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UNDER TWO FLAGS



A NOVEL



BY

OUIDA

AUTHOR OF 'STRATHMORE ' * CHANDOS ' 'tRICOTEIN'
* TWO LITTLE WOODEN SHOES ' ETC.




A NEW IMPRESSION



LONDON
CHATTO & WINDUS

1912



PRINTKD BY

SrOTTISWOODE AND CO. liTD., C0LCHE8TKH

LONDON AND ETON



AVIS AU LECTEUR

This Story was originally written for a military periodical.
It has been fortunate enough to receive much commen-
dation from military men, and for them it is now
specially issued in its present form. For the general
public it may be as well to add that, where translations
are appended to the French phrases, those translations
usually follow the idiomatic and particular meaning
attached to those expressions in the argot of the Army
of Algeria, and not the correct or literal one given to
such words or sentences in ordinary grammatical

parlance.

OUIDA.






V



1^



/2



CONTENTS



CBArraR

I. 'BEAUTY OF THE BRIGADES'

n. THE LOOSE BOX, AND THE TABAGIB .

III. THE SOLDIERS' BLUE RIBBON

IV. LOVE A LA MODE ....

V. UNDER THE KEEPER'S TREE .

VI. THE END OF A RINGING RUN ,

VII. AFTER A RICHMOND DINNER .

VIII. A STAG HUNT AU CLAIR DB LA LUNB

IX. THE PAINTED BIT. .

X. ' PETITE REINE ' , . , .

XI. FOR A woman's SAKE .

XII. THE king's LAST SERVICE

XIII. IN THE GAF^ OF THE CHASSEURS .

XIV. ' DE PROFUNDIS ' BEFORE ' PLUNGING '

XV. 'l'amie DU DRAPEAU' .

XVI. CIGARETTE EN BACCHANTE

XVII. UNDER THE HOUSES OF HAIR

XVIII. CIGARETTE EN BIENFAITRICE

XIX. THE IVORY SQUADRONS .

XX. CIGARETTE EN CONSEIL ET CACHETTE

XXI. CIGARETTE EN CONDOTTIERA

XXII. THE MISTRESS OF THE WHITE KING .

XXni. THE LITTLE LEOPARD OF FRANCE .

XXTV. 'MILADI AUX BEAUX YEUX BLEUS ' .

XX7. ' LE BON ZIG ' . . .



FAcn

1

14

25

46

59

68

78

99

112

123

142

162

183

192

199

218

234

256

276

286

810

822

842

865

884



2b2652



Vlll



CONTENTS



CHU>TER

XXVI. ZARAELA .......

XXVn. THE LOVE OF THE AMAZON . . . i

XXVin. THE LEATHERN ZACKRI8T ...»

XXrX. BY THE BIVOUAC FIKE

XXX. SEUL AU MONDE .....

XXXI. ' JE VOUS ACHETE VOTRE VIE ' . , .

XXXII. ' ■'.T.NETIA ' . .... , ,

XXXin. THE GIFT OF THE CROSS . . . .

XXXrV. THE DESERT HAWK AND THE PARADISE BIRD

XXXV. ORDEAL BY FIRB

XXXVI. THE VENOEANOK OF THE LITTLE ONB ,

XXXVn. IN THE MIDST OF HER AEilY , . .

THE LAST AT RK3T t » t * i s



PaOE

897
410
425
485
454
174
485
610
628
645
566
598
607



UNDER TWO FLAGS

CHAPTER I

* BEAUTY OF THE BRIGADES '

' I don't say but what he's difficult to please with his Tops,'
said Mr. Rake, factotum to the Hon. Bertie Cecil, of the 1st
Life Guards, with that article of hunting toggery suspended
in his right hand as he paused, before going upstairs, to deliver
his opinions with characteristic weight and vivacity to the
stud-groom — ' he is uncommon particular about 'em ; and if
his leathers ain't as white as snow he'll never touch 'em, tho'
as soon as the pack come nigh him at Royallieu, the leathers
might just as well never have been cleaned, them hounds
jump about him so ; old Champion's at his saddle before you
can say Davy Jones. Tops are trials, I ain't denying that,
specially when you've jacks, and moccasins, and moor boots,
and Russia-leather crickets, and turf hacks and Hythe boots,
and waterproofs, and all manner of varnish things for dress,
that none of the boys will do right unless you look after 'em
yourself. But is it likely that he should know what a worry
a Top's complexion is, and how hard it is to come right with
all the Fast Brown polishing in the world ? How should h&
guess what a piece of work it is to get 'em all of a colour, and
how like they are to come mottled, and how a'most sure
they'll ten to one go off dark just as they're growing yellow,
and put you to shame, let you do what you will to make 'em
cut a shine over the country ? How should M know ? /
don't complain of that ; bless you, he never thinks. It's " do

B



8 un'DTO two flags

bhia, Halre/' " do fhat/'- a-hd he never remember 't isn't done
by magic. But he's a true gentleman, Mr. Cecil ; never
grudge a guinea, or a fiver to you ; never out of temper
neither, always have a kind word for you if you want —
thoro'brod every inch of him; see him bring down a
rockctter, or lift his horse over the Broad Water ! He's
\/ a gentleman— not like your snobs that have nothing sound
about 'em but their cash, and swept out their shops before
they bought their fine feathers 1— and I'll be d— d if I care
what I do for him.'

With which peroration to his born enemy the stud-groom,
with whom he waged a perpetual and most lively feud,
Rake flourished the tops that had been under discussion, and
tiiumphant, as he invariably was, ran up the back stairs of
his master's lodgmgs in Piccadilly, opposite the Green Park,
and with a rap on the panels entered his master's bedroom.
A Guardsman at home is always, if anything, rather more
luxuriously accommodated than a young Duchess, and Bertie
Cecil was never behind his fellows in anything ; besides, he
was one of the cracks of the Household, and women sent him

rf retty things enough to fill the Palais Royal. The dressing-
table was littered w4th Bohemian glass and gold-stoppered
k"'/ bottles, and all the perfumes of Araby represented by Brei-
denbach and Rimmel. The dressing-case was of silver, with
the name studded on the lid in turquoises ; the brushes, boot-
jacks, boot-trees, whip-stands, were of ivory and tortoiseshell ;
a couple of tiger-skins were on the hearth with a retriever and
blue greyhound in possession ; above the mantelpiece were
crossed swords in all the varieties of gilt, gold, silver, ivory,
aluminium, chiselled and embossed hilts ; and on the walls
were a few perfect French pictures, with the portraits of a
greyhound drawn by Tj.mdseer, of a steeplechaser by Harry
Hall, one or two of Herring's hunters, and two or three fair
women in crayons. The hangings of the room were silken
and rose-coloured, and a delicious confusion prevailed through
it pell-mell - box-Rpurs,hunting-stirrups, cartridge-cases, curb-
chains, muzzle-loaders, hunting-flasks, and white gauntlets
being mixed up with Paris novels, pink notes, point-lace ties,
bracelets, and bouquets to be dispatched to various destina-
tions, and velvet and silk bags for bank-not o, cigars, or
vosuviuns, embroidered by feminine fingers and as useless as

[those pretty fingers themselves. On the softest of sofas, hali



'BEAUTY OF THE BRIGADES' 3

dressed, and having half an hour before plashed like a water-
dog out of the bath, as big as a small pond, in the dressing-
chamber beyond, was the Hon, Bertie himself, second son of
Viscount Royallieu, known generally in the Brigades aa
* Beauty.' The appellative, gained at Eton, was in no way
undeserved. When the smoke cleared away that was circling
round him out of a great meerschaum-bowl, it showed a face*l
of as much delicacy and brilliancy as a woman's, handsome, ^
thoro'bred, languid, nonchalant, with a certain latent reck-
lessness under the impassive calm of habit, and a singular /■
softness given to the large, dark hazel eyes by the unusual '\^
length of the lashes over them. His features were exceedingly ^
fair, fair as the fairest girl's; his hair was of the softest, <^^
silkiest, brightest chestnut ; his mouth very beautifully shaped ; ^'
on the whole, with a certain gentle, mournful love-me look ?j^'
that his eyes had with them, it was no wonder that great -^v
ladies and gay lionnes alike gave him the palm as the hand-*^ w
somest man in all the Household Regiments—not evenS^
excepting that splendid golden-haired Colossus, his oldest hJ^
friend and closest comrade, known as ' the Seraph.' , J

He looked at the new tops that Rake swung in his hand, ^'^
and shook his head. f\

'Better, Rake; but not right yet. Can't you get that-^
tawny colour in the tiger's skin there ? You go so much to '^ »
brown.' ^.'^

Rake shook his head in turn, as he set down the incorri- L>
gible tops beside six pairs of their fellows, and six times six - j^
of every other sort of boots that the covert side, the heather, '^
the flat, or the ' sweet shady side of Pall Mall ' ever knew.

* Do my best, sir ; but Polish don't come nigh Nature, Mr.
Cecil.'

* Goes beyond it, the ladies say ; and to do them justice,
they favour it much the most,' laughed Cecil to himself,
floating fresh clouds of Turkish about him. ' Willon up ? '

* Yes, sir. Come in this minute for orders.'
< How'd Forest King stand the train ? '

* Bright as a bird, sir ; /le never mind nothing. Mother 0'
Pearl she worretted a little, he says ; she always do, along of
the engine noise ; but the King walked in and out just as if
the stations were his own stable-yard.'

* He gave them gruel and chilled water after the shaking
before he let them go to their corn ? '

b2



4 UNDER TWO FLAGS

' He says he did, sir.'

Rake would by no means take upon himgelf to warrant the
veracity of his sworn foe, the stud-groom ; unremitting feud
was between them ; Rake considered that he knew more about
horses than any other man Ihing, and the other functionary
proportionately resented back his knowledge and his inter-
ference, as utterly out of place in a body- servant.

' Tell him I'll look in at the stable after duty and see the
screws are all right ; and that he's to be ready to go down
with thera by my train to-morrow — noon, you know. Send
that note there, and the bracelets, to St. John's Wood : and
that white bouquet to Mrs. Delamaine. Bid Willon get some
Banbury bits; I prefer the revolving mouths, and some of
Wood's double mouths and Nelson gags ; we want new ones.
Mind that lever-snap breechloader comes home in time. Look
in at the Commission stables, and if you see a likely black
charger as good as Black Douglas, tell me. W^rite about the
stud fox-terrier, and buy the blue Dandie Dinmont ; Lady
Guinevere wants him. I'll take him down with me. But
first put me into harness. Rake ; it's getting late.'

Murmuring which multiplicity of directions, for Rake to
catch as he could, in the softest and sleepiest of tones, Bertie
Cecil drank a glass of Cura9oa, put his tall, lithe limbs indo-
lently off his sofa, and surrendered himself to the martyrdom
of cuirass and gorget, standing six feet one without his spurred
jacks, but light-built and full of grace as a deer, or his weight
would not have been what it was in gentleman-rider races
from the Hunt steeplechase at La Marche to the Grand
National in the Shires.

• As if Parhament couldn't meet without dragging us
through the dust ! The idiots write about " the swells in the
-Guards," as if we had all fim and no work, and knew nothing
of the rough of the Service. I should like to learn what they
! call sitting motionless in your saddle through half a day,
while a London mob goes mad round you, and lost dogs snap
at your charger's nose, and dirty Uttle beggars squeeze against
your legs, and the sun broils you, or the fog soaks you, and
you sit sentinel over a ginger-bread coach till you're deaf
with the noise, and blind with the dust, and sick with the
crowd, and half dead for want of sodas-and-brandies, and
from going a whole morning without one cigarette! not to
niention the inevitable apple-woman who invariably entangles



» BEAUTY OF THE BRIGADES' 5

herself between your horse's legs, and the certainty of yoi:^:
riding down somebody and having a summons about it the
next day I If all that isn't the rough of the Service, I should
like to know what is. Why, the hottest day in the batteries^
or the sharpest rush into Ghoorkahs or Bhoteahs, would be
light work compared 1 ' murmured Cecil with the most plain-
tive pity for the hardships of life in the Household, while
Rake, with the rapid proficiency of long habit, braced and
buckled and buttoned, knotted the sash v/ith the knack of
professional genius, girt on the brightest of all glittering
polished silver steel * Cut-and-Thrusts,' with its rich gilt
mountings, and .contemplated with flattering self-complacency
leathers white as snow, jacks brilliant as black varnish could
make them, and silver spurs of glittering radiance, until his
master stood full harnessed, at length, as gallant a Life
Guardsman as ever did duty at the Palace by making love to
the handsomest lady-in-waiting.

* To sit wedged in with one's troop for five hours, and in
a drizzle too ! Houses oughtn't to meet until the day's fine ;
I'm sure they are in no hurry,' said Cecil to himself, as he
pocketed a dainty, filmy handkerchief, all perfume, point,
and embroidery, with the interlaced B, C, and the crest on
the corner, while he looked hopelessly out of the window.
He was perfectly happy, drenched to the skin on the moors
after a royal, or in a fast thing with the Melton men from
Thorpe Trussels to Eanksborough ; but three drops of rain
when on duty were a totally different matter, to be resented
with any amount of dajidy'^ lamentations, and epicurean
diatribes.

' Ah, young one, how are you ? Is the day very bad ? ' he
asked with languid wistfulness as the door opened.

But indifi.'erent and weary — on account of the weather — as
the tone was, his eyes rested with a kindly, cordial light on
the new-comer, a young fellow of scarcely twenty, like him-
self in feature, though much smaller and slighter in build, a
graceful boy enough, with no fault in his face, except a
certain weakness in the mouth, just shadowed only, as yet,
with down.

A celebrity, the Zu-Zu, the last coryphee whom Bertie had
translated from a sphere of garret bread-and-cheese to a
sphere of vdlla, champagne and chicken (and v/ho, of course, *\J
in proportion to the previous scarcity of her bread-and-chcese,



ycsii^^



c>^V^''^^'



6 UNDER TWO FLAGS

grew immediately intolerant of any wine less than 905. the
dozen), said that Cecil cared for nothing longer than a fort-
night, unless it were his horse, Forest King. It was very
ungrateful in the Zu-Zu, since he cared for her at the least a
whole quarter, paying for his fidelity to the tune of a hundred
a month ; and, also, it was not true, for besides Forest King,
. V ha^loYajJ his young brother Berkeley — which how^ever she
neither knew iior guessed.

* Beastly ! ' replied that young gentlemen, in reference to
the weather, which was indeed pretty tolerable for an Eng-
lish morning in February. * I say, Bertie — are you in a
hurry ? '

* The very deuce of a hurry, little one : why ? ' Bertie
never was in a hurry, however, and he said this as lazily as
possible, shaking the white horsehair over his helmet, and
drawing in deep draughts of Turkish Latakia previous to
parting with his pipe for the whole of four or five hours.

* Because I am in a hole — no end of a hole — and I thought
you'd help me,' murmured the boy, half penitently, half
caressingly; he was very girlish in his face and his ways.
On which confession, Bake retired into the bath-room ; he
could hear just as well there, and a sense of decorum made

j. him withdraw, though his presence would have been wholly
' -^forgotten by them. In something the same spirit as the
I French countess accounted for her employing her valet to
[ bring her her chocolate in bed — * Est-ce que vous appelez
cette chose-ld un homme?' — Bertie had on occasion, so
wholly regarded servants as necessary furniture, that he had
gone through a love scene, with that handsome coquette
Lady Regalia, totally oblivious of the presence of the groom
of the chambers, and the possibility of that person's appear-
ance in the witness-box of the Divorce Court. It was in no
way his passion that blinded him — he did not put the steam
on like that, and never went in for any disturbing emotion,—
I it was simply habit, and forgetfulness that those functionaries
\\v'ere not born mute, deaf, and sightless.

lie tossed some essence over his hands, and drew on his
gauntlets.

* What's up. Berk ? »

The boy hung his head, and played a little uneasily with
an ormolu terrior-pot, upsetting half the tobacco in it ; he
was trained to big brother's nouchulant impenetrable school,



» BEAUTY OF THE BRIGADES' 7

and used to his brother's set, a cool, listless, reckless, thoro'-
bred, and impassive set, whose first canon was that you must
lose your last thousand in the world without giving a sign
that you winced, and must win half a million without show-
ing that you were gratified ; but he had something of girlish
weakness in his nature, and a reserve in his temperament
that was with difficulty conquered.

Bertie looked at him, and laid his hand gently on the young
one's shoulder.

* Come, my boy, out with it 1 It's nothing very bad, I'll be
bound ? '

' I want some more money ; a couple of ponies,' said the
boy a Httle huskily ; he did not meet his brother's eyes, that
were looking straight down on him.

Cecil gave a long low whistle, and drew a meditative whiff
from his meerschaum.

* Tres che3:^ou're always wanting money. So am I. So
is everybody. The normal state of man is to want money.
Two ponies ! What's it for ? '

* I lost it at chicken-hazard last night. Poulteney lent it
me, and I told him I would send it him in the morning. The
ponies were gone before I thought of it, Bertie, and I haven't ,.
a notion where to get them to pay him again.' 0|^^

* Heavy stakes, young one, for you,' murmured Cecil, while i^
his hand dropped from the boy's shoulder, and a shadow of
gravity passed over his face ; money was very scarce with
himself. Berkeley gave him a hurried appealing glance. He
was used to shift all his anxieties on to his elder brother,
and to be helped by him under any difficulty. Cecil never
allotted two seconds' thought to his own embarrassments,
but he would multiply them tenfold by taking other people's
on him as well with an unremitting and thoughtless good-
nature.

* I couldn't help it,' pleaded the lad with coaxing and
almost piteous apology. * I backed Grosvenor's play, and
you know he's always the most wonderful luck in the world.
I couldn't tell he'd go a crowner and have such cards as he
had. How shall I get the money, Bertie ? I daren't ask the
governor; and besides I told Poulteney he should have it
this morning. What do you think if I sold the mare ? But
then I couldn't sell her in a minute *

Cecil laughed a little, but his eyes as they rested on the



8 UNDER TWO FLAGS

lad'a young, fair, womanish face were very gentle under the
long shade of their lashes.

' Sell the mare ! Nonsense I How should anybody live
without a hack? I can pull you through, I dare say. Ah I
by George, there's the quarters chiming. I shall be too late,
as I live.'

Not hurried still, however, by that near prospect, he
sauntered to his dressing-table, took up one of the pretty
velvet and gold-filigreed absurdities, and shook out all the
bank-notes there were in it. There were fives and tens enough
to count up 45Z. He reached over and caught up a five from
a little heap lying loo^e on a novel of Du Terrail'Sjand tossed
the whole across the room to the boy.

' There you are, young one ! But don't borrow of any
but your own people again, Berk. We don't do that. No,
no 1 — no thanljs. Shut up all that. If ever you get in a hole,
I'll take you out if I can. Good-bye — will you go to the
Lords? Better not — nothing to see, and still less to hear.
All stale. That's the only comfort for us — we are outside ! *
he said, with something that almost approached hurry in the
utterance, so great was his terror of anything approaching a
scene, and so eager was he to escape his brother's gratitude.
The boy had taken the notes with delighted thanks indeed,
but with that tranquil and unprotesting readiness with which
spoiled childishness or unhesitating selfishness accepts gifts
and sacrifices from another's generosity, which have been so
general that they have ceased to have magnitude. As his
brother passed him, however, he caught his hand a second,
and looked up with a mist before his eyes, and a flush half of
shame, half of gratitude, on his face.

* What a trump you are I — how good you are, Bertie I '

Cecil laughed and shrugged his shoulders.

' First time I ever heard it, my dear boy,' be answered,
as he lounged down the staircase, his chains clashing and
jingling, while pressing his helmet on to his forehead and .
pulling the chin scale over his moustaches, he sauntered out
into the street where his charger was waiting.

' The deuce I ' he thought, as he settled himself in his
stirrups, while the raw morning wind tossed his white plume
hither and thither. * I never remembered ! — I don't believe
I've left myself money enough to take Willon and Rake
and the cattle down to the Shires to-morrow. If I shouldn't



•BEAUTY OF THE BRIGADES* 9

have kept enough to take my own ticket with I — that would
be no end of a sell. On my word I don't know how much
there's left on the dressing-table. Well 1 I can't help it ;
Poulteney had to be paid ; I can't have Berk's name show in
anything that looks shady.'

The 50/, had been the last remnant of a bill, done under
great difficulties with a sagacious Jew, and Cecil had no more
certainty of possessing any more money until next pay-day
should come round than he had of possessing the moon ; lack of
ready money, moreover, is a serious inconvenience when you
belong to clubs where ' pounds and fives ' are the lowest
points, and live with men who take the odds on most events
in thousands ; but the thing was done ; he would not have
undone it at the boy's loss if he could ; and Cecil, who never
was worried by the loss of the most stupendous * crusher,'
and who made it a rule never to think of disagreeable inevi-
tabilities two minutes together, shook his charger's bridle and
cantered down Piccadilly towards the barracks, while Black
Douglas reared, curveted, made as if he would kick, and
finally ended by * passaging ' down half the length of the
road, to the prominent peril of all passers-by, and looking
eminently glossy, handsome, stalwart, and foam-flecked, while
he thus expressed his disapprobation of forming part of the
escort from Palace to Parhament.

' Home Secretary should see about it ; it's abominable I
If we must come among them, they ought to be made a little
odoriferous first. A couple of fire-engines now, playing on
them continuously with rose-water and bouquet d'Ess, for an
hour before we come up, might do a little good. I'll get
some men to speak about it in the House ; call it " Bill for
the Purifying of the Unwashed, and Prevention of their
Suffocating Her Majesty's Brigades," ' murmured Cecil to
the Earl of Broceliande, next him, as they sat down in their
saddles with the rest of the * First Life,' in front of St.
Stephen's, with a hazy fog steaming round them, and a
London mob crushing against their chargers' flanks, while
Black Douglas stood like a rock, though a butcher's tray was
pressed against his withers, a mongrel was snapping at his
hocks, and the inevitable apple-woman, of Cecil's prophetic
horror, was wildly plmiging between his legs, as the hydra-
headed rushed down in insane headlong haste to stare at, and
crush on to, that superb body of Guards.



10 UNDER TWO FLAGS

* I would give a kingdom for a soda-aud-brandy. Bah !
ye gods 1 what a smell of fish and fustian I ' sighed Bertie,
with a yawn of utter famine for want of something to drink
and something to smoke, were it only a glass of brown sherry
and a little papelito, while he glanced down at the snow-white
and jet-black masterpieces of Rake's genius, all smirched,
and splashed, and smeared.

He had given fifty pounds away, and scarcely knew whether
he should have enough to take his ticket next day into the
Shires, and he owed fifty hundred, without having the
shghtest grounds for supposing he should ever be able to pay
it, and he cared no more about either of these things than he
cared about the Zu-Zu's throwing the half-guinea peaches
into the river after a Richmond dinner, in the effort to hit
dragon-flies with them ; but to be half a day without a cigar-
ette, and to have a disagreeable odour of apples and corduroys
wafted up to him, was a calamity that made him insupport
ably depressed and unhappy,
j^ Well, why not ? It is the trifles of life that are its bores
tT after all. Most men can meet ruin calmly, for instance, or
} laugh when they lie in a ditch with their own knee-joint and
their hunter's spine broken over the double post and rails : it
is the mud that has choked up your horn just when you
wanted to rally the pack ; it's the county member who



Online Library1839-1908 OuidaUnder two flags → online text (page 1 of 58)