Charles James Lever.

Charles O'Malley, the Irish dragon online

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possessed. I was now utterly alone ; for though Monsoon and the
Adjutant were still in Lisbon, as was also Sparks, I never could
make intimates of them.

I ate my breakfast with a heavy heart, my solitary position again
suggesting thoughts of home and kindred. Just at this moment my


eyes fell upon the packet destined for Hammersley ; I took it up
and weighted it in my hand. "Alas I" thought I, " how much of my
destiny may lie within that envelope ! how fatally may my after-life
be influenced by it I" It felt heavy, as though there was something
besides letters. True, too true; there was a picture; Lucy's por-
trait ! The cold drops of perspiration stood upon my forehead as
my fingers traced the outline of a miniature-case in the parcel. I
became deadly weak, and sank half-fainting upon a chair. And
such is the end of my first dream of happiness ! How have I duped,
how have I deceived myself! For, alas ! though Lucy had never re-
sponded to my proffered vows of affection, yet had I ever nurtured in
my heart a secret hope that I was not altogether uncared for. Every
look she had given me, every word she had spoken, the tone of her
voice, her step, her every gesture — all were before me, confirming
my delusion ; and yet — I could bear no more, and burst into tears.

The loud call of a cavalry trumpet aroused me.

How long I had passed in this state of despondency I knew not ;
but it was long past noon when I rallied myself. My charger was
already awaiting me ; and a second blast of the trumpet told that the
inspection in the Plaza was about to commence.

As I continued to dress, I gradually rallied from my depressing
thoughts ; and ere I belted my sabretasche, the current of my ideas
had turned from their train of sadness to one of hardihood and
daring. Lucy Dashwood had treated me like a wilful schoolboy.
Mayhap I may prove myself as gallant a soldier as even him she
has preferred before me.

A third sound of the trumpet cut short my reflections. I sprang
into the saddle, and hastened towards the Plaza. As I dashed along
the streets, my horse, maddened with the impulse that stirred my
own heart, curveted and plunged unceasingly. As I reached the
Plaza the crowd became dense, and I was obliged to pull up. The
sound of the music, the parade, the tramp of the infantry, and the
neighing of the horses, were, however, too much for my mettlesome
steed, and he became nearly unmanageable ; he plunged fearfully,
and twice reared as though he would have fallen back. As I scat-
tered the foot passengers right and left with terror, my eye fell upon
one lovely girl, who, tearing herself from her companion, rushed
wildly towards an open doorway for shelter ; suddenly, however,
changing her intention, she came forward a few paces, and then, as
if overcome by fear, stood stock-still, her hands clasped upon her
bosom, her eyes upturned, her features deadly pale, while her knees
seemed bending beneath her. Never did I behold a more beautiful
object. Her dark hair had fallen loose upon her shoulder, and she
stood the very ideal of the " Madonna Supplicating." My glance


was short as a lightning flash, for the same instant my horse
swerved, and dashed forward right at the place where she was
standing. One terrific cry rose from the crowd who saw her
danger. Beside her stood a muleteer, who had drawn up his mule
and cart close beside the footway for safety ; she made one effort to
reach it, but her outstretched arms alone moved, and, paralyzed by
terror, she sank motionless upon the pavement. There was but one
course open to me now ; collecting myself for the effort, I threw my
horse upon his haunches, and then, dashing the spurs into his
flanks, breasted him at the mule-cart. With one spring he rose,
and cleared it at a bound, while the very air rang with the acclama-
tions of the multitude, and a thousand bravos saluted me as I alighted
upon the opposite side.

" Well done, O'Malley !" sang out the little Adjutant, as I flew
past, and pulled up in the middle of the Plaza.

" Something devilish like Galway in that leap," said a very musi-
cal voice beside me ; and at the same instant a tall, soldier-like man,
in an undress dragoon frock, touched his cap, and said, " A 14th
man, I perceive, sir. May I introduce myself? — Major O'Shaugh-

I bowed, and shook the Major's proffered hand, while he con-
tinued :

" Old Monsoon mentioned your name to us this morning. You
came out together, if I mistake not?"

" Yes ; but somehow, Pve missed the Major since my landing."

" Oh, you'll see him presently ; he'll be on parade. By the bye,
he wishes particularly to meet you. We dine to-day at the ' Quai

de Soderi,' and if you're not engaged Yes, this is the person,"

said he, turning at the moment towards a servant, who, with a
card in his hand, seemed to search for some one in the crowd.

The man approached and handed it to me.

"What can this mean?" said I. "Don Emanuel de Blacas y
Silviero, Eua Nuova."

" Why, that's the great Portuguese contractor, the intendant of
half the army, the richest fellow in Lisbon. Have you known him
• " Never heard of him till now."

" By Jove, you're in luck ! No man gives such dinners ; he has
such a cellar ! I'll wager a fifty it was his daughter you took in the
flying leap a while ago. I hear she is a beautiful creature."

"Yes," thought I, "that must be it; and yet, strange enough, I
think the name and address are familiar to me."

" Ten to one, you've heard Monsoon speak of him ; he's most inti-
mate there. But here comes the Major."


As he spoke, the illustrious Commissary came forward, hold-
ing a vast bundle of papers in one hand and his snuff-box in the
other, followed by a long string of clerks, contractors, assistant-sur-
geons, paymasters, &c, all eagerly pressing forward to be heard.
I " It's quite impossible ; 1 can't do it. to-day. Victualling and
I physicking are very good things, but must be done in season. I
iave been up all night at the accounts — haven't I, O'Malley?" —
{here he winked at me most significantly ; — " and then 1 have the
forage and stoppage fund to look through" (" We dine at six, sharp,"
said he, sotto voce), " which will leave me without one minute unoccu-
pied for the next twenty-four hours. Look to your toggery this
evening ; I've something in my eye for you, O'Malley."

" Officers unattached to their several corps will fall into the
middle of the Plaza," said a deep voice among the crowd. In
obedience to the order, I rode forward, and placed myself with a
number of others, apparently newly-joined, in the open square. A
short gray-haired old colonel, with a dark, eagle look, proceeded to
inspect us, reading from a paper as he came along :

" Mr. Hepton, 6th foot ; commission bearing date 11th January ;
drilled ; proceed to Ovar, and join his regiment.

" Mr. Gronow, Fusilier Guards ; remains with the depot.

" Captain Mortimer, 1st Dragoons ; appointed aide-de-camp to the
General commanding the cavalry brigade.

"Mr. Sparks — where is Mr. Sparks? Mr. Sparks absent from
parade ; make a note of it.

"Mr. O'Malley, 14th Light Dragoons. Mr. O'Malley— oh, I
remember ; I have received a letter from Sir George Dash wood con-
cerning you. You will hold yourself in readiness to march. Your
friends desire that, before you may obtain any staff appointment,
you should have the opportunity of seeing some service. Am I to
understand such is your wish ?"

" Most certainly."

"May I have the pleasure of your company at dinner to day?"

" I regret that I have already accepted an invitation to dine with
Major Monsoon."

" With Major Monsoon ? ah, indeed ! Perhaps it might be as well
I should mention But no matter. I wish you good morning."

So saying, the little colonel rode off, leaving me to suppose that
my dinner engagement had not raised me in his estimation, though
why, I could not exactly determine.





OUR dinner was a long and uninteresting one, and as I found
that the Major was likely to prefer his seat, as chairman of
the party, to the seductions of ladies' society, I took the first
opportunity of escaping, and left the room.

It was a rich moonlight night, as I found myself in the street.
My way, which led along the banks of the Tagus, was almost as
light as in daytime, and crowded with walking parties, who sauntered
carelessly along, in the enjoyment of the cool, refreshing night air.
On inquiring, I discovered that the Rua Nuova was at the extremity
of the city ; but, as the road led along by the river, I did not regret
the distance, but walked on with increasing pleasure at the charms
of so heavenly a climate and country.

After three-quarters of an hour's walk, the streets became by
degrees less and less crowded. A solitary party passed me now and
then ; the buzz of distant voices succeeded to the gay laughter and
merry tones of the passing groups, and at length my own footsteps
alone awoke the echoes along the deserted pathway. I stopped
every now and then to gaze upon the tranquil river, whose eddies
were circling in the pale silver of the moonlight. I listened with
attentive ear, as the night breeze wafted to me the far-off sounds of
a guitar, and the deep tones of some lover's serenade; while again
the tender warbling of the nightingale came borne across the stream,
on a wind rich with the odor of the orange-tree.

As thus I lingered on my way, the time stole on, and it was near
midnight ere I had roused myself from the reverie surrounding
objects had thrown about me. I stopped suddenly, and for some
minutes I struggled with myself to discover if I was really awake.
As I walked along, lost in my reflections, I had entered a little
garden beside the river. Fragrant plants and lovely flowers
bloomed on every side : the orange, the camelia, the cactus, and the
rich laurel of Portugal were blending their green and golden hues
around me, while the very air was filled with delicious music.
"Was it a dream? Could such ecstasy be real?" I asked myself,
as the rich notes swelled upward in their strength, and sank in soft
cadence to tones of melting harmony ; now bursting forth in the
full force of gladness, the voices blended together in one stream of
mellow music, and suddenly ceasing, the soft but thrilling shake of
a female voice rose upon the air, and, in its plaintive beauty, stirred
the very heart. The proud tramp of martial music succeeded to the
low wailing cry of agony; then came the crash of battle, the clang


of steel ; the thunder of the fight rolled on in all its majesty, in-
creasing in its maddening excitement till it ended in one loud shout
of victory.

All was still ; not a breath moved, not a leaf stirred, and again
was I relapsing into my dreamy skepticism, when again the notes
swelled upward in concert. But now their accents were changed,
and, in low, subdued tones, faintly and slowly uttered, the prayer of
thanksgiving rose to heaven, and spoke their gratefulness. I almost
fell upon my knees, and already the tears filled my eyes, as I drank
in the sounds. My heart was full to bursting, and even now as I
write it, my pulse throbs as I remember the hymn of the Abencer-

When I rallied from my trance of excited pleasure, my first
thought was — where was I, and how came I there ? Before I could
resolve my doubts upon the question, my attention was turned in
another direction, for close beside me the branches moved forward,
and a pair of arms were thrown around my neck, while a delicious
voice cried out, in an accent of childish delight, " Trovado !" At
the same instant a lovely head sank upon my shoulder, covering it
with tresses of long brown hair. The arms pressed me still more
closely, till I felt her very heart beating against my side.

"Mio fradre," said a soft, trembling voice, as her fingers played in
my hair and patted my temples.

What a situation was mine ! I well knew some mistaken identity
had been the cause ; but, still, I could not repress my inclination to
return the embrace, as I pressed my lips upon the fair forehead that
leaned upon my bosom ; at the same moment she threw back her
head, as if to look me more fully in the face. One glance sufficed ;
blushing deeply over her cheeks and neck, she sprang from my arms,
and, uttering a faint cry, staggered against a tree. In an instant I
saw it was the lovely girl I had met in the morning ; and, without
losing a second, I poured out apologies for my intrusion with all the
eloquence I was master of, till she suddenly interrupted me by ask-
ing if I spoke French. Scarcely had I recommenced my excuses. in
that language, when a third party appeared upon the stage. This
was a short, elderly man, in a green uniform, with several decora-
tions upon his breast, and a cocked hat, with a flowing plume, in his
right hand.

"May I beg to know whom I have the honor of receiving?" in-
quired he, in very excellent English, as he advanced with a look of
very ceremonious and distant politeness.

I immediately explained that, presuming upon the card which his
servant had presented me, I had resolved on paying my respects,
when a mistake had led me accidentally into his garden.


My apologies had not come to an end, when he folded me in his
arms and overwhelmed me with thanks, at the same time saying
a few words in Portuguese to his daughter ; she stooped down,
and taking my hand gently within her own, touched it with her lips.

This piece of touching courtesy — which I afterwards found meant
little or nothing — affected me deeply at the time, and I felt the blood
rush to my face and forehead, half in pride, half in a sense of shame.
My confusion was, however, of short duration, for, taking my arm,
the old gentleman led me along a few paces, and turning round a
small clump of olives, entered a little summer-house. Here a con-
siderable party were assembled, which for their picturesque effect
could scarcely have been better managed on the stage.

Beneath the mild lustre of a large lamp of stained glass, half hid
in the overhanging boughs, was spread a table covered with vessels
of gold and silver plate of gorgeous richness ; drinking cups and
goblets of antique pattern shone among cups of Sevres china or
Venetian glass ; delicious fruit, looking a thousand times more
tempting for being contained in baskets of silver foliage, peeped
from amid a profusion of fresh flowers, whose odor was continually
shed around by a slight jet d!eau that played among the leaves.
Around, upon the grass, seated upon cushions, or reclining on
Genoa carpets, were several beautiful girls, in most becoming cos-
tumes, their dark locks and darker .eyes speaking of " the soft
south," while their expressive gestures and animated looks beto-
kened a race whose temperament is glowing as their clime. There
were several men also, the greater number of whom appeared in
uniform — bronzed, soldier-like fellows, who had the jaunty air and
easy carriage of their calling — among whom was one Englishman,
or at least so I guessed from his wearing the uniform of a heavy
dragoon regiment.

" This is my daughter's fete," said Don Emanuel, as he ushered
me into the assembly, — "her birthday: a sad day it might have
been for us had it not been for your courage and forethought." So
saying, he commenced a recital of my adventure to the bystanders,
who overwhelmed me with civil speeches and a shower of soft looks
that completed the fascination of the fairy scene. Meanwhile, the
fair Inez had made room for me beside her, and I found myself at
once the lion of the party, each vieing with her neighbor who should
show me the most attention, la Senhora herself directing her conver-
sation exclusively to me — a circumstance which, considering the
awkwardness of our first meeting, I felt no small surprise at, and
which led me, somewhat maliciously, I confess, to make a half allu-
sion to it, feeling some interest in ascertaining for whom the flatter-
ing reception was really intended.


" I th ought you were Charles," said she, blushing in answer to my

"And you were right," said I, " I am Charles."

" Nay, but I meant my Charles."

There was something of touching softness in the tones of these
few words that made me half wish I were her Charles. Whether
my look evinced as much or not, I cannot tell, but she speedily
added, —

" He is my brother ; he is a captain in the cagadores, and I expected
him here this evening. Some one saw a figure pass the gate and
conceal himself in the trees, and 1 was sure it was he."

" What a disappointment," said I.

" Yes, was it not ?" said she, hurriedly ; and then, as if remem-
bering how ungracious was the speech, she blushed more deeply and
hung down her head.

Just at this moment, as I looked up, I caught the eye of the Eng-
lish officer fixed steadily upon me. He was a tall, fine-looking
fellow, of about two or three and thirty, with marked and handsome
features, which, however, conveyed an expression of something
sneering and sinister, that struck me the moment I saw him. His
glass was fixed in his eye, and I perceived that he regarded us both
with a look of no common interest. My attention did not, however,
dwell long upon the circumstance, for Don Emanuel, coming behind
my shoulder, asked me if I would not take out his daughter in the
bolero they were just forming.

To my shame I was obliged to confess that I had not even seen
the dance ; and while I continued to express my resolve to correct
the errors of my education, the Englishman came up and asked the
Senhora to be his partner. This put the very keystone upon my
annoyance, and I half turned angrily away from the spot, when I
heard her decline his invitation, and avow her determination not to

There was something which pleased me so much at this refusal,
that I could not help turning upon her a look of most grateful ac-
knowledgment ; but as I did so, I once more encountered the gaze
of the Englishman, whose knitted brows and compressed lips were
bent upon me in a manner there was no mistaking. This was neither
the fitting time nor place to seek any explanation of the circum-
stance ; so wisely resolving to wait a better occasion, I turned away
and resumed my attentions towards my fair companion.

" Then you don't care for the bolero ?" said I, as she re-seated her-
self upon the grass.

" Oh ! I delight in it," said she, enthusiastically.

" But you refused to dance."


She hesitated, blushed, tried to mutter something, and was silent.

"I had determined to learn it," said I, half jestingly; "but if
you will not dance with me "

" Yes ; that I will— indeed I will."

" But you declined my countryman. Is it because he is inex-

The Senhora hesitated; looked confused for some minutes; at
length, coloring slightly, she said, " I have already made one rude
speech to you this evening ; I fear lest I should make a second.
Tell me, is Captain Trevyllian your friend ?"

u If you mean that gentleman yonder, I never saw him before."

"Nor heard of him?"

" Nor that either. We are total strangers to each other."

" Well, then, I may confess it. 1 do not like him. My father
prefers him to any one else, invites him daily here, and, in fact,
installs him as his first favorite. But still, I cannot like him ; and
yet I have done my best to do so."

" Indeed I" said I, pointedly. '* What are his chief demerits ? Is
he not agreeable? is he not clever?"

" Oh ! on the contrary, most agreeable ; fascinating, I should say,
in conversation ; has travelled ; seen a great deal of the world ; is
very accomplished, and has distinguished himself on several occa-
sions ; he wears, as you see, a Portuguese order."

" And, with all that "

" And, with all that, I cannot bear him. He is a duellist, a noto-
rious duellist. My brother, too, knows more of him, and always
avoids him. But let us not speak further : I see his eyes are again
fixed on us ; and, somehow, I fear him, without well knowing

A movement among the party ; shawls and mantillas were sought
for on all sides, and the preparations for leave-taking appeared gen-
eral. Before, however, I had time to express my thanks for my
hospitable reception, the guests had assembled in a circle around
the Senhora, and, toasting her with a parting bumper, they com-
menced in concert a little Portuguese song of farewell, each verse
concluding with a Good-night ! which, as they separated and held
their way homeward, might now and then be heard rising upon
the breeze, and wafting their last thoughts back to her. The con*
eluding verse, which struck me much, I have essayed to translate.
It ran somehow thus : —

" The morning breezes chill
Now close our joyous scene,
And yet we linger still,
Where we've so happy been.


How blest were it to live

With hearts like ours so light,
And only part to give

One long and last Good-night !

Good-night !"

With many an invitation to renew my visit, most kindly proffered
by Don Emanuel, and warmly seconded by his daughter, I, too,
wished my Good-night ! and turned my steps homeward.



THE first object that presented itself to my eye the next morn-
ing was the midshipman's packet, entrusted to my care by
Power. I turned it over to read the address more carefully,
and what was my surprise to find that the name was that of my fair
friend Donna Inez !

" This certainly thickens the plot," thought I ; " and so I have
now fallen upon the real Simon Pure, and the reefer has had the
good fortune to distance the dragoon. Well, thus far, I cannot say
that I regret it. Now, however, for the parade, and then for the

"I say, O'Malley," cried out Monsoon, as I appeared on the
Plaza, "I have accepted an invitation for you to-day. We dine
across the river. Be at my quarters a little before six, and we'll go

I should rather have declined the invitation, but, not well know-
ing why, and having no ready excuse, acceded, and promised to be

" You were at Don Emanuel's last night ; I heard of you !"
" Yes ; I spent a most delightful evening."

" That's your ground, my boy ; a million of moidores, and such a
campagna in Valencia — a better thing than the Dalrymple affair.
Don't blush. I know it all. But stay ; here they come."

As he spoke, the general commanding, with a numerous staff,
rode forward. As they passed, I recognized a face which I had cer-
tainly seen before, and in a moment remembered it was that of the
dragoon of the evening before. He passed quite close, and fixing
his eyes steadily on me, evinced no sign of recognition.

The parade lasted above two hours, and it was with a feeling of
impatience that I mounted a fresh horse to canter out to the villa.


When I arrived, the servant informed me that Don Emanuel was
in the city, but that the Senhora was in the garden, offering at the
same time to escort me. Declining this honor, I entrusted my horse
to his keeping, and took my way towards the arbor where last I
had seen her.

I had not walked many paces, when the sound of a guitar struck
on my ear. I listened. It was the Senhora's voice. She was sing-'
ing a Venetian canzonetta, in a low, soft, warbling tone, as one lost
in a reverie — as though the music was a mere accompaniment to
some pleasant thought. I peeped through the dense leaves, and
there she sat upon a low garden seat, an open book on the rustic
table before her ; beside her, embroidery, which seemed only lately
abandoned. As I looked, she placed her guitar upon the ground,
and began to play with a small spaniel, that seemed to have waited
with impatience for some testimony of favor. A moment more, and
she grew weary of this ; then, heaving a long but gentle sigh, leaned
back upon her chair, and seemed lost in thought. I now had ample
time to regard her, and certainly never beheld anything more
lovely. There was a character of classic beauty, and her brow,
though fair and ample, was still strongly marked upon the temples ;
the eyes, being deep and squarely set, imparted a look of intensity
to her features which their own softness alone subdued, while the
short upper lip, which trembled with every passing thought, spoke
of a nature tender and impressionable, and yet impassioned. Her
foot and ankle peeped from beneath her dark robe, and certainly
nothing could be more faultless ; while her hand, fair as marble,

Online LibraryCharles James LeverCharles O'Malley, the Irish dragon → online text (page 27 of 80)