Littell's Living Age/Volume 127/Issue 1645/The Dilemma - Part XV

From Blackwood's Magazine.

THE DILEMMA.

CHAPTER XXXV.
(continued.)


For a few minutes the regiment remained unmolested, drawn up on the bare plain; but presently fire was opened on it from a couple of heavy guns posted behind a gap in the town-wall. After a round or two the enemy got the range, and a shot crashing through the line killed a couple of men and horses, front and rear rank. Kirke thereon sent Yorke to the brigadier to propose that he should retire into the cover of the grove; but a message came back that it was the general's order to hold the ground in advance of the grove, and keep the enemy from making a counter-attack across the front of the line.

"Counter-attack!" said Kirke bitterly, as he received the message; "much they look like attacking anybody, don't they? However, orders must be obeyed. Thank God, here come some guns to help us;" and as he spoke half a troop of horse-artillery came galloping up round the edge of the grove; and, taking up a position on the right of Kirke's men, unlimbered and opened fire on the walls with shell and shrapnel. This diverted the attention of the enemy, who turned one gun on their assailants, but kept one still going on the cavalry, now serving it with grape. The distance was about eight hundred yards, and the gun badly served; but the ground was perfectly smooth and level; eighteen-pounder grape under such conditions was a formidable thing to face; and it was difficult to avoid wincing as the shot came crashing along with the angry growl peculiar to the missile, tearing up the ground, and making a little cloud of dust. Kirke kept the regiment drawn up in line, to render the mark as thin as possible, but almost every discharge took effect, and the pause between each was spent in moving the disabled men into doolees and sending them to the rear, or in disengaging riders from their dead horses.

Presently the brigadier rode up. Twenty-three men killed and wounded, reported Kirke, and thirty-five horses, in these few minutes, and there would be plenty more if they stopped in that place. "I don't like to lose my fellows in this way to no purpose."

It could not be helped, Tartar said; the orders were positive to hold the ground and keep the flank secure.

"I think I could make the flank pretty secure, sir, if you would let me advance and threaten their flank. Those fellows yonder only want a little encouragement to skedaddle, but this long bowls is just the game they like." But Tartar said the general would not allow any forward movement of the cavalry to be made without his orders.

"I wish the general would come here and see things for himself," replied Kirke; "we should be just as useful under cover behind the trees, instead of in front of them."

"It won't last long," said the other; "the town will be carried presently." Then the brigadier with his brigade-major joined Kirke in riding slowly up and down before the line, their orderlies behind them. They tried to talk unconcernedly, but it was not easy to keep up the conversation when the puff of white smoke arose behind the wall, to be followed immediately by the angry growl of the grape as it rushed towards them along the level ground.

Suddenly the brigadier and his horse rolled over. Kirke and the brigade-major jumped down to his assistance, but he soon got up unhurt; his horse, however, had been killed.

"A bad look-out," said Tartar, looking at the poor beast which lay in its last convulsions; "what shall I do for a mount?"

"No difficulty about that, sir," said Kirke, pointing to his orderly's horse, which stood riderless behind them, the man having fallen dead by a grapeshot from the same discharge; and, indeed, the brigadier was fain to disengage his saddle from his own charger, and put it on the native orderly's trooper.

Thus passed the minutes which seemed like hours; the gunners were busy in replying to the enemy's fire, but the cavalry had no occupation, and plenty of time for reflection. At last there was a sudden cessation of the deadly game, explained almost immediately by the appearance of some European soldiers on the house-tops, firing with musketry on the group of men serving the two guns. The town had been carried; and the occupants of the part of it opposite Kirke's regiment, being thus taken in flank, soon disappeared in flight to the rear. Now would have been the time for the cavalry to make a circuit of the walls and cut in upon the fugitives; but no orders came to move, and there only remained the melancholy occupation of counting up the casualties, and fitting spare men to spare horses. Seventy-six men, or nearly one-sixth of the strength of the regiment present on the field, had been killed and wounded, the latter for the most part badly, and eighty-seven horses were disabled; so that Kirke's Horse figured handsomely in the account of the battle, and readers of the Gazette might have supposed, from the general's reference to its distinguished conduct and severe loss, that the regiment had spent the day in desperate hand-to-hand fighting, instead of having been uselessly sacrificed for a stupid precaution. The officers of the regiment, on comparing notes afterwards, were agreed that it had been the most serious duty any of them had gone through, active fighting under excitement being far less trying than standing up in cold blood to be fired at without power of retaliation. But their usual good luck had attended them. Braddon's big Australian horse had gone down; while Egan had had a grapeshot through his holster, and Yorke another through his turban; but otherwise they had come off unscathed; and they began jokingly to style themselves the invulnerables, half believing that they really were.

But not for long after this affair did the title continue to be appropriate. The main army was now posted for a time in a stationary encampment, while columns detached from it scoured the surrounding country, beating up fugitives; and Kirke's Horse, while thus employed, came up suddenly one early morning with a body of the enemy's cavalry and the remains of a battery of field-artillery. Here was an opportunity long sought for; Kirke's Horse had done almost everything possible in the way of fighting but capture guns; so while these, surprised in the dusky dawn, opened an uncertain fire, Kirke, bringing his regiment round at a gallop, gained their flank, and charging down before they could limber up, cut down the gunners, and captured the four guns, the cavalry making off without awaiting the onset. Just as the advance was made, Braddon (who led the rear squadron) with his horse was seen to fall, but there was no time to stop and inquire what had happened. It was half an hour or more before the regiment returned to its old ground, and there the officers found their comrade lying under a tree. Maxwell had just amputated both legs, shattered by a round-shot which had passed through his horse.

He had hardly recovered from the effect of the chloroform which Maxwell had administered, and at first did not remember what had happened, or where he was. "Ah! now I understand," he said at last, as he saw the commandant and Yorke stooping over him, while Maxwell on his knees was still busied with his work, — "I am minus a couple of legs. Very odd, too, I don't feel anything. That's a comfort, is it not? It helps one to bear the loss with proper resignation. How long am I good for, doctor, do you think?"

"My dear fellow," replied Maxwell, "you have borne the operation splendidly, and a constitution like yours will carry a man through anything. The pulse is strong, and everything going on well."

"All the resources of the highest medical skill were brought to bear on the case, but alas! proved unavailing," interrupted the wounded man — "that will be my epitaph, I take it; it wasn't the doctor's fault, but the man's. Excuse my chaff, doctor," he continued, "I don't want to hurt your feelings; if ever there was a surgeon who could pull a fellow through it would be you, I know that; but tell me, doctor, did you ever know a case of a man pulling through who had both his legs taken off by a round-shot? Shock to the system, isn't it, that you call it? And yet I feel quite right up here," said the wounded man, withdrawing one of the hands that made a pillow for his head, and tapping his chest. "Nevertheless, Yorke, my boy, you will be second in command before many hours are over. But how about the guns? you took them, I hope, major?"

"Oh yes," replied Kirke, "we made a capital job of it; took the whole four, and accounted for a lot of the gunners as well."

"Well done!" cried Braddon, cheerily; "there's the C.B. for you, major, certain, and a brevet lieutenant-colonelcy at the least, even if you were not sure of it before."

"And for you, too, I hope," said Kirke, his usual hard tone softened as he looked down distressed at his mangled comrade.

"Very kind of you to say so, major; but there is only one more step for me to make, and not having any legs to make it with, it ought to be a short one. The present company see the joke, I hope," he added, looking up at the anxious faces above him as he lay with his head resting under his hands. "But I am keeping you here too long; the wounded ought to be sent to the rear, you know. Cavalry should have no incumbrances."

In truth it was time to be moving on, for the regiment had a long march to make before its return to camp; and the wounded man (the only one in the whole regiment wounded in this skirmish) was placed in a doolee and sent off under the escort of a native officer and detachment, while the rest of the party with the captured guns proceeded on their way. Maxwell accompanying them, for a native regiment has only one surgeon attached to it, and more casualties might occur before the expedition was ended.

Kirke's Horse returned to headquarters on the evening of the following day; and while the commanding officer went to the general's tent to report proceedings, Yorke hastened as soon as he could get away to the main camp-hospital, whither his wounded comrade had been conveyed. The hospital was formed of a little street of tents, orderly and quiet, the only moving objects being here and there a camp-follower or two, as they sat squatting outside the tents, smoking their hookahs or cooking their frugal meal. Towards the end of the street some larger tents betokened the quarters of the wounded officers, while it was closed at the end by those of the medical officers in charge, in front of which sat two surgeons smoking their cheroots after the labours of the day. One of these rose at once as Yorke rode up, and conducted him to the tent where Braddon lay. He was doing wonderfully well, said the surgeon before they went in, notwithstanding the shock and the journey; pulse still firm; he must have a wonderful constitution.

Braddon occupied an airy tent with two beds (the second being vacant), the only other person in it being his bearer, sitting patient in a corner to execute his master's behests. The wounded man received his friend with a cheery voice.

"Here I am, you see, wonderfully jolly, all right in this quarter still" — tapping his chest — "and ready for my dinner; but how long is this to last? I am looking out for the coming change, but it doesn't come. Except that I am a little tired of lying on my back already, I never felt better in my life. Curious, isn't it?"

"Yes," said the surgeon, cheerily; "you are doing famously; Maxwell will be quite proud of your case."

"Famously, indeed. Come, doctor, did you ever know a case of a man losing both his legs in this way and pulling through? "

"Know a case? I should think so. Why, there is a sergeant of a foot-regiment in this very camp who has lost both his legs, and is almost well now."

"Ah, but he didn't lose them by a round-shot, I'll be bound. No, Maxwell," he continued, addressing that officer, who had just entered the tent, "you may explain to our good friend here that it is no good trying to bamboozle me, and, what is more, that I don't want to be deceived. I know what is in store for me, as well as either of you do; but it is very odd that I should feel so well."

The next day, when Yorke paid his friend a visit, he found him still well and hearty, although less excited in manner. "Not much change, you see," he said, smiling. "No; no pain whatever, except that there is a big knot in the cordage of this bed which touches me up in the back a little. But it isn't worth while bothering about it just for a day or two. No; there is no pain in the stumps, and no feeling either; that is the bad sign, is it not? You can't have a rally where there is no nervous power, you know. The only wonder is the numbness does not begin creeping up the body, as with Socrates after drinking the hemlock. I feel quite right here still," tapping his chest. "There's no need to pull such a long face, my dear fellow," he continued. "What does it matter one man more or less being knocked over? We have won the day, and put the mutiny down; and the thing has been done cheap at the price.' And what is more, I don't care a bit about it myself. That seems odd to you, doesn't it? Only two days ago I was thinking about brevets, and promotions, and a career, and all the rest of it, just as keenly as any man; and now I lie here, waiting for the end, and if you'll believe me, I don't feel as if I would give a button to have my legs back again. I should have grudged to have been knocked over and useless when in the residency, I confess, before I had had a rap at the rascals; but now there are plenty more where I came from. Why, now I think of it, you are senior lieutenant in the 76th, and will get the step in the regiment, besides being made second in command of the Horse. I beg your pardon," continued the sick man, seeing that his friend looked pained; "but you know it's my way; I can't help a little chaff. I know you are sorry for me, and all that; but still business is business, and there would be no promotion if there were no casualties. No, my dear fellow, I should have been afraid to sneak out of the world at the time when I was under a cloud; but now that I am set right again with the public it is different. And is there a man in India who could be better spared? I haven't got a relation in the world who cares twopence about me. My sister and I used to be pretty fond of each other when we were children; but she has been married these ten years to a rich man whom I have never seen, and somehow the letter-writing dropped after a time."

Yorke asked whether he would not wish to see the camp-chaplain, but Braddon declined the proposal. "I don't suppose I have been inside a church for a dozen years," he said, "and what merit would I get from going through the service now, under a fright? If I had bled to death out there on the field when I was hit, Wharton would not have had a chance of using his formulas: I can't suppose God Almighty would allow it to make any difference to a man, whether he dies a few hours sooner or later. I daresay you think I am a regular heathen," he continued, seeing that Yorke looked distressed, "but I am not a bit; I can't call to mind that I ever did anybody any harm, except in the way of business as a soldier, or anything that a man need be ashamed of, barring that brandy-bottle bout which injured nobody but myself. Is faith really to be everything, and works nothing, as our worthy friend is always preaching? I know I am a miserable sinner and all that, but surely it is taking a low view of God to suppose that he finds any satisfaction in hearing His praises sung. A crude sort of theology, ain't it? but it's too late to cast about for new principles now."

"No, my dear boy," he continued, as Yorke after a time rose to go, "I don't want anything, thank you; I don't feel as if I could read; but somehow the time doesn't hang heavy, and old Sudhán there is very attentive; he seems never to go to his dinner, nor to go to sleep, nor to do anything, I believe, but sit there ready to wait on me. Good-bye, old fellow, remember me to the rest of them, and say how glad I was to hear about the guns being all taken, and so cheaply too. And, Yorke, I say," he added, holding the other's hand, "just give me a kiss before you go."

The warmest friendship and the best intentions can go but little way towards tending the sick on active service. With those on duty, fatigue and the craving for sleep will overcome the strongest sympathies or unselfishness. The officers of Kirke's regiment, too, were for the most of their time on outpost duty, and their wounded comrade was perforce left to his thoughts and the ministrations of his faithful bearer, and the occasional visits of the kindly but overworked camp-doctor. When next Yorke rode down to the hospital, the change which the patient had been looking for had arrived. "He is sinking rapidly, and won't recognize you," said the surgeon coming out of the tent as Yorke approached it. That evening the gallant soldier died; he was buried at day-break, Yorke being the only mourner, for the other officers of the regiment were all at outposts; and at evening his property was sold by auction and dispersed among a variety of owners, for the army was to march next day. Braddon had made a will, drawn by the camp-surgeon, leaving his remaining charger to Kirke, his sword to his sister, a hundred rupees to his faithful bearer, and the rest of his property — which consisted mainly of arrears of pay — to Yorke, who was appointed executor. The latter was gazetted in due course to be captain in the late 76th Native Infantry, vice Braddon, died of wounds; and succeeded also, as the latter had predicted, to his vacant post of second in command of Kirke's Horse.


CHAPTER XXXVI.

One more incident in the campaign must find a place in our story. The force of the rebellion was now got under; Lucknow had been finally captured, and there was no longer any regular army in the field to oppose the British troops; but various fugitive bands still remained to be put down, and detached columns were moving in pursuit of these all over the country. Kirke's Horse was attached to one of these columns, and a squadron under Yorke's command was halted one hot day in May in support of a couple of horse-artillery guns during the attack on a strong village held in force by the enemy. Yorke and the guns had been detached to the right of the line, where they found themselves in front of a small enclosure surrounded by a low mud wall, and the artillery officer had begun to fire on the place, which appeared to be full of men, by way of having something to do — for the position was not of importance, as it must be abandoned if the main village were taken — when a half-company of European infantry came up, which also had been detached to the right. "I am to skirmish in front of that tidy little fort," said the officer in command of the detachment to Yorke, as he passed by the spot where the squadron was halted; "but as soon as they begin business over there" — pointing to the main column — "I mean to go in and have a try at the place — a grand assault all to myself;" and Yorke was struck by the cheery appearance of the young fellow, who had the bright cheeks of a man fresh from England. This half-company was now skirmishing in open order before the little enclosure, freely replied to by its occupants, and had got so close to it that the guns were obliged to stop firing, when Yorke saw the officer wave his sword and make a rush forward, while all his men jumped up and followed him. The wall was broken in parts, and the officer vaulted over a gap and disappeared inside followed by about half his party, while the rest came crowding up to the spot. "Well done!" cried Yorke, "he has carried the place," — and pushed forward with his squadron over the plain up to it. It took less than a minute to cover the ground, but by the time he got to the enclosure the assailants were in trouble; the advance was stopped, the men were huddled up together under shelter of the wall, and firing over the gaps in it, while several of those who had got in were scrambling back again.

"What is the matter?" said Yorke, riding up to them; "and where's your officer?"

"He's too badly hit to bring off," said one of the fugitives, loading his rifle mechanically as he spoke; "it's as much as I could do to get away myself," and indeed the man was bleeding profusely from a wound in the shoulder.

The enemy were now swarming back to defend their post, and keeping up a warm fire from the roof of the houses within it and from every opening, to which the soldiers replied from outside the wall. There was a narrow lane running from front to back of the enclosure, and Yorke looking along this over the gap in the wall which faced the end of it, could see the bodies of some half-dozen Europeans lying in the roadway, and one, the officer, half-sitting, half-lying against the side wall. At the end of the lane was a little crowd of the enemy, some standing boldly out, others partly under cover, all firing down along it towards the gap, while the British soldiers at the other end replied from outside.

The soldiers in the lane seemed all dead, but Yorke could see the officer moving; and without stopping to think, he rode his horse a few paces back, and then putting him at the gap, cleared it at a bound into the lane.

The enemy on seeing him jump over showed in still greater numbers, and from all sides the fire seemed converging on him, while he was now in the way of his own people, nearly filling up with his horse the whole of the narrow road. And it seemed as if he must certainly be hit. But all round the enclosure immediately inside the wall was a narrow passage, and he turned aside into this as by instinct, finding for the moment comparative shelter, and then dismounting and leaving his horse there, ran up the lane to the wounded officer, and lifting him up tried to carry him back. But the burden was a heavy one, and he would have failed of his purpose but that two of the soldiers, following his example, had also come over the wall to help him. Working together they made good progress, but it seemed as if the end of the lane would never be reached, although the distance to be traversed was only a few yards. Close and many whizzed the bullets, and, almost filling up the lane as did the little party, it seemed as if they could not escape. At last one of the two soldiers fell on his face, and Yorke and the other stumbled and nearly let drop their burden. "He's killed, sir," said the survivor, after looking for a moment at his comrade — "it's no good waiting for him;" and they pushed on and at last reached the wall, and, handing their burden over, followed themselves, Yorke's horse — not Selim, but his second charger — having been shot in his absence, and took shelter behind. The surviving soldier, however, had been shot through the thigh, but Yorke with his usual good fortune got off with a bullet through the skirt of his coat.

Outside the place were now drawn up the whole of Kirke's Horse, the commandant himself having ridden up to the gap to see if he could help his comrade; five minutes afterwards the enclosure was abandoned by its occupants, the main village having just been carried, and Yorke mounted on a trooper was soon in pursuit with his regiment, and busy cutting up the fugitives trying to escape across the open plain. He never saw the young officer again, who, he afterwards learnt, died the same evening of his wounds; but he lived long enough to tell the story of his deliverance; and Kirke, who had witnessed the conduct of his second in command, reported it in such terms that Yorke was at once awarded the Victoria Cross. And not long afterwards, the fact of his promotion to regimental captain having been recorded at the Horse Guards, the promotion of Captain Arthur Yorke, V.C, Bengal Native Infantry, to be major in the army, appeared in the London Gazette. This was indeed promotion, from lieutenant to field-officer all in one day. And he had the Gazette all to himself too, for the last instalment of brevets for the campaign had already appeared, including Kirke's promotion to lieutenant-colonel, and appointment to C.B. True, the Crimea had made field rank somewhat cheap; still the rise was a great one, from subaltern in a contemned service to major in a distinguished regiment, and few men even in these days had gained the rank in less than eight years' total service. Surely there must be a career before him, if he pulled through the war without getting knocked on the head; Falkland had been twenty years in the army before he got his first brevet. Ah! poor Falkland! Already his career and his fate were almost forgotten, covered by the pall of brave men who had fallen during the war; and the days of the residency defence seemed to have faded away into the shadowy past, so much had happened since.

And yet in one respect those memories were fresh enough. The young man's passion was as strong as ever, and his success was valued mostly because it seemed to give him reason for his hopes. He had been in correspondence with Olivia ever since they parted, although from exigencies of duty and interruptions to posts the letters which passed had not been numerous; but Yorke thought he could trace in hers, as he read them again and again, the course of change from despair to resignation, and then to a revival of interest in life and the future, while through them ran a vein of sympathy and tenderness which the young man recognized with ecstasy, as indicating some approach towards his own state of feeling. And yet, he could see that any reciprocation of his passion was as yet altogether foreign to her thoughts; and although he felt a constant impulse to declare his devotion, an instinctive feeling that she was not yet prepared for such a declaration restrained him from committing himself. It would sound cold on paper, too, he thought, and I should not be there to reply to the objections she might plead of disloyalty to her first husband, and to press all that could be urged in reply of our exceptional circumstances. No: I will wait till I can reveal my love in person, and have her sweet face before me to inspire me with fitting words.

And now the time seemed coming, for the hot season was nearly over, and the rains were at hand in which marching would be hardly practicable, and the enemy being almost everywhere put down, the army was now to be distributed in cantonments. And Kirke's Horse, after a twelvemonth spent under canvas, which had converted the raw levy into seasoned veterans, was established at an out-station, in a district which had lately been recovered from the rebels, where the officers set about repairing the roofless bungalows of the former occupants, while the old sepoys' lines were restored for the men. It was just on arriving at this place that Yorke got the news of his promotion. The army would be in quarters for three months before taking the field again, and Yorke thought his chances good of getting leave for a part of this time. And a few weeks in a hill-station, with the opportunity of seeing Olivia daily, almost hourly, as her trusted friend, would be worth years of ordinary cantonment life. For Olivia was still in the hills. Her intention had been to return to Europe and join her father; but the road had not been safe for travellers, and now her journey was deferred till the next cold season — a journey I hope she will never make, thought the young man with bounding heart.

But a disappointment awaited him. The regiment had hardly encamped in their cantonments when Kirke was attacked with fever, and Maxwell ordered him off to the hills. The commandant and second in command could not both be absent at one time, and Yorke was fain to stay behind in charge of the regiment. And whether it was that in writing to Olivia he expressed his disappointment somewhat too pointedly, but in her reply there seemed to be an unusual reserve, and a pang of fear came over him lest he should have built too solid hopes on the anxious wishes for his safety, the almost affectionate solicitude for his welfare, which her letters had expressed while the campaign lasted. Ah! thought he, will the day ever come when I shall be able to pour out my passionate love without fear of repulse, and she in return may declare her desire for my presence without shame, and, putting aside the short episode of her first marriage, be ready to centre her hopes and affections on me?

Spragge, who had been serving during the latter part of the campaign with the Mustaphabad Levy, after recovering from his wound, had now got his leave; and the happy fellow wrote from the hills that he was to be married immediately, and then to leave his bride after a two months' honeymoon, while he returned in the cold season for the next campaign. "It will be terrible work parting from the dear girl," he wrote to his friend; "but what is to be done? I object on principle to long engagements, and it would not do to bring her down to the plains until Pandy is completely disposed of. By the way, the charming widow is looking as beautiful as ever, and her mourning becomes her exceedingly" — does she wear regular weeds I wonder? thought Yorke as he read this — "but how she manages to live with old mother Polwheedle is a wonder. You must look out for your chances, my boy, for her son is up here, and staying in the house — her son by the late Captain Jones, you know — and the old lady is making tremendous play on behalf of young hopeful, who is a rum-looking fish. By the way, I haven't congratulated you yet on your brevet majority and V.C, which I do now heartily, my dear fellow. What luck you have had, to be sure! Here am I, only three months your junior, and not even a captain yet. and no chance of a brevet as far as I can see."

This reference to Mrs. Polwheedle's son by the late Captain Jones did not cause Yorke any misgivings, for he had already heard of his visit to the hills from Olivia herself; but the concluding part of the letter left an unpleasant impression behind it. What jealousy there must be in human nature, he thought, when even a good fellow like Spragge puts down my honours to luck! I don't think I should have grudged him his brevet promotion, or called him a lucky fellow, if it had been he who had earned it.

"Mrs. Polwheedle's son, Mr. Jones, of the late Banglepoor Rangers, has come up on six weeks' leave," Olivia had told Yorke in one of her letters. "I am afraid that if I were to derive my notions of the army from him, I should hardly 'worship the military profession,' as you once accused me of doing. However, it is very pleasing to witness the mother's pride and undoubting belief in her son. You have sent me another implied scolding for continuing to share a house with her, but she is greatly changed and very kind, besides, I could not set up housekeeping for myself in a place like this" — surely I may take this as encouragement? thought the reader of the letter with a thrill of ecstasy — "even if it were worth while doing so for the short time I have to remain in India." Here the reader was cast down did this mean that she saw through intentions and did not wish to give him hope? "My cousin Rupert Kirke," the letter continued, "has also come up here, as of course you know, and it was such a happiness to hear from him so good an account of you, after all your hardships and hairbreadth escapes. He tells me that you have undergone the fatigue and heat even better than himself; and he has also told me, what I never could persuade you to tell me yourself, how you earned your Victoria Cross. People say that it is easy to get accustomed to danger in time. I never could. Even in the dreadful times of the residency, when all the others seemed to become indifferent, I used to tremble at every shot, feeling as if it must take some valued life; and all through this dreadful war I never take up the newspaper without a shudder, although one is bound to put on a calm face." Yes, indeed, thought Yorke, as he put the letter to his lips before folding it up, no one carried a braver presence than this noble woman!

In another letter Mrs. Falkland described Spragge's wedding, on which occasion she had helped to attire the bride; and, in expressing the general regret that Yorke could not be present to act as his friend's best man, added that her cousin had been very useful in arranging money matters for her, as she was quite ignorant of business. "Through his kind offices I have been able to receive the pension which I only lately learned that I was entitled to; and I have not scrupled, as he is so near a relative, to make use of the money he has kindly placed at my disposal until I can hear from my father, and so repay Mrs. Polwheedle what I am indebted to her." Idiot that I am, cried Yorke, on reading this, never to have thought of placing my purse at her disposal! A pretty friend I am, truly! No wonder she should find her cousin useful, when the obvious fact never presented itself to me, in my stupidity, that she must have been in want of money for present needs. Olivia in want of money, while he had ever so many months' pay lying undrawn at his credit! And for the moment Yorke felt quite jealous of his commanding officer for having shown this kindness to his cousin.