through the town, each to look for cattle; and woe betide those who
came last! Her Ladyship was resolved on departing the very instant
the horses arrived from any quarter - with her husband or without
Rebecca had the pleasure of seeing her Ladyship in the horseless
carriage, and keeping her eyes fixed upon her, and bewailing, in the
loudest tone of voice, the Countess's perplexities. "Not to be able
to get horses!" she said, "and to have all those diamonds sewed into
the carriage cushions! What a prize it will be for the French when
they come! - the carriage and the diamonds, I mean; not the lady!"
She gave this information to the landlord, to the servants, to the
guests, and the innumerable stragglers about the courtyard. Lady
Bareacres could have shot her from the carriage window.
It was while enjoying the humiliation of her enemy that Rebecca
caught sight of Jos, who made towards her directly he perceived her.
That altered, frightened, fat face, told his secret well enough. He
too wanted to fly, and was on the look-out for the means of escape.
"HE shall buy my horses," thought Rebecca, "and I'll ride the mare."
Jos walked up to his friend, and put the question for the hundredth
time during the past hour, "Did she know where horses were to be
"What, YOU fly?" said Rebecca, with a laugh. "I thought you were
the champion of all the ladies, Mr. Sedley."
"I - I'm not a military man," gasped he.
"And Amelia? - Who is to protect that poor little sister of yours?"
asked Rebecca. "You surely would not desert her?"
"What good can I do her, suppose - suppose the enemy arrive?" Jos
answered. "They'll spare the women; but my man tells me that they
have taken an oath to give no quarter to the men - the dastardly
"Horrid!" cried Rebecca, enjoying his perplexity.
"Besides, I don't want to desert her," cried the brother. "She
SHAN'T be deserted. There is a seat for her in my carriage, and one
for you, dear Mrs. Crawley, if you will come; and if we can get
horses - " sighed he -
"I have two to sell," the lady said. Jos could have flung himself
into her arms at the news. "Get the carriage, Isidor," he cried;
"we've found them - we have found them."
My horses never were in harness," added the lady. "Bullfinch would
kick the carriage to pieces, if you put him in the traces."
"But he is quiet to ride?" asked the civilian.
"As quiet as a lamb, and as fast as a hare," answered Rebecca.
"Do you think he is up to my weight?" Jos said. He was already on
his back, in imagination, without ever so much as a thought for poor
Amelia. What person who loved a horse-speculation could resist such
In reply, Rebecca asked him to come into her room, whither he
followed her quite breathless to conclude the bargain. Jos seldom
spent a half-hour in his life which cost him so much money.
Rebecca, measuring the value of the goods which she had for sale by
Jos's eagerness to purchase, as well as by the scarcity of the
article, put upon her horses a price so prodigious as to make even
the civilian draw back. "She would sell both or neither," she said,
resolutely. Rawdon had ordered her not to part with them for a
price less than that which she specified. Lord Bareacres below would
give her the same money - and with all her love and regard for the
Sedley family, her dear Mr. Joseph must conceive that poor people
must live - nobody, in a word, could be more affectionate, but more
firm about the matter of business.
Jos ended by agreeing, as might be supposed of him. The sum he had
to give her was so large that he was obliged to ask for time; so
large as to be a little fortune to Rebecca, who rapidly calculated
that with this sum, and the sale of the residue of Rawdon's effects,
and her pension as a widow should he fall, she would now be
absolutely independent of the world, and might look her weeds
steadily in the face.
Once or twice in the day she certainly had herself thought about
flying. But her reason gave her better counsel. "Suppose the
French do come," thought Becky, "what can they do to a poor
officer's widow? Bah! the times of sacks and sieges are over. We
shall be let to go home quietly, or I may live pleasantly abroad
with a snug little income."
Meanwhile Jos and Isidor went off to the stables to inspect the
newly purchased cattle. Jos bade his man saddle the horses at once.
He would ride away that very night, that very hour. And he left the
valet busy in getting the horses ready, and went homewards himself
to prepare for his departure. It must be secret. He would go to
his chamber by the back entrance. He did not care to face Mrs.
O'Dowd and Amelia, and own to them that he was about to run.
By the time Jos's bargain with Rebecca was completed, and his horses
had been visited and examined, it was almost morning once more. But
though midnight was long passed, there was no rest for the city; the
people were up, the lights in the houses flamed, crowds were still
about the doors, and the streets were busy. Rumours of various
natures went still from mouth to mouth: one report averred that the
Prussians had been utterly defeated; another that it was the English
who had been attacked and conquered: a third that the latter had
held their ground. This last rumour gradually got strength. No
Frenchmen had made their appearance. Stragglers had come in from
the army bringing reports more and more favourable: at last an
aide-de-camp actually reached Brussels with despatches for the
Commandant of the place, who placarded presently through the town an
official announcement of the success of the allies at Quatre Bras,
and the entire repulse of the French under Ney after a six hours'
battle. The aide-de-camp must have arrived sometime while Jos and
Rebecca were making their bargain together, or the latter was
inspecting his purchase. When he reached his own hotel, he found a
score of its numerous inhabitants on the threshold discoursing of
the news; there was no doubt as to its truth. And he went up to
communicate it to the ladies under his charge. He did not think it
was necessary to tell them how he had intended to take leave of
them, how he had bought horses, and what a price he had paid for
But success or defeat was a minor matter to them, who had only
thought for the safety of those they loved. Amelia, at the news of
the victory, became still more agitated even than before. She was
for going that moment to the army. She besought her brother with
tears to conduct her thither. Her doubts and terrors reached their
paroxysm; and the poor girl, who for many hours had been plunged
into stupor, raved and ran hither and thither in hysteric insanity -
a piteous sight. No man writhing in pain on the hard-fought field
fifteen miles off, where lay, after their struggles, so many of the
brave - no man suffered more keenly than this poor harmless victim of
the war. Jos could not bear the sight of her pain. He left his
sister in the charge of her stouter female companion, and descended
once more to the threshold of the hotel, where everybody still
lingered, and talked, and waited for more news.
It grew to be broad daylight as they stood here, and fresh news
began to arrive from the war, brought by men who had been actors in
the scene. Wagons and long country carts laden with wounded came
rolling into the town; ghastly groans came from within them, and
haggard faces looked up sadly from out of the straw. Jos Sedley was
looking at one of these carriages with a painful curiosity - the
moans of the people within were frightful - the wearied horses could
hardly pull the cart. "Stop! stop!" a feeble voice cried from the
straw, and the carriage stopped opposite Mr. Sedley's hotel.
"It is George, I know it is!" cried Amelia, rushing in a moment to
the balcony, with a pallid face and loose flowing hair. It was not
George, however, but it was the next best thing: it was news of
It was poor Tom Stubble, who had marched out of Brussels so
gallantly twenty-four hours before, bearing the colours of the
regiment, which he had defended very gallantly upon the field. A
French lancer had speared the young ensign in the leg, who fell,
still bravely holding to his flag. At the conclusion of the
engagement, a place had been found for the poor boy in a cart, and
he had been brought back to Brussels.
"Mr. Sedley, Mr. Sedley!" cried the boy, faintly, and Jos came up
almost frightened at the appeal. He had not at first distinguished
who it was that called him.
Little Tom Stubble held out his hot and feeble hand. "I'm to be
taken in here," he said. "Osborne - and - and Dobbin said I was; and
you are to give the man two napoleons: my mother will pay you." This
young fellow's thoughts, during the long feverish hours passed in
the cart, had been wandering to his father's parsonage which he had
quitted only a few months before, and he had sometimes forgotten his
pain in that delirium.
The hotel was large, and the people kind, and all the inmates of the
cart were taken in and placed on various couches. The young ensign
was conveyed upstairs to Osborne's quarters. Amelia and the Major's
wife had rushed down to him, when the latter had recognised him from
the balcony. You may fancy the feelings of these women when they
were told that the day was over, and both their husbands were safe;
in what mute rapture Amelia fell on her good friend's neck, and
embraced her; in what a grateful passion of prayer she fell on her
knees, and thanked the Power which had saved her husband.
Our young lady, in her fevered and nervous condition, could have had
no more salutary medicine prescribed for her by any physician than
that which chance put in her way. She and Mrs. O'Dowd watched
incessantly by the wounded lad, whose pains were very severe, and in
the duty thus forced upon her, Amelia had not time to brood over her
personal anxieties, or to give herself up to her own fears and
forebodings after her wont. The young patient told in his simple
fashion the events of the day, and the actions of our friends of the
gallant - th. They had suffered severely. They had lost very many
officers and men. The Major's horse had been shot under him as the
regiment charged, and they all thought that O'Dowd was gone, and
that Dobbin had got his majority, until on their return from the
charge to their old ground, the Major was discovered seated on
Pyramus's carcase, refreshing him-self from a case-bottle. It was
Captain Osborne that cut down the French lancer who had speared the
ensign. Amelia turned so pale at the notion, that Mrs. O'Dowd
stopped the young ensign in this story. And it was Captain Dobbin
who at the end of the day, though wounded himself, took up the lad
in his arms and carried him to the surgeon, and thence to the cart
which was to bring him back to Brussels. And it was he who promised
the driver two louis if he would make his way to Mr. Sedley's hotel
in the city; and tell Mrs. Captain Osborne that the action was over,
and that her husband was unhurt and well.
"Indeed, but he has a good heart that William Dobbin," Mrs. O'Dowd
said, "though he is always laughing at me."
Young Stubble vowed there was not such another officer in the army,
and never ceased his praises of the senior captain, his modesty, his
kindness, and his admirable coolness in the field. To these parts
of the conversation, Amelia lent a very distracted attention: it
was only when George was spoken of that she listened, and when he
was not mentioned, she thought about him.
In tending her patient, and in thinking of the wonderful escapes of
the day before, her second day passed away not too slowly with
Amelia. There was only one man in the army for her: and as long as
he was well, it must be owned that its movements interested her
little. All the reports which Jos brought from the streets fell very
vaguely on her ears; though they were sufficient to give that
timorous gentleman, and many other people then in Brussels, every
disquiet. The French had been repulsed certainly, but it was after
a severe and doubtful struggle, and with only a division of the
French army. The Emperor, with the main body, was away at Ligny,
where he had utterly annihilated the Prussians, and was now free to
bring his whole force to bear upon the allies. The Duke of
Wellington was retreating upon the capital, and a great battle must
be fought under its walls probably, of which the chances were more
than doubtful. The Duke of Wellington had but twenty thousand
British troops on whom he could rely, for the Germans were raw
militia, the Belgians disaffected, and with this handful his Grace
had to resist a hundred and fifty thousand men that had broken into
Belgium under Napoleon. Under Napoleon! What warrior was there,
however famous and skilful, that could fight at odds with him?
Jos thought of all these things, and trembled. So did all the rest
of Brussels - where people felt that the fight of the day before was
but the prelude to the greater combat which was imminent. One of
the armies opposed to the Emperor was scattered to the winds
already. The few English that could be brought to resist him would
perish at their posts, and the conqueror would pass over their
bodies into the city. Woe be to those whom he found there!
Addresses were prepared, public functionaries assembled and debated
secretly, apartments were got ready, and tricoloured banners and
triumphal emblems manufactured, to welcome the arrival of His
Majesty the Emperor and King.
The emigration still continued, and wherever families could find
means of departure, they fled. When Jos, on the afternoon of the
17th of June, went to Rebecca's hotel, he found that the great
Bareacres' carriage had at length rolled away from the porte-
cochere. The Earl had procured a pair of horses somehow, in spite
of Mrs. Crawley, and was rolling on the road to Ghent. Louis the
Desired was getting ready his portmanteau in that city, too. It
seemed as if Misfortune was never tired of worrying into motion that
Jos felt that the delay of yesterday had been only a respite, and
that his dearly bought horses must of a surety be put into
requisition. His agonies were very severe all this day. As long as
there was an English army between Brussels and Napoleon, there was
no need of immediate flight; but he had his horses brought from
their distant stables, to the stables in the court-yard of the hotel
where he lived; so that they might be under his own eyes, and beyond
the risk of violent abduction. Isidor watched the stable-door
constantly, and had the horses saddled, to be ready for the start.
He longed intensely for that event.
After the reception of the previous day, Rebecca did not care to
come near her dear Amelia. She clipped the bouquet which George had
brought her, and gave fresh water to the flowers, and read over the
letter which he had sent her. "Poor wretch," she said, twirling
round the little bit of paper in her fingers, "how I could crush her
with this! - and it is for a thing like this that she must break her
heart, forsooth - for a man who is stupid - a coxcomb - and who does
not care for her. My poor good Rawdon is worth ten of this
creature." And then she fell to thinking what she should do if - if
anything happened to poor good Rawdon, and what a great piece of
luck it was that he had left his horses behind.
In the course of this day too, Mrs. Crawley, who saw not without
anger the Bareacres party drive off, bethought her of the precaution
which the Countess had taken, and did a little needlework for her
own advantage; she stitched away the major part of her trinkets,
bills, and bank-notes about her person, and so prepared, was ready
for any event - to fly if she thought fit, or to stay and welcome the
conqueror, were he Englishman or Frenchman. And I am not sure that
she did not dream that night of becoming a duchess and Madame la
Marechale, while Rawdon wrapped in his cloak, and making his bivouac
under the rain at Mount Saint John, was thinking, with all the force
of his heart, about the little wife whom he had left behind him.
The next day was a Sunday. And Mrs. Major O'Dowd had the
satisfaction of seeing both her patients refreshed in health and
spirits by some rest which they had taken during the night. She
herself had slept on a great chair in Amelia's room, ready to wait
upon her poor friend or the ensign, should either need her nursing.
When morning came, this robust woman went back to the house where
she and her Major had their billet; and here performed an elaborate
and splendid toilette, befitting the day. And it is very possible
that whilst alone in that chamber, which her husband had inhabited,
and where his cap still lay on the pillow, and his cane stood in the
corner, one prayer at least was sent up to Heaven for the welfare of
the brave soldier, Michael O'Dowd.
When she returned she brought her prayer-book with her, and her
uncle the Dean's famous book of sermons, out of which she never
failed to read every Sabbath; not understanding all, haply, not
pronouncing many of the words aright, which were long and abstruse -
for the Dean was a learned man, and loved long Latin words - but with
great gravity, vast emphasis, and with tolerable correctness in the
main. How often has my Mick listened to these sermons, she thought,
and me reading in the cabin of a calm! She proposed to resume this
exercise on the present day, with Amelia and the wounded ensign for
a congregation. The same service was read on that day in twenty
thousand churches at the same hour; and millions of British men and
women, on their knees, implored protection of the Father of all.
They did not hear the noise which disturbed our little congregation
at Brussels. Much louder than that which had interrupted them two
days previously, as Mrs. O'Dowd was reading the service in her best
voice, the cannon of Waterloo began to roar.
When Jos heard that dreadful sound, he made up his mind that he
would bear this perpetual recurrence of terrors no longer, and would
fly at once. He rushed into the sick man's room, where our three
friends had paused in their prayers, and further interrupted them by
a passionate appeal to Amelia.
"I can't stand it any more, Emmy," he said; 'I won't stand it; and
you must come with me. I have bought a horse for you - never mind at
what price - and you must dress and come with me, and ride behind
"God forgive me, Mr. Sedley, but you are no better than a coward,"
Mrs. O'Dowd said, laying down the book.
"I say come, Amelia," the civilian went on; "never mind what she
says; why are we to stop here and be butchered by the Frenchmen?"
"You forget the - th, my boy," said the little Stubble, the wounded
hero, from his bed - "and and you won't leave me, will you, Mrs.
"No, my dear fellow," said she, going up and kissing the boy. "No
harm shall come to you while I stand by. I don't budge till I get
the word from Mick. A pretty figure I'd be, wouldn't I, stuck
behind that chap on a pillion?"
This image caused the young patient to burst out laughing in his
bed, and even made Amelia smile. "I don't ask her," Jos shouted
out - "I don't ask that - that Irishwoman, but you Amelia; once for
all, will you come?"
"Without my husband, Joseph?" Amelia said, with a look of wonder,
and gave her hand to the Major's wife. Jos's patience was exhausted.
"Good-bye, then," he said, shaking his fist in a rage, and slamming
the door by which he retreated. And this time he really gave his
order for march: and mounted in the court-yard. Mrs. O'Dowd heard
the clattering hoofs of the horses as they issued from the gate; and
looking on, made many scornful remarks on poor Joseph as he rode
down the street with Isidor after him in the laced cap. The horses,
which had not been exercised for some days, were lively, and sprang
about the street. Jos, a clumsy and timid horseman, did not look to
advantage in the saddle. "Look at him, Amelia dear, driving into
the parlour window. Such a bull in a china-shop I never saw." And
presently the pair of riders disappeared at a canter down the street
leading in the direction of the Ghent road, Mrs. O'Dowd pursuing
them with a fire of sarcasm so long as they were in sight.
All that day from morning until past sunset, the cannon never ceased
to roar. It was dark when the cannonading stopped all of a sudden.
All of us have read of what occurred during that interval. The tale
is in every Englishman's mouth; and you and I, who were children
when the great battle was won and lost, are never tired of hearing
and recounting the history of that famous action. Its remembrance
rankles still in the bosoms of millions of the countrymen of those
brave men who lost the day. They pant for an opportunity of
revenging that humiliation; and if a contest, ending in a victory on
their part, should ensue, elating them in their turn, and leaving
its cursed legacy of hatred and rage behind to us, there is no end
to the so-called glory and shame, and to the alternations of
successful and unsuccessful murder, in which two high-spirited
nations might engage. Centuries hence, we Frenchmen and Englishmen
might be boasting and killing each other still, carrying out bravely
the Devil's code of honour.
All our friends took their share and fought like men in the great
field. All day long, whilst the women were praying ten miles away,
the lines of the dauntless English infantry were receiving and
repelling the furious charges of the French horsemen. Guns which
were heard at Brussels were ploughing up their ranks, and comrades
falling, and the resolute survivors closing in. Towards evening,
the attack of the French, repeated and resisted so bravely,
slackened in its fury. They had other foes besides the British to
engage, or were preparing for a final onset. It came at last: the
columns of the Imperial Guard marched up the hill of Saint Jean, at
length and at once to sweep the English from the height which they
had maintained all day, and spite of all: unscared by the thunder
of the artillery, which hurled death from the English line - the dark
rolling column pressed on and up the hill. It seemed almost to
crest the eminence, when it began to wave and falter. Then it
stopped, still facing the shot. Then at last the English troops
rushed from the post from which no enemy had been able to dislodge
them, and the Guard turned and fled.
No more firing was heard at Brussels - the pursuit rolled miles away.
Darkness came down on the field and city: and Amelia was praying
for George, who was lying on his face, dead, with a bullet through
In Which Miss Crawley's Relations Are Very Anxious About Her
The kind reader must please to remember - while the army is marching
from Flanders, and, after its heroic actions there, is advancing to
take the fortifications on the frontiers of France, previous to an
occupation of that country - that there are a number of persons
living peaceably in England who have to do with the history at
present in hand, and must come in for their share of the chronicle.
During the time of these battles and dangers, old Miss Crawley was
living at Brighton, very moderately moved by the great events that
were going on. The great events rendered the newspapers rather
interesting, to be sure, and Briggs read out the Gazette, in which
Rawdon Crawley's gallantry was mentioned with honour, and his
promotion was presently recorded.
"What a pity that young man has taken such an irretrievable step in
the world!" his aunt said; "with his rank and distinction he might
have married a brewer's daughter with a quarter of a million - like
Miss Grains; or have looked to ally himself with the best families
in England. He would have had my money some day or other; or his
children would - for I'm not in a hurry to go, Miss Briggs, although
you may be in a hurry to be rid of me; and instead of that, he is a
doomed pauper, with a dancing-girl for a wife."
"Will my dear Miss Crawley not cast an eye of compassion upon the
heroic soldier, whose name is inscribed in the annals of his
country's glory?" said Miss Briggs, who was greatly excited by the
Waterloo proceedings, and loved speaking romantically when there was
an occasion. "Has not the Captain - or the Colonel as I may now
style him - done deeds which make the name of Crawley illustrious?"
"Briggs, you are a fool," said Miss Crawley: "Colonel Crawley has