necessarily so limited; but yet we have every reason to be thankful for the peculiarity, as you'll say, when I inform you that this morning I despatched a hasty messenger to his villa, with a most polite note, setting forth that a Mr. Lorrequeraye, Harry, all above-board-there is nothing like it-' as Mr. Lorrequer, of the -th, was collecting for publication, such materials as might serve to commemorate the distinguished achievements of British officers, who have, at any time, been in command-he most respectfully requests an interview with Colonel Kamworth, whose distinguished services, on many gallant occasions, have called forth the unqualified approval of his Majesty's government. Mr. Lorrequer's stay is necessarily limited to a few days, as he proceeds from this to visit Lord Anglesey; and therefore would humbly suggest as early a meeting as may suit Colonel K.'s convenience.' What think you now? Is this a masterstroke or not?"

"Why, certainly, we are in for it now," said I, drawing a deep sigh. "But, Jack, what is all this? Why, you're in livery already."

I now, for the first time, perceived that Waller was arrayed in a very decorous suit of dark gray, with cord shorts and boots, and looked a very knowing style of servant for the side of a tilbury.

“You like it, do you? Well, I should have preferred something a little more showy myself; but as you chose this last night, I, of course, gave way, and after all, I believe you're right; it certainly is neat."

"Did I choose it last night? I have not the slightest recollection of it."

"Yes, you were most particular about the length of the waistcoat and the height of the cockade, and you see I have

[ocr errors]

followed your orders tolerably close; and now, adieu to sweet equality for the season, and I am your most obedient servant for four weeks-see that you make the most of it."

While we were talking, the waiter entered with a note addressed to me, which I rightly conjectured could only come from Colonel Kamworth. It ran thus:

"Colonel Kamworth feels highly flattered by the polite attention of Mr. Lorrequer, and will esteem it a particular favour if Mr. L. can afford him the few days his stay in this part of the country will permit, by spending them at Hydrabad Cottage. Any information as to Colonel Kamworth's services in the four quarters of the globe, he need not say, is entirely at Mr. L.'s disposal.

"Colonel K. dines at six precisely."

When Waller had read the note through, he tossed his hat up in the air, and with something little short of an Indian whoop, shouted out:


'The game is won already. Harry, my man, give me the check for the ten thousand: she is your own this minute."

Without participating entirely in Waller's exceeding delight, I could not help feeling a growing interest in the part I was advertised to perform, and began my rehearsal with more spirit than I thought I should have been able to command.

That same evening, at the same hour as that in which on the preceding I sat lone and comfortless by the coffee-room fire, I was seated opposite a very pompous, respectable-looking old man, with a large stiff queue of white hair, who pressed me repeatedly to fill my glass and pass the decanter. The room was a small library with handsomely fitted shelves;

there were but four chairs, but each would have made at least three of any modern one; the curtains of deep crimson cloth effectually secured the room from draught; and the cheerful wood fire blazing on the hearth, which was the only light in the apartment, gave a most inviting look of comfort and snugness to everything. This, thought I, is excellent; and however the adventure ends, this is certainly pleasant, and I never tasted better Madeira.

"And so, Mr. Lorrequer, you heard of my affair at Cantantrabad, when I took the rajah prisoner!"

"Yes," said I; "the governor-general mentioned the gallant business the very last time I dined at GovernmentHouse."

"Ah, did he? kind of him, though. Well, sir, I received two millions of rupees on the morning after, and a promise of ten more if I would permit him to escape-but no, I refused flatly."

"Is it possible? And what did you do with the two millions? Sent them, of course!"

"No, that I didn't; the wretches know nothing of the use of money. No, no; I have them this moment in good government security.

"I believe I never mentioned to you the storming of Java. Fill yourself another glass, and I'll describe it all to you, for it will be of infinite consequence that a true narrative of this meets the public eye-they really are quite ignorant of it. Here now is Fort Cornelius, and there is the moat, the sugar-basin is the citadel, and the tongs is the first trench; the decanter will represent the tall tower toward the sou'-west angle, and here, the wine-glass-this is me. Well, it was a little after ten at night that I got the order from the general in command, to march upon this plate of

figs, which was an open space before Fort Cornelius, and to take up my position in front of the fort, and with four pieces of field artillery-these walnuts here-to be ready to open my fire at a moment's warning upon the sou'-west tower; but, my dear sir, you have moved the tower; I thought you were drinking Madeira. As I said before, to open my fire upon the sou'-west tower, or, if necessary, protect the sugartongs, which I explained to you was the trench. Just at the same time, the besieged were making preparations for a sortie to occupy this dish of almonds and raisins-the high ground to the left of my position-put another log on the fire, if you please, sir, for I cannot see myself—I thought I was up near the figs, and I find myself down near the halfmoon."

"It is past nine," said a servant, entering the room; "shall I take the carriage for Miss Kamworth, sir?". This being the first time the name of the young lady was mentioned since my arrival, I felt somewhat anxious to hear more of her, in which laudable desire I was not, however, to be gratified, for the colonel, feeling considerably annoyed by the interruption, dismissed the servant by saying:

"What do you mean, sirrah, by coming in at this moment; don't you see I am preparing for the attack on the half-moon? Mr. Lorrequer, I beg your pardon for one moment, this fellow has completely put me out; and besides, I perceive you have eaten the flying artillery, and in fact, my dear sir, I shall be obliged to lay down the position again."

With this praiseworthy interest, the colonel proceeded to arrange the matériel of our dessert in battle array, when the door was suddenly thrown open, and a very handsome girl, in a most becoming demie toilette, sprung into the

room, and either not noticing, or not caring, that a stranger was present, threw herself into the old gentleman's arms, with a degree of empressement exceedingly vexatious for any third and unoccupied party to witness.


'Mary, my dear," said the colonel, completely forgetting Java and Fort Cornelius at once, "you don't perceive I have a gentleman to introduce to you. Mr. Lorrequer, my daughter, Miss Kamworth." Here the young lady courtesied somewhat stiffly, and I bowed reverently; and we all resumed places. I now found out that Miss Kamworth had been spending the preceding four or five days at a friend's in the neighbourhood; and had preferred coming home somewhat unexpectedly, to waiting for her own carriage.

My Confessions, if recorded verbatim from the notes of that four weeks' sojourn, would only increase the already too prolix and uninteresting details of this chapter in my life. I need only say, that without falling in love with Mary Kamworth, I felt prodigiously disposed thereto; she was extremely pretty, had a foot and ankle to swear by, the most silvery-toned voice I almost ever heard, and a certain witchery and archness of manner that by its very tantalising uncertainty continually provoked attention, and by suggesting a difficulty in the road to success, imparted a more than common zest in the pursuit. She was a little, a very little blue, rather a dabbler in the "ologies," than a real disciple. Yet she made collections of minerals, and brown beetles, and cryptogamias, and various other homoeopathic doses of the creation, infinitesimally small in their subdivision; in none of which I felt any interest, save in the excuse they gave for accompanying her in her pony-phaeton. This was, however, a rare pleasure, for every morning, for at least three or four hours, I was obliged to sit opposite the colonel,

« 上一页继续 »