To warn the lovers was her first good impulse

O fondest memories! come and go,
Shine on sad times which are no more,
As sunbeams gladden waters of snow,
As wavelets kiss a barren shore:
And light with love and tenderness
The happy days which still are ours;
Whose influence, rich in April showers,
Casts round us love and tenderness.

The clatter of spurs and scabbards, and the firmer tread of feet than
one usually hears among the slipshod or slippered Moslems, next
forenoon, announced the arrival of my friends, and most welcome to me
was the appearance of Colonel Beverley, Studhome, Wilford, and Jocelyn
of ours, all fearless of cholera, as they came through the verandah of
the kiosk where I lay; and there, too, lingering without, I saw my
faithful follower, Pitblado.

They were all in full uniform and accoutred, for it was the day of a
great review; and all bowed with politeness to the sister of charity,
who immediately withdrew to the shadow of the verandah.

“I rejoice to see you, my dear boy,” said the colonel; “we had all given
you up as lost to us and to the regiment.”

“Lost, colonel?” I repeated.

“Faith, did we, Newton,” said Studhome. “We concluded that you had been
waylaid—cut off in the flower of your youth and day-dawn of ambition, as
the novels have it—by some Bulgarian footpads or rascally Bashi Bazooks,
for I presume you know that no one can go beyond the advanced posts with
safety without a revolver.”

“A rumour reached us of a British cavalry officer being conveyed
seriously ill to the house of an Armenian gentleman,” resumed Beverley.
“We strongly suspected that you were the person, and the presumption
became a certainty when yesterday this young lady brought your card to
my tent at the cavalry camp.”

“She is a good little saint,” said I, with enthusiasm.

“And so, Norcliff, you have actually had cholera—that foul pest which is
destroying our noble army piece-meal?”

“I am recovering, as you see; but pray don’t linger here, colonel.
There is danger by my side.”

“Norcliff, the air we breathe is full of cholera,” said Beverley,
impatiently twisting his grizzled moustache; “our poor fellows are dying
of it like sheep with the rot!”

“If the Emperor of Russia had planned the whole affair himself, he could
not have taken better measures to weaken and decimate us than this
useless camp at Varna.”

“You are right, Studhome—to decimate us before the war begins,” added
Jocelyn.

“When do we take the field, colonel?”

“No one knows.”

“Then how long are we to remain here?”

“No one can tell. Satisfactory, isn’t it? In fact, no one knows
anything.”

“Except,” said Studhome, “that we are giving the Russians plenty of time
to prepare a hot reception for us, if we venture to seek ’the bubble
reputation’ in the Crimea—or military fame, which, as some one says,
consists of ’a few orders on a tight uniform.’”

“How far am I from the camp, colonel?”

“About five miles.”

“Five miles!” I exclaimed, “Then you, my poor friend, Sister Archange,
actually walked for me ten miles under a broiling sun yesterday?”

“Yes, _monsieur le capitaine_,” she replied; “and happy would I have
been could I have returned with what you wished for.”

“How sorry I am! How can I ever repay, ever apologize, for the amount
of trouble I have given you?”

“Apologies are not to be thought of,” said she, quietly; “and as for
repayment, we do not look for that—here, at least.”

She smiled, and looked very beautiful. Twirling his
carefully-bandolined moustache, Jocelyn, who had been observing her
admiringly, was about to address her in, perhaps, rather a heedless way,
when Beverley said to him pointedly—

“Those French sisters of charity are the admiration of all the troops.
Even the stupid Turks adore them, and are bewildered by a devotion and
purity of purpose which their sensual souls cannot understand.
Mademoiselle, we have no language to describe what we owe to your
order.”

The sister of charity gave the colonel a pleasant smile, and a bow full
of grace and good humour.

“Our visit,” said he, “is necessarily a hurried one. We are all in full
puff, as you may see, Norcliff, for this afternoon the cavalry division
is to be reviewed before Omar Pasha and Marshal St. Arnaud.”

“Hence my Lord Lucan is most anxious that each and all should appear in
his best bib and tucker,” added Studhome.

After they were gone, I turned again to thank the gentle sister of
charity for the journey she had made, on a hot and breathless day,
through a camp of more than eighty thousand foreign troops, to serve me.

She only gave me one of her pleasant smiles, and; taking the miniature
of Louisa from the tripod table, said in a low voice, “Is this the lady
from whom you expect letters?”

“Yes.”

She shook her head sadly, as if her survey of the tiny portrait had not
proved satisfactory.

“Why do you look thus, _ma soeur_? What do you see?”

“Much of dangerous beauty; but more of pride, of caution, tact, and cold
decision. The eyebrows nearly meet—I don’t like that. The eyes are
lovely; but—but——”

“What?” I asked, almost imperiously.

“I dare not say it. I may be guilty of the sin of detraction.”

“Nay, speak, I beg of you. The eyes are lovely, you say, but——”

“Have an untruthful expression.”

“Ah, good heavens, don’t say so!”

My heart sank as she spoke, and I sighed deeply.

“I have seen such eyes and brows once before, and I remember the sorrow
they wrought.”

The paragraph which I had read in the London morning paper, on board the
_Ganges_, in the harbour of Valetta—that fulsome paragraph, at which
Berkeley had smiled so complacently and covertly—came to my memory word
for word now. Was it possible that the journal was true, and Louisa
false? After an uncomfortable pause, I related to the sister the
strange episode which occurred at the house of the hakim Abd-el-Rasig.

“_Magique!_” she exclaimed, while her large eyes became larger still,
and she crossed herself three several times with great earnestness. “_O
Sainte Dame!_ you tried the art of the great fiend, did you?”

“Who—I? Not at all! How could I? Don’t imagine anything so absurd.
The man is only a trickster, like Houdin or Herr Frickel.”

But she seemed so horrified at me, and “the art that none may name,”
that I was fain to explain that the whole affair originated in the
suggestion of Studhome, and some of the officers of the 2nd Zouaves, in
a moment of idleness.

“I can tell you many a tale of the wickedness of having recourse to
magic, and the retribution which falls on those who do so,” said she.
“Have you ever read the writings of the fathers?”

“No, I regret exceedingly,” I was beginning, when I could not help
laughing at her conceiving such a course of reading palatable to a young
cavalry officer. Even the pundits who “go in” for cramming, that they
may have the magical letters “P.S.C.”[*] after their names in the “Army
List,” do not go that length.

[*] Passed (final examination) at the Staff College,

“Have you ever heard of St. Jerome?” she asked, gravely.

“I think so, _ma soeur_.”

“Well, I shall tell you a tale he records concerning magic, and one who
resorted thereto. Once upon a time in France, your odious Abd-el-Rasig
would have been burned alive, for there can be no doubt that, like those
of the Egyptian magicians of old, his operations are conducted with
infernal agency. Can the accounts we hear of those magicians from Moses
admit of any other construction?”

“Of course not, though I can’t for the life of me see what you are
driving at.”

“If ever you see him again, _mon frère_, make the sign of the cross, and
then you will see how he will shrink and whine, like Mephistopheles in
the opera, for it is a sign that always sends the thoughts heavenward.
We are told that, if St. Ephrem saw a little bird fly, he always
remembered that, with pinions outspread, it made the sign of the cross
as it soared towards heaven; but that when it folded those wings the
holy sign was marred, and the poor bird fell at once, grovelling and
fluttering, on the earth.”

“Well, _ma soeur_; but the story and St. Jerome?”

“Pardon me, I had forgotten. He tells, in his life of St. Hilarion the
Hermit—ah, you never heard of him either—that a gay young man of the
town of Gaza, in Syria, fell deeply in love with a young lady, whom he
used to see occasionally in those beautiful gardens of tamarisks, figs,
and olives for which the place is still so famous; but she was pious,
devoted to Heaven and to religion, and, consequently, shunned him—a
course which only added the stings of jealousy and attraction to the
passion which she had inspired.

“His glances, his tender whispers, his presents, and professions she
treated with coldness; his attempted caresses she repulsed with anger
and disdain, till, finding all his attempts baffled and ineffectual, in
a fit of rage and despair he went to Memphis, which was then the
residence of many eminent magicians, all reputed to possess wonderful
power.

“There he remained a whole year, studying the dark mysteries under the
tutelage of the most learned, until he deemed himself sufficiently
instructed; and, exulting in his unholy knowledge, acquired chiefly
among the graves which still lie to the south and westward of Memphis,
and where one may walk for miles and miles amid bones and fragments of
crumbling mummies, he returned to Gaza, confident that now he could bend
the inflexible beauty to his will.

“Beneath the marble peristyle of her father’s house he contrived to
lodge at midnight a plate of brass, whereon he had engraved a potent
spell. Hence, the first time she passed over it a wondrous illness
seized her! She became furious, says St. Jerome; she tore her glorious
hair, she gnashed her teeth, and raved over the name and image of the
very youth whom she had so repeatedly driven from her presence in
despair by her coldness and hauteur.

“In sorrow and terror her parents conducted her to the hermitage of St.
Hilarion; and then, when the holy hands of the old man crossed her, the
devil that was within her began to howl, and to confess the truth.

“’I have suffered violence!’ he exclaimed, speaking with _her_ tongue,
to the fear of all.

“St. Hilarion took a branch of blessed palm, and, having dipped it in
holy water as an esperges, threw the sparkling drops profusely over her,
on which the devil exclaimed again—

“’I have been forced here against my inclination! Alas! these drops are
as freezing ice! Oh, how happy I was at Memphis among the tombs of the
dead! Oh! the pains, the tortures I suffer!’

“Then the hermit commanded him to come forth; but the devil told him
that he was detained by a brazen spell beneath the peristyle of the
maiden’s house.





“So cautious was the saint, however, that he would not permit the magic
figures to be searched for till he had released the virgin, for fear he
should seem to have intercourse with incantations for the performance of
a cure, or to have believed that a devil could ever speak truth. He
observed that demons are always liars, and cunning only to deceive.”

“So the damsel was released?” said I, who had listened with some
amusement to the story, which was told me with implicit faith in its
veracity.

“Yes; but the devil, ere he went back to Memphis, paid a terrible visit
to his first summoner; for the young man was found in the garden of
olives, strangled, with the marks of talons in his throat. So, _mon
ami_, never again have recourse to such persons as Abd-el-Rasig.
Promise this to your little sister, Archange!”

“I may well promise you that, or anything else you ask,” said I, charmed
by her winning manner. “How sweetly your name sounds when pronounced by
yourself.”

“Do you really think so?” she asked, while her dark eyebrows arched up.
“My godfather named me Archange, that I might be under the protection of
the archangels. You comprehend me, monsieur? When I joined the order
of the _soeurs de la charité_ for my noviciate in the Rue du Vieux
Colombier, to share with the Sisters of St. Martha the care of the sick
in the hospitals of Paris, they saw no reason to change it; and hence I
am still, as I was before—before I thought of being a sister of
charity—Archange.”

To a sick man’s ear, there was a soothing charm in the girl’s voice and
its intonation. Then her broken English, her earnestness, truthfulness,
and intense faith in all the little religious legends and anecdotes with
which she amused us, were all fascinating, and there came a time when I
missed her, and then sorely. Add to all these that, in the girl’s
beautiful but colourless face, there was an expression singularly pure,
noble, and frank, lofty, and at times sublime. I was very curious to
know her surname, and the reason why she had adopted a life of such
privation and peril as that of a Sister of Charity—an order so severe,
and whose duties were a ceaseless round of privation and peril. Without
being uncourteously curious, I knew not how to approach the subject; but
next day, after Jack Studhome and Fred Wilford (who rode over from the
camp) had retired, she imparted the little story of her past life of her
own accord, and the circumstance came about very simply, through a mere
remark of mine. The mail steamer had come in from Constantinople, but
Studhome had no letter for me.

“Ah, _ma soeur_ Archange, I begin to be torn by jealousy,” said I.

“Why?” she asked, gently.

“I cannot say why, as the only man in England I have reason to fear is a
creature so contemptible.”

“Then wherefore give way to a weakness so odious and so tempting?”

“Tempting?” I repeated.

“Yes; I mean tempting to crime.”

“How strangely you speak!”

“But truly,” she replied, sadly.

“I do not understand——”

“I can tell you a horrible episode,” she began, impetuously; “but no,
’tis better forgotten—forgotten, if possible, than to recollect it now,
in all its sad details,” she added, after a pause.

“Why?”

“You have unbosomed yourself to me, and have told to me your only
sorrow; why should I conceal mine? or why be less communicative to you?
Well, I shall tell you why I—for the sake of others, rather than even
for my own soul’s welfare—dedicated myself to God and the order of
charity. By jealousy, and the revenge it inspired, I lost a brother
whom I idolized, and two friends whom I loved dearly; and, monsieur, it
all happened thus.”

After a short pause, with her long dark lashes cast down, and her little
white hands folded on her knees, she told me the following story:—”My
father, M. Marie Anatole Chaverondier, resided in a little antique
château among the mountains of Beaujolais, where we had a property
which, though small, is fertile, and in some places is covered with fine
old wood. Our château is very ancient, for it had anciently been a
hunting-seat of the illustrious family of Beaujeu, who gave their name
to all that district; and thus we have rooms that many a time were
honoured by the presence of the Great Constable and the Dukes of
Bourbon.

“I can, in fancy, see that dear old château now, with its round turrets,
its gilded vanes, and white façade, rising above the green woodlands,
with the blue Saône flowing in front under an ancient bridge, the
central arch of which had been blown up in the wars of the old
revolution, but was now partly repaired by logs of oak, that were
half-hidden by luxuriant ivy, and beautiful red and white roses. Ah!”
she exclaimed, while her splendid eyes became suffused with tears,
“shall I ever again see the old Château de Chaverondier?

“My mother was dead. My father—a gentleman of the _ancien régime_, a
strict legitimist, or adherent of the old monarchy, and a worshipper in
secret of Henri V.—resided there in seclusion with his family, which
consisted of myself, my brother Claude, and three or four servants; and,
save our tutor, who was the old curé of the neighbouring village, or
monsieur le maire of Beaujeu, we had few or no visitors; and our time
glided away amid quiet pleasures, but with no sorrow, till Claude, a
tall and handsome youth, left us for the military school of St. Cyr.

“There he soon received the commission of sous-lieutenant in the 3rd
Light Infantry of the line, then commanded by Colonel François-Certain
de Canrobert, now marshal of our army in the East.

“I sorrowed for my brother, my lost companion, long and earnestly. We
had no more rambles now by the Sacine, in search of flowers and ferns,
or in the deep dark woodland dells around the old château. There was a
sad emptiness and loneliness in and around it, too. I no longer heard
my brother’s clear voice singing merrily as he prepared his flies and
fishing-rod, or the report of his gun waking the echoes of the forest;
and I went to mass, to confession, and to communion alone, for my father
had become too feeble now to leave his apartment, and my chief solace
was in attending him; so, monsieur, you see that I served an early
apprenticeship in the sick chamber.

“But there were others who sorrowed for the absent Claude—the two
daughters of Montallé, the maire of Beaujeu, a wealthy proprietor of
several forges and furnaces, whose alliance my father would have opposed
with disdain and wrath; but that did not prevent us from being great
friends with Lucrece and Cecile, whom we had been in the habit of
meeting so regularly at mass, and with whom we worked in common to
decorate the altar of monsieur le curé on holidays.

“Both were remarkably handsome and sprightly girls. Cecile was fair and
gentle, and Claude, I knew, loved her, and sighed for her, even as a
boy; but Lucrece, the elder, I also knew, loved him in her secret heart,
for she had frequently told me so after his departure for St. Cyr, and
more than once I had seen a dangerous expression in her pale face and
dark eyes when Cecile spoke of him with regret or affection. Dark as
night were the eyes of Lucrece. Her nose was aquiline, and over it her
eyebrows nearly met; and she had a general expression not unlike that
which I saw in your miniature. Letters came at times to our old château
among the mountains of Beaujolais from the absent Claude; but it was
soon too evident that Cecile Montallé was in correspondence with him as
well as I; for she knew quite as soon as we did of Claude’s movements,
and those of the 3rd Light Infantry, with which he was serving in
Africa; and she knew before we did of how he had distinguished himself
in Canrobert’s famous expedition against Ahmed-Sghir, when that chief
rallied the tribes of the Bouaoun in revolt against France.

“In 1850, Claude wrote us that he had been wounded in Canrobert’s
expedition against Narah, that Colonel Canrobert had granted him leave
of absence, and that he was coming home. No hearts were so happy as
ours at the old château, on learning that Claude was returning, and
covered with honour, too—save, perhaps, the fair-haired Cecile Montallé.
There was a radiance in her pink cheek, a sparkle in her beautiful blue
eyes, when we met at church in Beaujeu, which showed that she, too, was
mistress of the same joyous tidings; and, in the fulness of her heart,
she confessed to me that she and Claude had corresponded long, had
exchanged rings, and were mutually attached and engaged. I loved my
brother. Could I wonder that Cecile Montallé did so too? Lucrece, who
stood by us, heard all this with a lowering brow, and there was the old
and strange expression in her face which had terrified me before as I
kissed her, and got into our old-fashioned carriage to return to the
château, which stands some five leagues or so from Beaujeu.

“For days I busied myself, preparing for the reception of Claude. His
old room was put in order by my own hands. Alas! I could little foresee
that he was never to tread its floor again! In fact, the unhappy
Lucrece was the victim of an absorbing and corroding jealousy; and in
her heart she was beginning to hate and to loathe her guileless and
unsuspecting sister. To add to this evil feature in our mutual
relations, when I ventured timidly to speak of Claude’s engagement to my
father, he became inflamed with sudden fury. All the buried pride of the
old days of the monarchy—the days of periwigs and pasteboard skirts, of
shoe-buckles and rapiers—with the memory of past greatness, and the time
when the Constable and Dukes of Bourbon had joined our forefathers in
the chase, and shared their hospitality in Chaverondier—all this I saw
blazed up within him! His eyes flashed with fire, and his thin bent
form became erect. He had been proud of his son’s brilliant career
under Canrobert; he had pictured for him a brilliant future; he already
saw him ranked among the marshals of France, reviving the past glories
of ancestors who had left their bones at Pavia, Rocroi and Ramilies.

“But now he thought all those ancient triumphs and those revived hopes
would be blighted and blotted by a disgraceful marriage with a mere
_bourgeoise_—a vulgar smelter of iron—a man who had begun life with a
hammer and bellows; a grimy manufacturer of spades, ploughs, and
pickaxes for the markets of Beaujeu, Belleville, and Chalieu!

“My father thought of his sixteen heraldic quarters, among which were
the arms of Cressi, Sante-Croix, and Segonzoe, the three noblest
families in Beaujolais, and swore by the souls of his fathers that such
a marriage could never be. He did more. He wrote a severe and sarcastic
letter to the maire of Beaujeu, warning him of his most severe
displeasure, if the correspondence between his daughter and ’Monsieur my
son, the Captain Chaverondier,’ was not at once and for ever ended. To
have read that letter might have made one think that the Grand Monarque
was still flirting at the Trianon, and that the fleur-de-lis still waved
above the Bastille of St. Antoine. On the other hand the maire Montallé
was a sturdy and purse-proud republican; one who in his youth had fought
at the barricades, had sacked the Tuileries, and had actually beaten on
his drum, by order of Santerre, to drown the dying words of the son of
St. Louis! So he retorted in a manner which I do not choose to repeat;
but therewith ended all the hopes of the sweet and gentle Cecile, and of
my brave brother, who was travelling, as fast as the railway trains
could fly, through the provinces from Marseilles, to see us all, and his
own happy home again.

“At those malignant letters, the dark Lucrece laughed bitterly. At
Beaujeu poor Claude learned the state of affairs between the families,
and, weak as he had become by hard service in Africa, and the wound he
had received at Narah, he could barely withstand the shock. It filled
him with despair; but he loved Cecile too well to relinquish her. They
had many interviews, contrived I know not how, and a secret marriage was
arranged and concluded before even the watchful and jealous Lucrece
could discover them, or interrupt it; so nothing remained now but for
Claude to carry off his bride, to reach the old château among the
mountains of Beaujolais, and trust to his father’s old parental love and
pride in his recent bravery for forgiveness.

“A powerful Arab horse, with which Canrobert had presented him (and
which had borne a warrior of the Kabyles in many a bloody conflict) was
accoutred with a market saddle and pillion to bear the lovers, who were
to be disguised as a farmer and his wife, lest _monsieur le maire_ and
his workmen might assume arms and fire on them; for the Revolution of
two years before had left much bad feeling between the aristocrats and
the _canaille_ (as the former most unwisely termed the latter), and thus
in the provinces many a lawless act was done that never reached Paris,
or figured in the pages of the _Moniteur_.

“So Claude wore a blue blouse over his uniform, a straw hat, in lieu of
the smart scarlet kepi; and Cecile was disguised as a _paysanne_ of
Beaujolais. All this was achieved with the assistance of Lucrece. Dull
despair had settled on her heart now, and, finding that Cecile was
irrevocably the wife of Claude Chaverondier, she could only endeavour to
be resigned, and to complete the happiness she had failed to mar or
interrupt, and could never hope to enjoy.

“The night on which they were to set forth was dark and tempestuous.
Near Beaujeu there rolls a mountain torrent, a tributary of the Saône.
It was crossed by a narrow wooden bridge, at a place where, between two
high and impending banks, on this night, it was foaming white and
furiously, as snows were melting in the mountains, and every tiny
rivulet was full to overflowing.

“Lucrece had secured the key of the private gate which closed the end of
this bridge, and she was to lock it after the lovers had passed through,
and thus bar pursuit in that direction. With a sad heart she issued
forth to undo the barrier. So wild was the tempestuous wind that she
could barely keep afoot, and she felt her aching heart tremble when she
saw the blackness of the fast-flying clouds, between which the pale
stars shone coldly forth at intervals; and now she came to where the
black and hideous chasm yawned in the rocks, and she could see, far down
below, the snow-white flood boiling hoarsely over its stony bed, deep,
fierce, and swollen, as it rushed to join the Saône, hurling rocks and
trees together to the sea.

“The wild winter flood and the stormy night were both in accordance with
the tempestuous spirit that writhed in her bosom. She heard the hoofs
of Claude’s Arab horse, as their clatter was swept past on the wind,
that blew her black, dishevelled hair in disorder about her pallid face;
and as she unlocked the gate, a sob of astonishment and terror escaped
her.

“The wooden bridge had fallen, or been torn by the tempest from its
posts, and the gulf was impassable.

“To warn the lovers was her first good impulse; to be silent was the
second.

“As they rode up to thank and bid her adieu, she saw their mutual
endearments; she saw the strong arm of Claude caressingly round the
waist of Cecile, and her head reposing trustfully on his shoulder, as
she sat on the saddle before him. Then a madness seemed to sting the
heart of Lucrece! She felt herself to the fullest extent the neglected,
the discarded, the unloved one, and revenge and hatred filled her soul
with a dreadful fury.

“’Adieu, dear, dear Lucrece!’ cried Cecile; ’adieu! and pray for us.’

“’Ride on; the way is clear,’ she replied, in a breathless voice.

“And Claude gave the spur to his Arab. Like an arrow it shot past her.
In another instant a scream rang upward on the stormy wind, as the horse
and its double burden went headlong into the wild abyss of rushing water
far below, and disappeared for ever!

“So perished my dear brother Claude, and with him my friend Cecile.

“Lucrece stood there for a time like one bewildered and aghast, for the
whole episode resembled a sudden and ghastly dream, from which she might
yet awaken. She saw only the river foaming past like a white flood amid
the blackening gloom, and its roar seemed deafening and stunning, and
she placed her hands on her ears to shut out the sound, as she went
slowly home, and for days and nights the roar of the river seemed never
to leave her. From that hour she was quite insane, and, if still alive,
is an inmate of the lunatic asylum at Beaujeu.

“This double catastrophe had such an effect upon my spirits that, after
the death of my father, by the advice of _monsieur le curé_, I quitted
the Château de Chaverondier, joined the order to which I now belong, and
was soon after sent hither with the army of the East.”

Such, as nearly as I can remember, was the sad story of her early life
told me by Mademoiselle Chaverondier.

It was not until I began to recover that I became fully aware of the
vast debt of gratitude I owed to this good sister of charity, and that I
completely knew how much I owed to her sisterly and motherly care of me
during that perilous and loathsome disease.

But there were no means of repaying her. Gratitude of the heart was all
she would accept, and that I gave her to the full, but now daily, as I
became convalescent, and as my brother officers cantered over from the
vale of Aladyn to visit me, she left me more and more alone, and there
were three whole days during which she never came at all.

I rather think she was scared by Studhome, who had ridden over with a
couple of champagne bottles in his holsters, and whom she found smoking
in my _kiosk_, with his shell-jacket open, and his stock off, and
singing a song, the first verse of which was something in this style—

My father cared little for shot or shell,
He laughed at death and dangers;
He’d have stormed the very gates of hell,
At the head of the Connaught Rangers.

How much I missed her!

When she did return it was to bid me adieu, and to say that she had been
ordered to attach herself to the 45th regiment of the French line, where
severe duties awaited her, and that in all human probability I should
never see her more.

Those farewell words sounded sadly. We shook hands kindly,
affectionately, and parted with tears in our eyes. In my heart I felt
the love of a brother for that self-devoted French girl, and at that
time she could but little foresee the sad offices I was to render her in
the hour of suffering that was to come.

Continue Reading

What are you doing?

Sleep by evil spirits troubled,
Fleeing at the matin bell;
Fears that start to eyes scarce waking,
Sighs that will not quit her cell.

As from a dream I was roused at last by Jack Studhome proffering his
cigar-case, and saying, with a smile—

“How about the year’s pay, Norcliff, eh? I owe you that, I suppose?”

“Don’t jest, for Heaven’s sake, Jack,” said I; “for I feel faint, queer,
and ill.”

All that night we talked over the affair, through the medium of sundry
flasks of iced champagne, without being able to come to any conclusion
about it.

As a piece of trickery, it beat all that we had ever seen performed at
Cawnpore, Delhi, or Benares, by Indian jugglers, though at mess we had
seen those worthies swallow a sword to the hilt, or run it through a
basket, in which was concealed a child, whose blood and screams came
forth together, till the room door opened, and the little one ran in
joyously, unhurt, and without a wound; or the orange seed, which one
placed in my tumbler, where it took root, and in three minutes became a
little tree in full bearing, from which the mess plucked the oranges as
it was handed round. All such performances were beaten by that of the
hakim Abd-el-Rasig!

That Jules Jolicoeur had seen a female face—a pretty one, too—in the
clam-shell was certain, by whatever art or legerdemain that circumstance
was achieved. His astonishment was too genuine and too palpable to be
acted. The detail of the crescent brooch was a coincidence, perhaps;
but then his description of the wearer accorded so well with that of
Cora!

I resolved to seek him next day; but he was despatched on duty along the
road towards the Balkan; and, as the event proved, I became too ill to
follow him.

As we rode home from the Restaurant de l’Armée d’Orient, I was sensible
of extreme giddiness; but attributed it to the champagne. I could
scarcely guide my horse along the road that led to our camp in the vale
of Aladyn, and felt Studhome repeatedly place his hand upon my bridle to
guide me. I felt delirious, too, and next day found myself in the pangs
of that foul pest, the cholera.

It seized me at the distance of some ten miles or so from the camp, from
which I had ridden in search of Lieutenant Jolicoeur. I became so ill
that I had to dismount, and was conveyed to the kiosk of a wealthy
Armenian merchant, and there I remained in great peril for several days,
before my circumstances or my whereabouts became known to my friends or
the regiment.

I endured a severe pain or burning heat in the pit of my stomach,
accompanied by the other symptoms of cholera—cramps in the limbs, and
spasms of the intestines and muscles of the abdomen.

The pulses became faint, and at times scarcely perceptible; my skin grew
cold, and suffused by a clammy perspiration. It was an undoubted case of
spasmodic cholera.

I felt resigned and almost careless of life. There were times, however,
when I reflected sorrowfully, almost bitterly, that it was not thus I
had wished to die, unnoticed and unknown, among strangers in a foreign
land; but, luckily for myself, I could not have fallen into more worthy
hands.

The proprietor of the kiosk I have mentioned was a wealthy Armenian
merchant, a native of Kars. Whether he was animated by that inordinate
love of gain which is peculiar to his race, I know not; but he treated
me with extreme kindness and hospitality, yet I never saw either him or
any of his family. The dangerous nature of my disease was a sufficient
excuse for my being carefully secluded from his entire household, which
was numerous, as it consisted of several sons with their wives and
children, all living together as one great family, but under his own
rule, somewhat in the patriarchal mode of a Scottish clan under its
chief.

In a little airy apartment, which opened upon a high-walled and spacious
garden, I lay for many days, hovering between life and death. My
medical attendant was an Italian surgeon, attached to the Bashi Bazooks,
and wore a bright green frock-coat, long riding-boots, and a crimson
fez, with a long blue tassel and broad military button. He looked like
a reckless foreign cut-throat, with a fierce moustache, vast black
beard, and close shorn head; but his exterior belied his character and
skill.

In the old Sangrado fashion he bled me, taking twenty-five ounces of
blood from my left arm, and gave me, I remember, from eighty to a
hundred drops of laudanum, together with a teaspoonful of cayenne
pepper, in a glass of stiff brandy-and-water, steaming hot, ordering me
to drain it almost at a draught.

“Oh, Signor Dottore,” said I, “whence come those dreadful spasms?”

“They are rarely accounted for satisfactorily,” he replied, with
professional nonchalance; “but, if I were to venture an opinion, I
should say that the _convulsioni_ arise from distended vessels, in the
neighbourhood of the spine, on the origin of the nerves—you understand,
Signor Capitano?”

I was soon past understanding anything; but, after the hot dose, I was
wrapped in hot blankets, friction, with strong stimulating liniments,
being applied along the spine by the hard hands of two black slaves, and
heated bricks were placed to my feet and hands; and under all this
process I fainted away.

For days I was as one who is in a dream, passive in the hands of those
sable assistants, who, doubtless, thought a bowstring would have proved
a “perfect cure,” and a saving of considerable trouble. The green
frogged coat, the crimson fez, and the dark face of the Italian doctor,
as he came from time to time, seemed all a portion of the phantasmagoria
which surrounded me; but there came anon a sweeter, a softer, and more
feminine face, with a lighter and a smaller hand, that seemed to touch
me and smooth my pillow; and with this vision came thoughts of Louisa,
of Cora, of the hakim Abd-el-Rasig and his magic spells, and then I
would close my eyes, wondering whether I was asleep or awake, or if in a
dream, from which I would waken, to find myself in my cool bell-tent in
the green breezy vale of Aladyn, in my familiar quarters at Canterbury,
or it might be in the dear old room of my boyhood, where my mother had
so often hung over me and watched, in Calderwood Glen, and then I seemed
to hear the cawing of the hoodiecrows among the ancient trees that
rustled their green leaves in the summer wind.

The murmuring breeze that came so pleasantly to my dreaming ear passed
over wooded mountains; but, alas! they were those of Bulgaria, and not
my native land.

Amid all the wild ideas induced by my condition was the overpowering
sense of weakness, with intense prostration and lassitude; but now,
thanks to Heaven, to human skill, to my own youth and strength, the
terrible disease was passing away.

While, by a stupidity or treachery closely akin to treason, our army,
during the hot, breathless months of a Bulgarian summer, lay rotting and
inactive at Varna, as if merely waiting the approach of winter to open a
campaign with Russia—hardy Russia, the land of ice and snows, whose rash
emperor boasted that her two most terrible generals were January and
February—the fell disease which prostrated me was making sad havoc among
my brave and patient comrades.

The 7th, 23rd, and 88th regiments, and all the infantry generally—the
Highlanders almost excepted, their Celtic costume being an admirable
safeguard by its warmth about the loins—were decimated by cholera. The
Inniskillings and 5th Dragoon Guards were reduced to mere skeletons, and
few cavalry colonels could bring more than two hundred and fifty sabres
into the field.

So much was my own corps reduced, that on one parade Beverley only
mustered two hundred lances; but many convalescents joined after. It
was remarked that many of the ambulance corps, after what was termed
“the great thunder-storm,” died within five hours of being assailed by
the plague.

Thus, “hundreds of brave men, who had left the British shores, full of
high hope and manly strength, died in the valley of Aladyn, or on the
hills overlooking Varna! The army grew discontented. Though no act
unbecoming British soldiers was committed—though no breach of discipline
could be charged—it was impossible to refrain from discontent. Murmurs,
not loud but deep, made themselves heard. No man there but burned to
meet the enemy. The entire army was prepared cheerfully to face death
in the service of the country to which it had sworn allegiance; but to
remain in inactivity, exposed to pestilence, which struck down its
victims as surely, and nearly as speedily, as the rifle-bullet, beneath
a burning sun, with no power of resistance, and no possibility of
evasion, was a fate which might quell the stoutest courage, and raise
discontent in the most loyal bosom.”

Seven thousand Russians, who had perished of cholera some time before,
were buried in the vicinity of our camp; and thus the green, smiling
spot which the Bulgarians named the vale of Aladyn, the bearded
Muscovites anathematized as the Valley of the Plague!

While such was the state of our inactive army at Varna, our fleet in the
Black Sea was vainly seeking to lure the Russian vessels from their
secure anchorage under the formidable batteries of Sebastopol; and the
Turkish army was exhibiting a courage which astonished all Europe.

At Giurgevo, a city on the left bank of the Danube, on the 7th of July,
a mere handful of Turks, chiefly led by a gallant Scot, styled Behram
Pasha,[*] defeated a large force of Russians, after a desperate
conflict. At Kalafat the latter sought in vain to force the passage of
the river, and drive the Osmanlees from their stronghold; and at Citate
and Oltenitza they were routed with disgrace. For neither their own
native prowess, the prayers of the Bishop of Moscow, nor the miraculous
image of St. Sergius, availed them—the blue cross of St. Andrew and the
Eagle of Muscovy fled alike before the crescent and star of Mahommed.
And now Silistria, on the Danube—”the thundering river”—became the base
of operations; and there Moussa Pasha, Butler, an Irish officer, and my
countryman, Naysmith, covered themselves with glory, while the Hungarian
exile, Omar Pasha, opposed the foe with all his available troops.

[*] Lieutenant-Colonel Cannon.

During this time the French continued pouring into Varna, by marching
across the Balkan, the great mountain barrier of Turkey, the rocky
passes and deep defiles of which are almost impassable in winter.

On the 28th of July the Russians were driven from Wallachia; but the
Turks were utterly defeated by them at Bayazid, on the slopes of Western
Armenia, and again at Kuyukdere. Our fleets bombarded Kola, on the White
Sea, and the 4th of September saw the eagle of victory hovering over the
armies of the Czar at Petropaulovski; but thus the summer passed with us
ingloriously away, and still our army lay inactive amid a hotbed of
fever and suffering at hated Varna.





The most of these stirring events I learned after my recovery from that
illness which so nearly carried me off. I knew nothing of them while in
the house of the Armenian, and equally little did I know that Mr. De
Warr Berkeley, in the hope that I might never rejoin, was doing all he
could to blot my military reputation in the brigade to which we
belonged.

It was on a morning in June—the 23rd, I think—the same day on which the
Russians raised the siege of Silistria, leaving twelve thousand dead
before its walls—that I seemed to wake from a long and refreshing
slumber.

The vague, drowsy sense of having been surrounded by phantasms and
unrealities, and that it was not Newton Norcliff, but some one else, who
was lying there, sick and weary, had passed away with sleep. I was
conscious and coherent now, but weak with past suffering.

Through the lattices of a pretty kiosk (for that word signifies alike a
room or a house), I could see the great rose trees, covered with their
fragrant glories, standing in rows, or trained over gilded iron bowers
or arches. The leaves of the apricot, the purple plum and greengage
trees, rustled pleasantly in the passing breeze, and pleasantly, too,
there came to my ear the plashing of a marble fountain that stood in the
shaded verandah without.

Around that white marble fountain grew the great scarlet pumpkin and the
golden-coloured water-melon, their gaudy brilliance contrasting with the
green leaves amid which they nestled. The garden was an epitome of
Turkey, for there the blood-red ilex of Italy, the rose tree of Persia,
the palm of Egypt, the Indian fig, and the African aloe, with the tall,
solemn cypress, all grew side by side in the lovely parterres, through
which the sunshine fell aslant in golden flakes.

The kiosk in which I lay was floored with marble slabs. Its walls were
painted gaily with a panoramic view of Constantinople. I could
recognise the heights of Pera, and all the Propontis, from the Seraglia
point to the Seven Towers, with all the glories of the Golden Horn,
Sophia’s shining cupola, the Serai Bournou, and the cypress groves,
where the dead of ages lie.

I was reposing in a pretty bed, with spotless white hangings, and lace
all so charmingly arranged, that it reminded me of a baby’s cradle. A
divan of yellow silk cushions surrounded the apartment on three sides.
On the fourth it was entirely open to the verandah and garden. On this
divan I saw my undress uniform, neatly folded, with my forage-cap,
sword, and cartridge-box placed above it.

My watch and purse, Louisa’s miniature and ring—I felt for the latter
involuntarily—were all lying on a little white marble tripod table by my
side, together with a beautiful china drinking vessel, which seemed
familiar to me.

A sigh of thankfulness that I was conscious, free of pain, and at
comparative ease, escaped me, and I turned to survey again the other
side of my chamber, when a remarkable female figure met my eye.

She was seated on the low divan, quite motionless. She was reading
intently, and by her costume I knew at once that she was a French sister
of charity—one of those pure in heart, great in soul, and unflinching in
purpose, who, on their saint-like mission of mercy and humanity, had
followed the allies from France.

Her dress was a plain black serge gown, with a spotless white coif,
which fell in soft folds upon her shoulders, pure as the feathers of a
dove. In her gentle face, which seemed familiar—for doubtless it had
often been before me in the intervals of suffering and delirium—there
was a kind, a peaceful, and divine expression, that underlay the lines
of premature care, suffering, and privation.

She was young; but among the dark brown hair that was braided smoothly
and modestly over her pale, serene brow, I could detect already a silver
thread or two.

So perfectly regular were her features, so straight the lines of eyebrow
and nose, that the dark, speaking eyes, and that drooping form of eyelid
peculiar to the south of Europe, alone relieved them from tameness, for
I had seen more sparkling beauty in a somewhat irregular face; but in
those dark eyes there ever shone the steady light of a soul devoted to
one great purpose; and yet at times, as I afterwards found, her manner
could become merry, almost playful.

Slight though the motion of simply turning my head, she heard it, arose
anxiously, and, coming forward, handed to me a cooling drink.

“Mademoiselle, I thank you!” said I, gratefully.

“You must not thank me, monsieur. I am simply your nurse.”

“And I have disturbed you——”

“At my office—merely, monsieur, at my office, which I can read at any
time within the twenty-four hours.”

“And how often do you do this?”

“Every day—all these pages—see!”

Her voice was so very silvery, her eyes so calm and lustrous, her hands
so white and small, that it was impossible not to see that she had been
highly bred, delicately nurtured, and came of some good French family.

“How long have I been here, mademoiselle?” I asked, after a pause.

“I do not know. Monsieur was here when I came.”

“And who brought you to nurse me?”

“Lieutenant Jolicoeur, of the 2nd Zouaves, heard somehow that you were
here, suffering under a perilous illness. An Italian surgeon chanced to
mention it at the Restaurant de l’Armée d’Orient, and they brought me
here. We are in the house of a rich Armenian trader—a good Christian,
after his own fashion; but, O Sacre Coeur! what an odd fashion it is!”

“Ah! mademoiselle——”

“I am Archange, of the Order of Charity.”

“Well, Sister Archange, you are really an angel!”

“Oh, fie! don’t say so! You must think very poorly, very meanly, of me
to give me a title I dare not hope to merit, even by a thousand actions
such as attending you.”

“Pardon me; I did but—but say what I thought.”

“You are a child, and thought wrong,” she replied, with playful
asperity. “But you have already spoken too much for one who is only
beginning to recover; so try to sleep, _mon frère_.”

And, waving her hand with a pretty gesture of authority, she resumed her
missal, and read on in silence.

I slept for a time—I know not how long—it might have been an hour, or
perhaps two: but, when I looked up, she was still seated, motionless and
reading.

“_Ma soeur!_” said I, as our eyes met, and my heart swelled with
gratitude for her generous watchfulness; and she came hastily towards
me.

“_Mon frère_, what do you want?”

“You mistook my meaning when I called you an angel, and were angry with
me.”

“Angry?—I? Ah, no! no! Don’t say so—I am never angry; it would not do
for me to be so now.”

“But I think you quite a saint to watch me thus.”

“You must not say that either.”

“You are so good, and I so unworthy.”

“Good I may be thought, monsieur; but I shall never be a saint, like
Father Vincent de Paul—I am too wicked for that,” she added, laughing
merrily; “but I try to be as good as I can.”

“Have any letters come here for me?”

“Letters!” she said, with alarm in her fine eyes, and withdrawing a
pace.

“Yes; I am so anxious for them.”

“Ah! now you are beginning to rave again. In your pain and delirium you
always raved about letters.”

“There are, then, none?” said I, with a groan.

“I shall see, _mon frère_,” and, in the kindness of her heart, after
pretending to search for what she too well knew were not to be found,
she came again to my bedside, and said there would, perhaps, be some
to-morrow.

“Still no letter!” I exclaimed, sadly, with tears in my eyes.

She laid a soft hand caressingly on my brow.

I besought her, in the most moving terms, to inquire if there were any
letters for me at our cantonments in the vale of Aladyn, heedless of the
distance and of the trouble I gave her; for I thought only of Louisa
Loftus, and that her answer to my Gallipoli missive might have reached
the regiment during my illness and absence.

“Monsieur, then, belongs to the English service?”

“No.”

“The Osmanli army, then?”

“No, mademoiselle; I belong to the British,” said I.

“Ah! true. But your uniform is not red?”

“All our light cavalry wear blue. Ah, _ma soeur_, seek the quarters of
the lancers serving in the Light Brigade, and see if there is a letter
for me. It will do me more good than all the doses of our Italian
doctor.”

“Ah! you will be dosed by him no more.”

“I am truly glad to hear it. Some of his messes were vile enough.”

“Do not speak so ungratefully; but you know not what I mean or what has
happened.”

“How?”

“Poor _monsieur le docteur_ is dead.”

“Dead!”

“He died of cholera in the cavalry camp yesterday. He had volunteered
to attend the sick soldiers in the vale of Aladyn, and perished at his
post among them.”

I was greatly shocked by this intelligence, which perhaps, it was not
wise in my little nurse to afford me at such a time.

When again I woke from sleep the shadows of evening were darkening the
room; the trellis-work and Venetian lattices that had opened to the
sunlit garden were closed now, and the sun had set. Sister Archange was
seated in her usual place upon the low divan, but looking pale and
exceedingly fatigued.

She had been at the British cavalry camp, and she had seen my friends,
but no letters had arrived for me, of that she was assured, as she had
taken one of my cards from its case to show the commanding officer.

“No letters?” I repeated, in a hollow tone.

“No; but, _monsieur mon frère_, must take courage. Many, many ships
have perished in a recent storm in the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmora,
and your letters may have gone to the bottom with the mail steamer.
Monsieur Estoodome—_monsieur l’adjudant_ he is, I think, of your
regiment—and _monsieur le colonel_, too, will ride over here to-morrow
to see you. And now there must be no more talking, but to sleep, _mon
ami_—to sleep. I must take care of you now, for _la soeur_ Archange
will not be with you always.”

“What are you doing?”

“Making the sign of the cross on your forehead, _mon frère_. To-morrow I
shall tell you what it means, if you will remind me; but, for to-night,
adieu.”

Continue Reading

The latter details petrified me

So gaze met gaze,
And heart saw heart, translucid through the rays,
One same harmonious universal law,
Atom to atom, star to star can draw,
And heart to heart. Swift darts, as from the sun,
The strong attraction, and the charm is done.
THE NEW TIMON.

To the letter I wrote Louisa from Gallipoli no answer was ever returned.

Had it reached her, or been intercepted, and by whom?

I began to associate Berkeley—groundlessly, certainly—with her singular
silence. All my former animosity to him returned; but, for the personal
safety of the survivor, our strangely deferred meeting could not take
place till we found ourselves in the vicinity of the enemy. I feared,
too, that he might discover how completely she had ignored—or, to all
appearance, forgotten—my existence. To me there was pure gall in the
idea that he should have cause for triumph in suspecting it.

I constantly wore her engagement ring—the pearl with the blue enamel.
Did she gaze on my Rangoon diamond as frequently as I did on the tiny
gold hoop which once encircled her finger, and had hence become a holy
thing to me? I was now beginning to fear that she did not.

The past had but one feature, one which every thought and memory seemed
metaphorically to hinge; and the future but one object—the same—around
which every hope was centred—Louisa. Viâ the Bosphorus, the mail
steamers came puffing regularly into Varna Bay. They seemed to bring
letters to all but me, and gradually my heart became filled by anxiety
and fear.

Louisa might be ill—_dead_! I thrust aside that thought as impossible; I
must have heard of so terrible a calamity from Cora, or from Wilford,
who was in constant correspondence with his sister.

Her answer to my Gallipoli letter might have miscarried. Why her letter
alone? Those of my uncle and of cousin Cora came at the requisite time,
and in course of post. Could it actually be that Louisa was forgetting
me? Her last look—her eyes so full of grief—her last kiss, so full of
tremulous tenderness, forbade this fear, and yet it was passing strange
that neither Cora nor Sir Nigel ever mentioned her in their
correspondence with me.

I frequently prayed that her love might be as lasting in her as it
proved agonizing to me.

Studhome knew my secret. To conceal from him that I was miserable was
impossible, but honest Jack’s advice “to take heart of grace—to remember
that there were as good fish in the sea as ever came out of it, that—

“’There were maidens in Scotland more lovely by far,
Who would gladly be bride to the young Lochinvar,’”

and a great deal more to the same effect and purpose, proved but sorry
comfort and counsel.

On a Saturday evening I had tiffed with him in his tent. We had no
second parade or anything to do. He vowed that he was tired of his
studies, which generally consisted of the _Racing Calendar_, Hart’s
“Annual Army List,” “White’s Farriery,” and the “Field Exercise and
Evolutions for the Cavalry,” varied by _Punch_ and _Bell’s Life_, so we
ordered our horses, and rode to Varna, the variety and unwonted bustle
of which afforded the means of amusement and relief, after the quiet and
monotony of our camp in the green wooded vale of Aladyn.

We put up our horses at an old rickety Turkish khan, which an
enterprising French sutler had turned into a species of hotel, for over
the door a gay signboard, painted in tricolour, informed us that it was
“_Le restaurant de l’Armée d’Orient, pour messieurs les officiers et
sous-officiers_.”

There we had a bottle of excellent Greek wine, in a large whitewashed
room, full of French officers, of every branch of the service and of all
ranks, who received us with great politeness. They were all smoking
cigarettes, chatting, laughing, playing chess or dominoes, and reading
the _Moniteur_ or _Charivari_, which last caricatured the Russians as
unmercifully as our good friend _Punch_ ever did.

Their gaiety and _étourdi_ fashion of quizzing the women who passed drew
many a scowl of wonder and reprehension from the turbaned, shawled, and
solemn Turks, for few of the believers took kindly to “the sons of
perdition who had come to aid them and the Vicar of God—the refuge of
the world—from the Muscovite dog,” as one was heard to say; “and at the
behest of a queen—a woman—_Allah razolsum!_” he added, with special
reference to us.

“What a change all this is from our recent barrack life at Maidstone,”
said Studhome. “We see such strange scenes—a new world here.”

“For our used-up guardsmen and hussars, who have been hitherto bored by
the mere aimlessness and emptiness of their lives, our friend, the
Emperor Nicholas, has certainly provided that which Sir Charles, in
_Used Up_, would call a ’new sensation,’ and a little healthy
excitement.”

A young sous-lieutenant of Zouaves was particularly vehement and droll
in describing a certain Egyptian magician, who had shown some wonderful
things to him and his friends. His words seemed to excite much
laughter, and, on drawing nearer, I discovered him to be Jules
Jolicoeur, the Zouave, who had now been promoted to the rank of
second-lieutenant in his regiment, in the ranks of which the cholera had
already made sad ravages.

“Monsieur Jolicoeur,” said I; “a magician, do you say?”

“_Peste!_ you know my name,” said he, smiling, while he pirouetted about
and twirled his moustache.

“I have to congratulate you on your promotion. Better this than poring
over Lemartinière, Ambrose Paré, and so forth, at the Ecole de Médecin,
eh?”

“_Parbleu, monsieur!_ how do you come to know all this?” he asked, with
pardonable surprise.

“Perhaps I am a magician too,” said I, laughing. “But this Egyptian of
whom you tell us—he is a juggler, I presume?”

“_Jouer—joueuse de gobelets_, you mean? Oh, no. In a little water or
ink, poured into the hollow of your hand, he will show you the face of
any friend you most desire to see. It is miraculous.”

“_Diable!_” exclaimed Victor Baudeuf, a well-decorated captain of a
French line regiment; “then he shall show me Mogador.”

The name of this well-known French dancer elicited a burst of laughter;
but Jolicoeur said—

“Monsieur, you should call her Madame la Comtesse de Chabrillan!”

“And where the devil is _monsieur le Comte_?” asked Baudeuf, with a
grimace.

“At the gold-fields, having spent his fortune twice on the girl.”

“Well, to a wife in Paris a husband at the gold-fields is just as
valuable as no husband at all. _Très bon_! I shall see pretty Mogador,
if your magician has any skill.”

“And where does your magician hang out?” asked Studhome.

“Hang—hang—_il mérite la corde_, you mean, monsieur?” asked the puzzled
Frenchman.

“No, no; where is he to be found?”

“_Monsieur le magicien_ holds a spiritual séance to-night,” observed a
French hussar, whose gorgeous dolman was almost sword-proof with silver
lace.

“_Très bon!_” exclaimed another; “there are twenty girls in Paris I want
to see.”

“What is his time, Jules?”

“Eight o’clock.”

“’Tis but twenty minutes from that now.”

“We shall go too,” said Studhome, “and have our fortunes told; it will
be as good a lark, monsieur, as any other.”

“Lark—_aloutte_—oh, yes, _très bon!_” replied Jolicoeur, with a
good-natured smile, though quite at a loss to understand why the bird
was referred to.

“My fortune has often been told me, Newton, by gipsies, at Maidstone and
Canterbury. By no two alike; but it was magnificent, according to the
fee I gave, and always droll. We shall see what this astrologer—a real
magician—has to show us.”

“If he shows us Louisa Loftus, Jack, I’ll forfeit a year’s pay!”

“Come, messieurs, to the séance,” shouted Jolicoeur, as he buckled on
his sabre. “I wish to see Mademoiselle Sophie of ours, who has gone to
Constantinople.”

“And I Mogador,” said Captain Baudeuf, “the delicious little dancer at
the Mabille.”

“And I Rose Pompon!” exclaimed the hussar, tying the cords of his silver
dolman. “Rose, the heroine of a thousand flirtations.”

“Mogador, the empress of ten thousand hearts,” added the captain.

“Hearts such as thine, _mon camarade_,” said the hussar, laughing.

“And Fleur d’Amour,” added another heedless fellow, “the Queen of the
Tourlurous!”[*]

[*] Camp phrase for the French linesmen.

“_Ah, mon capitaine_,” said Jules. “_Peste!_ what a _roué_ it is. He
has made as many conquests as our good friend Don Juan, in the
delightful opera which bears his name.”

“Beware!” said the other, with a mock frown; “I’m an ace of diamonds man
with the pistol, Jules.”

“Bah! Your pistol will never be levelled at me. Have a cigarette?”

“Thanks. As for Mogador, her silk tights were a study at the Mabille,
and the grace with which she showed her feet and ankles——”

“_Cordieu, mon ami!_ we haven’t a man in the 2nd Zouaves who has not
appreciated that generous exhibition to the utmost. I hope she’ll
appear in Baudeuf’s hand as Diana, or the chaste Lucretia!” said
Jolicoeur.

These remarks elicited roars of laughter from the gay Frenchmen.

“By Jove, Newton,” whispered Studhome, “our fair friends will be
conjured up in odd company. These fellows are naming the most notorious
_lorettes_ in Paris!”

With a prodigious clatter of swords and spurs, we all quitted the
restaurant together for the residence of the magician; and Lieutenant
Jolicoeur, who seemed disposed to fraternize with us, informed me that
this personage, who was making so much noise in Varna, was a native of
Al Kosair, on the Egyptian coast of the Red Sea, and that he was now
chief hakim, or senior surgeon, of the 10th Battalion of Egyptian
Infantry, which formed a portion of the Viceroy’s contingent with the
Turkish army. So we looked forward with some interest to the interview,
as he had a high reputation among the Osmanlees for the marvels he
produced, and was faithfully believed.

After an interview, this magician strongly reminded me of the Sooltan
described by Lane, in his “Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians.”

If in England, at this hour, so many persons believe implicitly in
table-turning, spirit-rapping, mesmeric slumber, and mesmeric mediums,
and many other outrageous whim-whams, it can surely be no wonder that
the poor, ignorant soldiers of the Turkish and Egyptian armies should
believe in the magic powers of the hakim Abd-el-Rasig, who, by the
medium of another human soul, could show them whether their friends,
their fathers, and mothers, at Gaza, at Cairo, or on the banks of the
Nile, were still in the land of the living, as clearly as if they peeped
through the magical telescope of the favoured prince in the fairy tale.

It was just about the period of which I write that the public of the
modern Athens—that happy city of bibacious saints and briefless
Solons—was electrified by a series of letters which appeared in one of
her journals, signed by a tolerably well-known historian, occupying,
however a lucrative legal position, to the effect that “he possessed a
peculiar medium,” of whose person and spirit he had such entire mesmeric
control that he had sent the latter to the Arctic regions, in search of
Sir John Franklin, whom she saw, accoutred with cocked hat and quadrant,
seated sorrowfully on a heap of snow; next, that he had sent her on a
visit to one of Her Majesty’s ships in the West Indies, where she pryed
into the savoury secrets of the midshipmen’s berth; and, not content
with these wonderful voyages, he actually announced that he sent her
spirit to heaven to visit his friends, and a much warmer climate to
visit his enemies; and this blasphemous rubbish and mid-summer madness
found believers in the Scottish capital, though it excited the laughter
of the masses; but one night the fair medium, “being hot with the Tuscan
grape, and high in blood,” or having imbibed over much alcohol, fairly
unmasked the would-be Northern Balsamo as a dupe and fool, by forgetting
to play her assumed character.

“_Allons, mes camarades!_” said Jules, placing his arm through mine and
Studhome’s; “we shall all face this Cagliostro together—one for all, and
all for one, like Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, in ’Les Trois
Mousquetaires.’”





It was impossible not to be pleased with the gaity and winning manner of
this young Frenchman. His bearing and uniform, half Parisian and half
Oriental, gave him somewhat of the aspect of a dandy brigand; but that
bearing is peculiar to all the officers and men of the regiments of
Zouaves.

Evening was approaching, and the shadows were falling eastward. Those
of the tall minarets, and the rows of cypress-trees that guard “the City
of the Dead,” were cast to a great distance, over the flat ground on
which Varna stands. Many “true believers” were awaiting the shrill,
boyish voice of the muezzin to call them to prayer; and the tambours of
the French troops were gathering at their places of arms, and bracing up
their drums, preparatory to beating the evening retreat, as we passed
along the strangely-crowded streets, towards the Armenian church.

At a coffee-house, the whole front of which was open, we passed several
of the Colonel Hadjee Mehmet’s soldiers, all drowsy with tobacco or
bang, and seated like so many tailors, each on a scrap of tattered
carpet. Some were idling over the chequers of a chess-board, and others
were listening to the wild fairy tale of an itinerant dervish, to whom,
from time to time, they tossed a quarter piastre (about a halfpenny) as
it waxed more and more exciting.

Passing through a street which had just been named the Rue des Portes
Franchises—a corporal of sappers being in the act of nailing up that
title on the rickety mansion of a wondering and indignant emir—we
reached the temporary residence of the hakim Abd-el-Rasig, near which
several Turkish women in long caftans, a few hawk-nosed Greeks, and
squalid Jews were loitering, as if pondering whether they dared tempt
his skill by unwisely seeking to probe the future.

To the street the house presented nothing but a small door, having a
curved arch, like a horseshoe, and a low, whitewashed wall.

Passing through, we found ourselves in a cool, shady courtyard,
surrounded, as usual, by those inexplicable Turkish sheds, a well in the
centre, a few rose-trees in tubs, and a few flowers and tiny shrubs
forcing their way up between the slabs of pavement.

The mansion was almost entirely built of wood, and painted saffron and
blue. We were ushered in by a little tawny Egyptian servant-boy, clad
in baggy blue breeches and a scarlet tarboosh, and whom, to our disgust,
we discovered to be tongueless—a mute!—and found ourselves in the _divan
hanée_, or principal apartment; and now the hitherto ceaseless gabble
and merriment of our French friends became hushed into comparative
silence, as the hakim, who had been smoking his chibouque, with its long
cherry-stick, rose from a luxurious pile of silken cushions to welcome
us.

He was a little man, with Arab features, and a complexion of mahogany.
His bushy beard was of a great amplitude. Time had long since dyed that
appendage white, but the proprietor had turned it to a rich brown. He
wore a green turban, a long, flowing coat, fashioned like a
dressing-gown, of bright blue cloth, elaborately braided on the breast
and seams with scarlet cord; his vest and trousers were of white linen,
girt by a sash of green silk. Round his neck hung a comboloio, or
Mahommedan rosary, of ninety-nine sandalwood beads.

Save that his intensely black eyes had under their impending brows a
keen and hawk-like expression, his appearance was neither unpleasing nor
undignified. His cheekbones were somewhat prominent; he had the organs
of locality largely defined, and his forehead was high, but receding.

A Turkish soldier, an onbashi, or corporal of the Hadjee Mehmet’s corps,
had just preferred some request as we entered; and on learning that we
had come to see a trial of his power at the séance, or whatever else he
was pleased to call it, he invited us all into an inner apartment which
opened off the _divan hanée_.

It was lighted by four lamps, suspended from the ceiling, each with a
large tassel below it. From these lamps flickered four flames, which
emitted a strange mephitic odour. The chamber had been recently
whitewashed; the doors and windows were all bordered by arabesques in
black and red, and with elaborate sentences from the Koran, which I
afterwards learned to be the following:—

“If they accuse thee of imposture, the apostles before thee have also
been accounted impostors, who brought evident demonstrations, and the
book which enlighteneth the understanding.”

“They will ask thee concerning the spirit; answer, the spirit was
created at the command of my Lord; but ye have no knowledge given unto
you, except a little.”

“This is light added unto light. God will direct His light unto whom He
pleaseth.”[*]

[*] Al Koran, chapters iii., xvii., and xxiv.

In the centre was a table covered by a crimson cloth, on which stood a
species of altar, formed of brass, about two feet high, supported by
four monstrous figures, the description of which is beyond the power of
language, and before it lay the Koran, open, and from its leaves
depended fifty-four flesh-coloured ribbons, with leaden seals attached
to them, being one for every two of the chapters of that remarkable
book.

Near this lay a rod of strangely-sculptured bronze, which was known to
have been found in one of the six great cavern tombs that stand in the
pass of Bibou-el-Melek at Thebes, by the side of a mummy, which was
alleged to be that of a royal magician, for in those tombs lie the
Egyptian kings of the eighteenth and nineteenth dynasties.

Several bright green chameleons from Alexandria, which were perpetually
crawling about this altar, and turning from their natural colour to red,
blue, and white, according to the hue of anything they approached, added
to the _diablerie_ of this scene, which soon became rather exciting.

My own share in this adventure was so remarkable, that I came away with
but a slight recollection of the part borne in it by my companions.

Indeed, I was the second person on whom he attempted to impose, if his
singular mode of summoning, or spirit rapping, could be termed an
imposition.

The first to whom he addressed himself was the Turkish soldier with whom
we had found him in conversation.

The onbashi wished to know if his mother, Ayesha, widow of Abdallah Ebn
Said, who dwelt at Adramyt, was well, and gave the hakim his fee—ten
piastres—a large sum, no doubt, for the poor Osmanli warrior, who gazed
about with considerable uneasiness, though the unabashed bearing of the
Frenchmen might have reassured him; and I heard Jolicoeur whispering to
Baudeuf that he had a dozen times seen just such a magical tableau at
the Mabille and Porte St. Martin—_diable—oui!_—and had hissed it off,
that he might have Mogador or Fleur d’Amour on with their dances.

“Ayesha, widow of Abdallah Ebn Said,” muttered the hakim. “A lucky
name—it was borne by one of the four perfect women who are now in
Paradise.”

Opening a gilt door in his little cabinet or altar, the hakim brought
forth a large clam-shell and two phials of a dark liquid.

He wrote that verse of the Koran which I have quoted from chapter xvii.,
concerning the spirit, on a strip of parchment; then, pouring pure water
over it, he washed it into the hollow of the shell; thus its sentiment
and spirit were supposed to become a component part of the charm about
to be wrought.

He then desired the onbashi to turn to the east, and pray (for religion
evidently bore a great part in all his mummery), and next he summoned me
to look into the shell, which he held in his left hand, while waving
over it his bronze rod seven times—the mystical number.

I steadily gazed into the liquid, which a few drops from the phial had
turned to a pale purple tint, but saw—nothing.

She did not appear. Thrice she was summoned, but in vain.

The hakim tugged his beard, frowned, and reddened with vexation, and
emptied his shell, pouring the liquid carefully through a hole in the
floor.

“My poor mother, then, is dead?” said the corporal, sadly, crossing his
hands on his breast.

“Stafferillah! nay, do not think so,” said the hakim, kindly.

“Why, effendi?”

“Because, in that case, the liquid would become as black as the holy
Kaaba.”

“But she did not appear?”

“This is an unlucky day, my son.”

“Why so for me, if not for others? I never omit to wash and pray; and
yesterday, O hakim, you showed strange things to the Franks, filling all
their khans and coffee-houses with wonder.”

“True; but go. Thou art one of the faithful. To the infidels all days
are alike,” replied the hakim, with a very unmistakable scowl at
Jolicoeur and Baudeuf. “Doth not the Prophet say, ’Their works are like
unto vapour in a plain, which the traveller thinketh to be water, until
when he cometh thereto he findeth it to be nothing?’”

“Allah kerim!” said the onbashi, putting his right hand to his forehead,
his mouth, and his heart, and stalking solemnly away.

Jolicoeur was pressing forward to summon his friend Sophie, no doubt, or
perhaps some other gay damsel, when the hakim, who evidently disliked
his scoffing smile and general bearing, ignored his presence, and said
to me—

“Effendi, in what can I serve you?”

I felt the blood rush to my head, and in a whisper I mentioned to him
Louisa Loftus. I was loth that my fast companions should hear her name,
and make, perhaps, a jest of it. The hakim’s fee was, I have said, ten
piastres; but as I gave him above a hundred—or equal to a guinea
sterling—there were no words to express his thanks in Egyptian or
Turkish; he could only mutter, again and again—

“Shookier Allah! May God reward you!”

Again he produced his clam-shell, the surface of which I carefully
surveyed, while with great alacrity he wrote a verse from the Koran.
The shell was clear and pure; no picture, line, or drawing could be
detected on its pearly surface. Again he went through his mummery with
the phials, and washed off the ink into the shell; again, as before, the
liquid grew purple, and again he waved his rod of bronze.

“You wish to see her you love?” he whispered, with something of a
licentious leer in his keen black eyes; “she who is to be your hanoum
(wife or lady)?”

“Yes, effendi,” said I, blushing like a great schoolboy, in spite of
myself, all the more that I saw Jack Studhome’s handkerchief at his
mouth.

Fixing his keen eyes with something of sternness upon Jules Jolicoeur,
whom he had suddenly detected in the act of mimicking him, the bearded
hakim summoned him forward, and desired him to look into the shell, and
tell us what he saw.

Abd-el-Rasig then turned to the east, and proceeded to pray and invoke
in an inaudible voice.

I was four paces from the Zouave lieutenant, whose eyes, as he gazed
into the shell, became dilated and fixed with astonishment, while his
whole features, which were handsome, expressed something akin to fear.

“_Merveilleuse! mon Dieu! merveilleuse!_” he exclaimed.

“Do you see anything, monsieur?” I asked, with growing excitement.

“Yes—yes—_oui, peste_!”

“In heaven’s name what do you see?”

“A lady!”

“A lady?”

“Yes; the face of a lady, young, and very gentle. It is pale; her eyes
are dark, her hair thick and jetty—it seems almost blue in this purple
shell. Her eyebrows and lashes are thick,” he continued, speaking very
fast. “She has an expression of intense sadness—ban Dieu!—she is like a
sorrowing angel.”

“Her nose is aquiline?” I suggested.

“On the contrary, it is neat and small, but not quite _retroussé_. She
moves—_merveilleuse!_—tears—she is weeping! On her breast there is a
silver crescent; and now—now—the whole thing fades away!”

I was springing forward, when the hakim waved me imperiously back with
his bronze rod, and instantly poured the contents of the shell on the
tiled floor, from which a strange mephitic odour rose.

This was not the case on the previous unsuccessful occasion. Jules, who
had become quite grave, now turned eagerly, and full of interest, to me.

“Is this the lady whose face you saw?” I asked, showing him the
miniature of Louisa.

“No, monsieur; there is not the least resemblance.”

“Indeed!”

“I am somewhat of an artist, and know.”

“You are sure?”

“Sure as I now address you, monsieur.”

I began to smile.

“I have said that her eyes seemed dark, nearly as these. Her hair was
black, thick, and wavy, but her nose and features were all smaller—more
(pardon me, monsieur) feminine, perhaps—less decided in character,
certainly; and on her breast she had a crescent of silver.”

“A crescent!”

“Yes, monsieur, with a lion above it. The ornament seemed to fasten or
adorn the dress, and I saw it distinctly till she placed her hand upon
it, and then the water in the shell rippled. It is positively
miraculous,” he added, turning to Captain Baudeuf, who was twirling his
moustache and smiling with obstinate incredulity.

The latter details petrified me.

Jolicoeur’s description was completely that of my cousin, Cora
Calderwood. The crescent and lion was a gift I had sent her from
India—a double ornament I had picked up in the great pagoda at Rangoon,
and which she always wore, preferring it to her father’s crest and every
other brooch.

“Are you satisfied, effendi?” asked the hakim, quietly, for he seemed
used to astonishment on such occasions.

“I am bewildered, at all events, hakim,” said I.

“Why so?”

“It was not she I asked for or whom I named.”

“How do you know? You did not see. Another looked with your eyes.”

“True—but what does the vision portend?”

“You asked to see her——”

“I loved, hakim,” said I, emphatically.

“Nay, she who—if Allah and the Muscovite dogs spare you—is to be your
wife, your _hanoum_. Do you not remember? Go! _Allah Kerim_! it is
_kismet_—your destiny. The destinies of all, and the hour in which we
are to die—yea, the very moment—are written by the finger of Azrael on
our foreheads at our birth—on yours also, although you believe neither
in Azrael[*] nor the Prophet. Go! the mark is there, although we see it
not.”

[*] The Mahommedan Angel of Death.

With those rather solemn words ringing in my ears, bewildered and
thoroughly startled, I found myself traversing the streets of Varna with
Studhome, while the French drummers were beating _la retraite_ as the
sun went down beyond those mountains that were then echoing with the
cannon of Silistria, and while the shrill voices of the muezzins
proclaimed the hour of evening prayer from the minarets of the mosques,
into which the Moslems were pouring, with bowed heads and bare feet, to
count their beads.

Continue Reading

Let me see her once again!

Ere the course of events added to the distance which already lay between
me and Great Britain, I resolved to write to Lady Louisa. I could no
longer endure the torture of suspense, combined with absence and
gathering doubt. In common parlance, ages seemed to have elapsed
instead of weeks since the day we marched for embarkation, and when I
beheld her for the last time; and thus, notwithstanding our strange
compact that there should be no correspondence between us, I wrote to
her, even at the hazard of the letter falling into the hands of her I
dreaded most—proud, stately, cold, and unsympathetic “Mamma
Chillingham.”

It was about the middle of May, the day before we were to embark again,
for now the Allies were to advance to Varna; and while I wrote, and in
thought addressed Louisa, her presence seemed to come before me in
fancy, and the inner depths of heart and soul were stirred with a
jealous love and sorrowful tenderness that were almost unendurable; but
a summons from Colonel Beverley, regarding the baggage and squad-bags of
my troop, cut short my epistle in a very matter-of-fact way, and I
despatched Pitblado with it to the military post-office. In that letter
I sent brief remembrances to Fred Wilford’s sister, and to many of our
friends; but of the newly-made marquis I could not trust myself to
write, though I had no doubt as yet of Louisa’s faith and truth. That
night a letter came to me from Cora, the first I had received since we
landed at Gallipoli. She and Sir Nigel had returned to Calderwood, and
had just come back from the Lanarkshire steeplechases.

“Oh, Newton,” she continued, “how anxious and frightened we have been,
for we heard that cholera had broken out in the British camp, and we
trembled for you—dear papa and I. (There was no doubt the “we” did not
include Louisa, at all events.) Do you think of us and quiet Calderwood
Glen—of the old house, of papa, and of me? Are the Oriental ladies so
beautiful as we have been told? One reads so much about their veiled
forms, their brilliant eyes, and so forth. Tell us what you have seen
of all this—the mosques, the harems, and the Golden Horn. You have seen
everything, of course.”

There was nothing in Cora’s letter that either flattered my passion or
soothed my apprehension. Chillingham Park was never once mentioned, and
I could only gather from its abrupt passages and assumed playfulness
that she still loved me, tenderly, truly, and hopelessly. There were
times when, in her dreams—I learned all this long after, when the
present had become the past, and could be recalled no more—there were
times when, in imagination, she saw Newton Norcliff, safe from wounds
and war, at Calderwood—hers, and hers only—a prize of which none could
rob her, not even the brilliant Louisa Loftus; and in her sleep, tears
of happiness stole down her poor, pale cheeks.

Newton was her cousin, her kinsman, her early playmate and boy lover,
her idol, and her hero! What right, then, had this stranger, this
Englishwoman, this mere Acquaintance, to seek to rob her of him? But
she could not do so now. Newton was Cora’s, and in her dreams he was her
lover and her husband, of whom she prayed only to be worthy and more
deserving still; and so the poor girl would dream on till morning
came—the chill, gusty morning of autumn, when the brown leaves were
swept by the cold eastern blast against the windows of the old
manor-house, and down the wooded glen; and with that chill morning would
come the bitter consciousness that it was all a dream—a dream only, and
that he whom she prayed for, and loved so hopelessly, was far, far away
in the land of the savage Tartars, exposed to all the perils of the
Crimean winter and of the Russian war, and that amid them he was
thinking, not of her but of another! But to resume my own story.
Berkeley, who had been on the sick list since our arrival at Gallipoli,
was reported fit for duty on the morning we embarked for Varna. Most of
the British troops were ordered there, or to Scutari, while the mass of
our allies were to remain about the coast of the Dardanelles. On this
morning, however, I saw the 2nd Zouaves march, as Studhome said, “with
all their ladies of light virtue and boxes of heavy baggage,” for
embarkation; and they presented a stirring spectacle, those swarthy,
lithe, and black-bearded fellows, their breasts covered with medals won
in battles against Bou Maza, and other sheiks of the Arab tribes, and
their faces bronzed almost to negro darkness by the hot sun of Africa.

Their turbans and baggy breeches of scarlet gave them a very Oriental
aspect; but their swinging gait and rollicking air, together with the
remarkably free-and-easy manner in which they “marched at ease,” and the
songs they sang, announced them all sons of _la belle France_; and,
singularly enough, every second or third file had a pet cat perched on
the top of his knapsack. The tricolor was decorated with laurel; their
long brass trumpets played a strange and monotonous, but not unwarlike
measure, to which they all stepped in rapid time; and in the intervals
of the music many of them joined in a song, which was led by
Mademoiselle Sophie, who was riding _à la cavalier_ at their head, in
rear of the staff, with her little brandy-keg slung over her left
shoulder.

I caught just a verse as she passed; but I frequently heard her sing the
same song at a future time—

Vivandière du régiment,
C’est Catin qu’on me nomme,
Je vends, je donne, et bois gaiment,
Mon vin et mon rogomme.
J’ai le pied leste et l’oeil mutin.
Tin-tin, tin, tin, tin, tin, r’lin tin-tin.
J’ai le pied leste et l’oeil mutin.
Soldats, voilà Catin!

Above all other voices, I could hear that of her friend, or lover, Jules
Jolicoeur, most lustily—

Soldats, voilà Catin!

as he marched along with his hands in his pockets, and his musket slung
butt uppermost. Our transport was taken in tow by a war steamer. Thus
our progress through the Sea of Marmora was rapid. We passed
Constantinople in the night, to our great regret; and as no part of it,
save the palace of the Sultan, was then lighted with gas, it was
involved in darkness and silence. At least, we heard only the voices of
the patrols, and the barking and howling of the thousands of homeless
dogs which prowl through the streets. Being unclean, they are never
domesticated; yet their litters are never destroyed, and they feed on
the offal of the houses, or on the headless trunks that are at times
washed up from the Golden Horn. Next day, as we proceeded up the
Bosphorus, a swift (Clyde-built) Turkish steamer was running ahead of
us; and we remarked that, whenever she passed a fort or battery, the
standard with the star and crescent was immediately hoisted, and a
trumpet was heard to sound.

At the Castle of Roumelia, and such places, we saw the slovenly Turkish
guards getting under arms, and also that on each occasion the standards
were dipped or lowered to half-mast three times. This indicated that
the ship had on board a pasha of three tails, or one of equal rank,
whose standard was flying at the foremast-head; and soon after we
learned that he was the munadjim bashee, or chief astrologer, one of the
first officers of the seraglio, and always consulted by the Sultan
Abd-ul-Medjid. No public work was ever undertaken until he declared the
stars to be propitious; and now he was steaming ahead to see how they
looked at Varna! By the letter I had despatched from Gallipoli, I had,
to a certain extent, relieved my mind, as I concluded that at Varna I
should receive the answer, and that then all my suspense and anxieties
would end, in the course of a few weeks at latest.

Against the strong current which sets in from the Black Sea, and which
runs at the rate of four miles an hour down the Bosphorus, we steamed
steadily on; and as the wind was fair, our transport carried a tolerable
spread of canvas. Our sail was a delightful one! The weather was calm,
and the scenery and objects on the European and Asian shores were ever
changing and attractive. The abrupt angles and bends of the coast
seemed to convert the channel into a series of seven charming inland
lakes of the deepest blue—there being seven promontories on one side,
and seven bays on the other, each bay running into a fertile valley,
clothed with the richest foliage of the Oriental clime; and amid that
waving foliage rose the quaint and fantastic country dwellings of the
wealthy Frankish, Greek, or Armenian merchants of Stamboul, with their
painted kiosks, gilded domes, and towering minarets, tall, white, and
slender.

On the left or European shore, the whole panorama was a succession of
beautiful villages, terraced gardens, and groves of chestnut, plane, and
lime trees, with here and there long, sombre, and solemn rows of
gigantic cypresses and poplars. On the right or Asian shore, the objects
of Nature were of greater magnitude. The groves became forests, and the
hills swelled into mountains; and, towering over Brussa, rose Olympus,
“high and hoar,” covered with laurels and other evergreens to its
summit.

Under a salute of cannon from the Castle of Europe, and still preceded
by our Turkish friend, the astrologer with three tails, we hauled up for
Varna, giving a wide berth to the dangerous Cyanean rocks, between which
Jason steered the Argonauts in equally troublesome, but more classic,
times.

From thence a run of about one hundred and fifty miles brought us to the
low flat shore of Varna, where, on the 28th of May, we were all landed
without accident or adventure, and placed under canvas among the rest of
the troops. The aspect of Varna from the bay was somewhat depressing.
Rising from a bank of yellow sand, a time-worn rampart of stone, ten
feet high, loop-holed and painted white, encloses the town on its four
sides, each of which measures somewhat more than a mile. This old wall
had witnessed the defeat and death of Uladislaus of Hungary, by the
troops of the Padishah Amurath II., and it yet bore traces of the
cannon-shot of the Scoto-Russian Admiral Greig, who bombarded Varna in
1828.

Before the walls lies a ditch, twelve feet deep, and over both frown a
number of heavy guns, which I found to be chiefly sixty-eight pounders;
and over all rose the countless red-tiled roofs of the houses, with the
slender white minarets and round leaden domes of the mosques, looking
like wax-candles by the side of inverted sugar basins. Beyond, in the
distance, stretched far away to the base of wooded hills the flat
Bulgarian shore.

Painted with various colours, the tumble-down and rickety houses were
all of wood, and exhibited a rapid state of dilapidation and decay.
Prior to our arrival, the silence must have been oppressive. Save when
a swallow twittered under the broad eaves, when a saka (or
water-carrier), with his buckets suspended from a leather belt, shambled
along, slipshod or barefoot, with water for sale, a hamal (or porter),
laden with his burden, or when the wild dog that lay panting on a heap
of festering offal uttered a hoarse growl, no sight or sound of life was
there, when the fierce sun of unclouded noon blazed down into the narrow
and tortuous streets. The place exhibited only Turkish filth,
inactivity, and stupidity, till the arrival of the Allies, when its
wooden jetties opposite the principal gate became piled up with
munitions of war—bales, tents, tumbrils, and cannon; its roadstead
crowded with war-ships, transports, and gunboats, under sail or steam;
its bazaar filled by regimental quartermasters, cooks, and caterers, or
soldiers’ wives in search of food, &c.; its five gates held by military
guards—the merry Zouave, the grave and stern Scottish Highlander, the
showy Coldstream, or the sombre rifleman.




Then its streets became literally alive, and crowded with the British,
who came by sea, and the French, who came pouring over the Balkan.
Their silence was broken by the sharp beat of the brass drum, and the
sound of the ringing bugle every hour or more, and by the measured tramp
of feet, as detachments on every imaginable duty marched to and fro
between the camps, the town, and harbour, scaring the wild dogs from the
streets, and the kites from the roofs and mosque domes, who were alike
unused to such unwonted bustle and activity.

Crowds of Turks and Bulgarians, wearing caps of brown sheepskin, short
jackets of undyed wool, and wide white trousers, with vacant wonder
surveyed us, as brigade after brigade came on shore, our horse, foot,
and artillery; while the little dark Arabs of the Egyptian contingent
viewed with something akin to awe our brigade of Foot Guards, whose
personal bulk and stature, with their white epaulettes and black
bearskin caps, made them seem the veritable sons of Anak to those
shrivelled children of the desert.

Amid the crash of military music, the glitter of arms, and the waving of
silken colours, as regiment after regiment marched to its
camping-ground, were to be seen the woebegone, helpless, miserable, and,
in some instances, still seasick wives of our soldiers, hurrying wearily
after their husbands’ battalions, carrying bundles or children,
sometimes both, while other scared little ones were trotting by their
side, and holding by their ragged and tattered skirts; but there was one
soldier’s wife who appeared to European and Oriental eyes under very
different auspices.

“All these marvels reached a climax,” says a writer,[*] “when a boat
from the _Henri IV._, rowed by six dashing French sailors, in snow-white
shirts and coquettish little glazed hats, stuck with a knowing air on
the side of their heads, shot up alongside the landing-place, and in the
stern appeared the Earl and Countess of Errol—the former an officer in
the rifles, and the latter intent upon sharing the campaign with her
husband. I think the old civil pasha (_mussellem_ of the city?), who
was seated on a chair at a little distance, scarcely knew whether he was
on his head or his heels when the lady was handed up out of the boat,
and made her appearance at the town gate, with a brace of pistols in a
holster at her waist, and followed by a Bulgarian porter, with a shoal
of reticules, carpet-bags, and books, and taking everything as coolly as
if she were an old soldier. The whole party followed the rifles to the
field, and the countess is at the present moment living under canvas.”

[*] In the _Daily News_.

This lady, who excited so much attention was Eliza, Countess of Errol,
and her husband—as my uncle would have reminded me—was hereditary high
constable of Scotland; as such, first subject in the kingdom, and of old
leader of the feudal cavalry. Now he was a simply major in the Rifle
Brigade, and was after severely wounded at the Alma. Undeterred by the
miseries which he saw the soldiers’ wives enduring, Sergeant Stapylton,
of my troop, had the courage to take unto himself a wife in this land of
the Prophet; but the fate which threw her in his way was somewhat
remarkable, and made some noise at the time. It came about thus:—The
wife of a soldier of the 28th Regiment, when proceeding through the
corn-fields from our camp to market in Varna, and perhaps considering
how far her little stock of money might go in the purchase of dainty
soochook sausages and cabaubs of herbs, for the delectation of herself
and Private John Smith, was surprised to find herself addressed in
tolerable English by a Greek female slave, who was at work among the
corn, weeding it of the brilliant poppies.

Though fairer skinned than the women of that country, she had the
appearance of a woman of Bulgaria. On her head a cylindrical bonnet, of
harlequin pattern, was tied by a white handkerchief under her chin. She
wore a short black gown, with a deep scarlet flounce, on which were sewn
ornamental pieces of variously-coloured stuffs: a broad scarlet sash,
elaborately needleworked, girt her waist; a few coins, of small value,
were woven into her hair, which was of a rich brown hue, and hung in
profusion over her shoulders, and on her wrists were bracelets of
crystal. She wore the costume of a peasant girl, and her features were
soft and pleasing—even pretty, though very much sunburnt.

In English she begged the soldier’s wife to give her a mouthful of water
from a vessel she carried, saying that she “was sorely athirst, and
weary with her work in the field.”

Now, Mrs. John Smith, of the 28th Foot, was greatly surprised on hearing
this humble and gentle request made in the language of her native
England, by one who seemed to all intents and purposes a Bulgarian. She
entered into conversation with the stranger, and discovered that she was
actually English by birth and blood, and a native of Essex!

She related that her father had been a merchant captain of London, who,
after her mother’s death, had taken her with him in a vessel on a voyage
to the Levant, where they were captured by a Greek pirate. She was then
a mere child. Her father and his crew were put to death, their vessel
plundered, and then set on fire, in the Gulf of Sidra, and destroyed.
Her captor, a thoroughpaced old rascal, had now settled, with all his
ill-gotten gains, as a small landowner, on the shore of the Bay of
Varna, where she was still his bondswoman—his slave.

The soldier’s wife begged the girl to follow her, and take refuge in the
British camp, and she was about to comply, when the appearance of her
master or owner, a fierce-looking old fellow, clad in a jacket and cap,
both of brown sheepskin, his sash bristling with knives, yataghans, and
pistols, altered her feeble resolution; and though the wife of Private
Smith shook her gingham umbrella with vigour, and threatened him with
the “p’leece,” and the main-guard to boot, he, nothing daunted, replied
only by a contemptuous scowl, and dragging the slave girl into his
house, secured the door.

It chanced luckily, however, that Sergeant Stapylton, of ours, with a
mounted party of ten lancers, was returning along the Silistria
road—where he had been sent in search of forage—and to him the soldier’s
wife appealed, and detailed what had taken place. He at once surrounded
the house, and demanded the girl, in what fashion or language I know
not; but he made the proprietor aware that fire or sword hung over him
if she was not surrendered instantly.

Armed to the teeth, the Greek appeared at the door, and threatened him
with the _vaivode_ of the district, and the _kaimakan_, or deputy of the
Pasha of Roumelia, and of various other dignitaries; but Stapylton put
the point of his lance to the throat of the old pirate, who found in it
an argument so irresistible, that he at once gave up the girl, whom our
fellows brought with them in triumph to the camp, where a subscription
was made for her, and she was a nine days’ wonder; and that this little
bit of romance might not be without its _finale_, she ultimately became
the wife of Sergeant Stapylton.

Our regiment was encamped eighteen miles distant from Varna, in the
lovely vale of Aladyn, surrounded by forests of the finest timber, where
the springs of water were numerous and pure, and where the grass and
verdure were of the richest description; yet there it was that
disease—the fell cholera and dysentery—broke out among us, and decimated
our ranks more surely and more severely than the Russian bullets could
have done. But amid their horrors folly ever found its way; and several
of our people, French and British, got into scrapes with the Bulgarian
and Turkish damsels, especially the latter, who are rather prone to
intrigue, notwithstanding the dangers attendant on it, in such a land of
jealousy and the prompt use of arms. Perhaps the _yashmac_, and the
mystery it gave to their faces, of which the ever brilliant eyes alone
were visible, and the mouth—usually its worst feature—was hidden, had
much to do with this.

By the Koran, aged women alone are permitted to “lay aside their outer
garments, and go unveiled.” A very old history of
Constantinople—Delamay’s, I think—relates that a pasha, remarkable for
the size and ugliness of his nose, married, before the kadi, a lady who,
on being unveiled, proved to his great disgust to be exceedingly plain.

“To whom, of all your friends,” she asked, with her most winning smile,
“am I to show my face?”

“To all the world,” said he; “but hide it from me!”

“My lord, patience,” she whispered, humbly.

“Patience have I none!” he exclaimed, wrathfully.

“_Allah kerim!_ you must have a great deal of it to have borne that
great nose so long about you,” she retorted, as she hurled her slipper
at his head.

A pair of dark and brilliant eyes, sparkling through the folds of a fine
white muslin _yashmac_, were very nearly the means of ridding me of
Berkeley, and the impending duel, while we lay at Varna.

He and Frank Jocelyn, of my troop, a smart and handsome young fellow,
whilom the prime bowler and stroke oar at Oxford, as good-hearted and
open-handed a lad as any in the service, began an intrigue with two
Turkish damsels, whom they found at prayer before an _aekie_, or
Mahommedan wayside chapel, and whom they followed home to a kiosk in the
vale of Aladyn.

Their love affair did not make much progress, being simply maintained by
tossing oranges in the dusk over a high wall, which was furnished with a
row of vicious-looking iron spikes. The oranges of Jocelyn and Berkeley
contained notes written in French and Italian, of which the girls could
make nothing, of course, the language of the educated Turks being a
mixture of Turkish, Persian, and Arabic, the former being spoken by the
peasantry alone; so the ladies responded by oranges, in which flowers
were stuck, till on the fourth or fifth night, in reply to a very
amatory epistle, souse came over the garden wall an iron six-inch shell,
with its fuse burning!

Our Lotharios had only time to throw themselves flat on the ground, when
it exploded in the dark with a dreadful crash; but without hurting
either of them, and they retired, somewhat crestfallen, while hearing
much loud laughter and clapping of hands within the garden wall. After
this rough hint, they went no more near the ladies, who proved to be the
wife of a _yuse bashi_, or captain of Turkish artillery, and her female
slave.

While the months we wasted so fruitlessly at Varna crept slowly away,
there occurred to me a singular adventure—in fact, one so remarkable in
its import, and in reference to the future, that it still makes a deep
impression upon me; and this episode I shall detail in the following
chapter.

Continue Reading

Full on the promised land at length we bore

We were favoured by Æolus. One might have supposed that Captain Robert
Binnacle had succeeded to the bag of wind which that airy monarch gave
to the wise and gentle king of Ithaca. Thus a few days more saw our
transport amid the Isles of Greece as she bore through the Archipelago.

One day it was Milo, with Elijah’s lofty peak, its smoky spring, and
hollow, sea-soaked rocks, that rose upon our lee; the next it was
Siphanto’s marble shore, where ireful Apollo flooded the golden mines;
rugged Chios—in pagan times the land of purity, in later days the land
of slaughter; then Mytilene, the most fertile of all the Ægean Isles,
where “burning Sappho loved and sung,” and where Terpander strung the
lyre anew. Now it was Lemnos, where Vulcan fell from heaven, and where
his forges blazed; and the next tack brought us to Tenedos, whose name
has never changed since Priam reigned in Troy—all names that recalled
alike our schoolboy labours, and the departed glories of the Grecian
name.

Off Tenedos the _Himalaya_ steamed past us, with two thousand two
hundred souls in her capacious womb. Soon after we entered the
Hellespont, between the famous castles of the Dardanelles, where Sestos
and Abydos stood of old, and the cannon of Kelidbahar (the lock of the
sea) on the European side saluted us, while the Turkish sentinels yelled
and brandished their muskets; and amid the haze of a summer evening we
saw the harbour lights of Gallipoli rise twinkling from the waters of
the strait; and when the anchor was let go, the courses were hauled up,
and the transport swung at her moorings, we knew that we were hard by
the shores of Thrace.

“And where the blazes is this same Seblastherpoll?” asked Lanty O’Regan,
my Irish groom, who was taking a survey of the waters where Leander took
his nightly bath.

“That place we sha’n’t see, Lanty, for many a long and weary day,” said
his Scotch companion, Pitblado, with more foresight than some of us then
possessed.

Few of us slept that night, and all were busy with preparations for
landing; for, with all its varieties, we were weary of the voyage, the
confinement of the transport, impatient for shore and for action. So
vague were the ideas our soldiers had of distance and locality, that
most of them expected to find themselves face to face with the Russians
at once.

Beverley and Studhome prepared their “disembarkation returns” for the
information of the adjutant-general; and these were so elaborate that
one might have supposed the worthy man’s peace of mind depended entirely
on their literary productions. The whole troop had their traps packed,
and were ready to start with the first boat, when the order came to
land; and almost with dawn next morning an aide-de-camp, sent by
Lieutenant-General the Earl of Lucan, commanding the cavalry division,
arrived with orders for our immediate disembarkation, as we were to be
posted in the Light Brigade, which already consisted of the 8th and 11th
Hussars, and the 4th and 13th Light Dragoons.

The news spread through the ship like wildfire, and the cheer which rose
above and below almost drowned the welcome notes of the warning trumpet,
as it blew “boot and saddle”—a sound we had not heard since the day we
marched from Maidstone.

“Gentlemen, welcome to Gallipoli!” said the staff officer, as he
clattered into the cabin, with his steel scabbard and spurs, and
proceeded forthwith to regale himself with a long glass of Seltzer,
dashed with brandy, for the morning breeze was chilly as it swept across
the Hellespont.

“It’s a queer-looking place, this Gallipoli,” said Beverley.

“And a queer-looking place you’ll find it, colonel,” added the
aide-de-camp, as we gathered round him. “You will be more given to
airing your clothes than your classics, and won’t be much enchanted with
your quarters in Roumania. In lack of space and cleanliness, and in the
liberal allowance of gnats and fleas, they are all up to Turkish
regulation.”

“Any society here?” asked Jocelyn, with his little affected lisp, as he
caressed his incipient moustache.

The aide burst into a hearty fit of laughter, and then replied—

“Plenty, and of the most varied and original character.”

“And how about the ladies?”

“Is it true that the Turks still regulate their establishments of
womenkind according to the Koran?” asked the paymaster, with a grin on
his long, thin Scotch face.

“Upon the system of the 4th Veteran Battalion rather,” replied the
aide-de-camp.

“Ah, and that——”

“Gave a wife to every private, and three to the adjutant.”

“Good Lord deliver us!” exclaimed Studhome, as he doubled his dose of
cognac and Seltzer.

“Is it a good country for hunting hereabouts?” asked Sir Harry Scarlett.

“Can’t say much for that,” replied our visitor, shrugging his shoulders.
“Besides, the Earl of Lucan will probably cut out other work for you
than riding across country; but for sportsmen there are plenty of hares,
partridges, and wild duck to keep one’s hand in till we see the
Russians, which I hope will not be long, for we are already all bored
and sick to death of Gallipoli.”

“How long have you been here?” asked Beverley.

“A month, colonel. Another troop has just been signalled off the mouth
of the Dardanelles.”

“The _Ganges_, with more of ours, perhaps.

“Likely enough; but they come in here every hour.”

“Any word yet of moving to the front—of taking the field?” asked
Beverley.

“No, nothing seems decided on yet. There are a thousand idle rumours;
but we are all in the dark as to the future—French and British alike.”

“A deuced bore!” exclaimed two or three together.

“Ah, you’ll find it when you have been a month or so under canvas at
Gallipoli. And now, Colonel Beverley, I need not suggest to so
experienced a cavalry officer how the horses are to be got on shore, but
for the time shall take my leave. Some of the cavalry divisional staff
have established a kind of clubhouse in a deserted khan, opposite the
old palace of the Bashaw, or Capudan Pacha, where we shall be glad to
see you, till we can make other arrangements; and so adieu. Should you
look us up, ask for Captain Bolton, of the 1st Dragoon Guards.”

In another minute the officer—a purpose-like fellow, in a well-worn blue
surtout, his steel scabbard and spurs already rusted—was down the ship’s
side, and being rowed ashore by eight marines in a man-of-war boat.

We experienced some difficulties in getting our horses slung up and
landed, as, to plunge them into the sea, after being so long in the
close and confined atmosphere of the hold, was not advisable; and after
they were all disembarked (with the assistance of some merry and singing
Zouaves of the 2nd Regiment, while a horde of lazy Turks of the Hadjee
Mehmet’s corps looked idly on), we had to give them a cooling regimen
and gentle exercise, as the best means of restoring them to their wonted
vigour, and preparing them for the strife and service that were to come.
The vessel that was reported as being in sight, proved really to be the
_Ganges_. We were at last on foreign soil, and Studhome, by a word and
a glance, reminded me that he had not forgotten what was to take place
between me and Berkeley; but immediately after landing, that personage
was reported on the doctor’s list, so we had to let the matter lie over
for a time. Troop after troop of ours arrived; and gradually Colonel
Beverley had again the whole regiment under his kindly and skilful
command.

Studhome and I, who had frequently chummed together, when in India, had
the good luck to be quartered in the quiet and snug house of Demetrius
Steriopoli, the well-known and industrious miller, at a short distance
from the town. Eighteen thousand British troops were now in Gallipoli,
which, from being a quiet little den of Oriental dirt and Oriental
indolence, Moslem filth and fatuity, became instinct with European life
and bustle, by the presence of the soldiers of the allied armies. Those
who landed with no other ideas of the Orient than such as were inspired
by the “Arabian Nights,” and Byron’s poetry, were somewhat disappointed
on beholding the dingy rows of queer and quaint wooden, rickety and
dilapidated booths which composed the streets of this ancient Greek
episcopal city of Gallipoli.

Narrow, dirty, and tortuous, they were scattered without order on the
slope of a round stony hill; the thoroughfares were made of large round
pebbles, from which the foot slipped ever and anon into the mud, or
those stagnant pools whence the hordes of lean and houseless
dogs—houseless, because declared unclean by the Prophet—slaked their
thirst in the sunshine. Over these brown, discoloured hovels rose the
tall white minarets of a few crumbling mosques, with cone-shaped roofs
and open galleries, where the muezzin’s shrill voice summons the
faithful to prayer. A leaden-covered dome of the great bazaar, and the
old square fortress of Badjazet I., with a number of windmills on every
available eminence, were the most prominent features of the view, which
could never have been enchanting, even in its most palmy days—even when
the vaults of Justinian were teeming with wine and oil; for the Emperor
John Palæologus consoled himself for the capture of Gallipoli by the
Turks with saying, “I have only lost a jar of wine and a nasty sty for
hogs.”

But now its muddy streets of hovels were swarming with redcoats: the
Scottish bagpipe, the long Zouave trumpet, and the British bugle-horn,
rang there for parade and drill at every hour—even those when the
followers of the Prophet bent their swarthy foreheads on the mosaic
pavement of their mosques; and daily we, the light troops of the cavalry
division, were exercised by squadrons, regiments, and brigades, near
those green and grassy tumuli which lie on the southern side of the
city, and cover the remains of the ancient kings of Thrace. Now the
waters of the Hellespont were literally alive with war vessels and
transports, belonging to all the allied powers. They were of every
size, under sail or steam; and amid them, with white pinions outspread,
the swift Greek polaccas sped up or down the strait, which always
presented a lively and stirring scene, with the hills of Asia Minor,
toned down by distance, seeming faint and blue, and far away. Parade
over, it often amused me to watch the varied groups which gathered about
the doors of the bazaar, the wine and coffee-houses. There were the
grave Armenian of Turcomania, with his black fur cap, and long, flowing
robe; the black-eyed Greek, in scarlet tarboosh and ample blue breeches;
the dirty, hawk-visaged Jew, attired like a stage Shylock, waiting for
his pound of flesh; the kilted Highlander, in the “garb of old Gaul;”
the smart Irish rifleman; the well-fed English guardsman, _blasé_,
sleek, and fresh from London; the half savage-like Zouave, in his short
bluejacket and scarlet knickerbockers; the bronzed Chasseur d’Afrique;
the rollicking British man-o’-war’s man, in his guernsey shirt and wide
blue collar; the half-naked Nubian slave; the pretty French vivandière,
in her short skirt and clocked stockings, looking like Jenny Lind in
“The Daughter of the Regiment,” only twice as piquante and saucy; even a
Sister of Charity, sombre, pale, and placid, would appear at times,
crossing herself as she passed a howling dervish, when seeking milk or
wine for the sick; and amid all these varied costumes and nationalities
were to be seen such heedless fellows as young Rakeleigh, Jocelyn,
Scarlett, Wilford, and Berkeley, of ours, in wideawake hats, all-round
collars, with Tweed shooting suits and flyaway whiskers, hands in
pockets, and cheroot in mouth, as they quizzed and “chaffed” the great
solemn Turk of the old school, with his vast green turban and silver
beard, which steel had never profaned, or drank pale ale with his son of
the new school, in the military fez and frogged surtout, with varnished
boots and shaven chin, who, in his double capacity of a true believer
and a mulazim (or subaltern of Hadjee Mehmet’s regiment), deemed himself
at full liberty to use his whip without mercy among the camel-drivers
and lazy galiondjis (or boatmen), eliciting shrieks, yells, and curses,
which Berkeley, in his languid drawl, considered to be “aw—doocid good
fun.”

Many of those smart youths of ours, and other fast Oxford men, had their
constitutional and national conceit somewhat taken out of them before
the war was ended.

“There is nothing more disgusting,” says a distinguished writer, with
pardonable severity, “or more intolerable, than a young Englishman
sallying forth into the world, full of his own ignorance and
John-Bullism, judging of mankind by his own petty, provincial, and
narrow notions of fitness and propriety—a mighty observer of effects and
disregarder of causes, and traversing continent and ocean, at once
blinded and shackled by the bigotry and prejudices of a limited and
imbecile intellect.”

Much of this was the secret spring of our Indian mutiny, and is the
cause that we are hated and shunned on the Continent. There are, of
course, exceptions, for in the East I have seen local prejudices so far
respected that we formed an escort when the British colours of the Sepoy
infantry were marched into the _Ganges_, to consecrate them in the eyes
of the Bengalese—the same pampered ruffians who slaughtered our women
and children at Cawnpore and Delhi.

We looked in vain for pretty women, and the reader may be assured that
some of our researches were of the most elaborate description. Not a
trace of the boasted Grecian beauty was to be found in those
oddly-dressed females, whose costume seemed a mere oval bale of clothing
(the feridjee), surmounted by a white linen veil, and ending in boots of
yellow leather, as they flitted like fat ghosts about the public wells,
or the gates of the great bazaar. All were, indeed, plain even to
ugliness, save in one instance—pretty little Magdhalini, the daughter of
the miller, Steriopoli. I remember a charming vivandière, who belonged
to the 2nd Zouaves, for I saw her frequently under circumstances that
could never be forgotten—in fact, under fire, at the head of the
regiment. She was a smart little Parisienne, possessed of great beauty,
with eyes that sparkled like the diamonds in her ears. She wore a
pretty blue Zouave jacket, braided with red, over a pretty chemisette,
and had her black hair smoothly braided under a scarlet kepi, which bore
the regimental number. The first time I saw Sophie she was simply
maintaining a flirtation with one of the corps, to whom she gave a
mouthful of brandy from her barrel, as he stood on sentry under my
window, and their banter rather interfered with the composition of a
letter which I was writing to my cousin Cora.

“Ah, Mademoiselle Sophie,” said the Zouave, in his most dulcet tone,
“you—_mon Dieu_—you look so lovely that——”

“That what—what—Jules?”

“Well, so lovely this morning that I am quite afraid——”

“To kiss me—is it not so, Monsieur Jolicoeur?”

“Yes.”

“_Très bien_. Take courage, _mon camarade_.”

“Mademoiselle Sophie, you quiz me!”

“A Zouave, and afraid,” exclaimed the vivandière; and then followed a
little sound there was no mistaking.

“You are indeed beautiful, Sophie. There is not a vivandière in the
whole French army like you.”

“Yet I may die an old maid,” said she demurely.




“May?”

“Yes, Jules.”

“Then it will be your own fault, _ma belle coquette_, and not the fault
of others.”

“_Parbleu_! I sha’n’t marry a Zouave, at all events.”

“Don’t speak so cruelly, Sophie. When I look on your charming face, I
always think of glorious Paris. Paris! Ah, _mon Dieu!_ shall we ever
see it again?”

“Why did you leave it, Jules, and your studies at the Ecole de Médecin,
to fight and starve here?”

“Why?” exclaimed the student.

“Yes, _mon ami_.”

“The old girl at the wheel, Madame Fortune, proved false to me. I lost
my last money, fifty Napoleons, at the rouge-et-noir table in the Palais
Royal. I was ruined, Sophie; and as I had no wish to jump into the
Seine, and then to figure next morning on the leaden tables of the
Morgue, like a salmon at the fishmonger’s, I joined the 2nd Zouaves in
the snapping of a flint, and so—am here.”

“You will return with your epaulettes and the cross, Jules.”

“I don’t think so. Kiss me, at all events, _ma belle_.”

“Well, camarade, if it will console you——”

Here I tried to close the window, on which Jules “carried arms,” and
looked very unconscious; while the pretty vivandière gave me a military
salute, and tripped laughingly away, singing—

Vivandière du régiment,
C’est Catin qu’on me nomme, &c.

Daily more troops arrived from Britain and France; daily the camps
extended in size, and, notwithstanding the season, we suffered much from
cold, while, so bad were the commissariat arrangements, that, in some
instances, officers and soldiers were alike without beds or bedding, few
having more than a single blanket; so, for warmth, they reversed the
usual order, by dressing in all their spare clothes to go to bed.

Gallipoli became so crowded at last that some of the troops were
despatched towards Constantinople and Scutari. There the Highland
regiments, beyond all others, excited astonishment and admiration, not
unmixed with fear, their costume seemed so remarkable to Oriental eyes;
and many may yet remember the anecdote current in camp concerning them.

An old Turkish pasha, who had brought the ladies of his harem in a
_caïque_, closely veiled in their _yashmacs_, to see our troops land,
was intensely horrified by the bare brawny legs of the 93rd foot; but
after surveying them, he said, with a sigh, to an English officer—”Ah!
if the Sultan had such fine soldiers as these, we should not need your
aid against the Russians.”

“Well, _effendi_,” observed the Englishman, who was quizzing, “would it
not be advisable to propagate the species in this country?”

“_Inshallah!_ (please God!) it will be done, whether we advise it or
not,” said the old Turk, sighing again, as he ordered his boatload of
_Odalisques_ to shove off for Istamboul with all despatch.

Amid the novelty of our new life at Gallipoli, a week or two passed
rapidly away, ere rumours were heard of our probable advance to Varna;
but, as I do not mean to repeat the well-known details of so recent a
war, rather confining myself to my own adventures, and those of my
regiment, I shall close this chapter by relating an episode which will
serve to illustrate the brutal and lawless character of the Turk, and
the slavery to which ages of conquest and degradation have reduced the
wretched Greek. I have said that Jack Studhome and I were quartered in
the house of a Greek miller, named Demetrius Steriopoli. His chief
worldly possessions were a melon-garden, and two ricketty old windmills,
which whirled their brown and tattered sails on the breezes that came
from the Hellespont. In the basement of these edifices, and in the
walls of his dwelling-house, were—and I have no doubt still are—built
many exquisitely-carved fragments of some old Grecian temple; for there
triglyphs, sculptured metopæ, the honeysuckle, and so forth, with
portions of statues, all of white marble, were used pell mell among the
rough rubble masonry.

These edifices—to wit, the house and mills—stood on an eminence a little
way beyond the ruins of the old wall of Gallipoli, on the side of the
road that leads across the isthmus towards the Gulf of Saros.

His dwelling was picturesque, and that which is better, it was clean and
airy; thus, while Beverley and others of ours were nightly devoured by
gnats and other entomological torments, we slept each in a separate
kiosk, or bedroom, as comfortably as if quartered in the best hotel of
Dover or Southampton—so much for the housewifery of the little
Magdhalini. Steriopoli was by birth a Cypriote Greek—a handsome and
fine-looking man, about eight-and-thirty, and when armed with sabre,
pistol, and yataghan, had rather more the aspect of a marauder than a
peaceful miller, especially as his attire usually consisted of a scarlet
fez, a large loose jacket of green cloth, a silk sash round his waist, a
capacious pair of blue breeches, his legs being further encased in
sheepskin hose, and his feet in sandals of hide. When the merciless
Turkish troops massacred twenty-five thousand persons in Cyprus,
destroying seventy-four once happy and industrious villages, with all
their monasteries and churches, seizing the young women as slaves, and
casting the male children into the sea, it was his fate, when disposed
of in the latter fashion, to be picked up by the boat’s crew of a
British man-of-war. Torn from the arms of his shrieking mother, he had
been tossed into the harbour of Larneca, which was filled with the
corpses of poor little infants. On board the British ship he had been
kept for a time as a species of pet among the sailors. Hence his regard
for us was great; and his open trust in us was only equalled by his
secret abhorrence of the Turks. He was a widower, and his family
consisted only of his daughter and a few servants, male and female—the
latter being his assistants at the mills.

After the plain-looking women of Gallipoli, the beauty of the little
Greek maid, Magdhalini, proved an agreeable surprise for us; and within
doors she always laid aside the hideous _yashmac_ which concealed her
features when abroad. She was not much over fifteen, but already fully
developed; she was lively in manner, and graceful in deportment; and her
picturesque costume—a crimson jacket, with short, wide sleeves, open at
the throat, and embroidered at the bosom, her skirt of various colours,
and her hair ornamented with gold coins, all added to the piquancy of
her beauty. Her features were remarkably regular; her forehead low and
broad; her rich, thick hair was of a bright auburn hue; but her eyes
were of the deepest black. In the latter, when contrasted with the pale
purity of her complexion, the form of their delicate lids and curled
lashes, I saw—or fancied so—a resemblance to Louisa, which gave the girl
a deeper interest to me; and her appearance frequently recalled to me
Byron’s description of Haidee:—

“Her hair, I said, was auburn; but her eyes
Were black as death; their lashes the same hue,
Of downcast length, in whose silk shadow lies
Deepest attraction; for when to the view
Forth from its raven fringe the full glance flies,
Ne’er with such force the swiftest arrow flew.
* * * * *
Her brow was white and low; her cheek’s pure dye
Like twilight rosy still with the set sun;
Short upper lips—sweet lips! that make us sigh
Ever to have seen such.”

In stature she was a foot less than Louisa Loftus; but her form, her
delicate hands, small feet, and rounded arms, might have served as
models for the best sculptors of the old Greek days. On one occasion I
showed her Louisa’s miniature, and she clapped her hands, and begged
permission to kiss it, like a child, as she was in some respects. She
was very curious to know why Studhome and I did not wear crucifixes or
holy medals, like all the Christians she knew—even the Russians; and
when I told her that such was not the custom in my country, she shook
her head sadly, and expressed sorrow for its somewhat benighted
condition.

I found a smattering of Italian which I possessed most useful to me now,
for, next to the language of the country, it proves the most available
in Greece or Turkey. The _divan hanée_, or principal apartment of the
house (from which the doors of all the kiosks and other chambers open),
was handsome, lofty, and airy. Its lower end was lined by a screen of
trellised woodwork, containing arched recesses, or cupboards for vases
of sherbet, cool water, or fresh flowers. In the central recess a
miniature fountain spouted from a white marble basin, and a landscape
was painted on the wall beyond. Curtains covered each of the doorways,
and round the room—on three sides, at least—was a long sofa, or
cushioned divan, the height of the window-sills, in the Turkish fashion;
but, as Steriopoli was a Greek, his dwelling had more European
appurtenances, such as a dining-table and chairs; and on its walls were
various coloured prints of Greek saints and bishops, while above the
door of each sleeping kiosk hung a crucifix of carved wood. In the
divan we took our meals, and there, greatly to our host’s annoyance, we
were joined at times by the Colonel Hadjee Mehmet, who commanded a
battalion of the Turkish line at Gallipoli—an individual with whom
Studhome had become acquainted through some transaction about the
purchase of horses for some of our dismounted men, an affair in which,
though worthy Jack would never admit it, this hook-nosed and keen-eyed
follower of the Prophet jockeyed him and Farrier-sergeant Snaffles as
completely as any groom might have done at Epsom or the Curragh. Now
Demetrius Steriopoli, though he seemed not to care whether Studhome or
I, or any of our brother officers who visited us, saw his daughter,
manifested great uneasiness and irritation when she caught the wicked
and licentious eyes of the Hadjee Mehmet, whose character he knew, whose
power he dreaded, and whose nation and religion he detested; and thus
she had standing orders to seclude herself whenever he came, which was
pretty often now, to smoke his chibouque and drink brandy and water in
secret, though the Prophet only forbade wine. He was a fat, bloated,
and wicked-looking man, past fifty years of age. He wore a blue frogged
surtout, scarlet trousers, and a scarlet fez, with the broad, flat,
military button. He wore also a crooked Damascus sabre and beard, in
virtue of his rank, as straight swords and shaven chins indicate the
subaltern grades of the Turkish army, whose officers are the most
contemptible in Europe. In boyhood they are generally the pipe-bearers
or carpet-spreaders of the pashas. In this instance the Hadjee Mehmet
(so named because he had performed the pilgrimage to Mecca, and kissed
the Holy Kaaba) had begun life as a tiruaktzy, or nail-bearer, in the
household of Chosrew Mehmet Pasha, who was the seraskier, or
generalissimo of the forces, and who was supposed to be the gallant
Hadjee’s father, though that honour was usually assigned to a Janizary
who escaped the massacre of that celebrated force by concealing himself;
and by Chosrew he was speedily advanced to the rank of mire-alai, or
colonel of infantry.

He was very careful always to style us “effendi,” such being the prefix
for all who are deemed educated; and, as he sat cross-legged on the
divan, with his paunch protruding before him, his ample and well-dyed
beard half hiding the frogged lace of his surtout, the amber mouthpiece
of his long chibouque between his thick lips, with his little scarlet
fez, and sleepy, half-leering black eyes, he seemed the very beau-ideal
of a used-up and sensual Osmanlee.

“_Ev-Allah!_” (praise God!) he said, on one occasion, “I have now seen
all the world.”

“Indeed, colonel, I knew not that you had travelled,” said I.

“Yes, and I would not give a grush (piastre) to see it again.”

“_All_, do you say?” queried I.

“Yes; Mecca, Medina, Bassora, Damascus, Cairo, and Iskandrich—there is
no more to see; and of all the women I have ever beheld,” he added, with
one of his wicked little leers, “who can equal the Cockonas of
Bucharest? Not even the golden-haired Tcherkesses.”

“And what think you of the Greeks, colonel?” asked Studhome, rather in a
blundering manner, for Steriopoli’s brows knit unpleasantly.

“_Backallum_” (we shall see), was his reply, as he gave a stealthy
glance at Magdhalini, who was superintending the tandour, the substitute
for a fireplace, consisting of a wooden frame, in which there is placed
a copper vessel, full of charcoal, the whole being covered by a wadded
coverlet, and closely reminding one of the brasseros of the Spaniards.
Swift though the glance, it was not unseen by Steriopoli, whom the
ominous remark which accompanied it sufficiently alarmed, and, with
unwonted abruptness of manner, he requested his daughter to retire and
assume her veil.

On the following day it chanced that he had to visit Alexi (which is
about twenty miles distant from Gallipoli), as he had some flour to
dispose of, and would be absent all night. Whether our Turkish visitor
was aware of this circumstance I cannot say, but in the forenoon I came
suddenly upon him and Magdhalini, whom he had surprised or waylaid in
the pathway near the windmills. He grasped one of her hands, and she
was struggling to release herself. I had my sword under my arm, but as
a fracas with a Turkish officer was by no means desirable, I lingered
for a moment before interfering.

“Girl,” I heard him say, with a dark scowl, while he grasped her slender
wrist, “for the third time I tell thee not to bite the finger that puts
honey into thy mouth.”

“Nonsense, Hadjee; let me go, I say,” replied Magdhalini, laughing,
though she was partly frightened.

“I should like to make my home in thy heart, Magdhalini, even as the
bulbul buildeth her nest in the rose-tree,” panted the fat Hadjee.

“Oh, thou owl, thou crow of bad omen!” exclaimed the lively Greek girl,
as she wrenched her hand free, and, darting a bright and merry glance at
her enraged and perspiring admirer, drew her yashmac close, and sprang
away, blushing because I had witnessed the scene.

That night Studhome and I had been supping with Beverley at his quarters
near the palace of the Capudan Pasha, and were returning late to the
house of Steriopoli. The sky was clear and starry; thus we could see
distinctly several Turkish soldiers loitering about near the house and
windmills, and though the hour was an unusual one for them to be absent,
that we deemed no concern of ours, and on entering we retired to our
kiosks, or rooms, and were both soon sound asleep—so sound that we
failed to hear a loud knocking shortly after at the front door.
Magdhalini and two female servants promptly responded to the unusual
summons, but declined to open without further inquiry, on which the door
was beaten in by a large hammer, and a chiaoush, or sergeant, and
several soldiers, all in Turkish uniform, seized Magdhalini, bound,
gagged, and carried her off, despite her cries and resistance. Roused
by the sudden noise, and suspecting we knew not what, Studhome and I
dragged on our trousers, and came forth both at the same moment, each
with drawn sword and cocked revolver; but before lights were procured,
and ere the terrified servants could make us understand the real state
of affairs, and the catastrophe which had taken place, our pretty Greek
hostess was gone beyond recovery.

I shall willingly hurry over all that followed in this strange episode
of social life in the East.

Poor Steriopoli came back next day to a desolate house—a degraded and
broken home! He was full of rage and despair, for his daughter was the
pride, the idol of his heart; and suspecting justly the Hadjee Mehmet,
he discovered that this celebrated warrior had gone to Alexi, the very
town from which he, Steriopoli, had returned.

There he traced his daughter, only to find that she had been most
cruelly and shamefully treated. She was lodged in the house of the
cole-agassi, or major of Mehmet’s regiment—a wretch who had originally
been a channator aga, or chief of the black eunuchs; and on the pretext
that she had renounced Christianity and embraced Islamism, he refused to
give her up. In compliance with the wish of her sorrowing father, and
the indignant old Bishop of Gallipoli, she was brought before the
vaivode of the district. She appeared the wreck of her former self,
and, though not present, I afterwards heard that a most affecting scene
took place.

On beholding Steriopoli, whose once coal-black hair was now thickly
seamed with grey, she broke away from the Turkish slaves who held her,
and cast herself into his arms, in a passion of grief, exclaiming—

“My father! oh, my father! after what has taken place, I am no longer
worthy to be in your house, or to pray at my mother’s grave. We can no
longer be anything to each other.”

“Oh, Kyrie Eleison (Lord have mercy)!” groaned the unfortunate Greek.

Despite her solemn protests that she was still a Christian, the vaivode
would not yield her to her father; but opening the Koran, closed the
case by reading a passage from the sixteenth chapter thereof—a passage
revealed to the Prophet at Medina:—”O Prophet! when unbelieving women
come unto thee, and plight their faith unto thee, that they will not
associate anything with God, nor steal, nor commit sin, nor kill their
children, nor come with a calumny which they have forged between their
hands and feet, nor be disobedient to thee in that which shall be
reasonable: then do plight thy faith unto them, and ask pardon for them,
of One who is inclined to forgive and be merciful. O true believers!
enter not into friendship with a people against whom God is incensed;
they despair of pardon and the life to come, even as infidels despair of
the resurrection of those who dwell in the grave.”

“La-Allah-illah-Allah-Mohammed resoul Allah!”[*] shouted the people.

[*] “There is but one God, and Mahomet is his Prophet.”

The poor miller and his daughter were torn asunder, and the former was
driven by blows from the house of the vaivode; while Magdhalini, whom he
was never more permitted to see, was taken again to the house of the
cole-agassi. By Turkish law, such as it is, any commissioned officer
who kills a man is liable to five years’ slavery in chains, and service
as a private hereafter; but the abduction of a Greek girl, though a
rajah, or Christian subject of the Porte, was a very trivial affair—much
less than stealing a terrier in the streets of London. The foreign
Consuls took up the matter, and redress was sought of the Stamboul
effendi, or chief of the police at Constantinople, but sought in vain.
The Bishop of Gallipoli applied to the Skeik Islam, also without avail.

The Sheik is a very awful personage, who combines in his own person the
greatest offices of religion, together with the supreme power of the
civil law. Every new measure, even to naming the streets and numbering
the houses of filthy Stamboul, requires his sanction. The Sultan alone
has the power of life and death over the Sheik Islam, who can neither be
nobly bowstrung, nor ignobly beheaded, and he enjoys the peculiar
prerogative of being pounded to death in a mortar. A word from the Sheik
would have restored Magdhalini to her father; but Hadjee Mehmet, the
ex-tiruaktzy, had once operated on his holy nails, so a deaf ear was
turned to the prayer of the infidel Bishop, who was seeking the dove in
the net of the fowler long after we had taken our departure for Varna;
and, until the memorable day of Balaclava, I saw no more of the infamous
Hadjee Mehmet.

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