After the first movement of terror in Amelia's mind - when Rebecca's
green eyes lighted upon her, and rustling in her fresh silks and
brilliant ornaments, the latter tripped up with extended arms to
embrace her - a feeling of anger succeeded, and from being deadly
pale before, her face flushed up red, and she returned Rebecca's
look after a moment with a steadiness which surprised and somewhat
abashed her rival.
"Dearest Amelia, you are very unwell," the visitor said, putting
forth her hand to take Amelia's. "What is it? I could not rest
until I knew how you were."
Amelia drew back her hand - never since her life began had that
gentle soul refused to believe or to answer any demonstration of
good-will or affection. But she drew back her hand, and trembled
all over. "Why are you here, Rebecca?" she said, still looking at
her solemnly with her large eyes. These glances troubled her
"She must have seen him give me the letter at the ball," Rebecca
thought. "Don't be agitated, dear Amelia," she said, looking down.
"I came but to see if I could - if you were well."
"Are you well?" said Amelia. "I dare say you are. You don't love
your husband. You would not be here if you did. Tell me, Rebecca,
did I ever do you anything but kindness?"
"Indeed, Amelia, no," the other said, still hanging down her head.
"When you were quite poor, who was it that befriended you? Was I
not a sister to you? You saw us all in happier days before he
married me. I was all in all then to him; or would he have given up
his fortune, his family, as he nobly did to make me happy? Why did
you come between my love and me? Who sent you to separate those
whom God joined, and take my darling's heart from me - my own
husband? Do you think you could I love him as I did? His love was
everything to me. You knew it, and wanted to rob me of it. For
shame, Rebecca; bad and wicked woman - false friend and false wife."
"Amelia, I protest before God, I have done my husband no wrong,"
Rebecca said, turning from her.
"Have you done me no wrong, Rebecca? You did not succeed, but you
tried. Ask your heart if you did not."
She knows nothing, Rebecca thought.
"He came back to me. I knew he would. I knew that no falsehood, no
flattery, could keep him from me long. I knew he would come. I
prayed so that he should."
The poor girl spoke these words with a spirit and volubility which
Rebecca had never before seen in her, and before which the latter
was quite dumb. "But what have I done to you," she continued in a
more pitiful tone, "that you should try and take him from me? I had
him but for six weeks. You might have spared me those, Rebecca.
And yet, from the very first day of our wedding, you came and
blighted it. Now he is gone, are you come to see how unhappy I am?"
she continued. "You made me wretched enough for the past fortnight:
you might have spared me to-day."
"I - I never came here," interposed Rebecca, with unlucky truth.
"No. You didn't come. You took him away. Are you come to fetch
him from me?" she continued in a wilder tone. "He was here, but he
is gone now. There on that very sofa he sate. Don't touch it. We
sate and talked there. I was on his knee, and my arms were round
his neck, and we said 'Our Father.' Yes, he was here: and they came
and took him away, but he promised me to come back."
"He will come back, my dear," said Rebecca, touched in spite of
"Look," said Amelia, "this is his sash - isn't it a pretty colour?"
and she took up the fringe and kissed it. She had tied it round her
waist at some part of the day. She had forgotten her anger, her
jealousy, the very presence of her rival seemingly. For she walked
silently and almost with a smile on her face, towards the bed, and
began to smooth down George's pillow.
Rebecca walked, too, silently away. "How is Amelia?" asked Jos, who
still held his position in the chair.
"There should be somebody with her," said Rebecca. "I think she is
very unwell": and she went away with a very grave face, refusing
Mr. Sedley's entreaties that she would stay and partake of the early
dinner which he had ordered.
Rebecca was of a good-natured and obliging disposition; and she
liked Amelia rather than otherwise. Even her hard words,
reproachful as they were, were complimentary - the groans of a person
stinging under defeat. Meeting Mrs. O'Dowd, whom the Dean's sermons
had by no means comforted, and who was walking very disconsolately
in the Parc, Rebecca accosted the latter, rather to the surprise of
the Major's wife, who was not accustomed to such marks of politeness
from Mrs. Rawdon Crawley, and informing her that poor little Mrs.
Osborne was in a desperate condition, and almost mad with grief,
sent off the good-natured Irishwoman straight to see if she could
console her young favourite.
"I've cares of my own enough," Mrs. O'Dowd said, gravely, "and I
thought poor Amelia would be little wanting for company this day.
But if she's so bad as you say, and you can't attend to her, who
used to be so fond of her, faith I'll see if I can be of service.
And so good marning to ye, Madam"; with which speech and a toss of
her head, the lady of the repayther took a farewell of Mrs. Crawley,
whose company she by no means courted.
Becky watched her marching off, with a smile on her lip. She had
the keenest sense of humour, and the Parthian look which the
retreating Mrs. O'Dowd flung over her shoulder almost upset Mrs.
Crawley's gravity. "My service to ye, me fine Madam, and I'm glad to
see ye so cheerful," thought Peggy. "It's not YOU that will cry
your eyes out with grief, anyway." And with this she passed on, and
speedily found her way to Mrs. Osborne's lodgings.
The poor soul was still at the bedside, where Rebecca had left her,
and stood almost crazy with grief. The Major's wife, a stronger-
minded woman, endeavoured her best to comfort her young friend.
"You must bear up, Amelia, dear," she said kindly, "for he mustn't
find you ill when he sends for you after the victory. It's not you
are the only woman that are in the hands of God this day."
"I know that. I am very wicked, very weak," Amelia said. She knew
her own weakness well enough. The presence of the more resolute
friend checked it, however; and she was the better of this control
and company. They went on till two o'clock; their hearts were with
the column as it marched farther and farther away. Dreadful doubt
and anguish - prayers and fears and griefs unspeakable - followed the
regiment. It was the women's tribute to the war. It taxes both
alike, and takes the blood of the men, and the tears of the women.
At half-past two, an event occurred of daily importance to Mr.
Joseph: the dinner-hour arrived. Warriors may fight and perish, but
he must dine. He came into Amelia's room to see if he could coax
her to share that meal. "Try," said he; "the soup is very good. Do
try, Emmy," and he kissed her hand. Except when she was married, he
had not done so much for years before. "You are very good and kind,
Joseph," she said. "Everybody is, but, if you please, I will stay
in my room to-day."
The savour of the soup, however, was agreeable to Mrs. O'Dowd's
nostrils: and she thought she would bear Mr. Jos company. So the
two sate down to their meal. "God bless the meat," said the Major's
wife, solemnly: she was thinking of her honest Mick, riding at the
head of his regiment: "'Tis but a bad dinner those poor boys will
get to-day," she said, with a sigh, and then, like a philosopher,
Jos's spirits rose with his meal. He would drink the regiment's
health; or, indeed, take any other excuse to indulge in a glass of
champagne. "We'll drink to O'Dowd and the brave - th," said he,
bowing gallantly to his guest. "Hey, Mrs. O'Dowd? Fill Mrs.
O'Dowd's glass, Isidor."
But all of a sudden, Isidor started, and the Major's wife laid down
her knife and fork. The windows of the room were open, and looked
southward, and a dull distant sound came over the sun-lighted roofs
from that direction. "What is it?" said Jos. "Why don't you pour,
"Cest le feu!" said Isidor, running to the balcony.
"God defend us; it's cannon!" Mrs. O'Dowd cried, starting up, and
followed too to the window. A thousand pale and anxious faces might
have been seen looking from other casements. And presently it
seemed as if the whole population of the city rushed into the
In Which Jos Takes Flight, and the War Is Brought to a Close
We of peaceful London City have never beheld - and please God never
shall witness - such a scene of hurry and alarm, as that which
Brussels presented. Crowds rushed to the Namur gate, from which
direction the noise proceeded, and many rode along the level
chaussee, to be in advance of any intelligence from the army. Each
man asked his neighbour for news; and even great English lords and
ladies condescended to speak to persons whom they did not know. The
friends of the French went abroad, wild with excitement, and
prophesying the triumph of their Emperor. The merchants closed
their shops, and came out to swell the general chorus of alarm and
clamour. Women rushed to the churches, and crowded the chapels, and
knelt and prayed on the flags and steps. The dull sound of the
cannon went on rolling, rolling. Presently carriages with
travellers began to leave the town, galloping away by the Ghent
barrier. The prophecies of the French partisans began to pass for
facts. "He has cut the armies in two," it was said. "He is
marching straight on Brussels. He will overpower the English, and
be here to-night." "He will overpower the English," shrieked Isidor
to his master, "and will be here to-night." The man bounded in and
out from the lodgings to the street, always returning with some
fresh particulars of disaster. Jos's face grew paler and paler.
Alarm began to take entire possession of the stout civilian. All
the champagne he drank brought no courage to him. Before sunset he
was worked up to such a pitch of nervousness as gratified his friend
Isidor to behold, who now counted surely upon the spoils of the
owner of the laced coat.
The women were away all this time. After hearing the firing for a
moment, the stout Major's wife bethought her of her friend in the
next chamber, and ran in to watch, and if possible to console,
Amelia. The idea that she had that helpless and gentle creature to
protect, gave additional strength to the natural courage of the
honest Irishwoman. She passed five hours by her friend's side,
sometimes in remonstrance, sometimes talking cheerfully, oftener in
silence and terrified mental supplication. "I never let go her hand
once," said the stout lady afterwards, "until after sunset, when the
firing was over." Pauline, the bonne, was on her knees at church
hard by, praying for son homme a elle.
When the noise of the cannonading was over, Mrs. O'Dowd issued out
of Amelia's room into the parlour adjoining, where Jos sate with two
emptied flasks, and courage entirely gone. Once or twice he had
ventured into his sister's bedroom, looking very much alarmed, and
as if he would say something. But the Major's wife kept her place,
and he went away without disburthening himself of his speech. He
was ashamed to tell her that he wanted to fly.
But when she made her appearance in the dining-room, where he sate
in the twilight in the cheerless company of his empty champagne
bottles, he began to open his mind to her.
"Mrs. O'Dowd," he said, "hadn't you better get Amelia ready?"
"Are you going to take her out for a walk?" said the Major's lady;
"sure she's too weak to stir."
"I - I've ordered the carriage," he said, "and - and post-horses;
Isidor is gone for them," Jos continued.
"What do you want with driving to-night?" answered the lady. "Isn't
she better on her bed? I've just got her to lie down."
"Get her up," said Jos; "she must get up, I say": and he stamped
his foot energetically. "I say the horses are ordered - yes, the
horses are ordered. It's all over, and - "
"And what?" asked Mrs. O'Dowd.
"I'm off for Ghent," Jos answered. "Everybody is going; there's a
place for you! We shall start in half-an-hour."
The Major's wife looked at him with infinite scorn. "I don't move
till O'Dowd gives me the route," said she. "You may go if you like,
Mr. Sedley; but, faith, Amelia and I stop here."
"She SHALL go," said Jos, with another stamp of his foot. Mrs.
O'Dowd put herself with arms akimbo before the bedroom door.
"Is it her mother you're going to take her to?" she said; "or do you
want to go to Mamma yourself, Mr. Sedley? Good marning - a pleasant
journey to ye, sir. Bon voyage, as they say, and take my counsel,
and shave off them mustachios, or they'll bring you into mischief."
"D - n!" yelled out Jos, wild with fear, rage, and mortification; and
Isidor came in at this juncture, swearing in his turn. "Pas de
chevaux, sacre bleu!" hissed out the furious domestic. All the
horses were gone. Jos was not the only man in Brussels seized with
panic that day.
But Jos's fears, great and cruel as they were already, were destined
to increase to an almost frantic pitch before the night was over.
It has been mentioned how Pauline, the bonne, had son homme a elle
also in the ranks of the army that had gone out to meet the Emperor
Napoleon. This lover was a native of Brussels, and a Belgian
hussar. The troops of his nation signalised themselves in this war
for anything but courage, and young Van Cutsum, Pauline's admirer,
was too good a soldier to disobey his Colonel's orders to run away.
Whilst in garrison at Brussels young Regulus (he had been born in
the revolutionary times) found his great comfort, and passed almost
all his leisure moments, in Pauline's kitchen; and it was with
pockets and holsters crammed full of good things from her larder,
that he had take leave of his weeping sweetheart, to proceed upon
the campaign a few days before.
As far as his regiment was concerned, this campaign was over now.
They had formed a part of the division under the command of his
Sovereign apparent, the Prince of Orange, and as respected length of
swords and mustachios, and the richness of uniform and equipments,
Regulus and his comrades looked to be as gallant a body of men as
ever trumpet sounded for.
When Ney dashed upon the advance of the allied troops, carrying one
position after the other, until the arrival of the great body of the
British army from Brussels changed the aspect of the combat of
Quatre Bras, the squadrons among which Regulus rode showed the
greatest activity in retreating before the French, and were
dislodged from one post and another which they occupied with perfect
alacrity on their part. Their movements were only checked by the
advance of the British in their rear. Thus forced to halt, the
enemy's cavalry (whose bloodthirsty obstinacy cannot be too severely
reprehended) had at length an opportunity of coming to close
quarters with the brave Belgians before them; who preferred to
encounter the British rather than the French, and at once turning
tail rode through the English regiments that were behind them, and
scattered in all directions. The regiment in fact did not exist any
more. It was nowhere. It had no head-quarters. Regulus found
himself galloping many miles from the field of action, entirely
alone; and whither should he fly for refuge so naturally as to that
kitchen and those faithful arms in which Pauline had so often
At some ten o'clock the clinking of a sabre might have been heard up
the stair of the house where the Osbornes occupied a story in the
continental fashion. A knock might have been heard at the kitchen
door; and poor Pauline, come back from church, fainted almost with
terror as she opened it and saw before her her haggard hussar. He
looked as pale as the midnight dragoon who came to disturb Leonora.
Pauline would have screamed, but that her cry would have called her
masters, and discovered her friend. She stifled her scream, then,
and leading her hero into the kitchen, gave him beer, and the choice
bits from the dinner, which Jos had not had the heart to taste. The
hussar showed he was no ghost by the prodigious quantity of flesh
and beer which he devoured - and during the mouthfuls he told his
tale of disaster.
His regiment had performed prodigies of courage, and had withstood
for a while the onset of the whole French army. But they were
overwhelmed at last, as was the whole British army by this time.
Ney destroyed each regiment as it came up. The Belgians in vain
interposed to prevent the butchery of the English. The Brunswickers
were routed and had fled - their Duke was killed. It was a general
debacle. He sought to drown his sorrow for the defeat in floods of
Isidor, who had come into the kitchen, heard the conversation and
rushed out to inform his master. "It is all over," he shrieked to
Jos. "Milor Duke is a prisoner; the Duke of Brunswick is killed;
the British army is in full flight; there is only one man escaped,
and he is in the kitchen now - come and hear him." So Jos tottered
into that apartment where Regulus still sate on the kitchen table,
and clung fast to his flagon of beer. In the best French which he
could muster, and which was in sooth of a very ungrammatical sort,
Jos besought the hussar to tell his tale. The disasters deepened as
Regulus spoke. He was the only man of his regiment not slain on the
field. He had seen the Duke of Brunswick fall, the black hussars
fly, the Ecossais pounded down by the cannon. "And the - th?" gasped
"Cut in pieces," said the hussar - upon which Pauline cried out, "O
my mistress, ma bonne petite dame," went off fairly into hysterics,
and filled the house with her screams.
Wild with terror, Mr. Sedley knew not how or where to seek for
safety. He rushed from the kitchen back to the sitting-room, and
cast an appealing look at Amelia's door, which Mrs. O'Dowd had
closed and locked in his face; but he remembered how scornfully the
latter had received him, and after pausing and listening for a brief
space at the door, he left it, and resolved to go into the street,
for the first time that day. So, seizing a candle, he looked about
for his gold-laced cap, and found it lying in its usual place, on a
console-table, in the anteroom, placed before a mirror at which Jos
used to coquet, always giving his side-locks a twirl, and his cap
the proper cock over his eye, before he went forth to make
appearance in public. Such is the force of habit, that even in the
midst of his terror he began mechanically to twiddle with his hair,
and arrange the cock of his hat. Then he looked amazed at the pale
face in the glass before him, and especially at his mustachios,
which had attained a rich growth in the course of near seven weeks,
since they had come into the world. They WILL mistake me for a
military man, thought he, remembering Isidor's warning as to the
massacre with which all the defeated British army was threatened;
and staggering back to his bedchamber, he began wildly pulling the
bell which summoned his valet.
Isidor answered that summons. Jos had sunk in a chair - he had torn
off his neckcloths, and turned down his collars, and was sitting
with both his hands lifted to his throat.
"Coupez-moi, Isidor," shouted he; "vite! Coupez-moi!"
Isidor thought for a moment he had gone mad, and that he wished his
valet to cut his throat.
"Les moustaches," gasped Joe; "les moustaches - coupy, rasy, vite!" -
his French was of this sort - voluble, as we have said, but not
remarkable for grammar.
Isidor swept off the mustachios in no time with the razor, and heard
with inexpressible delight his master's orders that he should fetch
a hat and a plain coat. "Ne porty ploo - habit militair - bonn - bonny
a voo, prenny dehors" - were Jos's words - the coat and cap were at
last his property.
This gift being made, Jos selected a plain black coat and waistcoat
from his stock, and put on a large white neckcloth, and a plain
beaver. If he could have got a shovel hat he would have worn it.
As it was, you would have fancied he was a flourishing, large parson
of the Church of England.
"Venny maintenong," he continued, "sweevy - ally - party - dong la
roo." And so having said, he plunged swiftly down the stairs of the
house, and passed into the street.
Although Regulus had vowed that he was the only man of his regiment
or of the allied army, almost, who had escaped being cut to pieces
by Ney, it appeared that his statement was incorrect, and that a
good number more of the supposed victims had survived the massacre.
Many scores of Regulus's comrades had found their way back to
Brussels, and all agreeing that they had run away - filled the whole
town with an idea of the defeat of the allies. The arrival of the
French was expected hourly; the panic continued, and preparations
for flight went on everywhere. No horses! thought Jos, in terror.
He made Isidor inquire of scores of persons, whether they had any to
lend or sell, and his heart sank within him, at the negative answers
returned everywhere. Should he take the journey on foot? Even fear
could not render that ponderous body so active.
Almost all the hotels occupied by the English in Brussels face the
Parc, and Jos wandered irresolutely about in this quarter, with
crowds of other people, oppressed as he was by fear and curiosity.
Some families he saw more happy than himself, having discovered a
team of horses, and rattling through the streets in retreat; others
again there were whose case was like his own, and who could not for
any bribes or entreaties procure the necessary means of flight.
Amongst these would-be fugitives, Jos remarked the Lady Bareacres
and her daughter, who sate in their carriage in the porte-cochere of
their hotel, all their imperials packed, and the only drawback to
whose flight was the same want of motive power which kept Jos
Rebecca Crawley occupied apartments in this hotel; and had before
this period had sundry hostile meetings with the ladies of the
Bareacres family. My Lady Bareacres cut Mrs. Crawley on the stairs
when they met by chance; and in all places where the latter's name
was mentioned, spoke perseveringly ill of her neighbour. The
Countess was shocked at the familiarity of General Tufto with the
aide-de-camp's wife. The Lady Blanche avoided her as if she had
been an infectious disease. Only the Earl himself kept up a sly
occasional acquaintance with her, when out of the jurisdiction of
Rebecca had her revenge now upon these insolent enemies. If became
known in the hotel that Captain Crawley's horses had been left
behind, and when the panic began, Lady Bareacres condescended to
send her maid to the Captain's wife with her Ladyship's compliments,
and a desire to know the price of Mrs. Crawley's horses. Mrs.
Crawley returned a note with her compliments, and an intimation that
it was not her custom to transact bargains with ladies' maids.
This curt reply brought the Earl in person to Becky's apartment; but
he could get no more success than the first ambassador. "Send a
lady's maid to ME!" Mrs. Crawley cried in great anger; "why didn't
my Lady Bareacres tell me to go and saddle the horses! Is it her
Ladyship that wants to escape, or her Ladyship's femme de chambre?"
And this was all the answer that the Earl bore back to his Countess.
What will not necessity do? The Countess herself actually came to
wait upon Mrs. Crawley on the failure of her second envoy. She
entreated her to name her own price; she even offered to invite
Becky to Bareacres House, if the latter would but give her the means
of returning to that residence. Mrs. Crawley sneered at her.
"I don't want to be waited on by bailiffs in livery," she said; "you
will never get back though most probably - at least not you and your
diamonds together. The French will have those They will be here in
two hours, and I shall be half way to Ghent by that time. I would
not sell you my horses, no, not for the two largest diamonds that
your Ladyship wore at the ball." Lady Bareacres trembled with rage
and terror. The diamonds were sewed into her habit, and secreted in
my Lord's padding and boots. "Woman, the diamonds are at the
banker's, and I WILL have the horses," she said. Rebecca laughed in
her face. The infuriate Countess went below, and sate in her
carriage; her maid, her courier, and her husband were sent once more