« ElőzőTovább »
ladder and spraining his ancle, or as Bosporus out into the wild seething having over-eaten himself, or something waves of the “Fena Kara degniz," and of that sort, and so pass over the rest Charles turned in without having come of the voyage by saying that he was near either of them. But in the chill confined to his bunk, and saw no more morning, when the ship's head was of it. But I am going to do nothing of north-west, and the dawn was flushing the sort, for two reasons. In the first up on the distant Thracian Sierra, place, because he did not do anything of Charles was on deck, and, while pausing the kind ; and in the next, because he for an instant in his duties, to look westsaw somebody at Constantinople, of ward, and try to remember what country whom I am sure you will be glad to hear and what mountains lay to the northagain.
west of Constantinople, a voice behind Charles had seen Tenedos golden in him said quietly, “Go find me Captain the east, and Lemnos purple in the west, Crcker, my man.” He turned and was as the sun went down; then, after face to face with General Mainwaring. having steamed at half-speed through It was only for an instant, but their the Dardanelles, was looking the next eyes met; the general started, but he evening at Constantinople, and at the did not recognise him. Charles's moussun going down behind the minarets, tache had altered him so much that it and at all that sort of thing, which is no was no great wonder. He was afraid doubt very beautiful, but of which one that the general would seek him out seems to have heard once or twice be- again, but he did not. These were busy fore. The ship was lying at anchor times. They were at Varna that night. with fires banked, and it was understood Men were looking sourly at one that they were waiting for a Queen's another. , The French expedition had messenger.
just come in from Kustendji in a They could see their own boat, which lamentable state, and the army was they had sent to wait for him at Seraglio rotting in its inactivity. You know all Point. One of the sailors had lent about that as well as I can tell you ; Charles a telescope—a regular old brute what is of more importance to us is, that of a telescope, with a crack across the Lieutenant Hornby had been down with object-glass. Charles was looking at typhus, and was recovering very slowly, the boat with it, and suddenly said, so that Charles's chances of meeting him “ There he is.”
were very small. He saw a small grey-headed man, with What am I to do with this three moustaches, come quickly down and get weeks or more at Vama to which I have into the boat, followed by some Turks reduced Charles, you, and myself ? Cut with his luggage. This was Colonel it very short, I should say. Charles Oldhoss, the Queen's messenger; but and his company were, of course, moved there was another man with him, whom up at once to the cavalry camp at Devna, Charles recognised at once. He handed eighteen miles off, among the pleasant the telescope to the man next him, and hills and woodlands. Once, his little walked up and down the deck rapidly friend, the young cornet, who had taken
“I should like to speak to him," he a fancy for him, made him come out thought, “if it were only one word. shooting with him to carry his bag. Dear old fellow. But then he will be- And they scrambled and clambered, and tray me, and they will begin persecu- they tore themselves with thorns, and ting me at home, dear souls. I suppose they fell down steep places, and utterly I had better not. No. If I am wounded forgot their social positions towards one and dying I will send for him. I will another. And they tried to carry home not speak to him now."
every object which was new to them, The Queen's messenger and his com- including a live turtle and a basaltic panion came on board, and the ship got column. And they saw a green lizard,
like a racehorse, and a grey lizard, who let down a bag under his chin and barked at them like a dog. And the cornet shot a quail, and a hare, and a long-tailed francolin, like a pheasant, and four wood pigeons. And, lastly, they found out that, if you turned over the stones, there were scorpions under them, who tucked their claws under their armpits, as a man folds his arms, and sparred at them with their tails, drawing their sting in and out, as an experienced boxer moves his left hand when waiting for an attack. Altogether, they had a glorious day in a new country, and did not remember in what relation they were to one another till they topped the hill above Devna by moonlight, and saw the two long lakes, stretching towards the sea, broken here and there into silver ripples by the oars of the commissariat boats. A happy innocent school-boy day—the sort of day which never comes if we prepare for it and anticipate it, but which comes without warning, and is never forgotten !
Another day the cornet had business in Varna, and he managed that Charles should come with him as orderly ; and with him, as another orderly, went the young lad who spoke about his sister in the pot-house at Windsor : for this lad was another favourite of the cornet's, being a quiet gentlemanly lad, in fact a favourite with everybody. A very handsome lad, too ! And the three went branking bravely down the hill-side. through the woodlands, over the steaming plain, into the white dirty town. And the cornet must stay and dine with the mess of the 42d, and so Charles and the other lad might go where they would. And they went and bathed, and then, when they had dressed, they stood together under the burning white wall, looking over the wicked Black Sea, smoking, and Charles told his comrade about Ravenshoe, about the deer, and the pheasants, and the blackcock, and about the big trout that lay nosing up into the swift places, in the cool clear water. And suddenly the lad turned on him, with his handsome face livid
convulsively by both arms, and prayed him, for God Almighty's sake
There, that will do. We need not go on. The poor lad was dead in four hours. The cholera was very prevalent at Varna that month, and those who dawdled about in the hot sun, at the mouth of the filthy drains of that accursed hole, found it unto their cost. we were fighting, you see, to preserve the town to those worthless dirty Turks, against the valiant, noble, but, I fear, equally dirty Russians. The provoking part of the Russian war was, that all through we respected and liked our gallant enemies far more than we did the useless rogues for whom we were fighting. Moreover, our good friends the French seem to have been more struck by this absurdity than ourselves.
I only mentioned this sad little incident to show that this Devna life among the pleasant woodlands was not all sunshine ; that now and then Charles was reminded, by some tragedy like this, that vast masses of men were being removed from ordinary occupations and duties into an unusual and abnormal mode of life, and that nature was revenging herself for the violation of her laws.
You see that we have got through this three weeks more pleasantly than they did at Varna. Charles was sorry when the time came for breaking up the camp among the mountain woodlands. The more so, as it had got about among the men that they were only to take Sebastopol by a sudden attack in the rear, and spend the winter there. There would be no work for the cavalry, every one said.
It is just worthy of notice how, when one once begins à vagabond life, one gets attached to a place where one may chance to rest even for a week. When one gets accustomed to a change of locality every day fora long while, a week's pause gives one more familiarity with a place than a month's residence in a strange house would give if one were habitually stationary. This remark is almost a platitude, but just worth writ
had got used to it, and parted from it as the head of the column could have seen he would from a home.
nothing, for they were behind the hill. This brings us up to the point where, But all could hear, and guess. We all after his death and burial, I have de- know that sound well enough now. You scribed him as riding along the shore of hear it now, thank God, on every village the bay of Eupatoria, watching the fleet. green in England when the cricket is The 140th had very little to do. They over. Crack, crack! Crack, crack! The were on the extreme left ; on the 17th noise of advancing skirmishers! they thought they were going to have And so it grew from the right towards some work, for they saw 150 of the the front, towards the left, till the air lancers coming in, driving a lot of cattle was filled with the shrill treble of musbefore them, and about 1,000 Cossacks ketry. Then, as the French skirmished hanging on their rear. But, when some within reach of the artillery, the deep light dragoons rode leisurely out to sup- bass roared up, and the men, who dared port them, the Cossacks rode off, and not whisper before, could shout at one the 140th were still condemned to in another without rebuke. activity.
Louder again, as our artillery came Hornby had recovered, and was with into range. All the air was tortured the regiment. He had not recognised with concussion. Charles would have Charles, of course. Even if he had given ten years of his life to know what come face to face with him, it was almost was going on on the other side of the unlikely that he would have recognised hill. But no. There they sat, and he him in his moustache. They were not had to look at the back of the man beto meet as yet.
fore him ; and at this time he came to In the evening of the 19th there was the conclusion that the patch of grease a rumble of artillery over the hill in on his right shoulder was of the same front of them, which died away in half shape as the map of Sweden. an hour. Most of the rest of the cavalry A long weary two hours or more was were further to the front of the extreme spent like this. Charles, by looking left, and were “at it," so it was under- forward and to the right, between the stood, with the Cossacks. But the 140th two right-hand men of the company were still idle.
before him, could see the ridge of the On the morning of the 20th, Charles hill, and see the smoke rising from beand the rest of them, sitting in their yond it, and drifting away to the left saddles, heard the guns booming in front before the sea-breeze. He saw an aideand on the right. It became understood de-camp come over that ridge and disamong the men that the fleet was mount beside the captain of Hornby's attacking some batteries. Also, it was company, loosening his girths. They whispered that the Russians were going laughed together; then the captain to stand and fight. Charles was sixth shouted to Hornby, and he laughed and man from the right of the rear rank of waved his sword over his head. After the third troop. He could see the this, he was reduced to watching the tails of the horses immediately before back of the man before him, and studyhim, and could remark that his front- ing the map of Sweden. It was berank man had a great patch of oil on the coming evident that the map of North right shoulder of his uniform. He could America, if it existed, must be on his also see Hornby in the troop before left shoulder, under his hussar jacket, him.
and that the Pacific Islands must be These guns went moaning on in the round in front, about his left breast, distance till half-past one ; but still they when the word was given' to go forward. sat there idle. About that time there They advanced to the top of the hill, was a new sound in the air, close on and wheeled. Charles, for one instant, their right, which made them prick up had a glimpse of the valley below, seething
bright flashes of flame, single, or running along in lines, or blazing out in volleys. The smoke, driven to the left by the wind, hung across the valley like a curtain. On the opposite hill a ring of smoke and fire, and in front of it a thin scarlet line disappearing. That was all. The next moment they wheeled to the right, and Charles saw only the back of the man before him, and the patch of grease on his shoulder.
But that night was a night of spurs for them. Hard riding for them far into the night. The field of the Alma had been won, and they were ordered forward to harass the Cossacks, who were covering the rear of the Russian army. They never got near them. But ever after, when the battle of the Alma was mentioned before him, Charles at once used to begin thinking of the map of Sweden.
WHAT LORD SALTIRE AND FATHER MACK
WORTH SAID WHEN THEY LOOKED OUT OF WINDOW.
love he bore to one of us who is dead, we give him a threefold welcome.”
Lord Saltire used, in his tête-à-têtes with Lady Ascot, to wish to Gad that Hainault would cure himself of making speeches. He was one of the best fellows in the world, but he would always talk as if he was in the House of Lords. This was very true about Lord Hainault; but, although he might be a little stilted in his speech, he meant every word he said, and was an affectionate, good-hearted man, and withal, in a way, a clever one.
Father Mackworth bowed, and was pleased with the compliment. His nerve was in perfect order, and he was glad to find that Lord Hainault was well inclined towards him, though just at this time Lord Hainault was of less importance to him than one of the grooms in the stable. What he required of himself just now was to act and look in a particular way, and to do it naturally and without effort. His genius rose to the situation. He puzzled Lord Saltire.
“This is a sad business,” said Lord Saltire.
“A bitter business, my lord,” said Mackworth. “I loved that man, my lord.”
He looked suddenly up as he said it, and Lord Saltire saw that he was in earnest. He waited for him to go on, watching him intently with his eyelids half dropped over his grey eagle eyes. . “That is not of much consequence, though," said Father Mackworth. “Speaking to a man of the world, what is more to the purpose is to hear what is the reason of your lordship’s having sought this interview. I am very anxious to know that, and so, if I appear rude, I must crave forgiveness."
Lord Saltire looked at him minutely and steadily. How he looked was of more importance to Lord Saltire than what he said. On the other hand, Mackworth every now and then calmly and steadily raised his eyes to Lord Saltire's, and kept them fixed there while he spoke to him.
“Not at all, my dear sir," said Lord
“And how do you do, my dear sir ?” said Lord Saltire.
“I enjoy the same perfect health as ever, I thank you, my lord,” said Father Mackworth. “And allow me to say, that I am glad to see your lordship looking just the same as ever. You may have forgotten that you were the greatest benefactor I ever had. I have
"Nay, nay,” said Lord Saltire. “Let byegoncs be byegones, my dear sir. By the bye, Mr. Mackworth-Lord Hainault."
“I am delighted to see you at Casterton, Mr. Mackworth," said Lord Hainault. “We are such rabid Protestants here, that the mere presence of a Catholic ecclesiastic of any kind is a source of pleasurable excitement to us. When, however, we get among us a man like you-a man of whose talents we have heard so much, and a man
first, however, which is possibly the best plan, we will have it, and improve our acquaintance afterwards. I asked you to come to me to speak of family matters. You have seen our advertisement?”
“I have, indeed,” said Mackworth, looking up with a smile. “I was utterly taken by surprise. Do you think you can be right about this marriage ?”
“Oh! I am sure of it,” said Lord Saltire.
“ I cannot believe it,” said Mackworth. “ And I'll tell you why. If it ever took place, I must have heard of it. Father Clifford, my predecessor, was Petre Ravenshoe's confessor. I need not tell you that he must have been in possession of the fact. Your knowledge of the world will tell you how impossible it is that, in a house so utterly priestridden as the House of Ravenshoe, an affair of such moment could be kept from the knowledge of the father-confessor. Especially when the delinquent, if I may so express myself, was the most foolishly bigoted, and cowardly representative of that house which had appeared for many generations. I assure you, upon my honour, that Clifford must have known of it. And, if he had known of it, he must have communicated it to me. No priest could possibly have died without leaving such a secret to his successor ; a secret which would make the owner of it—that is, the priest -80 completely the master of Ravenshoe and all in it. I confessed that man on his death bed, my lord,” said Mackworth, looking quietly at Lord Saltire, with a clear, honest smile, “and I can only tell you, if you can bring yourself to believe a priest, that there was not one word said about this marriage.”
“No ?” said Lord Saltire, pensively looking out of the window. “And yet Lady Ascot seems so positive."
“I sincerely hope," said Mackworth, “that she may be wrong. It would be a sad thing for me. I am comfortable and happy at Ravenshoe. Poor dear Cuthbert has secured my position there during my lifetime. The present Mr.
brother, but I can get on well enough with him. But, in case of this story being true, and Mr. Charles Horton coming back, my position would be untenable, and Ravenshoe would be in Protestant hands for the first time in history. I should lose my home, and the Church would lose one of its best houses in the west. The best, in fact. I had sooner be at Ravenshoe than at Segur. I am very much pleased at your lordship’s having sought this conference. It shows you have some trust in me, to consult me upon a matter in which my own interests are all on one side.”
Lord Saltire bowed. “There is another way to look at the matter, too, my dear sir. In case of our proving our case, which is possible, and in case of our poor dear Charles dying or getting killed, which is probable, why then William comes in for the estate again. Suppose, now, such a possibility as his dying without heirs ; why, then, Miss Ravenshoe is the greatest heiress in the west of England. Have you any idea where Miss Ravenshoe is ?"
Both Lord Saltire and Lord Hainault turned on him as the former said this. For an instant Mackworth looked inquiringly from one to the other, with his lips slightly parted, and said, “Miss Ravenshoe ?” Then he gave a half-smile of intelligence, and said, “Ah! yes; I was puzzled for a moment. Yes, in that case poor Ellen would be Miss Ravenshoe. Yes, and the estate would remain in Catholic hands. What a prospect for the Church ! A penitent heiress! The management of 12,0001. a-year! Forgive my being carried away for a moment. You know I am an enthusiastic Churchman. I have been bound, body and soul, to the Church from a child, and such a prospect, even in such remote perspective, has dazzled me. But I am afraid I shall see rather a large family of Ravenshoes between me and such a consummation. William is going to marry.”
“Then you do not know where poor Ellen is ? " said Lord Saltire.
“I do not,” said Mackworth ; “ but