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“And what the devil keeps Peter Crotty ?” inquired a second.
Ignorant of the occasion of his absence, I inquired the causes from my quondam friend, and learned that the absent gentleman had gone up to head-quarters with certain regimental returns ; and that his reappearance had been eagerly expected, to ascertain what reliance might be placed in the rumoured intelligence that an earlier commencement of field operations might be looked for than the season could be supposed to warrant. Peter Crotty, however, did not appear ; an hour passed — the said Peter was cursed and envied according to the mood of the individual ; it being universally resolved, that he, Peter, had popped into some hospitable cantonment, and got drunk for the honour of the service.
“ Lord ! what a congregation of lies Peter will have to get rid of in the morning,” said the captain of grenadiers.
“I beg your pardon-he'll deliver himself of the cargo in a shorter time—for that's his cough, for a hundred !” responded a light-bob.
The lieutenant's ear was correct ; for in a few moments the denounced absentee modestly presented himself.
Had our meeting been in Kamschatka, I should have claimed Peter for a countryman at first sight. He was a stout, well-timbered fellow, of soldierly setting-up, and, as far as appearance went, perfectly content with himself, and at peace with all the world. To
that he was drunk, would not be true; to assert him sober, might have raised a controverted question : but leave it to the most charitable, and they would freely admit that Peter Crotty, in Connemara parlance, “had been looking at somebody drinking. “ Arrah, astore!” observed Mr. Philbin; “ may
the divil be your welcome ! Here have we been waiting these six hours, expecting a little news—while you, no doubt, have visited every wine-house between our quarters and Frenada. By this book !" and Captain Philbin raised a horn drinking-vessel devoutly to his lips, “ I've a mind to report you in the morning to Sir Lowry.”
“ Never listen to him, Peter,” observed the grenadier ; "you must be thirsty after your long ride.—Put that down your neck first, give us some fresh intelligence afterwards, and stick as close to the truth as you can conveniently.” And he presented to the new-comer a nondescript tin vessel, filled to the brim with wine.
Peter Crotty had really been thirsty; for he turned down the cup to the very bottom.
“ Arrah—what kept ye, Peter ?” inquired the first speaker.
Divil a one of me could get away, good nor bad ?”
“What aide-de-camp ?-Don't I tell ye it was himself ?” observed Lieutenant Crotty.
6 Himself ? Arrah-the divil an eye ye laid upon him, unless
ye happened to see him lighting off his horse," observed Captain Philbin.
Peter Crotty answered this remark by a look of silent contempt.
“He's in for it," whispered my next neighbour, softly. “I'll back him for a regular rigmarole of lies against any man in the Peninsula. But we must humour him.- -Well, Peter, and was his lordship commonly civil ?”
“Ă pleasanter-spoken man I never was in company with,” was the reply.
“And he did seem pleased with our morning-state?—The aide-decamp told
that?” “ Not at all ; it was his lordship. Crotty,' says hem"
“Oh !" whispered my friend the major, “ that's conclusive.--All's right when Peter uses the present personal.”
“ Ay! ‘Crotty,' says he,"_observed another, “But you have had a long ride; so before you begin a longer story, take the cobwebs from
Again the tin cup was replenished--once more Peter Crotty refreshed himself; and then to a very attentive auditory he commenced the detail of a recent interview with the "great captain.”
“ Well, you see, I only got the returns from the orderly room at twelve; and as I had ten miles to ride, off the mule and myself jogged immediately. Nothing particular occurred on the road, barrin' I met Soames and Hamilton, and
“Oh, d-n Soames and Hamilton !” exclaimed two or three voices together.
“ Well, we had a drop of wine, and on I pushed without delay,-except half an hour with the Eighty-eighth ; and we had a sort of a lunch of an over-driven bullock, the rump-steak,-by-the-by, it was cut off the fore-part of the shoulder, and as hard as the divil's horn. - We had a throw of rum-and-water afterwards” “For one, read three,” observed another of the audience.
“Well, I reached Frenada-rode up to the door-gave my mule to an orderly-stept into the ante-room, and handed in the returns"
“And, as the evening was wet, I suppose they allowed you to sit down,” said Captain Philbin.
Lieutenant Crotty turned a wrathful look upon the speaker, and then continued his narrative.
“The door was open, and every word that passed within I heard plainly.”
« Arrah! what's that?' said his lordship.
“ The morning-strength of the Twentieth, my lord,' replied the aide-de-camp.
“ Divil welcome the bearer !' says the general. “Isn't it cruel hard, that a man can't have a little pace and quiet, without this eternal botheration ? Tell the fellow to come to the door; and ask him who he is.'
“Be gogstay! I made bold to answer, “It's me, Lieutenant Crotty -plase your lordship.'”
Crotty !--Crotty!' says he ; "Is it Peter Crotty, of the Twentieth ?'
«• The same, my lord,' says I.
“ Arrah, then,' replies the general, I wouldn't for a thirty-shillin'note
had gone home, without my seeing ye. Peter, step in-and be off, and shut the door after ye,' says he to the aide-de-camp; " I'm not at home, if any one inquires this evening. And now, Crotty dear, draw a camp-stool, and bring your heels to an anchor.—Ned,' says he, for they called one another by their names ; ' hand Mr. Crotty a glass. And now, Peter, raise y'er elbow a trifle, and fill fair. Is there any news astir ?'
• Nothing,' says I, 'unless your lordship has it.' «« Had ye anything to ate on the road ?' says he.
• We could get ye a broiled bone in half a jiffy.'
“. Too much trouble,' says I, my lord; I took a bit with the Eighty-eighth, as I was coming along.
Oh! bad luck to the same lads, Sir Thomas Picton,' says he. • 'They're makin' an ould man of me, the thieves! The divil himself -Christ pardon us! wouldn't keep them tolerably reg'lar.'
“He didn't say · Christ pardon us !' Peter.”
“He did,” returned the narrator. “Do you think that he stopped to pick and choose his words in the company of friends ?”
“ Well, go on Peter.”
“ All this time, Sir Thomas, and General Packenham, never said a word ; but, like a priest after confessions, they lathered away at the drinking."
“ Did you hear lately from y'er family ?' says his lordship to me. “Arrah! the devil a scrape I had from Ireland these nine months,'
" "I see what y'er lookin' at,' says he, as he caught me throwin' a sheep's eye over at a card-table in the corner
for a rubber, Peter, to help us to put in the evening ?'
“ Feaks! my lord,' says I, “I'd be afeard, as I'm rather out of practice.'
“Make it five an' ten,' says he ; 'y'er the divil at that, no doubt, as the boy said his mother was at the praying. Come, Ned,' says he, • down with y'er dust, and we'll cut for who'll have Peter Crotty ;' and by my soul, up comes a red knave. • By the powers of pewter, Peter, ye'er my own !' says my lord.
“Oh, then, y’er welcome to him, if he was better,' says Sir Thomas. And he seemed cross at losing me.
“ Well-my Lord desired Ned Packenham to make us a tumbler each—and down we sit ;-myself as stiff as a new-made quartermaster, although, if God's truth was told, I hadn't a skurrick in my pocket to mark the
with. “ "Here's luck t' says his lordship, finishin' his tumbler at a pull. I forgot to mention, that Sir Thomas stuck to the sherry, and Ned Packenham helped himself to a sketch of brandy in the bottom of a. glass, and took it nate, without water.
“ Well, I cuts a black deuce, so the dale was mine ; and up turns the ace of hearts afterwards. His lordship winked his left eye when he saw it. “Be the powers,' says his lordship, your mother must have