Charles James Lever.

Charles O'Malley, the Irish dragon online

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442 CHARLES O'M ALLEY.

and if you can't do it, it shall never trouble you as long as you
live.'

" ' Oh, you murthering devil !' says my father, flying at him with
a spade that he had behind his chair, f I've found you out.'

" With one blow he knocked him down ; and now a terrible fight
began, for the ghost was very strong too ; but my father's blood was
up, and he'd have faced the devil himself then. They rolled over
each other several times, the broken bottles cutting them to pieces,
and the chairs and tables crashing under them. At last the ghost
took the bottle that lay on the hearth, and levelled my father to
the ground with one blow. Down he fell, and the bottle and the
whisky were both dashed into the fire ; that was the end of it, for
the ghost disappeared that moment in a blue flame that nearly set
fire to my father as he lay on the floor.

" Och ! it was a cruel sight to see him next morning, with his
cheek cut open and his hands all bloody, lying there by himself;
all the broken glass, and the cards all round him ; the coffin, too,
was knocked down off the chair : maybe the ghost had trouble get-
ting into it. However that was, the funeral was put off for a day;
for my father couldn't speak ; and as for the sexton, it was a queer
thing, but when they came to call him in the morning, he had two
black eyes, and a gash over his ear, and he never knew how he got
them. It was easy enough to know the ghost did it ; but my father
kept the secret, and never told it to any man, woman or child in
them parts."



CHAPTER XI.

LISBON.

I HAVE little po>ver to trace the events which occupied the
succeeding three weeks of my history. The lingering fever
which attended my wound detained me during that time at the
chateau ; and when at last I did leave for Lisbon, the winter was
already beginning, and it was upon a cold raw evening that I once
more took possession of my old quarters at the Quay de Soderi.

My eagerness and anxiety to learn something of the campaign
was ever uppermost, and no sooner had I reached my destination
than I despatched Mike to the Quartermaster's office to pick up some
news, and hear which of my friends and brother officers were then
at Lisbon. I was sitting in a state of nervous impatience watching
for his return, when at length I heard footsteps approaching my



LISBON. 443

room, and the next moment Mike's voice, saying, " The ould room,
sir, where he was before." The door suddenly opened, and my friend
Power stood before me.

" Charley, my boy !" — " Fred, my fine fellow !" was all either
could say for some minutes. Upon my part, the recollection of his
bold and manly bearing in my behalf choked all utterance ; while,
upon his, my haggard cheek and worn look produced an effect so
sudden and unexpected that he became speechless.

In a few minutes, however, we both rallied, and opened our store
of mutual remembrances since we parted. My career I found he
was perfectly familiar with, and his consisted of nothing but one
unceasing round of gayety and pleasure. Lisbon had been delight-
ful during the summer ; parties to Cintra, excursions through the
surrounding country, were of daily occurrence ; and as my friend
was a favorite everywhere, his life was one of continued amusement.

" Do you know, Charley, had it been any other man than your-
self, I should not have spared him ; for I have fallen head over ears
in love with your little dark-eyed Portuguese."

" Ah ! Donna Inez, you mean ?"

" Yes, it is she I mean, and you need not affect such an air of
uncommon nonchalance. She's the loveliest girl in Lisbon, and with
fortune to pay off all the mortgages in Connemara."

" Oh, faith I I admire her amazingly ; but, as I never flattered
myself upon any preference "

" Come, come, Charley, no concealment, my old fellow ; every one
knows the thing's settled. Your old friend Sir George Dashwood
told me yesterday."

" Yesterday ! Why, is he here — at Lisbon ?"

" To be sure he is ; didn't I tell you that before ? confound it !
what a head I have! Why, man, he's come out as Deputy
Adjutant-General ; but for him I should not have got renewed
leave."

"And Miss Dashwood, is she here ?"

" Yes, she came with him. By Jove, how handsome she is ! quite
a different style of thing from our dark friend, but, to my thinking,
even handsomer. Hammersley seems of my opinion, too."

" How ! is Hammersley at Lisbon?"

" On the staff here. But, confound it, what makes you so red .
you have no ill feeling towards him now. I know he speaks most
warmly of you ; no later than last night, at Sir George's "

What Power was about to add I know not, for I sprang from my
chair with a sudden start, and walked to the window to conceal my
agitation from him.

"And so," said I, at length regaining my composure in some



444 CHARLES O'MALLEY.

measure, " Sir George also spoke of my name in connection with
the Senhora ?"

" To be sure he did. All Lisbon does. Why, what can you mean ?
But I see, my dear boy ; you know you are not of the strongest ;
and we've been talking far too long. Come now, Charley, I'll say
good-night. I'll be with you at breakfast to-morrow, and tell you
all the gossip ; meanwhile, promise me to get quietly to bed, and so
good-night."

Such was the conflicting state of feeling I suffered from, that I
made no effort to detain Power. I longed to be once more alone, to
think — calmly, if I could — over the position I stood in, and to re-
solve upon my plans for the future.

My love for Lucy Dash wood had been long rather a devotion than
a hope. My earliest dawn of manly ambition was associated with
the first hour I met her. She it was who first touched my boyish
heart, and suggested a sense of chivalrous ardor within me ; and,
even though lost to me forever, I could still regard her as the main-
spring of my actions, and dwell upon my passion as the thing that
hallowed every enterprise of my life.

In a word, my love, however little it might reach her heart, was
everything to mine. It was the worship of the devotee to his pro-
tecting saint. It was the faith that made me rise above every mis-
fortune and mishap, and led me onward ; and in this way I could
have borne anything, everything, rather than the imputation of
fickleness.

Lucy might not — nay, I felt she did not — love me. It was possible
that some other was preferred before me ; but to doubt my own affec-
tion, to suspect my own truth, was to destroy all the charm of my
existence, and to extinguish within me forever the enthusiasm that
made me a hero to my own heart.

It may seem but poor philosophy, but, alas ! how many of our
happiest, how many of our brightest thoughts here are but delusions
like this ! This dayspring of youth gilds the tops of the distant
mountains before us, and many a weary day through life, when
clouds and storms are thickening around us, we live upon the mere
memory of the past. Some fast-flitting prospect of a bright future,
some passing glimpse of a sunlit valley, tinges all our after-years.

It is true that he will suffer fewer disappointments, he will incur
fewer of the mishaps of the world, who indulges in no fancies such
as these ; but equally true is it that he will taste none of that exu-
berant happiness which is that man's portion who weaves out a
story of his life, and who, in connecting the promise of early years
with the performance of later, will seek to fulfil a fate and destiny.

Weaving such fancies, I fell sound asleep, nor woke before the



LISBON. 445

stir and bustle of the great city aroused me. Power, I found, had
been twice to my quarters that morning, but, fearing to disturb me,
had merely left a few lines to say that, as he should be engaged on
service during the day, we could not meet before the evening. There
were certain preliminaries requisite regarding my leave which de-
manded my appearing before a board of medical officers, and I im-
mediately set about dressing, resolving that, as soon as they were
completed, I should, if permitted, retire to one of the small cottages
on the opposite bank of the Tagus, there to remain until my restored
health allowed me to rejoin my regiment.

I dreaded meeting the Dashwoods. I anticipated with a heavy
heart how effectually one passing interview would destroy all my
day-dreams of happiness, and I preferred anything to the sad con-
viction of hopelessness such a meeting must lead to.

While I thus balanced with myself how to proceed, a gentle step
came to the door, and as it opened slowly, a servant in a dark livery
entered.

"Mr. O'Malley, sir?"

" Yes," said I, wondering to whom my arrival could be thus early
known.

" Sir George Dashwood requests you will step over to him as soon
as you go out," continued the man ; " he is so engaged that he can-
not leave home, but is most desirous to see you."

" It is not far from here ?"

" No, sir ; scarcely five minutes' walk."

"Well, then, if you will show me the way, I'll follow you."

I cast one passing glance at myself to see that all was right about
my costume, and sallied forth.

In the middle of the Black Horse-square, at the door of a large
stone-fronted building, a group of military men were assembled,
chatting and laughing away together ; some were reading the lately-
arrived English papers ; others were lounging upon the stone para-
pet, carelessly puffing their cigars. None of the faces were known
to me ; so threading my way through the crowd, I reached the steps.
Just as I did so, a half-muttered whisper met my ear :

" Who did you say ?"

" O'Malley, the young Irishman who behaved so gallantly at the
Douro."

The blood rushed hotly to my cheek ; my heart bounded with ex-
ultation ; my step, infirm and tottering but a moment before, became
fixed and steady, and 1 felt a thrill of proud enthusiasm playing
through my veins. How little did the speaker of those few and ran-
dom words know what courage he had given to a drooping heart,
what renewed energy to a breaking spirit ! The voice of praise, too,



446 CHARLES O'MALLEY.

coming from those to whom we had thought ourselves unknown, has
a magic about it that must be felt to be understood. So it happened
that in a few seconds a revolution had taken place in all my thoughts
and feelings, and I, who had left my quarters dispirited and de-
pressed, now walked confidently and proudly forward.

" Mr. O'Malley," said the servant to the officer in waiting, as we
entered the ante-chamber.

"Ah I Mr. O'Malley," said the aide-de-camp, in blandest accent,
"I hope you're better. Sir George is most anxious to see you ; he
is at present engaged with the staff "

A bell rang at the moment, and cut short the sentence : he flew
to the door of the inner room, and, returning in an instant, said, —

" Will you follow me ? This way, if you please."

The room was crowded with general officers and aides-de-camp, so
that for a second or two I could not distinguish the parties ; but no
sooner was my name announced, than Sir George Dashwood, forcing
his way through, rushed forward to meet me.

" O'Malley, my brave fellow! delighted to shake your hand again !
How much grown you are — twice the man I knew you ! and the arm,
too, is it getting on well ?"

Scarcely giving me a moment to reply, and still holding my hand
tightly in his grasp, he introduced me on every side.

" My young Irish friend, Sir Edward, the man of the Douro. My
lord, allow me to present Lieutenant O'Malley, of the 14th. "

" A very dashing thing, that of yours, sir, at Ciudad Rodrigo."

" A very senseless one, I fear, my lord."

" No, no, I don't agree with you at all ; even when no great results
follow, the morale of an army benefits by acts of daring."

A running fire of kind and civil speeches poured in on me from
all quarters, and, amid all that crowd of bronzed and war-worn
veterans, I felt myself the lion of the moment. Craufurd, it appeared,
had spoken most handsomely of my name, and I was thus made
known to many of those whose own reputations were then extend-
ing over Europe.

In this happy trance of excited pleasure I passed the morning.
Amid the military chit-chat of the day around me, treated as an
equal by the greatest and the most distinguished, I heard all the
confidential opinions upon the campaign and its leaders ; and in
that most entrancing of all flatteries — the easy tone of companion-
ship of our elders and betters — forgot my griefs, and half believed I
was destined for great things.

Fearing at length that I had prolonged my visit too far, I ap-
proached Sir George to take my leave, when, drawing my arm within
his, he retired towards one of the windows.



. LISBON. 447

" A word, O'Malley, before you go. I've arranged a little plan
for you ; mind, I shall insist upon obedience. They'll make some
difficulty about your remaining here, so that I have appointed you
one of our extra aides-de-camp. That will free you from all trouble,
and I shall not be very exacting in my demands upon you. You
must, however, commence your duties to-day, and as we dine at
•seven precisely, I shall expect you. I am aware of your wish to
stay in Lisbon, my boy, and, if all I hear be true, congratulate you
sincerely ; but more of this another time, and so good-bye." So say-
ing, he shook my hand once more, warmly ; and without well feel-
ing how or why, I found myself in the street.

The last few words Sir George had spoken threw a gloom over all
my thoughts. I saw at once that the report Power had alluded to
had gained currency at Lisbon. Sir George believed it ; doubtless
Lucy, too ; and, forgetting in an instant all the emulative ardor that
so lately stirred my heart, I took my path beside the river, and saun-
tered slowly along, lost in my reflections.

I had walked for above an hour, before paying any attention to
the path I followed. Mechanically, as it were, retreating from the
noise and tumult of the city, I wandered towards the country. My
thoughts fixed but upon one theme, I had neither ears nor eyes for
aught around me ; the great difficulty of my present position now
appearing to me in this light — my attachment to Lucy Dashwood,
unrequited and un returned as I felt it, did not permit of my rebut-
ting any report which might have reached her concerning Donna
Inez. I had no right, no claim to suppose her sufficiently interested
about me to listen to such an explanation, had I even the opportu-
nity to make it. One thing was thus clear to me — all my hopes had
ended in that quarter ; and as this conclusion sank into my mind, a
species of dogged resolution to brave my fortune crept over me,
which only waited the first moment of my meeting her to overthrow
and destroy forever.

Meanwhile I walked on ; now rapidly, at some momentary rush
of passionate excitement; now slowly, as some depressing and
gloomy notion succeeded ; when suddenly my path was arrested by
a long file of bullock cars which blocked up the way. Some chance
squabble had arisen among the drivers, and to avoid the crowd and
collision, I turned into a gateway which opened beside me, and soon
found myself in a lawn handsomely planted, and adorned with
flowering shrubs and ornamental trees.

In the half-dreamy state my musings had brought me to, I strug-
gled to recollect why the aspect of the place did not seem altogether
new. My thoughts were, however, far away — now blending some
memory of my distant home with scenes of battle and bloodshed, or



448 CHARLES O'MALLEY.

resting upon my first interview with her whose chance word, care-
lessly and lightly spoken, had written the story of my life. From
this reverie I was rudely awakened by a rustling noise in the trees
behind me, and before I could turn my head, the two fore paws of
a large stag-hound were planted upon my shoulders, while the open
mouth and panting tongue were close beside my face. My day-
dream was dispelled quick • as lightning ; it was Juan himself, the
favorite dog of the Senhora, who gave me this rude welcome, and
who now, by a thousand wild gestures and bounding caresses,
seemed to do the honors of his house. There was something so like
home in these joyful greetings, that I yielded myself at once his
prisoner, and followed, or rather was accompanied by him towards
the villa.

Of course, sooner or later, I should have called upon my kind
friends, then why not now, when chance had already brought me so
near ? Besides, if I held to my resolution, which I meant to do — of
retiring to some quiet and sequestered cottage till my health was
restored — the opportunity might not readily present itself again.
This line of argument perfectly satisfied my reason, while a strong
feeling of something like curiosity piqued me to proceed, and before
many minutes elapsed I reached the house. The door, as usual, lay
wide open, and the ample hall, furnished like a sitting-room, had its
customary litter of books, music, and flowers scattered upon the
tables. My friend Juan, however, suffered me not to linger here,
but rushing furiously at a door before me, began a vigorous attack
for admittance.

As I knew this to be the drawing-room, I opened the door and
walked in, but no one was to be seen ; a half-open book lay upon an
ottoman, and a fan, which I recognized as an old acquaintance, was
beside it, but the owner was absent.

I sat down, resolved to wait patiently for her coming, without any
announcement of my being there. I was not sorry, indeed, to have
some moments to collect my thoughts, and restore my erring facul-
ties to something like order.

As I looked about the room, it seemed as if I had been there but
yesterday. The folding-doors lay open to the garden, just as I had
seen them last, and save that the flowers seemed fewer, and those
which remained of a darker and more sombre tint, all seemed un-
changed. There lay the guitar, to whose thrilling chords my heart
had bounded ; there, the drawing, over which I had bent in admi-
ring pleasure, suggesting some tints of light or shadow, as the fairy
fingers traced them ; every chair was known to me, and I greeted
them as things I cared for.

While thus I scanned each object around me, I was struck by a



LISBON. 441)

little china vase, which, unlike its other brethren, contained a bou-
quet of dead and faded flowers ; the blood rushed to my cheek ; I
started up ; it was one I had myself presented to her the day before
we parted. It was in that same vase I placed it ; the very table, too,
stood in the same position beside that narrow window. What a rush
of thoughts came pouring on me ! And oh ! shall I confess it ? how
deeply did such a mute testimony of remembrance speak to my
heart, at the moment that I felt myself unloved and uncared for by
another ! I walked hurriedly up and down, a maze of conflicting
resolves combating in my mind, while one thought ever recurred —
" Would that I had not come here !" and yet, after all, it may mean
nothing ; some piece of passing coquetry, which she will be the very
first to laugh at. I remember how she spoke of poor Howard ; what
folly to take it otherwise! "Be it so, then," said I, half aloud;
" and now for my part of the game ;" and with this I took from my
pocket the light blue scarf she had given me the morning we parted,
and, throwing it over my shoulder, prepared to perform my part in
what I had fully persuaded myself to be a comedy. The time, how-
ever, passed on, and she came not ; a thousand high-flown Portu-
guese phrases had time to be conned -over again and again by me, and
I had abundant leisure to enact my coming part; but still the curtain
did not rise. As the day was wearing, I resolved at last to write a
few lines, expressive of my regret at not meeting her, and promising
myself an early opportunity of paying my respects under more for-
tunate circumstances. I sat down, accordingly, and, drawing the
paper towards me, began, in a mixture of French and Portuguese, as
it happened, to indite my billet.

" Senhora Inez" — no — " Ma chere Mademoiselle Inez" — confound
it, that's too intimate; well, here goes — "Monsieur O'Malley pre-
sente ses respects" — that will never do ; and then, after twenty other
abortive attempts, I began thoughtlessly sketching heads upon the
paper, and scribbling with wonderful facility in fifty different ways —
" Ma charmante amie — Ma plus chere Inez," &c, and in this most
useful and profitable occupation did I pass another half hour.

How long I should have persisted in such an employment it is
difficult to say, had not an incident intervened which suddenly but
most effectually put an end to it. As the^circumstance is one which,
however little striking in itself, had the greatest and most lasting
influence upon my future career, I shall perhaps be excused for de-
voting another chapter to its recital.



29



450 CHARLES O'M ALLEY.

CHAPTER XII.

A PLEASANT PREDICAMENT.

WHILE I sat endeavoring to fix upon some suitable and ap-
propriate epithet by which to commence my note, my back
was turned towards the door of the garden ; and so occupied
was I in my meditations, that even had any one entered at the time,
in all probability I should not have perceived it. At length, how-
ever, I was aroused from my study by a burst of laughter, whose
girlish joyousness was not quite new to me. I knew it well ; it was
the Senhora herself; and the next moment I heard her voice.

" I tell you I'm quite certain I saw his face in the mirror as I
passed. Oh, how delightful ! and you'll be charmed with him ; so,
mind, you must not steal him from me ; I shall never forgive you if
you do ; and look, only look ! he has got the blue scarf I gave him
when he marched to the Douro."

While I perceived that I was myself seen, I could see nothing of
the speaker, and, wishing to hear something further, appeared more
than ever occupied in the writing before me.

What her companion replied, I could not, however, catch, but only
guess at its import by the Senhora's answer.

" Fi done /—I really am very fond of him ; but, never fear, I shall
be as stately as a queen. You shall see how meekly he will kiss my
hand, and with what unbending reserve I'll receive him."

" Indeed !" thought I ; " mayhap I'll mar your plot a little ; but
let us listen."

" It is so provoking," continued Inez ; " I never can remember
names, and his was something too absurd ; but, never mind, I shall
make him a grandee of Portugal. Well, but come along, I long to
present him to you."

Here a gentle struggle seemed to ensue ; for I heard the Senhora
coaxingly entreat her, while her companion steadily resisted.

" I know you think I shall be so silly, and perhaps wrong ; is it
not so? But you're mistaken. You'll be surprised at my cold and
dignified manner. I shall draw myself proudly up, and, curtseying
deeply, say, • Monsieur, j'aj l'honneur de vous saluer.' "

A laugh twioe as mirthful as before followed, while I could hear
the tones of the friend evidently in expostulation.

" Well, then, to be sure, you are provoking, but you really promise
to follow me. Be It so ; then give me that moss-rose. How you
have fluttered me ; now for it !"

So saying, I heard her foot upon the gravel, and the next instant
upon the marble step of the door. There is something in expecta-



A PLEASANT PREDICAMENT. 451

tion that sets the heart beating, and mine throbbed against my side.
I waited, however, till she entered before lifting my head, and then
springing suddenly up, with one bound clasped her in my arms, and
pressing my lips upon her roseate cheek, said, —

11 Ma charmante amie!" To disengage herself from me, and to
spring suddenly back, was her first effort ; to burst into an immoderate
fit of laughing, her second ; her cheek was, however, covered with a
deep blush, and I already repented that my malice had gone so far.

" Pardon, Mademoiselle," said I, in affected innocence, " if I have
so far forgotten myself as to assume a habit of my own country to a
stranger."

A half-angry toss of the head was her only reply, and, turning
towards the garden, she called to her friend : —

" Come here, dearest, and instruct my ignorance upon your na-
tional customs ; but first let me present to you — I never knew his
name — the Chevalier de What is it ?"

The glass door opened as she spoke ; a tail and graceful figure
entered, and, turning suddenly round, showed me the features of
Lucy Dash wood. We both stood opposite each other, each mute
with amazement. My feelings let me not attempt to convey; shame,
for the first moment stronger than aught else, sent the blood rushing



Online LibraryCharles James LeverCharles O'Malley, the Irish dragon → online text (page 46 of 80)