, it would be something a good deal softer than
They were now entering the camp, and in a few minutes they arrived at the
"I began to think that you were lost, O'Connor," Herrara said, as they
"We had a lot to talk about," Terence replied. "My cousin has been
insisting upon my telling her my whole history, and all about what has
passed here since she was shut up a year ago, and, as you may imagine, it
was rather a long story."
A few minutes later they sat down on the ground to a meal in which roast
pork was the leading feature.
"This is what we call in England a picnic, senora," Terence said to Don
"A picnic," she repeated; "what does that mean? It is a funny word."
"I have no idea why it should be called so," Terence said. "It means an
open-air party. The ladies are supposed to bring the provisions, and the
gentlemen the wine. Sometimes it is a boating party; at other times they
drive in carriages to the spot agreed upon. It is always very jolly, and
much better than a formal meal indoors, and you can play all sorts of
"What sort of tricks, senor?"
"Oh, there are lots of them. I was always having fun before I became an
officer. My father was one of the captains of the regiment, and I was
generally in for any amusement that there was. Once at a picnic, I
remember that I got hold of the salt-cellars and mustard-pots beforehand,
and I filled up one with powdered Epsom salts, which are horribly nasty,
you know, and I mixed the mustard with cayenne pepper. Nobody could make
out what had happened to the food. They soon suspected the mustard, but
nobody thought of the salt for a long time. The colonel was furious over
it, but fortunately they could not prove that I had any hand in the
matter, though I know that they suspected me, for I did not get an
invitation to a picnic for a long time afterwards."
The three girls laughed, but Don Jose said, seriously: "But you would have
got into terrible trouble if you had been found out, would you not?"
"I should have got a licking, no doubt, senor; but I was pretty accustomed
to that, and it did not trouble me in any way. At any rate, it did not
cure me of my love for mischief. I am afraid I never shall be cured of
that. I used to have no end of fun in the regiment, and I think that it
did us all good. It takes some thinking to work out a bit of mischief
properly, and I suppose if one can think one thing out well, one can think
"It seems to have succeeded well in your case, anyhow," Herrara laughed.
"Perhaps if it had not been for your playing that trick at the picnic you
would never have taken command of that mob, and we should never have gone
to Oporto, and my friends and your cousin would be there now--that is, if
they had not been killed."
"It may have had something to do with it," Terence admitted.
"And now, senor," Don Jose said, "which way are you going to take us?"
"We shall go straight on to Coimbra," Terence said, "unless we come upon a
British force before that. Two long days' march will take us there. After
that I must do as I am ordered; my independent command will come to an end
there. I hope that I shall soon hear that my regiment has returned from
"And what is to become of me? I have not thought of asking," Mary O'Connor
"That must depend upon circumstances, Mary. If I go down to Lisbon, I hope
that we shall all travel together, and I can then put you on board a
transport returning to England. I am sure to find letters from my father
there, telling me where he is and whether he is coming back with the
"We shall be very happy, senor," Don Jose said, courteously, "to take
charge of the senora, until there is an opportunity for sending her to
England. I have, of course, many friends in Lisbon, and shall take a house
there the instant I arrive, and Donna O'Connor will be as one of my own
"I am extremely obliged to you, Don Jose. I have been wondering all day as
I rode along what I should do with my cousin if, as is probable, I am
obliged to stay at Coimbra until I receive orders from Lisbon. Your kind
offer relieves me of a great anxiety. I think that it will be prudent for
her to take another name while she is at Lisbon. There will certainly be
no inquiries after her, for the lady superior of her convent will, of
course, conclude that she was accidentally separated from the others in
the crush, and that she was trampled on, or killed; and, indeed, there
will be such confusion in Oporto that the loss of a nun more or less would
fail to attract attention. At any rate, it is likely to be a long time
before any report the lady superior will make to the bishop will reach
him--months, perhaps, for she is not likely to take any particular pains
to tell him news that would certainly anger him.
"Still, if he goes to Lisbon, as no doubt he will, and by any chance
happens to hear that Miss O'Connor was one of those who had escaped from
the sack of Oporto, he might make inquiries, and then all sorts of trouble
might arise, even if he did not have her carried off by force, which would
be easy enough in a place so disturbed as Lisbon at present is."
"I think that you are right, senor," Don Jose said, gravely. "At any rate
it would be as well to avoid any risk. What name shall we call her?"
"You can call her Miss Dillon, senor, that is the name of an officer in
"But the bishop might meet her in the street by chance; what then?"
"I don't think that he would know me," Mary O'Connor put in. "I have seen
him, but I don't suppose that he ever noticed me until he saw me in my
nun's dress, and, of course, I look very different now. Still, he is very
sharp, and I will take good care never to go out without a veil."
"That will be the safest plan, Mary," Terence said, "though I don't think
anyone would recognize you. Of course, he supposes that you are still
snugly shut up in the convent; still, it is just as well not to run the
They made two long marches and reached Coimbra early on the third morning,
bringing the first news that had been received there of the storming of
Oporto. Terence at once reported himself to the commanding officer.
"I was wondering where these two regiments came from, Mr. O'Connor," the
colonel said. "I watched them march in, and thought that they were the
most orderly body that I have seen since we came out here. Whose corps are
"Well, Colonel, they are my corps. I will tell you about it presently; it
is a long story."
"How strong are they?"
"The field state this morning made them two thousand three hundred and
fifty-five. They were two thousand five hundred to begin with; the rest
are either killed or wounded."
"Oh, you have had some fighting then."
"We have had our share, at any rate, Colonel, and I think I can venture to
say that no other Portuguese corps shows so good a record."
"We have a large number of tents in store, and I will order a sufficient
number to be served out to put all your men under canvas, with the
understanding that if the army advances this way the tents must be handed
back to us. There are quantities of uniforms also. There have been
ship-loads sent over for the use of the Portuguese militia, who were to
turn out in their hundreds of thousands, but who have yet to be
discovered. Would you like some of them?"
"Very much, indeed, Colonel. It would add very greatly to their
appearance; though, as far as fighting goes, I am bound to say that I
could wish nothing better."
"Really! Then all I can say is you have made a very valuable discovery.
Hitherto the fighting powers of the Portuguese have been invisible to the
naked eye. But if you have found that they really will fight under some
circumstances, we may hope that, now Lord Beresford has come out to take
command of the Portuguese army, and is going to have a certain number of
British officers to train and command them, they will be of some utility,
instead of being simply a scourge to the country and a constant drain on
"Have you heard that Oporto is captured, sir?"
"No, you don't say so!"
"Captured in less than an hour from the time that the first gun was
"Just what I expected. When you have political bishops who not only
pretend to govern a country, but also assume the command of armies, how
can it be otherwise? However, you shall tell me about it presently. I will
go down with you at once to the stores and order the issue of the tents
and uniforms. My orders were that the uniforms were to be served out to
militia and ordenancas; under which head do your men come?"
"The latter, sir; that is what they really were, but they hung the three
men the Junta sent to command them, and placed themselves in my hands, and
I have done the best I could with them, with the assistance of Lieutenant
Herrara--who, as you may remember, accompanied me in charge of the
escort--and my own two troopers and his men, and between us we have really
done much in the way of disciplining them."
Two hours later the tents were pitched on a spot half a mile distant from
the town. By the time that this was done the carts with the uniforms came
up, to the great delight of the men.
"I have to go to the commandant again now, Herrara; let the uniforms be
served out to the men at once. Tell the captains to see to their fitting
as well as possible. I have no doubt that the colonel will come down to
inspect them this afternoon, and will probably bring a good many officers
with him, so we must make as good a show as possible."
Herrara's friends and Mary O'Connor had, on arriving at Coimbra, hired
rooms, as Don Jose had determined to stay for a few days before going on,
because his wife had been much shaken by the events that had taken place,
and his eldest daughter was naturally anxious to wait until she knew
whether Herrara would be able to return to Lisbon, or would remain with
the corps. By the time Terence returned to the colonel's quarters it was
"You must come across to mess, Mr. O'Connor," the commandant said.
"Everyone is anxious to hear your news, and it will save your going over
it twice if you will tell it after lunch. I fancy every officer in the
camp will be there."
CONFIRMED IN COMMAND
Terence, after lunch was over, first related to the officers all that he
knew of the siege of Oporto, explaining why he did not choose to sacrifice
the men under him by joining the undisciplined rabble in the
intrenchments, but determined to keep the head of the bridge. They
listened with breathless interest to his narrative of the attack and
capture of Oporto.
"But how was it that that fifty-gun battery did not knock the bridge to
pieces when the French tried to cross?"
"That is more than I can say, Colonel. I should fancy that they were so
terrified at the utter rout on the other side, which they could see well
enough, for they had a view right over the town to the intrenchments, that
they simply fired wildly. I don't believe a single ball hit the bridge,
though, of course, they ought to have sunk a dozen boats in a couple of
minutes. My men could have held it for days, though they were suffering
somewhat from the fire of two of the French field batteries; but I found
that no steps whatever had been taken to remove the boats from the other
side. There were great numbers of them all along the bank, and the enemy
could have crossed a mile higher up, at the spot where I took my men over,
and so fallen on our rear, therefore I withdrew to save them from being
cut up or captured uselessly."
"Now tell us about those troops of yours, O'Connor."
Terence gave a somewhat detailed account of the manner in which he took
the command and of the subsequent operations, being desirous of doing
justice to Herrara and his troopers, and to his own two orderlies. There
was much laughter among the officers at his assumption of command, and at
the subsequent steps he took to form his mob of men into an orderly body;
but interest took the place of amusement as he told how they had prevented
the French from crossing at the mouth of the Minho, and caused Soult to
take the circuitous and difficult route by Orense. His subsequent defence
of the defile and the night attack upon the French, surprised them much,
and when he brought his story to a conclusion there were warm expressions
of approval among his hearers.
"I must congratulate you most heartily, Mr. O'Connor," the colonel said.
"What seemed at first a very wild and hare-brained enterprise, if you
don't mind my saying so, certainly turned out a singular success. It would
have seemed almost impossible that you, a young ensign, should be able to
exercise any authority over a great body of mere peasants, who have
everywhere shown themselves utterly insubordinate and useless under their
native officers. It is nothing short of astonishing; and it is most
gratifying to find that the Portuguese should, under an English officer,
develop fighting powers far beyond anything with which they have been
hitherto credited. What are you going to do now?"
"I was intending to send my despatches on to Sir John Cradock, and wait
here for orders."
"I think that you had better take your despatches on yourself, Mr. O'
Connor. I do not suppose that they are anything like so full as the story
you have told us, which, I am sure, would be of as much interest to the
general as it has been to us."
"I will do so, sir, and will start this evening. My horse had three days'
rest at Villa Nova, and is quite fit to travel."
"You must be feeling terribly anxious about your cousin," the officer who
had first told him about her remarked; "there is no saying what may have
happened in Oporto after it was stormed."
"I should indeed be, if she were there," Terence replied; "but I am happy
to say that she is at present in Coimbra, having travelled with us under
the charge of some Portuguese ladies, friends of Herrara."
"You don't mean to say that you persuaded the bishop to let her out of the
"Scarcely," Terence laughed, "though the bishop did unwittingly aid me."
"I congratulate you on getting her out," the colonel said.
"Travers was telling us the day after you left what a curious coincidence
it was that the nun who threw him out a letter should turn out to be a
cousin of yours. Will you tell us how you managed it?"
"I don't mind telling it, sir, if all here will promise not to repeat it.
The Bishop of Oporto is a somewhat formidable person, and were he to lodge
a complaint against me he might get me into serious trouble, and is
perfectly capable of having me stabbed some dark night in the streets of
Lisbon; therefore, I think it would be as well to omit any details of the
share he played in the matter. Without that the story is simple enough.
Having got a boat with two men in it at the end of the street in which
stood the convent, I went there in the dress of an ecclesiastic, just as
the French burst into the town. The bishop had fled on the night before to
the Serra Convent on the other side of the river, and I was able to
produce an authority from him which satisfied the lady superior that I was
the bearer of his order for her and the nuns to make for the bridge, and
to cross the river at once.
"Of course, I accompanied them. The crowd was great and they naturally got
separated. In the confusion my orderlies managed to get my cousin out of
the crowd, and took her straight to the boat. As soon as I saw that they
had gone, I persuaded the lady superior to take the rest of the nuns back
to the convent at once, as the bridge was by this time broken, and the
French had made their appearance. She got the nuns together and made off
with them as fast as they could run, and after seeing that they were all
nearly back to their convent without any signs of the French being near, I
joined the others in the boat, and we rowed across the river. It was a
simple business altogether, though at first it seemed very hopeless."
"Especially to get the authority of the bishop," the colonel said, with a
"That certainly seemed the most hopeless part of the business," Terence
replied; "but happily I was able to manage it somehow."
"Well, you certainly have had a most remarkable series of adventures, Mr.
O'Connor. Now we will go and inspect your corps. Of course they will be
rationed while they are here, and will be under my general orders until I
hear from Cradock."
"Quite so, Colonel; I am sure they will be proud of being inspected by
you. Of course, they are unable to do any complicated manoeuvres, but
those they do know they know pretty thoroughly, and can do them in a rough
and ready way that for actual work is, I think, just as good as a
parade-ground performance. I will go on ahead, sir, and form them up."
"I would rather, if you don't mind, that they should have no warning," the
colonel said; "we will just go down quietly, and see how quickly they can
"Very well, sir."
All there expressed their wish to go, and as all were provided with horses
or ponies of some kind, in ten minutes they rode off in a body. His
officers had been very busy all the time that Terence had been away,
serving out the uniforms and seeing that they were properly put on. The
work was just over, and the men were sauntering about round their tents
when the party arrived. Herrara came up and saluted. He was known to the
colonel, as he had dined with Terence at the mess on their way through.
After a few words, Terence said to Herrara:
"Have the assembly blown, and let the men fall in."
Herrara walked back to the tents, and a moment later a horn blew. It had
an uncouth sound, and bore no resemblance to the ordinary call, but it was
promptly obeyed. The men snatched their muskets from the piles in front of
the tents, and in a wonderfully short time the whole were formed up in
their ranks, stiff and immovable.
"Excellently done!" the colonel said; "no British regiment could have
fallen in more smartly."
Accompanied by Terence, and followed by the rest of the officers, he rode
along the line. The evening before Terence had impressed upon the captains
of companies the necessity for having the rifles perfectly clean, as they
were about to join a British camp, so that the pieces were all in perfect
order. When the inspection was over the mounted group drew off a little.
"The troops will form up in columns of companies," Terence said, and Bull
and Macwitty, who were at the head of their respective regiments, gave the
orders. The movements were well executed. The men, proud of their uniform,
and on their mettle at being inspected by British officers, did their
best, and that best left little to be desired. After marching past, they
formed into company squares to resist cavalry, then retired by alternate
companies, and then formed into line.
"Excellently done!" said the colonel. "Indeed, I can hardly believe it
possible that a party of peasants have in a month's time been formed into
a body of good soldiers. I should like the officers to come up."
"Call the officers."
There was an officers' call, and this now sounded, and the twelve captains
with their two majors rode to the front and saluted. "Mr. Herrara," the
colonel said, "I have seen with surprise and the greatest satisfaction the
movements of the men under you; they do you the greatest credit, and I
shall have pleasure in sending in a most favourable report to the general,
the result of my inspection of the regiments. I hear from Mr. O'Connor
that your men have shown themselves capable of holding their own against
the French, and I can say that I should feel perfectly confident in going
into action with my regiment supported by such brave and capable troops.
Would that instead of 2,000 we had 100,000 Portuguese troops equally to be
trusted, we should very speedily turn the French out of Portugal and drive
them from the Peninsula."
The officers bowed and rode off. The troops had not learned the salute,
and when the horn sounded they were at once dismissed drill.
"Well, Mr. O'Connor, I must congratulate you most heartily on what you
have done. If nothing else, you have added to our army a couple of strong
regiments of capable soldiers. If I had not seen it myself I should have
thought it impossible that over 2,000 men could be converted into soldiers
in so short a time, and that without experienced non-commissioned officers
to work them up."
Returning to Coimbra with the colonel, Terence rode to the house where
Herrara's friends had taken rooms, and told them that he was going to
leave them. Don Jose at once wrote several letters of introduction to
influential friends at Lisbon, telling them that he and his daughters had
escaped from the sack of Oporto, and asking them to show every kindness to
the officer, to whom they chiefly owed their safety.
Terence meanwhile returned to camp, arranged with Herrara and the two
majors that everything was to go on as usual during his absence, urging
them to work hard at their drill, and to impress upon the men the
necessity, now that they were in uniform, of carrying themselves as
soldiers, and doing credit to their corps.
Five days later he arrived at Lisbon, taking with him a report from the
commandant of his inspection of the corps.
"I had begun to be afraid that you had been killed or taken prisoner, Mr.
O'Connor," Sir John Cradock said, as Terence presented himself, "or that
you must have fallen back with Romana into Spain. He seems to have behaved
very badly, for, as I hear, although he had 10,000 men with him, half of
them regular troops, he retired without a shot being fired--except by two
regiments who were mauled by the French cavalry--and left Silveira in the
"I was on other business, General, and I fear that you will think that I
exceeded my orders; but I hope that you will consider that the result has
justified my doing so. Will you kindly first run your eye over this report
by the officer commanding at Coimbra?"
Sir John Cradock read the report with a puzzled expression of face, then
he said: "But what regiments are these that Colonel Wilberforce speaks of
in such high terms? Were they part of Romana's force? He speaks of them as
a corps under your command, and as being 2,300 strong."
"They were not Romana's men, sir, but a body of ordenancas, of whom, as my
report will inform you, I came by a combination of circumstances to take
the command, appointing Lieutenant Herrara, who commanded my escort,
colonel, my two orderlies as majors, and the Portuguese troopers of my
escort as captains of companies. We have been several times engaged with
the French, and I cannot speak too highly of the behaviour of officers and
Sir John Cradock burst into a laugh. "You certainly are a cool hand, Mr.
O'Connor. Assuredly I did not contemplate when I sent you off that you
would return as colonel of two regiments."
"Nor did I, sir. But, you see, you gave me general instructions to concert
measures with Romana for the defence of the frontier. I saw at once that
Romana was hopeless, and was therefore myself driven to take these
measures. As Oporto has fallen I cannot say they were successful, but at
least I may say that we gave Oporto fourteen days' extra time to prepare
her defence, and if she did not take advantage of the time it was not my
The look of amusement on the general's face turned to one of interest.
"How did you do that, sir?"
"My corps prevented Soult from crossing at the mouth of the Minho,
General, killing some two hundred of his men and driving his boats back
across the river. When the French general saw that he could not cross in
face of such opposition, he was obliged to march his army round by Orense
and down by the passes, which ought to have been successfully defended by
"That was good service, indeed, Mr. O'Connor. I received despatches from
our agents at Oporto, saying that Soult's landing had been repulsed by
"My men were little more than armed peasants then, sir, though they had
had a few days' hard drill; still, a British officer would scarcely have
called them soldiers."
"Well, I think that Wilberforce's report shows that they have a right to
that title now. Take a seat, Mr. O' Connor, and a newspaper--there are
some that arrived two days ago--while I look over your report."
Terence had written in much greater detail than is usual in official
reports, as he wished the general to see how well the men and their
officers had behaved. It was twenty minutes before the general finished
"A very remarkable report, Mr. O'Connor; very remarkable. You must dine
with me this evening. I have many questions to ask you about it, and also
about the storming of Oporto, of which we have, as yet, received no
details, although a messenger from the bishop brought us the news some
days ago. He seems to have made a terrible mess of it."
"He ought to be hung, sir!" Terence said, indignantly. "After getting all
those unfortunate peasants together he sneaked off and hid himself in a
convent on the other side of the river, on the very night before the
"Unfortunately, Mr. O'Connor, we cannot give all men their deserts, or we
should want all the rope on board the ships in the harbour for the
purpose. The bishop is a firebrand of the most dangerous kind; and I
suppose we shall have him here in a day or two, for he said in his letter
that he was on his way. There is one comfort: he will be too busy in
quarrelling with the authorities to have any time to spend on his quarrels
with us. Then I shall see you in an hour's time. Please ask Captain Nelson
to come in here; I have some notes for him to write."
Terence bowed and retired.
"What a nuisance!" Captain Nelson said. "I was wanting to hear all that
you had been doing."
"I am to dine with the general," Terence said. "Perhaps I shall meet you
Captain Nelson found that he was wanted to write notes of invitation to
such of the officers who were still at Lisbon as had dined there when
Terence was last the general's guest; and as the general's invitations
overrode all other engagements, most of them were present when Terence
"Mr. O'Connor has another story for you, gentlemen," the general said,
when the cloth was removed and the wine put upon the table. "I am not sure
whether I am right in calling him Mr. O' Connor, for he has been
performing the duties of a colonel, commanding two regiments in the
Portuguese service. I will preface his story by reading the report of
Colonel Wilberforce, commanding at Coimbra, of the state of efficiency of
There was a look of surprise at the general's remarks, and that surprise
was greatly heightened on the reading of Colonel Wilberforce's report.
"Now, Mr. O'Connor," the general said, when he had finished, "I am sure
that we shall all be obliged by your giving us a detailed statement of the
manner in which you raised those regiments, and of the operations that you
undertook with them; and the more details you give us the better, for it
is well that we should understand how the Portuguese can be best handled.
I may say at once that, personally, we are greatly indebted to you for
having proved that, when even partially disciplined and well led, they are
capable of doing very good service, a fact of which, I own, I have been
hitherto very doubtful."
Smiles were exchanged among the auditors when Terence described the manner
in which he came to command the body of undisciplined ordenancas. When he
spoke of the state in which he found Romana's army, and the reason for his
determination to keep his column intact, they listened more attentively,
and exchanged looks of surprise when he described his rapid march to the
mouth of the Minho, and the repulse of Soult's attempt to cross from Tuy.
He then described how he had joined Silveira, and the mutiny of that
general's troops. Still more surprise was manifested when he related the
action in the defile and the bravery with which his troops had behaved,
and the manner in which they had been handled by the troopers that he had
appointed as their officers. The night attack on the cavalry and infantry
of the head of Soult's column was equally well received. His reasons for
not joining the army at Braga, and of keeping aloof from the mob of
peasants at Oporto were as much approved as was the holding of the bridge
for a while, and his reasons for withdrawing.
"Well, gentlemen," the general said, when Terence had finished, "I think
you will allow that my aide-de-camp, Mr. O'Connor, has given a good
account of himself, and that if he went outside my orders, his doing so
has been most amply justified."
"It has, indeed, General," one of the senior officers said, warmly. "I can
answer for myself, that I should have been proud to have been able to tell
such a story."
A murmur of approval ran round the table.
"It is difficult to say whether Mr. O'Connor's readiness to accept
responsibility, or the manner in which, in the short space of a month, he
turned a mob of peasants into regular soldiers, or the quickness with
which he marched to the spot threatened by Soult, and so compelled him to
entirely change the plan of his campaign, or his conduct in the defence of
the defile, and in his night attack, are most remarkable."
"I should wish to say, General, that in telling this story I have been
chiefly anxious to do justice to the hearty co-operation of Lieutenant
Herrara, and the services rendered by my own two orderlies and his
troopers. By myself, I could have done absolutely nothing. Their work was
hard and incessant, and the drill and discipline of the troops was wholly
due to them."
"I understand, Mr. O'Connor; it is quite right for you to say so, and I
thoroughly recognize that they must have done good service; but it is to
the man that plans, organizes, and infuses his own spirit into those under
his command, that everything is due. Now, Mr. O'Connor, I think I will ask
you to leave us for a few minutes; the case is rather an exceptional one,
and I shall be glad to chat the matter over with the officers present.
Well, gentlemen, what do you think that we are to do with Mr. O'Connor?"
he went on, with a smile, as the door closed behind Terence.
"My experience affords me no guide, General," another of the senior
officers said. "It is simply amazing that a lad of seventeen--I suppose he
is not much over that--should have conceived and carried out such a plan.
It sounds like a piece of old knight-errantry. Clive did as much, but
Clive was some years older when he first became a thorn in the side of the
French. What is your opinion, sir?"
"He is already a lieutenant," the general said. "I sent home a strong
recommendation that he should be promoted, when he was last here, and
received an intimation three days ago that he had been gazetted lieutenant
and transferred to my staff. This time I shall simply, send home a copy of
the report he has furnished me with, and that of Colonel Wilberforce, and
say that I leave the reports to speak for themselves, but that in my
opinion it is a case altogether exceptional. That is all I can do now. The
question of course is, whether he shall return to staff service again, or
shall continue in command of the corps with which he has done so much. If
he does the latter he must have local rank, otherwise he would be liable
to be overruled by any Portuguese officer of superior rank. I think that
the best way would be to send a copy of the reports to Lord Beresford,
saying that my opinion is very strong that Lieutenant O'Connor should be
allowed to retain an independent command of the corps that he has raised
and disciplined; and that I will either myself bestow local rank upon him,
and treat the corps as forming a part of the British army, like that of
Trant, or that he should give him local rank as its colonel, in which case
he would operate still independently, but in connection with Beresford's
"I should almost think that the first step would be best, General, if I
might say so. In the first place, Beresford will have any number of
irregular parties operating with him, while such a corps would be
invaluable to us. They are capable of taking long marches, they know the
mountains and forests, and would keep us supplied with news, while they
harassed the enemy. As an officer on your staff, O'Connor would have a
much greater power among the Portuguese population than he would have on
his own account in their own army, and he would be very much less likely
to be interfered with by the leaders of other parties and corps."
"Perhaps that would be the best way, Colonel. I will send the reports to
Beresford, and say that I have appointed Lieutenant O'Connor to remain in
command of this corps, which I shall attach to my own command; and saying
that I shall be obliged if he will have a commission made out for him,
giving him the local rank of colonel in the Portuguese army. Beresford is
himself a gallant soldier, and will appreciate, as you do, the work that
O'Connor has done; and as he knows nothing of the lad's age he will
comply, as a matter of course, with my request. I shall, in writing home,
strongly recommend his two cavalrymen for commissions. As to Herrara, I
shall ask Beresford to give him the rank of lieutenant-colonel. I shall
suggest to Beresford that his troopers should all receive commissions in
his army. They have all earned them, which is more than I can say of any
other Portuguese soldiers, so far as I have heard."
Terence was then called in again.
"In the first place, I have a pleasant piece of news to give you, Mr. O'
Connor, namely, that I have received from home an official letter, that on
my recommendation you have been gazetted to the rank of lieutenant and
transferred to my staff; in the second place, I have decided, that while
still retaining you on my staff, you will be continued in your present
command; I shall obtain for you a commission as colonel in the Portuguese
service, but your corps will form part of my command, and act with the
British army. I shall request Lord Beresford to appoint Mr. Herrara to the
rank of lieutenant-colonel, and shall recommend that commissions be given
to his troopers. The two orderlies, of whose services you spoke so highly,
I shall recommend for commissions in our army, and shall request Lord
Beresford to give them local rank as majors."
Terence coloured with pleasure and confusion.
"I am greatly obliged to you, General," he said; "but I do not at all feel
that the services that I have tried to perform----"
"That is for me to judge," the general said, kindly. "All the officers
here quite agree with me, that those services have been very marked and
exceptional and are at one with me as to how they should be recognized.
Moreover, in obtaining for you the rank of colonel in the Portuguese army,
I am not only recognizing those services, but am adding to the power that
you will have of rendering further services to the army. Although attached
to our forces, you will receive your colonel's commission from Lord
Beresford, who is now the general appointed by the Portuguese government
to command their army."
It was now late, and the party rose. All of them shook hands warmly with
Terence, who retired with his friend Captain Nelson. The latter told him
before they went in to dinner that he had had a bed put up for him in his
"Well, Colonel O'Connor," Nelson laughed, "you must allow me to be the
first to salute you as my superior officer."
"It is absurd altogether," Terence said, almost ruefully. "Still, Captain
Nelson, though I may hold a superior rank in the Portuguese army, that
goes for very little. I have seen enough of Portuguese officers to know
that even their own soldiers have not got any respect for them, and in our
own army I am only a lieutenant."
"That is so, lad; however, there was never promotion more deserved. And as
you hung, or rather left to be hung, a Portuguese colonel, it is only
right that you should supply the deficiency."
"I hope I shall not have to wear a Portuguese uniform," Terence said,
"I should think not, O'Connor, but I will ask the general in the morning.
Of course, you will not wear your present uniform, because you are now
gazetted into the staff and out of your own regiment. Now we will smoke a
quiet cigar before we turn in. Have you any other story to tell me that
you have not already related?"
"Well, yes, I have one, but it is only of a personal interest;" and he
then gave an account of his discovery of his cousin in the convent at
Oporto, and how he had managed to rescue her, ending by saying: "I have
told you the story, Nelson, so that if by any unexpected accident it is
found out that she is an escaped nun, and her friends appeal to the
general for protection, you may be aware of the circumstances, and help."
"Certainly I will do so," Captain Nelson said, warmly. "You certainly have
a wonderful head for devising plans."
"I began it early," Terence laughed. "I was always in mischief before I
got my commission, and I suppose that helps me; but you see I had
"I don't say anything against your luck; but good luck is of no use unless
a fellow knows how to take advantage of it, and that is just what you have
done. I suppose that you will stay here for a day or two."
"My horse wants a couple of days' rest, and I have my uniform to get. I
suppose I can get one made in a couple of days, whether it is a Portuguese
or an English one."
"Yes, I dare say you will be able to manage that."
The next morning, to his great satisfaction, Terence learned that the
general said he had better wear staff uniform, and he accordingly went
with Captain Nelson and was measured.
"Your Portuguese seems to have improved amazingly in the two months you
have been away," the latter said, as they came out from the shop; "you
seem to jabber away quite fluently."
"I have been talking nothing else, and Herrara has acted as my instructor,
so I get on very fairly now."
At this moment a carriage drove past them.
"That is the Bishop of Oporto," said Terence; "I suppose he has just
"It is a good thing that he does not know you as well as you know him,"
Captain Nelson said, dryly; "if he did, your adventures would be likely to
be cut short by a knife between your shoulders some dark night."
"He does not know me at all," Terence laughed; "the advantages are all on
my side in the present case."
"It is an advantage," Captain Nelson laughed. "When I think that you have
raised your hand against that venerable but somewhat truculent prelate, I
shudder at your boldness. I only caught a glimpse of him as he passed, but
I could see that he looks rather scared."
"Perhaps he hasn't recovered yet from the fright I gave him," laughed
Terence; "I have seen and heard enough of his doings, and paid him a very
small instalment of the debt due to him."
The uniforms were promised for the next evening, and Terence felt when he
put them on that they were a considerable improvement upon his late one,
stained and discoloured as it was by wet, mud, and travel. After paying a
visit to the general to say good-bye, Terence mounted and started for
Upon his arrival there four days later he at once reported himself to the
"I received a copy of the general order of last Tuesday," the latter said,
"and congratulate you warmly on being confirmed in your rank. I thought
that it would be so, for one could not reckon that, had another taken your
place, your corps would have maintained its present state of efficiency."
"You are very good to say so, Colonel, but any British officer appointed
to command it would do as well or better than I should."
"I don't think that he would in any way; but certainly he would not be
followed with the same confidence by his men as they would follow you, and
with troops like these everything depends upon their confidence in their
"The corps is now attached to our army, Colonel; you were good enough to
order them to be rationed before, but I have now an order from the general
for them to draw pay and rations the same as the British troops."
"That is all right," the colonel said, examining the document; "I will
take a copy of it, but as it is a general order you must keep the original
yourself. I see that you have now adopted the uniform of the staff. It is
certainly a great improvement upon that of an infantry officer, and
appearances go for a good deal among these Portuguese. I see, by the way,
that you have got your step in our army."
"Yes, Colonel, the general was good enough to recommend me. Of course I am
glad in one way, but I am sorry that it has put me out of the regiment
that I have been brought up with. But, of course, it was necessary, for I
could not have gone over other men's heads in it."
"No, when a man gets special promotion it is always into another regiment
for that reason. You will be glad to hear that your men have been behaving
extremely well in your absence, and that I have not heard of a single case
of drunkenness or misconduct among them. I have been down there several
times, and always found them hard at work drilling; they seem to me to
improve every time I see them."
On leaving the colonel's quarters Terence rode to his cousin's. Mary rose
with an exclamation of surprise as he entered.
"What a handsome uniform, Terence! How is it that you have changed it?"
"I am now regularly on the general's staff, Mary, and this is the
"You look very well in it," she said; "don't you think so, Lorenza?"
"I do, indeed," her friend agreed; "it does make a difference."
"Well, to begin with, it is clean and new," Terence laughed; "and though
the other was not old, it had seen its best days. But I have more news,
Mary; you have now to address your cousin as colonel."
Mary clapped her hands, and Don Jose and his family uttered exclamations
"It is quite right," Mary said; "it is ridiculous that Senor Herrara
should be colonel and you only Mr. O'Connor."
"It does not matter much about a name," he said. "I commanded before and I
shall do so now, but I have got Portuguese rank."
"Why did not they make you an English colonel?" Mary asked, rather
Terence laughed. "I shall be lucky if I get that in another twenty years,
Mary. I am a lieutenant now--I have got the step since you saw me
last--but I am to rank as a colonel in the Portuguese army as long as I
command this corps, which I am glad to say is now to form a part of the
British army. Herrara is to have the rank of lieutenant-colonel. Bull and
Macwitty will, I hope, get their commissions as ensigns in the British
army, with local rank of majors. The general will recommend that Herrara's
troopers all get commissions in the Portuguese army."
"Ah, well! I am pleased that your services are appreciated, Terence. We
are very glad that you have come back, Lorenza especially so, as, now you
have returned, she thinks she will see more of Senor Herrara."
"The bishop is in Lisbon, Mary."
"That is not such good news, Terence. I will be very careful to keep out
of his way."
"Do," he said. "I have spoken to Captain Nelson, one of the general's
staff, about you, and if by any chance you should be recognized as an
escaped nun, I hope that Don Jose will go to him at once and ask him to
obtain the general's protection for you, which will, I am sure, be given.
Your father was an Irishman. You are a British subject, and have a right
to protection. You won't forget the name, Don Jose--Captain Nelson?"
"I will write it down at once," the Portuguese said, "but as Donna Mary
will pass under the name of Dillon, and her dress has so changed her
appearance, I do not think that there is the smallest fear of her being
recognized. Indeed, no one could know her except the bishop himself."
"You may be sure that I shall not go out much in Lisbon," Mary said, "and
if I do I will keep my promise to be always closely veiled."
WITH THE MAYOS
The news that Terence brought to the regiment gave great and general
satisfaction. Herrara was delighted to hear that he was to be made a
lieutenant-colonel in his army. Bull and Macwitty were overjoyed on
hearing that they had both been recommended for commissions, and Herrara's
troopers were equally pleased. The rank and file felt no less
gratification, both at the honour of being attached to the British army,
and at the substantial improvement in their condition that this would
On the following day Herrara's friends and Mary O'Connor left for Lisbon,
and the latter astonished Terence by bursting into tears as she said
good-bye to him.
"I have said nothing yet of the gratitude that I feel to you, Terence, for
all that you have done for me, for you have always stopped me whenever I
have tried to, but I shall always feel it, always; and shall think of you
and love you dearly."
"It has been just as fortunate for me as it has been good for you, Mary,"
he said. "I have never had a sister, and I seem to have found one now."
The girl looked up, pouting. "I don't think," she said, "I should
particularly care about being a sister; I think that I would rather remain
Terence looked surprised and a little hurt.
"You are only a silly boy," she laughed, "but will understand better some
day. Well, good-bye, Terence," and the smile faded from her face.
[Illustration: TERENCE BIDS GOOD-BYE TO HIS COUSIN, MARY O'CONNOR.]
"Good-bye, dear. Take great care of yourself in Lisbon, and be sure that
you look out to see if the Mayo Fusiliers arrive while you are there. I
heard that they were about to embark again with a force that General Hill
is bringing out, but my father won't be with them, I am afraid. I have not
heard from him, but I should hardly think that he will be fit for hard
service again; yet, if he should be, he will tell you where to go to till
we get back. At any rate, don't start for England until the regiment
comes. I fancy that it will be at Lisbon before you are, and Don Jose can
easily find out for you whether father is with it. If he is not, go to
Ballinagra. I have written instructions how you are to travel, but you had
better write to him there directly you land, and I have no doubt that he
will come over and fetch you. I don't know anything about London, but you
had better see Captain Nelson at Lisbon. Here is a note I have written to
him, asking him where you had better go, and what you had better do when
you get to London."
The day after the party had left, Terence marched with his corps north,
and established himself at Carvalho, where the road from Oporto passed
over the spurs of the Serra de Caramula, in order to check the incursions
of French cavalry from Oporto. In the course of the next fortnight he had
several sharp engagements with them. In the last of these, when making a
reconnaissance with both regiments, he was met by the whole of
Franceschi's cavalry. They charged down on all four sides of the square
into which he formed his force, expecting that, as upon two previous
occasions, the Portuguese would at once break up at their approach. They
stood, however, perfectly firm, and received the cavalry with such
withering volleys that Franceschi speedily drew off, leaving upwards of
two hundred dead behind him.
The day after this fight Terence received a letter from Mary, saying that
General Hill had arrived before they reached Lisbon, and that Don Jose had
learned that Major O'Connor had retired on half-pay. Also that Captain
Nelson had obtained a passage for her in one of the returning transports,
and had given her a letter to his mother, who resided in London, asking
her to receive her until she heard from the major.
A few days afterwards he learned from Colonel Wilberforce that the English
army had marched for Leirya. General Hill's force of five thousand men and
three hundred horses for the artillery arrived at an opportune moment. The
storming of Oporto, the approach of Victor to Badajos, after totally
defeating Cuesta's Spanish army, killing three-fifths of his men, and
capturing thousands of prisoners, while Lapisse was advancing from the
east, had created a terrible panic in Portugal. Beresford's orders were
disobeyed, many of his regiments abandoned their posts, and the populace
in Lisbon were in a state of furious turmoil. Hill's arrival to some
extent restored confidence, the disorders were repressed, and Sir John
Cradock now felt himself strong enough to advance.
Terence's report of the repulse of Franceschi's cavalry was answered by a
letter from Cradock himself, expressing warm approval at the conduct of
"There is but little fear of an advance by Soult at present," he said. "He
must know that we have received reinforcements, and he will not venture to
march on Lisbon, as the force now gathering at Leirya could operate upon
his flank and rear. I shall be glad, therefore, if you would march with
your command to the latter town. The example of your troops cannot but
have a good effect upon the raw Portuguese levies, and, in the event of
our advancing to the relief of Ciudad-Rodrigo, could render good service
by clearing the passes, driving in the French outposts, and keeping me
well informed of the state of the roads, the accommodation available for
the troops, and the existence of supplies."
Immediately on receipt of this Terence marched for Leirya, where the
British army was under canvas. On the way down they halted for a night at
"An official letter came for you last night, O'Connor," Colonel
Wilberforce said. "I kept it until I should have an opportunity of
forwarding it to you. Here it is, duly addressed, Colonel O'Connor, the
This was the name Sir John Cradock suggested to Terence, as a memorial of
the service they had rendered in repulsing Soult at that river. It was the
first time Terence had seen his name with the prefix of colonel.
"It looks like a farce," he said, as he broke the seal.
Inside was an official document, signed by Lord Beresford, to the effect
that as a recognition of the very great services rendered by Lieutenant
O'Connor, an officer on the staff of Sir John Cradock, when in command of
the two battalions of the Minho Regiment, and in accordance with the
strong recommendation of the British general, Lieutenant Terence O'Connor
is hereby appointed to the rank of colonel in the Portuguese service, with
the pay and allowances of his rank. Colonel O' Connor is to continue in
command of the regiments, which will be attached to the British army,
under the command of Sir John Cradock.
"Here is also a letter for your friend Herrara, and a much more bulky one;
will you hand it to him?"
Herrara's letter contained his promotion to lieutenant-colonel, with an
order to remain under Terence's command; also fourteen commissions, two
giving Bull and Macwitty the Portuguese rank of major, the remaining being
captain's commissions for the twelve troopers.
Two days later they reached Leirya. The April sun rendered shelter
unnecessary for the Portuguese, and after establishing them, for the
present, a quarter of a mile away from the British camp, he went and
reported his arrival to the officer in command, and was told that he could
not do better than bivouac on the ground he had selected. Leaving the
headquarters he soon found where the Mayo regiment was encamped, and made
his way to the officers' marquee. They were just sitting down to lunch
when, at the entry of an officer on the general's staff, the colonel at
once rose gravely. O'Grady was the first to recognize the newcomer.
"Be jabers," he shouted, "but it is Terence O' Connor himself!" There was
a general rush to shake hands with him, and a din of voices and a
confusion of questions and greetings.
"And what in the world have you got that uniform on for, Terence?" O'Grady
asked, when the din somewhat subsided. "We saw that the general had
appointed you as one of his aides-de-camp when you got here after Corunna,
but you would wear your own uniform all the same."
"What matters about his uniform, O'Grady?" the others exclaimed. "What we
want to know is how he saved his life at Corunna, when we all thought that
he was either killed or taken prisoner."
"Wait till the lad has got something to eat and drink," the colonel said,
peremptorily. "Pray take your seats, gentlemen. You take this chair by me,
O'Connor; and now, while you are waiting for your plate, tell us in a few
words how you escaped. Everyone made sure that you were killed. We heard
that Fane had sent you to carry an order, that you had delivered it, and
then started to rejoin him; from that time nobody saw you alive or dead."
"The matter was very simple, Colonel. My horse was hit in the head with a
round shot. I went a frightful cropper on some stones in the middle of a
clump of bushes. I lay there insensible all night, and coming-to in the
morning, saw that the French had advanced, and the firing on the hill over
the town told me that the troops had got safely on board ship. I lay quiet
all day, and at night made off, sheltered for a couple of days with some
peasants on the other side of the hill, joined Romana, went to the
Portuguese frontier with him, and then rode to Lisbon, where Sir John
Cradock was good enough to put me on his staff."
"We heard you had turned up safely at Lisbon, and glad we were, as you may
be sure, and a good jollification we had over it. As for O'Grady, it has
served as an excuse for an extra tumbler ever since."
"Bad excuses are better than none," Terence laughed, "and if it hadn't
been that, it would have been something else."
"Shut up, you young scamp," O'Grady said. "How is it that you have not
answered my question? Why are you wearing staff-officer's uniform instead
of your own?"
"Have you not heard, Colonel," Terence said, "that I no longer belong to
There was a chorus of expressions of regret round the table.
"And how has that happened, Terence?" the colonel asked. "That is bad news
for us all, anyway."
"I was gazetted lieutenant a month ago, Colonel. I suppose you had sailed
from England before the _Gazette__ came out."
"I suppose so, lad. Well, you richly deserved your promotion, if it was
only for that affair on board the _Sea-horse__, and you ought to have had
it long ago."
"I am awfully sorry to leave the regiment. It has been my home as long as
I can remember, and wherever I may be, I shall always regard it in that
"And so you remain on the staff at present, O'Connor?"
"Well, sir, I am on the staff still, but for the present I am on detached
"What sort of duty, Terence?"
"I have the honour to command two Portuguese regiments that marched in an
A shout of laughter followed the announcement.
"Bedad, Terence," O'Grady said, "that crack on your head hasn't changed
your nature, thanks to your thick skull. I suppose it is poking fun at us
that you are. But you won't take us in this time."
"I saw the regiments pass at a distance," the colonel said, "and they
marched in good order, too, which is more than I have seen any other
Portuguese troops do. Now you mention it, I did see an officer, in what
looked like a British uniform, riding with the men, but it was too far off
to see what branch of the service he belonged to. That was you, was it?"
"That was me, sure enough, Colonel."
"And what were you doing there? Tell us, like a good boy."
"Absurd as it may appear, and, indeed, absurd as it is, I am in command of
those two regiments."
Again a burst of incredulous laughter arose. Terence took out his
commission and handed it to the colonel.
"Perhaps, Colonel, if you will be kind enough to read that out loud, my
assurance will be believed."
"Faith, it was not your assurance that we doubted, Terence, me boy!"
O'Grady exclaimed. "You have plenty of assurance, and to spare; it is the
statement that we were doubting."
The colonel glanced down the document, and his face assumed an expression
of extreme surprise.
"Gentlemen," he said, rising, "if you will endeavour to keep silence for a
minute, I will read this document."
The surprise on his own face was repeated on the faces of all those
present, as he proceeded with his reading. O'Grady was the first to break
"In the name of St. Peter," he said, "what does it all mean? Are you sure
that it is a genuine document, Colonel? Terence is capable of anything by
way of a joke."
"It is undoubtedly genuine, O'Grady. It is dated from Lord Beresford's
quarters, and signed by his lordship himself as commander-in-chief of the
Portuguese army. How it comes about beats me as much as it does you. But
before we ask any questions we will drink a toast. Gentlemen, fill your
glasses; here is to the health of Colonel Terence O'Connor."
The toast was drank with much enthusiasm, mingled with laughter, for many
of them had still a suspicion that the whole matter was somehow an
elaborate trick played by Terence.
"Now, Colonel O'Connor, will you please to favour us with an account of
how General Cradock and Lord Beresford have both united in giving you so
big a step up."
"It is a long story, Colonel."
"So much the better," the colonel replied. "We have nothing to do, and it
will keep us all awake."
Terence's account of his interview with the colonel of the ordenancas, the
demand by Cortingos that he should hand over the money he was escorting,
and the subsequent gathering to attack the house, and the manner in which
the leaders were captured, the rioters appeased and subsequently advised
to direct their efforts to obtain arms and ammunition, excited
exclamations of approval; but the belief that the story was a pure romance
still prevailed in the minds of many, and Terence saw Captain O'Grady and
Dick Ryan exchanging winks. It was not until Terence spoke of his rapid
march to the mouth of the Minho, as soon as he heard that the French were
concentrating there, that he began to be seriously listened to; and when
he told how Soult's attempt to cross had been defeated, and the French
general obliged to change the whole plan of the campaign, and to march
round by Orense, the conviction that all this was true was forced upon
"By the powers, Terence!" the colonel exclaimed, bringing his hand down on
his shoulder, "you are a credit to the ould country. I am proud of you, me
boy, and it is little I thought when O'Flaherty and myself conspired to
get ye into the regiment that you were going to be such a credit to it.
Gentlemen, before Colonel O'Connor goes further, we will drink his health
This time there was no laughter mixed with the cheers. Many of the
officers left their seats and came round to shake his hand warmly, O'Grady
foremost among them.
"Sure I thought at first that it was blathering you were, Terence; but,
begorra, I see now that it's gospel truth you are telling, and I am proud
of you. Faith, I am as proud as if I were your own father, for haven't I
brought you up in mischief of all kinds? Be the poker, I would have given
me other arm to have been with you."
The rest of the story was listened to without interruption. When it was
concluded, Colonel Corcoran again rose.
"Gentlemen, we will for the third time drink to the health of Colonel
O'Connor, and I think that you will agree with me that if ever a man
deserved to be made a colonel it's himself."
This time O'Grady and three others rushed to where Terence was sitting,
seized him, and before he knew what they were going to do, hoisted him
onto the shoulders of two of them, and carried him in triumph round the
table. When at length quiet was restored, and Terence had resumed his
seat, the colonel said:
"By the way, Terence, there was a little old gentleman called on me three
days after we landed to ask if Major O'Connor was with the regiment. I
told him that he was not, having gone on half-pay for the present on
account of a wound. He seemed rather pleased than otherwise, I thought,
and I asked him pretty bluntly what he wanted to know for. He brought an
interpreter with him, and said through him that he hoped that I would not
press that question, especially as a lady was concerned in the matter. It
bothered me entirely. Why, from the time we landed at the Mondego till
your father was hit at Vimiera I don't believe we ever had the chance to
speak to a woman. It may be that it was some lady that nursed him there
after we had marched away, and who had taken a fancy to him. The ould man
may have been her father, and was perhaps mighty glad to hear that the
major was not coming back again."
Terence burst into a shout of laughter.
"My dear Colonel," he said, "the respectable old gentleman did not call on
behalf of his daughter, but on behalf of a cousin of mine, who was wanting
to find my father; and Don Jose, who was in charge of her, was glad to
hear that he was going to remain in England."
"A cousin!" O'Grady exclaimed. "Why how in the name of fortune does a lady
cousin of yours come to be cruising about in such an outlandish place as
"That is another story, Colonel, and I have talked until I am hoarse now,
so that that must keep until another sitting. It is quite time that I was
off to see how my men are getting on."
"Of course you will dine with us?"
"Not to-night, Colonel; this has been a long sitting, and I would rather
not begin a fresh one."
"Well, we will come and have a look at your regiments."
"I would rather you did not come until to-morrow, Colonel. The men have
marched five-and-twenty miles a day for the last five days, and they want
rest, so I should not like to parade them again. If you will come over,
say at twelve o'clock to-morrow, I shall be proud to show them."
The corps now possessed five tents, Terence having obtained four more at
Coimbra. Herrara and himself occupied one, while two were allotted to the
officers of each regiment. Bull and Macwitty had both by this time picked
up sufficient Portuguese to be able to get on comfortably, and had agreed
with Terence that although they would like to remain together, it was
better that each should stay with the officers of his own regiment.
At twelve o'clock next day Colonel Corcoran came over with nearly the
whole of the officers of the Mayo regiment, and was accompanied by many
others, as they had the night before given many of their acquaintances an
outline of Terence's story.
The men had been on foot from an early hour after breakfast. There had
been a parade. Every man's firelock, accoutrements, and uniform had been
very closely inspected, and when they fell in again at a quarter to twelve
a most rigid inspection would have failed to find any fault with their
appearance. Terence joined the colonel as soon as he came on the ground.
"So your officers are all mounted, I see, Terence?"
"Yes, Colonel; you see the companies are over two hundred strong, for the
losses we had have been filled up since, and one officer to each corps
could do but little unless he were mounted."
"The men looked uncommonly well, Terence, uncommonly well. I should like
to walk along the line before you move them."
"By all means, Colonel. Their uniforms do not fit as well as I should
like, but I had to take them as they were served out, and have had no
opportunity of getting them altered."
Since the inspection at Coimbra the men had been taught the salute, and as
"Attention! General salute! Present arms!" the men executed the order with
a sharpness and precision that would have done no discredit to a British
line regiment. Then the colonel and officers walked along the line, after
which the troops were put through their manoeuvres for an hour, and then
"Upon my word, it is wonderful," Colonel Corcoran said. "Why, if the
beggars had been at it six months they could not have done it better."
There was a chorus of agreement from all the officers round.
"We could not have done some of those movements better ourselves, could
"That we could not," the major said, heartily. "Another three months' work
and these two regiments would be equal to our best; and I can understand
now how they stood up against the charge of Franceschi's cavalry
"Now, Colonel, I cannot ask you all to a meal," Terence said; "my
arrangements are not sufficiently advanced for that yet; but I managed to
get hold of some very good wine this morning, and I hope that you will
take a glass all round before you go back to camp."
"That we will, and with pleasure, for the dust has well-nigh choked me. It
is a different thing drilling on this sandy ground from drilling on a
stretch of good turf. Of course, you will come back and lunch with us, and
bring your friend Herrara."
Herrara, however, excused himself. He did not know a word of English, and
felt that until he could make himself understood he would feel
uncomfortable at a gathering of English officers. After lunch Terence was
called upon to tell the story about his cousin. Among his friends of the
regiment he had no fear of his adventure with the bishop getting abroad,
and he therefore related the whole story as it happened.