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Romance of War (or The Highlanders in Spain)
Chapter 34 - Hostilities - A Love-Letter

BOILING with rage at Louis's insulting defiance, Ronald returned to his quarters in the Alcanzar, determined at daybreak to summon him forth, to fight or apologize. He often repeated the words, 'Her heart has never wandered from you.' Ah ! if this should indeed be the case, and that Alice loved him after all! But from Louis his honour demanded a full explanation and ample apology, either of which he feared the proud spirit of the other would never stoop to grant. Yet, to level a deadly weapon against the brother of Alice,—against him to whom he had been a constant friend and companion in childhood and maturer youth, and perhaps by a single shot to destroy him, the hopes and the peace of his amiable father and sister, he felt that, should this happen, he never could forgive himself. But there was no alternative ; it was death or dishonour.

Two ways lay before him,—to fight or not to fight ; and his sense of injured honour made him, without hesitation, choose the first, and he waited in ho ordinary anxiety for the dawn, when Alister Macdonald, who was absent on duty, would return to the quarters of the regiment.

Next morning, when the gray daylight was beginning faintly to show the dark courts and gloomy arcades of the Alcanzar, he sprung from his couch, which had been nothing else than his cloak laid on the polished floor tiles ; and undergoing a hasty toilette, he was about to set forth in search of Macdonald, when Lieutenant Chisholm, one of the officers, entered.

'What! up already, Stuart?' said he; ' I hope you are not on any duty?

'No. Why?

'Because Lisle has asked me to wait upon you.'

'Upon me?' asked Ronald, with a frown of surprise. 'Upon me, Chisholm?'

'Yes; of course you will remember what occurred in the cathedral last night?'

'How could I ever forget? Mr. Lisle, under its roof, insulted me most grossly,' replied Ronald, his lips growing white with anger. 'I was just about to seek Macdonald to give him a message, but Mr. Lisle has anticipated me.'

'For Heaven's sake, Stuart, let us endeavour to settle this matter amicably! Think of the remorse which an honourable survivor must always feel. A hundred men slain in action are nothing to one life lost in a duel.'

'Address these words to your principal,—they are lost on me; but you are an excellent fellow, Chisholm!'

'It is long since we have had an affair of this sort among us, and Cameron is quite averse to this mode of settling disputes.'

'I shall not consult his opinion, nor that of any other man, in defence of my own honour,' said Ronald haughtily.

'As you please,' replied the other, with an air of pique: 'Lisle and you have long been on very distant terms, and the officers have always predicted that the matter would terminate in this way.'

'Curse their impertinent curiosity! And so Lisle calls me out in consequence of the high words we exchanged in the cathedral last night?' 'That is one reason—the least one, I believe. He mentioned that his sister, Miss Lisle-------'

'Stay, Chisholm! I will hear no more of this,' cried Stuart; then suddenly changing his mind, added, 'Ah! well; his sister—Miss Alice Lisle. Go on.'

'Faith, Stuart, you seem confoundedly confused. Do settle this matter in peace. Lisle has told me the story, in confidence, and I think you have been to blame,—indeed you have. Send Lisle an apology, for I assure you he is boiling with passion, and will not yield a hair's breadth.'

'Chisholm, then how in the devil's name can you suppose that I will?' exclaimed Ronald, his anger getting the better of his confusion. 'Never, by Heaven! never will I apologize when I have suffered the indignity. He has challenged me, and fate must now decide. I will meet him.' 'Well, then, times presses; we march at sunrise. Who is your friend ?' 'Alister Macdonald, if he has returned; if not I shall have Logan.' 'Macdonald returned about midnight, with some stragglers from Tor-rijos, and will not relish being disturbed so early.'

'Never mind that; an hour's sleep less or more is scarcely to be considered when lives are in jeopardy. Where is the meeting-place?'

'The bridge of Toledo. You will barely be in time. Six is the hour; it wants fifteen minutes of it by my watch.' 'Well, you may leave me now.'

Knowing it was needless to say more about a reconciliation, Chisholm departed; and Ronald, after buckling on his sword and dirk, stood for a few minutes holding his bonnet in his hand irresolutely, while he sunk into a reverie of deep and bitter reflections, of what his affectionate old sire and faithful dependents at Lochisla would feel should he die by the hand of Lisle, whose very name they regarded with so much jealousy and distrust. He also thought of Alice and Lord Lisle, what their sentiments would be if the reverse was the case, and the one lost a dear brother—the other a beloved son, who was the only heir and hope of an ancient house, and the successor to its title. He remembered also the words of Louis. Could it be that Alice might yet love him? But no; that was impossible! He threw his cloak around him, and rushed from the chamber to seek that of Macdonald, who was ready to attend him in a moment. Suddenly remembering that he had no pistols, he turned into an apartment occupied by Major Campbell, to request the loan of his. It was a spacious and splendid room, with a ceiling twenty feet in height. A colonnade supported the roof, the carved beams of which stretched across from the gilded cornices on each side. The ceiling and walls were covered with frescoes, but the plaster and the once bright and gorgeous gilding were miserably faded and dilapidated by time and neglect. Rolled in his cloak, and coiled up in a corner of this vast and empty hall, the bulky frame of Campbell lay on the tessellated pavement, and no doubt he found it a bed somewhat cold and hard. His pillow was formed by his long Andrea and favourite rung with a plaid rolled round them. His dirk and steel Highland pistols lay on one side of him, and an empty pigskin on the other. Very desolate indeed he appeared, lying in a corner of that huge apartment, which was totally destitute of furniture. Ronald shook him by the shoulder.

'If that is you, Sergeant Macildhui,' said he, speaking very crossly beneath the cape of his cloak, 'I must beg leave to inform you that I have nothing to do with No. I company. I am done with all that sort of dirty work, as you will see by the last "Gazette." Apply to Mr. Kennedy, and take yourself off till the drum beats. I wish the infernal Horse Guards would order six halting-days every week, instead of only Sunday and Thursday.'

'Look up, major! 'Tis I—Stuart.' 'What is the matter?' cried the other, bolting up, and showing that the contents of the borachio-skin were operating still on his brain ; 'what is the matter now? It is very hard that a field-officer, and one, too, that has seen the fields of Alexandria, Egmont-op-Zee, and the onslaught of Copenhagen, should be so pestered by subalterns. How this hard bed makes my bones ache! I have slept softer on the hot yellow sand in Egypt. They tell me this was the bedroom of Don Alfonzo I., King of Castile. Devil mend him! I suppose he did not sleep on the pavement with a claymore for a pillow, like Colin Campbell, of Craig-fianteoch, in Lome, a better man—for what is any Castilian don compared to a duine-wassal of Argyle?' The major snapped his fingers, and it was evident that he was very tipsy. 'But what do you want, Ronald, my boy?' he added.

'The loan of your pistols, major, for ten minutes only. I have a very disagreeable affair to adjust this morning.'

'I regret to hear it; but it is with none of ours, I hope, my knight of Santiago?'

'This is no time for jesting. 'Tis with a Portuguese of Colonel Campbell's brigade,' said Ronald, colouring at the necessary falsehood.

'Pah! only a Portuguese,—a dirty, garlic-eating devil. There are the pistols ; and remember, always level low, and fire the instant the word is given. I hope your arm is steady. A little hartshorn water or eau de Cologne are excellent things to rub it with. I am sorry I never keep any of these things about me: Egypt cured me of them. Take Stewart, the assistant-surgeon, with you, and come back when the tulzie is over, and give me an account of it.'

'You forget, major. I may never come back.'

'And your opponent a Portuguese?' Who is your second?'

'Macdonald,—Macdonald of Inchkenneth. These pistols are very handsome,' observed Ronald, with affected carelessness, as he examined the stones with which they were studded, and surveyed the flints and locks.

'Ah! they are indeed handsome. My grandfather took them out of the Duke of Douglas's belt, after he had unhorsed him at Shirramuir. They did some execution at Culloden, too.'

'On the right side, of course?

'Yes; in the army of the Prince. Use this one, with the cairngorm on the butt. The other throws high, and you would need to level to the boot to hit the belt. It happened so with me at Grand Cairo, when firing at a Turkish thief. I aimed at his sash, and the ball knocked off his turban. I would tell you all the story, but there is no time. I have no fear of you; so be off, my lad. God bless you! and steady your hand. Do not let it be said that a Portuguese gained and kept the ground before a Scotsman, and one of the Gordon Highlanders.'

At the gate of the Alcanzar he met Macdonald, and, wrapping themselves up in their cloaks, as the morning air was cold and chilly, they hurried towards the bridge of Toledo. The streets appeared gloomy and dull in the gray light of the morning, and save their own footfalls, no other sound broke the silence. The most public places were absolutely deserted. The shops under the piazzas of the Plaza, the stalls in the market-place, the cafes and tabernas were still all closed. Two or three halberdiers stood at the gate of El Medico's residence, and these were all they met, save a cloaked cavalier, who by a ladder of ropes suddenly descended from the window into the street, and disappeared.

On reaching the bridge which spans the Tagus, immediately beneath the cannon and battlements of the city, they found Lisle and Chisholm awaiting them. A pistol-case lay on the parapet over which they were leaning, watching the smooth waters of the river as they hurried on between rocky ledges, banks overhung with foliage, and willow-trees that flourished amidst the stream. A thick white mist was beginning to curl up from the bed of the river, exhaled by the increasing heat of the morning sun, whose rays were tinging the east with red, and the cross on the beautiful spire of the cathedral, from one of the towers of which waved a broad and crimson banner, bearing the arms of Toledo—the imperial crown of Spain.

'A very disagreeable business this, Macdonald,' whispered Chisholm, as he took the arm of the other, and led him aside to the parapet of the bridge, where they communed for a few seconds, leaving the principals, awkwardly enough, to stare at each other or admire the scenery, whichever they chose.

Another attempt at an amicable arrangement was made, but without success ; both parties were too much exasperated to yield in the least degree. 'Once more I ask you, Stuart,' said Chisholm, coming forward, 'cannot this unhappy affair be adjusted without recourse to arms?'

'You are a good-hearted fellow, Chisholm, and I fully appreciate your good intentions, but your words are lost upon me; I refer you to Mr. Lisle for an answer. Mine was the insult, and any apology should therefore come from him.'

'It shall not!' exclaimed Lisle bitterly; 'I will rather die than apologize. Stuart, you shall fight me; and if not------'

'Lisle—Lisle.! your behaviour is very violent and most unjustifiable.'

'I am the best judge, Mr. Macdonald. I fight in the cause of another, and not for myself,' said Louis, and he turned haughtily on his heel, and again walked to the parapet.

I am perfectly disposed to accept of an apology,' observed Ronald to the seconds, in a subdued voice; 'but as one will not be given, on Lisle's own head will rest the guilt of the blood shed this morning. This quarrel has been of his own seeking, not mine. Heaven knows how loath I am to fight with him, but there is no alternative now. Measure the ground, and give us our weapons.'

'Then, Macdonald,' said Chisholm, 'all hopes of an accommodation are at an end?'

'Quite: your principal is much to blame. But we must be expeditious, —see how red the horizon is; the drums will beat in ten minutes.'

During the measuring of the ground and the loading of the pistols, Ronald fixed his eyes on the saffron east, where the sun was about to rise in all its splendour above the mountains of Castile. Appearing black between him and the glowing sky rose the grassy height, crowned by the black old ruins of the castle of San Servan, that fortress so famous in romance, where 'Ruy, the Cid Campeador,' was wont to spend the night in prayer and vigil. The sky was seen through its embrasured towers and empty windows, brightening in a blaze of glory all around, and giving promise of another day. Ronald gazed eastward wistfully. In ten minutes more the sun would be up, but by that time the eyes of either Lisle or himself might be sealed for ever. Ronald pictured what would be the emotions of Alice if her brother was slain, because she loved him well. He thought of his father, too; and remembered painfully that he would almost exult if young Lisle was slain in this contest.

His reverie was interrupted by Alister.

'All is ready,'—Lisle has taken his ground,' said he, putting into Ronald's hand the cold steel butt of the Highland pistol. 'For Heaven's sake, or rather your own, appear a little more collected. Lisle seems determined to shoot you, in revenge for your neglect of his sister.'

'You have mentioned the only thing which can unnerve and unman me. Chisholm has told you, I suppose?

'Yes. An explanation might yet clear up this business.'

'I scorn to ask it now!'

'Are you ready?' cried Chisholm, who had posted Lisle fourteen paces off.

'All ready.'

'Stand aside, Macdonald. I believe that I must give the word.'

'As you please.' Alister retired, but, like Chisholm's, his heart was filled with a painful feeling of suspense and dread.

The fatal word was given, and the report of both pistols instantaneously followed. Ronald fired into the air, but reeled backwards a few paces and sunk on the roadway. Louis's stern look immediately relaxed, and he rushed towards him, tossing wildly away the other pistol.

'Heaven be merciful, and look down on me; I have killed him! Oh, Stuart, Ronald Stuart! speak to me!' and he knelt over him with all the remorse which a brave and generous heart is capable of feeling, after the gust of passion has passed away.

'The ball has passed through his breast,' whispered Macdonald in an agitated tone. 'Unclasp the plaid and open his coat. There is no blood; it must be flowing internally.'

These observations, though made unintentionally, added greatly to the distress of Louis Lisle; but the unclasping of the shoulder-belt, the undoing of the sash, the plaid, and yellow riband of his gorget, aroused Ronald, who, to their great surprise, rose slowly to his feet.

'Why what are you all about, unharnessing me thus? I am not wounded; but I have received a devil of a shock. By a perfect miracle I have been saved.'

'One I shall ever bless!' said Lisle, pressing his hand.

'How is this?' exclaimed Chisholm, in astonishment; 'the ball has glanced off and torn your coat, as if you wore a corselet under it.'

'By Jove! the miniature has saved him. He wears one; I used to quiz him about it at Merida,' said Macdonald, as he pulled open the yellow lapel of the regimental coat, and displayed the little portrait hung around his neck by a chain. 'You perceive that the silver case has turned the ball, which has become flattened against the parapet yonder. Such a very narrow escape!'

'The miniature ! how comes this to pass?' asked Lisle. 'Have you still preserved and worn it thus, notwithstanding your change of sentiments?'

'Listen to me, Lisle. I vow to you, by Heaven and my honour, that my sentiments are yet unchanged: they are the same as in that hour when I first received this miniature from your own hand; and from that time until this I have continually worn it near my heart, preserving it carefully and preciously as any monk does here the piece of wood which he considers a part of the true cross. Never yet have I parted with this relic for a moment, although I own that I was on the point of destroying it when I first received intimation of the intended alliance between the Earl of Hyndford and your sister, Miss Lisle,—an alliance probably formed by this time.'

'The Earl of Hyndford!' exclaimed Louis, in a tone of astonishment. 'Has that accursed and silly report been the cause of our long alienation and quarrelling ? Hyndford,—I had forgotten that affair altogether, or never supposed it could have reached you here in Spain. We have both been cruelly mistaken, but all will be happiness again. Give me your hand, Stuart, and we will be friends and brothers as of yore. Your heart is still unchanged, and I pledge you my honour that the affections of Alice are yours as much as ever. But this hostile meeting must be concealed from her, otherwise we should never be forgiven. Our seconds will never speak of the matter: their honour is a sufficient warrant for their secrecy.'

Further conversation, and the congratulations of Chisholm and Macdonald, were cut short by the drums beating, and they were all compelled to hurry off. Lisle took the arm of Ronald, and they went towards the muster-place by a different route from that pursued by their seconds, so that they might freely converse and give scope to their thoughts. A most agreeable revulsion of feeling had taken place in their minds.

'Oh, Ronald Stuart," I have been much to blame in this business,' said Lisle; 'much to blame indeed, and can you forgive me?'

'Freely, Louis,' replied the other, pressing his hand. 'I admire the spirit with which you have perilled life and limb for the cause of Alice. And so the dear girl is yet true?'

'True as the sun! But I was infuriated,—almost maddened by your seeming indifference. It now flashes upon my mind that you mentioned Lord Hyndford in our unlucky quarrel at La Nava. Until this hour I had forgotten that; and probably, but for our mountain pride and Scottish stubbornness, we might have come to a satisfactory explanation twelve months ago. What a deal of bitter feeling the paragraph of that wretched newspaper has occasioned! But that is all at an end, and now, thank Heaven! we will no longer greet each other like hostile clansmen, with gloomy and averted eyes, as our sires did of yore. In all her letters to. me, Alice has deplored that for twelve months past you have broken off all correspondence with her,—indeed, never having written once since you left Lochisla; and my excuses appear to have been very unsatisfactory to her.'

'I feared that my letters might fall into Sir Allan's hands, and excite his displeasure. And afterwards our quarrel at La Nava appeared to confirm my suspicions------'

'Say no more of them. I have in my possession a letter from her to you. I was intrusted with it on leaving home; but so great was the irritation I felt from our meeting at La Nava, that instead of delivering it, it has lain in my baggage until this hour,—nearly a whole year.'

'Cruel and foolish! Ah, Lisle! how could you be so vindictive? Doubtless it would have unravelled this matter.'

'You know not by what indignant sentiments I was prompted. Pride hardened my heart, for I loved Alice dearly; but, Stuart, I have heard some strange stories whispered at our mess-table, in which your name was entwined with that of a certain Donna Catalina. You change countenance.'

'Poor Villa Franca! she was indeed a very beautiful woman, and I will acknowledge that, jealous and irritated as I was at Alice's supposed desertion, I yielded greatly to the charms of the noble Spanish lady; but I swear to you, Louis, that Alice—Alice alone, is the only being, the only woman, I have ever truly loved. How much I long to behold this letter, and read the words her white hand has traced, although so many months ago!'

'Gentlemen, the regiment has fallen in,' said the sergeant-major, breathlessly overtaking the loiterers. 'The adjutant sent me to look for you, Mr. Lisle. You are to carry the king's colours to-day, sir.' They hurried off.

Ronald derived the most exquisite pleasure from this reconciliation with his old friend; and it was alone equalled by the delightful idea that Alice yet loved him, and was the same gentle, winning, and blooming creature as ever,—and would yet be his, when all the perils of campaigning were past. Eagerly he longed for an opportunity to write: and what a deal he had to tell her,—of love and war, of future happiness and mutual tenderness!

The long-detained letter of Alice could not be procured from the depths of Lisle's baggage-trunks until the halt at the ruinous little town of Villa Mayor. Although the march was only twelve miles, and lay along the left bank of the Tagus, among the most beautiful scenery,—wood and water, rocks and ruins, fields and vineyards,—it appeared to Ronald the longest and most wearisome he had ever performed. As soon as he received the letter from Louis he rushed away to a secluded nook or bower of orange-trees, by the river-side, and prepared to con it over in secret. He hastily kissed and broke the seal, which bore the crest of the Monteiths of Cairntowis, with the motto Keepe tryste. Ronald knew the signet-ring of his mother, which he had given to Alice when he bade her adieu on the lawn before Inchavon House.

'Inchavon, Perthshire, 10th December, 1811.

'My Dearest Ronald,
'Louis has already sent you no less than three letters, addressed to the regiment via Edinburgh and Lisbon, but, alas ! we have never yet received any answer, and 1 fear that none of them have reached you. I know not how the posts are arranged in Spain, but I am afraid that all our letters have miscarried, as you must have written Louis and me many by this time. This one I send in the care of my dear brother, who leaves us to-morrow to join your regiment. Ah ! I shall be very lonely without him, and shall weep long and bitterly when he is gone. I shall have no one then to whom I can impart my thoughts, or speak of you ; and my tears and anxiety will be redoubled when you are both exposed to the dangers of war. Since you left Perthshire I have never heard of a victory without weeping, and I dare not read the lists of "killed, wounded, and missing," lest the name of one should be there,—one on whom my thoughts ever dwell as their dearest treasure. I cannot look at the paper, which a servant brings every morning from Perth on horseback, but I sit breathlessly, in fear and trembling, watching the face of papa as he reads them over at breakfast. Oh, goodness guide me, Ronald ! my anxiety and pain, lest his features should change, are indeed beyond description. How drearily the days have passed since you left us ! and I generally spend them in wandering among the places you and Louis loved best. And—but enough of this; I must not make my letter a dismal one. Louis some time ago appeared at the Perth ball in the uniform of the Gordon Highlanders; and I assure you that all the young ladies were quite in love with him—fairly touched with the scarlet fever. He outshone the militia, yeomanry, and even the gay tartans of Highland gentlemen from the hills. How well a gay uniform looks in a ball-room ! and such a flutter it creates in the hearts of the young ladies ! I believe you soldiers would be very arrogant fellows if you really knew what we think of you. But, as Mrs. Centlivre says, "There's something so jaunty in a soldier,— a kind of je ne sais quoi air, that makes them more agreeable than all the rest of mankind." If this is the case, we are to be excused for being subdued by the gay epaulette.

'Lord Hyndford has been down here residing with us for some time past, enjoying the grouse-shooting with papa. He is a very nice old gentleman, with white hair and a purple face,—the last occasioned, I suppose, by his drinking so much of port; for every day after dinner he takes for his share a bottle of papa's own "particular." He has become very peculiar and marked in his attentions to me of late (the idea of the thing!), and, dear Ronald, it would almost make you jealous, could you but see him hanging over me with a sentimental expression on his droll old face, when I am playing on the harp or piano. But I love to tease him, and always sing:

"He's coming frae the north that's to marry me,
He's coming frae the north that's to marry me;
A feather in his bonnet, and the kilt aboon his knee,
He's a bonnie Highland laddie,—but you are no he."

'Indeed he annoys me very much, as I cannot be troubled with his attentions, and you know I never flirt. In this affair, that which annoyed me most was a notice which appeared in a newspaper about his proposals to me. Such horrid prying creatures those news-people are! But the editor came here to Inchavon, and made so many apologies, that he got off free, although papa had threatened to horsewhip him. But I shall soon be rid of Hyndford, as the grouse-shooting ends to-day; and he must soon go to Edinburgh, to attend a meeting of Scots peers at Holyrood.

'Your father, poor man, must feel very lonely now without you, especially as he lives so far up the glen, in that dreary old tower, sur rounded by heather, hills, water, and rocks. I wish greatly that papa and he were good friends; but he is so very proud, and so very distant, that I see no chance of its ever coming about. Attended by my servant, Jessie Cavers, I rode up the glen one Sunday, and went to the old kirk of Lochisla to see him; and I declare that I could with pleasure have given him a kiss for your sake, Ronald, such a noble-looking old gentleman he is ! He sat in his dark old oaken pew, with his white hairs glistening in the sun, which shone through the western window, and he often bowed down his head on his huge clasped Bible. It was to pray for you he did so,—I am sure it was, because I saw his lips move and his eyes brighten. He never looked once towards the pew of the Corrie-oich family, with whom I sat, and so I never encountered his glance; but his fierce-looking old piper, who stood behind him, accoutred with dirk and claymore, stared at me fixedly during the whole service.

'When the aged and venerable-looking old minister prayed, first in Gaelic and then in English, for the success and safety of the British army, my heart beat earnestly and responsive to the words which fell from his withered lips. Indeed, you may be sure it did.

'Whether or not papa favours the attention of the Earl of Hyndford I do not know; but he often speaks kindly of you, and I love to listen to him when he does so. He has not forgotten that dangerous ducking at Corrie-avon. Ah! what a day of terror that one was!

'I am very busy just now, working a pair of colours for the Greek Light Infantry, the regiment of my Uncle Ludovick. They are of white silk, quite covered with embroidery and needlework. I am heartily tired of them: but Louis's old flames, the Graemes of Corrie-oich, are living with us just now, and we ply our needles from daydawn till sunset like so many Penelopes, and the standards will soon be dancing in the breezes of the Ionian Isles. When the Gordon Highlanders want a new pair of colours you will know where to apply. With a thousand prayers for your safety, and a thousand more for your return, I must now conclude, as papa and Hyndford have just come from the moors, with six men laden with grouse-bags, and I must hurry down to the drawing-room. So believe me to be, my own dearest Ronald, yours ever,

'Alice Lisle.'

'P.S.—Do endeavour to send your next letters by some other way, as 'they must all have miscarried. Try Cadiz, or Gibraltar,—but perhaps it is impossible. Jessie Cavers, my foster-sister (who is at my side while I am writing), begs you will remind her to "Jo and dearie O," a young man named Evan Iverach, who belongs to your company; and tell him that he is not forgotten by the heart he has left at hame. 'A. L.

'Alice, my own beloved Alice! and you are yet true!' exclaimed Stuart aloud, pressing the letter to his lips. ' What a wretch and madman I have been to doubt you for a moment ! How unworthy I am that you should condescend to write to me! Alas! oh, Alice, how much I have wronged you by my false and wicked suspicions of your truth and constancy. Ah! my own dear girl, my repentant heart turns to you more fondly by a thousand degrees than of yore.' He drew forth her miniature to gaze upon it, and while doing so, let fall the letter.

'Upon my word, a most industrious creature!' said Louis Lisle, who had been standing by, as he picked it up. 'She has given you no less than four closely-written pages of a very pretty lady-like and current little hand. I have been sitting beside you for this hour past, skimming stones along the surface of the Tagus,—not a very intellectual amusement. I did not wish to interrupt you, but I thought you would never come to a halt. How often have you read this letter over?

'Three times.'

'Thrice? See what it is to be in love!'

'Oh, Louis! how humbled and mortified I am. What shall I say to Alice when I write to her? I dare not tell the truth,—and yet, by heavens! I cannot deceive her. Is there no alternative, but to wound her feelings by a whisper of my cursed suspicions?

'Come, my old friend, I will endeavour to make your peace; and Alice, I believe, will not be very inexorable. I am billeted on the house of the escrivan, or town-clerk of this place, Villa Mayor, and there we shall have writing materials in abundance. Let us set about our correspondence, and have our letters ready for Lisbon, to be despatched by the first orderly dragoon who rides to the rear.'

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