A LEGEND OF GIBRALTAR.

BY COLONEL E. B. HAMLEY.

[MAGA. November 1851.]

CHAPTER I.

The Governor’s residence at Gibraltar was, in days of Spanish domination, a religious house, and still retains the name of the Convent. Two sides of a long quadrangular gallery, traversing the interior of the building, are hung with portraits of officers present at the great siege in 1779-83, executed in a style which proves that Pre-Raphaelite painters existed in those days. One of these portraits represents my grandfather. To judge from a painting of him by Sir Joshua, and a small miniature likeness, both still in possession of the family, he must have been rather a good-looking old gentleman, with an affable, soldier-like air, and very respectable features. The portrait at the Convent is doubtless a strong likeness, but by no means so flattering; it represents him much as he might have appeared in life, if looked at through a cheap opera-glass. A full inch has been abstracted from his forehead and added to his chin; the bold nose has become a great promontory in the midst of the level countenance; the eyes have gained in ferocity what they have lost in speculation, and would, indeed, go far to convey a disagreeable impression of my ancestor’s character, but for the inflexible smile of the mouth. Altogether, the grimness of the air, the buckram rigidity of figure, and the uncompromising hardness of his shirt-frill and the curls of his wig, are such as are to be met with in few works of art, besides the figure-heads of vessels and the sign-boards of country inns.

However, my grandfather is no worse off than his compeers. Not far from this one is another larger painting, representing a council of officers held during the siege, where, notwithstanding the gravity of the occasion and the imminence of the danger, not a single face in the intrepid assembly wears the slightest expression of anxiety or fear, or, indeed, of anything else; and though my progenitor, in addition to the graces of the other portrait, is here depicted with a squint, yet he is by no means the most ill-looking individual present. But the illustrious governor, Eliott, has suffered more than anybody at the hands of the artist. Besides figuring in the production aforesaid, a statue of him stands in the Alameda, carved in some sort of wood, unluckily for him, of a durable nature. The features are of a very elevated cast, especially the nose; the little legs seem by no means equal to the task of sustaining the enormous cocked-hat; and the bearing is so excessively military, that it has been found necessary to prop the great commander from behind to prevent him from falling backwards.

My grandfather, John Flinders, joined the garrison of Gibraltar as a major of infantry a few years before the siege. He was then forty-seven years of age, and up to that time had remained one of the most determined old bachelors that ever existed. Not that he ever declaimed against matrimony in the style of some of our young moderns, who fancy themselves too strong-minded to marry; the truth being that they remain single, either because they have not been gifted by nature with tastes sufficiently strong to like one woman better than another, or else, because no woman ever took the trouble to lay siege to them. My grandfather had never married, simply, I believe, because matrimony had never entered his head. He seldom ventured, of his own choice, into ladies’ society, but, when he did, no man was more emphatically gallant to the sex. One after one, he saw his old friends abandoning the irresponsible ease of bachelorhood for the cares of wedded life; but while he duly congratulated them on their felicity, and officiated as godfather to their progeny, he never seemed to anticipate a similar destiny for himself. All his habits showed that he had been too long accustomed to single harness to go cleverly as one of a pair. He had particular hours of rising and going to bed; of riding out and returning; of settling himself down for the evening to a book and pipe, which the presence of a helpmate would have materially deranged. And therefore, without holding any Malthusian tenets, without pitying his Benedick acquaintances, or entertaining a thought of the sex which would have been in the least degree derogatory to the character of a De Coverley, his castles in the air were never tenanted by any of his own posterity.

It was fortunate for my grandfather that in his time people did not suffer so much as now from that chronic inflammation of the conscience, which renders them perfectly miserable unless they are engaged in some tangible pursuit—“improving their minds,” or “adding to the general stock of information.” A more useless, contented person never existed. He never made even a show of employing himself profitably, and never complained of weariness in maintaining the monotonous jog-trot of his simple daily life. He read a good deal, certainly, but it was not to improve his mind, only to amuse himself. Strong-minded books, to stimulate his thinking faculties, would have had no charms for him; he would as soon have thought of getting galvanised for the pleasure of looking at his muscles. And I don’t know whether it was not just as well. In systematically cultivating his mind, he would merely have been laying a top-dressing on a thin soil—manuring where there would never have been a crop—and some pleasant old weeds would have been pulled up in the process. A green thistly common, even though a goose could hardly find sustenance there, is nature still, which can hardly be said of a patch of earth covered with guano.

So my grandfather went on enjoying himself without remorse after his own fashion, and never troubled himself to think—an operation that would have been inconvenient to himself, and productive of no great results to the world. He transplanted his English habits to Gibraltar; and, after being two years there, knew nothing more of Spain or Spaniards than the view of the Andaluçian hills from the Rock, and a short constitutional daily ride along the beach beyond the Spanish lines, to promote appetite and digestion, afforded him. And so he might have continued to vegetate during the remainder of his service there, but for a new acquaintance that he made about this time.

Frank Owen, commonly called Garry Owen by his familiars, was one of those joyous spirits whose pleasant faces and engaging manners serve as a perpetual act of indemnity for all breaches of decorum, and trespasses over social and conventional fences, committed by them in the gaiety of their hearts. In reproving his many derelictions of military duty, the grim colonel of the regiment would insensibly exchange his habitual tone of severe displeasure for one of mild remonstrance—influenced, probably, quite as much, in secret, by the popularity of the unrepentant offender, as by any personal regard for him. Captain Hedgehog, who had shot a man through the heart for corking his face one night when he was drunk, and all contact with whose detonating points of honour was as carefully avoided by his acquaintance as if they had been the wires of a spring-gun, sustained Garry’s reckless personalities with a sort of warning growl utterly thrown away upon the imperturbable wag, who would still persist, in the innocence of his heart, in playing round the den of this military cockatrice. And three months after his arrival in Gibraltar, being one day detected by a fierce old Spanish lady in the very act of kissing her daughter behind the little señorita’s great painted fan, his good-humoured impudence converted the impending storm into a mild drizzle of reproof, ending in his complete restoration to favour.

This youth had brought with him from England a letter from his mother, a widow lady, an old friend of my grandfather, who had some thirty years before held with her a juvenile flirtation. It recommended to his protection her son Frank, about to join the regiment as an ensign, pathetically enlarging on the various excellencies, domestic and religious, which shone forth conspicuously in the youth’s character, and of the comfort of contemplating and superintending which she was about to be deprived. In fact, it had led my grandfather to expect a youth of extreme docility and modesty, requiring a protector rather to embolden than to restrain him. After in vain attempting to espy in his young acquaintance any of the characteristics ascribed to him in his mother’s letter, the Major, naturally good-natured and accessible to his youthful comrades, very soon suffered himself to be influenced by the good-humour, vigorous vitality, and careless cleverness of the Ensign, to an extent that caused him sometimes to wonder secretly at his own transformation. His retired habits were broken in upon, one after the other, till he had scarcely a secluded hour in his sixteen waking ones to enjoy alone his book and his pipe. His peaceful quarters, silent in general as a monk’s cell, would now be invaded at all sorts of hours by the jovial Garry, followed by the admiring satellites who usually revolved around him; and the Major, with a sound between a groan and a chuckle, would close his well-beloved volume to listen to the facetious details of, and sometimes to participate in, the uncongenial freaks of the humorous subaltern. Once he had actually consented, at about the hour he usually went to bed, to accompany the youth to a Carnival ball—one of a series of entertainments at which the Catholic youth of the city are wont to indemnify themselves for the mortifications of Lent, and where masks, dominoes, and fancy dresses lend their aid to defeat the vigilance of the lynx-eyed duennas and mammas who look anxiously on, perfectly aware, in general, that their own watchfulness is more to be relied on for nipping in the bud an indiscreet amour, than any innate iciness of temperament or austere propriety in the objects of their care. Not only did the Major mingle in the scene, but he actually, about midnight, found himself figuring in a cotillon with a well-developed señorita of thirteen years, whose glances and deportment showed a precocious proficiency in the arts of flirtation. At this ball Garry had become enamoured beyond all former passions (and they were numerous and inconstant, in general, as if he had been a Grand Turk) of one of his partners, a young Spanish lady. Her graceful figure and motions in the dance had at first captivated him—and when, after dancing with her himself, his eloquent entreaties, delivered in indifferent Spanish, had prevailed on her to lift her mask for one coy moment, the vision of eyes and eyebrows (the common beauties of a Spanish countenance), and the clear rosy complexion, a much more rare perfection, then revealed, had accomplished the utter subjugation of his errant fancy. She had vanished from the ball silently and irremediably, as a houri of Paradise from the awakening eyes of an opium-eating Pasha; and all his attempts to trace her, continued unceasingly for a couple of months afterwards, had proved in vain.

One morning my grandfather was seated at breakfast in the verandah of his quarters, situated high up the rock above the town. Below him lay the roofs, terraced and balconied, and populous with cats, for whose convenience the little flat stone squares at the top of most of the houses appeared to have been devised. Tall towers, called mirandas, shot up at intervals, from whose summits the half-baked inhabitants, pent within close walls and streets, might catch refreshing glimpses of the blue sea and the hills of Spain—conveniences destined soon afterwards to be ruined by the enemy’s fire, or pulled down to avoid attracting it, and never rebuilt. Beyond the white sunny ridge of the line wall came the sharp edge of the bay, rising in high perspective to the purple coast of Spain opposite, which was sprinkled with buildings white as the sails that dotted the water. My grandfather was in a state of great sensual enjoyment, sniffing up the odour of the large geranium-bushes that grew in clumps in the little garden in front, and the roses that twined thickly round the trellis of the vine-roofed verandah; sipping thick creamy Spanish chocolate between the mouthfuls of red mullet, broiled in white paper, the flavour of which he was diligently comparing with that of some specimens of the same fish which he remembered to have eaten in his youth in Devonshire; and glancing sideways over the cup at an open volume of Shakespeare, leaned slopingly on the edge of a plate of black figs bursting with ripeness, like trunk-hose slashed with crimson. The Major was none of your skimming readers, who glance through a work of art as if it were a newspaper—measure, weigh it, and deliver a critical opinion on it, before the more reverential student has extricated himself from the toils of the first act or opening chapter: not he; he read every word, and affixed a meaning, right or wrong, to all the hard, obsolete ones. The dramatic fitness of the characters was not to be questioned by him, any more than that of the authentic personages of history. He would reason on their acts and proceedings as on those of his own intimate acquaintances. He never could account for Hamlet’s madness otherwise than by supposing the Prince must have, some time or other, got an ugly rap on the head—let fall, perhaps, when a baby, by a gin-drinking nurse—producing, as in some persons he had himself from time to time been acquainted with, a temporary aberration of the wits; a piece of original criticism that has not occurred to any of the other commentators on this much-discussed point. Of Iago he has recorded an opinion in an old note-book still extant, where his observations appear in indifferent orthography, and ink yellow with age, that he was a cursed scoundrel—an opinion delivered with all the emphasis of an original detector of crime, anxious that full though tardy justice should be done to the delinquent’s memory. But his great favourite was Falstaff: “A wonderful clever fellow, sir,” he would say, “and no more a coward than you or I, sir.”

My grandfather proceeded slowly with his meal, holding the cup to his lips with one hand and turning a leaf with the other—an operation which he was delaying till a great mosquito-hawk (a beautiful brown moth mottled like a pheasant), that had settled on the page, should think proper to take flight. He had lately come from a parade, as was evidenced by his regimental leather breeches and laced red waistcoat; but a chintz dressing-gown and a pair of yellow Moorish slippers softened down the warlike tone of these garments to one more congenial with his peaceable and festive pursuits. Presently the garden door opened, and a well-known step ascended to the verandah. Frank Owen, dressed in a cool Spanish costume, advanced, and, stopping three paces from the Major, took off his tufted sombrero and made a low bow.

“You are the picture, my dear sir,” he said, “of serene enjoyment slightly tinged with sensuality. But how long, may I ask, have you taken to breakfasting on spiders?”—pointing, as he took a chair opposite the Major, at an immense red-spotted one that had dropt from the ceiling on the morsel my grandfather was in the act of conveying to his mouth.

The Major tenderly removed the insect by a leg.

“’Tis the worst of these al-fresco meals, Frank,” said he. “Yesterday I cut a green lizard in two that had got on my plate, mistaking him for a bit of salad—being, as usual, more intent on my book than my food—and had very near swallowed the tail-half of the unfortunate animal.”

“There are worse things than lizards in the world,” quoth Garry. “Ants, I should say, were certainly less wholesome”—and he directed the Major’s attention to a long black line of those interesting creatures issuing from a hole in the pavement, passing in an unbroken series up my ancestor’s left leg, the foot of which rested on the ground, then traversing the cloth, and terminating at the loaf, the object of their expedition.

“Bless me,” said the Major, as he rose and shook his breeches gently free from the marauders, “I must be more careful, or I shall chance to do myself a mischief. But they’re worse at night. I’ve been obliged to leave off reading here in the evenings, for it went to my heart to see the moths scorching their pretty gauzy wings in the candle till the wicks were half-choked with them.”

“Do you know, Major,” said Owen, gravely, “that either this insect diet, or the sedentary life you lead, is making you quite fat, and utterly destroying the symmetry of your figure? In another week there will be one unbroken line of rotundity from your chin to your knees.”

My grandfather glanced downward at his waistcoat. “No, my boy, no,” said he; “if there had been any difference, I should have known it by my clothes. I don’t think I’ve gained a pound this twelvemonth.”

“More than a stone,” quoth Garry. “We all remarked it on parade to-day—and remarked it with sorrow. Now, look you, a sea voyage is the very thing to restore your true proportions, and I propose that we shall take a short one together.”

“A sea voyage!” quoth my grandfather; “the boy is mad! Not if all the wonders seen by Sinbad the Sailor lay within a day’s sail. Did I not suffer enough coming here from England? I don’t think,” said my grandfather with considerable pathos, “that my digestion has ever been quite right to this day.”

“‘Sick of a calm,’ eh?—Like your friend Mistress Tearsheet,” said the youngster. “But I’ve settled it all, and count on you. Look here,” he continued, drawing from his pocket a large printed bill, and unfolding it before my ancestor. At the top appeared in large capitals the words, “Plaza de Toros;” and underneath was a woodcut representing a bull, gazing, with his tail in the air, and an approving smile on his countenance, on the matadore about to transfix him. Then followed a glowing account in Spanish of the delights of a great bull-fight shortly to take place at Cadiz, setting forth the ferocity of the bulls, the number of horses that might be expected to die in the arena, and the fame of the picadores and espadas who were then and there to exhibit.

The Major shook his head—the captivating prospectus had no charms for him: he had not, as I have before said, an inquiring mind, and habit was so strong in him, that a change was like the dislocation of a joint. The Ensign proceeded to paint the delights of the excursion in the brightest colours he could command. They were to go to Cadiz in a boat which he had lately bought; she was a capital sailer—there was a half-deck forward, under which the Major might sleep as comfortably as in his own bed—a cooking apparatus (and here, as he expatiated on the grills and stews and devils that were to be cooked and eaten, with the additional stimulus to appetite afforded by sea air, there was a spark of relenting in my grandfather’s eye). “You shall return,” said the tempter, “with a digestion so completely renovated, that my name shall rise to your tongue at each meal as a grace before meat, and a thanksgiving after it; and as to sea-sickness, why, this Levanter will take us there in twelve hours, so smoothly that you may balance a straw upon your nose the whole way.” Finally, the cunning Ensign laid before him an application for leave already made out, and only awaiting his signature.

My grandfather made some feeble objections, which Owen pooh-poohed in his usual off-hand fashion. There was no standing against the youngster’s strong will, and at five o’clock that same evening the Major found himself proceeding through the town towards the Waterport for embarkation, by no means fully reconciled to the abandonment of his beloved Lares. My luckless grandfather! did no presentiment warn you of a consequence then hanging in the clouds, that was to change utterly for you the untroubled aspect of those household gods?

Owen had attired himself for the trip in a half-nautical costume—a shirt of light-blue flannel, fastened at the collar with a smart bandana, a blue jacket, loose duck trousers, and a montero cap, which costume became the puppy well enough. He seemed of this opinion himself, as he walked gaily along beside the Major: so did the black-eyed occupants of many houses on each side, who peeped forth smilingly from behind their green lattices, sometimes nodding, and kissing their hands—for the Ensign had an incredible acquaintance with the budding and full-blown portion of the population of Gibraltar. The Major had stuck to his buckskins, (which stuck to him in return), over which he had drawn a pair of jack-boots, and wore his red-laced coat and regimental hat—for in those days that passion for mufti, now so prevalent in the army, did not exist. Whenever he caught sight of any of the greetings bestowed from the windows, he would take off his laced hat, and, fixing his eyes on the tittering señorita, who generally let fall the lattice with a slam, would make her a low bow—and, after each of these acts of courtesy, my grandfather walked on more elated than before.

They passed the drawbridge at Waterport, and, struggling through the crowd of Turks, Jews, infidels, and heretics, who usually throng the quay, entered a shore-boat that was to row them out to where Owen’s vessel—the Fair Unknown, as he had christened her, in memory of his unforgotten partner at the Carnival ball—lay moored. In her they found a sailor who was to accompany them on their voyage—a noted contrabandista, called Francisco, whose friendship Owen had lately acquired, and who acted as his lieutenant on his marine excursions. The boat was a neat affair—a small cutter, smartly painted, well found, and capable of holding several persons comfortably; and Francisco was a ruddy, portly, dark-skinned, large-whiskered son of the sea, the picture of good-humour. My grandfather stept in, in his jack-boots. There was much settling of carpet-bags and stowing of provisions in the lockers, and then they hoisted sail, and glided smoothly out from among the shipping into the bay.

The breeze was light and fair, and they went on, as Frank had promised, pleasantly enough. My grandfather for the first time surveyed the scene of his two years’ residence from the sea. The grey old rock looked mellow in the evening light, as an elderly gentleman over his wine—the window-panes glanced ruddily, the walls gleamed whitely, and the trees were tinted with a yellower green; behind, in the eastern sky, floated one single purple cloud. As the objects became confused in the distance, the sharp rugged outline of the rock assumed the appearance that has caused the Spaniards to call it El Cuerpo—the appearance of a vast human body laid out on its back, and covered with a winding-sheet, like a dead Titan on his funeral pile—the head towards Spain, the chest arched at Middle Hill, the legs rising gently upward to the knees at O’Hara’s Tower, and then sloping down till the feet rest on Europa. The sun went down as they rounded Cabrita Point, and the breeze, freshening, took them swiftly along under the huge hills that rise abruptly upward from the Spanish coast. Then Francisco, lighting a charcoal fire, placed thereon, in a frying-pan, tender steaks thickly strewn with sliced tomatas and onions, from whence arose a steam that brought tears of gratitude and delight into my grandfather’s eyes. He anxiously watched the cooking—even threw out slight suggestions, such as another pinch of pepper, an additional onion, a slight dash of cayenne, and the like; and then, settling a plate firmly on the knees of his jack-boots, with a piece of bread and a cup by his side, and a knife and fork pointing upwards in his hands like lightning-conductors, gazed cheerfully around him. And when Francisco, rising from his knees, where he had been blowing the charcoal fire, removed the hissing pan towards my grandfather’s plate, transferring to it a liberal portion of the contents, the good man, gazing on the white and red streaks of vegetable relieved by the brown background of steak, and the whole picture swimming in a juicy atmosphere of gravy, felt sentiments of positive friendship towards that lawless individual, and, filling a bumper of Xerez, drank success to the voyage.

Three times was my grandfather’s plate replenished from the thrice-filled pan. Afterwards he dallied a little with a cold pie, followed by a bit of cheese for digestion. Then, folding his hands across his stomach, he expressed his sincere opinion, that he had never tasted anything so good as that steak; and when Owen placed in his hand a smoking can of grog, he looked on the young man with a truly paternal eye. He talked complacently and benevolently, as men do who have dined well—praised the weather, the boat, the scene—and wondered where a man was going who rode slowly along a mountain-path above them, within hail, following him, in imagination, to his home, in a sort of dreamy contentment. After a second can he began to grow drowsy, and, just aware that Owen said the breeze was still freshening, retired to the soft mattress spread for him under the half-deck, and replacing his cocked-hat by a red nightcap, slept till morning.

It was broad daylight when he woke, conscious that for an hour or two past he had been sleeping most uneasily. There was a violent swinging motion, a rushing of wind and of water, that confused him extremely; and, forgetting where he was, he nearly fractured his skull by rising suddenly into a sitting posture. Steadying himself on his hands, in the posture of the Dying Gladiator, he slewed himself round on the pivot of his stern, and protruded his powdered head, like an old beaver, out of his hole. Owen and Francisco were sitting in a pool of water, trying to shelter themselves under the weather-side of the boat—dripping wet, and breakfasting on cold potatoes and fragments of meat left from last night’s meal. My grandfather did not like the appearance of things at all. Rent in twain by horrible qualms, he inquired feebly of Owen if they were near Cadiz? Frank, in reply, shook his head, and said they were at anchor. Then my grandfather, making a vigorous effort, emerged completely from his place of repose, and, rising to his feet, looked over the gunwale. The scene he beheld was in dreary contrast to that of the evening before. Ridges of white foam were all around—ahead was a long low line of sandy coast, terminating in a point of rock whereon stood a lighthouse; and to leeward the bay was enclosed by steep hills. Over the low coast-line the wind blew with steady violence. A bright sun rather increased the dreariness of the prospect, which was suddenly closed to my grandfather by a shower of spray, that blinded him, and drenched him to the skin, converting his jack-boots into buckets. The wind had increased to a gale during the night, and they had been forced to take precarious shelter in the harbour of Tarifa. The Major did not venture on a second peep, but sat, dismally wet and sea-sick, the whole morning, trying to shelter himself as he best could. Once, a man came down to the beach, and gesticulated like a scaramouch, screaming also at the same time; but what his gestures and screams signified nobody on board could tell. At length, as the gale did not moderate, while their position increased in discomfort, and was also becoming precarious (for one of their anchors was gone, and great fears were entertained for the other), Owen and Francisco decided to weigh, and stand in for the shore, trusting to the smuggler’s seamanship for a safe run. The Major, in spite of his sickness, stood up and pulled gallantly at the cable, the wind blowing his pigtail and skirts perpendicularly out from his person. “Heaf!” screamed Francisco from the bows; “Heave!” echoed Owen; and as the words flew past him on the gale, my grandfather’s exertions were prodigious. At last, after tremendous tugging, the anchor came up. The jib was hoisted with a reef in it, Owen holding the sheet, while the smuggler ran aft and took the helm. They bent over to the gale, till the Major stood almost perpendicularly on the lee gunwale, with his back against the weather-side, and ran in till he thought they were going to bump ashore; then tacking, they stood up along the coast, close to the wind, till Francisco gave the word. Owen let go the sheet, and the jib fluttered loosely out as they ran through a narrow passage into smooth water behind the sea-wall, and made fast to a flight of steps.

Presently some functionary appertaining to the harbour appeared, and with him an emissary from the Governor of the place, who, aware of their plight, had civilly sent to offer assistance. The messenger was the same man who had made signals to them from the beach in the morning; and he seemed to think it advisable that they should wait on the Governor in person, saying that he was always disposed to be civil to British officers. This advice they resolved to act upon at once, before it should grow dark, foreseeing that, in case of their detention from bad weather in Tarifa, the Governor might prove a potent auxiliary. The Major would have wished to make some little alterations in his toilette, after his late disasters; but, after trying in vain to pull off his jack-boots, which clung to him like his skin, he was obliged to abandon the idea, and contented himself with standing on his head to let the water run out of them. As they advanced along the causeway leading to the town (the point where they landed is connected with the town by a long narrow sandy isthmus), the gale swept over them volumes of sand, which, sticking on my grandfather’s wet uniform, gave him somewhat the appearance of a brick-wall partially rough-cast. His beard was of two days’ growth—his hair-powder was converted into green paste by the sea-water—and his whole appearance was travel-stained and deplorable. Nevertheless his dignity by no means forsook him as they traversed the narrow alleys of the ancient town of Tarifa on their way to the approaching interview.

His excellency Don Pablo Dotto, a wonderfully fat little man, received them very courteously. He was a Spaniard of the old school, and returned the stately greeting of my grandfather, and the easy one of the Ensign, with such a profusion of bows, that for the space of a minute they saw little more of his person than the shining baldness on the top of his head. Then they were presented to his wife, a good-natured, motherly sort of old lady, who seemed to compassionate them much. But, while Owen was explaining to her the object of their trip, and its disastrous interruption, he suddenly stopped, open-mouthed, and blushing violently, with his gaze directed towards the open door of a neighbouring apartment. There he beheld advancing towards him, the Beauty of the Carnival ball.

The Governor’s lady named her as “her daughter, the Señorita Juana.” Spite of the different dress and circumstances, she too recognised Frank, and coloured slightly as she came forward to receive his greeting. The Ensign, an impudent scamp enough in general, was, however, the more confused of the two; and his embarrassed salutation was entirely thrown into the shade by the magnificence of my grandfather’s bow. However, he presently recovered his assurance, and explained to the elder lady how he had previously enjoyed the pleasure (with a great stress upon the word) of making her daughter’s acquaintance. Then he recounted to Juana the manner in which they had been driven in here, when on their way to Cadiz to see the bull-fight.

“We also are going to ride thither to-morrow,” said the Señorita, softly.

“Ah, then, we shall meet there,” said Frank, who presently after was seized with a fit of absence, and made incoherent replies. He was considering how they might travel together, and had almost resolved to offer to take the whole family to Cadiz in his boat—a proposal that would probably have somewhat astonished the little Governor, especially if he had seen the dimensions of the craft thus destined to accommodate himself and retinue. But Garry was an adept in manœuvring, and marched skilfully upon the point he had in view. He drew such a pathetic picture of the hardships they had endured on the voyage—their probable detention here for most of their short leave—their friendless condition, and their desire to see something of the country—that the little Governor was in a manner impelled (fancying all the time that the impulse sprung altogether from his own native benevolence) to desire that the two forlorn Englishmen would travel to Cadiz under his escort. So it being settled entirely to Garry’s satisfaction that they were to start next morning at break of day on horseback—an arrangement which my grandfather’s total ignorance of Spanish prevented him from knowing anything about—they retired to the principal fonda, where the Major speedily forgot, over a tolerable dinner, the toils and perils of the voyage.

CHAPTER II.

Daybreak the next morning found them issuing forth from the ancient city of Tarifa on a couple of respectable-looking hacks, hired from the innkeeper. Frank had, with his accustomed generalship, managed to secure a position at the off-rein of the Señorita Juana, who was mounted on a beautiful little white barb. Under her side-saddle, of green velvet studded with gilt nails, was a Moorish saddle-cloth, striped with vivid red and white, and fringed deeply. From the throat-lash of the bridle hung a long tassel, as an artificial auxiliary to the barb’s tail in the task of keeping the flies off, further assisted by a tuft of white horse-hair attached to the butt of her whip. She wore a looped hat and white plume, a riding-skirt, and an embroidered jacket of blue cloth, fastened, as was the wrought bosom of her chemise, with small gold buttons. Frank could not keep his eyes off her, now riding off to the further side of the road to take in at once the whole of the beauteous vision, now coming close up to study it in its delightful details.

In front of the pair rode the little Governor, side by side with a Spaniard of about thirty, the long-betrothed lover of Juana—so long, in fact, that he did not trouble himself to secure his authority in a territory so undeniably his own, but smoked his cigar as coolly as if there were no good-looking Englishman within fifty miles of his mistress. He wore garments of the Spanish cut, made of nankeen—the jacket frogged with silver cords, tagged with little silver fishes—the latter appended, perhaps, as suitable companions to the frogs. A hundred yards ahead was an escort of four horse-soldiers with carbines on their thighs, their steel accoutrements flashing ruddily in the level sunlight. Behind Frank came Major Flinders, clean shaved, and with jack-boots and regimental coat restored to something like their pristine splendour: by his side rode another lady, the Señorita Carlota, Juana’s aunt, somewhere about thirty years old, plump and merry, her upper lip fringed at the corners with a line of dark down, quite decided enough for a cornet of eighteen to be proud of—a feminine embellishment too common for remark in these southern regions, and, in the opinion of some connoisseurs, rather enhancing the beauty of the fair wearers. She talked incessantly, at first, to my grandfather, who did not understand a word she said, but whose native politeness prompted him to say, “Si, Señorita,” to everything—sometimes laying at the same moment his hand on his heart, and bowing with considerable grace. Behind this pair came another interesting couple—viz. two servants on mules, with great saddle-bags stuffed to extreme corpulence with provisions.

It was a glorious morning—a gentle breeze sweeping on their faces as they mounted the hills, but dying into silence in the deep valleys, fresh, and glistening with dew. Sometimes they rode along a rocky common, yellowed with a flowering shrub like furze—sometimes through unfenced fields—sometimes along broad plains, where patches of blossoming beans made the air rich with scent, and along which they galloped full speed, the Governor standing high in the stirrups of his demi-pique, the Señorita’s white barb arching his neck till his muzzle touched his chest under the pressure of the long bit, and my grandfather prancing somewhat uneasily on his hard-mouthed Spanish entero, whose nose was, for the most part, projected horizontally in the air. The Major was not a first-rate seat—he rode with a long stirrup, his heel well down, his leg straight, and slanting a little forward, body upright, and elbows back, as may be seen in the plates to ancient works on equitation—a posture imposing enough, but not safe across country: galloping deranged it materially, for the steed was hard-mouthed, and required a long, strong pull, with the body back, and a good purchase on the stirrups. The animal had a most voracious appetite, quite overcoming his sense of what was due to his rider; and, on seeing a tuft of juicy grass, down went his nose, drawing my grandfather, by means of the tight reins, well over the pummel. On these occasions, the Major, feeling resistance to be in vain, would sit looking easily about him, feigning to be absorbed in admiration of the prospect—which was all very well, where there was a prospect to look at, but wore a less plausible appearance when the animal paused in a hollow between two hedges, or ran his nose into a barn-door. But whenever this happened, Carlota, instead of half-smothering a laugh, as a mischievous English girl would, ten to one, have done, sat most patiently till the Major and his steed came to an understanding, and would greet him, as they moved on again, with a good-natured smile, that won her, each time, a higher place in his estimation.

Thus they proceeded till the sun rose high in the heavens, when, on reaching a grove on the edge of one of the plains, they halted under a huge cork-tree, near which ran a rivulet. The cavalcade dismounted—the horses were tethered, the mules disburthened of the saddle-bags, and the contents displayed under the tree; horse-cloths and cloaks were spread around on the ground, and a fire of dry sticks was lit on the edge of the stream with such marvellous celerity that, before my grandfather had time to take more than a hasty survey of the eatables, after seating himself on the root of a tree, a cup of steaming chocolate was placed in his hand.

“Confess, Major,” said Garry, speaking with his mouth full of sausage, “that a man may lose some of the pleasures of existence by leading the life of a hermit. Don’t you feel grateful to me for dragging you out of your cobweb to such a pleasant place as this?”

“’Tis an excellent breakfast,” said my grandfather, who had just assisted the Señorita Carlota to a slice of turkey’s breast, and himself to an entire leg and thigh—dividing with her, at the same time, a crisp white loaf, having a handle like a teapot or smoothing-iron—“and my appetite is really very good. I should be perfectly easy if I could only understand the remarks of this very agreeable lady, and make suitable replies.”

“Let me interpret your sentiments,” said Garry; “and though I may not succeed in conveying them in their original force and poetry, yet they shall lose as little as possible in transmission. Just try me—what would you wish to say?”

“Why, really,” said my grandfather, pondering, “I had a great many things to say as we came along, but they’ve gone out of my head. Do you think she ever read Shakespeare?”

“Not a chance of it,” said Owen.

Here the Señorita laughingly appealed to Frank to know what my grandfather was saying about her.

“Ah,” quoth my grandfather, quoting his friend Shakespeare—

“‘I understand thy looks—the pretty Spanish
Which thou pourest down from these swelling heavens
I am not perfect in——’

“She’s an extremely agreeable woman, Frank, I’ll be sworn, if one only understood her,” quoth my grandfather, casting on her a glance full of gallantry.

The Ensign was not so entirely occupied in prosecuting his own love affair as to be insensible to the facilities afforded him for amusing himself at the Major’s expense. Accordingly, he made a speech in Spanish to Carlota, purporting to be a faithful translation of my grandfather’s, but teeming, in fact, with the most romantic expressions of chivalrous admiration, as was apparent from the frequent recurrence of the words “ojos” (eyes), “corazon” (heart), and the like amatory currency.

“There, Major,” said the interpreter, as he finished; “I’ve told her what you said of her.”

The Major endorsed the compliments by laying his hand upon his heart, and bowing with a tender air. Whereupon Carlota, laughing, and blushing a deeper red, made her acknowledgments.

“She says,” quoth Frank, “that she knew the English before to be a gallant nation; but that if all the caballéros (that’s gentlemen) of that favoured race are equal to the present specimen, her own countrymen must be thrown entirely into the shade.”

“Delightful!” cried my grandfather; but it is doubtful whether this expression of pleasure was called forth by the sentiments attributed to the Señorita, or by the crisp succulent tenderness of a mouthful of sucking-pig which was at that moment spreading itself over his palate.

Following up his idea, the mischievous Ensign continued to diversify the graver pursuit of prosecuting his own suit with Juana, by impressing Carlota and the Major with the idea that each was disposed to think favourably of the other. In this he was tolerably successful—the speeches he made to Carlota, supposed to originate with my grandfather, had a very genuine warmth about them, being, in fact, very often identical with those he had just been making, under immediate inspiration, to his own divinity; while as for the Major, it would have been an insult to the simplicity of that worthy man’s nature to exert any great ingenuity in deceiving him; it would have been like setting a trap for a snail. So they journeyed on, highly pleased with each other, and occasionally, in the absence of their faithful interpreter, conversed by means of smiles and courteous gesticulations, till my grandfather felt entirely at his ease, and was almost sorry when, on the evening of the second day, they got to Cadiz.

CHAPTER III.

A whole city full of people condensed into one broad amphitheatre, all bearing a national resemblance to each other in countenance and costume, all apparently animated by the same spirit—for nothing could be more unanimous than the applause which greeted a favourite smilingly crossing the arena, the abuse which overwhelmed an object offensive to the eye of the many-headed, or the ridicule which descended in a joyous uproarious flood on the hapless individual in whose appearance, dress, or manner, anything was detected calculated to appeal to the highly sensitive risible faculty of a Spanish assembly;—a gay and picturesque mixture of colours, waving and tossing like a garden in a breeze, as the masses of white mantillas, heads black as coal, decorated with flowers and green leaves, red sashes, tufted sombreros, and yellow gaiters, with here and there a blue-and-white soldier standing stiffly up, were agitated by each new emotion—such was the scene that met the eyes of our travellers on entering the bull-ring at Cadiz before the sport commenced.

My grandfather had made his entry in spectacles—appendages highly provocative of the public mirth—and had looked wonderingly for a minute or two through the obnoxious glasses on a sea of faces upturned, sideturned, and downturned, all looking at him, and all shouting some indistinguishable chorus; while the men beat time, each with the long, forked, painted stick, without which no Spaniard possessing sentiments of propriety ever comes to a bull-fight, in a manner most embarrassing to a somewhat bashful stranger, till their attention was luckily diverted to an unhappy man in a white hat, in derision of whom they immediately sang a song, the burden of which was “El del sombrero blanco,” (he of the white hat), the multitude conducting itself throughout like one man.

My grandfather and his friends occupied a distinguished position in a box high above the multitude, and near that of the alcalde. The Señorita Juana looked more lovely than ever in a white dress, over which flowed a white gauzy mantilla, giving a kind of misty indistinctness to the wavy outlines of her figure, and the warm tint of her neck and arms. From her masses of black hair peeped one spot of vivid white, a rosebud; and a green plumy leaf, a favourite ornament with Spanish girls, drooped, bending, and soft as a feather, on one side of her gold-and-tortoiseshell comb. The Major sat beside Carlota, who, naturally frank, and looking upon him now as an old acquaintance, would tap his arm most bewitchingly with her fan when she wanted to direct his attention to any object of interest. So the Major sat by her, all gallantry and smiles, gazing about him with wonder through the double gold eyeglass, which still, in spite of the late expression of popular feeling, bestrid his nose. He looked with the interest of a child at everything—at the faces and dresses around him, distinct in their proximity, and at those, confused in their details by distance, on the opposite side of the arena. He shared in the distress of an unfortunate person (a contractor for bulls, who had palmed some bad ones on the public) who tried, as he walked conspicuously across the ring, to smile off a torrent of popular execration about as successfully as a lady might attempt to ward off Niagara with her parasol, and who was, as it were, washed out at an opposite door, drenched and sodden with jeers. And when the folding-gates were opened, and the gay procession entered, my grandfather gazed on it with delight, and shouted “Bravo!” as enthusiastically as if he had been an habitual frequenter of bull-rings from his earliest youth. First came the espadas or matadores, their hair clubbed behind like a woman’s, dressed in bright-coloured jackets, and breeches seamed with broad silver lace, white stockings, shoes fastened with immense rosettes, and having their waists girt with silk sashes, bearing on their arms the blood-coloured cloaks that were to lure the bull upon the sword-point. Next followed the chulos, similarly attired; then the picadores, riding stiffly, with padded legs, on their doomed steeds; and mules, whose office it was to drag off the dead bulls and horses, harnessed three abreast as in classic chariots, and almost hidden under a mass of gay housings, closed the procession. Marching across the middle of the ring to the alcalde’s box, they requested permission to begin, and, it being granted, the picadores stationed themselves at equal distances from each other round the circumference of the arena. Then, at a signal from the alcalde, two trumpeters in scarlet, behind him, stood up and sounded—a man, standing with his hand ready on a bolt in a door underneath, drew it, and pulled the door swiftly back, shutting himself into a niche, as the dark space thus opened was filled by the formidable figure of a bull, who, with glancing horns and tail erect, bounded out, and, looking around during one fierce brief pause, made straight at the first picador. The cavalier, standing straight in his stirrups, his lance tucked firmly under his arm, fixed the point fairly in the shoulder of the brute, who, never pausing for that, straightway upset man and horse. Then my grandfather might be seen stretching far over the front of his box, his eyes staring on the prostrate picador, and his hands clenched above his head, while he shouted, “By the Lord, sir, he’ll be killed!” And when a chulo, darting alongside, waved his cloak before the bull’s eyes and lured him away, the Major, drawing a long breath, turned to a calm Spaniard beside him, and said, “By heaven, sir, ’twas the mercy of Providence!”—but the Spaniard, taking his cigar from his mouth, and expelling the smoke through his nostrils, merely said, “Bien está” (’tis very well.) Meanwhile, the bull (who, like his predecessor in the china-shop, seemed to have it all his own way) had run his horn into the heart of a second horse, and the picador, perceiving from the shivering of the wounded creature that the hurt was mortal, dismounted in all haste, while the horse, giving one long, blundering stagger, fell over and died, and was immediately stript of his accoutrements. This my grandfather didn’t like at all; but, seeing no kindred disgust in the faces round him, he nerved himself, considering that it was a soldier’s business to look on wounds and death. He even beheld, with tolerable firmness, the spectacle of a horse dashing blindfold and riderless, and mad with fear and pain, against the barrier—rebounding whence to the earth with a broken shoulder, it was forced again on its three legs, and led stumbling from the ring. But when he saw another horse raised to its feet, and, all ript open as it was, spurred to a second assault, the Major, who hadn’t the heart himself to hurt a fly, could stand it no longer, but, feeling unwell, retired precipitately from the scene. On reaching the door, he wrote over the same, with a bit of chalk, part of the speech of Henry V., “the royal imp of fame,” to his soldiers at Agincourt:—

“He that hath not stomach for the fight,
Let him depart——”

to the great astonishment of the two Spanish sentries, who gazed on the words as if they contained a magical spell.

Frank sat till it was over—“played out the play.” Not that he saw much of the fight, however; he had eyes and speech for nothing but Juana, and was able to indulge his penchant without interruption, as the little Governor took great interest in the fight, and the lover with the silver fishes was a connoisseur in the sport, and laid bets on the number of horses that each particular bull would kill with great accuracy. So the Ensign had it all his own way, and, being by no means the sort of person to throw away this or any other opportunity with which fortune might favour him, got on quite as well, probably, as you or I might have done in his place.

Leaving Cadiz next morning, they resumed the order of march they had adopted in coming—Don Pablo riding, as before, in front with the knight of the silver fishes, discussing with him the incidents of the bull-ring. The old gentleman, though very courteous when addressing the two Englishmen, had but little to say to them—neither did he trouble himself to talk much to the ladies; and when he did, a sharp expression would sometimes slip out, convincing Owen that he was something of a domestic tyrant in private—a character by no means inconsistent with the blandest demeanour in public. The Ensign was at great pains to encourage the Major to be gracious to Carlota. “Get a little more tropical in your looks, Major,” he would say; “these Spanish ladies are not accustomed to frigid glances. She’s desperately in love with you—pity she can’t express what she feels; and she mightn’t like to trust an interpreter with her sentiments.”

“Pooh, nonsense, boy,” said the Major, colouring with pleasure, “she doesn’t care for an old fellow like me.”

“Doesn’t she?—see what her eyes say—that’s what I call ocular demonstration,” quoth the Ensign. “If you don’t return it, you’re a stock, a stone.” Then he would say something to Carlota, causing her eyes to sparkle, and canter on to rejoin Juana.

It was genial summer-time with Carlota—she had passed the age of maiden diffidence, without having attained that of soured and faded spinsterhood. She had a sort of jovial confidence in herself, and an easy demeanour towards the male sex, such as is seen in widows. These supposed advances of the Major were accordingly met by her rather more than half-way. None but the Major was permitted to assist her into the saddle, or to receive her plump form descending from it. None but the Major was beckoned to her rein when the path was broken and perilous, or caught on his protecting arm the pressure of her outstretched hand, when her steed stumbled over the loose pebbles. None was repaid for a slight courtesy by so many warm, confiding smiles as he. These, following fast one on another, began to penetrate the rusty casing of the Major’s heart. On his own ground—that is, in his own quarters—he could have given battle, successfully, to a score of such insidious enemies: his books, his flowers, his pipe, his slippers, and a hundred other Penates would have encircled him; but here, with all his strong palisading of habit torn up and scattered, all his wonted trains of ideas upset and routed by the novelty of situation and scenery, he lay totally defenceless, and open to attack. The circumstance of himself and Carlota being ignorant of each other’s language, far from being an obstacle to their mutual good-will, rather favoured its progress. In company with an Englishwoman, in similar circumstances, my grandfather would have considered himself bound to entertain her with his conversation, and, perhaps, have spoiled all by trying to make himself agreeable—it would have been a tax on the patience of both: but being absolved from any such duty in the present instance, he could without awkwardness ride onward in full and silent communion with his own thoughts, and enjoy the pleasure of being smiled upon without being at any pains to earn it.

His note-book, containing an account of the expedition, which I have seen—and whence, indeed, the greater part of this chronicle is gathered—exhibits, at this period of the journey, sufficient proof that the Major enjoyed this new state of being extremely, and felt his intellect, his heart, and his stomach all stimulated at once.

“Spain,” says my grandfather, in a compendious descriptive sentence, “is a country of garlicky odours, of dirty contentment, of overburthened donkeys, and of excellent pork; but a fine air in the hills, and the country much sweeter than the towns. The people don’t seem to know what comfort is, or cleanliness, but are nevertheless very contented in their ignorance. My saddle is bad, I think, for I dismounted very sore to-day. The Señorita mighty pleasant and gracious. I entertain a great regard for her—no doubt a sensible woman, as well as a handsome. A pig to-day at breakfast, the best I have tasted in Spain.”

The desultory style of the composition of these notes prevents me from quoting largely from them. Statistics, incidents of travel, philosophic reflections, and the state of his digestive organs, are all chronicled indiscriminately. But, from the above mixture of sentiments, it will be perceived that the Major’s admiration for Carlota was of a sober nature, by no means ardent or Quixotic, and pretty much on a par with his passion for pig.

This was far from being the case with Garry, who became more and more enamoured every hour. The Spanish lover continued to conduct himself as if he had been married to Juana for twenty years, never troubling himself to be particularly agreeable or attentive, for which obliging conduct Garry felt very grateful to him. The Major had been too long accustomed to witness Owen’s philanderings to see anything peculiar in the present case, till his attention was attracted by a little incident he accidentally witnessed. After the last halt they made before reaching Tarifa, Garry was, as usual, at hand, to assist Juana to her saddle. Her horse was fastened in a thicket of oleanders, whose flowers and leaves formed a screen such as Cupid himself might have planted. Garry seized the charming opportunity to offer to re-tie the ribbons of her hat, which was very considerate; for, to tie them herself, she would have been obliged to take off her gloves, which would have been a great trouble. Having done so, still retaining his hold of the strings, he glanced quickly around, and then drew her blooming face towards his own till their lips met—for which piece of impudence he only suffered the slight penalty of a gentle tap with her whip. My grandfather discreetly and modestly withdrew his eyes, but he was not the only observer. He of the silver fishes was regarding them with a fixed look from among some neighbouring trees, where he had tethered his horse. Probably the Spaniard, with all his indifference, thought this was carrying matters a little too far, for, after conversing a moment with the Governor, he took his place at Juana’s side, and did not again quit it till they arrived at Tarifa. Then both he and the Governor took leave of our travellers with a cold civility, defying all Garry’s attempts to thaw it, and seeming to forbid all prospect of a speedy renewal of the acquaintance.

CHAPTER IV.

At the inn, that night, the Major betook himself to rest early, that he might be ready to start for Gibraltar betimes in the morning, for on the following day their leave was to expire.

He had slept soundly for several hours, when he was awoke by Owen, who entered with a candle in his hand. The Major sat up in bed and rubbed his eyes.

“Time’s up, my boy, eh?” said he, with a cavernous yawn. “I should have liked another hour of it, but it can’t be helped,” (preparing to turn out).

“I didn’t want to spoil your rest last night,” said Owen, seating himself on the edge of the bed, “so I said nothing about a mishap that has occurred. That smuggling villain, Francisco, took advantage of our absence to fetch a contraband cargo in the boat from Gibraltar, and has been caught in attempting to run it here.”

“God bless me,” said my grandfather, “who would have thought it!—and he such a capital cook! But what’s to be done? where’s the boat?”

“The boat is, for the present, confiscated,” said Garry; “but I daresay the Governor would let us have it in the morning, on explaining, and would perhaps release Francisco, with the loss of his cargo; but—but—in fact, Major, I don’t want the Governor to know anything about our departure.”

My grandfather stared at him, awaiting further explanation.

“Juana looked pale last night,” said the Ensign after a pause.

The Major did not dispute the fact, though he could not, for the life of him, see what the state of Juana’s complexion had to do with the subject.

“She never liked that dingy Spanish lover of hers,” said the Ensign, “and her father intends she shall marry him in a month. ’Twould make her miserable for life.”

“Dear me,” said my grandfather, “how do you know that?”

“She told me so. You see,” said Owen, shading the candle with his hand, so that my grandfather couldn’t see his face, and speaking hurriedly, “I didn’t intend we should start alone—in fact—that is—Juana has agreed to fly with me to Gibraltar.”

“Agreed!—fly!”—gasped my grandsire: “what an extraordinary young fellow!”

“She’s waiting for us now,” resumed Garry, gathering courage after the first plunge into the subject; “we ought to be off before daylight. Oblige me, my dear sir” (smiling irresistibly), “by getting up immediately.”

“And how are we to get away,” asked my grandfather, “supposing this insane scheme of yours to be attempted?”

“I’ve bribed the sentry at Francisco’s place of durance,” returned the Ensign. “We shall get out of the town the instant the gates are opened; and the boat is tied to the steps, as before, only under the charge of a sentry whom we can easily evade. Every guarda costa in the place was sent out last night to blockade a noted smuggler who has taken refuge in Tangier; so, once out, we are safe from pursuit: I found it all out after you had gone to bed.”

The disposition of Major Flinders, as the reader knows, was the reverse of enterprising—he wouldn’t have given a straw to be concerned in the finest adventure that ever happened in romance. He paused with one stocking on, inclined, like the little woman whose garments had been curtailed by the licentious shears of the pedlar, to doubt his own identity, and wondering if it could be really he, John Flinders, to whom such a proposition was broached, requiring him to assist in invading the peace of a family. As soon as he recovered his powers of speech, of which astonishment had for a moment deprived him, he began earnestly to dissuade the Ensign from the enterprise; but Owen knew his man too well, and had too much youthful vivacity of will to allow much time for remonstrance.

“Look you, Major,” said he, “I’m positive I can’t live without Juana. I’ll make a bold stroke for a wife. The thing’s settled—no going back now for me; and I shall go through with it with or without you. But you’re not the man, I’m sure, to desert a fellow in extremity, at a time, too, when the advantages of your experience and coolness are so peculiarly needed. ‘Call you that backing of your friends?’”

The compliment, or the quotation, or both, softened the Major. “‘Would it were night, Hal, and all well,’” said he, half mechanically following the Falstaffian train of ideas Owen had artfully conjured up, and at the same time drawing on the breeches which that astute youth obsequiously handed to him.

It was still dark when they issued forth into the narrow and dingy streets of Tarifa. My grandfather, totally unaccustomed to visit the glimpses of the moon in this adventurous fashion, was full of strange fears—heard as many imaginary suspicious noises and voices as Bunyan’s Pilgrim in the dark valley—and once or twice stopt abruptly and grasped Owen’s arm, while he pointed to a spy dogging them in the distant gloom, who turned out to be a door-post. But Owen was now in his element; no tom-cat in Tarifa was more familiar with housetops and balconies at the witching hour than he, and he stepped gaily on. Presently they were challenged by a sentry, to whom Owen promptly advanced and slipped into his itching palm a doubloon, when the trustworthy warrior immediately turned upon his heel, and, walking to the extremity of his post, looked with great vigilance in the opposite direction.

Owen advanced to a grated window and tapped. Immediately the burly face of Francisco showed itself thereat, his white teeth glancing merrily in a glimmer of moonshine. A bar, previously filed through, was removed from the window, and Owen, taking him by the collar to assist his egress, drew him through as far as the third button of his waistcoat, where he stuck for a moment; but the substance was elastic, and a lusty tug landed him in the middle of the narrow street. Receiving Frank’s instructions given in a hurried whisper, to go at once to where the boat lay, and cast her off, ready to shove off on the instant, he nodded and disappeared in the darkness, while Owen and the Major made for the Governor’s house.

Arrived near it, Owen gave a low whistle—a peculiar one, that my grandfather remembered to have heard him practising to Juana on the previous day—when, to the unutterable surprise of the Major, two veiled figures appeared on the balcony.

“Why, Owen, boy, d’ye see!” quoth the Major, stuttering with anxiety, “who can the other be?—her maid, eh?”—indistinct stage recollections of intriguing waiting-women dawning on him.

“Ahem!—why, you see, Major,” whispered Owen, “she wouldn’t come alone—couldn’t manage it at all, in fact, without the knowledge of her aunt, who sleeps in the next room; so I persuaded Carlota to come too, and gave her a sort of half promise that you would take care of her.” Here, wishing to cut short a rather awkward explanation, he ran under the balcony—one of the ladies dropped a cord—and Owen producing from under his coat a rope ladder, (he had sat up all night making it), attached it, and, as soon as it was drawn up, ascended, motioning to my astounded grandfather to keep it steady below. The Major, after a moment’s desperate half-resolve to make a hasty retreat from the perilous incidents which seemed momentarily to thicken round him, and leave his reckless friend to his fate, yielded to the force of circumstances, and did what was required of him. Then Owen lifted the ladies, one after the other, over the railing of the balcony, and they swiftly descended. First came Juana, who, scarcely touching the Major’s offered hand, lit on the pavement like gossamer; then Carlota descended, and making, in her trepidation, a false step near the bottom, came so heavily on the Major, that they rolled together on the stones. By the time they were on their feet again, Owen had slipped down the ladder, and, taking Juana under his arm, set off rapidly towards the bay.

If anything could have added to the Major’s discomfiture and embarrassment, it would have been the pressure of Carlota’s arm on his, as she hung confidingly on him—a pressure not proceeding from her weight only, but active, and with a meaning in it; but he was in that state of mental numbness from the successive shocks of astonishment, that, as with a soldier after the first two dozen, any additional laceration passed unheeded. He was embarked in an adventure of which he could by no means see the end; all was strange and dark in the foreground of his future; and if he had been at that moment tried, cast, and condemned for an imaginary crime, he would have been too apathetic to say anything in arrest of judgment.

With the silence and swiftness of a forlorn hope, they passed through the town and along the sandy causeway. The succession of white rolling waves on their left, where extended the full breadth of the Straits, while the bay on their right was almost smooth, showed the wind to be still against them; but it was now so moderate that they might safely beat up for the Rock. Arrived at the head of the stairs leading to the water, they paused in the angle of the wall to reconnoitre. Francisco was lying coiled up in the head of the boat, his hand on the rope, ready to cast her loose, and the boat-hook projecting over the bow. Above them, and behind the wall, at a little distance, they could hear the measured tread of the sentry, and catch the gleam of his bayonet as he turned upon his walk: a few vigorous shoves would carry them outside the sea-wall and beyond his ken. All depended on their silence; and like two stealthy cats did Owen and Juana descend to the boat—the Major and Carlota watching the success of their attempt with protruded necks. Cautiously did Owen stride from the last stair to the deck—cautiously did he transfer Juana to the bark, and guide her aft. The Major was just preparing to follow, when a noise from the boat startled him: Juana had upset an unlucky wine-jar which Francisco had left there. The sentry put his head over the wall, and challenged; Francisco, starting up, shoved hastily off; the sentry fired his piece, his bullet shattering the wine-jar that had caused the mischief. Juana screamed, Owen swore in English, and Francisco surpassed him in Spanish. There was no time to return or wait for the other pair, for the guard was alarmed by the sentry’s shot, and their accoutrements might be heard rattling near at hand, as they turned hastily out. Before they reached the wall, however, the boat had disappeared.

Major Flinders watched it till it was out of sight, and, at first, experienced a feeling of despair at being thus deprived of the aid of Garry’s boldness and promptitude, and left to his own resources. Presently, however, a gleam of comfort dawned upon him—perhaps Carlota would now abandon the enterprise, and he should thus, at any rate, be freed from the embarrassment her presence occasioned him. In this hope he was shortly undeceived. To have added the shame of failure and exposure to her present disappointment, while an opening to persevere still remained, did not suit that lady’s ardent spirit; and whether it was that the unscrupulous Garry had really represented the Major as very much in love, or whether such an impression resulted from her own lively imagination, she certainly thought her companion would be as much chagrined at such a denouement as herself. She displayed a prompt decision in this emergency, being, indeed, as remarkable for presence as the Major was for absence of mind. Taking the Major’s arm, she caused him swiftly to retrace his steps with her to the inn where he had slept. As they retreated, they heard the boom of a gun behind them, fired, doubtless, from the Point, at the Fair Unknown. At Carlota’s orders, a couple of horses, one with a side-saddle, were speedily at the inn-door; they mounted, and, before the sun was yet risen, had issued forth from the gate of Tarifa, on the road to Gibraltar.

The Major rode beside her like a man in a dream—in fact, he was partly asleep, having been deprived of a large portion of his natural and accustomed rest, and partly bewildered. A few days before he had been the most methodical, unromantic, not to say humdrum, old bachelor in his Majesty’s service; and here he was, how or why he did not well know, galloping away at daybreak with a foreign lady, of whose existence he had been ignorant a week before, with the prospect of being apprehended by her relatives for her abduction, and incarcerated by the Government for assisting in the escape of a smuggler. When at length roused to complete consciousness by the rapidity of their motion, he positively groaned in anguish of spirit, and vowed internally that, once within the shelter of his own quiet quarters, nothing on earth should again tempt him forth on such harum-scarum expeditions.

It was near noon when they reached Algeçiras, where they stopped to breakfast, both of them rather exhausted with fatigue and hunger. This town stands just opposite Gibraltar, across the bay—the road they had come by forms the base of a triangle, of which Cabrita Point is the apex, the bay washing one side of the projecting coast, the Straits the other. The Major was reserved and embarrassed; there was a tenderness about Carlota’s manner that frightened him out of his usual gallantry, and, to avoid meeting her glance, he looked steadily out of the window at the rock of Gibraltar, casting wistful glances at the spot where his quarters lay hidden in a little clump of foliage. Immediately after the meal he quitted the room, on pretence of looking after the horses. He determined to protract their stay in Algeçiras till late in the afternoon, that they might enter Gibraltar in the dusk, and thus avoid awkward meetings with equestrian parties from the garrison, who would then be hastening homewards, in order to be in before gun-fire, when the gates are shut.

On returning, still out of temper, to the room where he had left Carlota, he found her, quite overcome with fatigue, asleep on the sofa. Her head was thrown a little back on the cushion; her lips were just parted, and she looked in her sleep like a weary child. The Major approached on tiptoe, and stood regarding her. His ill-humour melted fast into pity. He thought of all her kindness to him, and, by a sudden soft-hearted impulse, took gently one of her hands projecting over the side of the sofa. Carlota opened her eyes, and squeezed the hand that held hers; whereupon the Major suddenly quitted his hold, and, retreating with great discomposure to the window, did not venture to look at her again till it was time to resume their journey.

At a little distance from Algeçiras is the river Palmones, called by the English the Second River. This was crossed by a floating bridge, pulled from shore to shore by a ferryman warping on a rope extended across. They had just reached the opposite bank of the stream, when Carlota noticed two horsemen galloping fast along the road they had just traversed. A second glance showed them to be Don Pablo and the lover of Juana. The first inquiries of the Governor had led him to suppose that all had escaped in the boat, and it was not till some time after that he had learned the true state of affairs.

The fugitives now hastened on in earnest, and roused their horses to a steady gallop, never pausing till they reached the Guadaranque, or First River, about a mile nearer Gibraltar than the other, and furnished with a similar bridge. The delay of the pursuers at the former ferry had thrown them far in rear; and my grandfather, inspired by the imminence of the peril, now conceived a bright idea—the brightest, probably, that ever flashed upon him—by executing which they might effectually distance their pursuers. Dropping his glove at a little distance from the shore, he sent the ferryman to fetch it, and then pushed off (Carlota having already embarked), and warped the bridge to the opposite bank, heedless of the frantic gesticulations of the proprietor, who screamed furiously after them to stop. When he reached the opposite side, he took out his pocket-knife and deliberately cut the rope. Having thus, as it were, blown up the communication in his rear, my grandfather, without the loss of his baggage, continued his retreat to the fortress; while the little Governor, who galloped up just as they were disappearing, was, like Lord Ullin, left lamenting.

The sun was already declining, and threw their shadows far before them on the sands, as they rode along the beach close to the water. The bay at this inner extremity makes a great circular sweep—radii drawn from the rock to different distant points of the arc would be almost equal; and for half an hour they continued to see Gibraltar at nearly the same distance to the right and in front of them, holding itself aloof most provokingly. Twilight descended as they passed the Spanish lines and entered on the Neutral Ground. The Major glanced anxiously at his watch—in a few minutes the gun from Middle Hill would give the signal for shutting the gates, and doom them irretrievably to return into Spain for the night. For the first time in his life Major Flinders really punished his horse, lifting the tired beast along with whip and rein. Carlota’s kept easily beside him under her lighter weight, and they rapidly neared the barrier. Just as they passed it, a stream of flame shot from the rock, illumining objects like a flash of lightning;—then came the heavy report of the gun—another minute and the drawbridge at Landport would be lifted; but they were upon it. They dashed across somewhat in the style of Marmion quitting Douglas’s castle, “just as it trembled on the rise,” and were safe in Gibraltar.

CHAPTER V.

After life’s fitful fever, the Major did not sleep well. He had left Carlota comfortably established at the inn; and he now lay nervously thinking how his embarrassment with regard to her was to terminate, especially if Owen did not shortly make his appearance. Then he was worried by doubts as to the fate of the Fair Unknown and her passengers. They might have been recaptured, as escaped smugglers, by a guarda costa—they might be detained in the Straits by adverse winds or calms—they might have run ashore into some bay, and come on overland. This last supposition haunted him most pertinaciously, and he resolved to go up the rock as soon as it should be daylight, to look out for them along the road from Spain. He lay tossing restlessly till the morning gun gave the signal of the approach of dawn, and before the echoes died away he had his breeches on.

Night was at odds with morning when my grandfather, with a telescope under his arm, sallied forth and began the ascent. Silence was over the rock, except an occasional sighing of a remnant of night wind that had lost itself among the crags. At first, the only clear outline visible was that of the rugged edge of the rock above against the colourless sky; but as he toiled up the steep zigzag path, the day kept pace with him—each moment threw a broader light on the scene—blots of shadow became bushes or deep fissures, and new shapes of stone glided into view. The only symptoms of animal life that he beheld were a rabbit that fled silently to his hole, and a great white vulture that, startled from his perch on a grey crag, sailed slowly upward on his black-tipped wings, circling higher and higher, till his breast was crimsoned by the yet unrisen sun.

The path led diagonally to the summit; and, turning a sharp level corner, my grandfather looked perpendicularly down on the Mediterranean, whose lazy waves, sending up a gentle murmur, rippled far below him. On his left, also steep down below him, was the Neutral Ground, level as the sea itself, extending northward into sandy plains, abruptly crossed by tumbled heaps of brown mountains. A reddening of the sky showed that the sun was at hand; and presently the glowing disk came swiftly up from behind the eastern hills; the pale earth shared in the ruddiness of the sky, and a long rosy gleam swept gradually over the breadth of the grey sea, like an unwilling smile spreading itself from a man’s lips to his eyes and forehead.

Conspicuous on the highest point in the landscape stood my grandfather, panting with his exertions as he wiped his forehead. After standing for a moment, bronzed in front like a smith at the furnace, face to face with the sun, he turned and swept with his telescope the road into Spain. Early peasants, microscopic as ants, were bringing their fruits and vegetables into the fortress—a laden mule or two advanced along the beach over which the Major had last night galloped—but nothing resembling what he sought was in sight. Then turning completely round, with his face to the path he had just ascended, he gave a long look towards the Straits; and as he did so, the wind, which had shifted to the south-west towards morning, blew gently on his face. A sail or two was discernible in the distance, outward bound, but nothing resembling the cutter. As the Major looked, a signal was made from Cabrita, and directly two feluccas left their station at Algeçiras, and swooped out, like two white birds, as if to intercept some bark yet hidden by the Point. Again my grandfather looked out to the Strait, and presently a small white sail came in sight near Cabrita. For a quarter of an hour he stood steadily, with levelled telescope, and then he was almost sure—yes, he could swear—that he saw the small English ensign relieved against the sail; and above, at the masthead, the yellow-striped flag that Francisco hoisted before as the mark of a yacht. It was the Fair Unknown—and my grandfather at once comprehended that the pursuers, whom he had escaped the night before, had, on returning to Algeçiras, made arrangements for her capture as soon as she should appear.

The breeze was on her beam, and much fresher with her than farther in the bay, so that the feluccas steered slantingly across her course as she made for the rock. They held on thus, the pursuers and pursued, till within a mile of each other, when the cutter suddenly altered her course to one nearly parallel with that of the feluccas. The latter, however, now gained fast upon her, and presently a puff of smoke from the bow of the foremost was followed by the report of a gun. My grandfather could look no longer through his glass, for his hand shook like a reed, but began, with huge strides, more resembling those of a kangaroo than a quiet middle-aged gentleman, to descend the rock. Breathless, he reached his quarters, had his horse saddled and brought out, and galloped off towards Europa.

Europa Point is at the southern extremity of the rock, and commands at once the entrance of the bay and the passage of the Straits. The road to it from the north, where the Major was quartered, affords, for the most part, a view of the bay. Many an anxious glance did he cast, as he sped along, at the state of affairs on the water. The feluccas fired several shots, but all seemed to fall wide, and were probably intended only to frighten the chase, out of consideration for her fair freight. Still, however, the English colours floated, and still the cutter held her course.

Some artillerymen and an officer were assembled at the Point as the Major galloped up.

“Can’t you fire at ’em?” said he, as he drew up beside the battery.

“Too far off,” said the Lieutenant, rising from the parapet on which he was leaning, and showing a drowsy unshaven countenance; “we should only frighten them.”

“By heavens!” said my grandfather, “’tis horrible. I shall see the boy taken before my eyes!”

“Boy!” quoth the Lieutenant, wondering what particular interest the Major could take in the smuggler. “What boy?”

“Why, Owen of ours—he’s running away with a Spanish lady.”

“The devil!” cried the Lieutenant, jumping down. “What, Garry Owen!—we must try a long shot. Pull those quoins out” (to a gunner). “Corporal, lay that gun; a dollar if you hit the felucca. I’ll try a shot with this one.” So saying, he laid the thirty-two pounder next him with great care.

“Fire!” said he, jumping on the parapet to see the effect of the shot. At the second rebound it splashed under the bows of the leading felucca, which still held on. She was now scarcely three hundred yards from the cutter.

“Why, d—n their impudence!” muttered the Lieutenant, on seeing his warning pass unheeded, “they won’t take a hint. Corporal, let drive at ’em.”

The Corporal earned his dollar. The shot went through the side of the felucca, on board of which all was presently confusion; in a few minutes it was apparent she was sinking. The other, abandoning the chase, went to the assistance of her consort, lifting the crew out, some of whom were evidently hurt.

“A blessed shot!” cried my grandfather, giving the lucky Corporal a bit of gold; “but I’m glad they’re picking up the crew.”

The cutter instantly stood in for the harbour, and half an hour afterwards the Major bade his young friend and Juana welcome to Gibraltar.

Carlota was beside herself with joy at seeing the wanderers safe. She first cast herself upon Juana, and cried over her; then embraced the Ensign, who made no scruple of kissing her; lastly, threw herself tenderly upon the Major, who gazed over her head as it lay on his shoulder with a dismayed expression, moving his arms uneasily, as if he didn’t know what he was expected to do with them. Every moment it was becoming clearer to him that he was a compromised man, no longer his own property. On his way through the streets that morning he had passed a knot of officers, one of whom he overheard describing “Old Flinders” as “a sly old boy,” for that he “had run away with a devilish handsome Spaniard—who would have thought it?” “Ay, who indeed!” groaned the Major, internally. But the seal was put to his doom by the Colonel, who, when he went to report himself, slapped him on the shoulder, and congratulated him on his happiness. “Fine woman, I hear, Flinders—didn’t give you credit for such spirit—hope you’ll be happy together.” The Major, muttering an inarticulate denial, hastily retreated, and from that moment surrendered himself to his fate an unresisting victim.

About dusk that night, Owen came to him.

“By heavens!” the Ensign began, throwing himself into a chair, “I’m the most unlucky scoundrel! Nothing goes right with me. I promised myself that this should be my wedding-night—and here I am, as forlorn a bachelor as ever.”

“What has gone wrong?” inquired my grandfather, removing his pipe from his mouth.

“I pressed her with all my eloquence,” said Owen; “reminded her of her promise to marry me the day we should arrive here—of the necessity of caring for her reputation, after leaving her father’s house and coming here under my protection” (here my grandfather winced;) “talked, in fact, like an angel who had been bred a special pleader—yet it was all of no use.”

“Deliberating about marriage!” said the Major, “after leaving her father and lover for you! What gnat can she be straining at, after swallowing a camel of such magnitude?”

“A piece of female Quixotry,” returned Owen. “She says she can’t think of such selfishness as being comfortably married herself, while Carlota is so unhappy, and her fate so unsettled.” Here he made a significant pause; but my grandfather was immovably silent, only glancing nervously at him, and smoking very hard.

“In fact, she protests she won’t hear of marrying me, till you have settled when you will marry Carlota.”

“Marry Carlota!” gasped the Major in an agonised whisper.

“Why, you don’t mean to say you’re not going to marry her!” exclaimed the Ensign, throwing a vast quantity of surprise into his expressive countenance.

“Why—why, what should I marry her for?” stammered the Major.

“Oh, Lord!” said Garry, “here will be pleasant news for her! Curse me if I break it to her.”

“But really now, Frank,” the Major repeated—“marriage, you know—why, I never thought of such a thing.”

“You’re the only person that hasn’t, then,” rejoined Owen. “Why, what can the garrison think, after the way you smuggled her in; what can she herself think, after all your attentions?”

“Attentions, my dear boy;—the merest civility.”

“Oh,—ah! ’twas civility, I suppose, to squeeze her hand in the inn at Algeçiras, in the way she told Juana of—and heaven knows what else you may have done during the flight. Juana is outrageous against you—actually called you a vile deceiver; but Carlota’s feeling is more of sorrow than of anger. She is persuaded that nothing but your ignorance of Spanish has prevented your tongue from confirming what your looks have so faithfully promised. I was really quite affected to-day at the appealing look she cast on me after you left the room; she evidently expected me to communicate her destiny.”

My grandfather smoked hard.

“Lots of fellows would give their ears for such a wife,” pursued the Ensign. “Lovelace, the Governor’s aide-de-camp, bribed the waiter of the hotel to lend him his apron to-day, at dinner, that he might come in and look at her—swears she’s a splendid woman, and that he’d run away with such another to-morrow.”

Still my grandfather smoked hard, but said nothing, though there was a slight gleam of pride in his countenance.

“Poor thing!” sighed Garry. “All her prospects blighted for ever. Swears she never can love another.”

At this my grandfather’s eyes grew moist, and he coughed as if he had swallowed some tobacco-smoke.

“And as for me, to have Juana at my lips, as it were, and yet not mine—for she’s as inflexible as if she’d been born a Mede or Persian—to know that you are coming between me and happiness as surely as if you were an inexorable father or a cruel guardian—worse, indeed; for those might be evaded. Major, major, have you no compassion!—two days of this will drive me crazy.”

The Major changed his pipe from his right hand to his left, and, stretching the former across the table, sympathetically pressed that of the Ensign.

“Do, Major,” quoth Garry, changing his flank movement for a direct attack—“do consent to make yourself and me happy; do empower me to negotiate for our all going to church to-morrow.” (My grandfather gave a little jump in his chair at this, as if he were sitting on a pin.) “I’ll manage it all, you shan’t have the least trouble in the matter.”

My grandfather spoke not.

“Silence gives consent,” said the Ensign, rising. “Come, now, if you don’t forbid me, I’ll depart on my embassy at once; you needn’t speak, I’ll spare your blushes. I see this delay has only been from modesty, or perhaps a little ruse on your part. Once, twice, thrice,—I go.” And he vanished.

The Major remained in his chair, in the same posture. His pipe was smoked out, but he continued to suck absently at the empty tube. His bewilderment and perturbation were so great that, though he sat up till two in the morning, during which time he smoked eleven pipes, and increased the two glasses of grog with which he was accustomed to prepare for his pillow to four, he was still, when he went to bed, as agitated as ever.

In this state of mind he went to the altar, for next day a double ceremony was performed, making Owen happy with Juana, and giving Carlota a husband and me a grandfather. The Major was more like a proxy than a principal in the affair; for Owen, taking the entire management upon himself, left him little more to do than to make the necessary responses.

Carlota made a very good-tempered, quiet, inobtrusive helpmate, and continued to be fond of her spouse even after he was a grey-headed colonel. My grandfather, though credulous in most matters, could with difficulty be brought to consider himself married. He would sometimes seem to forget the circumstance for a whole day together, till it came to be forced on his recollection at bed-time. And when, about a year after his marriage, a new-born female Flinders (now my venerable aunt) was brought one morning by the nurse for his inspection and approval, he gazed at it with a puzzled air, and could not be convinced that he was actually in the presence of his own flesh and blood, till he had touched the cheek of his first-born with the point of his tobacco-pipe, removed from his mouth for that purpose, making on the infant’s countenance a small indentation.

The little Governor, Don Pablo, was subsequently induced to forgive his relatives, and frequent visits and attentions were interchanged, till the commencement of the siege put a stop to all intercourse between Gibraltar and Spain.

I have often, on a summer’s evening, sat looking across the bay at a gorgeous sunset, and retracing in imagination the incidents I have related. My grandfather’s establishment was broken up during the siege by the enemy’s shells, but a similar one now stands on what I think must have been about the site of it. The world has changed since then; but Spain is no land of change; and, looking on the imperishable outline of the Andaluçian hills, unaltered, probably, since a time to which the period of my tale is but as yesterday, it is easy for me to “daff aside” the noisy world without, and, dropping quietly behind the age, to picture to myself my old-fashioned grandfather issuing forth from yonder white-walled town of Algeçiras with his future bride.