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at last!”

“Was it so very difficult a thing to accomplish?” said she, slyly.

“He seems to say so, at least. And the lady, how does she appear to receive his attentions?”

“Oh, I should say with evident pleasure and satisfaction, as all girls do the advances of men they don’t care for, nor intend to care for.”

“Indeed,” said I, slowly, “indeed, Senhora?” looking into her eyes as I spoke, as if to read if the lesson were destined for my benefit.

“There, don’t stare so!–every one knows that.”

“So you don’t think, then, that Lucy,–I mean Miss Dashwood–Why are you laughing so?”

“How can I help it; your calling her Lucy is so good, I wish she heard it; she’s the very proudest girl I ever knew.”

“But to come back; you really think she does not care for him?”

“Not more than for you; and I may be pardoned for the simile, having seen your meeting. But let me give you the news of our own _fete_. Saturday is the day fixed; and you must be quite well,–I insist upon it. Miss Dashwood has promised to come,–no small concession; for after all she has never once been here since the day you frightened her. I can’t help laughing at my blunder,–the two people I had promised myself should fall desperately in love with each other, and who will scarcely meet.”

“But I trusted,” said I, pettishly, “that you were not disposed to resign your own interest in me?”

“Neither was I,” said she, with an easy smile, “except that I have so many admirers. I might even spare to my friends; though after all I should be sorry to lose you, I like you.”

“Yes,” said I half bitterly, “as girls do those they never intend to care for; is it not so?”

“Perhaps, yes, and perhaps–But is it going to rain? How provoking! and I have ordered my horse. Well, Signor Carlos, I leave you to your delightful newspaper, and all the magnificent descriptions of battles and sieges and skirmishes of which you seem doomed to pine without ceasing. There, don’t kiss my hand twice; that’s not right.”

“Well, let me begin again–“

“I shall not breakfast with you any more. But tell me, am I to order a costume for you in Lisbon; or will you arrange all that yourself? You must come to the _fete_, you know.”

“If you would be so very kind.”

“I will, then, be so very kind; and once more, _adios_.” So saying, and with a slight motion of her hand, she smiled a good-by, and left me.

“What a lovely girl!” thought I, as I rose and walked to the window, muttering to myself Othello’s line, and–

“When I love thee not, chaos is come again.”

In fact, it was the perfect expression of my feeling; the only solution to all the difficulties surrounding me, being to fall desperately, irretrievably in love with the fair senhora, which, all things considered, was not a very desperate resource for a gentleman in trouble. As I thought over the hopelessness of one attachment, I turned calmly to consider all the favorable points of the other. She was truly beautiful, attractive in every sense; her manner most fascinating, and her disposition, so far as I could pronounce, perfectly amiable. I felt already something more than interest about her; how very easy would be the transition to a stronger feeling! There was an _eclat_, too, about being her accepted lover that had its charm. She was the belle _par excellence_ of Lisbon; and then a sense of pique crossed my mind as I reflected what would Lucy say of him whom she had slighted and insulted, when he became the husband of the beautiful millionnaire Senhora Inez?

As my meditations had reached thus far, the door opened stealthily, and Catherine appeared, her finger upon her lips, and her gesture indicating caution. She carried on her arm a mass of drapery covered by a large mantle, which throwing off as she entered, she displayed before me a rich blue domino with silver embroidery. It was large and loose in its folds, so as thoroughly to conceal the figure of any wearer. This she held up before me for an instant without speaking; when at length, seeing my curiosity fully excited, she said,–

“This is the senhora’s domino. I should be ruined if she knew I showed it; but I promised–that is, I told–“

“Yes, yes, I understand,” relieving her embarrassment about the source of her civilities; “go on.”

“Well, there are several others like it, but with this small difference, instead of a carnation, which all the others have embroidered upon the cuff, I have made it a rose,–you perceive? La Senhora knows nothing of this,–none save yourself knows it. I’m sure I may trust you with the secret.”

“Fear not in the least, Catherine; you have rendered me a great service. Let me look at it once more; ah, there’s no difficulty in detecting it. And you are certain she is unaware of it?”

“Perfectly so; she has several other costumes, but in this one I know she intends some surprise, so be upon your guard.”

With these words, carefully once more concealing the rich dress beneath the mantle, she withdrew; while I strolled forth to wonder what mystery might lie beneath this scheme, and speculate how far I myself was included in the plot she spoke of.

For the few days which succeeded, I passed my time much alone. The senhora was but seldom at home; and I remarked that Power rarely came to see me. A strange feeling of half-coolness had latterly grown between us, and instead of the open confidence we formerly indulged in when together, we appeared now rather to chat over things of mere every-day interest than of our own immediate plans and prospects. There was a kind of pre-occupation, too, in his manner that struck me; his mind seemed ever straying from the topics he talked of to something remote, and altogether, he was no longer the frank and reckless dragoon I had ever known him. What could be the meaning of this change? Had he found out by any accident that I was to blame in my conduct towards Lucy; had any erroneous impression of my interview with her reached his ears? This was most improbable; besides, there was nothing in that to draw down his censure or condemnation, however represented; and was it that he was himself in love with her, that, devoted heart and soul to Lucy, he regarded me as a successful rival, preferred before him! Oh, how could I have so long blinded myself to the fact! This was the true solution of the whole difficulty. I had more than once suspected this to be so; now all the circumstances of proof poured in upon me. I called to mind his agitated manner the night of my arrival in Lisbon, his thousand questions concerning the reasons of my furlough; and then, lately, the look of unfeigned pleasure with which he heard me resolve to join my regiment the moment I was sufficiently recovered. I remembered also how assiduously he pressed his intimacy with the senhora, Lucy’s dearest friend here; his continual visits at the villa; those long walks in the garden, where his very look betokened some confidential mission of the heart. Yes, there was no doubt of it, he loved Lucy Dashwood! Alas, there seemed to be no end to the complication of my misfortunes; one by one I appeared fated to lose whatever had a hold upon my affections, and to stand alone, unloved and uncared for in the world. My thoughts turned towards the senhora, but I could not deceive myself into any hope there. My own feelings were untouched, and hers I felt to be equally so. Young as I was, there was no mistaking the easy smile of coquetry, the merry laugh of flattered vanity, for a deeper and holier feeling. And then I did not wish it otherwise. One only had taught me to feel how ennobling, how elevating in all its impulses can be a deep-rooted passion for a young and beautiful girl! From her eyes alone had I caught the inspiration that made me pant for glory and distinction. I could not transfer the allegiance of my heart, since it had taught that very heart to beat high and proudly. Lucy, lost to me forever as she must be, was still more than any other woman ever could be; all the past clung to her memory, all the prestige of the future must point to it also.

And Power, why had he not trusted, why had he not confided in me? Was this like my old and tried friend? Alas! I was forgetting that in his eye I was the favored rival, and not the despised, rejected suitor.

“It is past now,” thought I, as I rose and walked into the garden; “the dream that made life a fairy tale is dispelled; the cold reality of the world is before me, and my path lies a lonely and solitary one.” My first resolution was to see Power, and relieve his mind of any uneasiness as regarded my pretentions; they existed no longer. As for me, I was no obstacle to his happiness; it was, then, but fair and honorable that I should tell him so; this done, I should leave Lisbon at once. The cavalry had for the most part been ordered to the rear; still there was always something going forward at the outposts.

The idea of active service, the excitement of a campaigning life, cheered me, and I advanced along the dark alley of the garden with a lighter and a freer heart. My resolves were not destined to meet delay; as I turned the angle of a walk, Power was before me. He was leaning against a tree, his hands crossed upon his bosom, his head bowed forward, and his whole air and attitude betokening deep reflection.

He started as I came up, and seemed almost to change color.

“Well, Charley,” said he, after a moment’s pause, “you look better this morning. How goes the arm?”

“The arm is ready for service again, and its owner most anxious for it. Do you know, Fred, I’m thoroughly weary of this life.”

“They’re little better, however, at the lines. The French are in position, but never adventure a movement; and except some few affairs at the pickets, there is really nothing to do.”

“No matter, remaining here can never serve one’s interests, and besides, I have accomplished what I came for–“

I was about to add, “the restoration of my health,” when he suddenly interrupted me, eying me fixedly as he spoke.

“Indeed! indeed! Is that so?”

“Yes,” said I, half puzzled at the tone and manner of the speech; “I can join now when I please; meanwhile, Fred, I have been thinking of you. Yes, don’t be surprised, at the very moment we met you were in my thoughts.”

I took his arm as I said this, and led him down the alley.

“We are too old and, I trust, too true friends, Fred, to have secrets from each other, and yet we have been playing this silly game for some weeks past. Now, my dear fellow, I have yours, and it is only fair justice you should have mine, and, faith, I feel you’d have discovered it long since, had your thoughts been as free as I have known them to be. Fred, you are in love; there, don’t wince, man, I know it; but hear me out. You believe me to be so also; nay, more, you think that my chances of success are better, stronger than your own; learn, then, that I have none,–absolutely none. Don’t interrupt me now, for this avowal cuts me deeply; my own heart alone knows what I suffer as I record my wrecked fortunes; but I repeat it, my hopes are at end forever; but, Fred, my boy, I cannot lose my friend too. If I have been the obstacle to your path, I am so no more. Ask me not why; it is enough that I speak in all truth and sincerity. Ere three days I shall leave this, and with it all the hopes that once beamed upon my fortunes, and all the happiness,–nay, not all, my boy, for I feel some thrill at my heart yet, as I think that I have been true to you.”

I know not what more I spoke nor how he replied to me. I felt the warm grasp of his hand, I saw his delighted smile; the words of grateful acknowledgment his lips uttered conveyed but an imperfect meaning to my ear, and I remembered no more.

The courage which sustained me for the moment sank gradually as I meditated over my avowal, and I could scarce help accusing Power of a breach of friendship for exacting a confession which, in reality, I had volunteered to give him. How Lucy herself would think of my conduct was ever occurring to my thoughts, and I felt, as I ruminated upon the conjectures it might give rise to, how much more likely a favorable opinion might now be formed of me, than when such an estimation could have crowned me with delight.

“Yes,” thought I, “she will at last learn to know him who loved her with truth and with devoted affection; and when the blight of all his hopes is accomplished, the fair fame of his fidelity will be proved. The march, the bivouac, the battle-field, are now all to me; and the campaign alone presents a prospect which may fill up the aching void that disappointed and ruined hopes have left behind them.”

How I longed for the loud call of the trumpet, the clash of the steel, the tramp of the war-horse; though the proud distinction of a soldier’s life were less to me in the distance than the mad and whirlwind passion of a charge, and the loud din of the rolling artillery.

It was only some hours after, as I sat alone in my chamber, that all the circumstances of our meeting came back clearly to my memory, and I could not help muttering to myself,–

“It is indeed a hard lot, that to cheer the heart of my friend, I must bear witness to the despair that shed darkness on my own.”

CHAPTER XVI.

MY CHARGER.

Although I felt my heart relieved of a heavy load by the confession I had made to Power, yet still I shrank from meeting him for some days after; a kind of fear lest he should in any way recur to our conversation continually beset me, and I felt that the courage which bore me up for my first effort would desert me on the next occasion.

My determination to join my regiment was now made up, and I sent forward a resignation of my appointment to Sir George Dashwood’s staff, which I had never been in health to fulfil, and commenced with energy all my preparations for a speedy departure.

The reply to my rather formal letter was a most kind note written by himself. He regretted the unhappy cause which had so long separated us, and though wishing, as he expressed it, to have me near him, perfectly approved of my resolution.

“Active service alone, my dear boy, can ever place you in the position you ought to occupy; and I rejoice the more at your decision in this matter, as I feared the truth of certain reports here, which attributed to you other plans than those which a campaign suggests. My mind is now easy on this score, and I pray you forgive me if my congratulations are _mal a propos_.”

After some hints for my future management, and a promise of some letters to his friends at headquarters, he concluded:–

“As this climate does not seem to suit my daughter, I have applied for a change, and am in daily hope of obtaining it. Before going, however, I must beg your acceptance of the charger which my groom will deliver to your servant with this. I was so struck with his figure and action that I purchased him before leaving England without well knowing why or wherefore. Pray let him see some service under your auspices, which he is most unlikely to do under mine. He has plenty of bone to be a weight carrier, and they tell me also that he has speed enough for anything.”

Mike’s voice in the lawn beneath interrupted my reading farther, and on looking out, I perceived him and Sir George Dashwood’s servant standing beside a large and striking-looking horse, which they were both examining with all the critical accuracy of adepts.

“Arrah, isn’t he a darling, a real beauty, every inch of him?”

“That ‘ere splint don’t signify nothing; he aren’t the worse of it,” said the English groom.

“Of coorse it doesn’t,” replied Mike. “What a fore-hand, and the legs, clean as a whip!”

“There’s the best of him, though,” interrupted the other, patting the strong hind-quarters with his hand. “There’s the stuff to push him along through heavy ground and carry him over timber.”

“Or a stone wall,” said Mike, thinking of Galway.

My own impatience to survey my present had now brought me into the conclave, and before many minutes were over I had him saddled, and was cantering around the lawn with a spirit and energy I had not felt for months long. Some small fences lay before me, and over these he carried me with all the ease and freedom of a trained hunter. My courage mounted with the excitement, and I looked eagerly around for some more bold and dashing leap.

“You may take him over the avenue gate,” said the English groom, divining with a jockey’s readiness what I looked for; “he’ll do it, never fear him.”

Strange as my equipment was, with an undress jacket flying loosely open, and a bare head, away I went. The gate which the groom spoke of was a strongly-barred one of oak timber, nearly five feet high,–its difficulty as a leap only consisted in the winding approach, and the fact that it opened upon a hard road beyond it.

In a second or two a kind of half fear came across me. My long illness had unnerved me, and my limbs felt weak and yielding; but as I pressed into the canter, that secret sympathy between the horse and his rider shot suddenly through me, I pressed my spurs to his flanks, and dashed him at it.

Unaccustomed to such treatment, the noble animal bounded madly forward. With two tremendous plunges he sprang wildly in the air, and shaking his long mane with passion, stretched out at the gallop.

[Illustration: CHARLEY TRYING A CHARGER.]

My own blood boiled now as tempestuously as his; and with a shout of reckless triumph, I rose him at the gate. Just at the instant two figures appeared before it,–the copse had concealed their approach hitherto,–but they stood now as if transfixed. The wild attitude of the horse, the not less wild cry of his rider, had deprived them for a time of all energy; and overcome by the sudden danger, they seemed rooted to the ground. What I said, spoke, begged, or imprecated, Heaven knows–not I. But they stirred not! One moment more and they must lie trampled beneath my horse’s hoofs,–he was already on his haunches for the bound,–when, wheeling half aside, I faced him at the wall. It was at least a foot higher and of solid stone masonry, and as I did so I felt that I was perilling my life to save theirs. One vigorous dash of the spur I gave him, as I lifted him to the leap. He bounded beneath it quick as lightning; still, with a spring like a rocket, he rose into the air, cleared the wall, and stood trembling and frightened on the road outside.

“Safe, by Jupiter! and splendidly done, too,” cried a voice near me, that I immediately recognized as Sir George Dashwood’s.

“Lucy, my love, look up,–Lucy, my dear, there’s no danger now. She has fainted! O’Malley, fetch some water,–fast. Poor fellow, your own nerves seem shaken. Why, you’ve let your horse go! Come here, for Heaven’s sake! Support her for an instant. I’ll fetch some water.”

It appeared to me like a dream; I leaned against the pillar of the gate; the cold and death-like features of Lucy Dashwood lay motionless upon my arm; her hand, falling heavily upon my shoulder, touched my cheek. The tramp of my horse, as he galloped onward, was the only sound that broke the silence, as I stood there, gazing steadfastly upon the pale brow and paler cheek, down which a solitary tear was slowly stealing. I knew not how the minutes passed; my memory took no note of time, but at length a gentle tremor thrilled her frame, a slight, scarce-perceptible blush colored her fair face, her lips slightly parted, and heaving a deep sigh, she looked around her. Gradually her eyes turned and met mine. Oh, the bliss unutterable of that moment! It was no longer the look of cold scorn she had given me last; the expression was one of soft and speaking gratitude. She seemed to read my very heart, and know its truth; there was a tone of deep and compassionate interest in the glance; and forgetting all,–everything that had passed,–all save my unaltered, unalterable love, I kneeled beside her, and in words burning as my own heart burned, poured out my tale of mingled sorrow and affection with all the eloquence of passion. I vindicated my unshaken faith,–reconciling the conflicting evidences with the proofs I proffered of my attachment. If my moments were measured, I spent them not idly. I called to witness how every action of my soldier’s life emanated from her; how her few and chance words had decided the character of my fate; if aught of fame or honor were my portion, to her I owed it. As, hurried onwards by my ardent hopes, I forgot Power and all about him, a step up the gravel walk came rapidly nearer, and I had but time to assume my former attitude beside Lucy as her father came up.

“Well, Charley, is she better? Oh, I see she is. Here, we have the whole household at our heels.” So saying, he pointed to a string of servants pressing eagerly forward with every species of restorative that Portuguese ingenuity has invented.

The next moment we were joined by the senhora, who, pale with fear, seemed scarcely less in need of assistance than her friend.

Amidst questions innumerable; explanations sought for on all sides; mistakes and misconceptions as to the whole occurrence,–we took our way towards the villa, Lucy walking between Sir George and Donna Inez, while I followed, leaning upon Power’s arm.

“They’ve caught him again, O’Malley,” said the general, turning half round to me; “he, too, seemed as much frightened as any of us.”

“It is time, Sir George, I should think of thanking you. I never was so mounted in my life–“

“A splendid charger, by Jove!” said Power; “but, Charley, my lad, no more feats of this nature, if you love me. No girl’s heart will stand such continual assaults as your winning horsemanship submits it to.”

I was about making some half-angry reply, when he continued: “There, don’t look sulky; I have news for you. Quill has just arrived. I met him at Lisbon; he has got leave of absence for a few days, and is coming to our masquerade here this evening.”

“This evening!” said I, in amazement; “why, is it so soon?”

“Of course it is. Have you not got all your trappings ready? The Dashwoods came out here on purpose to spend the day; but come, I’ll drive you into town. My tilbury is ready, and we’ll both look out for our costumes.” So saying, he led me along towards the house, when, after a rapid change of my toilet, we set out for Lisbon.

CHAPTER XVII.

MAURICE.

It seemed a conceded matter between Power and myself that we should never recur to the conversation we held in the garden; and so, although we dined _tete-a-tete_ that day, neither of us ventured, by any allusion the most distant, to advert to what it was equally evident was uppermost in the minds of both.

All our endeavors, therefore, to seem easy and unconcerned were in vain; a restless anxiety to seem interested about things and persons we were totally indifferent to, pervaded all our essays at conversation. By degrees, we grew weary of the parts we were acting, and each relapsed into a moody silence, thinking over his plans and projects, and totally forgetting the existence of the other.

The decanter was passed across the table without speaking, a half nod intimated the bottle was standing; and except an occasional malediction upon an intractable cigar, nothing was heard.

Such was the agreeable occupation we were engaged in, when, towards nine o’clock, the door opened, and the great Maurice himself stood before us.

“Pleasant fellows, upon my conscience, and jovial over their liquor! Confound your smoking! That may do very well in a bivouac. Let us have something warm!”

Quill’s interruption was a most welcome one to both parties, and we rejoiced with a sincere pleasure at his coming.

“What shall it be, Maurice? Port or sherry mulled, and an anchovy?”

“Or what say you to a bowl of bishop?” said I.

“Hurrah for the Church, Charley! Let us have the bishop; and not to disparage Fred’s taste, we’ll be eating the anchovy while the liquor’s concocting.”

“Well, Maurice, and now for the news. How are matters at Torres Vedras? Anything like movement in that quarter?”

“Nothing very remarkable. Massena made a reconnoissance some days since, and one of our batteries threw a shower of grape among the staff, which spoiled the procession, and sent them back in very disorderly time. Then we’ve had a few skirmishes to the front with no great results,–a few courts-martial, bad grub, and plenty of grumbling.”

“Why, what would they have? It’s a great thing to hold the French army in check within a few marches of Lisbon.”

“Charley, my man, who cares twopence for the French army or Lisbon or the Portuguese or the Junta or anything about it?–every man is pondering over his own affairs. One fellow wants to get home again, and be sent upon some recruiting station. Another wishes to get a step or two in promotion, to come to Torres Vedras, where even the _grande armee_ can’t. Then some of us are in love, and some of us are in debt. Their is neither glory nor profit to be had. But here’s the bishop, smoking and steaming with an odor of nectar!”

“And our fellows, have you seen them lately?”

“I dined with yours on Tuesday. Was it Tuesday? Yes. I dined with them. By-the-bye, Sparks was taken prisoner that morning.”

“Sparks taken prisoner! Poor fellow. I am sincerely sorry. How did it happen, Maurice?”

“Very simply. Sparks had a forage patrol towards Vieda, and set out early in the morning with his party. It seemed that they succeeded perfectly, and were returning to the lines, when poor Sparks, always susceptible where the sex are concerned, saw, or thought he saw, a lattice gently open as he rode from the village, and a very taper finger make a signal to him. Dropping a little behind the rest, he waited till his men had debouched upon the road, when riding quietly up, he coughed a couple of times to attract the fair unknown; a handkerchief waved from the lattice in reply, which was speedily closed, and our valiant cornet accordingly dismounted and entered the house.

“The remainder of the adventure is soon told; for in a few seconds after, two men mounted on one horse were seen galloping at top speed towards the French lines,–the foremost being a French officer of the 4th Cuirassiers, the gentleman with his face to the tail, our friend Sparks; the lovely unknown being a, _vieille moustache_ of Loison’s corps, who had been wounded in a skirmish some days before, and lay waiting an opportunity of rejoining his party. One of our prisoners knew this fellow well; he had been promoted from the ranks, and was a Hercules for feats of strength; so that, after all, Sparks could not help himself.”

“Well, I’m really sorry; but as you say, Sparks’s tender nature is always the ruin of him.”

“Of him! ay, and of you; and of Power; and of myself; of all of us. Isn’t it the sweet creatures that make fools of us from Father Adam down to Maurice Quill, neither sparing age nor rank in the service, half-pay nor the veteran battalion–it’s all one? Pass the jug, there. O’Shaughnessy–“

“Ah, by-the-bye, how’s the major?”

“Charmingly; only a little bit in a scrape just now. Sir Arthur–Lord Wellington, I mean–had him up for his fellows being caught pillaging, and gave him a devil of a rowing a few days ago.

“‘Very disorderly corps yours, Major O’Shaughnessy,’ said the general; ‘more men up for punishment than any regiment in the service.’

“Shaugh muttered something; but his voice was lost in a loud cock-a-doo-do-doo, that some bold chanticleer set up at the moment.

“‘If the officers do their duty, Major O’Shaughnessy, these acts of insubordination do not occur.’

“‘Cock-a-doo-do-doo,’ was the reply. Some of the staff found it hard not to laugh; but the general went on,–

“‘If, therefore, the practice does not cease, I’ll draft the men into West India regiments.’

“‘Cock-a-doo-do-doo.’

“‘And if any articles pillaged from the inhabitants are detected in the quarters, or about the person of the troops–‘

“‘Cock-a-doo-do-_doo_,’ screamed louder here than ever.

“‘Damn that cock! Where is it?’

“There was a general look around on all sides, which seemed in vain; when a tremendous repetition of the cry resounded from O’Shaughnessy’s coat pocket,–thus detecting the valiant major himself in the very practice of his corps. There was no standing this: every one burst out into a peal of laughing; and Lord Wellington himself could not resist, but turned away, muttering to himself as he went, ‘Damned robbers–every man of them!’ while a final war-note from the major’s pocket closed the interview.”

“Confound you, Maurice, you’ve always some villanous narrative or other. You never crossed a street for shelter without making something out of it.”

“True this time, as sure as my name’s Maurice; but the bowl is empty.”

“Never mind, here comes its successor. How long can you stay among us?”

“A few days at most. Just took a run off to see the sights. I was all over Lisbon this morning; saw the Inquisition and the cells and the place where they tried the fellows,–the kind of grand jury room with the great picture of Adam and Eve at the end of it. What a beautiful creature she is; hair down to her waist, and such eyes! ‘Ah, ye darling!’ said I to myself, ‘small blame to him for what he did. Wouldn’t I ate every crab in the garden, if ye asked me!'”

“I must certainly go to see her, Maurice. Is she very Portuguese in her style?”

“Devil a bit of it! She might be a Limerick-woman with elegant brown hair and blue eyes and a skin like snow.”

“Come, come, they’ve pretty girls in Lisbon too, Doctor.”

“Yes, faith,” said Power, “that they have.”

“Nothing like Ireland, boys; not a bit of it; they’re the girls for my money; and where’s the man can resist them? From Saint Patrick, that had to go and live in the Wicklow mountains–“

“Saint Kevin, you mean, Doctor.”

“Sure it’s all the same, they were twins. I made a little song about them one evening last week,–the women I mean.”

“Let us have it, Maurice; let us have it, old fellow. What’s the measure?”

“Short measure; four little verses, devil a more!”

“But the time, I mean?”

“Whenever you like to sing it; here it is,”–

THE GIRLS OF THE WEST.

Air,–“_Teddy, ye Gander_.”

(_With feeling: but not too slow_.)

You may talk, if you please,
Of the brown Portuguese,
But wherever you roam, wherever you roam, You nothing will meet,
Half so lovely or sweet,
As the girls at home, the girls at home.

Their eyes are not sloes,
Nor so long is their nose,
But between me and you, between me and you, They are just as alarming,
And ten times more charming,
With hazel and blue, with hazel and blue.

They don’t ogle a man,
O’er the top of their fan
Till his heart’s in a flame, till his heart’s in a flame But though bashful and shy,
They’ve a look in their eye
That just comes to the same, just comes to the same.

No mantillas they sport,
But a petticoat short
Shows an ankle the best, an ankle the best, And a leg–but, O murther!
I dare not go further;
So here’s to the west, so here’s to the west.

“Now that really is a sweet little thing. Moore’s isn’t it?”

“Not a bit of it; my own muse, every word of it.”

“And the music?” said I.

“My own, too. Too much spice in that bowl; that’s an invariable error in your devisers of drink, to suppose that the tipple you start with can please your palate to the last; they forget that as we advance, either in years or lush, our tastes simplify.”

“_Nous revenons a nos premieres amours_. Isn’t that it?”

“No, not exactly, for we go even further; for if you mark the progression of a sensible man’s fluids, you’ll find what an emblem of life it presents to you. What is his initiatory glass of ‘Chablis’ that he throws down with his oysters but the budding expectancy of boyhood,–the appetizing sense of pleasure to come; then follows the sherry with his soup, that warming glow which strength and vigor in all their consciousness impart, as a glimpse of life is opening before him. Then youth succeeds–buoyant, wild, tempestuous youth–foaming and sparkling like the bright champagne whose stormy surface subsides into a myriad of bright stars.”

“_Oeil de perdrix_.”

“Not a bit of it; woman’s own eye, brilliant, sparkling, life-giving–“

“Devil take the fellow, he’s getting poetical!”

“Ah, Fred! if that could only last; but one must come to the burgundies with his maturer years. Your first glass of hermitage is the algebraic sign for five-and-thirty,–the glorious burst is over; the pace is still good, to be sure, but the great enthusiasm is past. You can afford to look forward, but confound it, you’ve along way to look back also.”

“I say, Charley, our friend has contrived to finish the bishop during his disquisition; the bowl’s quite empty.”

“You don’t say so, Fred. To be sure, how a man does forget himself in abstract speculations; but let us have a little more, I’ve not concluded my homily.”

“Not a glass, Maurice; it’s already past nine. We are all pledged to the masquerade, and before we’ve dressed and got there, ‘t will be late enough.”

“But I’m not disguised yet, my boy, nor half.”

“Well, they must take you _au naturel_, as our countrymen do their potatoes.”

“Yes, Doctor, Fred’s right; we had better start.”

“Well, I can’t help it; I’ve recorded my opposition to the motion, but I must submit; and now that I’m on my legs, explain to me what’s that very dull-looking old lamp up there?”

“That’s the moon, man; the full moon.”

“Well, I’ve no objection; I’m full too: so come along, lads.”

CHAPTER XVIII.

THE MASQUERADE.

To form one’s impression of a masked ball from the attempts at this mode of entertainment in our country, is but to conceive a most imperfect and erroneous notion. With us, the first _coup d’oeil_ is everything; the nuns, the shepherdesses, the Turks, sailors, eastern princes, watchmen, moonshees, milestones, devils, and Quakers are all very well in their way as they pass in the review before us, but when we come to mix in the crowd, we discover that, except the turban and the cowl, the crook and the broad-brim, no further disguise is attempted or thought of. The nun, forgetting her vow and her vestments, is flirting with the devil; the watchman, a very fastidious elegant, is ogling the fishwomen through his glass; while the Quaker is performing a _pas seul_ Alberti might be proud of, in a quadrille of riotous Turks and half-tipsy Hindoos; in fact, the whole wit of the scene consists in absurd associations. Apart from this, the actors have rarely any claims upon your attention; for even supposing a person clever enough to sustain his character, whatever it be, you must also supply the other personages of the drama, or, in stage phrase, he’ll have nothing to “play up to.” What would be Bardolph without Pistol; what Sir Lucius O’Triuger without Acres? It is the relief which throws out the disparities and contradictions of life that afford us most amusement; hence it is that one swallow can no more make a summer, than one well-sustained character can give life to a masquerade. Without such sympathies, such points of contact, all the leading features of the individual, making him act and be acted upon, are lost; the characters being mere parallel lines, which, however near they approach, never bisect or cross each other.

This is not the case abroad: the domino, which serves for mere concealment, is almost the only dress assumed, and the real disguise is therefore thrown from necessity upon the talents, whatever they be, of the wearer. It is no longer a question of a beard or a spangled mantle, a Polish dress or a pasteboard nose; the mutation of voice, the assumption of a different manner, walk, gesture, and mode of expression, are all necessary, and no small tact is required to effect this successfully.

I may be pardoned this little digression, as it serves to explain in some measure how I felt on entering the splendidly lit up _salons_ of the villa, crowded with hundreds of figures in all the varied costumes of a carnival,–the sounds of laughter mingled with the crash of the music; the hurrying hither and thither of servants with refreshments; the crowds gathered around fortune-tellers, whose predictions threw the parties at each moment into shouts of merriment; the eager following of some disappointed domino, interrogating every one to find out a lost mask. For some time I stood an astonished spectator at the kind of secret intelligence which seemed to pervade the whole assemblage, when suddenly a mask, who for some time had been standing beside me, whispered in French,–

“If you pass your time in this manner, you must not feel surprised if your place be occupied.”

I turned hastily round, but she was gone. She, I say, for the voice was clearly a woman’s; her pink domino could be no guide, for hundreds of the same color passed me every instant. The meaning of the allusion I had little doubt of. I turned to speak to Power, but he was gone; and for the first moment of my life, the bitterness of rivalry crossed my mind. It was true I had resigned all pretensions in his favor. My last meeting with Lucy had been merely to justify my own character against an impression that weighed heavily on me; still, I thought he might have waited,–another day and I should be far away, neither to witness nor grieve over his successes.

“You still hesitate,” whispered some one near me.

I wheeled round suddenly, but could not detect the speaker, and was again relapsing into my own musings, when the same voice repeated,–

“The white domino with the blue cape. Adieu.”

Without waiting to reflect upon the singularity of the occurrence, I now hurried along through the dense crowd, searching on every side for the domino.

“Isn’t that O’Malley?” said an Englishman to his friend.

“Yes,” replied the other; “the very man we want. O’Malley, find a partner; we have been searching a _vis-a-vis_ this ten minutes.”

The speaker was an officer I had met at Sir George Dashwood’s. “How did you discover me?” said I, suddenly.

“Not a very difficult thing if you carry your mask in your hand that way,” was the answer.

And I now perceived that in the distraction of my thoughts I had been carrying my mask in this manner since my coming into the room.

“There now, what say you to the blue domino? I saw her foot, and a girl with such an instep must be a waltzer.”

I looked round, a confused effort at memory passing across my mind; my eyes fell at the instant upon the embroidered sleeve of the domino, where a rosebud worked in silver at once reminded me of Catrina’s secret. “Ah,” thought I, “La Senhora herself!” She was leaning upon the arm of a tall and portly figure in black; who this was I knew not, nor sought to discover, but at once advancing towards Donna Inez asked her to waltz.

Without replying to me she turned towards her companion, who seemed as it were to press her acceptance of my offer; she hesitated, however, for an instant, and curtsying deeply, declined it. “Well,” thought I, “she at least has not recognized me.”

“And yet, Senhora,” said I, half jestingly, “I _have_ seen you join a bolero before now.”

“You evidently mistake me,” was the reply, but in a voice so well feigned as almost to convince me she was right.

“Nay, more,” said I, “under your own fair auspices did I myself first adventure one.”

“Still in error, believe me; I am not known to you.”

“And yet I have a talisman to refresh your memory, should you dare me further.”

At this instant my hand was grasped warmly by a passing mask. I turned round rapidly, and Power whispered in my ear,–

“Yours forever, Charley; you’ve made my fortune.”

As he hurried on I could perceive that he supported a lady on his arm, and that she wore a loose white domino with a deep blue cape. In a second all thought of Inez was forgotten, and anxious only to conceal my emotion, I turned away and mingled in the crowd. Lost to all around me, I wandered carelessly, heedlessly on, neither noticing the glittering throng around, nor feeling a thought in common with the gay and joyous spirits that flitted by. The night wore on, my melancholy and depression growing ever deeper, yet so spell-bound was I that I could not leave the place. A secret sense that it was the last time we were to meet had gained entire possession of me, and I longed to speak a few words ere we parted forever.

I was leaning on a window which looked out upon the courtyard, when suddenly the tramp of horses attracted my attention, and I saw by the clear moonlight a group of mounted men, whose long cloaks and tall helmets announced dragoons, standing around the porch. At the same moment the door of the _salon_ opened, and an officer in undress, splashed and travel-stained, entered. Making his way rapidly through the crowd, he followed the servant, who introduced him towards the supper-room. Thither the dense mass now pressed to learn the meaning of the singular apparition; while my own curiosity, not less excited, led me towards the door. As I crossed the hall, however, my progress was interrupted by a group of persons, among whom I saw an aide-de-camp of Lord Wellington’s staff, narrating, as it were, some piece of newly-arrived intelligence. I had no time for further inquiry, when a door opened near me, and Sir George Dashwood, accompanied by several general officers, came forth, the officer I had first seen enter the ball-room along with them. Every one was by this unmasked, and eagerly looking to hear what had occurred.

“Then, Dashwood, you’ll send off an orderly at once?” said an old general officer beside me.

“This instant, my Lord. I’ll despatch an aide-de-camp. The troops shall be in marching order before noon. Oh, here’s the man I want! O’Malley, come here. Mount your horse and dash into town. Send for Brotherton and M’Gregor to quarters, and announce the news as quickly as possible.”

“But what am I to announce, Sir George?”

“That the French are in retreat,–Massena in retreat, my lad.”

A tremendous cheer at this instant burst from the hundreds in the _salon_, who now heard the glorious tidings. Another cheer and another followed,–ten thousand _vivas_ rose amidst the crash of the band, as it broke into a patriotic war chant. Such a scene of enthusiasm and excitement I never witnessed. Some wept with joy. Others threw themselves into their friends’ arms.

“They’re all mad, every mother’s son of them!” said Maurice Quill, as he elbowed his way through the mass; “and here’s an old vestal won’t leave my arm. She has already embraced me three times, and we’ve finished a flask of Malaga between us.”

“Come, O’Malley, are you ready for the road?”

My horse was by this time standing saddled at the front. I sprang at once to the saddle, and without waiting for a second order, set out for Lisbon. Ten minutes had scarce elapsed,–the very shouts of joy of the delighted city were still ringing in my ears,–when I was once again back at the villa. As I mounted the steps into the hall, a carriage drew up,–it was Sir George Dashwood’s. He came forward, his daughter leaning upon his arm.

“Why, O’Malley, I thought you had gone.”

“I have returned, Sir George. Colonel Brotherton is in waiting, and the staff also. I have received orders to set out for Benejos, where the 14th are stationed, and have merely delayed to say adieu.”

“Adieu, my dear boy, and God bless you!” said the warm-hearted old man, as he pressed my hand between both his. “Lucy, here’s your old friend about to leave; come and say good-by.”

Miss Dashwood had stopped behind to adjust her shawl. I flew to her assistance. “Adieu, Miss Dashwood, and forever!” said I, in a broken voice, as I took her hand in mine. “This is not your domino,” said I, eagerly, as a blue silk one peeped from beneath her mantle; “and the sleeve, too,–did you wear this?” She blushed slightly, and assented.

“I changed with the senhora, who wore mine all the evening.”

“And Power, then, was not your partner?”

“I should think not,–for I never danced.”

“Lucy, my love, are you ready? Come, be quick.”

“Good-by, Mr. O’Malley, and _au revoir, n’est-ce pas?_”

I drew her glove from her hand as she spoke, and pressing my lips upon her fingers, placed her within the carriage. “Adieu, and _au revoir!_” said I. The carriage turned away, and a white glove was all that remained to me of Lucy Dashwood!

The carriage had turned the angle of the road, and its retiring sounds were growing gradually fainter, ere I recovered myself sufficiently to know where I stood. One absorbing thought alone possessed me. Lucy was not lost to me forever; Power was not my rival in that quarter,–that was enough for me. I needed no more to nerve my arm and steel my heart. As I reflected thus, the long loud blast of a trumpet broke upon the silence of the night, and admonished me to depart. I hurried to my room to make my few preparations for the road; but Mike had already anticipated everything here, and all was in readiness.

But one thing now remained,–to make my adieu to the senhora. With this intent, I descended a narrow winding stair which led from my dressing-room, and opened by a little terrace upon the flower-garden beside her apartments.

As I crossed the gravelled alley, I could not but think of the last time I had been there. It was on the eve of departure for the Douro. I recalled the few and fleeting moments of our leave-taking, and a thought flashed upon me,–what if she cared for me! What if, half in coquetry, half in reality, her heart was mixed up in those passages which daily association gives rise to?

I could not altogether acquit myself of all desire to make her believe me her admirer; nay, more, with the indolent _abandon_ of my country, I had fallen into a thousand little schemes to cheat the long hours away, which, having no other object than the happiness of the moment, might yet color all her after-life with sorrow.

Let no one rashly pronounce me a coxcomb, vain and pretentious, for all this. In my inmost heart I had no feeling of selfishness mingled with the consideration. It was from no sense of my own merits, no calculation of my own chances of success, that I thought thus. Fortunately, at eighteen one’s heart is uncontaminated with such an alloy of vanity. The first emotions of youth are pure and holy things, tempering our fiercer passions, and calming the rude effervescence of our boyish spirit; and when we strive to please, and hope to win affection, we insensibly fashion ourselves to nobler and higher thoughts, catching from the source of our devotion a portion of that charm that idealizes daily life, and makes our path in it a glorious and a bright one.

Who would not exchange all the triumph of his later days, the proudest moments of successful ambition, the richest trophies of hard-won daring,–for the short and vivid flash that first shot through his heart and told him he was loved. It is the opening consciousness of life, the first sense of power that makes of the mere boy a man,–a man in all his daring and his pride; and hence it is that in early life we feel ever prone to indulge those fancied attachments which elevate and raise us in our own esteem. Such was the frame of my mind when I entered the little boudoir where once before I had ventured on a similar errand.

As I closed the sash-door behind me, the gray dawn of breaking day scarcely permitted my seeing anything around me, and I felt my way towards the door of an adjoining room, where I supposed it was likely I should find the senhora. As I proceeded thus, with cautious step and beating heart, I thought I heard a sound near me. I stopped and listened, and was about again to move on, when a half-stifled sob fell upon my ear. Slowly and silently guiding my steps towards the sounds, I reached a sofa, when, my eyes growing by degrees more accustomed to the faint light, I could detect a figure which, at a glance, I recognized as Donna Inez. A cashmere shawl was loosely thrown around her, and her face was buried in her hands. As she lay, to all seeming, still and insensible before me, her beautiful hair fell heavily upon her back and across her arm, and her whole attitude denoted the very abandonment of grief. A short convulsive shudder which slightly shook her frame alone gave evidence of life, except when a sob, barely audible in the death-like silence, escaped her.

I knelt silently down beside her, and gently withdrawing her hand, placed it within mine. A dreadful feeling of self-condemnation shot through me as I felt the gentle pressure of her taper fingers, which rested without a struggle in my grasp. My tears fell hot and fast upon that pale hand, as I bent in sadness over it, unable to utter a word. A rush of conflicting thoughts passed through my brain, and I knew not what to do. I now had no doubt upon my mind that she loved me, and that her present affliction was caused by my approaching departure.

“Dearest Inez!” I stammered out at length, as I pressed her hands to my lips,–“dearest Inez!”–a faint sob, and a slight pressure of her hand, was the only reply. “I have come to say good-by,” continued I, gaining a little courage as I spoke; “a long good-by, too, in all likelihood. You have heard that we are ordered away,–there, don’t sob, dearest, and, believe me, I had wished ere we parted to have spoken to you calmly and openly; but, alas, I cannot,–I scarcely know what I say.”

“You will not forget me?” said she, in a low voice, that sank into my very heart. “You will not forget me?” As she spoke, her hand dropped heavily upon my shoulder, and her rich luxuriant hair fell upon my cheek. What a devil of a thing is proximity to a downy cheek and a black eyelash, more especially when they belong to one whom you are disposed to believe not indifferent to you! What I did at this precise moment there is no necessity for recording, even had not an adage interdicted such confessions, nor can I now remember what I said; but I can well recollect how, gradually warming with my subject, I entered into a kind of half-declaration of attachment, intended most honestly to be a mere _expose_ of my own unworthiness to win her favor, and my resolution to leave Lisbon and its neighborhood forever.

Let not any one blame me rashly if he has not experienced the difficulty of my position. The impetus of love-making is like the ardor of a fox-hunt. You care little that the six-bar gate before you is the boundary of another gentleman’s preserves or the fence of his pleasure-ground. You go slap along at a smashing-pace, with your head up, and your hand low, clearing all before you, the opposing difficulties to your progress giving half the zest, because all the danger to your career. So it is with love; the gambling spirit urges one ever onward, and the chance of failure is a reason for pursuit, where no other argument exists.

“And you do love me?” said the senhora, with a soft, low whisper that most unaccountably suggested anything but comfort to me.

“Love you, Inez? By this kiss–I’m in an infernal scrape!” said I, muttering this last half of my sentence to myself.

“And you’ll never be jealous again?”

“Never, by all that’s lovely!–your own sweet lips. That’s the very last thing to reproach me with.”

“And you promise me not to mind that foolish boy? For, after all, you know, it was mere flirtation,–if even that.”

“I’ll never think of him again,” said I, while my brain was burning to make out her meaning. “But, dearest, there goes the trumpet-call–“

“And, as for Pedro Mascarenhas, I never liked him.”

“Are you quite sure, Inez?”

“I swear it!–so no more of him. Gonzales Cordenza–I’ve broke with him long since. So that you see, dearest Frederic–“

“Frederic!” said I, starting almost to my feet with, amazement, while she continued:–

“I’m your own,–all your own!”

“Oh, the coquette, the heartless jilt!” groaned I, half-aloud.

“And O’Malley, Inez, poor Charley!–what of him?”

“Poor thing! I can’t help him. But he’s such a puppy, the lesson may do him good.”

“But perhaps he loved you, Inez?”

“To be sure he did; I wished him to do so,–I can’t bear not to be loved. But, Frederic, tell me, may I trust you,–will you keep faithful to me?”

“Sweetest Inez! by this last kiss I swear that such as I kneel before you now, you’ll ever find me.”

A foot upon the gravel-walk without now called me to my feet; I sprang towards the door, and before Inez had lifted her head from the sofa, I had reached the garden. A figure muffled in a cavalry cloak passed near me, but without noticing me, and the next moment I had cleared the paling, and was hurrying towards the stable, where I had ordered Mike to be in waiting.

The faint streak of dull pink which announces the coming day stretched beneath the dark clouds of the night, and the chill air of the morning was already stirring in the leaves.

As I passed along by a low beech hedge which skirted the avenue, I was struck by the sound of voices near me. I stopped to listen, and soon detected in one of the speakers my friend Mickey Free; of the other I was not long in ignorance.

“Love you, is it, bathershin? It’s worship you, adore you, my darling,–that’s the word! There, acushla, don’t cry; dry your eyes–Oh, murther, it’s a cruel thing to tear one’s self away from the best of living, with the run of the house in drink and kissing! Bad luck to it for campaigning, any way, I never liked it!”

Catrina’s reply,–for it was she,–I could not gather; but Mike resumed:–

“Ay, just so, sore bones and wet grass, _accadente_, and half-rations. Oh, that I ever saw the day when I took to it! Listen to me now, honey; here it is, on my knees I am before you, and throth it’s not more nor three, may be four, young women I’d say the like to; bad scran to me if I wouldn’t marry you out of a face this blessed morning just as soon as I’d look at ye. Arrah, there now, don’t be screeching and bawling; what’ll the neighbors think of us, and my own heart’s destroyed with grief entirely.”

Poor Catrina’s voice returned an inaudible answer, and not wishing any longer to play the eavesdropper, I continued my path towards the stable. The distant noises from the city announced a state of movement and preparation, and more than one orderly passed the road near me at a gallop. As I turned into the wide courtyard, Mike, breathless and flurried with running, overtook me.

“Are the horses ready, Mike?” said I; “we must start this instant?”

“They’ve just finished a peck of oats apiece, and faix, that same may be a stranger to them this day six months.”

“And the baggage, too?”

“On the cars, with the staff and the light brigade. It was down there I was now, to see all was right.”

“Oh, I’m quite aware; and now bring out the cattle. I hope Catrina received your little consolations well. That seems a very sad affair.”

“Murder, real murder, devil a less! It’s no matter where you go, from Clonmel to Chayney, it’s all one; they’ve a way of getting round you. Upon my soul, it’s like the pigs they are.”

“Like pigs, Mike? That appears a strange compliment you’ve selected to pay them.”

“Ay, just like the pigs, no less. May be you’ve heard what happened to myself up at Moronha?”

“Look to that girth there. Well, go on.”

“I was coming along one morning, just as day was beginning to break, when I sees a slip of a pig trotting before me, with nobody near him; but as the road was lonely, and myself rather down in heart, I thought, Musha! but yer fine company, anyhow, av a body could only keep you with him. But, ye see, a pig–saving your presence–is a baste not easily flattered, so I didn’t waste time and blarney upon him, but I took off my belt, and put it round its neck as neat as need be; but, as the devil’s luck would have it, I didn’t go half an hour when a horse came galloping up behind me. I turned round, and, by the blessed light, it was Sir Dinny himself was on it!”

“Sir Dennis Pack?”

“Yes, bad luck to his hook nose. ‘What are you doing there, my fine fellow?’ says he. ‘What’s that you have dragging there behind you?’

“‘A boneen, sir,’ says I. ‘Isn’t he a fine crayture?–av he wasn’t so troublesome.’

“‘Troublesome, troublesome–what do you mean?’

“‘Just so,’ says I. ‘Isn’t he parsecutiug the life out of me the whole morning, following me about everywhere I go? Contrary bastes they always was.’

“‘I advise you to try and part company, my friend, notwithstanding,’ says he; ‘or may be it’s the same end you’ll be coming to, and not long either.’ And faix, I took his advice; and ye see, Mister Charles, it’s just as I was saying, they’re like the women, the least thing in life is enough to bring them after us, _av ye only put the ‘comether’_ upon them.”

“And now adieu to the Villa Nuova,” said I, as I rode slowly down the avenue, turning ever and anon in my saddle to look back on each well-known spot.

A heavy sigh from Mike responded to my words.

“A long, a last farewell!” said I, waving my hand towards the trellised walls, now half-hidden by the trees; and, as I spoke, that heaviness of the heart came over me that seems inseparable from leave-taking. The hour of parting seems like a warning to us that all our enjoyments and pleasures here are destined to a short and merely fleeting existence; and as each scene of life passes away never to return, we are made to feel that youth and hope are passing with them; and that, although the fair world be as bright, and its pleasures as rich in abundance, our capacity of enjoyment is daily, hourly diminishing; and while all around us smiles in beauty and happiness, that we, alas! are not what we were.

Such was the tenor of my thoughts as I reached the road, when they were suddenly interrupted by my man Mike, whose meditations were following a somewhat similar channel, though at last inclining to different conclusions. He coughed a couple of times as if to attract my attention, and then, as it were half thinking aloud, he muttered,–

“I wonder if we treated the young ladies well, anyhow, Mister Charles, for, faix, I’ve my doubts on it.”

CHAPTER XIX.

THE LINES.

When we reached Lescas, we found that an officer of Lord Wellington’s staff had just arrived from the lines, and was occupied in making known the general order from headquarters; which set forth, with customary brevity, that the French armies, under the command of Massena, had retired from their position, and were in full retreat,–the second and third corps, which had been stationed at Villa Franca, having marched, during the night of the 15th, in the direction of Manal. The officers in command of divisions were ordered to repair instantly to Pero Negro, to consult upon a forward movement, Admiral Berkeley being written to to provide launches to pass over General Hill’s, or any other corps which might be selected, to the left bank of the Tagus. All now was excitement, heightened by the unexpected nature of an occurrence which not even speculation had calculated upon. It was but a few days before, and the news had reached Torres Vedras that a powerful reinforcement was in march to join Massena’s army, and their advanced guard had actually reached Santarem. The confident expectation was, therefore, that an attack upon the lines was meditated. Now, however, this prospect existed no longer; for scarcely had the heavy mists of the lowering day disappeared, when the vast plain, so lately peopled by the thickened ranks and dark masses of a great army, was seen in its whole extent deserted and untenanted.

The smouldering fires of the pickets alone marked where the troops had been posted, but not a man of that immense force was to be seen. General Fane, who had been despatched with a brigade of Portuguese cavalry and some artillery, hung upon the rear of the retiring army, and from him we learned that the enemy were continuing their retreat northward, having occupied Santarem with a strong force to cover the movement. Crawfurd was ordered to the front with the light division, the whole army following in the same direction, except Hill’s corps, which, crossing the river at Velada, was intended to harass the enemy’s flank, and assist our future operations.

Such, in brief, was the state of affairs when I reached Villa Franca towards noon, and received orders to join my regiment, then forming part of Sir Stapleton Cotton’s brigade.

It must be felt to be thoroughly appreciated, the enthusiastic pleasure with which one greets his old corps after some months of separation: the bounding ecstasy with which the weary eye rests on the old familiar faces, dear by every association of affection and brotherhood; the anxious look for this one and for that; the thrill of delight sent through the heart as the well-remembered march swells upon the ear; the very notes of that rough voice which we have heard amidst the crash of battle and the rolling of artillery, speak softly to our senses like a father’s welcome; from the well-tattered flag that waves above us to the proud steed of the war-worn trumpeter, each has a niche in our affection.

If ever there was a corps calculated to increase and foster these sentiments, the 14th Light Dragoons was such. The warm affection, the truly heart-felt regard, which existed among my brother officers, made of our mess a happy home. Our veteran colonel, grown gray in campaigning, was like a father to us; while the senior officers, tempering the warm blood of impetuous youth with their hard-won experience, threw a charm of peace and tranquillity over all our intercourse that made us happy when together, and taught us to feel that, whether seated around the watch-fire or charging amidst the squadrons of the enemy, we were surrounded by those devoted heart and soul to aid us.

Gallant Fourteenth!–ever first in every gay scheme of youthful jollity, as foremost in the van to meet the foe–how happy am I to recall the memory of your bright looks and bold hearts; of your manly daring and your bold frankness; of your merry voices, as I have heard them in the battle or in the bivouac! Alas and alas, that I should indulge such recollections alone! How few–how very few–are left of those with whom I trod the early steps of life, whose bold cheer I have heard above the clashing sabres of the enemy, whose broken voice I have listened to above the grave of a comrade! The dark pines of the Pyrenees wave above some, the burning sands of India cover others, and the wide plains of Salamanca are the abiding-place of still more.

“Here comes O’Malley!” shouted a well-known voice, as I rode down the little slope at the foot of which a group of officers were standing beside their horses.

“Welcome, thou man of Galway!” cried Hampden; “delighted to have you once more among us. How confoundedly well the fellow is looking!”

“Lisbon beef seems better prog than commissariat biscuit!” said another.

“A’weel, Charley?” said my friend the Scotch doctor; “how’s a’ wi’ ye man? Ye seem to thrive on your mishaps! How cam’ ye by that braw beastie ye’re mounted on?”

“A present, Doctor; the gift of a very warm friend.”

“I hope you invited him to the mess, O’Malley! For, by Jove, our stables stand in need of his kind offices! There he goes! Look at him! What a slashing pace for a heavy fellow!” This observation was made with reference to a well-known officer on the commander-in-chief’s staff, whose weight–some two and twenty stone–never was any impediment to his bold riding.

“Egad, O’Malley, you’ll soon be as pretty a light-weight as our friend yonder. Ah, there’s a storm going on there! Here comes the colonel!”

“Well, O’Malley, are you come back to us? Happy to see you, boy! Hope we shall not lose you again in a hurry! We can’t spare the scapegraces! There’s plenty of skirmishing going on! Crawfurd always asks for the scapegraces for the pickets!”

I shook my gallant colonel’s hand, while I acknowledged, as best I might, his ambiguous compliment.

“I say, lads,” resumed the colonel, “squad your men and form on the road! Lord Wellington’s coming down this way to have a look at you! O’Malley, I have General Crawfurd’s orders to offer you your old appointment on his staff; without you prefer to remaining with the regiment!”

“I can never be sufficiently grateful, sir, to the general: but, in fact–I think–that is, I believe–“

“You’d rather be among your own fellows. Out with it boy! I like you all the better! But come, we mustn’t let the general know that; so that I shall forget to tell you all about it. Eh, isn’t that best? But join your troop now; I hear the staff coming this way.”

As he spoke, a crowd of horseman were seen advancing towards us at a sharp trot, their waving plumes and gorgeous aiguillettes denoting their rank as generals of division. In the midst, as they came nearer, I could distinguish one whom once seen there was no forgetting; his plain blue frock and gray trousers, unstrapped beneath his boots, not a little unlike the trim accuracy of costume around him. As he rode to the head of the leading squadron, the staff fell back and he stood alone before us; for a second there was a dead silence, but the next instant–by what impulse tell who can–one tremendous cheer burst from the entire regiment. It was like the act of one man; so sudden, so spontaneous. While every cheek glowed, and every eye sparkled with enthusiasm, he alone seemed cool and unexcited, as, gently raising his hand, he motioned them to silence.

“Fourteenth, you are to be where you always desire to be,–in the advanced guard of the army. I have nothing to say on the subject of your conduct in the field. I know _you_; but if in pursuit of the enemy, I hear of any misconduct towards the people of the country, or any transgression of the general orders regarding pillage, by G—-, I’ll punish you as severely as the worst corps in the service, and you know _me!_”

“Oh, tear an ages, listen to that; and there’s to be no plunder after all!” said Mickey Free; and for an instant the most I could do was not to burst into a fit of laughter. The word, “Forward!” was given at the moment, and we moved past in close column, while that penetrating eye, which seemed to read our very thoughts, scanned us from one end of the line to the other.

“I say, Charley,” said the captain of my troop, in a whisper,–“I say, that confounded cheer we gave got us that lesson; he can’t stand that kind of thing.”

“By Jove! I never felt more disposed than to repeat it,” said I.

“No, no, my boy, we’ll give him the honors, nine times nine; but wait till evening. Look at old Merivale there. I’ll swear he’s saying something devilish civil to him. Do you see the old fellow’s happy look?”

And so it was; the bronzed, hard-cast features of the veteran soldier were softened into an expression of almost boyish delight, as he sat, bare-headed, bowing to his very saddle, while Lord Wellington was speaking.

As I looked, my heart throbbed painfully against my side, my breath came quick, and I muttered to myself, “What would I not give to be in his place now!”

CHAPTER XX.

THE RETREAT OF THE FRENCH.

It is not my intention, were I even adequate to the task, to trace with anything like accuracy the events of the war at this period. In fact, to those who, like myself, were performing a mere subaltern character, the daily movements of our own troops, not to speak of the continual changes of the enemy, were perfectly unknown, and an English newspaper was more ardently longed for in the Peninsula than by the most eager crowd of a London coffee-room; nay, the results of the very engagements we were ourselves concerned in, more than once, first reached us through the press of our own country. It is easy enough to understand this. The officer in command of the regiment, and how much more, the captain of a troop, or the subaltern under him, knows nothing beyond the sphere of his own immediate duty; by the success or failure of his own party his knowledge is bounded, but how far he or his may influence the fortune, of the day, or of what is taking place elsewhere, he is totally ignorant; and an old Fourteenth man did not badly explain, his ideas on the matter, who described Busaco as “a great noise and a great smoke, booming artillery and rattling small-arms, infernal confusion, and to all seeming, incessant blundering, orders and counter-orders, ending with a crushing charge; when, not being hurt himself, nor having hurt anybody, he felt much pleased to learn that they had gained a victory.” It is then sufficient for all the purposes of my narrative, when I mention that Massena continued his retreat by Santarem and Thomar, followed by the allied army, who, however desirous of pressing upon the rear of their enemy, were still obliged to maintain their communication with the lines, and also to watch the movement of the large armies which, under Ney and Soult, threatened at any unguarded moment to attack them in flank.

The position which Massena occupied at Santarem, naturally one of great strength, and further improved by intrenchments, defied any attack on the part of Lord Wellington, until the arrival of the long-expected reinforcements from England. These had sailed in the early part of January, but delayed by adverse winds, only reached Lisbon on the 2d of March; and so correctly was the French marshal apprised of the circumstance, and so accurately did he anticipate the probable result, that on the fourth he broke up his encampment, and recommenced his retrograde movement, with an army now reduced to forty thousand fighting men, and with two thousand sick, destroying all his baggage and guns that could not be horsed. By a demonstration of advancing upon the Zezere, by which he held the allies in check, he succeeded in passing his wounded to the rear, while Ney, appearing with a large force suddenly at Leiria, seemed bent upon attacking the lines. By these stratagems two days’ march were gained, and the French retreated upon Torres Novas and Thomar, destroying the bridges behind them as they passed.

The day was breaking on the 12th of March, when the British first came in sight of the retiring enemy. We were then ordered to the front, and broken up into small parties, threw out our skirmishers. The French chasseurs, usually not indisposed to accept this species of encounter, showed now less of inclination than usual, and either retreated before us, or hovered in masses to check our advance; in this way the morning was passed, when towards noon we perceived that the enemy was drawn up in battle array, occupying the height above the village of Redinha. This little straggling village is situated in a hollow traversed by a narrow causeway which opens by a long and dangerous defile upon a bridge, on either side of which a dense wood afforded a shelter for light troops, while upon the commanding eminence above a battery of heavy guns was seen in position.

In front of the village a brigade of artillery and a division of infantry were drawn up so skilfully as to give the appearance of a considerable force, so that when Lord Wellington came up he spent some time in examining the enemy’s position. Erskine’s brigade was immediately ordered up, and the Fifty-second and Ninety-fourth, and a company of the Forty-third were led against the wooded slopes upon the French right. Picton simultaneously attacked the left, and in less than an hour, both were successful, and Ney’s position was laid bare; his skirmishers, however, continued to hold their ground in front, and La Ferriere, a colonel of hussars, dashing boldly forward at this very moment, carried off fourteen prisoners from the very front of our line. Deceived by the confidence of the enemy, Lord Wellington now prepared for an attack in force. The infantry were therefore formed into line, and, at the signal of three shots fired from the centre, began their foremost movement.

Bending up a gentle curve, the whole plain glistened with the glancing bayonets, and the troops marched majestically onward; while the light artillery and the cavalry, bounding forward from the left and centre, rushed eagerly towards the foe. One deafening discharge from the French guns opened at the moment, with a general volley of small-arms. The smoke for an instant obscured everything, and when that cleared away, no enemy was to be seen.

The British pressed madly on, like heated blood-hounds; but when they descended the slope, the village of Redinha was in flames, and the French in full retreat beyond it. A single howitzer seemed our only trophy, and even this we were not destined to boast of, for from the midst of the crashing flame and dense smoke of the burning village, a troop of dragoons rushed forward, and charging our infantry, carried it off. The struggle, though but for a moment, cost them dear: twenty of their comrades lay dead upon the spot; but they were resolute and determined, and the officer who led them on, fighting hand to hand with a soldier of the Forty-second, cheered them as they retired. His gallant bearing, and his coat covered with decorations, bespoke him one of note, and well it might; he who thus perilled his life to maintain the courage of his soldiers at the commencement of a retreat, was none other than Ney himself, _le plus brave des braves_. The British pressed hotly on, and the light troops crossed the river almost at the same time with the French. Ney, however, fell back upon Condeixa, where his main body was posted, and all farther pursuit was for the present abandoned.

At Casa Noval and at Foz d’Aronce, the allies were successful; but the French still continued to retire, burning the towns and villages in their rear, and devastating the country along the whole line of march by every expedient of cruelty the heart of man has ever conceived. In the words of one whose descriptions, however fraught with the most wonderful power of painting, are equally marked by truth, “Every horror that could make war hideous attended this dreadful march. Distress, conflagration, death in all modes,–from wounds, from fatigue, from water, from the flames, from starvation,–vengeance, unlimited vengeance, was on every side.” The country was a desert!

Such was the exhaustion of the allies, who suffered even greater privations than the enemy, that they halted upon the 16th, unable to proceed farther; and the river Ceira, swollen and unfordable, flowed between the rival armies.

The repose of even one day was a most grateful interruption to the harassing career we had pursued for some time past; and it seemed that my comrades felt, like myself, that such an opportunity was by no means to be neglected; but while I am devoting so much space and trespassing on my reader’s patience thus far with narrative of flood and field, let me steal a chapter for what will sometimes seem a scarcely less congenial topic, and bring back the recollection of a glorious night in the Peninsula.

CHAPTER XXI.

PATRICK’S DAY IN THE PENINSULA.

The _reveil_ had not yet sounded, when I felt my shoulder shaken gently as I lay wrapped up in my cloak beneath a prickly pear-tree.

“Lieutenant O’Malley, sir; a letter, sir; a bit of a note, your honor,” said a voice that bespoke the bearer and myself were countrymen. I opened it, and with difficulty, by the uncertain light, read as follows:–

Dear Charley,–As Lord Wellington, like a good Irishman as he is, wouldn’t spoil Patrick’s Day by marching, we’ve got a little dinner at our quarters to celebrate the holy times, as my uncle would call it. Maurice, Phil Grady, and some regular trumps will all come, so don’t disappoint us. I’ve been making punch all night, and Casey, who has a knack at pastry, has made a goose-pie as big as a portmanteau. Sharp seven, after parade. The second battalion of the Fusiliers are quartered at Melante, and we are next them. Bring any of yours worth their liquor. Power is, I know, absent with the staff; perhaps the Scotch doctor would come; try him. Carry over a little mustard with you, if there be such in your parts.

Yours,

D. O’SHAUGHNESSY.

Patrick’s day, and raining like blazes.

Seeing that the bearer expected an answer, I scrawled the words, “I’m there,” with my pencil on the back of the note, and again turned myself round to sleep. My slumbers were, however, soon interrupted once more; for the bugles of the light infantry and the hoarse trumpet of the cavalry sounded the call, and I found to my surprise that, though halted, we were by no means destined to a day of idleness. Dragoons were already mounted, carrying orders hither and thither, and staff-officers were galloping right and left. A general order commanded an inspection of the troops, and within less than an hour from daybreak the whole army was drawn up under arms. A thin, drizzling rain continued to fall during the early part of the day, but the sun gradually dispelled the heavy vapor; and as the bright verdure glittered in its beams, sending up all the perfumes of a southern clime, I thought I had never seen a more lovely morning. The staff were stationed upon a little knoll beside the river, round the base of which the troops defiled, at first in orderly, then in quick time, the bands playing and the colors flying. In the same brigade with us the Eighty-eighth came, and as they neared the commander-in-chief, their quick-step was suddenly stopped, and after a pause of a few seconds, the band struck up “St. Patrick’s Day;” the notes were caught up by the other Irish regiments, and amidst one prolonged cheer from the whole line, the gallant fellows moved past.

The grenadier company were drawn up beside the road, and I was not long in detecting my friend O’Shaughnessy, who wore a tremendous shamrock in his shako.

“Left face, wheel! Quick march! Don’t forget the mustard!” said the bold major; and a loud roar of laughing from my brother officers followed him off the ground. I soon explained the injunction, and having invited some three or four to accompany me to the dinner, waited with all patience for the conclusion of the parade.

The sun was setting as I mounted, and joined by Hampden, Baker, the doctor, and another, set out for O’Shaughnessy’s quarters. As we rode along, we were continually falling in with others bent upon the same errand as ourselves, and ere we arrived at Melante our party was some thirty strong; and truly a most extraordinary procession did we form. Few of the invited came without some contribution to the general stock; and while a staff-officer flourished a ham, a smart hussar might be seen with a plucked turkey, trussed for roasting; most carried bottles, as the consumption of fluid was likely to be considerable; and one fat old major jogged along on a broken-winded pony, with a basket of potatoes on his arm. Good fellowship was the order of the day, and certainly a more jovial squadron seldom was met together than ours. As we turned the angle of a rising ground, a hearty cheer greeted us, and we beheld in front of an old ordnance marquee a party of some fifty fellows engaged in all the pleasing duties of the _cuisine_. Maurice, conspicuous above all, with a white apron and a ladle in his hand, was running hither and thither, advising, admonishing, instructing, and occasionally imprecating. Ceasing for a second his functions, he gave us a cheer and a yell like that of an Indian savage, and then resumed his duties beside a huge boiler, which, from the frequency of his explorations into its contents, we judged to be punch.

“Charley, my son, I’ve a place for you; don’t forget. Where’s my learned brother?–haven’t you brought him with you? Ah, Doctor, how goes it?”

[Illustration: GOING OUT TO DINNER.]

“Nae that bad, Master Quell: a’ things considered, we’ve had an awfu’ time of it lately.”

“You know my friend Hampden, Maurice. Let me introduce Mr. Baker, Mr. Maurice Quill. Where’s the major?”

“Here I am, my darling, and delighted to see you. Some of yours, O’Malley, ain’t they? Proud to have you, gentlemen. Charley, we are obliged to have several tables; but you are to be beside Maurice, so take your friends with you. There goes the ‘Roast Beef;’ my heart warms to that old tune.”

Amidst a hurried recognition, and shaking of hands on every side, I elbowed my way into the tent, and soon reached a corner, where, at a table for eight, I found Maurice seated at one end; a huge, purple-faced old major, whom he presented to us as Bob Mahon, occupied the other. O’Shaughnessy presided at the table next to us, but near enough to join in all the conviviality of ours.

One must have lived for some months upon hard biscuit and harder beef to relish as we did the fare before us, and to form an estimate of our satisfaction. If the reader cannot fancy Van Amburgh’s lions in red coats and epaulettes, he must be content to lose the effect of the picture. A turkey rarely fed more than two people, and few were abstemious enough to be satisfied with one chicken. The order of the viands, too, observed no common routine, each party being happy to get what he could, and satisfied to follow up his pudding with fish, or his tart with a sausage. Sherry, champagne, London porter, Malaga, and even, I believe, Harvey’s sauce were hobnobbed in; while hot punch, in teacups or tin vessels, was unsparingly distributed on all sides. Achilles himself, they say, got tired of eating, and though he consumed something like a prize ox to his own cheek, he at length had to call for cheese, so that we at last gave in, and having cleared away the broken tumbrels and baggage-carts of our army, cleared for a general action.

“Now, lads!” cried the major, “I’m not going to lose your time and mine by speaking; but there are a couple of toasts I must insist upon your drinking with all the honors; and as I like despatch, we’ll couple them. It so happens that our old island boasts of two of the finest fellows that ever wore Russia ducks. None of your nonsensical geniuses, like poets or painters or anything like that; but downright, straightforward, no-humbug sort of devil-may-care and bad-luck-to-you kind of chaps,–real Irishmen! Now, it’s a strange thing that they both had such an antipathy to vermin, they spent their life in hunting them down and destroying them; and whether they met toads at home or Johnny Crapaud abroad, it was all one. [Cheers.] Just so, boys; they made them leave that; but I see you are impatient, so I’ll not delay you, but fill to the brim, and with the best cheer in your body, drink with me the two greatest Irishmen that ever lived, ‘Saint Patrick and Lord Wellington.'”

The Englishmen laughed long and loud, while we cheered with an energy that satisfied even the major.

“Who is to give us the chant? Who is to sing Saint Patrick?” cried Maurice. “Come, Bob, out with it.”

“I’m four tumblers too low for that yet,” growled out the major.

“Well, then, Charley, be you the man; or why not Dennis himself? Come, Dennis, we cannot better begin our evening than with a song; let us have our old friend ‘Larry M’Hale.'”

“Larry M’Hale!” resounded from all parts of the room, while O’Shaughnessy rose once more to his legs.

“Faith, boys, I’m always ready to follow your lead; but what analogy can exist between ‘Larry M’Hale’ and the toast we have just drank I can’t see for the life of me; not but Larry would have made a strapping light company man had he joined the army.”

“The song, the song!” cried several voices.

“Well, if you will have it, here goes:”–

LARRY M’HALE.

AIR,–_”It’s a bit of a thing_,” _etc_.

Oh, Larry M’Hale he had little to fear, And never could want when the crops didn’t fail; He’d a house and demesne and eight hundred a year, And the heart for to spend it, had Larry M’Hale! The soul of a party, the life of a feast, And an illigant song he could sing, I’ll be bail; He would ride with the rector, and drink with the priest, Oh, the broth of a boy was old Larry M’Hale!

It’s little he cared for the judge or recorder, His house was as big and as strong as a jail; With a cruel four-pounder, he kept in great order, He’d murder the country, would Larry M’Hale. He’d a blunderbuss too, of horse-pistols a pair; But his favorite weapon was always a flail. I wish you could see how he’d empty a fair, For he handled it neatly, did Larry M’Hale.

His ancestors were kings before Moses was born, His mother descended from great Grana Uaile; He laughed all the Blakes and the Frenches to scorn; They were mushrooms compared to old Larry M’Hale. He sat down every day to a beautiful dinner, With cousins and uncles enough for a tail; And, though loaded with debt, oh, the devil a thinner, Could law or the sheriff make Larry M’Hale!

With a larder supplied and a cellar well stored, None lived half so well, from Fair-Head to Kinsale, As he piously said, “I’ve a plentiful board, And the Lord he is good to old Larry M’Hale.” So fill up your glass, and a high bumper give him, It’s little we’d care for the tithes or repale; For ould Erin would be a fine country to live in, If we only had plenty like LARRY M’HALE.

“Very singular style of person your friend Mr. M’Hale,” lisped a spooney-looking cornet at the end of the table.

“Not in the country he belongs to, I assure you,” said Maurice; “but I presume you were never in Ireland.”

“You are mistaken there,” resumed the other; “I was in Ireland, though I confess not for a long time.”

“If I might be so bold,” cried Maurice, “how long?”

“Half an hour, by a stop-watch,” said the other, pulling up his stock; “and I had quite enough of it in that time.”

“Pray give us your experiences,” cried out Bob Mahon; “they should be interesting, considering your opportunities.”

“You are right,” said the cornet; “they were so; and as they illustrate a feature in your amiable country, you shall have them.”

A general knocking upon the table announced the impatience of the company, and when silence was restored the cornet began:–

When the ‘Bermuda’ transport sailed from Portsmouth for Lisbon, I happened to make one of some four hundred interesting individuals who, before they became food for powder, were destined to try their constitutions on pickled pork. The second day after our sailing, the winds became adverse; it blew a hurricane from every corner of the compass but the one it ought, and the good ship, that should have been standing straight for the Bay of Biscay, was scudding away under a double-reefed topsail towards the coast of Labrador. For six days we experienced every sea-manoeuvre that usually preludes a shipwreck, and at length, when, what from sea-sickness and fear, we had become utterly indifferent to the result, the storm abated, the sea went down, and we found ourselves lying comfortably in the harbor of Cork, with a strange suspicion on our minds that the frightful scenes of the past week had been nothing but a dream.

“‘Come, Mr. Medlicot,’ said the skipper to me, ‘we shall be here for a couple of days to refit; had you not better go ashore and see the country?’

“I sprang to my legs with delight; visions of cowslips, larks, daisies, and mutton-chops floated before my excited imagination, and in ten minutes I found myself standing at that pleasant little inn at Cove which, opposite Spike Island, rejoices in the name of the ‘Goat and Garters.’

“‘Breakfast, waiter,’ said I; ‘a beefsteak,–fresh beef, mark ye,–fresh eggs, bread, milk, and butter, all fresh. No more hard tack,’ thought I; ‘no salt butter, but a genuine land breakfast.’

“Up-stairs, No. 4, sir,’ said the waiter, as he flourished a dirty napkin, indicating the way.

“Up-stairs I went, and in due time the appetizing little meal made its appearance. Never did a minor’s eye revel over his broad acres with more complacent enjoyment than did mine skim over the mutton and the muffin, the tea-pot, the trout, and the devilled kidney, so invitingly spread out before me. ‘Yes,’ thought I, as I smacked my lips, ‘this is the reward of virtue; pickled pork is a probationary state that admirably fits us for future enjoyments.’ I arranged my napkin upon my knee, seized my knife and fork, and proceeded with most critical acumen to bisect a beefsteak. Scarcely, however, had I touched it, when, with a loud crash, the plate smashed beneath it, and the gravy ran piteously across the cloth. Before I had time to account for the phenomenon, the door opened hastily, and the waiter rushed into the room, his face beaming with smiles, while he rubbed his hands in an ecstasy of delight.

“‘It’s all over, sir,’ said he; ‘glory be to God! it’s all done.’

“‘What’s over? What’s done?’ inquired I, with impatience.

“‘Mr. M’Mahon is satisfied,’ replied he, ‘and so is the other gentleman.’

“‘Who and what the devil do you mean?’

[Illustration: DISADVANTAGE OF BREAKFASTING OVER A DUELLING-PARTY.]

“‘It’s over, sir, I say,’ replied the waiter again; ‘he fired in the air.’

“‘Fired in the air! Was there a duel in the room below stairs?’

“‘Yes, sir,’ said the waiter, with a benign smile.

“‘That will do,’ said I, as seizing my hat, I rushed out of the house, and hurrying to the beach, took a boat for the ship. Exactly half an hour had elapsed since my landing, but even those short thirty minutes had fully as many reasons that although there may be few more amusing, there are some safer places to live in than the Green Isle.”

A general burst of laughter followed the cornet’s story, which was heightened in its effect by the gravity with which he told it.

“And after all,” said Maurice Quill, “now that people have given up making fortunes for the insurance companies by living to the age of Methuselah, there’s nothing like being an Irishman. In what other part of the habitable globe can you cram so much adventure into one year? Where can you be so often in love, in liquor, or in debt; and where can you get so merrily out of the three? Where are promises to marry and promises to pay treated with the same gentleman-like forbearance; and where, when you have lost your heart and your fortune, are people found so ready to comfort you in your reverses? Yes,” said Maurice, as he filled his glass up to the brim, and eyed it lusciously for a moment,–“yes, darling, here’s your health; the only girl I ever loved–in that part of the country, I mean. Give her a bumper, lads, and I’ll give you a chant.”

“Name! name! name!” shouted several voices from different parts of the table.

“Mary Draper!” said Maurice, filling his glass once more, while the name was re-echoed by every lip at table.

“The song! the song!”

“Faith, I hope I haven’t forgotten it,” quoth Maurice. “No; here it is.”

So saying, after a couple of efforts to assure the pitch of his voice, the worthy doctor began the following words to that very popular melody, “Nancy Dawson:”–

MARY DRAPER.

AIR,–_Nancy Dawson_.

Don’t talk to me of London dames,
Nor rave about your foreign flames, That never lived, except in drames,
Nor shone, except on paper;
I’ll sing you ’bout a girl I knew, Who lived in Ballywhacmacrew,
And let me tell you, mighty few
Could equal Mary Draper.

Her cheeks were red, her eyes were blue, Her hair was brown of deepest hue,
Her foot was small, and neat to view, Her waist was slight and taper;
Her voice was music to your ear,
A lovely brogue, so rich and clear, Oh, the like I ne’er again shall hear, As from sweet Mary Draper.

She’d ride a wall, she’d drive a team, Or with a fly she’d whip a stream,
Or may be sing you “Rousseau’s Dream,” For nothing could escape her;
I’ve seen her, too,–upon my word,– At sixty yards bring down her bird,
Oh, she charmed all the Forty-third, Did lovely Mary Draper.

And at the spring assizes’ ball,
The junior bar would one and all
For all her fav’rite dances call, And Harry Dean would caper;
Lord Clare would then forget his lore; King’s Counsel, voting law a bore,
Were proud to figure on the floor, For love of Mary Draper.

The parson, priest, sub-sheriff too, Were all her slaves, and so would you, If you had only but one view,
Of such a face and shape, or
Her pretty ankles–But, ohone,
It’s only west of old Athlone
Such girls were found–and now they’re gone– So here’s to Mary Draper!

“So here’s to Mary Draper!” sang out every voice, in such efforts to catch the tune as pleased the taste of the motley assembly.

“For Mary Draper and Co., I thank you,” said Maurice. “Quill drinks to Dennis,” added he, in a grave tone, as he nodded to O’Shaughnessy. “Yes, Shaugh, few men better than ourselves know these matters; and few have had more experience of the three perils of Irishmen,–love, liquor, and the law of arrest.”

“It’s little the latter has ever troubled my father’s son,” replied O’Shaughnessy. “Our family have been writ proof for centuries, and he’d have been a bold man who would have ventured with an original or a true copy within the precincts of Killinahoula.”

“Your father had a touch of Larry M’Hale in him,” said I, “apparently.”

“Exactly so,” replied Dennis; “not but they caught him at last, and a scurvy trick it was and well worthy of him who did it! Yes,” said he, with a sigh, “it is only another among the many instances where the better features of our nationality have been used by our enemies as instruments for our destruction; and should we seek for the causes of unhappiness in our wretched country, we should find them rather in our virtues than in our vices, and in the bright rather than in the darker phases of our character.”

“Metaphysics, by Jove!” cried Quill; “but all true at the same time. There was a mess-mate of mine in the ‘Roscommon’ who never paid car-hire in his life. ‘Head or harp, Paddy!’ he would cry. ‘Two tenpennies or nothing.’ ‘Harp, for the honor of ould Ireland!’ was the invariable response, and my friend was equally sure to make head come uppermost; and, upon my soul, they seem to know the trick at the Home Office.”

“That must have been the same fellow that took my father,” cried O’Shaughnessy, with energy.

“Let us hear the story, Dennis,” said I.

“Yes,” said Maurice, “for the benefit of self and fellows, let us hear the stratagem!”

“The way of it was this,” resumed O’Shaughnessy. “My father, who for reasons registered in the King’s Bench spent a great many years of his life in that part of Ireland geographically known as lying west of the law, was obliged, for certain reasons of family, to come up to Dublin. This he proceeded to do with due caution. Two trusty servants formed an advance guard, and patrolled the country for at least five miles in advance; after them came a skirmishing body of a few tenants, who, for the consideration of never paying rent, would have charged the whole Court of Chancery, if needful. My father himself, in an old chaise victualled like a fortress, brought up the rear; and as I said before, he were a bold man who would have attempted to have laid siege to him. As the column advanced into the enemy’s country, they assumed a closer order, the patrol and the picket falling back upon the main body; and in this way they reached that most interesting city called Kilbeggan. What a fortunate thing it is for us in Ireland that we can see so much of the world without foreign travel, and that any gentleman for six-and-eightpence can leave Dublin in the morning, and visit Timbuctoo against dinner-time. Don’t stare! it’s truth I’m telling; for dirt, misery, smoke, unaffected behavior, and black faces, I’ll back Kilbeggan against all Africa. Free-and-easy, pleasant people ye are, with a skin, as begrimed and as rugged as your own potatoes! But, to resume. The sun was just rising in a delicious morning of June, when my father,–whose loyal antipathies I have mentioned made him also an early riser,–was preparing for the road. A stout escort of his followers were as usual under arms to see him safe in the chaise, the passage to and from which every day being the critical moment of my father’s life.

“‘It’s all right, your honor,’ said his own man, as, armed with a blunderbuss, he opened the bed-room door.

“‘Time enough, Tim,’ said my father; ‘close the door, for I haven’t finished my breakfast.’

“Now, the real truth was, that my father’s attention was at that moment withdrawn from his own concerns by a scene which was taking place in a field beneath his window.

“But a few minutes before, a hack-chaise had stopped upon the roadside, out of which sprang three gentlemen, who, proceeding into the field, seemed bent upon something, which, whether a survey or a duel, my father could not make out. He was not long, however, to remain in ignorance. One, with an easy, lounging gait, strode towards a distant corner; another took an opposite direction; while a third, a short, pursy gentleman, in a red handkerchief and rabbit-skin waistcoat, proceeded to open a mahogany box, which, to the critical eyes of my respected father, was agreeably suggestive of bloodshed and murder.

“‘A duel, by Jupiter!’ said my father, rubbing his hands. ‘What a heavenly morning the scoundrels have,–not a leaf stirring, and a sod like a billiard-table!’

“Meanwhile the little man who officiated as second, it would appear to _both_ parties, bustled about with an activity little congenial to his shape; and what between snapping the pistols, examining the flints, and ramming down the charges, had got himself into a sufficient perspiration before he commenced to measure the ground.

“‘Short distance and no quarter!’ shouted one of the combatants, from the corner of the field.

“‘Across a handkerchief, if you like!’ roared the other.

“‘Gentlemen, every inch of them!’ responded my father.

“‘Twelve paces!’ cried the little man. ‘No more and no less. Don’t forget that I am alone in this business!’

“‘A very true remark!’ observed my father; ‘and an awkward predicament yours will be if they are not both shot!’

“By this time the combatants had taken their places, and the little man, having delivered the pistols, was leisurely retiring to give the word. My father, however, whose critical eye was never at fault, detected a circumstance which promised an immense advantage to one at the expense of the other; in fact, one of the parties was so placed with his back to the sun, that his shadow extended in a straight line to the very foot of his antagonist.

“‘Unfair, unfair!’ cried my father, opening the window as he spoke, and addressing himself to him of the rabbit-skin. ‘I crave your pardon for the interruption,’ said he; ‘but I feel bound to observe that that gentleman’s shadow is likely to make a shade of him.’

“‘And so it is,’ observed the short man; ‘a thousand thanks for your kindness, but the truth is, I am totally unaccustomed to this kind of thing, and the affair will not admit of delay.’

“‘Not an hour!’ said one.

“‘No, not five minutes!’ growled the other of the combatants.

“‘Put them up north and south,’ said my father.

“‘Is it thus?’

“‘Exactly so. But now, again, the gentleman in the brown coat is covered with the ash-tree.’

“‘And so he is!’ said rabbit-skin, wiping his forehead with agitation.

“‘Move them a little to the left,’ said he.

“‘That brings me upon an eminence,’ said the gentleman in blue. ‘I’ll be d–d if I be made a cock shot of!’

“‘What an awkward little thief it is in the hairy waistcoat!’ said my