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cosily hidden in the damask napkin, my name was on the list for it, on the dainty fresh eggs, the game-pie, the recommendation of Brigadierthe ham done up in Madeira, and general Windham, as a reward for as for the well-aired morning papers, volunteering with the ladder party they were never thought of at all! at the storming and capture of the
On the morning in question my Redan on the 8th September; and valet, Lance-corporal Mulligan, en- that my presence was required at a tered the room with our letters on parade before her Majesty, on a a salver.
certain day named. I had picked up the poor fellow “That is all, Mulligan—you may by the merest chance one night at go,' said I, and he wheeled about the Brighton Theatre, where he had sharply, as if on a pivot, and stalkbeen receiving, as a super and shamed out; while Winny kissed me, soldier in a suit of tin armour, one ran her white fingers caressingly shilling per night, exactly what he through my hair, her face beaming got from her Majesty's most liberal with delight. government for risking his life night ‘But, Winny, by Jove I've done and day as a real one; and so, nothing to deserve this. I only minus an eye, had betaken himself, tumbled into an embrasure of the after fighting at Alma and storming Redan, to be tumbled out again,' the Redan, to figuring at the Battle said I; "and I got jambed among of Bosworth and marching to Dun- the dead.' sinane. So he came to me gladly, "Nothing, darling-do you call while his Biddy and a chubby Pat, that nothing ?' she exclaimed. 'O, born under canvas among the tents this is indeed delightful—a real deof the Connaught Rangers, were coration ! How proud I am of you ! snugly located in one of the gate and yet—and yet-I am loth to lodges at Craigaderyn.
leave Brighton for town. We are Erect as a pike he marched up so happy here; we have been so to the table and laid the letters be- jolly, Harry.' fore Winny, all save one, which he 'But, Winny, we shall return; handed to me. It was oblong, offi- we have “done” the pier, the pacial, and inscribed 'On her Ma- rade, and the pavilion again and jesty's Service,' words at the sight again.' of which his solitary eye brighten- 'Have you wearied ?' ed, while he regarded them with “When with you ! respect, as an Osmanli might the And I with you, Harry. But I cipher of the Sultan; and then he am so happy that I fear at times stood at 'attention,' lingering by, such happiness cannot last.' napkin in hand, to hear what the Town will be a pleasant change contents were.
for a time; and then the spectacle They were, as usual in such com- in the Park will be most brilliant, munications from the Horse Guards, and—all the world of fashion will very brief, but not the less gratify- be there.' ing.
"And one perhaps whom - I The Military Secretary had the don't wish to see,' said she, pouthonour to inform me, that her Ma- ing. jesty had been graciously pleased One-who?' to signify her intention of confer "Lady Aberconway will be there, ring the new order of merit, entitled no doubt,' she replied, with a little the Victoria Cross, on certain offi- nervous laugh. cers, seamen, and soldiers, for acts What of that, in the world of of bravery during the late war; that London? And what now is Es—
the Marchioness of Aberconway, London, was appropriate enough, or Aber-anything else, to me, Win- by its local and historical associany darling ?
tions; and Hyde Park seemed 'Nothing now, of course—but, beautiful and stirring when viewed but
through the mellow haze of the • But what?
midsummer morning, with its long 'I cannot forget that she has been rows of trees and far expanse of something to you.'
green grass, on which the masses 'Never what you are now,' said of cavalry and infantry, chiefly of I, clasping her to my breast with the Household Brigade,were ranged, one arm, and kissing her on the their arms and gay appointments eyes and hair.
flashing and glittering in the sun, "You pet me too much, Harry, and the mighty assemblage of faand I fear will quite spoil me,' said shionables, in splendid carriages, she, laughing merrily again.
on horseback, or on foot-such an Who could live with you and assemblage as London alone can not pet you? Would you have me produce—with the bronze Achilles, to wrap myself up in a toga, a man the trophy of another and far more tle of marital dignity, and remain glorious war, towering over all. solemnly on a pedestal like an arm. There were present not less than less statue, for my little wife to a hundred thousand of the sightworship? But there was some loving Londoners, full of generous thing in one of your letters that enthusiasm. A grand review formed made you laugh ?'
a portion of the programme; but It is from Dora.'
as such displays are alī alike, I shall And her news ?'
skip that part of the day's proceed'Is that she has accepted ings; though there were present the Vaughan.'
79th Highlanders, whom I had last 'I am so glad to hear it! Then seen in the trenches before the Rewe shall have another marriage, dan, preparing for the final assault and more feasting and harping at at daybreak; the 19th, that with Craigaderyn ?
the 23rd went side by side in the Yes ; about the middle of Au- up-hill charge at Alma ; the showy gust, or after the grouse-shooting ith Hussars in blue with scarlet begins, as dear papa would date it.' pelisses, who had ridden in the ter
rible death-ride at Balaclava; and with glittering brass helmets the
gallant Enniskillens, who, with the CHAPTER LXI. Greys, had followed Scarlett in the 'FOR VALOUR.'
task of avenging them. And there
too, commanding the whole, in his It was in the height of the gay plumed bonnet and tartan trews, London season that this interesting was old Colin Campbell, riding as ceremony, which formed the last quietly and as grimly, amid the scene connected with the Crimean youth, rank, and beauty of London, War—the last chapter in its glori- as when he brought his Highland ous yet melancholy history — was Brigade in stately échelon of regito be closed under the auspices of ments along the green slopes of the Royalty on a day in June, when Kourgané Hill, and heard the gray the air was clear, bright, and sunny, Kazan columns, ere they fled, send the sky without a cloud. The place up their terrible wail to heaven, that selected for the celebration, though the angel of Death had come ! perhaps not the most suitable in This veteran soldier, who had carried the colours of the 9th Regi- something sad in the conviction ment under Moore at Corunna, that it was so, I never felt so proud looked old now, worn, and service of it, or of my looped-up sleeve, as stricken, yet he had the wars of the on that day in Hyde Park. I felt Indian Mutiny before him still. By that my occupation was gone, and his side rode the hero of Kars in that any other was unsuited to me, artillery uniform, and that brilliant for it is the specialty of a soldier's Hussar officer, the Earl of Cardi career, that it unfits most men for gan, mounted on the same horse any other life. They cannot throw he had ridden at Balaclava.
off the old habitudes. They canThe royal stand, as yet empty, not turn from the noisy stir of war was elaborately decorated; gilded to the tame quiet of every-day life; chairs of state were placed within and even when they fancy themit; and in front, covered with scar- selves wearied and worn-out, and let cloth, was a table whereon lay willing to retire from the service, sixty-two of those black crosses, their souls are stirred by every cast from Russian cannon, rude in sound of the distant contest, as the design, but named after her Ma- war-steed is roused by the blast of jesty, and inscribed 'For Valour' a trumpet. -sixty-two being the number who, Often in fancy before this—for on that day, were to receive them. I was ever addicted to day-dreams
We, the observed of all observ- — I had pictured some such fête, ers,' had not as yet fallen in, so I some such ceremony, some such lingered near the stand, where Wini- reward, for all our army had enfred, Dora, and Gwenny Vaughan, dured in Bulgaria, and done by the and many other ladies were seated, shores of the Black Sea; but the and seeking, by the aid of parasol reality far exceeded all I had ever and fan, to shield themselves from imagined. the heat of the sun, and using their In my school-days, how I had lorgnettes freely in looking for longed, with all a boy's ardour, to friends among the crowd, and in fight for my country and Queen ! watching the proceedings, chatting Well, I had fought-not for either, and laughing gaily the while, with certainly, but for the lazy, wretched, all the freedom of happy and heed and contemptible Turks—and her less girls; for the troops were royal hand was about to reward
standing at ease,' and her Majesty me, by placing an order on my had not yet come.
breast. Winifred was looking charming The longing, the wild desire to in her bridal bonnet – charming achieve, to do something great, or amid the loveliest women in the grand, or dashing, had ever since world, and they were there by thou- those school-boy days been mine; sands; for she had the beauty of now that mysterious 'something' perfect goodness, and of the purest was achieved, and I was about to and gentlest attributes of woman- be made a V.C. before that vast kind; for she was an artless and multitude, and, more than all, begenerous creature, too simple-mind- neath the soft kind eyes of one ed at times, even in this cold who loved me more than all the blooded and well-bred age, to have world. the power of concealing her emo- Who the dooce is that handtions.
some woman, on whom — (I I wore my old and faded red failed to catch the name) 'of ours coat of the Welsh Fusileers for the is so devilish spooney?' I heard last time; and though there was one tall Plunger, in a marvellously
new panoply, lisp to another, as he How often had I gazed tenderly checked his beautiful black horse and passionately on that face, so for a moment in passing.
false and yet so fair, and kissed it What! can it be possible you on lips, and eyes, and cheek! and don't know? It is the talk of all now it was turned smilingly, laughtown,' replied the other, laughing, ingly, and, I am sorry to add, lovand in a low tone; "she is Lady ingly, to the boyish and insipid Aberconway, old Pottersleigh's wife face of that long-legged, curled, and
-a more ill-mated pair don't exist pomatumed Guardsman, who had in Europe, by Jove !
never set a squadron in the field,' 'So she has found consolation ? nor smelt powder elsewhere than at Rather.'
Wormwood Scrubs or Bushey Park. And the two glittering warriors I turned from her with something with black boots, shining breast- of sublime contempt, and yet, odd plates, and fly-away whiskers winked to say, I felt a nervous twinge, as to each other knowingly, and sepa- if in the arm that was now no longer rated.
in my sleeve, when her voice reachI looked in the direction they ed me; but after all that had come had indicated. Close by me an and gone, that voice could find no officer of the Oxford Blues, with echo now in my heart. Sweetly his horse reined-in close to the modulated it was still, but seemstand, was engaged in a conversa- ed to me only 'low and clear as tion, by turns gay and animated, or the song of a snake-charmer.' low and confidential, with—Estelle! 'It will be the ball of the season She was seated near her mother, —you will be there of course?' she Lady Naseby, who looked as im- asked. passible and passionless as ever, Only if you go, Lady Aberwith her cold and imperious dig- conway — not unless,' replied the nity of face and manner, and her trooper in a low tone; 'what or odious white shock, now somewhat who else should take me there? aged and wheezy, in her lap.
“So they have made your uncle 'Love,' it is said, 'is as hard as a K.C.B.' any snake to kill. Perhaps so, but “Yes—and somebody is going I could regard her daughter now to marry him on Tuesday at eleven without any special throb of my in Hanover-square.' pulse, or thrill in my heart.
And your brother is coming up Still I could not but confess that for his little exam. I have heard her high class of beauty, in style, also. polish, and finish, was wonderful, “Yes—at Woolwich. The idea of and when in repose, cold and aris- any fellow fancying the Artillery.' tocratic to a degree. She had 'Is he handsome-is he anyachieved already that which has thing like you? Then, without been justly described as that waiting for a reply to these imqueenly standard women so often portant queries, she suddenly said, attain after marriage, while losing Gracious, mamma, there is annone of their early charms, unless other poor creature withoutan arm!' I except a little heartless flippancy. “Poor deyvil—so there is,' drawlof manner in the conversation, ed her male friend, and then I which, as I was pressed near her knew by these flattering remarks by the crowd, I was compelled to that their august regards were turnoverhear.
ed on me; but my bushy Crimean Her toilette was as perfect as lace, beard, my empty sleeve, and, as tulle, and flowers could make it yet, rather pale cheek, and moreover my face being half averted, 'How odd!' said I, laughing; prevented Estelle from recognising “had it been otherwise, Winny, we me; or it might be, that I dwelt should not have had our delightful but little in her memory.
little trip to Brighton. Think of What is that officer's regiment?' that, my British matron ! she asked, adding doubtfully, 'he 'I am not a matron yet, but only is an officer, isn't he—but his uni- your bride; the honeymoon is not form is deplorabie !
yet over, sir.' "Twenty-third-Welsh Fusileers. Thank God you are so, dar'Ah, indeed !
ling! What an escape I have had I now turned fully round; for a from being in old Pottersleigh's moment our eyes met, and then I place! But there sound the trummoved back to where Winifred pets, and I must fall in-fall in for sat. Estelle eyed me keenly enough the last time.' now,and fanned herself, as I thought, And as drum and bugle sounded with a little air of vexation, from on all sides, and the arms flashed time to time. Yet that was not in the sunshine when the order was flattering : for I knew that though given to "shoulder,' a brightness a woman may forget, she does not seemed to pass over all the eyes like the idea of being forgotten, or and expectant faces in the grand that even when flirting with an- stand. The Queen had come, and other, her empire over an old lov- all that passed subsequently was er's heart is at an end.
like a dream to me then, and is She had deteriorated in style, more so now. and her tone of flippancy was not The sixty-two officers and men that of the Estelle I had once who were to receive the cross (and loved ; and as for the boy Guards- fourteen of whom belonged to the man, with whom gossip was already navy) were all, irrespective of rank, linking her name, poor fool! his marshalled according to the numlove for her and her extravagance ber of their regiment under Lieutesoon ruined him. Bills were dis- nant John Knox of the Rifles, who, honoured thick and threefold; like myself, had an empty sleeve. cent-per-cent, London and Judea The braided breast of his darkbetween them cleaned him out. green uniform seemed ablaze with A meeting of the Guards' Club medals, for he had been with the passed such resolutions that he was ladder party in the attack on the compelled to begin the sliding Redan, where he lost an arm by a scale- from the Guards to Line, grape-shot. - and thence to the devil,' as the There were but two officers of phrase is — and to recruiting for the 23rd to win the decoration, and H.M. and West India Regiment we were posted between two priin Sierra Leone, where drink and vates of the 19th, and two of the fever finished him; and he lies now 34th; but all passed the royal by the bank of the Bunce river, as stand in single file. I had never completely forgotten by Estelle as seen the Queen hitherto, and sudif he never had been.
denly I found myself before her 'Do you see who is there, Harry? a smiling-faced, graceful, though asked Winifred, with a rather agi stout little lady, in a low hat, tated voice.
adorned with a beautiful plume, Yes; what of it, little one ? and wearing a scarlet tunic and ‘Only that I-hate her!' blue skirt; and I certainly felt "Why?
my heart vibrate, as with her own 'For her treatment of you.' hands she pinned the decoration