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At this period an event occurred that formed another epoch in my history. The captain of grenadiers, a pleasant gentleman, remarkable for taciturnity and an honesty of purpose that would warrant your drinking with him in the dark, in retiring from the mess-room to his lodgings in the town, with three bottles of Page's port under his belt and in christian charity with all men, forgetting that an open cellar lay directly in his route, popped in head foremost, and was found an hour afterwards by the relief, dead as Julius Cæsar. By this deplorable event I got the step and the company together.
The day after the accident, Captain O’Boyle came into my room to offer his congratulations. He lamented the loss the regiment had sustained. It would be many a day before the fellow of the departed could be found -a man who never bothered people with argument, confined himself to “yes and no,” and would as soon forge a bill, as pass the bottle without filling honestly. However, the Lord's will be done! It would have been all the better if he had taken the senior major. He, Peter O’Boyle, would have got the step, and the removal of a toast-and-water man would have been a happy deliverance. “ Now I think of it, Pat,” he continued, “I had a long chat with Miss Maginnis about you, at that tea party with the French name, which her mother gave the night before Bob Purcel broke his neck. D--dangerous to leave cellars open with a drinking regiment in town, and men obliged to stagger home after dinner to their cribs. Well, you must know that Flora Maginnis is “a regular clipper.” You wouldn't match her in the province—takes a country side as the Lord has made it-never cranes a fence—thinks no more of four-feet, coped and dashed, than you would—sweet girl-no humbug about her-worst of it, no fortune-old Denis not worth a ghost—six hundred a-yearspends twelve. Well, as I was saying — O'Boyle,' says she, what
' the devil sort of a spoon is that chap Fitzmaurice?'”
" Heavens and earth !" I mentally soliloquized, "what would my gentle Lucy say, to hear her beloved Pat denominated 'a devil of a
« « The fellow,' says she, 'can neither ride nor drink, I hear ; what is he good for? I wish to God he had broke his neck instead of that poor dummy, Bob Purcell." »
“ Egad, Pat, I tock your part like a true friend, and stuck to you like a brick."
-6. By my oath,' says I, “Miss Flora, you were never more mistaken in your life. It would do your heart good to see him seated on the saddle. Why, he brought Marmaluke in, a beautiful second at Knockcroghary, and only he rode over a blind beggarman and broke his back, he'd have won the cup in a common canter. Then, as to head-I never saw him fairly on the carpet but twice. He'll take off his two bottles without trouble, and troop the guard after it, steady as the serjeant-major.””
6. And where the devil does the fellow hide himself ?' says she. Dick, ye'll deliver a friendly message for me. Tell him I'll run him one round of the course for a new bonnet, weight for age, and say, if he does not trot out to mama's soirée-ay—that's the name sho
called it-next Sunday, I'll go myself to his cursed den, and draw
“ Eternal what ?” responded Captain O'Boyle, who had but partially overheard my rhapsody—“ If it's Lucy Dogherty ye mean, I wish ye had been at the brag-table with her last Monday evening, when Mrs. Middleton laid down three natural aces,-Lord-she swore like a trooper. But you'll go to the soirée, as they call “tea and turn out in this town, or Flora Maginnis will drop into your den, with a 'God save all here.' What will I say about a round of the course? Pon my sowl! it's worth yir while to lose a bonnet, just to see how beautifully she sticks upon the pig-skin—'ye'll come, won't ye, and I'll call
“I suppose I may as well go with a good grace," I replied—“your friend, Miss Flora, being a lady, 'not to be refused,' as the fancy, call it."
“ That's right. Give us a glass of water, with a sketch of spirits thro' it. I wonder what the divil tempts me to eat broiled bacon in the morning!”
Captain O'Boyle's request being complied with, he bolted the diluted alcohol, and presently took himself off.
On the appointed night, he called and conducted me to the Sunday soirée of “Mother Maginnis," as the mama of Miss Flora was fainiliarly termed at the mess. Why this maternal appellation had been conferred upon the lady, I could never exactly learn—but by that soubriquet she had been known for half-a-score years successively to every marching regiment. We found the company already assembled. Some played brag, some played loo, but Captain O'Boyle led me direct to the piano, where, encircled by a crowd of red-coats, two ladies were playing a duet; and, on its termination, in due form he presented me to Miss Flora.
She was indubitably a fine animal-a handsome face, a splendid figure, and the most magnificent head of auburn hair imaginable. On Captain O'Boyle announcing me as “his friend, Captain Fitzmaurice, Miss Flora made a rapid inspection of my outer man from top to toe, and then, as if satisfied with the survey, she gave me a hand, white as alabaster, which I took respectfully in mine.
“ How are you, Pat?- Isn't it Pat they call ye?” said the lady. “Why the devil don't ye shake my hand ?-you take it as gingerly in yours, as if ye had hold of a hot poker. What do
ride? Can you manage twelve stone without wasting, and on a ten-pound saddle ?"
“ What a question at first sight?" I mentally ejaculated. “Ah! Lucy, my absent love, were thou and I together, ours would be a softer theme than ten-pound saddles !"
“ Will you play brag ?” she continued, I shook my head.
“ So much the better. That old tabby, in black velvet, would cheat her father ; and she, in the blue turban, rob a church. They play into
each other's hands-cheat first, divide afterwards ; they would do you brown' to a moral in half an hour.”
“ Oh! Flora, Flora," exclaimed her companion , how can you say such horrid things ?"
“ Because they're true," returned the young lady : then turning to me, she continued, “ Come away into the corner, and we'll have a quiet hit. D'Arcy, go find the back-gammon table, settle the men, and snuff the candles ; it's the only thing you're good for.”
A sheep-faced young gentleman instantly obeyed the order; and Miss Flora Maginnis and I sate down tête-a-tête.
If ever there were two beings who differed from each other wide as the antipodes themselves, they were Flora aforesaid, and my absent mistress. I had endeavoured to imagine what “a clipper” was, according to the parlance of O’Boyle; but my fancy sketch fell infinitely short of the original. An hour glided pleasantly away; and when supper was announced, Miss Flora and I proceeded to the table, mutually pleased with each other.
I had written to Lucy immediately on my arrival at head quarters, and for several days awaited an answer to my epistle with all the impatience of a lover. At last, the long-expected letter came; and my heart throbbed wildly when I read the post-mark; I pressed the
; billet to my lips, muttered that quotation from Pope, which insinuates that letters were invented in heaven, and broke the seal. The “ Dear Sir" commencement gave me a chill; and the conclusion, “Your's, sincerely,” froze me to an icicle. Indeed, a colder composition never met a lover's eye. It expressed gratitude for my sentiments of affection ; spoke of the barrier that family and fortune interposed between us followed that blow up with a disquisition on prudence and “proper pride”—declined all continuation of correspondence as irregular_and concluded with a belief, on her part, that “it would be better for both that the past should be forgotten.”
As I perused the letter, I found the colour waning on my cheek. Was this her constancy?were these her sentiments ? She who I thought had warmly reciprocated my love-she, whose whole heart I fancied mine for ever! Unconsciously my hand approached my breast; and ere I reached the cold conclusion of the letter, that ringlet, which a few minutes since a diamond would not have purchased, was torn from my bosom, and committed with that heartless billet which dispelled my dreams of love, to the secret drawer, where brown and black lay quietly reposing. Fool that I was ! I never suspected that a proud poor father had dictated
line. The hand was Lucy's; but had I looked attentively at the paper, I would have discovered that it was blistered with her tears. Alas! that fact I never knew for years, and not until Lucy was another's !
Every body knows, that the best preparatory state of mind a man can find himself in for falling in love with the first woman that he meets, is immediately after he has been piqued by the falsehood or indifference of another. My introduction to Miss Maginnis was therefore effected in the very nick of time—she seemed a godsend direct from Cupid.—Romeo-like, I changed from Rosalind to Juliet-commenced