Infomotions, Inc.In the Irish Brigade A Tale of War in Flanders and Spain / Henty, G. A. (George Alfred), 1832-1902



Author: Henty, G. A. (George Alfred), 1832-1902
Title: In the Irish Brigade A Tale of War in Flanders and Spain
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): desmond; mike; kennedy; duke; monsieur kennedy; john o'carroll
Contributor(s): Sheldon, Charles M. [Illustrator]
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Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 130,921 words (average) Grade range: 10-13 (high school) Readability score: 62 (easy)
Identifier: etext18349
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Title: In the Irish Brigade
       A Tale of War in Flanders and Spain

Author: G. A. Henty

Illustrator: Charles M. Sheldon

Release Date: May 8, 2006 [EBook #18349]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII

*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK IN THE IRISH BRIGADE ***




Produced by Martin Robb




In the Irish Brigade:
A Tale of War in Flanders and Spain
By G. A. Henty.



Contents


Preface.
Chapter  1: Fresh from Ireland.
Chapter  2: A Valiant Band.
Chapter  3: A Strange Adventure.
Chapter  4: At Versailles.
Chapter  5: A New Friend.
Chapter  6: An Ambuscade.
Chapter  7: In Paris Again.
Chapter  8: To Scotland.
Chapter  9: An Escape From Newgate.
Chapter 10: Kidnapping A Minister.
Chapter 11: On the Frontier.
Chapter 12: Oudenarde.
Chapter 13: Convalescent.
Chapter 14: A Mission.
Chapter 15: Treachery.
Chapter 16: Captured.
Chapter 17: An Old Friend.
Chapter 18: War.
Chapter 19: In Search of a Family.
Chapter 20: Gerald O'Carroll.



Preface.


The evils arising from religious persecution, sectarian hatred,
ill government, and oppression were never more strongly
illustrated than by the fact that, for a century, Ireland, which
has since that time furnished us with a large proportion of our
best soldiers, should have been among our bitterest and most
formidable foes, and her sons fought in the ranks of our greatest
continental enemy. It was not because they were adherents of the
house of Stuart that Irishmen left their native country to take
service abroad, but because life in Ireland was rendered well-nigh
intolerable for Catholics, on account of the nature and severity
of the laws against them, and the bitterness with which those laws
were carried into effect.

An Irish Catholic had no prospects of employment or advancement at
home. He could hold no civil appointment of any kind. He could not
serve as an officer, nor even enlist as a private, in the army. He
could not hold land. He was subject to imprisonment, and even
death, on the most trifling and frivolous accusations brought
against him by the satellites of the Irish Government. Not only
could he not sit in the parliament of Dublin, but he could not
even vote at elections. It was because they believed that the
return of the Stuarts would mean relief, from at least some of
their disabilities, and liberty to carry out the offices of their
religion openly, and to dwell in peace, free from denunciation and
persecution, that the Irish remained so long faithful to the
Jacobite cause.

It was not, indeed, until 1774 that the Catholics in Ireland were
admitted to qualify themselves as subjects of the crown, and not
until the following year that they were permitted to enlist in the
army. Irish regiments had enlisted in France, previous to the
Convention of Limerick; but it was the Irish army that defended
that town, and, having been defeated, passed over to France, that
raised the Irish Brigade to the position of an important factor in
the French army, which it held for nearly a hundred years, bearing
a prominent part in every siege and battle in Flanders, Germany,
Italy, and Spain. A long succession of French marshals and
generals have testified to the extraordinary bravery of these
troops, and to their good conduct under all circumstances. Not
only in France did Irishmen play a prominent part in military
matters, but they were conspicuous in every continental army, and
their descendants are still to be found bearing honoured names
throughout Europe.

Happily, those days are past, and for over a hundred years the
courage and military capacity of Irishmen have been employed in
the service of Great Britain. For records of the doings of some of
the regiments of the Irish Brigade, during the years 1706-1710, I
am indebted to the painstaking account of the Irish Brigade in the
service of France, by J. C. O'Callaghan; while the accounts of the
war in Spain are drawn from the official report, given in Boyer's
Annals of the Reign of Queen Anne, which contains a mine of
information of the military and civil events of the time.

G. A. Henty.



Chapter 1: Fresh from Ireland.


A number of officers of O'Brien's regiment of foot, forming a part
of the Irish Brigade in the service of France, were gathered in a
handsome apartment in the Rue des Fosses, on the 20th of June,
1701, when the door opened, and their colonel entered with a young
officer in the uniform of the regiment.

"I have asked you here, gentlemen all," he said, "to present to
you a new comrade, Desmond Kennedy, who, through the good offices
of the Marshal de Noailles, has been appointed, by His Gracious
Majesty, to a cornetcy in our regiment.

"Now, gentlemen, I have known, and doubtless you can all of you
recall, instances where the harmony of a regiment has been
grievously disturbed, and bad blood caused, owing to the want of a
clear understanding upon matters connected with a family; which
might have been avoided, had proper explanations been given at the
commencement. I have spoken frankly to Mr. Kennedy, and he has
stated to me certain particulars, and has not only authorized me,
but requested me to repeat them to you, feeling that you had a
right to know who it was that had come among you, and so to avoid
questioning on matters that are, of all others, prone to lead to
trouble among gentlemen.

"Beyond the fact that he is a Kennedy, and that his father had to
fly from Ireland, two years after the siege of Limerick, owing to
a participation in some plot to bring about a fresh rising in
favour of King James, he is unacquainted with his family history.
He has never heard from his father, and only knows that he made
for France after throwing the usurper's spies off his track, and
there can be little doubt that it was his intention to take
service in this brigade. There have been several Kennedys in the
service, and I have little doubt that this young gentleman's
father was the Murroch Kennedy who joined the third regiment,
about that time, and was killed a few months afterwards at the
battle of Breda. His death would account for the fact that his son
never received a letter from him. At the time when he left
Ireland, the child was some two years old, and, as communication
was difficult, and the boy so young, Murroch might very well have
put off writing until the boy grew older, not thinking that death
might intervene, as it did, to prevent his doing so.

"This is all simple and straightforward enough, and you will, I am
sure, have no hesitation in extending the hand of friendship to
the son of a gallant Irishman, who died fighting in the ranks of
the Irish Brigade, exiled, like the rest of us, for loyalty to our
king.

"Still, gentlemen, you might, perhaps, wonder how it is that he
knows no more of his family, and it was that this question might
be disposed of, once for all, that I am making this statement to
you on his behalf. He was not brought up, as you might expect,
with some of his father's connections. Whether the family were so
scattered that there was no one to whom he could safely entrust
the child, I know not, but, in point of fact, he sent him to one
of the last houses where a loyal gentleman would wish his son to
be brought up. We all know by name and reputation--I and your
majors knew him personally--the gallant James O'Carroll, who died,
fighting bravely, at the siege of Limerick. He was succeeded in
his estate by his brother John, one of the few Irishmen of good
family who turned traitor to his king, and who secured the
succession to his brother's possessions by becoming an ardent
supporter of the usurper, and by changing his religion.

"Why Murroch Kennedy should have chosen such a man as the guardian
of his son is a mystery. Whether they had been great friends in
earlier times, when John O'Carroll professed as warm an attachment
to the Stuart cause as did his brother James, or whether Kennedy
possessed such knowledge of O'Carroll's traitorous dealings with
the Dutchman as would, if generally known, have rendered him so
hateful to all loyal men that he could no longer have remained in
the country, and so had a hold over him, Mr. Kennedy can tell us
nothing. He was brought by his nurse to Castle Kilkargan, and was
left with John O'Carroll. It is clear that the latter accepted the
charge unwillingly, for he sent the child to a farm, where he
remained until he was eight years old, and then placed him with
the parish priest, who educated him. The lad visited at the houses
of the neighbouring gentry, shot and rowed and fished with their
sons. O'Carroll, however, beyond paying for his maintenance, all
but ignored his existence, showing no interest whatever in him, up
to the time when he furnished him with a letter of introduction to
de Noailles, except that he made him a present of a gun, as soon
as he became of an age to use one. He never attempted to tamper
with his loyalty to King James, and in fact, until he sent for him
to ask what profession he would choose, he never exchanged ten
words with him, from the time that he was brought to the castle.

"We can each form our own theory as to the cause of such strange
conduct. He may have given a pledge, to Murroch, that the boy
should be brought up a loyalist, and a true son of the church. It
may have been that the loyalty of the boy's father formed so
unpleasant a contrast to his own disloyalty, and apostasy, that he
disliked the sight of him. However, these theories can make no
difference in our reception of Desmond Kennedy, as a gentleman of
a good family, and as the son of a loyal adherent of the king; and
as such, I think that I can, from what I have already seen of him,
assert that he is one who will be a good comrade, a pleasant
companion, and a credit to the regiment."

The subject of these remarks was a tall and handsome young fellow,
some sixteen years of age. He was already broad at the shoulders,
and promised to become an exceedingly powerful man. He had stood
somewhat behind the colonel, watching calmly the effect of his
words on those whose comrade he was to be, for he knew how
punctilious were his countrymen, on the subject of family, placing
as much or even more value than did the Scots, on points of
genealogy, and of descent from the old families. His frank open
face, his bearing and manner, did as much to smooth his way as did
the speech of his colonel, who, when he had been introduced to
him, two days before, had questioned him very closely on the
subject of his family. It had almost been a matter of satisfaction
to Desmond when he heard, from the colonel, that the officer who
had fallen at Breda was probably the father of whom he had no
remembrance; for, from the time he attained the age of boyhood, it
had been a grief and pain that he should never have heard from his
father, who, it now appeared, had been prevented by death from
ever communicating with him.

The officers received him cordially. They had little doubt that he
was the son of the Murroch Kennedy, of Dillon's regiment,
although, after they separated, some wonder was expressed as to
the reason why the latter had committed his son to the care of so
notorious a traitor as John O'Carroll.

Desmond had been specially introduced to two of the young
lieutenants, Patrick O'Neil and Phelim O'Sullivan, and these took
him off with them to their quarters.

"And what is the last news from Ireland? I suppose that the
confiscations have ceased, for the excellent reason that they have
seized the estates of every loyal gentleman in the country?"

"That was done long ago, in the neighbourhood of Kilkargan, and,
so far as I know, everywhere the feeling is as bitter as ever,
among those who have been dispossessed, and also among the tenants
and peasantry, who have found themselves handed over to the
mercies of Dutchmen, or other followers of William. At Kilkargan
there was not that grievance; but, although they had still one of
the old family as their master, they could not forgive him for
deserting to the side of the usurper, nor for changing his
religion in order to do pleasure to William. Certainly, he can
have derived but little satisfaction from the estates. He seldom
showed himself out of doors, never without two or three armed
servants, all of whom were strangers from the north, and he was
often away, for months together, at Dublin."

"And what did you do with yourself?"

"I fished, shot, and rode. I had many friends among the gentry of
the neighbourhood, who would, doubtless, have shown less kindness
than they did, had it not been for the neglect with which
O'Carroll treated me. His unpopularity was all in my favour.

"However, I have one good reason for being obliged to him, since
it was through him that I obtained my commission. He told me that,
in his young days, he had been at a French college with the duke.
They had been great friends there, and he thought that, in memory
of this, de Noailles would procure me a commission."

"I suppose the real fact was, Kennedy, that he was glad to get rid
of you altogether?"

"I think that is likely enough. He certainly raised no objection,
whatever, to my going abroad, and seemed to think it natural that
I should choose the Irish Brigade, here, in preference to the
British service. He said something unpleasant about its not being
singular that I should be a rebel, when I always associated with
rebels, to which I replied that it seemed to me that I could
hardly be blamed for that, seeing that my father had been what he
called a rebel, and that I had little choice in the matter of my
associates; and that if I had been educated at a school in
England, instead of by good Father O'Leary, I might have had other
sentiments. He replied that my sentiments were nothing to him, one
way or the other. He was glad to wash his hands of me altogether;
and, at any rate, if I went to France, I could drink the health of
King James every day without his being involved in my treason."

"It almost looked as if he wished you to grow up a rebel, Kennedy,
or he would hardly have placed you in the charge of a priest. He
may have reckoned that if there was another rising, you might join
it, and so be taken off his hands, altogether."

"Whatever the reason was, I have certainly cause for satisfaction
that he removed me from the care of the farmer's wife, with whom
he at first placed me, and arranged with the priest to take charge
of me altogether. O'Leary himself had been educated at Saint Omer,
and was a splendid fellow. He was very popular on the countryside,
and it was owing to my being with him that I was admitted to the
houses of the gentry around, whereas, had I remained in the
farmhouse in which O'Carroll first placed me, I should only have
associated with the sons of other tenants."

"It looked, at any rate, as if he wished to make a gentleman of
you, Kennedy."

"Yes, I suppose my father had asked him to do so. At any rate, I
was infinitely better off than I should have been if he had taken
me in at Kilkargan, for in that case I should have had no
associates, whatever. As it was, I scarcely ever exchanged a word
with him, until that last meeting. He sent down, by one of his
servants, the letter to the Duc de Noailles, and a bag containing
money for my outfit here, and for the purchase of a horse,
together with a line saying that he had done his duty by me, and
had no desire to hear from me in the future. I was inclined to
send the money back to him, but Father O'Leary persuaded me not to
do so, saying that I must be in a position to buy these things, if
I obtained a commission; and that, no doubt, the money had been
given me, not for my own sake, but because he felt that he owed it
to me, for some service rendered to him by my father."

"It was an ungracious way of doing it," O'Sullivan said, "but, in
your circumstances, I should have taken the money had it come from
the old one himself. It is, perhaps, as well that it should have
been done in such a manner that you may well feel you owe no great
gratitude towards such a man."

"And how did you get over here?"

"There was no great difficulty about that. In spite of the
activity of the English cruisers, constant communication is kept
up between Ireland and France, and fortunately I had, a short time
before, made the acquaintance of one of your officers, who was
over there, in disguise, gathering recruits for the Brigade."

"Yes, there are a good many agents in Ireland engaged in that
work. There is no difficulty in obtaining recruits, for there is
scarcely a young Irishman who does not long to be with his
countrymen, who have won such credit out here, and many abstain
from joining only because they do not know how to set about it.
The work of the agents, then, is principally to arrange means for
their crossing the channel. It is well that the supply is steadily
kept up, for, I can assure you, every battle fought makes very
heavy gaps in our ranks; but in spite of that, three fresh
regiments have been raised, in the last year, partly by fresh
comers from Ireland, and partly by Irish deserters from
Marlborough's regiments.

"But I am interrupting your story."

"Well, after leaving Mr. O'Carroll, and making my preparations, I
paid a visit to the cottage where the officer was staying, in
disguise, and told him that I wanted to cross. He gave instructions
as to how to proceed. I was to go to a certain street in Cork, and
knock at a certain door. When it was opened, I was to say, 'The sea
is calm and the sky is bright'.

"'Then', he said, 'you will be taken in hand, and put on board one
of the craft engaged in the work of carrying our recruits across
the water. You will be landed at Saint Malo, where there is an
agent of the Brigade, who gives instructions to the recruits as to
how they are to proceed, supplies them with money enough for the
journey, and a man to accompany each party, and act as interpreter
on the way.

"I carried out his instructions, crossed the channel in a lugger
with thirty young peasants, bound also for Paris, and, on landing
at Saint Malo, took my place in the diligence for Paris; having,
fortunately, no need for an interpreter. On my presenting my
letter to the Marquis de Noailles, he received me with great
kindness, and treated me as a guest, until he had obtained me a
commission in your regiment.

"Now, when are we likely to go on active service?"

"Soon, I expect," O'Neil said; "but whether we shall be sent to
the Peninsula, or to Flanders, no one knows. In fact, it is likely
enough that we shall, for the present, remain here; until it is
seen how matters go, and where reinforcements will be most
required. It is but ten months since we came into garrison, in
Paris, and we may therefore expect to be one of the last regiments
ordered off.

"For my part, I am in no particular hurry to exchange comfortable
quarters, and good living, and such adventures as may fall to the
lot of a humble subaltern, for roughing it in the field; where, as
has been the case ever since the Brigade was formed, we get a good
deal more than our fair share of hard work and fighting."

"I should have thought that you would all have liked that,"
Desmond said, in some surprise.

"Enough is as good as a feast," the other said; "and when you have
done a few weeks' work in trenches, before a town you are
besieging; stood knee deep for hours in mud, soaked to the skin
with rain, and with the enemy's shot coming through the parapet
every half minute or so; you will see that it is not all fun and
glory.

"Then, too, you see, we have no particular interest in the
quarrels between France and Germany. When we fight, we fight
rather for the honour of the Irish Brigade, than for the glory of
France. We have a grudge against the Dutch, and fight them as
interested parties, seeing that it was by his Dutch troops that
William conquered Ireland. As to the English troops, we have no
particular enmity against them. Cromwell's business is an old
story, and I don't suppose that the English soldier feels any
particular love for Queen Anne, or any animosity against us. And
after all, we are nearer in blood to them than we are to the
Germans, Austrians, or Spaniards, for there are few, even of our
oldest families, who have not, many times since the days of
Strongbow, intermarried with the English settlers. At any rate,
there are still plenty of adherents of King James in England and
Scotland. We speak the same language, and form part of the same
nation, and I own that I would rather fight against any foreign
foe than against them."

"So would I," Desmond said heartily. "Our only point of difference
is that we don't agree as to who should be king. We want a
Catholic king, and the majority of the English want a Protestant
king. We have fought on the subject, and been beaten. Next time,
we hope that we may succeed. If the king were to land in England
again, I would fight heart and soul in his cause; but whether the
French beat the English, in the present war, or the English beat
the French, will not, as far as I can see, make much difference to
King James; who, Father O'Leary tells me, is, in his opinion,
supported here by the French king from no great love for himself,
but because, so long as James has adherents in Ireland, Scotland,
and England, he is able to play him off against the English
Government."

The other young men laughed.

"For heaven's sake, Kennedy, keep such sentiments as these to
yourself. It is a matter of faith, in our brigade, that we are
fighting in the cause of King James, as against the English
usurper. Now that William is dead, and James's daughter on the
throne, matters are complicated somewhat; and if the Parliament
had settled the succession, after Anne, on her brother, there
might have been an end of the quarrel altogether. But now that
they have settled it on Sophia of Hanover, granddaughter of James
the 1st, and her descendants, subject to the restriction that they
shall be Protestants, the quarrel does not seem likely to be
healed."

"This priest of yours must be a dangerous man," O'Sullivan said.

"Not at all. I can assure you, he is devoted to the king; but, as
he told me, there is no use in Irishmen always closing their eyes
to the true state of things. He says that we must rely upon
ourselves, and our loyal friends in Scotland and England, but that
he is sure the king will never be placed on his throne by French
bayonets. A small auxiliary force may be sent over, but, in all
these years, Louis has made no real effort to assist him; and even
if, for his own purposes, he sent a great army to England, and
placed him on the throne, he would not be able to maintain himself
there for a month after the French had withdrawn, for even a
rightful king would be hated by the people upon whom he had been
forced, by a foreign power, especially a power that had, for
centuries, been regarded as their chief enemy. If he had been in
earnest, Louis would have sent over a great army, instead of a few
thousand men, to Ireland, when such a diversion would have turned
the scale in our favour. As he did not do so then, he is not
likely to do so in the future. The king is useful to him, here, by
keeping up an agitation that must, to some extent, cripple the
strength of England; but, were a Stuart on the throne, he would
have to listen to the wishes of the majority of his people, and
France would gain nothing by placing him there. Moreover, she
would lose the services of twenty thousand of her best soldiers,
for naturally the exiles would all return home, and what is now
the most valuable force in the French service, might then become
an equally important one in the service of Britain."

"I am glad that this priest of yours remains quietly in Kilkargan,
for, if he were to come here, and expound his views among our
regiments, he might cause quite a defection among them. At any
rate, Kennedy, I should advise you not to take to propagating his
views in the regiment. It would not add to your comfort, or ours,
and there are a good many hot-headed men who would take up the
idea that you had been infected by O'Carroll's principles."

"It would not be well for anyone to say as much to my face,"
Desmond said. "Father O'Leary is loyal to the backbone, although
he has his own ideas as to the hopelessness of our obtaining any
efficient help from Louis. He thinks that it will be far better to
trust to our friends at home, and that, even did Louis carry out
his promises, it would in the long run harm rather than benefit
King James."

"I am not saying that his view may not be correct, Kennedy. I am
only saying that the view would be a very unpopular one, among the
Brigade. We are fighting for France because we believe that
France, in turn, will aid in placing our rightful king on the
throne, and if we once entertained the notion that Louis was
deceiving us, that he had no intention of helping us, and that, if
he did place James on the throne, he would alienate all his
sympathizers at home, we should ask ourselves of what use was it,
spending our blood in fighting the battles of France."

"At any rate, I will take your advice, O'Sullivan, and will keep
my lips sealed, as to Father O'Leary's views. As you see, by my
presence here, he has not convinced me, and as long as there is a
hope that, by the aid of a French army, we may yet see our king
come to his own again, I shall do my best to prove myself a
faithful soldier of France. I have chosen my career with my eyes
open. A loyal Irishman cannot obtain employment, still less
military employment, in his own country, and accordingly, we are
to be found fighting as soldiers of fortune in every country in
Europe. At least there is some chance that we may be benefiting
the royal cause by fighting for the country that gave King James
shelter, and rendered him armed assistance in his struggle with
the usurper, and will probably give aid, more or less efficient,
when the next attempt is made. In other countries we are but
soldiers of fortune. In France we may regard ourselves as serving
our own king by serving King Louis."

"Do you speak French well, Kennedy?" O'Neil said, changing the
conversation abruptly.

"Yes. Father O'Leary took care of that, for I always said that I
should take service abroad, as there was clearly nothing else to
do for a living, and, consequently, he generally talked to me in
that language, and I speak it as well as I do English or Irish."

"You have not had much practice with the sword, I suppose?"

"Not so much as I could wish, though I never lost an opportunity
of practising. There were several of the tenants who served in the
regiment James O'Carroll raised. I used to practise with them, but
I shall lose no time in getting the best instruction I can, here."

"You may want it, Kennedy. We are not particularly liked by the
French officers, because we are generally chosen to lead an
assault, or for other desperate service. Duelling is, of course,
forbidden, but that in no way prevents duels from being frequent.
As for fighting in action, as far as I have seen or heard,
swordsmanship does not go for a great deal. If you press on hard
enough, and there are men following you, the enemy give way,
generally, before it comes to hand-to-hand fighting. If, on the
other hand, they are the more numerous, and hold their position in
the breach, it is the musketry that settles it. It is only when
two officers happen to meet, in a fierce fight, that swordsmanship
becomes of importance.

"We have a good school in the regiment, and there are several
famous masters of fence in the town, so I should advise you to
give a couple of hours a day, for a time, to making yourself a
first-rate swordsman. I have just left off. Our maitre d'armes
tells me I am too hotheaded ever to make a fine blade; but I
should fancy, from the way you have been arguing, that you are
likely to be cooler than most of us in a fencing bout. It is the
fault with us all that we are apt to lose our tempers, and indeed
Maitre Maupert, who is the best teacher here, declines absolutely
to take any of us as pupils, saying that, while we may do
excellently well in battle, he can never hope to make first-class
fencers of men who cannot be relied upon to keep their heads cool,
and to fight with pointed weapons as calmly as they might fence
with a friend in a saloon."

"Well, I shall work hard to become a fair swordsman," Desmond
said, with a laugh. "I suppose there is plenty of time to spare."

"Plenty. We have a couple of hours' drill in the morning, and
after that, except when you are officer of the day, you can spend
your time as you like. The colonel and two of his officers attend
at the king's levees, when he is in Paris, but, as he spends the
greater portion of his time at Versailles, we are seldom called
upon for that duty."

A few days after Desmond's arrival, the colonel took him with him
to Saint Germain, where James the 3rd, as his supporters called
him, held a miniature court. The colonel presented Desmond as a
loyal subject of His Majesty, and a newly-joined cornet in his
regiment.

The young prince was a lad of eighteen. He was surrounded by a
group of courtiers, who had accompanied or followed his father
into exile, and whose insistence upon treating him with the
respect due to a monarch was in no slight degree galling to him,
for, as he often declared to the few friends he had about his own
age, he had all the disadvantages of being a king, without any of
the advantages.

He was at once taken with the appearance of Desmond Kennedy.

"Ah, Monsieur Kennedy," he said, after the ceremony of
presentation had been completed; "I wish that I had all my
faithful subjects, of the Irish Brigade, across the water with me;
and that I could put on a uniform like yours, and fight at their
head for my rights."

"I would that you had, Sire. It would be a good day for us all;
and believe me, that either in Ireland or Scotland you would soon
find yourself at the head of an army, many times more numerous
than our brigade."

"They all tell me that I must wait," the young prince said, with a
sigh, "but I have been waiting a long time now, and it seems no
nearer than when I was a child. However, the King of France has
promised me that it cannot be much longer; and that, when
Marlborough is defeated, and his army driven back across the sea,
he will send a fleet and an army to place me on my throne."

"We shall all rejoice, indeed, when that time comes, Sire; and I
am sure there is not a man in the Irish Brigade who will not
follow you to the death, and serve you as faithfully as many of
them did your royal father."

"I hope you will come here often, Monsieur Kennedy. I am sure that
I shall like you very much, and I think that you would always say
what you thought, and tell me the real truth about things."

"Sire!" one of the older men exclaimed, reproachfully.

"I mean no reflection on anyone, Dillon. You all say what I am
sure you feel, but you have grown accustomed to waiting, and all
think of what is politic, and complain that I speak too frankly.
Monsieur Kennedy comes straight from Ireland, and he is not old
enough, yet, to have learned to measure his words, and will not be
always afraid that anything he may say will be carried to the
king.

"How I wish that the king would send me with Marshal Tallard!"

"That would never do, Sire. The English are your subjects, and
they would never forgive you, if you were to appear in the field
with a French army, fighting against them."

"But the Irish Brigade fight, Dillon?"

"Yes, Your Majesty, but they are in the service of France, and, by
the terms of the treaty of Limerick, were allowed to expatriate
themselves, and to enter the French service. We have, in fact,
renounced our nationality, with the consent of the English, and,
if taken prisoners, could only be treated as captured foes, and
not as traitors. Of course, when Your Majesty ascends the throne,
we shall again become British subjects."

"I trust that that may come soon, Dillon, and for your sake,
rather than my own. When the time comes, you will not find me
backward, but this weary waiting tries me sorely, and, were it not
for those who have remained faithful to our cause, I would gladly
resign such chances as I have of succeeding to the throne of
England, and take a commission in the Irish Brigade."

Dillon and some of the elder men shook their heads.

"Can you wonder?" the young prince said, passionately. "Here is
Master Kennedy, who is younger than myself, though a free life and
exercise have made him a man, in comparison to me. He has his life
before him. He will bear his part in many a pitched battle, and,
doubtless, in many a private adventure. He is his own master, and,
as long as he does his duty, there are none to say, 'you must not
do that; you must not say that; you must preserve your dignity;
you must speak softly and discreetly; you must wait patiently.'

"I envy you, Master Kennedy. I envy you, from the bottom of my
heart! Come often to see me. You will always be welcome;" and,
turning abruptly away, he left the chamber hurriedly, to conceal
the tears which filled his eyes.

His counsellors shook their heads solemnly, but Colonel O'Brien
said, warmly:

"What the king says is natural, for a man of his age; and, for my
part, it has increased my respect for him. I say it without
offence, but what could be duller than the life this lad leads
here? He has been brought up, literally, without a pleasure. His
late Majesty, heaven rest his soul! was absorbed in his religious
exercises, and nothing could have been more trying, to a boy, than
a court in which the priests and confessors were practically
supreme. Since his father's death, things have been but little
better, and now I see that, at heart, the young king has plenty of
spirit and energy, I can feel that his life has been that of a
caged hawk, and I am not surprised that he occasionally breaks out
into revolt against it. It would, methinks, do him a world of
good, had he a few companions about his own age, like Ensign
Kennedy. I would even say that, although I can quite understand
that, as King of England, he could not well take a commission in
one of our regiments, he might at least be placed with one of our
most experienced and honoured colonels, in order to learn military
exercises, and to mix with the officers as any other nobleman
might do, when attached to the regiment."

Murmurs of dissent arose among the counsellors.

"Well, gentlemen," the colonel went on, "I have no desire to
interfere with your functions, but, in my opinion, it is good that
a king should also be a general. Did anyone think any the worse of
Dutch William, that he was able to command his army, personally?
None of us can believe that King James will ever succeed to the
inheritance of his fathers, without fighting; and it would be
well, indeed, that he should not appear as a puppet, but as one
qualified to command. It was the fault, or rather the misfortune,
of his father, that he was unfit to lead his troops in the field.
Had he been able to do so, he would, in all probability, have died
King of England, instead of as a fugitive and a pensioner of King
Louis. In one way, it grieves me to see that the young king feels
his position acutely; but, on the other hand, I am rejoiced to see
that he is in no way lacking in spirit, and that he longs to be
out of his cage, and to try his wings for himself.

"Well, gentlemen, having had my say, I will take my leave of you,
as duty calls me back to my regiment. I trust that the frankness
with which I have spoken will not be misunderstood."

So saying, with a bow to the courtiers he left the room, followed
by Kennedy.

"They mean well," he said, after they had mounted, and ridden off
at a gallop; "but it is a pity that these gentlemen, all loyal and
honourable men as they are, should surround the young king. They
suited, well enough, to the mood of his father, who was always
wanting in spirit, and was broken down, not only by the loss of
his kingdom, but by the conduct of his daughters; and, what with
that, and his devotion to religion, he was rather a monk than a
monarch. He believed--but most mistakenly--that he had a genius
for politics, and was constantly intriguing with his adherents at
home, notably Marlborough and other lords, from whom he obtained
fair words and promises of support, but nothing else. But though
he could plan, he did not possess a spark of energy, and was one
of the most undecided of men, though, like most undecided men, he
could be extremely obstinate; and, unfortunately, the more wrong
he was, the more obstinately he held to his course.

"However, all this can make no difference in our devotion to the
Stuart cause. But I hail, with satisfaction, the prospect that, in
his son, we may have one to whom we may feel personally loyal; for
there can be no doubt that men will fight with more vigour, for a
person to whom they are attached, than for an abstract idea."

"I have heard Father O'Leary say the same, sir. His opinion was
that, had the late king possessed the qualities that commanded the
personal admiration and fidelity of his followers, and excited
something like enthusiasm among the people at large, he would
never have lost his throne; nor, could he have led his armies, as
did Gustavus or Charles the 12th of Sweden, would William of
Orange ever have ventured to cross to England."

"It was a bad business, altogether, lad. His cause was practically
lost, from the day that William set foot upon English soil. He
had, in reality, no personal friends; and those who would have
remained faithful to the cause, were paralysed by his indecision
and feebleness. Charles the Martyr made many mistakes, but he had
the passionate adherence of his followers. His personality, and
his noble appearance, did as much for him as the goodness of his
cause; while his son, James, repelled rather than attracted
personal devotion. I trust that his grandson will inherit some of
his qualities. His outburst, today, gave me hope that he will do
so; but one must not build too much on that. It may have been only
the pettishness of a young man, sick of the constant tutelage to
which he is subjected, and the ennui of the life he leads, rather
than the earnestness of a noble spirit.

"Of course, Kennedy, I need not tell you that it would be well to
make no mention, to anyone, of the scene that you have witnessed."

"I shall certainly make no mention of it to anyone, sir. I am
sorry, indeed, for the young king. His life must be a dreadful
one, conscious of the impossibility of breaking the bonds in which
he is held, and knowing that his every word and action will be
reported, by spies, to the King of France."

For three months, Desmond Kennedy worked hard at drill and sword
exercise. He became a general favourite in the regiment, owing to
his good temper, high spirits, and readiness to join in everything
that was going on.

He went over, several times, to Saint Germain. At first, the
king's counsellors looked but coldly upon him, and he would have
ceased to come there, had it not been for the unaffected pleasure
shown by the king at his visits. In time, however, two of the
principal men at the little court requested him to have a
conversation with them, before going into the king's chamber.

"You will understand, Mr. Kennedy," one of them said, when they
had seated themselves in a quiet spot in the garden; "that we,
standing in the position of His Majesty's counsellors, are in a
position of great responsibility. His Majesty, as we admit is but
natural, chafes over the inaction to which he is condemned by
circumstances; and is apt, at times, to express his desire for
action in terms which, if they came to the ears of King Louis, as
we have every reason to believe is sometimes the case, would do
him and the cause serious injury. Naturally, we should be glad for
him to have companions of his own age, but it behoves us to be
most careful that such companionship should not add to our
difficulties in this direction; and we should view with
satisfaction a friendship between the young king and one who, like
yourself, is nearly of his own age and, as we can see, full of
spirit and energy. In these matters the king is deficient; but it
would be better that he should, for the present, remain as he is,
rather than that he should, in acquiring more manly habits, grow
still more impatient and discontented with his position.

"We have naturally taken some little trouble in finding out how
you stand in your regiment, and we hear nothing but good of you.
You are much liked by your comrades, pay the greatest attention to
your military exercises, and are regarded as one who will, some
day, do much credit to the regiment; and we feel that, in most
respects, your influence could not but be advantageous to the
young king; but the good that this might do him would be more than
balanced, were you to render him still more impatient than he is
for action. You may well suppose that we, exiles as we have been
for so many years from our country, are not less impatient than he
for the day of action; but we know that such action must depend
upon the King of France, and not upon ourselves. We would gladly
risk all, in an effort to place him on the throne of England, to
repair past injustices and cruel wrongs; but, were we to move
without the assistance of Louis, instead of achieving that object
we might only bring fresh ruin, confiscations, and death upon the
royalists of England, Scotland, and Ireland. Are you of our
opinion?"

"Completely so, sir. Of course, I know but little of what is
passing, save in the neighbourhood where I have been brought up;
but I know that there, even among the king's most devoted
adherents, there is a feeling that nothing can possibly be done
until France lends her aid, in earnest. The English army is far
stronger than it was when we were last in arms, and when William
had to rely, almost entirely, upon his Dutch troops and Dutch
generals; while the friends of the Stuarts are almost without
arms, without leaders, and without organization."

"That is good, Mr. Kennedy; and, if we were to sanction King
James's forming an intimacy with you, can I understand that we
could rely upon your not using your influence to add to his
impatience for action, and discontent with his present position?"

"Certainly, sir. Being so recently from Ireland, I could assure
him that even his most devoted adherents, there, are of opinion
that no rising could be attended with success, unless backed by
French arms, and especially by the aid of the Irish Brigade, which
has already won such renown for itself, and whose appearance would
excite the greatest enthusiasm among all Irishmen."

"In that case, Mr. Kennedy, so far from throwing any difficulties
in the way of His Majesty seeking your companionship, we shall
encourage him, and shall be glad to see you here, as often as your
military duties will permit."



Chapter 2: A Valiant Band.


The permission was not attended with the result that the young
prince's counsellors had hoped. For a time, James showed a lively
pleasure when Desmond rode over to Saint Germain, walked with him
in the gardens, and talked to him alone in his private apartments,
and professed a warm friendship for him; but Desmond was not long
in discovering that his first estimate of the prince's character
had been wholly erroneous, and that his outburst at their first
meeting had been the result of pique and irritation, rather than
any real desire to lead a more active life. Upon the contrary, he
was constitutionally indolent and lethargic. There were horses at
his command, but it was seldom, indeed, that he would take the
trouble to cross the saddle, although walking was distasteful to
him. Even when speaking of his hopes of ascending the throne of
England, he spoke without enthusiasm, and said one day:

"It is a pity that it cannot be managed without fuss and trouble.
I hate trouble."

"Nothing can be done worth doing, without trouble, Your Majesty,"
Desmond said sturdily. "It almost seems to me that, if everything
could be had without trouble, it would not be worth having."

"How do you mean, Mr. Kennedy?"

"I may illustrate it by saying, Sire, that no true fisherman would
care about angling in a pond, close to his house, and so full of
fish, that he had but to drop a baited hook into the water to
bring up one immediately. The pleasure of fishing consists largely
in the hard work that it demands. It is, perhaps, miles to a
stream across the hills, and a long day's work may produce but a
half dozen fish; but these the angler prizes in proportion to the
trouble he has had to get them. I think that, were I born heir to
a throne, I would rather that it should cost me hardship, toil,
and danger to obtain it, than walk into a cathedral, a few days
after my father's death, and there be crowned."

"I do not agree with you, at all," James said, shortly. "If
anything could not be had without toil, hardship, and danger, as
you say, I would willingly go without it."

"Then, Sire, I can only hope that the toil and danger may be borne
by your devoted followers, and that you may be spared them,
personally."

James looked sharply up at his companion, to gather whether the
words were spoken sarcastically, but Desmond's face, though
flushed, was calm and serious. Nevertheless, indolent as he was,
James felt that the words were a reproof; that, although he had at
first liked him, there was in reality little in common between him
and this energetic young fellow; and the next time he came, he
received him with much less cordiality than before; while Desmond,
who was beginning to tire of the companionship of one who lacked,
alike, the fun and humour, and the restless activity of his
comrades, Patrick and Phelim; and who saw that the professions of
James's friendship were but short lived, came over to Saint
Germain less frequently, until, at last, he only rode over with
his colonel, or when some duty called him there.

"So you have been a failure, Master Kennedy," the counsellor who
had first spoken to him said, one day, when the change in the
king's manner became evident to them all.

"I am afraid so, sir," Desmond replied with a smile. "I have no
doubt that it was my fault. Perhaps I was not patient enough with
him; but, indeed, my efforts to rouse him to take exercise, to
practise in arms, and so on, were so ill received, that I felt I
was doing more harm than good."

"I was afraid that it would be so," the other said, regretfully.
"You see, during his later years, his father gave up his time
almost entirely to religious observances; and, consequently, the
lad's life was very dull and monotonous. Constitutionally, he
undoubtedly takes after his father, who, with all his virtues, was
at once indolent and undecided. We have observed, with regret, his
disinclination to bestir himself in any way. Seeing that we, who
were his father's companions, are too old, or too much disheartened,
to be lively companions for him, we had hoped that the talk of one
of spirit, and of his own age, might have roused him to make some
exertions to overcome his disinclination for anything like active
exercise. I think now, however, that we were wrong; that the tonic
was too strong; that he could not but feel that your abundance of
spirits, and life, were too much for him; and that the companion he
needs is one who could, to some extent, sympathize with him, and
who could, perhaps, make more allowance for the manner in which he
has been brought up.

"We do not blame you at all. I am sure that you have done your
best. But it is evident that the contrast between you and himself
has been too strong a one; and that, feeling he cannot hope to
emulate your soldierly activity, he has come to resent it, as a
sort of reflection upon himself."

Desmond was, by no means, sorry at being relieved of the necessity
of paying frequent visits to Saint Germain. In the first place, he
begrudged the time that was taken from his fencing lessons, at
which he had worked enthusiastically; and in the next, he had
felt, after two or three visits, that between himself and the
young king there was really nothing in common. Full of life and
spirits himself, it seemed to him nothing short of disgraceful
that one, who aspired to rule, should take no pains whatever to
fit himself for a throne, or to cultivate qualities that would
render himself popular among a high-spirited people. And, as he
came to understand James more thoroughly, he had found his visits
increasingly irksome, all the more so, as he felt their inutility.

"Thank goodness," he said, to his two friends, when he went home
that day, "I have done with Saint Germain. I am as warm an
adherent as ever of the cause of the Stuarts, and should be
perfectly ready, when the time comes, to fight my hardest for
them; but I would vastly rather fight for the king, than converse
with him."

"I suppose, by what I have seen of him, that he must be somewhat
wearisome," Phelim O'Sullivan said, with a laugh. "Fortunately,
wit and gaiety are not essential qualities on the part of a
monarch; but I must own that, treasonable as it may sound, I fear
His Majesty is lacking in other qualities, far more essential in a
monarch. I should say that he is kindly and well disposed, he
wishes to be fair and just, and may turn out a wise ruler; but he
is altogether deficient in energy. I suppose there is no occasion
for a king, safely seated upon a throne, to be energetic; but a
prince in exile should possess the qualities that excite
enthusiasm, and bind men to him. Possibly, the qualities King
James possesses would be highly valued by the Scotch, but they
would certainly fail to inspire our people."

"Yes," Patrick O'Neil agreed. "His father did more to ruin his
cause, in Ireland, than all William's Dutch generals and troops,
together. It was disheartening to be risking life and possessions
for a man who would do nothing for himself, whose indecision
paralysed our leaders, and who, the moment a reverse came, sought
safety in flight, instead of taking his place among the men who
were devoted to his cause. I can understand that, in England,
where the majority of those who professed to be devoted to him
were betraying him, and were in secret communication with William,
he should be by turns obstinate and vacillating; but in Ireland,
where every man who surrounded him was risking his life in his
cause, he should have shown absolute confidence in them, listened
to their advice, set an example of personal gallantry and courage,
and, at least, remained among them until all was definitely lost.
It was the desertion of James, rather than the loss of the battle
of the Boyne, that ruined his cause.

"Well, I am glad you are out of it, for it was a pity that you
should be going without your work at the salle d'armes, when you
were making such progress that, the master reported, in a few
months you would become one of the best swordsmen in the
regiment."

There were, in Paris, many Irish officers besides those belonging
to Colonel O'Brien's regiment. These were, for the most part, men
who had been severely wounded in the preceding campaign, and who
now remained in the capital with the depots of their regiments.
These were constantly recruited by fresh arrivals from Ireland, by
which means the Irish Brigade was not only kept up to their
original strength, in spite of the heavy losses they suffered, in
the engagements in which they had taken part, but largely
increased its force, new regiments being constantly formed.
Naturally, O'Brien's corps, being the only complete regiment in
Paris, at the time, was regarded as the headquarters and general
meeting place of all the Irish officers there; and, as some of
these had campaigned in Flanders, in Italy, and in Spain, Desmond
learned, from their talk and anecdotes, far more of the doings of
the Brigade than he had hitherto known. From the first they had,
by their reckless bravery, in almost every engagement that had
taken place, so distinguished themselves that they received the
highest commendation from the French generals, and were almost
invariably selected for specially dangerous service.

"I think the hottest affair I was ever engaged in," a major, who
had served in Burke's regiment, said one evening, when some ten or
twelve of his companions had gathered, at the room which was the
general meeting place of the officers of the corps, "was at the
attack on Cremona by Eugene. You have all heard how our regiment,
and that of Dillon, distinguished themselves there, but you may
not have heard particulars. The place was a strong one, and it was
garrisoned by some 4000 men--all French, with the exception of our
two regiments. Marshal Villeroy was himself in command; an
excellent officer, but, as is often the case in the French army,
very badly served by his subordinates.

"Here, as you know, almost everything goes by influence; and the
generals are surrounded by men who have been forced upon them by
powerful persons, whom they cannot afford to disoblige. The
consequence was that, relying upon the strength of the place, no
proper watch was set. There were guards, indeed, at the gates, but
with no communication with each other; no soldiers on the
ramparts; no patrols were sent out beyond the town, or maintained
in the streets.

"No harm might have come of this, had it not been that treachery
was at work. There was a scoundrel, who was brother of the priest
of one of the parishes near the wall, and both were in favour of
the enemy. The priest's residence was near a sewer, which
communicated with the moat outside the walls. The entrance was
closed by an iron grating. Were this removed, troops could enter,
by the sewer, into the priest's wine cellar.

"The priest, being promised a large sum of money, set to work.
First, he laid a complaint before the governor that the sewer was
choked with filth, which might be a source of disease to the town
unless removed; and to do this, it was necessary that the grating
should be taken down. Being altogether unsuspicious of evil, the
governor granted his request.

"As soon as the grating was removed, Eugene despatched eight
miners, who crossed the moat at night, made their way up the
sewer, and opened a communication between it and the priest's
house. When all was ready, four or five hundred picked grenadiers
entered, and were concealed in the house of the priest, and other
adherents of the emperor.

"Eugene set two strong bodies of picked troops in motion. The one
was to enter by the Saint Margaret gate, which would be seized by
the force already in the city. This column consisted of five
thousand men. The second force, of two thousand infantry and three
thousand cavalry, under the Prince de Vaudemont, was to cross the
river by a bridge of boats.

"We slept like stupid dogs. Such watchmen as there were on the
walls gave no alarm. The gate of All Saints was seized, its guard
being instantly overpowered, and a party of engineers broke down
the gate of Saint Margaret, which had been walled up; and at
daylight Eugene rode into the town, followed by his troops and one
thousand cavalry; while another mounted force watched the gate,
and the country round, to prevent the escape of fugitives.

"Before any alarm was given, Eugene had established himself at the
Hotel de Ville, was master of the great street that separated half
the garrison from the other half, had taken possession of the
cathedral; and, in fact, the place was captured without a shot
being fired.

"Then the uproar began. Parties of troops, led by natives of the
town, seized a large number of officers at their lodgings; and as
the alarm spread, the troops seized their muskets and rushed out,
only to be sabred and trodden down by the enemy's cavalry. I was
asleep, and dreaming, when my servant rushed into my room, and
said:

"'The Germans are in possession of the town, Captain.'

"'You are a blathering idiot,' I said.

"'It's true, your honour. Get up and listen.'

"Very unwillingly, I got out of bed and opened the window, and, by
the holy poker, I found that Pat was right. There was a sound of
firing, shouting, and screaming, and I heard the gallop of a heavy
body of horsemen, and, directly afterwards, a squadron of German
cuirassiers came galloping down the street.

"'It is time for us to be out of this, Pat,' I said, and jumped
into my clothes, quicker than I had ever done before.

"We went downstairs, and I borrowed two overcoats that we found
hanging there, and put them on over our uniforms. Then we went
out, by the back door, and ran as hard as we could, keeping
through narrow lanes, to the barracks.

"On my way, I had to pass a barrier near a toll gate. Here there
were thirty-six of our men under a sergeant. Not knowing where the
enemy were, or whether they were between me and the barracks, I
thought it best to stay there, and of course took the command.
Just as I had done so, I heard the tramping of cavalry, and had
the gate shut. We were just in time, for two hundred and fifty
cuirassiers came galloping along.

"Their leader, Baron de Mercy, as soon as the troops began to
enter Saint Margaret's gate, was ordered to dash round and capture
the Po gate, through which Vaudemont's corps would, after crossing
the bridge, enter the town. He shouted to me to surrender,
promising us our lives. I told him that if he wanted the place, he
would have to come and take it. He used language which I need not
repeat, but he did not attack us, waiting for the arrival of four
hundred infantry, who had been ordered to follow him. They were
some time in coming up, having lost their way, owing to the
rascally native who was their guide being killed by a shot from a
window.

"I was not sorry for the delay, for it gave us time to look at
matters quietly, and prepare for defence. Another six hundred
cavalry now came up, and Mercy placed them so as to cut off,
altogether, the French cavalry, who were quartered away to the
right; then he ordered the infantry to attack us.

"Our position was a good one. The barricade was formed of square
piles, driven into the ground with small narrow openings between
them. I ordered the men to keep behind the timbers until the enemy
came up. The Germans opened a murdering fire as they approached,
but, though the bullets pattered like rain against the palisades,
and whistled in between them, not a man was touched. I waited till
they were within two paces, and then gave the word, and you may
well guess that there was not a bullet thrown away, and the
Germans, mightily astonished, drew back, leaving nigh forty of
their men behind them. Then, falling back a bit, they opened fire
upon us, but it was a game that two could play at. We could see
them, but they could not see us; and while we loaded our muskets
in shelter, they were exposed, and we picked them off by dozens.

"The firing had, of course, given the alarm to our two regiments,
who turned out just as they were, in their nightshirts. Major
O'Mahony, who was in command of Dillon's regiment, as Lally was
away on leave, luckily made his way in safety from his lodgings to
the barracks, got his own men in order, while Colonel Wauchop, who
commanded our regiment, took the command of the two battalions.
Fortunately, a portion of the regiment had been ordered to fall in
early for inspection, and this gave time for the rest to get into
their uniforms; and, as soon as they were ready, Wauchop led them
out and fell suddenly upon a portion of Mercy's force, poured in a
volley, and then charged them.

"Horse and foot fell back before the attack. Then they turned the
cannon on the ramparts, and thus secured possession of the Po
gate, and, pushing on, the guns helping them, drove the Austrians
from the houses they occupied, and so opened communications with
the French cavalry.

"A brigadier now came up, and ordered the battalions to barricade
all the streets they had won, with barrels and carts. A French
regiment arrived, and occupied the church of Saint Salvador, and
the battery which commanded the bridge, across which Vaudemont's
corps could now be seen approaching. The redoubt on the other side
of the bridge was only held by fifty men, and they were now
strengthened by a hundred of the French soldiers. The Austrians
approached, making sure that the town had already been taken, and
looking out for a signal that was to be hoisted. Their astonishment
was great, when a heavy musketry fire was opened upon them by the
garrison of the outpost, while the guns of the battery on the wall
plunged their shot in among them.

"The column was at once halted. Eugene had regarded the struggle
as over, when news was brought to him of the defeat of Mercy's
corps by the Irish. Everywhere else things had gone most
favourably. Marshal Villeroy had been wounded and made prisoner.
His marechal de camp shared the same fate. The Chevalier
D'Entregues, who advanced to meet the enemy, was defeated and
killed, as was Lieutenant General de Trenan, and the Spanish
Governor of the town mortally wounded.

"On receiving the news, Eugene at once sent an officer to inspect
the Irish position; but his report was that they were too well
placed to be driven from it. He then sent Captain MacDonnell, an
officer in his service, to offer, if the Irish would leave their
position, to enrol them in the Austrian service, with higher pay
than they now received. You may guess the sort of answer he
received, and he was at once arrested for bringing such a message
to them. Eugene then endeavoured to engage Marshal Villeroy to
order the Irish to lay down their arms, as further resistance
would only end in their slaughter. Villeroy simply replied that,
as a prisoner, he could no longer give orders.

"During this pause, the Count de Revel and the Marquis de Queslin
succeeded in gathering together a considerable number of the
scattered French infantry, and with these they marched to
endeavour to recover the gates that had been lost, and, having
occupied the church of Santa Maria, and a bastion near the gate of
All Saints, ordered the Irish to leave a hundred men at the
barricades, and with the rest to push forward to the gate of
Mantua. So I found myself in command of a full company.

"O'Mahony was now in command of the two regiments, as Wauchop had
been wounded. It was pretty hard work they had of it, and they
suffered heavily in carrying the guardhouse, held by two hundred
Austrians. Eugene now launched a great force against our people,
and attacked them on all sides; but O'Mahony faced them each way,
and received the charge of the cuirassiers with so heavy a fire
that they fled in disorder. Another corps of cuirassiers came up,
and these charged with such fury that their leader, Monsieur de
Freiberg, pushed his way into the middle of Dillon's regiment,
where he was surrounded, and, refusing quarter, was killed; and
his men, disheartened by the fall of their leader, fled, carrying
with them the infantry who were ranged in their rear.

"But our men were now exhausted by their exertions, and suffered
heavily; and O'Mahony, seeing that he was likely to be attacked by
fresh troops, and that my post guarding the approach of the Po
gate would then be left altogether unsupported, returned to it. I
was glad enough when I saw them coming, for it was mighty trying
work being left there, and hearing the storm of battle going on
all round, and knowing that at any moment we might be attacked.

"They did not stop long, for orders came from Revel, who had
captured the gate of All Saints, and was preparing to attack Saint
Margaret's, to march again to the gate of Mantua. It seemed a
hopeless enterprise. Captain Dillon, of Dillon's regiment, marched
out and, after hard fighting, drove the Austrians from house to
house; but, on reaching a spot where the ground was open, he was
attacked on all sides, and for a time the enemy and our men were
mixed up together in a melee.

"I could hear by the sound of the firing that our men were
returning, and posted my fellows so as to cover their retreat; and
as they came back, hotly pressed by the enemy, we opened so warm a
fire that they passed in through the gate of the barrier in
safety, but only half as strong as they had gone out.

"As soon as they were in, they aided us in strengthening the
position. Seeing that Vaudemont's corps was on the point of
attacking the redoubt, the Marquis de Queslin sent orders to the
little garrison there to withdraw across the bridge, and destroy
the boats. This they effected, in spite of the heavy fire kept up
by the enemy.

"In the meantime, fighting had been going on all over the town.
The gate of Mantua had been held by Captain Lynch, of Dillon's
battalion, and thirty-five men. As soon as he heard the din of
battle in the town, he collected a few fugitives, entrenched his
position at the guardhouse, and maintained it for the whole day;
not only that, but, finding that his position was commanded by a
party of Austrians, who had taken post in the church of Saint
Marie, close by, he sallied out, drove them from the church, and
maintained possession of that as well; until, late in the
afternoon, he was reinforced by two companies of our regiment, who
made their way this time without opposition.

"The enemy fell back, but not unmolested, as, sallying out, we
pressed hotly upon them. There now remained only the gate of Saint
Margaret in the hands of the Austrians. Here a large body of
troops had been stationed, and succeeded in repulsing the repeated
attacks made upon them by Revel's force.

"The fight had now lasted for eleven hours, and the position of
the Austrians had become critical. The desperate resistance of our
men had entirely changed the position. They had repulsed every
attack upon them, had given time for the scattered French to
gather, and the one gate remaining in Eugene's possession was
seriously threatened. Vaudemont's corps was helpless on the other
side of the river, and could render no assistance, and Eugene gave
the order for his troops to retire, which they did in good order.

"It had been a hot day, indeed, for us, and we were only too glad
to see them go. We had lost three hundred and fifty men, out of
the six hundred with which we began the fight; altogether, the
garrison had lost, in killed, wounded, and in prisoners, fourteen
hundred men and officers, while Eugene's loss was between fifteen
and sixteen hundred.

"Personally, I have had hotter fighting, but taking the day
altogether, it was the most terrible through which I have ever
passed. Throughout the day we were in total ignorance of what was
going on elsewhere, though we knew, by the firing in other parts
of the town, that the French there had not been overpowered, and,
each time the regiments left us, I was expecting every moment to
be attacked by an overwhelming force. Faith, it was enough to make
one's hair white! However, I have no reason to grumble. I obtained
great praise for the defence of the barrier, and was given my
majority; and, if it had not been for the wound I received, two
years ago, which incapacitated me from active service, I might now
be in command of the regiment."

"Yes, indeed," another officer said. "It was truly a gallant
affair; and, although our men had fought equally as well in many
another engagement, it was their conduct at Cremona that attracted
the greatest attention, and showed the French the value of the
Brigade. I would we had always been employed in actions on which
we could look back, with the same pride and pleasure, as we can
upon Cremona and a long list of battles where we bore the brunt of
the fighting; and never failed to be specially mentioned with
praise by the general.

"The most unpleasant work that I ever did was when under Marshal
de Catinat. Eight Irish battalions were sent up, in 1694, from
Pignerolle into the valley of La Perouse, to oppose the Vaudois,
who had always offered a vigorous resistance to the passage of our
troops through their passes. They were wild mountaineers, and
Huguenots to a man, who had, I believe, generations ago been
forced to fly from France and take refuge in the mountains, and
maintained themselves sturdily against various expeditions sent
against them.

"I own the business was not at all to my taste, and many others of
our officers shared my opinions. It was too much like what we
remembered so bitterly at home, when William's troopers pursued
our fugitives to the hills, burning, destroying, and killing, and,
above all, hunting down the priests. This was the other way, but
was as cruel and barbarous. The poor people had given no offence,
save that they held to their own religion. An Irishman should be
the last to blame another for that, and, seeing they had
successfully opposed the efforts of the French to root them out,
it was much against my will that I marched with my regiment. I
hope that, when it comes to fighting against regular troops, of
whatever nationality, I am ready to do my work; but to carry fire
and sword among a quiet people, in little mountain villages, went
against the grain.

"It seemed to us that it was to be a massacre rather than
fighting, but there we were mistaken. It was the hardest work that
I ever went through. It was impossible in such a country to move
in large bodies, and we were broken up into small parties, which
advanced into the hills, each under its own commander, without any
fixed plans save to destroy every habitation, to capture or kill
the flocks of goats, which afforded the inhabitants their chief
means of subsistence, and to give no quarter wherever they
resisted.

"Even now, I shudder at the thought of the work we had to do;
climbing over pathless hills, wading waist deep through mountain
torrents, clambering along on the face of precipices where a false
step meant death, and always exposed to a dropping fire from
invisible foes, who, when we arrived at the spot from which they
had fired, had vanished and taken up a fresh position, so that the
whole work had to be done over again. Sometimes we were two or
even more days without food, for, as you may imagine, it was
impossible to transport provisions, and we had nothing save what
we carried in our haversacks at starting. We had to sleep on the
soaked ground, in pitiless storms. Many men were carried away and
drowned in crossing the swollen torrents. Our clothes were never
dry. And the worst of it was, after six weeks of such work, we
felt that we were no nearer to the object for which we had been
sent up than we were when we started.

"It was true that we had destroyed many of their little villages,
but as these generally consisted of but a few houses, only rough
buildings that could be rebuilt in a few days, the gain was not a
substantial one. We had, of course, killed some of the Vaudois,
but our loss had been much heavier than theirs, for, active as our
men were, they were no match in speed for these mountaineers, who
were as nimble as their own goats, knew everything of the country,
and could appear or disappear, as it seemed to us, almost by
magic. It was a wretched business, and once or twice, when our
parties were caught in the narrow ravines, they were overwhelmed
by rocks thrown down from above; so that, on the whole, we lost
almost as many men as we should have done in a pitched battle,
gaining no credit, nor having the satisfaction that we were doing
good service to France.

"I hope I may never be employed in a business like that again. It
was not only the Vaudois that we had to fight, for, seeing that at
first we were pushing forward steadily, the Duke of Savoy, under
whose protection they lived, sent six hundred regular troops to
assist them, and these, who were well commanded, adopted the same
tactics as the peasants, avoiding all our attempts to bring on an
engagement, and never fighting except when they had us to great
advantage.

"As a rule, our men were always dissatisfied when they received
orders to fall back, but I think that there was not a man among us
but was heartily glad, when we were recalled to rejoin Catinat at
Pignerolle."

The expedition, however, although altogether unsuccessful in
rooting out the Vaudois, created such terrible devastation in the
mountains and valleys that the Irish name and nation will long
remain odious to the Vaudois. Six generations have since passed
away, but neither time nor subsequent calamities have obliterated
the impression made by the waste and desolation of this military
incursion.

"You were at Blenheim, were you not, Captain O'Donovan?"

"Yes. A tough fight it was, and a mismanaged one. I was in the
Earl of Clare's regiment, which, with Lee and Dorrington's
battalions, was stationed with the force in Oberglau in the centre
of our position. It seemed to us, and to our generals, that our
position was almost impregnable. It lay along a ridge, at the foot
of which was a rivulet and deep swampy ground. On the right of the
position was the village of Blenheim, held by twenty-seven
battalions of good French infantry, twelve squadrons, and
twenty-four pieces of cannon. Strong entrenchments had been thrown
up round our position, but these were not altogether completed.
Blenheim, moreover, had been surrounded by very heavy and strong
palisades, altogether impassable by infantry, and, as the allies
could not hope to get cannon across the stream and swamps, it
seemed to defy any attack. From Oberglau the army of Marshal de
Marcin and the Elector stretched to the village of Lutzingen. We
had some five-and-twenty cannon at Oberglau.

"The weak point, as it afterwards turned out to be, was the crest
between us and Blenheim. Considering that both the artillery and
musketry fire from both villages swept the slope, and as in
numbers we equalled the enemy, it was thought well-nigh impossible
for him to cross the swamps and advance to the attack; and almost
the whole of the French cavalry were massed on the crest, in order
to charge them, should they succeed in crossing and try to ascend
the slope.

"At first the battle went altogether favourably. We had opposite
to us the English, Dutch, Hanoverians, and Danish troops under
Marlborough, while facing our left were Prussians, Imperialists,
and other German troops under Eugene. Marlborough's Danish and
Hanoverian cavalry first crossed, but were at once charged and
driven back. Then they tried again, supported by English infantry.
Then Marlborough led up a still stronger force, drove back our
light cavalry, and began to ascend the hill. We were attacked by
ten battalions--Hanoverians, Danes, and Prussians, while the
English bore against Blenheim. The fighting at both places was
desperate, and I must do the Germans the justice to say that
nothing could have exceeded the gallantry they showed, and that,
in spite of the heavy fire we maintained, they pressed up the
slope.

"We remained in our entrenchments, till it could be seen that the
English were falling back from Blenheim, whose palisade, manned by
twenty-seven battalions of infantry, offered an obstacle that
would have defied the best troops in the world to penetrate.

"Immediately this was seen, nine battalions, headed by our three
regiments, leapt from the trenches and poured down on the Germans.
The enemy could not withstand our onslaught. Two of their
regiments were utterly destroyed, the rest suffered terribly, and
were driven back. On the left, Marcin held his ground against all
the attacks of Eugene, and it seemed to us that the battle was
won.

"However, it was not over yet. While the fierce fighting had been
going on in front of Oberglau and Blenheim, Marlborough had passed
the whole of his cavalry and the rest of his infantry across the
rivulet, and, in spite of artillery and musketry fire, these moved
up in grand order, the infantry inclining towards the two villages
as before, the cavalry bearing straight up the slope, and, when
they reached the crest, charging furiously upon our horse
stationed there. They were superior in numbers, but on this head
accounts differ. At any rate, they overthrew our cavalry, who fled
in the greatest disorder, pursued by the allied horse.

"The infantry poured into the gap thus made, Blenheim was entirely
isolated, and we were exposed to assault both in front and rear.
Nevertheless, we repulsed all attacks, until Marcin sent orders
for us to retire; then we sallied out, after setting fire to the
village, flung ourselves upon the enemy, and succeeded in cutting
our way through, our regiment forming the rear guard. The whole of
Marcin's army were now in full retreat, harassed by the allied
cavalry; but whenever their squadrons approached us, we faced
about and gave them so warm a reception that they attacked less
formidable foes. As for the garrison in Blenheim, you know they
were at last surrounded by Marlborough's whole force, with
artillery; and with the Danube in their rear, and no prospect of
succour, they were forced to surrender.

"It was a disastrous day, and I have not yet recovered from the
wound I received there. Wad five thousand infantry been posted in
a redoubt, halfway between Blenheim and Oberglau, so as to give
support to our cavalry, the result of the battle would have been
very different. Still, I suppose that most battles are lost by
some unlooked-for accident--some mistake in posting the troops. We
can only say that, had the allied forces been all composed of such
troops as those Eugene commanded, they would have been beaten
decisively; and that had, on the contrary, Eugene commanded such
troops as those under Marlborough, Marcin would never have held
his ground."

"How many British troops were there in the battle, Captain
O'Donovan?"

"Somewhere about twelve thousand, while the Continental troops
were forty-seven or forty-eight thousand. There is no doubt that
they were the backbone of the force, just as we flatter ourselves
that our three regiments were the backbone of the defence of
Oberglau."



Chapter 3: A Strange Adventure.


When the party broke up, O'Neil and O'Sullivan, as usual, came in
for a quiet chat to Desmond's room.

"As we may be possibly ordered to Spain," Kennedy said, "I should
like to know a little about what we are going to fight about; for,
although I know a good deal about the war in Flanders, no news
about that in Spain ever reached Kilkargan."

"Well, you know, of course," O'Neil said, "that Philip the Fifth
is a grandson of Louis; and is naturally supported by France
against the Archduke Charles of Austria, who is competitor for the
throne, and who is, of course, supported by England. Six thousand
English and Dutch troops were sent to aid the Archduke Charles in
his attempt to invade Spain and dethrone Philip. The King of
Portugal, who is a member of the allied confederacy, promised to
have everything ready to cooperate with them. They found, however,
on their arrival, that no preparations had been made, and they
were accordingly distributed, for a time, among the garrisons on
the frontier.

"Philip, on his part, had not been so inactive, and two
armies--the one commanded by the Duke of Berwick, and the other by
General Villadarias--invaded Portugal. Berwick surprised and
captured two Dutch battalions, and then captured Portalagre, and
compelled the garrison, including an English regiment of infantry,
to surrender.

"The allies, to make a diversion, sent General Das Minas into
Spain, with fifteen thousand men, who captured one or two towns
and defeated a body of French and Spanish troops. The hot weather
now set in, and put a stop to hostilities, and the troops on both
sides went into quarters. The general--I forget his name--who
commanded the English and Dutch contingent, was so disgusted with
the proceedings of the Portuguese that he resigned his command,
and the Earl of Galway was appointed in his place. The next year
he crossed the frontier, captured several towns, without much
fighting, and invested Badajos. Here, however, a stern resistance
was met with. Galway's hand was carried off by a shot, and the
French general (Tesse) coming up in force to the relief of the
town, and the Portuguese not arriving at all, the allies were
obliged to fall back upon Portugal. But Philip was threatened from
a fresh quarter.

"In June, the Earl of Peterborough sailed from Portsmouth with
five thousand men, and at Lisbon took on board the Archduke
Charles. At Gibraltar some more troops were embarked, and
Peterborough set sail for the coast of Valencia. Peterborough
himself, one of the most daring of men, and possessed of
extraordinary military talent, was in favour of a march upon
Madrid; but, fortunately for us, he was overruled, and commenced
the siege of Barcelona--a strong town garrisoned by five thousand
good troops, while he himself had but a thousand more under his
command. Nevertheless, by a sudden and daring attack he captured
the strong castle of Montjuich, which commanded the town, which
was in consequence obliged to surrender four days later, and the
whole of Catalonia was then captured. Saint Matteo, ninety miles
from Barcelona, which had declared for Charles and was besieged by
a large force, was relieved; and so brilliant were the exploits
accomplished by Peterborough, with most inadequate means, that the
Spaniards came to the conclusion that he was possessed by an evil
spirit.

"Large reinforcements were sent from France, and King Philip
advanced upon Barcelona, and invested it by land, while a French
fleet bombarded it by sea. Peterborough hurried, with a small
force from Valencia, to aid the besieged, the matter being all the
more important since Charles himself was in the city. Before his
arrival, however, an English fleet appeared, and our fleet
retired.

"Philip at once raised the siege, and retired to Madrid. His
position was indeed serious. Lord Galway was advancing from the
frontier, and Peterborough had gathered a force to cooperate with
him. Upon the approach of Galway, Philip and the Duke of Berwick
retreated to the frontier. There they received great reinforcements,
and advanced against Madrid, which was evacuated by Galway, who
marched away to form a junction with Lord Peterborough.

"Owing to the dilatory habits and hesitation of the Austrian
prince, the junction was not effected for some time, and then, in
spite of the entreaties of the two English generals, he could not
be persuaded to make a movement towards Madrid. Peterborough,
whose temper was extremely fiery, at last lost all patience,
abused Charles openly, and then, mounting his horse, rode down to
the coast, embarked upon an English ship of war, and sailed away
to assist the Duke of Savoy. After his departure, the ill feeling
between the English force, the Portuguese, and the leaders of the
Spanish adherents of Charles increased, and they spent their time
in quarrelling among themselves. They were without money,
magazines, and almost without provisions. Berwick was near them
with a superior force, and they took the only step open, of
retreating towards Valencia, which they reached, after suffering
great hardships, before Berwick could overtake them.

"French troops were poured into Spain, while no reinforcements
were sent from England. Galway and the Portuguese advanced to meet
the Duke of Berwick, who was marching with a large army to occupy
Catalonia.

"The two forces met, on the plain of Almanza, on the 24th of
April. We and the Spaniards were superior in number to the
English, Dutch, and Portuguese. The battle was maintained for six
hours. The Portuguese infantry did little, but the English and
Dutch repulsed charge after charge, even after the Portuguese and
Spanish allies on both wings were defeated. But, in the end,
victory remained with us. Galway and Das Minas, the Portuguese
general, were both wounded, and five thousand of their men killed,
and yet the Dutch and English infantry held together.

"But on the following day, being absolutely without supplies, some
effected their escape and succeeded in reaching Portugal, while
the main body surrendered. Valencia, Saragossa, and other towns
opened their gates to us, and, for a time, the cause of the
Archduke Charles seemed lost.

"Our success was, however, balanced by the loss, in the same year,
of the whole of the Spanish possessions in Italy. As yet, in spite
of the disasters that had befallen him, the cause of Charles was
not altogether lost, for he received fresh promises of support
from England, whose interest it was to continue the war in Spain,
and thus compel France to keep a considerable body of troops
there, instead of employing them against Marlborough in Flanders.

"Galway and Das Minas were taken back to Portugal, in an English
fleet, after their disaster, and General Stanhope, who, they say,
is an officer of great military experience and talent, has been
sent out to take the command; and as a portion of Catalonia is
still held for Charles, there may yet be a good deal of hard
fighting, before the matter can be considered finally settled."

"Thank you, O'Neil. I feel that I know something about it, now.
Are there any of our regiments there?"

"Yes, three of them. There is also an Irish regiment in the
Spanish service, under Colonel Crofton;" and with this, the talk
ended for the night.

After three months' work Desmond was dismissed from drill, and had
obtained such a proficiency with the rapier that he felt that he
could now relax his work, and see something of the city, which he
had been hitherto too busy to explore. He had seen the principal
streets, in the company of his comrades, had admired the mansions
of the nobles, the richness of the goods exposed to view in the
windows, and the gaiety and magnificence of the dresses of the
upper class. His friends had warned him that, if he intended to go
farther, he should never do so alone, but should take with him his
soldier servant, a trooper named Mike Callaghan.

Mike was some twenty-eight years old, strong and bony; his hair
was red, and the natural colour of his face was obscured by a host
of freckles; his eyes were blue, and his nose had an upward turn;
his expression was merry and good humoured, but there was a
twinkle about his eyes that seemed to show that he was by no means
wanting in shrewdness.

"Even in the daytime," O'Neil said, "it is not safe for a man, if
well dressed and likely to carry money in his pocket, to go into
some quarters of the town. Paris has always been a turbulent city,
and, while it is the abode of the richest and noblest of
Frenchmen, it is also the resort of the rascaldom of all France.
Some streets are such that even the city guard would not venture
to search for an ill doer, unless in considerable force and
prepared for battle. There are, of course, many streets, both on
this and the other side of the river, where life and property are
as safe as in the Rue Royal; which, by the way, is not saying
much, for it was only three days ago that a man was assassinated
there in broad daylight. He was a captain in the Picardy regiment,
and it was supposed that his murderer was a man who had been
dismissed from the regiment with ignominy. But, whoever it was, he
has got clear away, for your Parisian citizen takes good care not
to interfere in such matters, and no one thought of laying hands
on the villain, although it is said he walked quietly off.

"It is in the streets that I am speaking of that adventures may
most easily be met with. Here there are too many hotels of the
nobles, with their numerous retainers, for it to be safe to commit
crime, and the city guard are generally on the alert, for, were
harm to come to one of the gentlemen attached to the great houses,
the matter would be represented to the king, and the city
authorities would come in for a sharp reproof for their failure to
keep order in the city; whereas, anything that happens among the
bourgeois would pass wholly without notice. However, if you keep
out of the wine shops, you are not likely to become involved in
trouble. Nine-tenths of the quarrels and tumults originate there.
There is a dispute, perhaps, between a soldier and a citizen, or
between soldiers of different regiments, and in a minute or two
twenty swords are drawn, and the disturbance grows, sometimes,
until it is necessary to call out troops from the nearest barracks
to suppress it. However, I know that you are not likely to get
into trouble that way, for you are a very model of moderation, to
the corps."

"I have seen enough of the consequences of drink in Ireland,"
Desmond said, "to cure me of any desire for liquor, even had I a
love for it. Faction fights, involving the people of the whole
barony, arising from some drunken brawl, are common enough; while
among the better class duels are common and, for the most part,
are the result of some foolish quarrel between two men heated by
wine. Besides, even putting that aside, I should have given up the
habit. When I joined the regiment, I was anxious to become a good
swordsman, but if one's head is overheated at night, one's hand
would be unsteady and one's nerves shaken in the morning.

"Possibly," he added, with a smile, "it is this, quite as much as
the hotness of their temper, that prevents the best teachers from
caring to undertake the tuition of the officers of the Brigade."

"Possibly," Phelim laughed, "though I never thought of it before.
There is no doubt that the French, who, whatever their faults be,
are far less given to exceeding a fair allowance of wine than are
our countrymen, would come to their morning lessons in the saloon
in a better condition to profit by the advice of the master than
many of our men."

"I don't think," Patrick O'Neil said, "that we Irishmen drink from
any particular love of liquor, but from good fellowship and
joviality. One can hardly imagine a party of French nobles
inflaming themselves with wine, and singing, as our fellows do.
Frenchmen are gay in what I may call a feeble way--there is no go
in it. There is no spirit in their songs, there is no real
heartiness in their joviality, and the idea of one man playing a
practical joke upon another, the latter taking it in good part,
could never enter their heads, for they are ready to take offence
at the merest trifle.

"As you know, there are certain cabarets told off for the use of
the soldiers of the Brigade. They are allowed to use no others,
and no French troops are allowed to enter these wine shops.
Similarly, there are certain establishments which are almost
exclusively patronized by officers of the Brigade. There is, of
course, no absolute rule here, and we can enter any cabaret we
choose; but it is understood that it is at our own risk, and that,
if we get into trouble there, we are sure to be handled over the
coals pretty sharply, as it is considered that we must deliberately
have gone there with the intention of picking a quarrel. The
cabarets used by the men are all close to the barracks, so that,
in case of a fracas, a guard is sent down to bring all concerned
in it back to the barracks. Fortunately, there is no need for the
places we frequent being so close to the barracks, for it is
understood that anyone who takes too much liquor, outside his own
quarters, brings discredit on the regiment; and it is after we
adjourn to the rooms of one or other of us that liquor begins to
flow freely, and we make a night of it."

"Don't you ever have quarrels among yourselves?"

"Angry words pass, sometimes, but all present interfere at once.
The honour of the regiment is the first point with us all. If men
want to quarrel, there are plenty of French officers who would be
quite ready to oblige them, but a quarrel among ourselves would be
regarded as discreditable to the corps. Consequently, a dispute is
always stopped before it reaches a dangerous point, and if it goes
further than usual, the parties are sent for by the colonel in the
morning, both get heavily wigged, and the colonel insists upon the
matter being dropped, altogether. As the blood has had time to
cool, both are always ready to obey his orders, especially as they
know that he would report them at once to the general, if the
matter were carried further."

"Well, I shall certainly not be likely to get into a quarrel over
wine," Desmond said, "nor indeed, in any other way, unless I am
absolutely forced into it. As to adventures such as you speak of,
I am still less likely to be concerned in them. I hope that, when
we are ordered on service, I shall have a full share of adventures
such as may become a soldier."

O'Neil smiled. "Time will show," he said. "Adventures come without
being sought, and you may find yourself in the thick of one,
before you have an idea of what you are doing. But mind, if you do
get into any adventure and need assistance, you are bound to let
us help you. That is the compact we made, two months ago. We
agreed to stand by each other, to be good comrades, to share our
last sous, and naturally to give mutual aid under all and every
circumstance."

Desmond nodded.

"At any rate, O'Neil, adventures cannot be so common as you
represent, since neither of you, so far, has called upon me for
aid or assistance."

"Have you heard the last piece of court scandal, Kennedy?"
O'Sullivan asked, as the three friends sat down to breakfast
together, a few days later.

"No; what is it?"

"Well, it is said that a certain damsel--her name is, at present,
a secret--has disappeared."

"There is nothing very strange about that," O'Neil laughed.
"Damsels do occasionally disappear. Sometimes they have taken
their fate into their own hands, and gone off with someone they
like better than the man their father has chosen for them;
sometimes, again, they are popped into a convent for contumacy.
Well, go on, O'Sullivan, that cannot be all."

"Well, it is all that seems to be certain. You know that I went
with the colonel, last night, to a ball at the Hotel de Rohan, and
nothing else was talked about. Several there returned from
Versailles in the afternoon, and came back full of it. All sorts
of versions are current. That she is a rich heiress goes without
saying. If she had not been, her disappearance would have excited
no attention whatever. So we may take it that she is an heiress of
noble family. Some say that her father had chosen, as her husband,
a man she disliked exceedingly, and that she has probably taken
refuge in a convent. Some think that she has been carried off
bodily, by someone smitten both by her charms and her fortune. It
is certain that the king has interested himself much in the
matter, and expresses the greatest indignation. Though, as it
would not seem that she is a royal ward, it is not clear why he
should concern himself over it. Some whisper that the king's anger
is but feigned, and that the girl has been carried off by one of
his favourites."

"Why should such a thing as that be supposed?" Desmond asked,
indignantly.

"Well, there is something in support of the idea. If anyone else
were to steal away, with or without her consent, a young lady of
the court with influential friends, he would be likely to pass the
first two years of his married life in one of the royal prisons;
and therefore none but a desperate man, or one so secure of the
king's favour as to feel certain that no evil consequences would
befall him, would venture upon such a step. You must remember that
there are not a few nobles of the court who have ruined themselves,
to keep up the lavish expenditure incumbent upon those who bask in
the royal favour at Versailles. It would be possible that His
Majesty may have endeavoured to obtain the hand of this young lady
for one of his favourites, and that her father may be a noble of
sufficient consequence to hold his own, and to express to His
Majesty his regret that he was unable to adopt his recommendation,
as he had other views for the disposal of her hand.

"The real singularity of the matter is, that no one can tell with
certainty who the missing lady is. Early in the day half a dozen
were named, but as I believe all of these put in an appearance at
the reception in the afternoon, it is evident that, so far as they
were concerned, there were no foundations for the rumour. It may
be taken for certain, however, that her friends are powerful
people, to have been able to impose silence upon those acquainted
with the facts."

"Well, it is impossible to take very much interest in the story,"
Desmond said carelessly, "when we are in ignorance of the very
name of the lady, and of the important point, whether she has
voluntarily gone away either with a lover or to a convent, or
whether she has been carried off against her will. If the latter,
you were talking of adventures, O'Neil, and this would be just the
sort of adventure that I should like; for us three to discover the
maiden, and rescue her from her abductor."

The others both laughed loudly.

"And this is the young officer who, the other day, declared that
he wished for no adventures save those that came in the course of
a campaign, and now he is declaring that he would like to become a
very knight errant, and go about rescuing damsels in distress!"

"I have no idea of carrying it into execution," Desmond said. "It
was merely an expression of a wish. Of course, if the lady in
question went willingly and to avoid persecution, I would rather
help than hinder her; but if she has been carried off by some
ruined courtier, nothing would please me better than to rescue her
from him."

Several days had passed, and at last it was confidently believed
that the missing lady was the daughter of Baron Pointdexter, a
magnate of Languedoc, who had but recently come up to court, on an
intimation from the king that it was a long time since he had been
seen there, and that His Majesty hoped that he would be
accompanied by his daughter, of whose beauty reports had reached
him. It was certain that neither she nor her father had attended
any of the receptions or fetes at Versailles, since the rumour
first spread, although the baron had had a private interview with
the king a few hours afterwards, and had left his chamber with a
frowning brow, that showed that the interview had not been a
pleasant one. He had not again appeared at court, whether in
consequence of the royal command, or not, no one knew.

The baron was one of the richest proprietors in the south of
France. He was a specimen of the best type of the French nobles,
preferring to spend his time among his own wide estates to coming
up to the capital, where his visits had at all times been rare.

During the daytime, Desmond went out but little. When the hours of
drill and exercise were over, he spent some time in visiting the
quarters of the men of his company, making their personal
acquaintance, and chatting freely with them. They were glad to
hear from him about their native country; and, as some of them
came from his own neighbourhood, they took a lively interest in
the news--the first that had reached them for years--of families
with whom they were acquainted. He spent two or three hours in the
afternoons in the salle d'armes of the regiment, or at the schools
of one or other of the maitres d'armes most in vogue, and then
paid visits, with one or other of the officers of the regiment, to
great houses of which they had the entree.

Of an evening he went out, accompanied by Mike Callaghan, and
wandered about the less fashionable part of the town, which
pleased him better than the more crowded and busy quarters.

One evening, he had gone farther than usual, had passed through
the gates, and had followed the road by the banks of the river. As
an officer in uniform, he was able to re-enter the town after the
gates were closed, the rules being by no means strict, as, during
the reign of Louis the 14th, France, though engaged in frequent
wars abroad, was free from domestic troubles.

Presently, he passed a lonely house of some size, standing back
from the road and surrounded by a high wall. As he did so, he
heard a scream in a female voice, followed by angry exclamations
from two male voices, while loudly rose a woman's cries for help.

"There is bad work of some sort going on in there," he said to
Mike. "We had better see what it is all about. Do you go round the
wall by the right, and I will go round by the left, and see if
there is any way by which we can climb over."

They met at the back of the house. The wall was unbroken, save by
the gates in front.

"The wall is too high for us to climb, Mike," Desmond said. "Even
if I stood on your head, I could not reach the top. Let us go
round to the front again."

They returned, and closely scrutinized the gate. It was not so
high as the wall itself, but was fully twelve feet.

"I have got a pistol with me, your honour," Mike said. "I have
seen doors blown in, by firing a gun through the keyhole."

"That would do, if we were sure that there were no bars, Mike; but
the chances are that it is barred, as well as locked. Besides, I
am sure that we should not be justified in blowing in the door of
a private house. It may be that they were the cries of a mad
woman. I would rather get over as quietly as possible."

"Well, sir, I will stand against it, and if you will get on to my
shoulders and put your foot on my head, you will reach the top.
Then, if you lower one end of your sash to me, I can pull myself
up beside you."

"Yes, I think we can manage it that way, Mike. I am convinced that
there is something wrong going on here, and I don't mind taking
the risk of getting into a scrape by interfering. Now do you stoop
a bit, so that I can get on to your shoulder; then you can raise
yourself to your full height. Take off your hat, first. I shall
certainly have to put my foot on your head."

"All right, your honour. Don't you be afraid of hurting me. My
skull is thick enough to stand the weight of two of you."

In a minute, Desmond had his fingers on the top of the gates, drew
himself up, and, moving to the corner, where he could get his back
against the end of the wall, lowered his sash to Mike.

"You are sure I shall not pull you down?"

"I am not sure, but we will try, anyhow."

This was said in a whisper, for there might, for anything he knew,
be two or three men in the garden. Mike took off his boots, so as
to avoid making a noise. Desmond was sitting astride of the gate,
and had his end of the sash over the top of it, and under his leg,
thereby greatly reducing the strain that would be thrown on it,
and then leaning with all his weight on it, where it crossed the
gate. Mike was an active as well as a strong man, and speedily was
by his side.

"Now we will drop down," Desmond said, and, setting the example,
lowered himself till he hung by his hands, and then dropped. Mike
was soon beside him.

"What shall we do next?"

"We will go and knock boldly at the door; but before we do that,
we will unbar the gate and shoot the bolt of the lock. We have no
idea how many men there may be in the house. Maybe we shall have
to beat a retreat."

The lock was shot without difficulty, but the bolts were still
fast, and were not drawn without noise. They pushed back the last
of these, and then opened the gates, which creaked noisily as they
did so.

"They can hardly help hearing that," Desmond muttered; and indeed,
as he spoke, the door of the house opened suddenly, and five men
came out, two of them holding torches. A man, who seemed to be the
leader of the party, uttered an exclamation of fury as the light
fell upon the figures of the two men at the open gate.

"Cut the villains down!" he shouted.

"Stop!" Desmond cried, in a loud voice. "I am an officer of
O'Brien's regiment of foot. I heard a scream, and a woman's cry
for help, and, fearing that foul play was going on, I made my
entry here."

The man, who had drawn his sword, paused.

"You have done wrong, sir. The cries you heard were those of a mad
woman. You had better withdraw at once. I shall report you,
tomorrow, for having forcibly made an entrance into private
premises."

"That you are perfectly at liberty to do," Desmond replied
quietly; "but certainly I shall not withdraw, until I see this
lady, and ascertain from herself whether your story is a true
one."

"Then your blood be on your own head!" the man said.

"At them, men! you know your orders--to kill anyone who attempted
to interfere with us, no matter what his rank."

The five men rushed together upon the intruders.

"Hold the gate, Mike," Desmond said, "and they cannot get behind
us."

They stepped back a pace or two, and drew their swords. The
position was a favourable one, for the two halves of the gate
opened inwards, and so protected them from any but an attack in
front. The leader rushed at Desmond, but the latter guarded the
sweeping blow he dealt at him, and at the first pass ran him
through the body; but the other four men, enraged rather than
daunted by the fall of their leader, now rushed forward together,
and one of them, drawing a pistol, fired at Desmond when within
three paces.

The latter threw his head on one side, as he saw the pistol
levelled. The action saved his life, for it was well aimed, and
the bullet would have struck him full between the eyes. As it was,
he felt a sharp sudden pain, as it grazed his cheek deeply. He
sprang forward, and before the man could drop the pistol and
change his sword from the left hand to the right, Desmond's weapon
pierced his throat. At the same moment, Mike cut down one of his
assailants with his sabre, receiving, however, a severe cut on the
left shoulder from the other.

Paralysed at the loss of three of their number, the remaining two
of the assailants paused, for a moment. It was fatal to one of
them, for Mike snatched his pistol from his pocket, and shot the
man who had wounded him, dead. The other threw down his sword, and
fell upon his knees, crying for mercy.

"Shall I kill him, your honour?"

"No. Fasten his hands behind him, with his own belt; and bind his
ankles tightly together, with that of one of his comrades."

He paused, while Mike adroitly carried out his instructions.

"Now we will see what this is all about," Desmond said. "I don't
suppose that there are any more of them in the house. Still, we
may as well keep our swords in readiness."

Picking up one of the torches that had fallen from their
assailants' hands, and holding it above his head with his left
hand, while his right held his sword ready for action, Desmond
entered the house. The sitting rooms on both sides of the hall
were empty, but, upon entering the kitchen, he found an old woman
crouching in a corner, in the extremity of fear.

"Stand up. I am not going to hurt you," Desmond said. "Lead us, at
once, to the chamber of the lady we heard call out."

The old woman rose slowly, took down a key hanging from a peg,
and, leading the way upstairs, opened a door.

"Keep a watch upon the crone," Desmond said, as he entered.

As he did so, his eye fell upon a girl of some seventeen years
old. She was standing at the window, with her hands clasped. She
turned round as he entered, and, as her eye fell upon his uniform,
she gave a cry of delight.

"Ah, monsieur, you have rescued me! I heard the fight in the
garden, and knew that the good God had sent someone to my aid. But
you are wounded, sir. Your face is streaming with blood."

"'Tis but the graze of a pistol ball," he said, "and needs but a
bowl of water, and a strip of plaster, to put it right. I had
well-nigh forgotten it.

"I am glad, indeed, to have been able to render you this service,
mademoiselle. It was most providential that I happened to come
along the road, and heard your screams and cries for aid; and I
determined to see if any foul business was being carried on here.
What made you call out?"

"I had let myself down from the window, by knotting the bedclothes
together. I was blindfolded, when they carried me in here, and did
not know that the walls were so high all round, but had hoped to
find some gate by which I might escape. There were only the great
gates, and these were locked; and I was trying to draw the bolts
when two of the men suddenly rushed out. I suppose the old woman
came up here, and found the room empty. It was then that I
screamed for help, but they dragged me in, in spite of my
struggles, and one said I might scream as much as I liked, for
there was not a house within hearing, and no one would be passing
anywhere near.

"When he said that, I quite gave up hope. I had believed that I
was in some lonely house, in the suburbs of the city, and I little
thought that my cries could not be heard.

"But where are the men who guarded me?"

"Four of them are dead, mademoiselle, and the other securely
bound. Now, if you will tell me who you are, and where your
friends live, I and my soldier servant will escort you to them."

"My name is Anne de Pointdexter."

Desmond was scarcely surprised, for the care which had been taken
in choosing so lonely a spot for her concealment, and the fact
that an officer and four men should be placed there to guard her,
showed that she must have been regarded as a prisoner of
importance.

"Then I am glad, indeed, to have been the means of rescuing you.
All Paris has been talking of your disappearance, for the past ten
days. The question is, what would you wish done? It is too far to
take you to Versailles tonight, and too late to obtain means of
conveyance."

"There is a carriage in the stables behind the house, and there
are some horses. I cannot say how many, but at night I have heard
them stamping. I suppose the carriage was left here so that they
could remove me to some other place, in case suspicion should fall
upon this house. How many are there of you, monsieur?"

"Only myself, and the trooper you see at the door."

"And did you two fight with five men, and kill four of them!" she
exclaimed, in surprise. "How brave of you, monsieur, and how good
to run such risk, for a person of whom you knew nothing!"

"I knew that it was a woman in distress," Desmond said, "and that
was quite enough to induce two Irishmen to step in, and answer to
her cry for aid. However, mademoiselle, if the carriage and horses
are there, this will get us out of our difficulty. The only
question is, will you start at once, or wait until daylight? We
may be stopped by the patrols, as we approach Versailles, but I
have no doubt that my uniform will suffice to pass us into the
town, where probably your father is still lodging."

"I would much rather go at once," the girl said. "There are others
who come, sometimes at all hours of the night."

"Very well, then, we will see about getting the carriage ready, at
once. If you will come downstairs, we will lock this old woman up
in your room."

This was done at once, and the girl, who was so shaken by her
captivity that she feared to remain for a moment by herself,
accompanied her rescuers to the back of the house. Here, as she
had said, they found a carriage and four horses, two of which
stood ready saddled, while the others were evidently carriage
horses. These were speedily harnessed, and put into the carriage.

"Now, Mike, you had better drive. I will mount one of these saddle
horses and ride alongside. I think, mademoiselle, as the drive
will be a long one, it would be as well that we should put the old
woman in the carriage with you. She will be a companion, though
one that you would not take from choice. Still, your father may
wish to question her, and, indeed, it would be better in many
respects that you should have a female with you."

"Thank you, Monsieur Kennedy,"--for she had already learned his
name--she said gratefully, "it would certainly be much better."

The old woman was therefore brought down, and made to enter the
carriage, and seat herself facing Mademoiselle Pointdexter. Mike
took his seat on the box, and Desmond mounted one of the saddle
horses, and led the other. They had already removed the bodies
that lay in front of the gates.

They had to make a considerable detour round Paris, before they
came down upon the Versailles road. The roads were bad and the
carriage was heavy, and daylight was already breaking when they
entered the town. They had twice been stopped by patrols, but
Desmond's uniform had sufficed to pass them.

Baron Pointdexter had taken up his abode in a large house,
standing in a walled garden in the lower part of the town. When
they reached it, Desmond dismounted and rung the bell. After he
had done this several times, a step was heard in the garden, and a
voice asked roughly, "Who is it that rings at this hour of the
morning?"

Mademoiselle Pointdexter, who had alighted as soon as the carriage
stopped, called out, "It is I, Eustace."

There was an exclamation of surprise and joy, bolts were at once
drawn, and the gate thrown open, and an old servitor threw himself
on his knees as the girl entered, and, taking the hand she held
out to him, put it to his lips.

"Ah, mademoiselle," he said, while the tears streamed down his
cheeks, "what a joyful morning it is! We have all suffered, and
monsieur le baron most of all. He has spoken but a few words,
since you left, but walks up and down the garden as one
distraught, muttering to himself, and sometimes even drawing his
sword and thrusting it at an invisible enemy. He is up,
mademoiselle. He has never gone to his bed since you were
missing."

As he spoke, the door of the house opened, and the baron hurried
out, with the question, "What is it, Eustace?"

Then, as his eye fell on his daughter, he gave a hoarse cry, and
for a moment swayed, as if he would have fallen. His daughter ran
up to him, and threw her arms round his neck.

"Do you return to me safe and well?" he asked, as, after a long
embrace, he stepped back and gazed into her face.

"Quite safe and well, father."

"The Lord be praised!" the baron exclaimed, and, dropping into a
garden seat by his side, he burst into a passion of sobbing.

As soon as he had appeared, Desmond had handed over the old woman
to Eustace.

"She is a prisoner--keep a watch over her," he said. "She can tell
much. We will take the carriage round to a stable, and must then
return at once to Paris, where I must be on duty at seven. Please
inform the baron that I shall do myself the honour of calling,
tomorrow, to enquire whether Mademoiselle Pointdexter has suffered
from the effects of the fatigue and excitement. Express my regret
that I am obliged to leave at once, but I am sure he will have so
much to hear, from his daughter, that it is best they should be
alone together, for a time."

He at once remounted his horse, Mike climbed up on to his seat,
and they drove off, and, knocking up the people at some large
stables, left the carriage and horses there, telling the
proprietors to send to the Baron Pointdexter to know his wishes
regarding it. Then Mike mounted the spare horse, and they started
at full speed for Paris, and arrived at the barracks in time for
Desmond to take his place at the early parade.



Chapter 4: At Versailles.


The regiment was on the point of falling in, on the parade ground,
when Desmond Kennedy rode up. Leaping from his horse, he threw the
reins to his servant.

"Take them both round to the stables, and put them in spare
stalls, Mike. I will get leave off parade for both of us, and ask
the surgeon to dress your wounds properly."

Then he went up to the colonel, who was just entering the barrack
yard.

"Colonel O'Brien," he said, "I must ask your leave off parade,
for, as you see, I am scarcely in a condition to take my place
with my company."

"So it would seem, Mr. Kennedy. You have been in trouble, I see.
Nothing serious, I hope?"

"Nothing at all, sir, as far as I am concerned. It is merely a
graze from a pistol ball."

"Well, I must hear about it, afterwards."

"I must also ask leave off parade for Callaghan, my servant, sir.
He is hurt a good deal more than I am, though not, I hope,
seriously."

The colonel nodded. "I will send the surgeon to your quarters, and
he will see to you both."

As Desmond left the colonel, his two chums came up.

"Why, Kennedy, what on earth have you been doing to yourself? This
is what comes of gallivanting about after dark. When we came
round, yesterday evening, to go out with you as usual, you were
not in. There was nothing very unusual in that, for these evening
walks of yours are often prolonged; but we called again, on our
return at eleven o'clock, and found you were still absent. This
looked serious. We came round again at six this morning, for we
were anxious about you, and learned you had not been in all night,
and, on enquiring, heard that Callaghan was also absent.

"That was cheering. That you might get into some scrape or other,
we could reasonably believe; but, as you had your man with you, we
could hardly suppose that misfortune had fallen upon both of you."

"The wound is a mere graze. I will tell you, after parade, what I
have been doing," Desmond said, "but you must nurse your curiosity
till you are dismissed."

A few minutes after Desmond reached his quarters, the surgeon came
in.

"I do not think that I have any need of your services, doctor. I
got a piece of plaster, and stuck it on two hours ago, and I have
no doubt that the wound will heal in a few days."

"However, I will, with your permission, take it off, Mr. Kennedy.
It is much better that the wound should be properly washed, and
some dressing applied to it. It will heal all the quicker, and you
are less likely to have an ugly scar.

"It is a pretty deep graze," he said, after he had carefully
removed the plaster. "An eighth of an inch farther, and it would
have made your teeth rattle. You had better keep quiet, today.
Tomorrow morning, if there is no sign of inflammation, I will take
off the dressing and bandage and put on a plaster--one a third of
the size that I took off will be sufficient; and as I will use a
pink plaster, it will not be very noticeable, if you go outside
the barracks.

"Where is your man? The colonel told me there were two patients.

"A nasty cut," he said, after examining Mike's wound. "It is lucky
that it was not a little higher. If it had been, you would have
bled to death in five minutes. As it is, it is not serious. You
will have to keep your arm in a sling for a fortnight. You are not
to attend parade, or mount a horse, until I give you leave."

On the ride from Versailles, Desmond had warned Mike to say no
word as to the events of the night.

"I do not know what course the young lady's father may take," he
said, "and until I do, the matter had better be kept a secret,
altogether."

"I will keep a quiet tongue in my head, and no one shall hear
anything, from me, as to how I got this slice on my shoulder. I
will just say that it was a bit of a scrimmage I got into, with
two or three of the street rascals; and the thing is so common
that no one is likely to ask any further questions about it."

After the parade was over, O'Neil and O'Sullivan came up to
Desmond's quarters.

"Now, Master Kennedy, we have come to receive your confession. We
gave you credit for being a quiet, decent boy, and now it seems
that you and that man of yours have been engaged in some
disreputable riot, out all night, and coming in on two strange
horses, which, for aught we know, have been carried off by force
of arms."

Desmond laughed.

"As to the horses, you are not so far wrong as one might expect,
O'Neil. We rode them this morning from Versailles."

"From Versailles!" O'Neil repeated. "And what, in the name of all
the saints, took you to Versailles! I am afraid, Desmond, that you
are falling into very evil courses.

"Well, tell us all about it. I shall be glad to be able to believe
that there is some redeeming feature in this strange business."

Desmond laughed, and then said, more seriously, "Well, I have had
an adventure. Other people were concerned in it, as well as
myself. I have made up my mind to tell you both, because I know
that I can depend upon your promises to keep it an absolute
secret."

"This sounds mysterious indeed," O'Sullivan said. "However, you
have our promises. O'Neil and I will be as silent as the grave."

"Well, then, you know how you were chaffing me, the other day,
about finding Mademoiselle Pointdexter?"

"You don't mean to say that you have found her, Kennedy?" O'Neil
exclaimed incredulously.

"That is what I mean to say, though found is hardly the word,
since I was not looking for her, or even thinking of her, at the
time. Still, in point of fact, I accidentally came across the
place where she was hidden away, and after a sharp skirmish, in
which Callaghan and I each had to kill two men, we carried her
off, and delivered her safely to her father this morning."

The two young officers looked hard at Desmond, to discover if he
was speaking seriously, for his tone was so quiet, and matter of
fact, that they could scarce credit that he had passed through
such an exciting adventure; and the three were so accustomed to
hoax each other, that it struck them both as simply an invention
on the part of their comrade, so absolutely improbable did it seem
to them.

"Sure you are trying to hoax us, Kennedy," O'Sullivan said.

"You could not blame me, if I were," Desmond said, with a smile,
"considering the cock-and-bull stories that you are constantly
trying to palm off on me. However, you are wrong now. I will tell
you the affair, just as it happened."

And he related, in detail, the story of the rescue of Mademoiselle
Pointdexter, and the manner in which he had conveyed her to
Versailles.

"By Saint Bridget, Kennedy, we were not far wrong when we called
you a knight errant. Well, this is something like an adventure,
though whether it will end well or ill for you I cannot say. Did
you learn the name of the person who had the girl carried off?"

"No. I asked no questions, and indeed had but little conversation
with her; for, as I have told you, I put her in a carriage, with
the old hag who was in charge of her, and rode myself by the side
of it, in case the old woman should try to escape."

"A truly discreet proceeding, Kennedy," O'Neil laughed. "I think,
if I myself had been in your place, I should have taken a seat
inside also, where you, of course, could at once have watched the
old woman, and talked with the young one."

"I don't think that you would have done anything of the sort,
O'Neil," Desmond said gravely, "but would have seen, as I did,
that it was better that she should travel alone, with the old
woman, till she reached her father's house. Scandal will be busy
enough with her name, in any case, and it is as well that it
should not be said that she arrived home, in a carriage, with a
young officer of O'Brien's Irish regiment."

"By my faith, Kennedy, it seems to me that you are a Saint Anthony
and a Bayard rolled into one. But, seriously, you are undoubtedly
right. Well, it all depends upon who was the man who carried her
off, as to whether you were fortunate or unfortunate in thus
having thwarted his designs. If he is some adventurer, your action
will gain you heaps of credit. If, on the other hand, it was one
of the king's favourites, seeking to mend his fortunes by
marrying, it is probable that you will have made a dangerous
enemy--nay, more, have drawn upon yourself the king's displeasure.
I should think it likely that, before attempting so desperate an
action as the carrying off of the Baron Pointdexter's daughter,
such a man would have assured himself that the king would not view
the enterprise with displeasure.

"We may assume that he would not inform His Majesty of any
particulars, but would put it, hypothetically, that as he was
getting into sore straits, he thought of mending his fortunes by
carrying off an heiress--not, of course, one of those of whose
hands the king had the disposal; and that he trusted that, if he
succeeded, His Majesty would not view the matter as a grave
offence. From what I know of Louis, he would reply gravely: 'I
should be obliged (duke or viscount, as the case might be) to
express very grave displeasure, and to order you to leave the
court for a time; but, as the harm would be done, and the young
lady married to you, it might be that, in time, I should pardon
the offence.'

"If this is how things have gone, you may be sure that the king
will not view, with satisfaction, the man who has interfered with
his favourite's plan for mending his fortunes."

Desmond shrugged his shoulders.

"The king's dissatisfaction would matter very little to me," he
said, "especially as he could not openly manifest it, without
making it apparent that he had approved of the scheme."

"It is not such a trifle as you think, Kennedy. Lettres de cachet
are not difficult to obtain, by powerful members of the court;
especially when the person named is a young regimental officer,
whose disappearance would excite no comment or curiosity, save
among the officers of his own regiment. The man who carried off
Mademoiselle Pointdexter must be a bold fellow, and is likely to
be a vindictive one. No doubt, his object was to keep the young
lady a prisoner, until she agreed to marry him, and the loss of a
pretty bride with a splendid fortune is no trifling one, and
likely to be bitterly resented. Whether that resentment will take
the form of obtaining an order for your confinement in the
Bastille, or other royal prison, or of getting you put out of the
way by a stab in the back, I am unable to say, but in any case, I
should advise you strongly to give up your fancy for wandering
about after dark; and when you do go out, keep in the frequented
portions of the town.

"Jack Farquharson, who was at Versailles with the colonel last
week, was speaking of Mademoiselle Pointdexter, and said that she
was charming. Did you find her so?"

"I thought nothing about it, one way or the other," Desmond said,
carelessly. "I only saw her face by torchlight, and she was, of
course, agitated by what had happened; and indeed, as I was busy
helping Mike to yoke the horses to the carriage, I had scarcely
time to look at her. When we reached Versailles it was barely
daylight. I handed her out of the carriage, and left her to enter
by herself, as I thought it was better that she should meet her
father alone. I do not think that I should recognize her, were I
to meet her in the street."

"Most insensible youth!" O'Sullivan said, with a laugh;
"insensible and discreet to a point that, were it not assured,
none would believe that you had Irish blood in your veins. And so,
you say you are going over to Versailles tomorrow?"

"Yes. I left a message with the servant who opened the door, to
that effect. Of course, I shall be glad to know if the baron
intends to take any steps against his daughter's abductor, or
whether he thinks it best not to add to the scandal by stirring up
matters, but to take her away at once to his estates."

"He is in a difficult position," O'Neil said gravely. "The young
lady has been missing for a fortnight. No one knows whether she
went of her own free will, or against it. Were her father to carry
her off, quietly, it would excite the worst suspicions. Better by
far lodge his complaint before the king, proclaim his grievances
loudly everywhere, and tell the story in all its details.
Whichever course he takes, evil-minded people will think the
worse; but of the two evils, the latter seems to me to be the
lesser."

"I suppose it would be," Desmond agreed, "though, for my part, I
should be heartily glad if I never heard another word about it."

"You are too modest altogether, Kennedy. Whatever rumours may be
current, concerning the young lady, there can be no doubt that you
come out splendidly, in that you hear a cry of a woman in
distress; you scale walls to get in to her assistance; you and
your servant encounter five of her guards, kill four of them and
bind the other; rescue the maiden, and carry her off, with flying
colours, in the carriage of her abductor. My dear Kennedy, you
will become an object of admiration to all the ladies of the
court."

"That will be absolutely disgusting," Desmond said, angrily. "It
is almost enough to make one wish that one had never interfered in
the affair."

"Pooh, pooh, Kennedy! I am sure that either O'Sullivan or myself
would give, I was going to say a year's pay, though how one would
exist without it I don't know, to have been in your place. Why,
man, if you had captured a standard in battle, after feats of
superhuman bravery, you would not attract half the attention that
will fall to you as a consequence of this adventure. Life in the
court of His Most Christian Majesty is one of the most artificial
possible. The women hide their faces with powder and patches, lace
themselves until they are ready to faint, walk with a mincing air,
and live chiefly upon scandal; but they are women, after all, and
every woman has a spice of romance in her nature, and such an
adventure as yours is the very thing to excite their admiration."

"I know nothing about women," Desmond growled, "and don't want to
know any of them, especially the ladies at the court of Louis."

"Well, of course, Kennedy, if the baron proclaims his wrongs, and
publishes the circumstances of his daughter's abduction and
rescue, the seal of silence will be taken from our lips;
especially as you will, almost to a certainty, be summoned to
Versailles to confirm the lady's story."

"I am afraid that that will be so," Desmond said, despondingly.
"However, it can't be helped, and I suppose one must make the best
of it."

To most of the officers who dropped in, in the course of the day,
to see Desmond and to enquire how he got his wound, he abstained
from giving any particulars. It was merely said that he and
Callaghan were suddenly attacked, by five ruffians, whom they
managed to beat off. Much surprise was expressed that such attack
should be made upon an officer and a soldier, on whom little
plunder could be expected, and who would be sure to defend
themselves stoutly. Several, indeed, expressed some incredulity.

"We do not doubt for a moment, Kennedy, that you were attacked by
five men, as you say, and that you routed them, but there must
have been some motive for the attack. These evening strolls of
yours are suspicious, and I will warrant that there must have been
a great deal at the bottom of it. Now, can you deny that?"

"I neither admit nor deny anything," Desmond said, with a smile;
"enough that, at present, I have told you all that I feel
justified in telling. I acknowledge that there is more behind it,
but at present my mouth is sealed on the subject."

The colonel was among those who came in to see him. To him,
Desmond said frankly that the affair was altogether out of the
common, that it was likely that the whole facts would be known
shortly, but that, as other persons were concerned, he could not
speak of it until he had obtained their permission.

"Then I will ask no further," Colonel O'Brien said. "I have seen
enough of you to know that you would not be concerned in any
affair that could bring discredit upon the corps. I am curious to
know the whole story, but am quite content to wait until you feel
at liberty to tell me."

The next morning, Desmond took part in the usual work of the
regiment, and then, mounting his horse, rode to Versailles. On his
ringing the bell at the house occupied by the Baron de Pointdexter,
the old servitor, whom he had before seen, opened the gate.

"The baron is expecting you, monsieur," he said, bowing deeply;
and, at his call, another servant ran out and took Desmond's
horse, and led it away to the stable, while Desmond followed the
old man to the house.

The door opened as they approached, and the baron, a tall man,
some fifty years of age, advanced hastily, holding out both hands.

"Monsieur Kennedy," he said, "you have rendered to me the greatest
service that I have received during my life. No words can express
the gratitude that I feel, for one who has restored to me my only
child, just when I had come to believe that she was lost to me
forever. It was surely her guardian saint who sent you to the
spot, at that moment."

"It might have happened to anyone, sir," Desmond said; "surely any
gentleman, on hearing an appeal for help from a woman in distress,
would have done just what I did."

"Let us go in," the baron said. "My daughter has been eagerly
waiting your coming, especially as she tells me that she does not
think she said even a word of thanks to you, being overpowered by
what she had gone through, and by her joy at her sudden and
unexpected deliverance. Indeed, she says that she scarcely
exchanged two words with you."

"There was no opportunity, Baron, for indeed, as soon as she told
me that there was a carriage and horses in the stable, I was too
much occupied in getting it ready for her to depart without delay,
to think of talking."

They had now entered the house, and, as the baron led the way into
the sitting room, the girl rose from a fauteuil.

"This, Monsieur Kennedy, is my daughter, Mademoiselle Anne de
Pointdexter. It is high time that you were formally presented to
each other.

"This, Anne, is the officer who rendered you such invaluable
service."

"We meet almost as strangers, mademoiselle," Desmond said, deeply
bowing, "for I own that I saw so little of your face, the other
night, that I should hardly have recognized you, had I met you
elsewhere."

"I should certainly not have recognized you, Monsieur Kennedy.
What with my own fright, and, I may say, the condition of your
face, I had but a faint idea of what you were really like; but I
certainly did not think that you were so young. You had such a
masterful way with you, and seemed to know so perfectly what ought
to be done, that I took you to be much older than you now look."

"I joined the regiment but little more than three months ago,"
Desmond said, "and am its youngest ensign."

"Monsieur, I owe to you more than my life, for, had it not been
for you, I should have been forced into marriage with one whom I
despise."

"I cannot think that, mademoiselle. From what I saw of you, I
should say that you would have resisted all threats, and even
undergone hopeless imprisonment, rather than yield."

"There is no saying, Monsieur Kennedy," the baron said. "Anne is
of good blood, and I know that it would have been hard to break
down her will, but confinement and hopelessness will tell on the
bravest spirit. However that may be, she and I are your debtors
for life."

"Indeed, Monsieur Kennedy," the girl said, "I pray you to believe
that I am more grateful to you than words can express."

"I pray you to say no more about it, mademoiselle. I deem it a
most fortunate circumstance, that I was able to come to your
assistance, and especially so, when I found that the lady I had
rescued was one whose disappearance had made so great a stir; but
I should have been glad to render such service to one in the
poorest condition."

"My daughter said that you asked her no questions, Monsieur
Kennedy, and you therefore are, I suppose, in ignorance of the
name of her abductor?"

"Altogether."

"It was the Vicomte de Tulle, one who stands very high in the regard
of the king, and who is one of the most extravagant and dissipated,
even of the courtiers here. For some time, it has been reported that
he had nigh ruined himself by his lavish expenditure, and doubtless
he thought to reestablish his finances by this bold stroke.

"His plans were well laid. He waited until I had gone to Paris on
business that would keep me there for a day or two. A messenger
arrived with a letter, purporting to be from me, saying that I
wished my daughter to join me at once, and had sent a carriage to
take her to me. Anne is young, and, suspecting no harm, at once
threw on a mantle and hood, and entered the carriage. It was broad
daylight, and there was nothing to disquiet her until, on
approaching the town, the carriage turned off the main road. This
struck her as strange, and she was just about to ask the question
where she was being taken, when the carriage stopped in a lonely
spot, the door was opened, and a man stepped in.

"Before she had even time to recognize him, he threw a thick cloak
over her head. She struggled in vain to free herself, but he held
her fast. Again and again, she tried to cry out, but her mouth was
muffled by the wrapping. She had heard the blinds of the carriage
drawn, and finding that her struggles to free herself were vain,
and receiving no answer to her supplications to be released, she
remained quiet until the carriage stopped. Then she was lifted
out, and carried into the house where you found her.

"The wrapping was removed, and the man who had taken it off, and,
who by his attire, was a gentleman in the service of some noble,
said, 'Do not be alarmed, mademoiselle. No harm is intended to
you. My master is grieved to be obliged to adopt such means, but
his passion for you is so great that he was driven to this step,
and it will entirely depend upon yourself when your captivity will
end.'

"'Your master, whoever he may be,' Anne said, 'is a contemptible
villain.'

"'Naturally, you have a poor opinion of him at present,' the
fellow said; 'but I am convinced that, in time, you will come to
excuse his fault. It is wholly due to the depth of the feeling
that he entertains towards you. There is a woman here who will
wait upon you. I and my men will not intrude. Our duty is solely
to see that you do not escape, which indeed would be an
impossibility for you, seeing that the wall that surrounds the
garden is well-nigh fifteen feet high, and the gate barred and
locked, and the key thereof in my pocket.'

"He called, and the old woman whom you brought here with Anne
entered, and bid her ascend to the room that had been prepared for
her.

"In that respect, she had nothing to complain of. Of course, you
did not notice it, as you had other things to think of, but it was
handsomely furnished. There was a bed in an alcove, some flowers
on the table, some books, and even a harpsichord--evidently it was
intended that her imprisonment should be made as light as might
be.

"Looking from the window, Anne saw that the room was at the back
of the house, and had probably been chosen because some trees shut
the window off from view of anyone beyond the wall. The next day,
the old woman announced the Vicomte de Tulle. He bowed profoundly,
and began by excusing the step that he had taken, and crediting it
solely to the passion that he had conceived for her. You may
imagine the scorn and reproaches with which she answered him. He
was quite unmoved by her words.

"'Mademoiselle,' he said calmly, when she paused, 'you may be sure
that I should not have undertaken this scheme, unless I had fully
weighed the consequences. My plans have been so laid that whatever
search may be made for you will be in vain. Here you are, and here
you will remain until you listen to my suit. Every want shall be
satisfied, and every wish complied with; but, whether it is one
year or five, you will not leave this house until you leave it as
my bride.'

"'Then, sir,' she said passionately, 'I shall be a prisoner for
life.'

"'So you may think, at present, mademoiselle,' he said. 'And I
expected nothing else. But, with time and reflection, you may come
to think otherwise. Union with me is not so terrible a matter. My
rank you know, and standing high, as I do, in the favour of His
Most Gracious Majesty, your position at court will be such as
might gratify the daughter of the noblest family in France. The
study of my life will be to make you happy.

"'I shall now leave you to think over the matter. I shall not
pester you with my attentions, and for another month you will not
see me again. At the end of that time, I trust that you will have
seen the futility of condemning yourself to further captivity, and
will be disposed to make more allowance, than at present, for the
step to which my passion for yourself has driven me.'

"It was just a month since she had been carried off, and, the very
day when you rescued her, the old woman had informed her that the
vicomte would do himself the pleasure of calling upon her the next
day. For the first fortnight she had held up bravely, in the hope
that I should discover the place where she had been hidden. Then
she began to feel the imprisonment and silence telling upon her,
for the old woman only entered to bring in her meals, and never
opened her lips, except on the first occasion, when she told her
that she was strictly forbidden to converse with her. After that
she began to despair, and the news that her abductor would visit
her, the next day, decided her to make an attempt to escape. She
had no difficulty in letting herself down from the window by the
aid of her bedclothes, but she found that what had been said
respecting the wall and gate was true, and that she was no nearer
escape than she had been, before she had left her room. She was
trying, in vain, to unbar the gate, which, indeed, would have been
useless could she have accomplished it, as it was also locked. But
she was striving, with the energy of desperation, when the door of
the house opened, and the men rushed out and seized her. As they
dragged her back to the house, she uttered the cries that brought
you to her assistance. The rest you know.

"As soon as I heard her story, I went to the palace and asked for
a private interview with the king. The king received me graciously
enough, and asked, with an appearance of great interest, if I had
obtained any news of my daughter.

"'I have more than obtained news, Your Majesty. I have my daughter
back again, and I have come to demand justice at your hands.'

"'I congratulate you, indeed, Baron,' the king said, with an
appearance of warmth, but I saw his colour change, and was
convinced that he knew something, at least, of the matter.

"'And where has the damsel been hiding herself?' he went on.

"'She has not been hiding herself, at all, Sire,' I said. 'She has
been abducted, by one of Your Majesty's courtiers, with the
intention of forcing her into a marriage. His name, Sire, is the
Vicomte de Tulle, and I demand that justice shall be done me, and
that he shall receive the punishment due to so gross an outrage.'

"The king was silent for a minute, and then said:

"'He has, indeed, if you have been rightly informed, acted most
grossly. Still, it is evident that he repented the step that he
took, and so suffered her to return to you.'

"'Not so, Your Majesty,' I said. 'I owe her return to no
repentance on his part, but to the gallantry of a young officer
who, passing the house where she was confined, heard her cries for
aid, and, with his soldier servant, climbed the gate of the
enclosure, and was there attacked by the man who had charge of
her, with four others. The young gentleman and his servant killed
four of them, and bound the other; and then, entering the house,
compelled the woman who had been appointed to act as her servant
to lead the way to her chamber. Fortunately, the carriage in which
she had been taken there was still in the stables, with its
horses. The gallant young gentleman at once got the carriage in
readiness, placed my daughter in it, with the woman who had been
attending on her. The servant drove, and he rode by the side of
the carriage, and in that way brought her home this morning.'

"In spite of his efforts to appear indifferent, it was evident
that the king was greatly annoyed. However, he only said:

"'You did quite right to come to me, Baron. It is outrageous,
indeed, that a young lady of my court should be thus carried off,
and I will see that justice is done. And who is this officer, who
has rendered your daughter such a service?'

"'His name is Kennedy, Sire. He is an ensign in O'Brien's Irish
regiment.'

"'I will myself send for him,' he said, 'and thank him for having
defeated this disgraceful plot of the Vicomte de Tulle. I suppose
you are quite sure of all the circumstances, as you have told them
to me?'

"'It is impossible that there can be any mistake, Sire,' I said.
'In the first place, I have my daughter's account. This is
entirely corroborated by the old woman she had brought with her,
and whose only hope of escaping from punishment lay in telling the
truth. In every respect, she fully confirmed my daughter's
account.'

"'But the vicomte has not been absent from Versailles, for the
past month. He has been at my morning levee, and on all other
occasions at my breakfasts and dinners. He has walked with me in
the gardens, and been always present at the evening receptions.'

"'That is so, Sire,' I said. 'My daughter, happily, saw him but
once; namely, on the morning after she was captured. He then told
her, frankly, that she would remain a prisoner until she consented
to marry him, however long the time might be. He said he would
return in a month, and hoped by that time to find that, seeing the
hopelessness of her position, she would be more inclined to accept
his suit.

"'It was on the eve of his coming again that my daughter, in her
desperation, made the attempt to escape. She was foiled in her
effort, but this, nevertheless, brought about her rescue, for her
cries, as her guards dragged her into the house, attracted the
attention of Monsieur Kennedy, who forthwith, as I have told you,
stormed the house, killed her guards, and brought her home to me.'

"The king then sent for de Tulle, and spoke to him with great
sternness. The latter did not attempt to deny my accusation, but
endeavoured to excuse himself, on the ground of the passion that
he had conceived for my daughter. Certainly, from the king's tone,
I thought that he would at least have sent him to the Bastille;
but, to my great disappointment, he wound up his reproof by
saying:

"'I can, of course, make some allowances for your passion for so
charming a young lady as Mademoiselle Pointdexter, but the outrage
you committed is far too serious to be pardoned. You will at once
repair to your estates, and will remain there during my pleasure.'

"The vicomte bowed and withdrew, and, an hour later, left
Versailles. The king turned to me, as he left the room, and said,
'I trust, Monsieur le Baron, that you are content that justice has
been done.'

"I was too angry to choose my words, and I said firmly, 'I cannot
say that I am content, Your Majesty. Such an outrage as that which
has been perpetrated upon my daughter deserves a far heavier
punishment than banishment from court; and methinks that an
imprisonment, as long as that which he intended to inflict upon
her unless she consented to be his wife, would have much more
nearly met the justice of the case.'

"The king rose to his feet suddenly, and I thought that my
boldness would meet with the punishment that I desired for de
Tulle; but he bit his lips, and then said coldly:

"'You are not often at court, Baron Pointdexter, and are doubtless
ignorant that I am not accustomed to be spoken to, in the tone
that you have used. However, I can make due allowance for the
great anxiety that you have suffered, at your daughter's
disappearance. I trust that I shall see you and your daughter at
my levee, this evening.'

"As this was a command, of course we went, and I am bound to say
that the king did all in his power to show to his court that he
considered her to be wholly blameless. Of course, the story had
already got about, and it was known that the vicomte had been
ordered to his estates. The king was markedly civil to Anne,
talked to her for some time, expressed his deep regret that she
should have been subject to such an outrage, while staying at his
court, and said, in a tone loud enough to be heard by all standing
round:

"'The only redeeming point in the matter is, that the Vicomte de
Tulle in no way troubled or molested you, and that you only saw
him, for a few minutes, on the first day of your confinement.'

"I need not say that this royal utterance was most valuable to my
daughter, and that it at once silenced any malicious scandal that
might otherwise have got about.

"The king stopped to speak to me, immediately afterwards, and I
said:

"'I trust that you will pardon the words I spoke this morning.
Your Majesty has rendered me and my daughter an inestimable
service, by the speech that you have just made.'

"Thus, although dissatisfied with the punishment inflicted on the
Vicomte de Tulle, and believing that the king had a shrewd idea
who her abductor was, I am grateful to him for shielding my
daughter from ill tongues, by his marked kindness to her, and by
declaring openly that de Tulle had not seen her, since the day of
her abduction. I intended to return home tomorrow, but the king
himself, when I went this morning to pay my respects, and state my
intention of taking Anne home, bade those standing round to fall
back, and was good enough to say in a low voice to me:

"'I think, Baron, that you would do well to reconsider your
decision to leave tomorrow. Your sudden departure would give rise
to ill-natured talk. It would be wiser to stay here, for a short
time, till the gossip and wonder have passed away.'

"I saw that His Majesty was right, and shall stay here for a short
time longer. It would certainly have a bad effect, were we to seem
to run away and hide ourselves in the provinces."

Mademoiselle de Pointdexter had retired when her father began to
relate to Desmond what had happened.

"I know little of life in Paris, Monsieur le Baron," Desmond said,
"but it certainly seems to me monstrous, that the man who
committed this foul outrage should escape with what is, doubtless,
but a short banishment from court."

"I do not know that the matter is ended yet, Monsieur Kennedy. In
spite of the edicts against duelling, I myself should have
demanded satisfaction from him, for this attack upon the honour of
my family, but I am at present Anne's only protector. It is many
years since I have drawn a sword, while de Tulle is noted as a
fencer, and has had many affairs, of which he has escaped the
consequences owing to royal favour. Therefore, were I to challenge
him, the chances are that I should be killed, in which case my
daughter would become a ward of the crown, and her hand and estate
be bestowed on one of the king's creatures. But, as I said, the
matter is not likely to rest as it is.

"Anne has, with my full consent and approval, given her love to a
young gentleman of our province. He is a large-landed proprietor,
and a connection of our family. They are not, as yet, formally
betrothed, for I have no wish to lose her so soon; and, in spite
of the present fashion of early marriages, I by no means approve
of them, and told Monsieur de la Vallee that they must wait for
another couple of years.

"I need scarcely say that, after what has happened, I shall
reconsider my decision; for the sooner she is married, and beyond
the reach of a repetition of this outrage, the better. I imagine,
however, that the young gentleman will be no better satisfied than
I am, that the matter should have been passed over so lightly; and
will take it into his own hands, and send a challenge immediately
to the vicomte. He is high spirited, and has the reputation among
us of being a good fencer, but I doubt whether he can possess such
skill as that which de Tulle has acquired. It is not always the
injured person that comes off victorious in a duel; and, should
fortune go against Monsieur de la Vallee, it would be a terrible
blow to my daughter, and indeed to myself, for I am much attached
to him. She is worrying about it, already.

"Of course, it is impossible that the affair can be hidden from
him. It is public property now; and therefore, I sent off one of
my grooms, an hour since, with a letter to him.

"Hitherto, I had not written to him about my daughter's
disappearance. Knowing he would, on hearing of it, at once hasten
here, where he could do no good and would only add to my trouble,
I thought it best to let matters go on as they were. I had been
doing everything that was possible, and to have his troubles as
well as my own on my hands would have driven me to distraction.

"The groom is to change horses at every post house, and to use the
greatest possible speed. You may be sure that Monsieur de la
Vallee will do the same, and that in six days he will be here. I
have given him the merest outline of the affair, and have not
mentioned the name of Anne's abductor. Had I done so, it is
probable that Philip would have gone straight to de Tulle, and
forced on an encounter at once. As it is, I trust that Anne and I,
between us, may persuade him to take no step in the matter. It is
the honour of my family, not of his, that has been attacked. Had
he been betrothed to my daughter, he would have been in a position
to take up her quarrel. As it is, he has no status, except distant
relationship.

"And now, Monsieur Kennedy, I have the king's order to take you to
the palace. He asked me several questions about you this morning.
I said that I had not yet seen you, but that you were riding over
here today, and he said:

"'Bring him to me when he comes, Baron. I should like to see this
young fire eater, who thrust himself so boldly into a matter in
which he had no concern, solely because he heard a woman's voice
calling for help.'"

"I am sorry to hear it," Desmond said, bluntly. "From what you say
I imagine that, in spite of what he has done, the king is far from
gratified at the failure of his favourite's plan. However, I
cannot disobey his commands in the matter."



Chapter 5: A New Friend.


The baron sent a servant to request his daughter to come down.

"I am going now, with Monsieur Kennedy, to the palace, Anne," he
said, as she entered. "I do not suppose that we shall be absent
very long. I have been talking matters over with him, and I think
that he agrees with my view of them."

"But I have hardly spoken to him, yet, father!"

"You will have an opportunity of doing so, when we return.
Monsieur Kennedy will, of course, dine with us. After the service
that he has rendered to us, we have a right to consider him as
belonging to us."

"Had I had an idea of this," Desmond said, as they walked up the
hill towards the palace gate, "I should have put on my full
uniform. This undress is scarcely the attire in which one would
appear before the King of France, who is, as I have heard, most
particular in matters of etiquette."

"He is so," the baron said. "He will know that you could not be
prepared for an audience, and doubtless he will receive you in his
private closet."

On ascending the grand staircase, the baron gave his name to one
of the court chamberlains.

"I have orders," the latter said, "to take you at once, on your
presenting yourself, to His Majesty's closet, instead of entering
the audience chamber."

They were conducted along a private passage, of considerable
length. On arriving at a door, the chamberlain asked them to wait,
while he went inside to ascertain whether His Majesty was
disengaged.

"His Majesty will see you in a few minutes, Baron," he said, when
he came out. "The Duc d'Orleans is with him, but, hearing your
name announced for a private audience, he is taking his leave."

In two or three minutes a handbell sounded in the room, and the
chamberlain, who at once entered, returned in a moment, and
conducted the baron and Desmond into the king's private apartment.

"Allow me to present, to Your Majesty," the former said, "Monsieur
Desmond Kennedy, an officer in O'Brien's regiment, and an Irish
gentleman of good family."

The king, who was now far advanced in life, looked at the young
man with some surprise.

"I had expected to see an older man," he said.

"Though you told me, Baron, he was but an ensign, I looked to see
a man of the same type as so many of my gallant Irish officers,
ready for any desperate service.

"So, young sir, you have begun early, indeed, to play havoc among
my liege subjects, for I hear that you, and a soldier with you,
slew four of them."

"Hardly your liege subjects, Your Majesty, if I may venture to say
so; for, assuredly, they were not engaged in lawful proceedings,
when I came upon them."

A slight smile crossed the king's face. He was accustomed to
adulation, and the simple frankness with which this young soldier
ventured to discuss the propriety of the word he used surprised
and amused him.

"You are right, sir. These fellows, who are ready to undertake any
service, however criminal, for which they are paid, certainly do
not deserve to be called liege subjects. Now, I would hear from,
your own lips, how it was that you thrust yourself into a matter
with which you had no concern; being wholly ignorant, I
understand, that the lady whose voice you heard was Mademoiselle
Pointdexter."

"The matter was very simple, Sire. Having joined the regiment but
a few months, and being naturally anxious to perfect myself in
exercises in arms, I have but little time to stir out, during the
day, and of an evening I frequently go for long rambles, taking
with me my soldier servant. I had, that evening, gone farther than
usual, the night being fair and the weather balmy, and naturally,
when I heard the cry of a woman in distress, I determined to see
what had happened, as it might well be that murder was being
done."

He then related all the circumstances of his obtaining an entrance
into the gardens, of the attack upon him by the guard, and how he
finally brought Mademoiselle Pointdexter to Versailles. The king
listened attentively.

"It was an exploit I should have loved to perform, when I was your
age, Monsieur Kennedy. You behaved in the matter with singular
discretion and gallantry; but, if you intend always to interfere,
when you hear a woman cry out, it is like that your time will be
pretty well occupied; and that, before long, there will be a
vacancy in the ranks of your regiment. Truly, Monsieur le Baron
and his daughter have reason for gratitude that you happened to be
passing at the time; and I, as King of France, am glad that this
outrage on a lady of the court has failed.

"I am, perhaps, not altogether without blame in the matter. A
short time ago, the Vicomte de Tulle told me that he hoped to
better his fortune by a rich marriage. He named no names, nor said
aught of the measures he intended to adopt. But I said it would be
well that he should do so, for rumours had reached me that his
finances were in disorder. Whether he took this as a permission to
use any means that he thought fit I cannot tell; and I certainly
did not suspect, when I heard of the disappearance of Mademoiselle
de Pointdexter, that he had any hand in it, and was shocked when
the baron came here and denounced him to me. I am glad, indeed,
that his enterprise was thwarted, for it was a most unworthy one.

"You are too young, yet, for me to grant you military promotion,
but this will be a proof of my approbation of your conduct, and
that the King of France is determined to suppress all irregularities
at his court."

And, taking a diamond ring from his finger, he handed it to
Desmond, who went on one knee to receive it.

"You will please inform your colonel that, when he comes to
Versailles, I request he will always bring you with him."

The audience was evidently finished, and the baron and Desmond,
bowing deeply, left the king's cabinet. The baron did not speak,
till they left the palace.

"Louis has his faults," the baron then said, "but no one could
play the part of a great monarch more nobly than he does. I have
no doubt, whatever, that de Tulle relied implicitly upon obtaining
his forgiveness, had he succeeded in forcing Anne into marrying
him; though, doubtless, he would have feigned displeasure for a
time. He has extricated himself most gracefully. I can quite
believe that he did not imagine his favourite intended to adopt so
criminal a course, to accomplish the matter of which he spoke to
him, but he could not fail to have his suspicions, when he heard
of Anne's disappearance. However, we can consider the affair as
happily ended, except for the matter of Monsieur de la Vallee, of
whom I spoke to you.

"And now, sir, that the king has expressed his gratitude to you,
for saving his court from a grave scandal, how can I fitly express
my own, at the inestimable service that you have rendered us?"

"I should say, Baron, that it will be most welcomely expressed, if
you will abstain from saying more of the matter. It is a simple
one. I went to the assistance of a woman in distress; and
succeeded, at the expense of this trifling wound, in accomplishing
her rescue. The lady happened to be your daughter, but had she
been but the daughter of some little bourgeois of Paris, carried
off by a reckless noble, it would have been the same. Much more
has been made of the matter than there was any occasion for. It
has gained for me the approbation and thanks of the king, to say
nothing of this ring, which, although I am no judge of such
matters, must be a very valuable one, or he would not have worn
it; and I have had the pleasure of rendering a service to you, and
Mademoiselle de Pointdexter. Therefore, I feel far more than duly
rewarded, for a service somewhat recklessly undertaken on the spur
of the moment."

"That may be very well, as far as it interests yourself, Monsieur
Kennedy; but not so far as I am concerned, and I fear I shall have
to remain your debtor till the end of my life. All I can say at
present is that I hope that, as soon as you can obtain leave, you
will come as a most honoured guest to my chateau. There you will
see me under happier circumstances. The life of a country seigneur
is but a poor preparation for existence in this court, where,
although there is no longer the open licentiousness that prevailed
in the king's younger days, there is yet, I believe, an equal
amount of profligacy, though it has been sternly discountenanced
since Madame Maintenon obtained an absolute, and I may say a
well-used, influence over His Majesty."

"I shall be happy, indeed, to pay you a visit, Baron, if my
military duties will permit my absenting myself, for a time, from
Paris. All I know of France is its capital, and nothing would give
me greater pleasure than to have the opportunity of seeing its
country life, in so pleasant a manner."

"Our pleasure would be no less than your own, Monsieur Kennedy.

"There is one thing I must warn you about, and that is, you must
be careful for a time not to go out after dark. De Tulle has an
evil reputation, and is vindictive as well as unscrupulous.
Doubtless, he has agents here who will, by this time, have
discovered who it was that brought his daring scheme to naught;
and it is, to my mind, more than probable that he will endeavour
to be revenged."

"I shall be on my guard," Desmond said quietly.

"You must be careful, indeed," the baron said. "Against open
violence you can well defend yourself, but against a blow from
behind with a dagger, skill and courage are of little avail. When
you go out after dark, I pray you let your army servant follow
closely behind you, and see that his sword is loose in its
scabbard."

Desmond nodded.

"Believe me, I will take every precaution. It is not likely that
there will long be need for it, for none can doubt that military
operations will soon begin on a large scale, and we are not
likely, if that is the case, to be kept in garrison in Paris."

When Desmond arrived that evening at the barracks, he found that
the story of the rescue of Mademoiselle de Pointdexter was already
known, and also that the Vicomte de Tulle had been the abductor,
and had, in consequence, been banished from court. The baron had
indeed related the circumstances to some of his intimate friends,
but the story had varied greatly as it spread, and it had come to
be reported that an officer had brought a strong body of soldiers,
who had assaulted the house where she was confined, and, after a
desperate conflict, had annihilated the guard that had been placed
over her.

Desmond laughed, as this story was told to him, when he entered
the room where the officers were gathered. The narrator concluded:

"As you have been to Versailles, Kennedy, doubtless you will have
heard all the latest particulars. Have you learnt who was the
officer, what regiment he belonged to, and how came he to have a
body of soldiers with him, outside the town? For they say that the
house where she was confined was a mile and a half beyond the
walls."

There was no longer any reason for concealment. The matter had
become public. The baron would certainly mention his name, and
indeed his visit to the palace, and the private audience given to
him and the baron, would assuredly have been noted.

"Your story is quite new to me," he said, "and is swollen, in the
telling, to undue proportions. The real facts of the case are by
no means so romantic. The truth of the story, by this time, is
generally known, as Mademoiselle Pointdexter and her father have
many friends at court. The affair happened to myself."

"To you, Kennedy?" was exclaimed, in astonishment, by all those
present.

"Exactly so," he said. "Nothing could have been more simple. The
evening before last I was, as usual, taking a walk and, the night
being fine, I passed beyond the gate. Presently, I heard a scream
and a woman's cry for help. None of you, gentlemen, could have
been insensible to such an appeal. Callaghan and I climbed over a
pretty high gate. Not knowing what force there might be in the
place, we occupied ourselves, at first, by unbarring and shooting
the lock of the gate. The bolts were stiff, and we made some noise
over it, which brought out five men. These we disposed of, after a
short fight, in which I got this graze on the cheek, and Callaghan
his sword wound in the shoulder."

"How did you dispose of them, Kennedy?" the colonel asked.

"I ran two of them through. Callaghan cut down one, and shot
another. The fifth man cried for mercy, and we simply tied him up.

"We then found Mademoiselle Pointdexter, and, learning from her
that the carriage in which she had been brought there was, with
its horses, still in the stable, we got it out, harnessed the
horses, and put an old woman who was mademoiselle's attendant in
the carriage with her. Mike took the reins, I mounted a saddle
horse, and we drove her to her father's house at Versailles, saw
her fairly inside, and then, as you know, got back here just as
the regiment was forming up on parade."

"A very pretty adventure, indeed," the colonel said warmly, and
loud expressions of approbation rose from the other listeners.

"And why did you not tell us, when you came in?" the colonel went
on.

"I had not seen Baron Pointdexter, and did not know what course he
would take--whether he would think it best to hush the matter up
altogether, or to lay a complaint before the king; and, until I
knew what he was going to do, it seemed to me best that I should
hold my tongue, altogether.

"When I went to Versailles, today, I found that he had laid his
complaint before the king, and that the Vicomte de Tulle, who was
the author of the outrage, had been ordered to his estates. I may
say that I had the honour of a private interview with His Majesty,
who graciously approved of my conduct, and gave me this ring," and
he held out his hand, "as a token of his approval."

"Well, gentlemen, you will agree with me," the colonel said, "that
our young ensign has made an admirable debut, and I am sure that
we are all proud of the manner in which he has behaved; and our
anticipations, that he would prove a credit to the regiment, have
been verified sooner than it seemed possible."

"They have, indeed, Colonel," the major said. "It was, in every
way, a risky thing for him to have attempted. I do not mean
because of the odds that he might have to face, but because of the
trouble that he might have got into, by forcing his way into a
private house. The scream might have come from a mad woman, or
from a serving wench receiving a whipping for misconduct."

"I never thought anything about it, Major. A woman screamed for
help, and it seemed to me that help should be given. I did not
think of the risk, either from armed men inside--for I had no
reason to believe that there were such--or of civil indictment for
breaking in. We heard the cry, made straight for the house, and,
as it turned out, all went well."

"Well, indeed," the colonel said. "You have rescued a wealthy
heiress from a pitiable fate. You have fleshed your maiden sword
in the bodies of two villains. You have earned the gratitude of
the young lady and her father, and have received the approval of
His Majesty--a very good night's work, altogether. Now, tell us a
little more about it."

Desmond was compelled to tell the story in much further detail
than before. The colonel ordered in a dozen of champagne, and it
was late before the party broke up.

"You see, we were pretty nearly right in our guess," O'Neil said,
as he and O'Sullivan walked across with Desmond to their quarters.
"We said that we thought it likely she might have been carried off
by one of the court gallants, who felt tolerably confident that,
if successful, the king would overlook the offence. This fellow,
thanks to your interference, did not succeed; and the king has let
him off, lightly enough, by only banishing him from court. If it
had been anyone but one of his favourites, he would, by this time,
have been a tenant of the Bastille.

"I do not think, myself, that his punishment was adequate; but
then, I am not a courtier, and should be rather glad than not, to
be sent away to any estates I might have."

"But," Desmond remarked, "I suppose the punishment is a severe one
to these men, accustomed to a round of pleasure and dissipation,
and who consider it the highest of earthly honours to be in favour
with the king. However, no one could be kinder than His Majesty
has been, on the subject. At the reception last night, at which he
ordered the baron and his daughter to appear, he showed her the
most marked favour, and particularly put a stop to all scandals,
by saying loudly that de Tulle had never seen her, after the first
morning of her capture."

Six days later, when Desmond was engaged in the fencing room,
Callaghan came in, and told him that a gentleman was at his
quarters, wishing particularly to see him.

"What is his name?"

"Sure, and I don't know, your honour. He did not mention it, and
it was not for the likes of me to ask him."

"Ridiculous, Mike! In future, when anyone comes and wishes to see
me, you will say, 'What name shall I tell Mr. Kennedy?'"

He put on his uniform coat reluctantly, for he was engaged in an
interesting bout with a professor, who was an old friend of the
maitre d'armes. As he entered his room, a young man, who had been
staring out of the window, and drumming impatiently with his
fingers, turned. He was a stranger to Desmond.

"I am Desmond Kennedy, sir," the young officer said. "To what do I
owe the honour of this visit?"

The other did not reply, but stood looking at him, in so strange
and earnest a way, that Desmond felt almost uneasy.

"Sir," his visitor said at last, advancing to him and holding out
both hands, "when I tell you that my name is Philip de la Vallee,
you will understand what must strike you as my singular behaviour.
I arrived last night at Versailles, and heard all that had
happened. You can imagine, therefore, that my heart is almost too
full for words, with gratitude and thankfulness."

Desmond was moved by the emotion of his visitor, and their hands
met in a hearty clasp. Monsieur de la Vallee was a young man, of
four or five and twenty, well proportioned, and active and sinewy
from his devotion to field sports. He was about the same height as
Desmond himself, but the latter, who had not yet finished growing,
was larger boned, and would broaden into a much bigger and more
powerful man.

"Henceforth, Monsieur Kennedy," de la Vallee went on, "I hope that
we shall be as brothers, and more. Had it not been for you, my
life would have been a ruined one. What agony have I been saved!
It makes me mad, to think that I was idling at home, ignorant that
my beloved had been carried away. I do not blame the baron for not
informing me, and I acknowledge that the reasons he gave me were
good ones. I could have done nothing, and should but have added to
his troubles by my anxiety and anger. Still, he told me that, in
another day or two, he would have felt that I ought no longer to
be kept in the dark, and would have summoned me to Paris. I am
thankful now that he did not do so, for I believe that my
impotence to do anything would have driven me almost to
distraction."

"I agree with you that the baron acted wisely," Kennedy said. "Had
not chance, or Providence, taken me past the house where she was
imprisoned, at the very moment when Mademoiselle Pointdexter cried
for help, she might, for aught I can say, have remained a captive
there for months, or even years."

"It was Providence, indeed, Monsieur Kennedy. Providence, not only
that she should have cried at that moment, but that her cries
should have reached the ears of one so ready and able to save her.
And now, I pray you, call me Philip, and allow me to call you
Desmond, as a pledge of our close friendship."

"With pleasure," Kennedy replied; and the compact was sealed with
another close grasp of the hand.

"It is strange, Desmond, that while the king, who had but little
interest in the matter, could present you, as I am told he did,
with a diamond ring, the baron and I, who owe you so much, can do
nothing to show our gratitude."

Desmond smiled.

"I can assure you that I need no such tokens," he said. "The
thanks that I have received, from you both, are infinitely more
grateful to me than any amount of rings and jewels."

"And now, my friend," Philip de la Vallee went on, "my own burning
desire is to go to de Tulle, as soon as I have accompanied the
baron and Anne to their home; first, to publicly chastise this
villain noble; and then, of course, to fight him. Naturally, I
have said nothing of this to the baron, but I feel, after what has
happened, that in you I shall find an adviser, and a sympathizer."

"I sympathize with you, most heartily, Philip, and in your place
should feel the same impulse; and yet, it would not be wise to
give way to it. I say this on the ground that he is a notoriously
good swordsman, and that, instead of your taking vengeance upon
him, he might kill you.

"I feel that that argument would not have any influence with you
personally, but, taking your position with regard to Mademoiselle
de Pointdexter, it should have great weight. You can judge, from
what you would have felt yourself, had you been aware of her
disappearance, what she would feel, did she hear of your death in
this quarrel. Were you her brother, I should say that you would be
right--nay, that it would be your duty to endeavour to punish the
outrage against the honour of your family. Were you openly
betrothed to her, you would again have the right to punish her
abductor; but, not being either her brother or her betrothed,
neither reason nor public opinion would justify your doing so.
Moreover, did you fight with him and kill him, you would incur the
gravest resentment of the king; for, in fact, you would be
impugning his justice, which has considered banishment from court
to be a sufficient punishment for his offence. Not only was he a
favourite of the king's, but he belongs, I understand, to a
powerful family; who would, you may be sure, use their influence
with the king to bring about your punishment, for the breach of
the decree against duelling, and you would be fortunate if you
escaped a long imprisonment."

The other was silent.

"I feel that you are right," he said, at last, "but, indeed, it is
hard that I should not be able to avenge this outrage upon the
lady who is to be my wife. I may tell you that, as soon as we
return home, our formal betrothal is to take place, and ere long
our marriage will be celebrated; but I shall feel lowered, in my
own esteem, if I sit down quietly under this injury."

"I do not see that," Desmond said. "If you abstain from
challenging de Tulle, it is from no fear of the consequences, but
it is, as I have shown you, because, whatever the issue of the
contest, it would be bad both for you and her. If you were killed,
her life would be spoilt. If you killed him, you might languish
for years in one of the royal prisons. The king prides himself on
his justice, and, by all accounts, rightly so; and I am sure that
he would feel the deepest resentment, were you or anyone to show,
by your actions, that you considered he has favoured the
transgressor."

"You are right, Desmond; and, at any rate for the present, I will
put my intention aside; but should he ever cross my path,
assuredly I will have a reckoning with him.

"But how is it that you, who are at least eight years younger than
I am, should argue as an old counsellor rather than a young
ensign?"

"I suppose, in the first place, it is from my bringing up. I lived
with and was educated by a good priest, one not wanting in
manliness and energy, but who often deplored the system of
duelling, which is as strong with us as it is here, and denounced
it as a relic of barbarism, and, at any rate, never to be put in
use on account of a heated quarrel over wine, but only if some
deadly injury had been inflicted, and even then better left alone.
Of course, as an officer in one of His Majesty's regiments, I
should be obliged to conform to the general usage; for, did I
decline, I should be regarded as having brought dishonour on the
corps. But my case differs altogether from yours.

"In the next place, knowing you were coming to Versailles, I
thought over what course you would be likely to pursue, and
considered it was probable you would lose no time in challenging
de Tulle. I have thought the matter over, in every light, and made
up my mind to endeavour to dissuade you from doing so, if the
opportunity offered.

"So you see," he added with a smile, "I had prepared my array of
arguments against it; and I cannot but think that the opinion of
one interested, but not vitally so, on a point, is rather to be
taken than that of a person smarting under an injury."

"And now, to turn to other matters. In three days we start for the
south. The baron accompanied me here, and went to see your
colonel, while I came to your quarters. His object was to ask him
to grant you a month's leave of absence, with the provision, of
course, that you should return at once, if the regiment was
ordered on service."

"It is kind, indeed, of him," Desmond said, "but I doubt whether
the colonel will assent. It is not a month since I was dismissed
from drill, and took my place with my company, and I doubt whether
he will consider that I am sufficiently versed in my duties, or
that, after being so short a time in the regiment, I have any
right to leave."

"What you say is right enough, under ordinary circumstances, but
these are altogether extraordinary. Then, after what you have
done, he will feel it but natural that we should wish to have you
with us for a time. Moreover, I do not consider that our journey
will be altogether unattended by danger. From what I have heard of
de Tulle, he is a man who never forgives, and will pursue his
object with the pertinacity of a bloodhound. He has failed in his
first attempt, but there is no reason why he should not renew it,
confident, perhaps, that if successful the king, though he may
feel it necessary to feign much anger for a time, will finally
forgive him and take him into favour again, especially as his
family would bring all their influence to bear to bring this
about. Doubtless, he will be kept perfectly informed of what is
going on here. There are several forests to be traversed on the
way, and these are, for the most part, the haunts of robber bands;
and, should the carriage be found overturned, and the baron and
his daughter missing, it would be put down as their work. Having
the baron as well as his daughter in his power, de Tulle would
find it easier than before to compel Anne to purchase her father's
freedom, as well as her own, by consenting to his terms.

"Therefore, you see, the aid of a sword like yours would be
valuable, and no doubt your servant, who is also a sturdy fighter,
will accompany us."

"I can hardly think that de Tulle would venture upon so bold a
stroke as that, and yet he might do so. Men of that kind are not
accustomed to be thwarted, and it would be a satisfaction to his
resentment at his former failure, as well as the attainment of the
wide estates of which Anne is heiress."

At this moment there was a knock at the door, and the baron
entered.

"My dear Monsieur Kennedy," he said, "I have succeeded. Colonel
O'Brien has been pleased to say that you have been so assiduous,
in learning your duties, that he considers you as capable of
performing them as any of his subalterns; and that you have just
brought so much credit on the regiment, that he is pleased to be
able to grant the favour I asked. Here is your furlough, duly
signed. Now it only rests with yourself, to accept or refuse my
invitation."

"I accept it most gladly, Baron. It will give me the greatest
pleasure to accompany you, and mademoiselle, and Monsieur de la
Vallee, whom I now regard as a dear friend, to your home."

"That is settled, then," the baron said. "We start early on
Thursday morning. It would be well, therefore, if you were to ride
over on Wednesday evening, and occupy one of the many spare
chambers there are in the house."

"I will do so willingly; and I shall ask the colonel to allow my
servant to accompany me."

"That is already settled. I told Colonel O'Brien that I owed much
to him also, and he at once acceded to my request, saying that,
although the wound is healing, the surgeon said that it would be a
fortnight, yet, before he will be fit for service; and, moreover,
that it was a custom when an officer went on leave that he should,
if he wished it, take his soldier servant with him."

"Thank you again, Baron. Mike is a faithful fellow, and a shrewd
one. I am so accustomed now to his services that I should miss
them, and his talk, very much."

"Have you heard, Mike," Desmond asked, when his servant came up to
his room, after the baron and Philip de la Vallee had left, "that
you are to go with me, to stay for a month, at Pointdexter?"

"I have, your honour. Sure, I was sent for to the colonel's
quarters, and there I found a tall gentleman, whom I had never
seen before, as far as I knew.

"'This is Mike Callaghan, Mr. Kennedy's servant,' the colonel
said, and the baron stepped forward, and shook hands with me, for
all the world as if I had been a noble like himself; and he said:

"'My brave fellow, I have to thank you for the aid you gave your
master in rescuing my daughter, in which service you received the
wound which still keeps your arm in a sling. Here is a token that
we are not ungrateful for the service. If you will take my advice,
you will hand it to an agent of mine here in Paris, who will keep
it for you, and you may find it useful when the time comes for you
to take your discharge.'

"So saying, he put a heavy purse into my hand, and said:

"'You will find my agent's name and address on a card inside the
purse. I shall go round to him, now, and tell him that you are
coming, and that he is to use the money to your advantage, and to
hand it over to you whenever you choose to ask for it. Your master
is coming down to stay for a month with me, and Colonel O'Brien
has granted leave for you to accompany him.'

"I thanked him heartily, as you may believe, sir; though, as I
said, I wanted no reward for obeying your orders, and for the
share I took in that little skirmish. After I came out, I looked
into the purse, which was mighty heavy, expecting to find a
handful of crowns; and it fairly staggered me when I found that it
was full of gold pieces, and on counting them, found that there
were a hundred louis. Never did I dream that I should be so rich.
Why, your honour, when I lave the regiment, which will not be for
many a long year, I hope, I shall be able to settle down
comfortably, for the rest of my life, in a snug little shebeen, or
on a bit of land with a cottage and some pigs, and maybe a cow or
two; and it is all to your honour I owe it, for if you hadn't
given the word, it would never have entered my head to attack a
gentleman's house, merely because I heard a woman scream."

"Well, I am heartily glad, Mike; and I hope that you will take it
straight to the agent's, and not break in upon it, by treating
half the regiment to drink."

"I will, your honour. It was given me to stow away for the time
when I might want it, and though I don't say that my own
inclinations would not lead me to trate a few of the boys, I feel
that I ought to do what the gentleman told me."

"Certainly you should, Mike. If you once began to spend it in that
way, it is not one louis, but five or more, that would disappear
in a few hours. I am heartily glad that the baron has so
handsomely rewarded you for the service, and if you like, I will
go round with you this afternoon to his agent, and see the money
safely deposited."

"Thank you, your honour. I sha'n't feel easy, as long as I have
got it in my pouch. I should suspict everyone who came near me,
and should never dare take my hand off it, lest someone else might
put his in."

"You are a lucky fellow, Kennedy," O'Neil said, when Desmond told
his two comrades of the arrangements that had been made. "And, if
you go on like this, the regiment will believe that any good
fortune that may fall to its lot is the result of your luck."

"I really do not like having leave given to me, when I have been
such a short time in the regiment. It does not seem fair upon
others."

"No one will grudge you that," O'Sullivan said. "It is not as if
we were at home. Then, of course, everyone would like his turn.
But here, although we are soldiers of France, we are as strangers
in the land. Here in Paris we have many acquaintances, and a
welcome at most of the receptions; but that is the end of it. It
is seldom, indeed, that we are invited into the country houses of
those we know. That sort of hospitality is not the fashion in
France. Here, nobles may throw open their houses to all gentlemen
by birth who happen to be presented to them, but at home they are
rigidly exclusive; and, moreover, I am inclined to think they
regard us Irishmen as detrimental and dangerous. Many Irishmen
make exceedingly good matches, and we are regarded as having a way
with us, with the girls, that is likely to interfere with the
arrangements their parents have made for their marriages. Now, it
seems to me that your baron must be a very confiding old
gentleman, or he would never take you to stay in the society of
the young lady who owes so much to you. Faith, it seems to me that
you have the ball at your feet, and that you have only to go in
and win. From what I hear, Mademoiselle Pointdexter is no older
than you are yourself, and it is a glorious chance for you."

Desmond broke into a laugh.

"My dear O'Sullivan," he said, "it seems to me that it is the
favourite dream of Irish soldiers of fortune, that they may
improve their circumstances by marriage."

"Well, there is no easier or more pleasant way," his friend said,
stoutly.

"Possibly I may come to think so, in another ten years," Desmond
went on, "but, at present, I have no more thought of marrying than
I have of becoming king of France. The idea is altogether absurd,
and it happens to be particularly so, in the present case, since
one of the objects of my going down to Pointdexter is that I may
be present at the formal betrothal of this young lady, to Monsieur
de la Vallee, a neighbour of theirs, whom I had the pleasure of
meeting this afternoon, and to whom she is tenderly attached."

"By the powers, but that is unlucky, Kennedy!" O'Neil said; "and I
have been thinking that your fortune was made, and that the
regiment would soon lose you, as you would, of course, settle down
as a magnate in Languedoc; and now, it seems that what we thought
the proper sequence of your adventure, is not to come off, after
all. Well, lad, I congratulate you on putting a good face on it,
and hiding your disappointment."

"What nonsense you talk!" Desmond said, laughing. "It is you who
have been building castles, not I, and it is your disappointment
that they have fallen to pieces."



Chapter 6: An Ambuscade.


On the morning arranged, the cavalcade started from Versailles.
The baron had instructed the stable keeper, where the carriage and
horses had been placed, to notify the Vicomte de Tulle that he
held them at his disposal. The woman, who had been brought to
Versailles, had been dismissed, after having made before a
magistrate a deposition, stating how Mademoiselle de Pointdexter
had been held a close prisoner, and that, with the exception of
herself, no one whatever had entered her apartment, except that
the Vicomte de Tulle had paid her a visit, of some five minutes'
duration, on the morning after she was brought there. A copy of
this was left in the magistrate's hands for safekeeping, while the
original was kept by the baron, who regarded it as a most
important document, concerning, as it did, the honour of his
daughter.

Anne had travelled to Paris in the family coach, and she again,
with her maid, took her place in it. The baron, Monsieur de la
Vallee, and Desmond rode on horseback behind it, two armed
retainers rode in front, and two others, with Mike, took their
places behind. The old servitor sat on the front seat, by the side
of the coachman.

"I do not think, Desmond," Philip de la Vallee said, as the baron
fell back to talk for a while with his daughter, "that he has the
slightest thought of our being attacked by any of the agents of
the vicomte; but I have made a good many enquiries about the
fellow, in the past few days, and from what I have heard I am
still more convinced that, before long, he is likely to renew his
attempt to get possession of Anne. I hear that his circumstances
are well-nigh desperate. He has mortgaged the income of his
estates, which, of course, he is unable to sell, as they go with
the title to the heir. He is pressed by many creditors, who, now
that he has lost the favour of the king, will give him no further
grace. Indeed, I understand that the king, who is always liberal,
and who not infrequently makes considerable gifts to the gentlemen
of the court, to enable them to support the necessary expenses,
has already assisted him several times, and that it was only by
such aid that he has been able to hold on as long as he has done.

"He is, in fact, a desperate man, and his only hope is in making a
wealthy alliance. Therefore, putting aside his pique and anger at
having failed, the temptation to again obtain possession of Anne
is great, indeed. Once married to her he could, even if the king
kept him in banishment, well maintain his position as a country
magnate."

"But Mademoiselle de Pointdexter cannot come into the estates
until her father's death."

"Not his estates, but those of her mother, who was also a wealthy
heiress, and of which she will enter into possession either on
coming of age or on marrying. So, you see, he can afford to
disregard the enmity of her father, as well as the displeasure of
the king, which probably would soon abate after the marriage took
place. If I had known, when I left home, what had happened, and
that if she was found we should be returning home, I would have
brought with me a dozen stout fellows from my own estate. As it
is, I sent off a messenger, yesterday, with an order to my
majordomo to pick out that number of active fellows, from among
the tenantry, and to start with the least possible delay by the
route that we shall follow, of which I have given him particulars.
He is to ride forward until he meets us, so that when he joins us,
we shall be too strong a party for any force that the vicomte is
likely to gather to intercept us."

"A very wise precaution, Philip; but we shall be far upon our way,
before this reinforcement can come up."

"We shall be some distance, I admit. My messenger will take fully
five days in going. He will take another day to gather and arm the
tenants, so that they will not start until two days afterwards.
Then, however, they will travel at least twice as fast as we
shall, hampered as we are by the carriage. I should have suggested
that Anne should ride on a pillion, behind me or her father, but I
did not do so, because it would have been necessary to explain to
him my reasons for suggesting the change; and, moreover, I felt
sure that he would not agree to it, had I done so. Baron
Pointdexter is one of the largest landowners in Languedoc, and
although one of the kindest and best of men, he has his full share
of family pride, and would consider that it was derogatory to his
position for his daughter to be riding about on a pillion, like
the wife or daughter of some small landed proprietor or tenant
farmer, instead of in a carriage, as becomes her station.
Therefore, I must accept the situation, carriage and all, and I
can only hope that this villain will not attempt to interfere with
us before my men join us.

"Fortunately, even if a courier take the vicomte word that the
baron and his daughter have made their adieus to His Majesty, the
fellow cannot hear of it for two days, however fast the messenger
may travel. Of course, Tulle is nigh a hundred miles nearer Paris
than Pointdexter, which lies between Florac and Sainte Afrique,
both of which towns lie within the circle of the estate. I admit
that, foreseeing the baron is likely to return to his estates
without delay, the vicomte may have made his preparations, and be
ready to start as soon as he gets the news. Nevertheless, he will
have a ride of some eighty miles to strike the road on which we
shall be travelling. He may then move north, until he finds some
suitable place for a surprise; but, even allowing for his
exercising the greatest speed, we should be halfway from Paris
before we can possibly meet him, and my men should join us by that
time."

"You have forgotten one contingency, which would entirely alter
the state of things."

"What is that?" Monsieur de la Vallee asked sharply.

"We give this villain noble credit for resource and enterprise.
What more likely than that he has left a couple of his retainers
at Versailles, with orders that, should any messenger be sent off
by a southern road from the baron, his journey is to be cut short,
and any paper or letter found upon him carried with all speed to
Tulle? In that case, the chances of our being met by a reinforcement
are very small."

"Peste! You are right, Desmond. I never gave the matter a thought.
Now that you mention it, nothing is more probable. It was the
servant who accompanied me whom I sent off, but, as de Tulle would
have been notified of my arrival, and the man started from the
baron's house, it would be deemed certain that he was either going
to Pointdexter or my own estate, and that the message he carried
was a somewhat urgent one. Well, all we can do is to hope that the
fellow has not thought of our taking such a precaution, and that
my messenger will arrive unmolested. Still, I acknowledge that the
idea makes me anxious, and I fear that we shall not get through
without serious trouble. There are so many disbanded soldiers, and
other knaves, in the forests that de Tulle would have no
difficulty in hiring any number of them, and carrying his scheme
out without the assistance or knowledge of his own tenants. The
heavy taxation necessary to keep up the expenses of the court has
driven numbers of people to despair, and many hitherto law-abiding
folk are being forced to leave their holdings, and to take to
unlawful courses.

"However, it is of no use our telling the baron our fears. He is
obstinate, when he has once made up his mind to a thing, and
nothing short of a royal command would induce him either to change
his route, or to stop at one of the towns that we shall pass
through, and wait until my band arrives. He would, indeed,
consider his honour greatly attainted by allowing himself to make
a change of plans, on the mere chance that our suspicions were
justified."

Six days passed without anything occurring. Impatient as Philip de
la Vallee and Desmond were to get forward, they could not hurry
the slow pace at which they travelled. Mademoiselle Pointdexter
was now suffering from the reaction after her month of captivity
and anxiety. The baron therefore travelled with provoking
slowness. Obtaining, as he did, relays of horses at each post,
they could without difficulty have travelled at almost double the
rate at which they actually proceeded, but stoppages were made at
all towns at which comfortable accommodation could be obtained.
Indeed, in some places the roads were so bad that the carriage
could not proceed at a pace beyond a walk, without inflicting a
terrible jolting upon those within it.

"There is one comfort," Philip said, when he had been bewailing
the slowness of their pace, "my men should reach us at Nevers, at
the latest, and you may take it as tolerably certain that any
attempt to interfere with us will take place considerably south of
that town. I should guess that it would be somewhere between
Moulins and Thiers. If our escort does not come before we reach
Moulins, I shall begin to think that your suggestion was correct,
and that my messenger has indeed been intercepted and slain."

Desmond could not gainsay the truth of his friend's calculation,
but he said:

"Possibly, Philip, instead of being attacked by the way, de
Tulle's agents might rob him of his letter at one of the inns at
which he put up. Did he know its contents?"

"Yes. I told him that it contained an order for the majordomo to
ride, with a troop of twelve men, to meet us, and that he was to
give what aid he could in getting them together as quickly as
possible; so that, even if robbed of the letter, he might still be
able to fulfil his mission. Not, I own, that I thought of that at
the time, for the idea that he might be stopped never once entered
my mind."

At Nevers, Desmond went round to all the inns in the town, to
enquire if any body of men had put up at that place, but without
success. When he related his failure to obtain any news to Philip,
the latter said:

"Well, we must hope that we shall meet them before we arrive at
Moulins. If not, I shall no longer have any hope that my messenger
got through safely, and then we shall have to consider whether it
will not be necessary to inform the baron of our fears, and to get
him to change his route and make a detour, cross the Loire at
Bourbon, make for Maison, and then journey down on the other bank
of the Saone as far as Pont Saint Esprit, and thence over the
mountains to Florac."

"That would certainly be the safest plan, always providing that we
have not been watched ever since we left Paris. The vicomte might
well take this precaution, in case we should deviate from the
regular route."

"Sapriste! Desmond, you are always full of evil prognostications.
Still, as usual, I cannot but allow that there is reason in them."

"You see, Philip, we have plenty of time, as we travel at a
snail's pace, and in the evening when we stop, to think over the
affair in every light. I always put myself in the position of the
Vicomte de Tulle, and consider what steps I should take to ensure
success in my next attempt to carry off Mademoiselle de
Pointdexter."

"Then I am very glad that you are not in the position of de Tulle,
for, if you were, I should consider that all was lost, and that
there was not a chink or crevice by which we could escape. It is
monstrous that a nobleman cannot travel from Paris to his estate,
without being obliged to take as many precautions as the general
of an army would have to do, against the attack of an active and
formidable enemy."

"And will you tell the baron, Philip?"

"I hardly know what to do in that respect, for after all, we have
no solid foundation whatever for our uneasiness, beyond the fact
that the men I sent for have not met us. All our apprehensions are
due solely to the fact that this fellow is utterly unscrupulous,
and that his whole future depends on his carrying out his insolent
designs successfully. If we had any solid facts to work on, I
would urge the baron to change his route, but I fear that he would
not only scoff at our views that there may be danger, but might be
angry at my taking the step of sending for a party of my
retainers, without his being in any way consulted in the matter.
At any rate, I feel sure that he would refuse to change his route,
without some very much stronger reason than we can give him."

"Then we must let matters go on as they are, Philip. It may be
that really we have been alarming ourselves without sufficient
cause. If the worst comes to the worst, we can make a good fight
for it."

"It is certainly hard on you. You have performed one brave action
for us, at the risk of your life, and now you are thrust into
another danger, perhaps even greater than the first, and this in a
quarrel in which you have no concern whatever."

Desmond laughed.

"Do you not see, Philip, that the adventure is good training for a
soldier, and that, if I am on duty in command of a company, I
shall be all the more useful an officer for having served a sort
of apprenticeship in surprises, ambuscades, and alarms. The
journey has been vastly more interesting than it would have been
under other circumstances. We should have found it dull, without
such matter of interest as this affair has given us, and, even
should nothing whatever come of it, it will have served its
purpose by beguiling our journey, which, in truth, riding at so
slow a pace, would otherwise scarce have been amusing."

"Well, then, it seems that the only thing that we can do is to see
that the servants all keep their pistols charged, and are prepared
to do their duty in case of sudden attack. Of course, at present
they have no idea that any special danger threatens us; but I
shall tell them, before I start in the morning, that we fear the
road is dangerous owing to a band of robbers reported to be in the
forest, and that they must hold themselves in readiness for
action, in case we fall in with any of them. Old Eustace and the
coachman have both got arquebuses. I shall tell them that, should
they be attacked, they are to fire at once, and then the coachman
is to whip up his horses and drive at full speed, while we
endeavour to keep off the assailants."

"That would be of use, if the assailants should be for the most
part on foot, but I think it more likely that they will be
mounted, and however fast this lumbering carriage might go, they
could easily keep up with it. Fight as hard as we may, the
carriage must be overtaken if they are in sufficient force to
overpower us. I should think that it would be well that you should
warn Mademoiselle de Pointdexter that we hear the road is not very
safe, and that, if there is trouble, she is on no account to
attempt to leave the carriage. As long as she remains there she
will run but little risk, for you may be sure that de Tulle will
have issued the strictest orders that no pistol is to be fired in
its direction. I have also little doubt that he has ordered the
baron's life to be respected, because his death would greatly add
to the anger that would be excited by the attack, and would also
put a barrier between him and mademoiselle, who would naturally
regard him with even more hostility than before, as the author of
her father's death. Therefore, I trust that in any case his life
and hers will not be endangered, however numerous our assailants
might be."

"Yes, I have no doubt that that is so, Desmond, though I am sure
that, were I wounded and on the point of death, I would rather
know that Anne had fallen by a chance shot, than that she was in
the power of this villain."

The next morning, they started very early for Moulins, for the
journey would be a longer one than usual, and the road through the
forest would probably be so rough, that the pace must necessarily
be very slow. At two o'clock, the men riding ahead noticed that a
tree had fallen across the road, and one of them galloped back and
informed the baron of it.

"That is strange," the latter said. "There have been no storms for
the past two days. It must have fallen quite recently, for
otherwise the news would have been taken to the nearest commune,
whose duty it would be to see at once to its removal."

Philip de la Vallee had, as the servant was speaking, glanced at
Desmond. To both, it seemed that this obstacle could scarcely be
the result of an accident.

"I will see how large the tree is," the baron said. "Whatever be
its size, it is hard if eight men and four horses cannot drag it
off the road."

So saying, he cantered forward, followed by the retainer, whose
comrade also fell in as they passed him.

"Look to your arquebuses," Philip said to the two men on the box,
and at the same time called up Mike and the two men, from behind.

"A tree has fallen across the road," he said to them, "and it is
possible that this may be an ambush, and that we may be attacked,
so hold yourselves in readiness, look to your pistols, and see
that the priming is all right in the pans."

Then they went to the door of the carriage.

"It is just possible that we are going to have trouble, Anne,"
Philip said. "Remember what I told you last night, and on no
account move from your seat, whatever may take place."

As he spoke, there was a discharge of firearms in front, and at
the same moment a score of horsemen broke from the trees, and rode
down upon the carriage. Their leader was masked.

As they came up, the coachman and Eustace discharged their
arquebuses, emptying two saddles. Then, drawing their swords, both
leapt to the ground. In the meantime Philip, Desmond, and the
three men dashed at their assailants. Philip made for their
leader, who, he doubted not, was the Vicomte de Tulle, but the
latter drew a pistol and fired, when he was within a horse's
length of him. The young man swayed in his saddle, and fell
heavily to the ground, while a piercing cry from the carriage rose
in the air.

Desmond, after cutting down the first man he encountered, turned
his horse and attacked the masked figure, who met him with a fury
that showed he was animated by personal animosity. His skill in
fencing, however, gave him but slight advantage in such an
encounter, while Desmond's exercise with the sabre, in the
regimental salle d'armes, was now most useful to him. Enraged at
the fall of his friend, and seeing that there was but a moment to
spare, for already some of the other assailants were coming to the
assistance of their chief, he showered his blows with such
vehemence and fury that his opponent had enough to do to guard his
head, without striking a blow in return.

Seeing in a moment that he would be surrounded, Desmond made a
last effort. The vicomte's weapon shivered at the stroke, but it
somewhat diverted the direction of the blow, and instead of
striking him full on the head, the sword shore down his cheek,
inflicting a ghastly wound, carrying away an ear as well as the
cheek from the eye to the chin. Then, wheeling his horse, he
dashed at two men who were riding at him.

The attack was so sudden that one of their horses swerved, and
Desmond, touching his charger's flank with a spur, rode at him and
hurled horse and rider to the ground. A backhanded blow struck his
other opponent full in the throat, and then he dashed into the
wood, shouting to Mike to follow him.

The two servitors had both fallen, and the greater part of the
assailants were gathered round the carriage. Mike was engaged in a
single combat with one of the horsemen, and had just run his
opponent through when Desmond shouted to him; so, turning, he
galloped after his master.

They were not pursued. The fall of their leader had, for the
moment, paralysed the band, and while three or four of them
remained by the carriage--whose last defender had fallen--the
others, dismounting, ran to where the vicomte was lying.

"That has been a tough business, your honour," Mike said, as he
joined his master. "It is right you were, sir, when you told me
that you were afraid that rascal would try and hinder us on our
way. Sure it has been a bad business, altogether. Monsieur Philip
is killed, and the baron, too, I suppose, and all the others, and
Miss Anne has fallen into the hands of that villain again."

"I do not think that the baron has been hurt, Mike. I expect the
orders were only to take him prisoner."

"Where are we going, your honour?" Mike asked, for they were still
galloping at full speed.

"I am going to get into the road again, and try to find help, at
Moulins, to recover the young lady. There is one thing, she is not
likely to be molested by that fellow for some little time."

"Then you did not kill him, your honour?"

"No. I cut through his guard, but it turned my sword. But I laid
his face open, and it will be some time before he will be fit to
show himself to a lady. If, as I expect, I can get no help at
Moulins, I shall ride on to Monsieur de la Vallee's place, gather
some men there, and try to cut the party off before they get to
Tulle. If I am too late, I shall see what I can do to rescue them.
From la Vallee I shall go to Pointdexter. I have no doubt that we
can get together a force, there, large enough to besiege de
Tulle's castle."

After an hour's ride, they arrived at Moulins, and Desmond rode at
once to the mairie. Being in uniform, he was received with every
respect by the mayor, who, however, on hearing his story, said
that he did not see how he could interfere in the matter. It
seemed to be a private quarrel between two nobles, and, even if he
were ready to interpose, he had no force available; "but at the
same time, he would send out four men, with a cart, to bring in
any they might find with life in them."

"Very well, sir," Desmond said, indignantly. "You know your duty,
I suppose, and I know mine, and I shall certainly report to the
king your refusal to give any assistance to punish these ill
doers."

So saying, he left the room, and at once rode to some stables.
Leaving his horse and Mike's there, he hired others, and then
continued his journey south at full speed, and before evening rode
into Roanne. He knew that it was useless, endeavouring to stir up
the authorities here, as they would naturally say that it was the
business of the mayors at Nevers and Moulins, since the attack had
taken place between those towns. Ordering fresh horses to be got
ready, he said to Mike:

"Do you go to all the inns on the left of the main street--I will
go to all those on the right--and enquire if a troop of mounted
men have come in. I am afraid there is no chance of it, but it is
at least worth the trial."

At the first four or five places he visited, the answer was that
no such party had arrived; then, seeing one of the civic guards,
he asked him if he had seen or heard of a troop of men passing
through the town.

"Such a troop arrived an hour ago, Monsieur l'officier. They
stopped, as they passed me, and asked if Monsieur le Baron
Pointdexter, accompanied by a carriage and some servants, had
passed through the town. They put up at the Soleil, and I should
think that they are there now, for they had evidently made a long
journey, and their horses were too worn out to go farther."

Delighted at the unexpected news, Desmond hurried to the inn. It
was a second-class establishment, and evidently frequented by
market people, as there were large stables attached to it. The
landlord was standing at the door. He bowed profoundly, for it was
seldom that guests of quality visited the inn.

"What can I do for monsieur?" he enquired.

"You have a party of travellers, who arrived an hour ago. I have
business with them."

"You will find them in this room, monsieur," the landlord said,
opening a door.

There were some twelve men inside. The remains of a repast were on
the table. Some of the men were still sitting there, others were
already asleep on benches. One, who was evidently their leader,
was walking up and down the room impatiently. He looked up in
surprise when Desmond entered.

"You are the intendant of Monsieur de la Vallee, are you not?"

"I am, sir," the man said, still more surprised.

"I am a friend of your master. We have been expecting to meet you,
for the past four or five days. He was travelling south with the
Baron de Pointdexter and his daughter. We were attacked, this
afternoon, on the other side of Moulins. The baron and his
daughter were, I believe, carried off; the servants all killed. I
saw your master fall, but whether mortally wounded or not I cannot
say.

"I and my servant cut our way through the assailants, who were led
by the Vicomte de Tulle, who had before carried off Mademoiselle
de Pointdexter. I was on my way south to la Vallee, with but faint
hope of meeting you on the road."

"This is bad news indeed, sir," the intendant said. "I trust that
my master is not killed, for we all loved him. As to Mademoiselle
Pointdexter, it was an understood thing that she, one day, would
be our mistress.

"It is not our fault that we are so late. Our master's messenger
was attacked, near Nevers, and was left for dead on the road. The
letter he bore, and his purse, were taken from him. The night air
caused his wounds to stop bleeding, and he managed to crawl to
Moulins. Having no money, he was unable to hire a horse, and
indeed could not have sat one. He went to an inn frequented by
market people, and there succeeded in convincing an honest
peasant, who had come in with a cart of faggots, that his story
was a true one, and promised him large pay on his arrival at la
Vallee.

"The pace was, as you may imagine, a slow one, but two days ago he
arrived home, and told me the story. I had the alarm bell at the
castle rung at once, and in half an hour the tenants came in, and
I chose these twelve, and started an hour later. Fortunately, the
master had told the messenger what was the purport of his letter,
and we have ridden night and day since. I am at your service,
monsieur."

"In the first place, let your men have a sleep. It is eight
o'clock now. I will give them seven hours. At three in the
morning, we will mount. There are not beds enough here, but if you
get some clean straw scattered down in one of the sheds, the men
can lie there. In the meantime, I will go round and hire fresh
horses, leaving your own in pledge for their safe return.

"You had better pick out two of your men to ride on to Moulins.
The mayor there promised to send out a cart, to fetch in any
wounded who might be found at the scene of the conflict. If, on
their arrival, they find that Monsieur de la Vallee is not among
these, they must ride on till they get there--it is some three
leagues from the town--and bring in his body, together with those
of his servants. They must arrange to give them Christian burial
there, but your master's body they will, of course, take on to la
Vallee.

"His last wish, of course, would be that Mademoiselle de
Pointdexter should be rescued from the power of the villain noble
who has carried her off. Starting in the morning so early, we
shall have no difficulty in cutting him off long before he arrives
at Tulle. He will probably cross the Alier at the ferry at Saint
Pierre le Moutier. I must look at a map, and see the road that he
is likely to follow, but it is probable that he will make by
country tracks till he strikes the main road from Moulins."

"Well, I should think, sir, that he would cross it near Aubusson,
and then pass over the mountains by the road through Felletin, and
come down upon Meimac, when he will be only two leagues from his
castle near Correze. There is a good road from here to Aubusson,
and we might take post on the road between that town and Felletin.
At least, sir, we can avenge the murder of our dear master, though
we have arrived too late to save him; and can rescue Mademoiselle
de Pointdexter and her father."

The men, who had roused themselves and listened to the
conversation with many ejaculations of fury and regret, now
exclaimed that they were ready to ride on at once.

"There is no occasion for that, my friends," Desmond said. "The
coach with mademoiselle can travel but slowly, especially along
country roads."

"Perhaps the vicomte may take her on the saddle behind him," the
intendant suggested.

"That he will not do," Desmond said. "In the fight I wounded him
so sorely that he will, I think, have to be carried in a litter,
and he will be in no condition for fast or long travelling, so
that they certainly are not, at the present time, many leagues
from the spot where they attacked us, and cannot reach Aubusson
until the day after tomorrow. We might cut them off before they
arrive there, but we do not know what road they may follow, and
might miss them; whereas, from what you say, there can be no doubt
that they would pass through Felletin."

"I think that he would be sure to come that way, sir, for if he
followed the road on to Limoges questions might be asked. At any
rate, sir, we might post a man at Aubusson, and another at Pont
Gibaut, as he might make from that town to Felletin through the
village of Croc. How many men has he with him?"

"That I cannot tell you. Some twenty mounted men, under his own
leading, attacked the carriage. Two were shot by Eustace and the
coachman. I disposed of two more, and my soldier servant of
another. The two mounted men and the two servants probably killed
two or three more, at least, before they themselves fell, so that
the vicomte would only have some twelve mounted men with him. But
there was another party in ambush, and I cannot say how strong
they were; but probably, altogether, there would be twenty.

"There are ten of your men, after sending two off to Moulins. Now
there is yourself, my servant, and I, so we shall be thirteen.
With the advantage of surprise, I think that we may calculate upon
an easy victory, especially as I imagine that the men employed in
the affair are not de Tulle's own retainers, but some robber band
that he hired for the purpose; and these, having no special
interest in the matter beyond earning the pay, are not likely to
make any very determined resistance."

Desmond now went back to the hotel where he had put up his horse.
He found Mike awaiting him there, and the latter was delighted
when he heard the news of the arrival of the party from la Vallee.
Desmond's purse was but lightly furnished, and as he saw that the
expenses might be heavy, he went to a jeweller's.

"I want to borrow fifty louis," he said, "on this ring. It is, I
imagine, worth a good deal more, since it was a present to me from
the king."

The jeweller examined the ring carefully.

"It is a valuable one, indeed, sir," he said, "and I would
willingly lend you double as much upon it."

"Well, we will say seventy-five, then," Desmond said. "I think
that will be ample for my purpose."

Having received the money, he returned to the inn, accompanied by
Mike; and went round to the various stables in the town, where he
hired fifteen horses. These were to be taken to the Soleil, at
three in the morning, and the men who brought them were to take
back the tired horses as security.

At that hour, the party started, and after a ride of some
thirty-five miles reached Clermont, where they stabled the horses
for six hours. Late that evening they arrived at Aubusson, having
accomplished a journey of some seventy miles. One of the men had
been left at Pont Gibaut, with orders to take a fresh horse and
ride on to Aubusson, if the party they were in search of passed
through the town.

At Aubusson, Desmond took a fresh horse and rode back to Pont
Gibaut, enquiring at all the villages along the road whether a
party of twenty men had been seen to cross the road, at any point.
Then he took four hours' sleep, and at daybreak started back
again, making fresh enquiries till he arrived at Aubusson. He was
convinced that the band had not, at that time, crossed the road on
its way south.

At ten o'clock he started out with his party, followed the road by
the side of the Crorrere river--here a mere streamlet--and halted
in a wood about five miles from Felletin.

At six o'clock in the afternoon, a horseman was seen coming along,
and was recognized as the man who had been left at Pont Gibaut.
Desmond went out to meet him. He reported that, at twelve o'clock,
a party of horsemen had come down on to the road a mile to the
west of the town. He had followed at a distance, and they had
turned off by the track leading to Croc. They had with them a
carriage and a horse litter, and were travelling slowly.

Desmond and his men at once shifted their position, and took up a
post on the track between Croc and Felletin. An hour later, the
party of horsemen were seen approaching the wood in which they
were hidden. Desmond drew up the men, all of whom were armed with
pistols, as well as swords, in line among the trees. He waited
until the carriage was abreast of them, and then gave a shout, and
the men at once dashed upon the escort.

Taken completely by surprise, these made but a poor fight of it.
Several were shot down at once. The vicomte, whose head was
enveloped in bandages, leapt into the saddle of a horse whose
rider had been shot, and, drawing his sword, rode at Desmond, who
was making for the door of the carriage. Expecting no such attack,
he would have been taken by surprise had not Mike, who saw his
danger, shouted a warning, and at the same moment discharged his
pistol. The ball struck de Tulle in the forehead, and he fell back
dead.

His fall at once put an end to the conflict. The robbers, who had
lost some eight of their number, at once turned their horses'
heads and rode off at full gallop.

As Desmond drew bridle by the carriage, the door opened, and the
baron leapt out.

"By what miracle have you effected our rescue, my dear Monsieur
Kennedy?" he exclaimed. "My daughter told me that she saw you and
your servant break your way through these brigands, and ride off.
She has been suffering an agony of grief for Philip, whom she saw
shot. Have you any news of him?"

"None, sir. I, too, saw him fall, but whether he was killed, or
only wounded, I am unable to say. I have sent two men to bring him
into Moulins, and I trust they will find that he is only wounded."

"My daughter saw you cut down that villain with a terrible blow.
We have not seen him since, but we know that he was carried on a
horse litter behind the carriage."

"At any rate, he will trouble you no more, Baron. My man shot him
through the head, just as he was riding to attack me from behind."

"Thank God! We are saved from further persecutions! And now, tell
me how you came to be here."

"It was simple enough, Baron. I found twelve men, with Monsieur de
la Vallee's intendant, at Roanne. Philip, who feared that the
vicomte would endeavour to make a further effort to repair his
fortune, by carrying your daughter off on the road, sent a
messenger to his intendant to ride at once, with twelve men, to
meet us; and, had all gone well, they would have joined us fully
two days' journey north of Nevers. The messenger was attacked on
the way, robbed of his letter and purse, and left for dead. He
managed to crawl to Nevers, and there, being too weak and ill to
sit a horse, he hired a peasant's cart and made the journey,
slowly and painfully, to la Vallee. As he knew the purport of the
letter, two hours after his arrival there the intendant started,
and rode, without drawing bridle, to Roanne. There, by great good
fortune, I found them, though men and horses were alike done up.
Knowing, however, that the vicomte, in his wounded state, and
embarrassed with the coach, could proceed but slowly, I let them
have seven hours' sleep, and in the meantime hired fresh horses
for them; and we rode that day to Aubusson, and this morning moved
down to within five miles of Felletin. I left a man on the road to
Pont Gibaut, and he brought us word that you had left the main
road, and were travelling through Croc, so we moved at once to
intercept you; and you know the rest."



Chapter 7: In Paris Again.


"You have indeed done well, Monsieur Kennedy," the baron said,
when Desmond finished his story.

"Now, let us see to my daughter. Her maid is attending on her. She
fainted when the fight began. She is not of a fainting sort, but
the trials of the last few weeks, and her belief that de la Vallee
was killed, have very much upset her."

"No wonder," Desmond said. "It must have been terrible, indeed, to
lose her lover, and to know that she was again in the power of
that villain.

"And you, Baron; how did you escape the fate that befell the rest
of your convoy?"

"We had ridden close up to the tree, when suddenly there was a
discharge of firearms. The two men with me fell at once. I was
unhurt, but as I turned my horse he fell dead, three bullets
having pierced his chest. Before I could recover my feet, the
rascals were upon me. They evidently intended to take me alive,
for they were provided with ropes, and, binding my arms, hurried
me back to the carriage.

"By the time we got there, all was over. My faithful Eustace and
the coachman lay dead by the side of the carriage. They had fought
stoutly, for three of the brigands lay beside them. Six others
were scattered near, and the brigands were gathered round a fallen
man, who I guessed was their leader.

"I found Anne in a state of the wildest grief. She told me that
she had seen Philip shot by the vicomte, just as he was attacking
him, and that you in turn had cut down the villain.

"For half an hour, nothing was done, and then one, who was
evidently in authority over the others, left the troop and came up
to the carriage.

"'Monsieur le Baron,' he said, 'the orders of my chief are that
you are to be placed in the carriage, with your daughter and her
maid. If you will give your word of honour that you will not
attempt to escape, or to give the alarm as you go along, or to
address a word to anyone whom we may encounter, your arms will be
freed, and you will be treated with all respect. If, on the
contrary, you decline to give this promise, my instructions are
that your feet as well as your hands are to be tied, and that you
are to be gagged and placed in the bottom of the carriage. You are
also to answer for your daughter and her maid; that they, too,
neither by word nor gesture, shall attempt to attract the
attention of anyone in the villages that we may pass through."

"It was a hard condition, but I had no choice. The idea that I
should suffer the indignity of being bound and gagged, like a
common malefactor, made my blood boil. I should, in that case, no
more be able to give the alarm than if I had been free; therefore
I gave the promise, for at least it would be a comfort, to Anne,
that I should be with her and able to talk to her.

"We stopped two nights on the road, being lodged at solitary
houses on the way. A guard was placed at my chamber door, and
another at my window, and even had I not given my word I could not
have escaped.

"And now, Monsieur Kennedy, what do you propose?"

"I think, sir, that it would be best that you should start at
once, in the carriage, for Pointdexter. Monsieur Philip's
intendant and his men will ride as your escort, but I do not think
that there is the slightest probability of your being interfered
with; for now that the vicomte is dead, these men--who were not, I
think, his retainers, but a band of robbers whom he had hired for
the occasion--will have no further motive for attacking you.

"I myself shall return to Aubusson, send back the horse on which I
rode there, hire another, and make straight for Moulins, where I
still hope that I may find Monsieur de la Vallee alive.

"Did you see the vicomte, after you were attacked?"

"No. I heard one of the men tell the fellows who were guarding us
that your stroke had cut off one of his ears, and laid his cheek
bare from the eye to the chin. I fancy that he was too badly hurt
to come to us, but in any case he would not have cared to show
himself, in so terrible a plight."

"We must admit that, with all his faults, he was brave," Desmond
said; "for, in spite of his pain and weakness, and of the fact
that his head was enveloped in bandages, he sprang from his
litter, leapt into one of the saddles we had emptied, and, single
handed, made for me, until my man cut his career short with a
bullet.

"As you go through Croc, it might be well that you should send one
of the villagers off to his castle, to tell them that their master
is lying dead here, when doubtless they will send out a party to
fetch in his body."

By this time, Mademoiselle de Pointdexter had recovered from her
faint. She held out her hand to Desmond, as he stood bareheaded
beside the door.

"You have rescued me again, Monsieur Kennedy," she said; "for,
though life seems worthless to me now, you have saved me from far
worse than death. That you have so saved me, for my father's sake
as well as my own, I thank you with all my heart."

"I would have you still hope, mademoiselle. We know that Monsieur
de la Vallee fell, but many men fall from their horses when
wounded, even when the wound is not vital. I am riding at once to
Moulins, and trust to find him still alive. Therefore, I pray you
do not give up all hope."

"I dare not let myself hope," she said. "It would be but to suffer
another blow. Still, I feel that I have so much to be thankful for
that, grievous as my sorrow is, I shall try to bear it, with the
help of the Holy Virgin."

The party now separated. The baron mounted one of the horses left
behind by the brigands, and with the men from la Vallee started
for Pointdexter; while Desmond, with Mike Callaghan, rode back to
Aubusson.

There they slept for a few hours, and then obtained fresh horses
and started for Moulins, where they arrived late in the evening.
They alighted at the Soleil, where Desmond had ordered the two
men, who had gone on from Roanne, to bring the body of Monsieur de
la Vallee.

"The gentleman is not here, sir," the landlord said, as he came to
the door. "He was brought into the town by the men sent out by the
mayor. As, by his dress, he was evidently a gentleman of quality,
they took him straight to the Couronne."

"Was he alive?"

"Yes, sir; but, as I hear, the surgeons are unable to decide yet
whether he will live. The men you sent here arrived the day after
he was brought in. They told me that you would return, and put
their horses here, but they are now in attendance on the wounded
gentleman, who, it seems, is their lord."

"Thank God, he is alive!" Desmond exclaimed. "I have news for him
that will do more than the surgeons can to restore him to
himself."

Leaving Mike to see the horses stabled, he hurried away to the
other hotel. He sent up his name, and one of the surgeons came
down.

"Monsieur de la Vallee is very ill," he said, "although his wound
is not necessarily mortal. This morning we succeeded in extracting
the ball, but he is in a terribly weak state. He is unable to
speak above a whisper, and does not seem to care to make any
effort. It would appear that he even does not wish to live."

"I have news that will put fresh life into him."

"Then by all means go in and see him, sir. We have thought that he
is fast sinking; but if the news you bring can rouse him into
making an effort to live, he may yet recover. I will go in and
give him a strong restorative, and tell him that you are here."

In three or four minutes, he came to the door of the chamber, and
beckoned to Desmond to enter.

"The sound of your name has roused him from the lethargy, into
which he seemed sinking," he whispered. "When I told him that I
could not allow you to enter, until he had taken the draught that
I gave him, he swallowed it eagerly."

Desmond went up to the bedside, and took the hand which lay on the
coverlet. The pressure was slightly returned, and Philip's lips
moved, but he spoke so faintly that Desmond had to lean over him,
to hear the words.

"I am glad, indeed, that you are safe and sound. I have been
reproaching myself, bitterly, that I should have brought you into
this fatal business. As to the rest of it, I dare not even think
of it; but I shall die all the easier for knowing that you have
escaped."

"I escaped for a good purpose, Philip. I have good news for you.
Monsieur le Baron and mademoiselle are on their way to Pointdexter,
under the guard of your men."

"Is it possible, Desmond, or are you only saying it to rouse me?"

"Not at all, Philip. You do not suppose that, even for that
purpose, I would hold out false hopes to you; or tell an untruth
on a matter so vital to your happiness."

Philip's eyes closed, but his lips moved, and Desmond knew that he
was returning thanks to God for this unlooked-for news.

"How did it happen?" Philip said, after a silence of some minutes.

His voice was much stronger than before, and there was a faint
touch of colour in his cheeks. The surgeon nodded approvingly to
Desmond, and murmured, "I think that he will live."

"It is too long a story to tell you in full, now," Desmond said.
"Seeing that all was lost, that you were down, and that further
resistance was absolutely fruitless, Mike and I cut our way out;
the more easily since I had struck down their leader, de Tulle,
and most of his band had crowded round him. At Roanne I found your
men, who had just arrived there. It matters not now why they had
been detained. I got fresh horses for them and rode for Correze,
placed an ambush, and turned the tables upon them. Mike shot the
vicomte, and we easily defeated his followers, and rescued the
baron and his daughter. I sent them to Pointdexter under charge of
your intendant and followers, and rode hither, hoping against hope
that I might find you still alive. Your two men, who came on here,
could have told you that I had escaped."

"I did not allow them to speak to monsieur," the surgeon said, "or
even to see him. They are below, greatly grieved at being refused
entry; but I told them that any agitation might be fatal to their
master, and that they could do nothing for him if they came up;
for indeed, up to the time when we extracted the ball, he was
unconscious.

"And now, monsieur, I think that it were best you should retire. I
shall give Monsieur de la Vallee a soothing draught. A night's
rest will be of vital importance to him. And now that you have
relieved his mind of the load that has evidently weighed upon him,
I think there is little doubt that he will soon fall asleep."

"I will go and have supper," Desmond said, "for I have ridden
fifty miles since I last ate, and then it was but a piece of bread
with a draught of wine. After that I will, with your permission,
return here, and if you tell me that he sleeps, will take my place
by his bedside till morning."

"To that I have no objection," the surgeon said. "I and a
colleague have, one or other, been with him since he was brought
in; and I shall be glad of a rest, myself."

Desmond returned to the Soleil, where he had left Mike. The
latter, who had just finished his supper, was delighted to hear
that de la Vallee was likely to recover. After satisfying his own
hunger, Desmond returned to the Couronne. He went upstairs, and,
taking off his riding boots, stole to the door of his friend's
chamber. It stood a little ajar, and, pushing it open noiselessly,
he entered.

The surgeon, who was sitting at the bedside, rose at once.

"He is asleep already," he whispered, "and is breathing quietly. I
think it likely that he will not stir until tomorrow morning. I
shall be here at six. If he wakes, and there is any change, send
for me at once."

After he had left the room, Desmond took his place on the fauteuil
by the bedside. For a time, he thought over the singular chain of
adventures that he had gone through. Gradually, in spite of his
efforts, his eyelids drooped. De la Vallee had not moved, and,
being dead tired by the exertions of the past four days, he fell
into a deep sleep, from which he did not awake until daylight
streamed into the room.

Shocked at having thus given way, he looked anxiously at de la
Vallee, and was relieved to find that he was lying exactly in the
same position, and had evidently slept without once waking. Half
an hour later, Philip opened his eyes, looked wonderingly at him,
and then said:

"So, it was not all a good dream, Desmond! You are really here,
and your news is true?"

"Certainly, it is true, Philip. By this time Mademoiselle de
Pointdexter and her father are far on the way home. They were to
have travelled on to Argentan, and then through Aurillac, striking
the Lozere at Entraigues and proceeding along its banks to Mende,
and thence by a road over the hills to Villefort, where they would
be twenty miles from Pointdexter. The carriage was to be left
behind at their first halting place. Mademoiselle was then to
ride, and her maid to be carried behind one of your men, by which
means they would travel more than twice as fast as they would do,
if encumbered by the carriage. The baron said that he would spare
no pains to get home as quickly as possible, and would send a man
on, some hours ahead of him, to see that fresh horses were in
readiness for the whole party at each town they came to."

"Now tell me all about it, Desmond. I feel another man. Your good
news, and a long night's sleep, have done wonders for me. Now,
please tell me all about the affair."

Seeing that Philip was so much stronger that he could hear,
without being overexcited, the story of the rescue, Desmond
related all the details to him.

"You have indeed done wonders," Philip said. "You do not seem to
know what fatigue is. How strange that you, whose name I had never
heard until ten days back, should have rendered to Baron
Pointdexter and myself two such inestimable services.

"And so, after all your exertions and fatigue, you have been
keeping watch at my bedside all night?"

"I am ashamed to say that I have not been keeping watch, Philip,"
Desmond replied with a smile. "I had intended to, but you were
sleeping so quietly, and everything was so still, that I went off
and slept, as soundly as you have done, until within half an hour
of the time when you opened your eyes; but I am sure that I should
have awoke at once, had you moved."

"Then I am glad that I did not move, Desmond, for you must sorely
need a long sleep, after having passed three days and almost three
nights in the saddle."

The surgeons now arrived, and were delighted at the change that
had taken place in their patient.

"And when shall I be fit to travel, doctor?"

"Ah, well, we will talk of that in another fortnight's time. You
need absolute quiet, for were you to move, before your wound is
fairly healed, inflammation might set in, and that would throw you
back for a very long time. You have had a very narrow escape, and
you are fortunate, indeed, to have got off with only a trifling
detention."

"But I might be carried in a horse litter?"

"Certainly not, at present," the surgeon said decidedly.
"Possibly, in ten days, you might without danger be so carried,
providing they take you in short stages and with easy-paced
horses; but I should say that it would be still better, were you
to be carried on men's shoulders. There is never any difficulty in
hiring men, and you could get relays every eight or ten miles,
while it would be difficult to get horses accustomed to such
work."

"You don't think that I should be able to ride, doctor?"

"Certainly not in less than a month, probably not in six weeks."

"Then I must be carried," Philip said. "I should work myself into
the fever you talk of, if I were to be kept here.

"What are your plans, Desmond?"

"I have not thought of them, yet. At any rate, I shall stay with
you till you are well enough to start."

"I could not think of that, Desmond."

"You have no say in the matter, Philip. In the first place, you
will get on all the faster for my being with you. In the next
place, ten days of my leave are already expired, and were we to go
on straight to Pointdexter, I should only have a few days there
before starting back for Paris, and I must therefore postpone my
visit to some future time. I can stay here ten days, accompany you
some four days on your journey, and then turn back again."

"A nice way of spending a month's holiday!" Philip grumbled.

"It will be a holiday that I shall long look back to," Desmond
said quietly, "and with pleasure. I do not say that I should not
have enjoyed myself at the baron's chateau, for that I should have
done; but the adventures that I have gone through will remain in
my mind, all my life, as having gained the friendship of yourself,
the baron, and his daughter."

"Friendship seems to me too mild a word for it, Desmond. You have
earned a gratitude so deep that it will be a pain to us, if we
cannot show it in deeds."

"And now, Philip," Desmond said, changing the subject abruptly, "I
suppose that you will be, at once, sending off one of your men
with the news that you are in a fair way towards recovery.
Mademoiselle de Pointdexter is suffering at the thought that you
were probably killed. I did my best to give her hope, but without
much success. Your two retainers have been fretting greatly that
they were not allowed to see you, but I think that now they can be
brought up, and you can choose one of them to act as your
messenger. He will, of course, ride post, and can arrive at
Pointdexter very soon after the baron, if indeed he does not get
there first. If he starts at once, and changes horses at each
place, he may be there by tomorrow at noon, if not earlier; for it
is not more, I believe, than a hundred and twenty miles to
Pointdexter. If you will dictate a letter for him to take, I will
write it for you."

"It must be a short one," the surgeon said, "just a few words.
Monsieur de la Vallee has talked more than is good for him."

Half an hour later the messenger started, carrying a note with a
few words from Philip to Anne, and a longer letter from Desmond to
the baron. Four days later answers were received. The messenger
had arrived at Pointdexter two hours before the travellers reached
home, and Anne's joy at the news that, not only was Philip alive,
but might in a short time be with her, was deep indeed. The baron
wrote to Desmond, as well as to Philip, again expressing the deep
gratitude of himself and his daughter, greatly regretting that he
should not have the opportunity, at present, of thanking him
personally. With the letter the messenger brought a bag of money,
concerning which he wrote:

"You have, I know, dear Monsieur Kennedy, expended a considerable
sum of money in hiring relays of horses, for yourself and Monsieur
de la Vallee's men; and this, of course, is a debt you cannot
object to my repaying. Without knowing the exact sum, I have
roughly calculated the probable amount, and forward it to you by
the messenger who will bring you this letter."

Desmond had no hesitation in accepting the money. The baron had
evidently taken considerable pains to calculate the sums that he
must have laid out, in order not to hurt his feelings by sending a
larger sum than he had spent, for the amount contained in the bag
was but a few louis over his disbursements. He at once rode over
to Roanne and redeemed his ring, which had proved of more value to
him than he had ever anticipated.

At the end of the ten days, Philip was strong enough to walk
across the room, and the surgeon gave permission for him to start,
if, instead of being carried all the way, he would be taken to
Lyons, which was but twenty miles distant, and there take boat
down the Rhone to Viviers. Desmond went with him to Lyons, and saw
him comfortably bestowed on board a craft going down the river,
and there left him in charge of his own retainers. Then,
accompanied by Mike, whose wound was now well healed, he rode back
to Paris by comparatively easy stages, arriving there on the day
before his leave was up. He reported himself to the colonel.

"So you have not been to Pointdexter after all! I received a long
letter a week ago from the baron, sent by special messenger,
giving me a full account of your doings, which reads like a
chapter of romance. He mentioned that he had also written to the
king, denouncing the conduct of the Vicomte de Tulle; and stating
that, in the fight between his own rescuers and the vicomte's
band, the latter was killed, and doing full justice to the part
you played in the affair. I had a message from His Majesty
yesterday, ordering that you should, as soon as you returned, go
at once to Versailles, in order that he might question you further
on the affair.

"I have another piece of news for you. We have received orders to
march in three days' time, which is a fortunate circumstance for
you, for there can be no doubt that, however gallantly and well
you have behaved in this affair, and in whatever light His Majesty
may view it, you have incurred the enmity of de Tulle's family and
connections, and the air of Paris would not be healthy for you,
for a time. I need not say that I have read the baron's letter to
your comrades, and that they fully shared with me the admiration I
feel at your conduct."

"Had I better start at once for Versailles, sir?"

"I think so. The king is not pleased at being kept waiting. He is
sure to ask you when you arrived. You had better take one of my
horses. I will order it to be brought round, and shall be at your
quarters by the time you have put on your full uniform."

The king had just returned from hunting when Desmond arrived at
the palace, and gave his name to one of the ushers. Five minutes
later, he was conducted to the king's dressing room.

"This is a serious business, young sir, in which you have been
engaged," the king said shortly to Desmond, as he entered.

"I am aware of that, Sire, and yet I am well assured that every
officer in Your Majesty's service would have acted as I did, under
similar circumstances."

"The Baron de Pointdexter has written to us fully on the matter,"
the king said, "but we wish to hear the account from your own
lips. When did you return to Paris?"

"But two hours since, Sire."

"Then you have lost no time in presenting yourself here. Now, tell
us the whole matter, omitting no detail."

Desmond told the story fully. He was interrupted once by the king.

"How was it that Monsieur de la Vallee's people were at Roanne?"

Desmond then related the fears that he and Philip had entertained,
lest the vicomte should make another attempt to carry off
Mademoiselle Pointdexter, and how, without the baron's knowledge,
Philip had sent off a messenger to his intendant for a body of his
men to meet them on the way; how the messenger had been
intercepted and desperately wounded, and how, in consequence,
instead of their being met by the party at Nevers, or north of
that town, they had only reached Roanne after the attack had been
made on the travellers, near Moulins.

The king asked no more questions, until Desmond finished his
story.

"You did well, sir," he then said; "and the conduct of the Vicomte
de Tulle was outrageous, and we should have visited him with our
heaviest displeasure, had he not already received his deserts. It
is intolerable that a noble gentleman, with his daughter, cannot
travel along the highroads of our kingdom without being thus
assaulted. It was the more scandalous when the vicomte was
banished from our court for a similar attempt. The fact that he
had enjoyed our favour would in no degree have mitigated--indeed
it would have increased--our anger at his conduct, since it would
have seemed as if he had relied upon it for immunity for his
action. Surely, such a belief would have been an erroneous one.
The law must be observed, and the higher placed a man is, the more
is he bound to set an example of obedience to it.

"We thank you, sir, for having thwarted so daring and villainous a
scheme. We have not yet sent an answer to the Baron de Pointdexter,
because we wished your report of the matter before doing so. We
shall now cause him to be informed of our indignation at the plot
against his person and that of his daughter, and our satisfaction
that they have escaped from it.

"You have begun your career well, indeed, young sir. Your regiment
is about to start for the frontier. We shall direct your colonel
to report to us, from time to time, as to your conduct, and shall
see that your promotion is in accordance with your actions, and
shall request him to offer you any opportunity that may occur for
distinguishing yourself."

Desmond rode back to Paris well satisfied with the result of the
interview. He had not been slow in noticing that, although the
king's approval of his actions had been warmly expressed in words,
there was a certain coldness in the tone in which they were
spoken, which showed that, although the king's sense of justice
constrained him to praise, he was at heart sore at the death of
one who had been a favoured companion in his sports and
amusements.

On his return, he found his two friends waiting for him, at his
quarters. They gave him a hearty greeting.

"You are a perfect paladin, Kennedy," O'Neil said; "and, though we
are all proud of you, we cannot help feeling a little envious that
such adventures have all fallen to the lot of our junior ensign.
It is evident that, if you were not born with a silver spoon in
your mouth, fortune determined to make up in other ways, by giving
you such chances as do not fall to the lot of anyone else."

"Yes, I think I have every right to consider myself exceptionally
fortunate."

"You may have been fortunate, Kennedy," O'Sullivan remarked. "The
thing is, that you took advantage of the opportunities. You threw
yourself into the first adventure that came your way, rescued a
lovely damsel in distress, and her gratitude and that of her
father attracted the king's notice, and gained that ring on your
finger. In the next place, after escaping from the ruffians who
attacked the coach--principally, as it seems, by cutting down
their leader, and so occupying the attention of his followers--you
instantly took the resolution to attempt to rescue him and his
daughter, and succeeded in doing so. Another man might have
stopped at Moulins, congratulating himself that he had escaped
from the trap, and lamenting that he could do nothing towards
again rescuing this damsel from her abductors. Of course, it was a
piece of good fortune, meeting de la Vallee's men at Roanne; but I
have no doubt that, if you had not done so, you would still have
got to Pointdexter, gathered a force, and intercepted the
vicomte's party."

"It would have been a very near thing, O'Sullivan. Changing horse
at every post, I might have got to Pointdexter from Roanne in
twenty-four hours; but I doubt whether, even allowing that no time
was lost in getting the men together, I could have got to Tulle
before them. They had but one hundred and fifty miles to travel, I
should have had still farther; and, as they would have had three
days' start, they should have been there before me; for I heard
from the baron that, in addition to the four horses in the coach,
they had four others, ridden by troopers, fastened to it where the
road was bad."

"What would you have done if they had got to the vicomte's
chateau--it is, I believe, a strong place--before you could
intercept them?"

"I cannot say what I should have done. I thought the matter over
and over again as we rode. It seemed absurd to think of attacking
a chateau with only twelve men; and besides, it would have been a
very serious business to assault a noble in his own castle. There
would almost certainly be twenty or thirty men there, at the
least, and the ringing of the alarm bell would have brought all
his vassals within five miles round to his aid, at once. I have no
doubt that I should have attempted something, but in what way I
could form no idea, until I saw the place."

The two young men laughed.

"I believe that you would have succeeded somehow, Kennedy," O'Neil
said. "After what you have done, I have an almost unlimited faith
in you, and if you told me you could see no other plan than
carrying off His Gracious Majesty, and taking him down to Tulle
and forcing him to order this rascal vicomte to deliver up his
captives, you would accomplish it."

Desmond laughed.

"The plan might be as good as another, though I own that it had
not occurred to me; but it would certainly necessitate my having
him held prisoner until I had got safely out of France, otherwise
my fate would assuredly be to be broken on the wheel."

"Yes; I don't think His Gracious Majesty would have forgiven such
an indignity, even if put upon him for a good purpose. It is
almost treason even to dream of such a thing."

Desmond laughed.

"It was a purely imaginary case; but you see, not having been
accustomed, as you are, to a country where the king is regarded
almost as a god, I am afraid I have not that awe of him that is
generally entertained here. I have, naturally, a great respect for
the king whom I serve, and whose pay is a matter of the greatest
importance to me; but after all, although in his service, he is
not my lawful king."

"Then you would not even imagine such a thing as to take your
lawful king, James, prisoner, however much the fate of someone in
whom you were interested was concerned?"

Desmond did not answer at once.

"I don't know," he said at last, "what I should do, in such a
case. For King James, as lawful king of my country, I have the
deepest respect, and would freely venture my life in his service;
but for him as a man, irrespective of his crown, I own that my
admiration is not extreme, and that I should not hesitate to join
in any plan for putting pressure upon him, on behalf of anyone in
whom I was extremely interested, as I certainly am now in
Mademoiselle de Pointdexter and Monsieur de la Vallee."

"You are a curious fellow, Kennedy," O'Neil said, with a smile,
"and I should be very much puzzled if I were called upon to
predict what your fate is likely to be. It seems to me that you
have an equal chance of becoming a French marshal, or being broken
on the wheel. Here you are, not yet seventeen. You have, as I
doubt not, somewhat interfered with the king's plans, and caused
him the loss of one of his personal friends. You have twice
rescued a noble lady from the hands of her abductors. You have
brought disgrace and death upon a member of one of the most
powerful families in France. You have earned the gratitude and
friendship of one of the leading nobles of Southern France, that
of the fiance of his daughter, and of the daughter herself. As
soon as this affair spreads abroad, you will be the object of
general remark and attention. You have rendered the regiment to
which you belong proud of you, its junior ensign, and made Paris
emphatically too hot to hold you.

"If all this is done before you are seventeen, what may we expect
when another ten years have passed over your head?"

"You had better wait for the ten years to pass, O'Neil," Desmond
laughed; "by which time, perhaps, you and O'Sullivan will both
have learned wisdom, and will see that, because a man happens to
have gone through a very exciting adventure without discredit, it
by no means proves him to be anything in the smallest degree out
of the way."



Chapter 8: To Scotland.


Two days later the regiment was paraded, but no order had been
received for their start, and their destination was still
uncertain. The officers stood in a group, awaiting the arrival of
the colonel, who entered, accompanied by Colonel Wauchop and
several other Irish officers. As there had been no notice of an
official inspection, there was a general feeling of surprise at
the appearance of the visitors. The colonel rode up to the group
of officers.

"Gentlemen," he said, "I must ask you all to accompany me to the
common room. I have news of importance to give you."

He and those with him dismounted, and, followed by the wondering
officers of the regiment, went into the large room where they
gathered in the evening.

"The news that I am about to give you is of an important and happy
nature. His Most Gracious Majesty has decided to send an
expedition to Scotland, where the whole country is ready to rise
in favour of our lawful king."

A cheer broke from his hearers.

"Many Scottish and Irish gentlemen," the colonel went on, "have
been selected to accompany it. Among them is my friend, Colonel
Wauchop, and the officers with him. The expedition will consist of
six thousand French troops. I regret to say that no Irish
regiments will accompany it."

A groan of disappointment followed this announcement.

"We must hope," the colonel said, "that Irish troops are not
employed, only because it is intended that another expedition will
sail to Ireland, in which case we may be sure that some of us will
have an opportunity of fighting, again, on our own side of the
water. Moreover, between France and Scotland there has long been a
close connection and friendship, and the employment of French
troops would, therefore, better suit the Scots than would be the
case with Irishmen. Another reason perhaps is, the King of France
does not like to spare his best troops, when he has sore need of
them in Flanders and Spain.

"However, a number of Irish officers will accompany the
expedition, for the purpose of drilling and commanding the new
levies, for which work they will be far better suited, by their
knowledge of English, than French officers would be. Therefore,
the various Irish regiments are all to furnish a certain number of
lieutenants. Generals Hamilton, Sheldon, Dorrington, and Lords
Galmoy and Fitzgerald, and our friend Colonel Wauchop will be in
command of the newly-raised force, having with them many Scotch
officers now in the service of France.

"The secret of the expedition has been well kept, but I have known
it for a fortnight, and have prepared a list of the fifteen
officers who are to go. I may say that, in order to avoid
partiality, I have, with one exception, selected them by lot.
Those who are to go will doubtless consider themselves fortunate.
Those who are to stay are still more lucky, if, as I hope, the
regiment will form part of a similar expedition sent to Ireland."

He then read out the list of the officers chosen. O'Sullivan and
O'Neil were both among them, and the name of Desmond Kennedy was
the last read out.

"You will, gentlemen, start in an hour's time, taking the northern
road through Montvidier and Arras. In each of these towns you will
be joined by officers from other regiments. Colonel Wauchop will
accompany you. I do not name the port from which you are to sail,
and no word must be said, by you, as to the route you are to
travel; but you can no doubt judge for yourselves, by the road
that you are taking, what port is your destination. The French
troops will be already there, and the fleet is all in readiness.

"You all have horses. You can each take your soldier servant with
you, but those who do so must either hire or purchase a horse for
him. All further details you will learn from Colonel Wauchop, and
the paymaster will have orders to issue two months' pay to each of
you, in advance. The distance will be about a hundred and fifty
miles, and you will perform it in five days."

Colonel Wauchop then addressed a few words to the officers, all of
whom were under the rank of captain.

"Gentlemen," he said, "you have an honourable task before you. For
years we have been waiting for the day when our swords might aid
to place our king upon the throne. At last it has come. I need not
say that the struggle will be a severe one, and that your courage
will be taxed to the utmost, but you have proved that in a score
of desperate fights.

"The task before you will need tact to no ordinary degree. The
Scotch are as peppery a race as the Irish are, and it will be
necessary in no way to hurt their feelings, or to excite among
them the smallest degree of discontent at being drilled and led by
men who are not of their own race.

"And now, as we have much to do before starting, I will leave you
to make your arrangements. The rendezvous for us all is in your
barrack yard, and at nine o'clock we shall be here."

The colonel now left the room, and the officers eagerly and
excitedly talked over the startling news that they had just heard.
The greater part of those who had been selected for the service
were delighted to go, while the others were equally pleased, at
the thought that they might shortly be fighting for King James on
the soil of Ireland.

"Sure, your honour, I wish it had been in the ould country instead
of Scotland," Mike said, when he heard the news.

"I cannot say that I agree with you, Mike. In Ireland, we should
find tens of thousands of brave hearts ready to join us, but they
are unarmed, undrilled, and undisciplined, and would be of
comparatively slight assistance to us against the English troops.
Defeat would bring down fresh persecutions, fresh confiscations,
and greater misery upon the land."

"Sure we would beat them, your honour."

"We might, Mike; but you must remember that we failed to do so,
even when the people were armed. No doubt we shall take a certain
amount of muskets and ammunition with us, but the power of England
is more assuredly fixed in Ireland now than it was then--the
influence of the old Irish families is broken, and even if we
armed all who joined us, it would be but an armed rabble and not
an army.

"In Scotland it is altogether different. The Scottish clans would
join us under their chiefs, to whom they give absolute obedience,
and they would turn out armed and ready for action. Thus, then, I
think that, allowing that Ireland is as loyal as Scotland, the
choice has been a wise one."

"Sure, you know best, your honour; but I will warrant that as soon
as Scotland rises, Ireland will be in a blaze from one end to the
other."

"That may well be, Mike; but there will then be a chance of
success, since the English forces will be fully occupied by our
descent in the north, which will threaten London, while Ireland
can be left to itself until the main question is settled."

"It is mighty lucky, your honour, that I should have stuck to the
horse we got when we rescued Miss Pointdexter."

"I am very glad, too, Mike, for otherwise I should have had to buy
one, and it is likely enough that I may want all the money I have,
before this campaign that we are starting upon is over."

O'Neil and O'Sullivan, at this moment, burst into the room.

"It is glorious that we three should all be going, Kennedy!" the
latter exclaimed. "It is just your luck, for you are the only
ensign named, while the regiment will be left with only four
lieutenants. Of course, I should be still better pleased if we
were going to Ireland. Still, for anything we know that expedition
may not come off, and, so that we are fighting for the king, it's
all one whether it is in Scotland or at home."

Having seen that all was ready for departure, Desmond went to the
colonel's quarters to say goodbye. Several of the officers who
were going were already there, and the colonel motioned to him to
stay until they had left. When they had done so, he said:

"Perhaps you guessed, Kennedy, that you were the one exception I
mentioned to the rule I adopted, of fixing by lot upon those who
were to go."

"No, indeed, sir," Desmond said, in surprise; "I thought it an
extraordinary piece of good fortune that I should be the only
ensign to go, when there were so many others all senior to me.
Indeed, I thought for a moment of saying that I would resign, in
favour of one who was older and more experienced than myself; but
then it struck me that if I did, some of the junior lieutenants
might feel themselves obliged to do the same, in favour of their
seniors."

"I should not, in any case, have permitted a change to be made. I
had decided that, in order to avoid jealousy, chance should decide
the matter. Indeed, you are the only ensign going with the
expedition. I informed Colonel Wauchop and General Hamilton of the
reason for which I specially included you.

"So long as it was supposed that the regiment was on the point of
marching to Spain, I considered that, if you took my advice and
did not leave the barracks after nightfall, no harm would befall
you. But the case is altered, now that it may remain here for some
time, for no doubt it will take part in any expedition sent to
Ireland. I have heard, within the past forty-eight hours, that the
friends of de Tulle have made very strong representations to the
king. They have urged that your proceedings, involving what they
call the murder of their kinsman, were of the nature of civil war;
and that, if his conduct had been reprehensible, it was for the
Baron de Pointdexter to lay the matter before His Majesty and ask
for redress.

"I hear, however, the king received their remonstrances coldly,
told them that de Tulle had brought his fate upon himself, that it
was the duty of every gentleman to endeavour to rescue a lady, so
feloniously carried off, and that he approved of the readiness and
energy with which you had taken steps to do so.

"On finding, then, that they have failed in their hope of having
you sent to one of the royal prisons, from which you would
probably never have come out alive, I have no doubt whatever that
these people will endeavour to take the matter into their own
hands, and that, with the means at their disposal, they will find
no difficulty in procuring persons who would undertake to
assassinate you. As I have said, if you had at once started for
the army, we might have looked after your safety until you crossed
the frontier, but here in Paris you would not be safe for an hour,
and could scarce venture between the barracks and your lodging,
unless under a strong guard. Under such circumstances, I consider
that I was justified in placing you on the list of the officers
who would accompany the expedition.

"I explained to General Hamilton and Colonel Wauchop, who both
happened to be with me, my reasons for wishing to include so young
an officer in the ranks of those selected for the service. The
officers heartily agreed with me, having, of course, heard the
story, or, at any rate, the main facts of your rescues of
Mademoiselle de Pointdexter."

"I am indeed greatly obliged to you, Colonel. I know that it is a
dangerous thing to incur the enmity of one of those powerful
families, and, though I should certainly have taken every
precaution in my power, I felt that I should be in constant danger
until we fairly embarked upon a campaign."

At nine o'clock the party started. It numbered some fifty
officers, Scotch and Irish. The baggage had started half an hour
before. It was to join the carts, with the baggage of the other
officers, outside the northern gates; and was under an escort of
dragoons, whose officer had powers given him to requisition fresh
horses at each town through which he passed, and so to push on to
the port with but two halts.

Once off, there was no longer any necessity for keeping their
destination a secret, and the officers were informed that, as they
had already guessed, Dunkirk was the harbour from which they were
to sail.

The journey was a pleasant one. All were in the highest spirits. A
short distance behind them marched a body of infantry, composed
entirely of noncommissioned officers, of whom O'Brien's regiment
furnished thirty. All were picked men, and, marching each day as
far as the party of officers rode, arrived at Dunkirk on the fifth
day after starting, and were at once embarked on the ships of war.

Colonel Wauchop and the officers of O'Brien's regiment were told
off to the Salisbury, which was a ship that had been taken from
the English, and was now loaded with military stores, arms, and
munitions for the use of those who were expected to join them on
landing. After seeing that the officers were all properly
accommodated, the colonel went ashore, and when he returned it was
at once seen, by the expression of his face, that something was
wrong.

"I have very bad news," he said. "King James, who arrived here two
days ago, has been taken suddenly ill, and until he is partially
recovered we cannot sail, for it is absolutely necessary that he
should be with us. This may mean the delay of a week or ten days,
and may defeat all our arrangements. The English Government have
spies here, as well as elsewhere; and their fleet has, for the
last week, been hovering off the coast. They may not have known
the purpose of the assembly of troops here, for this has been kept
strictly secret; and few even of the French officers of the
expedition knew, until they arrived here, for what reason the
regiments had been ordered to Dunkirk. But the arrival of King
James, of course, showed what was the intention, and, as soon as
the news reaches London, you may be sure that the English fleet
will be sent to intercept us."

It was, indeed, ten days before James was sufficiently recovered
to be embarked--a delay which probably cost him his kingdom, for
there can be no doubt that, on landing, he would have been joined
at once by all the great clans, and by no small proportion of the
able-bodied men of the country.

The consequences were so evident, to all engaged in the
expedition, that despondency took the place of the enthusiasm with
which they had embarked. The fact that the expedition, after being
so carefully and secretly prepared, should at its outset meet with
so serious a misfortune, was considered an omen of evil. At last,
however, James embarked, under a salute by the guns of the ships
of war; and as the sails were hoisted and the anchors weighed, the
spirits of all again rose.

They had sailed but a few miles when it became evident that the
Salisbury was the slowest ship in the fleet, for, although she had
every stitch of canvas set, she lagged behind the rest, and the
other vessels were obliged to lower some of their sails, in order
to allow her to keep up with them.

"I begin to think, Kennedy," O'Neil said, "that the good fortune
that has hitherto attended you has spent itself. O'Sullivan and I
both regarded it as a good omen that you should be the one ensign
selected to go with us, but this miserable delay at Dunkirk, and
the fact that we are on board the slowest tub in the fleet, seems
to show that Dame Fortune is no longer going to exercise herself
in your favour."

"It looks like it, indeed," Desmond agreed. "Still, I can't hold
myself responsible for either the king's illness, or for our being
allotted to this heavy-sailing craft; and, perhaps, even if
fortune should not favour me any longer, she will do something for
some of the others.

"She has always been favourable to Colonel Wauchop. He has been
through innumerable engagements. Though many times wounded, he has
never been seriously so, though scores of other officers have
fallen in enterprises in which he has taken part. In his case,
fortune has not been fickle, and, as he is the chief officer on
board, we must hope that she has not deserted him on this
occasion. I think there is a certain amount of luck in the fact
that we carry a large amount of guns and ammunition. If that had
not been the case, it is likely that, rather than delay, the
squadron would sail on at full speed, and have left us to follow
as best we might."

A constant watch was maintained at the masthead of the ship, but
no signs were seen of the English fleet, until, on the 23rd of
March, six days after sailing, they reached the mouth of the Firth
of Forth, and were congratulating themselves that they had brought
the voyage to a successful termination.

At daybreak next morning, however, just as they were about to
enter the estuary, they beheld the masts of a great fleet coming
out to meet them. This was the squadron of Sir George Byng, which
had for some days been on the coast, having been despatched as
soon as the news reached London of the gathering of ships and
troops at Dunkirk, and of the arrival of the Pretender there. The
French admiral at once signalled to all the ships to put about,
and he lay off until the English fleet were near enough to discern
its composition, which was far superior in force to his own.
Seeing the impossibility of landing the troops and stores, and the
slight chances of success in giving battle, he hoisted the signal
for all to make their way back to Dunkirk, keeping as much as
possible together, in order to defend themselves if overtaken, or
if intercepted by another hostile fleet.

In vain, James begged that a few boats might be given him, with
which to land with his chief followers. The French admiral replied
that his instructions would not justify him in doing so, and that
he had been ordered to specially protect the person of the young
king, whose safety was of the highest concern to his sovereign.

It was with the deepest feeling of disappointment, and depression,
that the Scotch and Irish officers heard that it was determined to
sail for Dunkirk again. Had the troops on board the ships been of
their own nationality, they would have ordered them to disobey the
admiral's commands, and to insist upon the fleet, if it succeeded
in evading the pursuit of the enemy, making another effort to
effect a landing. As, however, all the soldiers were French, with
the exception of the two or three hundred noncommissioned Irish
officers, they were powerless, and were half mad with rage and
grief.

"This looks bad for us," O'Sullivan said gravely to his two
friends. "I think that the French ships will outsail the English,
but there is little chance that this unwieldy craft will do so; in
which case, my friends, it is likely that we shall all see the
inside of an English prison, and that probably not a few of us
will be executed. The colonel should be safe, for he came over
with the Brigade after Limerick, and therefore by that treaty was
allowed to enter the service of France; but it is different with
the rest of us. We have all joined since those days, and are
therefore not covered by the treaty, and so are liable to be tried
as traitors."

O'Neil shrugged his shoulders.

"Well, we knew that when we joined," he said. "However, I hardly
think they are likely to proceed to such an extremity. Very many
of our Brigade have been taken prisoners, at Blenheim and other
places, and they have always had the same treatment as other
prisoners of war."

"That may be," O'Sullivan replied; "but this is a different
matter. It is not a question of war on foreign soil. We were going
to attack the throne of Anne, to promote civil war, and to
overthrow the Government. The attempt once made can be made again,
and you may be sure that the news of our sailing has created a
tremendous scare throughout the country. However, we are in for
it, and there is no use grumbling against fate. Already, you see,
the rest of the fleet are leaving us--faster, I think, than the
English fleet are gaining on us--and I trust they will get safely
away into Dunkirk.

"The fact that we so nearly succeeded will, perhaps, act as an
inducement to Louis to renew the expedition; and the loss of a
colonel, fifteen lieutenants, and thirty noncommissioned officers
will not seriously affect anyone except ourselves."

"However," Desmond put in, "I think that, after all, things may
not be as bad as you think. In the first place, our execution
would have an extremely bad effect in Scotland and Ireland, and
would add to the general hostility to the present Government. In
the next place, Louis has many English prisoners in his hands, and
might threaten reprisals. Lastly, there is always a chance of
escape."

"Your first two arguments are good, Kennedy," O'Neil said, "but I
cannot say as much for the last. The chances of escape from an
English prison must be small indeed."

"Nevertheless there must always be chances," Desmond said. "If you
will take my advice you will at once go below, and conceal your
money."

"Where are we going to conceal it?" O'Sullivan said. "You may be
sure that we shall be searched."

"Well, you took my advice, in changing the silver in which you
were paid into gold, though you lost pretty heavily by the
transaction. We did it to prevent lugging about a heavy bag of
silver. Now, it has its advantages. You could not hope to conceal
silver, but we may, at least, hide a few pieces of gold. Mike is a
handy fellow, and I have no doubt will be able to help us. At any
rate, let us go below and see what can be done."

Mike was summoned to the cabin.

"Now, Mike," Desmond said, "I suppose, in a campaign, a good many
of you carry what money you may have about you, and I dare say
some of you hide it so that, if you are taken prisoners, you may
have means of adding to your prison fare."

"We do, your honour; and, by the same token, I have a score of
crowns in between the soles of my boots. It does not always
succeed, for if your boots happen to be good, the chances are that
someone takes a fancy to them. Still, on the whole, that is the
best place there is, for they are sure to feel all the lining of
your clothes."

"Well, we want to hide some gold, Mike. In another hour we shall
have the English within shot of us, and, of course, fighting is
out of the question. Do you think that you will have time to hide
a dozen gold pieces in each of our boots?"

Mike looked doubtful.

"To do the thing properly, your honour, one should take off the
lower sole, take some leather out of the upper one, put some money
in, and then sew it up again; but it would take more than an hour
to do one pair."

He thought for a moment.

"The quickest way would be to get out the inside lining of the
sole, then to cut out enough leather for the money to lie in, then
to put in the lining again. It would not be soft walking on a
twenty-mile march, but I think, if I get the lining in tight, with
a few little nails to keep it from dropping out, if anyone takes
the trouble to turn the boots upside down, I might manage it."

"Well, let us commence at once, then, Mike. We have all got riding
boots, and can put them on before we are taken prisoners. Do you
take the linings out, as you say, and then we will help to cut out
some of the leather of the upper sole."

They were quickly at work. Mike cut out enough of the thin lining
to admit of a hole being made, large enough to hold ten louis in
each boot, and he and the two officers then set to work, to cut
out a sufficient depth of leather for the coins to lie side by
side. Half an hour sufficed for this.

The coins were put in. Mike had, in the meantime, obtained a
handful of pitch and melted it at the galley fire. This he ran in
over the gold, and then replaced the pieces of lining with hot
pitch.

"There, your honours," he said, when he had finished. "I call that
a neat job, and it would be hard, indeed, if the spalpeens find
that there is anything amiss. And, with these heavy boots, the
extra weight won't betray that there is anything hidden.

"Don't put them on till the last moment. Give them time to cool,
for if any of it oozes out, you will stick your stockings so tight
to it that you won't get your foot out without laving them
behind."

Leaving their high boots in the cabin, the three young men went on
deck. The leading vessel of the British fleet was not more than a
mile astern, while the French fleet was three miles ahead, having
gained more than a mile since the chase began. Mike had been given
four louis, which he said he could hide in his mouth.

Five minutes later, there was a puff of smoke from their pursuer's
bow. The ball struck the water close to them.

"Shall I hold on, Colonel?" the captain of the ship asked Colonel
Wauchop.

"There is no use in your doing so. That ship will be alongside in
an hour, and it might only cause a useless loss of life were we to
keep on. If she were alone I should say, let her come alongside,
and with your crew and our officers and men we might, if we had
luck, take her by boarding; but, with the whole fleet close behind
us, it would be madness to think of such a thing, as we have but
twelve guns, and those of small weight."

Accordingly, the topsails were run down, and the courses brailed
up, and the ship lay motionless till the English frigate came up.
Signals had been exchanged between the English vessels, and as
they came along six of them dropped boats, each with some twenty
men in it. While these rowed towards the prize, the fleet pressed
on, under all canvas, in pursuit of the French squadron.

The English officer in command of the boats received the swords of
the French officers, and the noncommissioned officers were all
sent below into the hold. All sail was at once got on to the
vessel again, and she followed in the wake of the fleet. The
English lieutenant then took the names of the prisoners.

"You are all Irish," he said, seriously. "I am sorry, gentlemen,
that this should be so, for I fear that it will go harder with you
than if you were French, when, of course, you would be merely
prisoners of war."

"We should be prisoners of war, now," Colonel Wauchop said. "We
are in the service of the King of France, and were but obeying his
orders, along with our French comrades."

"I hope they may see it in that light, in London," the officer
said courteously; "but I doubt whether, at the present moment,
they will take a calm view of the subject. However, I hope they
will do so, especially as no shot has been fired by you, and they
cannot charge you with resisting capture. At any rate, gentlemen,
I will do my best to make you comfortable while you are under my
charge. I must ask a few of you to shift your quarters, so as to
make room for me and the three officers with me; beyond that you
will continue, as before, to use the ship as passengers."

When darkness set in, the pursuit was discontinued. The French
fleet was fully ten miles ahead, and it was evident that there was
no chance, whatever, of overtaking it; while there was a risk of
its doubling back during the night, and again making its way
north. The greater part of the sails of the men-of-war were
therefore furled, while the frigates and corvettes made off, on
either hand, to establish themselves as sentries during the night,
and to give warning should the French fleet be seen returning. An
hour and a half after the pursuit had ceased, the Salisbury joined
the fleet, and the officer in command went on board the admiral's
ship, to report the number of prisoners taken and the nature of
her cargo.

The officers had, at his invitation, dined with him and his
officers in the cabin. All political topics had been avoided, and
no one who had looked in would have supposed that the majority of
those present were the prisoners of the others. The Irish
temperament quickly shakes off a feeling of depression, and the
meal was as lively as it had been during the voyage north.

The lieutenant, however, omitted no precaution. A dozen men kept
guard over the prisoners below, and as many more, with loaded
muskets, were always stationed on deck. The Irish officers saw
that, among many of the sailors, there was a strong feeling of
sympathy with them. The fleet had been largely recruited by
impressment; and by the handing over, to the naval authorities, of
numbers of men imprisoned for comparatively slight offences; and,
as was natural, these had but small feeling of kindness towards
the government who had so seized them; while many shared in the
feeling of loyalty towards the house of Stuart, which was still so
prevalent among the population.

At daybreak, the cruisers all returned. None had seen any signs of
the French squadron, and Sir George Byng, leaving the majority of
the fleet to maintain watch, sailed with his prize for Harwich.
Here the prisoners were handed over to the military authorities;
while the admiral started for London, in a post chaise, to carry
the news of the failure of the French to effect a landing, and of
their return to Dunkirk,--news that was received with exuberant
delight by the supporters of Government, and the commercial
portion of the population, who had been threatened by ruin. The
run upon the banks had been unprecedented, and although the House
of Commons had relaxed the regulations of the Bank of England, the
panic was so great that it could not have kept its doors open
another twelve hours.

The treatment of the prisoners was now very different from what it
had been on board ship. Not only were they confined to prison,
but, to their indignation, irons were placed on their legs, as if
they had been common malefactors. The only mitigation allowed to
them was that their servants were permitted to attend upon them.
Their clothes had been rigorously searched, and their boots taken
off, but no suspicions had been entertained that coin had been
hidden in those of Desmond and his friends.

Two days later an order was received from Government, and the
officers were marched up to town, ironed as they were, under a
strong guard, and were imprisoned at Newgate. Callaghan and the
other servants remained in prison at Harwich.

"Things are looking bad, Kennedy," O'Neil said dolefully, for the
three officers had, at their own request, been allotted a cell
together.

"They don't look very bright, but we must make allowance for the
awful fright that, as we hear, has been caused by the expedition.
Possibly, when they have got over the shock, things may be
better."

"I will never forgive them for putting irons on us," O'Sullivan
said passionately. "If they had shot us at once, it was, I
suppose, what we had a right to expect; but to be treated like
murderers, or ruffians of the worst kind, is too bad."

"Well, we were rid of the irons as soon as we got here. No doubt
these were only put on to prevent the possibility of any of us
escaping. I am sure, by their looks, that some of our escort would
willingly have aided us, only that it was impossible to do so;
and, knowing how large a number of persons would sympathize with
us, I cannot blame them so very much for taking steps to prevent
our escape."

"I never saw such a fellow as you for finding excuses for people,"
O'Sullivan said, almost angrily. "You look at things as calmly as
if they concerned other people, and not ourselves."

Kennedy smiled.

"If an opinion is to be worth anything, O'Sullivan, it must be an
impartial one; and it is best to look at the matter calmly, and to
form our plans, whatever they may be, as if they were intended to
be carried out by other people."

O'Sullivan laughed.

"My dear fellow, if you had not gone through those adventures, I
should have said that you had mistaken your vocation, and were cut
out for a philosopher rather than a soldier. However, although
your luck did not suffice to save the Salisbury from capture, we
must still hope that it has not altogether deserted you; and
anyhow, I am convinced that, if it be possible for anyone to
effect an escape from this dismal place, you are the man."

Newgate, in those days, stood across the street, and constituted
one of the entrances to the city. Its predecessor had been burnt,
in the great fire of 1666, and the new one was at this time less
than forty years old, and, though close and badly ventilated, had
not yet arrived at the stage of dirt and foulness which afterwards
brought about the death of numbers of prisoners confined there,
and in 1750 occasioned an outbreak of jail fever, which not only
swept away a large proportion of the prisoners, but infected the
court of the Old Bailey close to it, causing the death of the lord
mayor, several aldermen, a judge, many of the counsel and jurymen,
and of the public present at the trials.

The outward appearance of the building was handsome, but the cells
were, for the most part, small and ill ventilated.

"This place is disgraceful," O'Neil said. "There is barely room
for our three pallets. The air is close and unwholesome, now, but
in the heat of summer it must be awful. If their food is as vile
as their lodging, the lookout is bad, indeed."

"I fancy the cells in the French jails are no better," O'Sullivan
said. "No doubt, in the state prisons, high-born prisoners are
made fairly comfortable; but the ordinary prisoners and
malefactors, I have been told, suffer horribly. Thank goodness I
have never entered one; but even the barrack cells can scarcely be
called inviting."

"You are learning philosophy from Kennedy," O'Neil said, with a
laugh.

"I don't know that I shall feel philosophic, if we are served with
nothing but bread and water. However, the turnkey told us that,
until we have been tried and condemned, we are at liberty to get
our food from outside--certainly a mockery, in most cases,
considering that we all were relieved of any money found upon us,
when we arrived in Harwich. It is a comfort that we are, as he
said, to take our meals together, and the money we have in our
boots will alleviate our lot for some time. Probably, it will last
a good deal longer than we are likely to be here."

When they joined their companions, in the room in which they were
to dine, all were astonished at seeing an excellent dinner on the
table, with eight bottles of wine.

"Is this the way they treat prisoners here?" Colonel Wauchop asked
one of the jailers, of whom six remained present.

The man smiled.

"No, indeed. It has been sent in from a tavern outside, and with a
message that a like meal will be provided, as long as you are
here. One of us was sent across, to enquire as to the person who
had given the order. The landlord said that he was a stranger to
him, but that he had paid him a fortnight in advance, and would
call in and renew the order, at the end of that time."

"Well, gentlemen," the colonel said, "before we begin to eat, we
will drink the health of our unknown benefactor. Not only is the
gift a generous and expensive one, but it cannot be without danger
to the donor, for none but a strong adherent of King James would
have thought of thus relieving our necessities."

It was plain that the authorities suspected that some message
might have been sent in to the prisoners, concealed in the viands.
The bread had been cut up into small squares, the crust had been
lifted from two pasties, the meat had evidently been carefully
searched; and the turnkeys placed themselves round the table so
that they could narrowly watch every one of the prisoners, as they
ate, and notice any movement that would seem to indicate that they
had come across some pellet of paper or other substance.

Every day, the servants at the tavern brought in similar fare, and
this continued as long as the prisoners were in the jail; and it
was a matter of deep regret, to all, that they were never able to
discover the name of the person to whom they were so much
indebted.



Chapter 9: An Escape From Newgate.


After being allowed to remain an hour at the table, the prisoners
were again marched off to their cells.

"I wish we had Mike with us," Desmond said, as he and his comrades
discussed the possibility of escape. "He is a shrewd fellow, and
would probably be allowed greater freedom in moving about the
prison than we are; but I was sure that we should see no more of
him after we left Harwich.

"Of course, the first question is, are we to try bribery, or to
work our way out of this cell?"

"I think that it would be dangerous to try bribery," O'Sullivan
remarked. "Our turnkey is a sour-faced rascal. I am convinced
that, if we were to try to bribe him, he would denounce us at
once. Not from any principle, you know, but because he would think
that it would pay him better to do so, and so obtain promotion and
reward, rather than to accept our money and run the risk of being
detected and hanged."

"I don't blame him," O'Neil said. "He is, as you say, a
sour-looking rascal, but I don't think that he is a fool, and none
but a fool would run that risk for the sake of the money that we
could give him; for, in any case, we should have to retain a
portion of our store, in order to obtain disguises and maintain
ourselves till we could find means of crossing the channel."

"Then let us put that idea altogether aside, O'Neil, and give our
whole attention to the manner in which we are to escape."

"The manner in which we are to try to make our escape!" O'Neil
repeated, with a laugh.

"Well, put it that way if you like. Now, in the first place, there
is the window, in the second the door, and lastly the walls and
floor."

"The door would withstand a battering ram," O'Sullivan said. "I
noticed, as I went out, that it was solid oak some four inches
thick, with two bolts as well as the lock, and, moreover, if we
could get through it we should be no nearer escaping than we are
at present. What with the corridors and passages, and the turnkeys
and the outer gate, that course seems to me impossible.

"Let us come to the second point, the window."

They looked up at it. The sill was fully six feet from the ground.
The window was a little over a foot wide, with a heavy bar running
down the centre, and cross bars.

"The first point is to see where it looks out on," Desmond said.
"I will stand against the wall, and as you are the lighter of the
two, O'Neil, you can stand on my shoulder and have a good look
out, and tell us what you see.

"Give him your hand, O'Sullivan.

"Put your foot on that, O'Neil, and then step on my shoulder."

O'Neil was soon in his place.

"You need not hold me," he said. "The wall is very thick, the bars
are placed in the middle, and there is just room for me to take a
seat on the edge, then I can see things at my ease."

He sat looking out, for a minute or two, before he spoke.

"Well, what can you see?" O'Sullivan asked, impatiently.

"This room is on the outer side of the prison," he said. "I
noticed, as we came in, that it was built along on both sides of
the gate; and, no doubt, this side stands on the city wall."

"Then what do you see?"

"I see the ground, sloping steeply down to a stream that runs
along the bottom of it. There are a good many small houses,
scattered about on the slope and along by the stream. Over to the
left, there is a stone bridge across it. Near this is a large
building, that looks like another prison, and a marketplace with
stalls in it. Houses stand thickly on either side of the road, and
beyond the bridge the opposite side of the slope is covered with
them. Among these are some large buildings.

"If we were once out, there would not be much chance of our being
detected, if we had something to put over our uniforms; but, of
course, they would betray us to the first man we met."

"Yes, of course," O'Sullivan said; "but we might possibly obtain
plain clothes at one of those small houses you speak of, though
that would be risky."

"We might leave our coatees behind us, and go only in our shirts
and breeches; and give out that we had been attacked, and robbed
of our money and coats by footpads," Desmond said.

"That is a good idea," O'Neil agreed. "Yes, that might do,
especially as, after dark, they would not be likely to notice that
our breeches were of a French cut."

"But it seems to me that we are beginning at the wrong end of the
business. It is of no use discussing what we are to do, when we
escape, till we have settled upon the manner in which we are to
get out. Let us talk over that first.

"Are the bars firmly in, O'Neil?"

O'Neil tried, with all his strength, to shake them.

"They are as firm as the walls," he said. "There is no getting
them out, unless we have tools to cut away all the stonework round
them."

"I suppose there is no chance of cutting through them?" O'Sullivan
asked.

"There is not," O'Neil said. "We have not got such a thing as a
knife about us. If we had, we could never saw through these thick
bars; it would take a year of Sundays."

"You are rather a Job's comforter. Now, do you get down, and let
Kennedy and myself have a chance of a breath of fresh air, to say
nothing of the view."

A few minutes satisfied O'Sullivan, but Desmond, when he took his
place, sat there considerably longer; while the other two,
throwing themselves on their pallets, chatted gaily about Paris
and their friends there.

"Well, what conclusions do you arrive at?" they asked, when he
leapt down from his seat.

"They are not very cheering," he replied, "and I recognize fully
that we cannot possibly make our escape, without aid from
without."

"That is the same as to say that we cannot make our escape at
all."

"Not exactly. We have found one unknown friend, who supplied us
with our dinners. There is no absolute reason why we should not
find one who would supply us with means of escape. There must be a
great number of people who sympathize with us, and whose hearts
are with King James. I have seen several men come from the market,
stand and look up at this prison, and then walk off, slowly, as if
they were filled with pity for us. Now, I propose that one of us
shall always be at the window."

"Oh, that is too much!" O'Sullivan said. "That ledge is so narrow
that I could hardly sit there, even holding on by the bars; and as
to stopping there half an hour, I would almost as soon be on the
rack."

"There will be no occasion for that," Desmond said. "We can easily
move one of the pallets under it, pile the other straw beds upon
it, and, standing on these, we could look out comfortably, for our
shoulders would be well above the ledge."

"I don't see that we should be nearer to it, then, Kennedy."

"We should have gained this much: that directly we saw any person
looking up, with a sympathizing air, especially if of a class who
could afford to do what is necessary for us, we could wave our
hands and attract his attention. If disposed to help us, he might
give some sign. If not, no harm would be done. We might, too, tie
a handkerchief to the bars, which in itself might be taken for an
indication that there are followers of the Stuarts here."

"But supposing all this turned out as you suggest it might, how
could even the best disposed friend do anything to help us?"

"That is for after consideration. Let us first find a friend, and
we shall find a way to open communication with him. We have no
paper, but we could write the message on a piece of linen and drop
it down. As far as we can see, from here, there is nothing to
prevent anyone coming up to the foot of the wall below us."

For the next four days, nothing whatever happened. They could see
that the white handkerchief at the bars attracted some attention,
for people stopped and looked up at it, but continued their way
without making any gesture that would seem to show that they
interested themselves, in any way, in the matter.

On the fourth day, Desmond, who was at the window, said in a tone
of excitement:

"There is a man down there who, after looking fixedly in this
direction, is making his way towards us. He does not come
straight, but moves about among the houses; but he continues to
approach. I can't make out his face yet, but there is something
about him that reminds me of Mike; though how he could be here,
when we left him in the prison at Harwich, is more than I can
say."

O'Neil and O'Sullivan in turn looked through the window. Not being
so much accustomed as he was to Mike's figure and walk, they could
not recognize in the man, in the dress of a country peasant, the
well-set-up soldier who attended on Desmond. Both admitted,
however, that in point of figure it might well be the man.

"If it is," Desmond said, "all our difficulties are at an end, and
I will wager that we shall be free in three or four days. Now, how
are we to communicate with him?"

"I have a piece of paper in my pocket. It is only an old bill, and
they threw it down, contemptuously, when they searched me," O'Neil
said. "I picked it up again. I hardly know why, except perhaps
that the idea occurred to me that, some day, I might get a chance
of paying it. But as we have no ink, nor pen, nor charcoal, I
don't see how it can benefit us."

He drew the bill from the pocket of his coatee. Desmond took it,
and stood looking at it in silence for a minute. Then an idea
occurred to him.

"I have it!" he exclaimed, presently. "O'Neil, see if you can get
a piece of this gold wire off my facings. I want it five or six
inches long, so that when it is doubled up and twisted together,
so as to be an inch long, it will be stiff enough for our
purpose."

Somewhat puzzled, O'Neil did as he was requested. Desmond
straightened out the fine wire wrapped round the centre thread,
doubled, and again doubled it, and finally twisting it together,
reduced it to a length of about an inch, and the thickness of a
pin. The others looked on, wondering what was his intention.

He held the paper out before him, and began pricking small holes
through it, close together. He continued to work for some time,
and then held it up to the light. The others understood the nature
of his work, and they could now read:

Come ten tonight under window. Bring long thin string. Whistle. We
will lower thread. Tie end of string to it. Will give further
instructions.

He tore off the portion of the bill on which the message was
written, twisted off two of the buttons of his coatee, folded them
in the paper, and took his place at the window again. The man who
had been watching was standing some sixty feet from the foot of
the wall. His back was towards them. Presently he turned,
carelessly looked up at the window, and then, as if undecided what
to do, took off his cap and scratched his head.

"It is Mike, sure enough," Desmond exclaimed, and, thrusting his
hand through the bars, waved it for a moment.

Then, taking the little packet, he dropped it. Mike put on his hat
again, turned round, then looked cautiously to see that no one was
noticing him, and strolled, in an aimless and leisurely way,
towards the wall. Desmond could no longer see him, but felt sure
that he would find the missive.

Presently he came in sight again, walking quietly away. He did not
look round; but when nearly at the bottom of the hill turned,
lifted one hand, and disappeared behind some houses.

"He can't read," Desmond said, "but I have no doubt he will get
someone to do it for him."

A vigilant watch was kept up, but nothing was seen of Mike, till
late in the afternoon, when he emerged into one of the open
spaces. They had now taken the handkerchief down from the window,
and, directly they saw him, Desmond waved it, showing that they
were watching him. He threw up his arm, turned, and disappeared
again.

"He has made out my message," Desmond said. "We may expect him
here at ten o'clock."

While he had been watching, his two comrades had, under his
instructions, been unravelling a portion of one of their blankets.
When enough thread had been obtained, the strands were tied
together and doubled, and Desmond had little doubt that it was
sufficiently strong to draw up the string Mike would bring with
him. He now took another portion of the bill, and pricked upon it
the words:

At nine tomorrow night, bring, if possible, fine steel saw, two
files, and small bottle of oil. Fasten these to string we will
lower with further instructions.

He then opened his coatee, took out some of the white wool with
which it was padded, formed this into a loose ball, in the centre
of which the note was fastened, and all being in readiness, waited
patiently, until, just as the city clock struck ten, they heard a
low whistle. The ball had already been attached to the end of the
thread, and Desmond at once lowered it down.

Presently, they heard another whistle and, hauling at it again,
they found that the ball had gone, and attached to the end of the
thread was a very light silken cord, which they drew in. There was
another low whistle, and all was silent.

"So far, so good," Desmond said. "We are fairly on our way to
liberty. How long do you suppose it will take us to cut through
these bars?"

"It would take us a long while to file through them all," O'Neil
said, "but with a fine steel saw, I should think that a couple of
nights' work should do it. But of course that is mere guesswork,
for I have not the least idea how fast even the best saw could cut
through iron."

"Well, there is no particular hurry, for we know that no day has
been fixed yet for our trial. So, whether it is one night or six,
it does not matter much."

On the following evening at nine o'clock the whistle was heard,
and another ball lowered down at the end of the string. The
instructions this time were:

When we are ready, we will show a handkerchief at window. Bring
with you, at nine that evening, rope strong enough to bear us, and
have disguises for three ready for us at foot of wall. Herewith
are ten louis to purchase three disguises.

The cord brought up a small packet, which contained two very fine
small steel saws, two files, and the oil. They did not lose a
moment in setting to work, and, oiling the saws, one began to cut
through the central bar, just above the point where the lowest
cross bars went through it, as they determined to leave these to
fasten the rope to. There was not room for two of them to work
together, and they agreed to take it by turns, changing every
quarter of an hour.

To their great satisfaction, they found that the saw did its work
much more quickly than they had expected, and by the time each had
had a turn the bar was cut through; and by morning the side bars
had also all been cut. They did not attempt to cut the main bar
higher up, as, had they done so, it would have been difficult to
keep the portion cut out in its place.

When it was light, they filled up all the cuts with bread, which
they had managed to secrete in the palms of their hands at dinner.
This they kneaded into a sort of putty, rolled it in the dust of
the floor until black, and then squeezed it into the interstices.

"There is no fear of their noticing it," O'Neil said, when they
had finished. "I cannot see the cuts myself from the floor, though
I know where they are; and unless they were to climb up there, and
examine the place very closely, they would not see anything
wrong."

"Shall we hang out the flag today, Kennedy?"

"I think we had better wait till tomorrow. He will be hardly
expecting to see it, today, and may not be ready with the rope and
disguises."

The next morning the signal was hung out. They saw nothing of
Mike, but as he would be able to make out the handkerchief from a
considerable distance, they had no doubt whatever that he had
observed it, but thought it prudent not to show himself near the
prison again. As soon as it was dark they recommenced work, and
had cut through the main bar, and cautiously lowered the grating
to the ground, before the clock struck nine. Then, on hearing
Mike's signal, they lowered the cord, and soon brought up a rope
which, although small, was more than strong enough to support
them.

"We had better tie some knots in it," Desmond said. "They will
help us to avoid sliding down too rapidly. If it was a thick rope,
I think we could manage without them; but, not being sailors, I do
not think that we could grasp this tightly enough."

"How close shall we put them, Kennedy?"

"About two feet apart. Then we can come down hand over hand,
helping our arms by twisting our legs round it.

"Now," he went on, when they had finished the knots, "who will go
down first?"

"You had better do so," O'Sullivan said. "You are the lightest of
us, and, I fancy, the strongest, too."

"Very well. I don't think that it will make any difference, for
the rope is strong enough to hold the three of us together.
However, here goes. We may as well leave our coatees behind us.
They might get us into difficulties, if we took them."

So saying, he took off his coat, fastened the end of the rope
securely to the bars that had been left for the purpose, and,
holding it firmly, made his way through the opening and swung
himself over. With his muscles strengthened by military exercises
and sword practice, he found it easier work than he had expected.
The depth was some sixty feet, and in a couple of minutes his feet
touched the ground.

Mike had been hanging on by the rope to steady it, and as Desmond
descended, he seized him by the hand and shook it enthusiastically,
murmuring brokenly, "My dear master, thank God that you are free!"

"Thanks to you also, my dear fellow. Now, hold on again. My
friends O'Neil and O'Sullivan shared my cell with me, and are
following me."

He added his weight to that of Mike, and it was not long before
O'Neil came down; but not so quietly as Desmond had done, for his
strength had failed him, and the rope had slipped rapidly through
his fingers, and Mike and Desmond narrowly escaped being knocked
down by the suddenness with which the descent was made. He stood
for a minute, wringing his hand, and swearing in an undertone in
English, Irish, and French.

"By the powers," he said, "it has taken the skin off the inside of
my hands, entirely! A red-hot poker could not have done it more
nately!

"Mike, you rascal, what are you laughing at? I have a mind to
break your bones before thanking you."

O'Sullivan succeeded better, but was completely exhausted when he
joined his friends.

"Now, Mike, where are the disguises?"

"Here they are, your honour. They are just like my own. Loose
coats, rough breeches, white stockings and buckled shoes, and soft
hats with wide brims. I thought that you would pass better, like
that, than in any other way; for if you were dressed up as
citizens, your tongues might betray you, for somehow they don't
speak English as we do; and whenever I open my mouth, they
discover that I am an Irishman."

Desmond laughed.

"There would be no difficulty about that. Now, let us put on our
disguises at once, and be off. Sometimes the turnkeys take it into
their heads to look in during the night, and we had to keep one on
watch while we were at work, and take to our beds when we heard a
footstep approaching.

"I see you have brought shoes. I forgot to mention them. Our jack
boots would have attracted attention, so we have left them behind
us, after getting our stores of money from their hiding places."

They were soon dressed.

"What are we supposed to be, Mike?"

"You are sedan chair men, sir. Most of the chairs are carried by
Irishmen, who seem to be stronger in the leg than these London
folk. You will have to cut your hair short, and then you will pass
without observation."

"Where are you taking us to?" Desmond asked, as they descended the
hill.

"I have got a lodging in a house out in the fields. I said that I
was an Irishman who had come to London in search of employment,
and that I expected three friends to join me, and that we intended
to hire chairs and carry the gentry about, for here they seem too
lazy to walk, and everyone is carried; though it is small blame to
them, for dirtier streets I never saw. They are just full of
holes, where you go in up to the knee in mud and filth of all
kinds. Faith, there are parts of Paris which we can't say much
for, but the worst of them are better than any here, except just
the street they call Cheapside, which goes on past Saint Paul's,
and along the Strand to Westminster."

"What have you brought these sticks for, Mike?"

For he had handed, to each, a heavy bludgeon.

"Sure, your honour, 'tis not safe to be in the streets after
nightfall. It is like that part of Paris where no dacent man could
walk, without being assaulted by thieves and cutthroats. Dressed
as we are, it is not likely anyone would interfere with us in the
hope of finding money on us, but they are not particular at all,
at all, and a party of these rascals might try to roll us in the
mire, just for fun. So it is as well to be prepared."

However, they met with no interruption, passed out through Holborn
Bars, and soon arrived at the house where Mike had taken a
lodging. They were not sorry, however, that they were armed, for,
several times, they heard outbursts of drunken shouting and the
sound of frays.

Mike had hired two rooms. In one of these were three straw beds,
for the officers. He himself slept on a blanket on the floor of
the other room, which served as kitchen and sitting room.

Now, for the first time, they were able to talk freely.

"Mike, we have not said much to you, yet," Desmond began, "but I
and these gentlemen are fully conscious that you have saved us
from death, for we hear that Government is determined to push
matters to the extremity, and to have all the officers captured
condemned to be hanged."

"Bad cess to them!" Mike exclaimed, indignantly. "If I had two or
three of them, it's mighty little they would talk of execution,
after I and me stick had had a few minutes' converse with them.

"As to the getting you out, I assure you, your honour, there is
little I have done, except to carry out your orders. When I first
saw the prison, and the little white flag flying from the window,
I said to myself that, barring wings, there was no way of getting
to you; and it was only when I got your first letter that I saw it
might be managed. Faith, that letter bothered me, entirely. I took
it to the woman downstairs, and asked her to read it for me,
saying that I had picked it up in the street, and wondered what it
was about. She was no great scholar, but she made out that it was
writ in a foreign language, and seemed to her to be a bit of an
old bill. When I took it up to my room, I looked at it every way.
I knew, of course, that it was a message, somehow, but devil a bit
could I see where it came in.

"I fingered it for an hour, looking at it in every way, and then I
saw that there were some small holes pricked. Well, I could not
ask the woman what they meant, as I had told her I picked it up;
so I went across to an Irishman, whose acquaintance I had made the
day before, and who had recommended me, if I wanted work, to hire
one of these chairs and get a comrade to help me carry it. I could
see that he was a man who had seen better days. I expect he had
come over in the time of the troubles, and had been forced to earn
his living as he could; so I went to him.

"'I have got a message,' I said, 'pricked on a piece of paper. I
picked it up, and am curious-like to know what it is about.'

"So he held it up to the light, and read out your message.

"'I think,' says he, 'it is some colleen who has made an
appointment with her lover. Maybe she has been shut up by her
father, and thought it the best way to send him a message.'

"'That is it, no doubt,' says I; 'and it is plain that it never
came to his hand.'

"The next day, I went to him again with the second letter.

"'It's lying you have been to me,' he said. 'It is some plot you
are concerned in.'

"'Well,' says I, 'you are not far wrong. I have some friends who
have suffered for the Stuarts, and who have been laid by the leg,
and it's myself who is trying to get them out of the hands of
their persecutors.'

"'In that case, I am with you,' he said, 'for I have suffered for
the cause myself; and if you want assistance, you can depend upon
me.'

"'Thank you kindly,' says I. 'Just at present it is a one man job,
but maybe, if I get them out, you will be able to give us some
advice as to how we had best manage.'

"So that is how it stands, your honour."

"And now, tell us how you got away, Mike. You may guess how
surprised we were, when we first made you out, believing that you
were safe under lock and key at Harwich."

"The matter was easy enough," Mike said. "It took me two or three
days to get to understand the position of the place, with water
all round it except on one side; and it was plain that, if I were
to start running, it is little chance I should have if I did not
hit upon the right road. Luckily, they were mounting some cannon
the day after you were taken away. We were ordered to go out and
lend a hand, so it was not long before I learnt enough to know
which road I ought to take. I was always a good runner, your
honour, and many a prize have I carried off, at fairs in the old
country, before troubles began. So it seemed to me that, if I
could have anything of a start, I ought to be able to get off.

"There was nearly half a mile betwixt the town and the place where
the narrow ground, at whose end it stood, widened out into the
country. If I could only hold my own, as far as that, I could take
to the woods and lanes and save myself.

"A guard of soldiers, with muskets and bayonets, went out with us,
and at the end of the second day I managed to slip off, and hide
behind a pile of cannonballs. The rest assembled at a spot about
fifty yards away, to be counted before they marched to prison
again. As soon as the others had got there, and the guards had
gathered round, I went off as hard as I could tear. And a good
start I should have got, if it hadn't been that a sentry on a fort
close by fired his piece at me. Still, I had a good hundred yards'
start.

"The guards set to, to run after me, and when they got in sight of
me fired their guns; but they were flurried, and the bullets flew
past without one of them touching me. Then I felt pretty safe. If
they stopped to load their muskets, I should get clean away. If,
as I expected, they would not stop for that, they would not have a
chance with me, carrying their muskets and cartridge boxes and
belts. I had taken off my coatee and boots, while I was waiting
for the start, and went up the hill like a deer.

"I did not look round, till I got to the top. Then I found that I
had gained a hundred yards of them. I doubled down a lane, at
once, and then struck through some orchards; and ran, without
stopping, maybe a couple of miles.

"I never heard any more of the soldiers, and knew that, for the
present, I was safe, though maybe they would send some dragoons to
scour the country when the news came in. I went on at a jog trot
till it was quite dark; then I sat down to think what I should do
next.

"I had got my four louis with me, for they hadn't found them when
they searched me. The first thing was to get some duds, and I
walked along till I saw a light in a cottage, which I entered.
There were two women there. I told them at once that I wanted
clothes, and was ready to pay for them; but that, if they would
not give them to me for money, I should take them without paying.
Though I could see that they doubted the payment, and regarded me
as a robber, they brought out the clothes, which belonged, one of
the women said, to her husband. I took what I wanted.

"'Now,' I said, 'how much shall I pay you for these?'

"They were still terribly frightened, and said that I was welcome.
However, I put one of my louis down on the table. This was
certainly more than the clothes ever cost, so I said:

"'Here is a gold piece, but I want a shilling in change, to buy
food with.'

"At first, they evidently hardly thought that I was in earnest.
Then at last, when they found that I really intended to give the
money, they brightened up, and not only gave me a shilling in
change, but offered me some bread and cheese, which I was glad
enough to take.

"Then I put the clothes on over my own, not wishing to lave
anything behind that would show searchers that it was I who had
been there. I told the woman that the coin was a French one, but
that it was worth about the same as an English guinea. I advised
them to put it away, for the present, and not to try and change it
for a few weeks, as enquiries might be made as to how they had
obtained it.

"I had no difficulty on my way up to London. I avoided the main
road till I got to Colchester, and after that walked boldly on,
having money to pay for victuals. When I got to town, I changed
another of my louis at a money changer's. He asked me where I had
got it, and when I said that it was no business of his, but that
it had been paid me by a French Huguenot gentleman, who had lately
arrived, and for whom I had been doing some work; and as there are
many of these Huguenots in London, he was satisfied, and changed
it for me.

"I then fell across the Irish porter I told you of. He told me
whereabouts I could get lodgings, and advised me to apply to one
of the men who let out a number of sedan chairs, to hire one out
to me by the week.

"Well, your honour, once I had taken the lodging, I thought no
more of the chair, but went about the business for which I had
come to London. I had not been an hour in the town before I made
the acquaintance of half a dozen, at least, of my countrymen, and
found out which was the prison in which you were kept. At first, I
thought of going there and giving myself up, on condition that I
might be employed as your servant. Then I thought, perhaps they
would not keep their word to me, but would send me back to
Harwich; and then the thought struck me that I might, some way or
other, get your honours out of prison.

"When I first saw the place, it seemed to me that it was
impossible. The place was mighty strong, the windows all barred,
and I had no means of finding out where you were lodged. I spent a
whole day in prowling round and round the jail, but sorra an idea
came into my thick head, though I bate it wid my fists till it was
sore; for, says I to myself, there is no lock so strong but it can
be picked, if you do but know the right way. It was the second
day, when I espied a little bit of white stuff at one of the
windows. It might be a signal, or it might not, and even if it
was, there was no reason why it should be yours, except that, I
said to myself:

"'Mr. Kennedy is not the boy to sit quiet in prison, if he can see
any possible way of slipping out of it. His head is crammed full
of ideas. So I will walk near and investigate the matter.'

"As I came close, I could make out that there was someone behind
the bars, but I could not see who it was. Of course, I did not
come straight to the spot, but went about promiscuously.

"For anything I could tell, there might be someone in the towers
watching me. Then I saw a hand drop a little white parcel, and I
found it without much trouble and went off with it. It was as much
as I could do, to keep myself from running like a madman, for I
felt somehow sure that it was you who had dropped it, but of
course, it was not until I got it read for me that I was certain.

"After that, your honour, it was all easy enough. You told me what
to do, and I did it. There was a little difficulty about the saw,
but I got it through one of the chair men, who told me, when I
asked him, that he had the acquaintance of some cracksmen--more
shame to him--and that he could get such a thing as I wanted
through them. I was not surprised, for I had already heard that
many of the chair men worked in connection with the bad
characters, letting them know which way they were coming with
people from an entertainment, and carrying them down lanes where
there was little chance of the watch interfering.

"It went against the grain to have dealings with such a man, for I
was born of honest people, but if the ould gentleman himself had
offered me a couple of saws, and I knew that I would have to give
him a thousand years extra of purgatory, I would have closed with
the bargain. Those two saws cost me another louis, and cheap
enough, too.

"After that, it was all plain sailing, and the money you lowered
to me was much more than sufficient for all the other things. And
now, what is your honour going to do next?"

"That is more than I can tell you, Mike. We must talk it over."

This was a matter that they had already discussed, in their cell,
after they had once made their preparations for flight. Closely
watched as they were, when with the other officers, it would have
been impossible to communicate their plans to them; but, even if
they could have done so, they could see no possible way in which
the others could share in their escape. Doubtless the doors of
their cells were also strong and heavy, and, could all these
difficulties have been overcome, there would have been passages,
corridors, and staircases to traverse, with the certainty of
meeting with some of the night watchmen who patrolled them, and
they would finally have had to force the door into their cell.

They were, therefore, reluctantly obliged to abandon the hope of
liberating their friends, and decided that, once away, they must
endeavour to cross to France without delay. The king would
doubtless have been, before now, informed by his agents in London
of the determination of the English Government to bring all the
prisoners to execution, but nevertheless, it would be their duty
to obtain an audience, and implore him to take steps to save them.
They would therefore, on their arrival in Paris, at once see
General Hamilton, and other officers of rank, and beg them to
accompany them to Versailles to act as spokesmen, and to influence
the king in their favour.



Chapter 10: Kidnapping A Minister.


In spite of the war between the two countries, communications were
frequent. Smuggling boats brought over, with their cargoes of wine
and brandy, Huguenot fugitives; and, by the same means, secret
agents carried back news of events in Paris to the Government.
Having decided upon making for the coast without delay, Desmond
and his friends next discussed the port to which they had best
travel, and which seemed to offer the fairest opportunities. They
agreed that Weymouth seemed to be most advantageous, as it was
from there that the communications with Brittany were chiefly
maintained.

At the same time, it was evident that considerable difficulty
would be experienced in discovering the men engaged in such
traffic, and in making an arrangement with them, and it was
all-important that no time should be lost, for there was no saying
when the trial might come on.

"If we could but get hold of Godolphin," Desmond said, next
morning, "we might get an order, from him, to embark in one of the
boats that carry his agents."

The others laughed.

"Yes; and if you could get hold of Anne, you might persuade her to
sign an order for the release of our comrades."

Desmond did not answer, but sat thinking for a few minutes.

"It is not so impossible as you seem to imagine," he said, at
last. "Doubtless, like everyone else, he goes in a sedan chair to
the meeting of the council, and returns in the same manner. There
are two ways in which we could manage the matter. Of course, he
has his own chair, with his chair men in livery. We might either
make these men drunk and assume their dress, or attack them
suddenly on the way; then we should, of course, gag and bind them,
and carry him here, or to some other place that we might decide
upon, and force him to give us an order for the boatmen to take us
across the channel, at once. Of course, we should have horses in
readiness, and ride for the coast. We should have a twelve hours'
start, for it would be that time before our landlady came in as
usual, with our breakfast, when Godolphin would, of course, be
released."

The two officers looked at each other, astounded at the audacity
of the scheme that Desmond had quietly propounded. O'Sullivan was
the first to speak.

"Are you really in earnest, Kennedy?"

"Quite in earnest. I do not see why it should not be done."

"Well, you are certainly the coolest hand I ever came across,"
O'Neil said. "You are proposing to seize the first minister in
England, as if it were merely an affair of carrying off a pretty
girl quite willing to be captured. The idea seems monstrous, and
yet, as you put it, I do not see why it might not succeed."

"I hardly think that it could fail," Desmond said quietly. "De
Tulle managed to carry off the Baron de Pointdexter's daughter
from the court of Versailles, and did so without any hitch or
difficulty. Surely three Irishmen could arrange an affair of this
sort as well as a French vicomte."

"If it is to be done," O'Sullivan said, "I think the second plan
is best. You might fail in making the chair men drunk, or at any
rate sufficiently drunk to allow them to be despoiled of their
clothes; whereas you could have no difficulty in silencing a
couple of chair men by a sudden attack--a sharp rap on the head
with these bludgeons ought to settle that affair."

"Quite so," Desmond agreed; "and while Mike and one of us were so
employed, the other two might throw open the doors of the chair,
and gag Godolphin before he was conscious of what was happening."

"It all seems simple enough, Kennedy, and, if it were a citizen,
one would think nothing of the undertaking. But it is nothing
short of high treason for us thus to make free with the person of
the chief minister of England."

"That is a matter that does not concern me at all, O'Neil. If we
were captured now, we should be executed for high treason with the
others; and if we carried off Anne herself, they could not do much
more to us.

"Now, it seems to me that if you are both agreed that we should
carry out the plan, the first thing to be done is to arrange for
horses; or, better still, for a light cart to carry the four of
us. I should think that Mike would, among his acquaintances, be
able to hear of a man with a couple of fast horses and such a cart
as we require, who would agree to drive us to the coast, arranging
a change of horses on the way. He could offer ten louis, which
would be a sum that a man of that kind would be well satisfied
with."

"I will see to that, your honour. I have no doubt that I can find
such a man without difficulty. When would you want him?"

"Tonight, certainly, with the arrangement that, if we do not come
to the appointed spot, we shall be there tomorrow night. Recollect
ten louis is all we can afford, but if he wants any more, he must
have it.

"Well, we will leave that to you."

Then he went on to the others:

"We had better go down to Saint James's. Mike can go out and buy
us three shock wigs, with which we can cover our hair and look our
parts better. We had better separate when we get there, and watch
the entrances to the palace, gazing about like rustics; then we
can get into a conversation with any servant that we see, and try
and find out from which door members of the council usually issue,
and at about what hour. We could succeed without that, because we
should notice the chairs waiting for them. Still, it is as well
that we should get all the information we can. There will be,
doubtless, personages leaving who have been with the Princess
Anne. They might go out by another entrance, and therefore we
should miss our man."

"You will have more than the two chair men to deal with, your
honour, for there are sure to be two link men with the chair."

"Well, it will be as easy to dispose of four men as of two, Mike."

"Every bit, your honour, and the more of them the more divarsion."

An hour later they set out, now so well disguised that no one
would have dreamt that the three Irishmen were officers in a
French regiment; and before noon Desmond succeeded in obtaining,
from a scullion employed in the palace, the particulars that he
required. On saying that he had but just come to London, and
wanted to get a sight of the great people, the present of a
shilling sufficed to extract the information from the boy; and
Desmond then rejoined his companions, and they at once returned to
their lodgings, where they found Mike awaiting them.

"I have managed it, your honour, but it will cost twelve louis. I
went to the man from whom I got the saws, and he said at once that
the affair could be managed easily, and, sure enough, he took me
to the shop of a man who, he said, sometimes acted with cracksmen.
The fellow was sharp enough to see, at once, that it was something
special that we wanted the horses for, but after some bargaining
he agreed to do it for twelve gold pieces, and, if necessary, to
get a change of horses twice on the road. He will be ready with
his cart at twelve o'clock, a hundred yards or so outside the last
houses on the south side of the Old Kent Road. I could not tell
him which port you would go to, but he said from there he could go
to Dover, or turn off so as to make for Southampton or Weymouth.
It is to be twelve pounds if it is to Dover or Southampton;
fifteen pounds if it is to Weymouth."

"That is satisfactory," Desmond said. "Now we have nothing else to
do till ten o'clock tonight, when, as the boy said, the council
generally ends; though we will be there an hour earlier, in case
they should leave before. Now I think we had better find out where
Godolphin's house is, and fix upon the best spot for the attack,
and how we shall each station ourselves."

This part of the business offered no difficulties. They found that
the minister would probably be carried through Saint James's Park,
and they fixed upon the spot where they would await his coming.

Mike was to attack the first porter. O'Sullivan was to follow
close behind him and, at the same moment, fell the rearmost man.
O'Neil and Desmond, who were to conceal themselves among trees on
opposite sides of the path, were to spring out and strike down the
link bearers, and then enter the chair and bind and gag the
minister.

Mike was sent out to buy a pot of black paint, with which to
efface the gildings of the chair, and to reduce its appearance to
that ordinarily used by the citizens. He was ordered to get a
supply of rope, and some wood, to make gags for the men they were
to stun.

The others were to post themselves at the spot agreed on, while
Desmond was to remain at the entrance to the palace by which
ministers would issue, to note Lord Godolphin's chair, and, when
he was fairly on his way, to follow it for a short distance to
make sure that it was being taken through the park, and then to
run on and warn the others to be in readiness.

On their return to their lodging, they ate the dinner that Mike
had got in for them, and, as they drank their wine, laughed and
joked over their enterprise; for, now that they were fairly
embarked upon the scheme, the two officers were as eager as
Desmond in the matter, and were much more excited over the
prospect than he was.

Before nine o'clock, they and Mike were posted in the park, and
Desmond was at the entrance to the palace. Here seven or eight
chairs, with their bearers and link men, were assembled. As most
of the porters were hired men, Desmond readily entered into
conversation with them, and expressed his desire to see the great
persons and learn which were their chairs, so that he should know
them as they entered them.

In half an hour there was a stir, and a servant, coming out,
shouted:

"His Grace the Duke of Somerset's chair."

This was at once brought up to the door. Next came a call for the
chair of Mr. Henry Boyle, who was followed by Harcourt, the
attorney general, then the chair of My Lord Godolphin was
summoned.

Desmond and three or four others, who had gathered to see the
members of the council come out, had been ordered off by the
sentries as soon as the first chair was called, but remained near
enough to hear the names. To his satisfaction, Godolphin's chair
was carried off in the direction they had anticipated, and he at
once ran on and joined his companions.

Presently, the lights carried by the two link men were seen
approaching, and, as the chair came abreast of him, he shouted:

"Now!"

Almost simultaneously, the four heavy cudgels alighted on the
heads of the four men, levelling them senseless to the ground; and
O'Neil and Desmond sprang to the chair, and wrenched the door
open, while O'Sullivan and Mike bound the four men, and thrust the
gags into their mouths. Lord Godolphin had been thrown from his
seat by the sudden fall of his bearers, and was seized and bound
before he was conscious of what had happened. Then his captors
assisted the others in carrying the fallen men to some distance
from the path.

A couple of minutes sufficed to cover the gilding and armorial
bearings upon the chair. The torches were still burning on the
ground. One of these was stamped out. Desmond took the other. Mike
and O'Sullivan went between the poles, and adjusted the leathern
straps over their shoulders, and started.

Emerging from the park at Charing Cross, past the old church of
Saint. Martin's in the Fields, and keeping round the walls to
Holborn Bars, they made their way to their lodging, and Godolphin
was carried into their room, which was on the ground floor. Mike
and O'Neil then took the chair away, and left it in a narrow
alley, where it was not likely to attract attention until the
morning.

Not until they returned was anything said to their prisoner. It
had been agreed that O'Neil, as the senior, was to be spokesman of
the party.

"Lord Godolphin," he said, "I regret that circumstances have
obliged us to use force towards you, but our necessities compel us
to leave the country at once, and it has appeared to us that in no
way could we get away so expeditiously as with the aid of your
lordship. We will now set you free. I must tell you, beforehand,
that if you attempt to raise your voice and give the alarm, we
shall be constrained to blow out your brains."

Mike now released him from the bonds, and removed the gag from his
mouth, but for a time the minister was incapable of speech, being
choked by anger at the treatment he had met with.

"You will repent this outrage," he burst out, at last.

"I think not, sir," O'Neil said, quietly. "At any rate, we are
quite ready to take our chance of that. In order that you may feel
at ease with us, I have no hesitation in telling you who we are.
We are the three French officers who, as no doubt you have heard,
yesterday escaped from Newgate, and we are anxious to get out of
the country as soon as possible. It will be also a guarantee to
you that we have no designs on either your pockets or your
person."

Angry as he still was, it was evident, by the expression of the
treasurer's face, that the information was a relief to him, for
indeed he had supposed that he had been carried off by political
enemies, and was very uncertain as to what would befall him.

"What is it that you require, then?" he asked, after a pause.

"Merely this, sir. That you will give us an order, upon an agent
through whom you communicate with France, to take us across the
channel immediately."

"Well, gentlemen," Godolphin said, more calmly, "I must say your
coolness surprises me. Your escape yesterday was, of course,
reported to us; and the manner in which you obtained that rope, by
which you descended, is a mystery that the jail authorities are
wholly unable to solve.

"If you obtain the order you desire, will you give me your word of
honour that it shall be used in a manner in no way hostile to the
interests of this country, but solely, as you say, for the purpose
of conveying you across the channel?"

"That promise we give willingly. We must ask you to pledge your
honour, as a gentleman, that the order you give us will be a
genuine one--a matter that we cannot ascertain until we arrive at
the address given. We are willing to play fairly with you, sir,
but if you do not do the same, we shall certainly return to
London, though in some different guise, and, if so, I warn you
that no guards will save you from our vengeance."

"You need not threaten, sir," Lord Godolphin said calmly. "I will
give you the order, to the person to whom such communications are
addressed, and it shall be couched in the same words as usual."

Desmond placed a sheet of paper, pen, and ink before him. He,
dating it from the Treasury, wrote:

To John Dawkins, Mariner, High Street, Rye. Urgent.

On the receipt of this, you will at once convey the bearer, and
three persons with him, and land them in some convenient spot in
France.

He then added his signature.

"Now, gentlemen, what next?" he said, looking up.

O'Neil looked at his companions, and then they spoke for a moment
together.

"We are about to start at once, my lord," he said, "and it was our
intention to have left you bound and gagged, until the morning,
when the woman of the house would have assuredly found you and
released you. But, as you have acceded to our request at once, we
will, if you give us your word of honour that you will raise no
alarm, and say no word of this business until eight o'clock
tomorrow morning, let you depart at once."

"Thank you for your courtesy, gentlemen, and for your confidence
in my honour. I am, indeed, anxious to return home at once. If I
do not do so, there will be a hue and cry for me, and by the time
I return in the morning all London will know that I am missing. I
naturally should not wish this adventure to become a matter of
common talk: in the first place, because the position in which you
have placed me can scarcely be called a pleasant one; and
secondly, because the success of your enterprise might lead others
to make similar attempts on my person, or that of my colleagues.
Even now, I fear that my servants, when sufficiently recovered,
will go to my house and give the alarm."

"I do not think that that is likely to be the case, my lord,"
O'Neil said, "as we took the precaution of gagging and binding
them, and laid them down some distance from the roadside. If, on
your return home, you find they have not arrived, you have but to
send a couple of your servants out to release them. You can give
them strict orders that no word is to be said of the affair, and
make them to understand you were attacked in error, and that the
ruffians who took part in the outrage at once released you, upon
discovering your identity."

"Very good, sir," Godolphin said, with a grim smile. "I must
really compliment you all on your fertility of resource and
invention. And now, is there anything else that I can do for you?"

"There is one small favour," Desmond said. "Your lordship has
doubtless twenty guineas in your possession. You would greatly
oblige us if you would give us them, for so many louis. These you
will have no difficulty in exchanging, whereas the exhibition of
French money, on our part, might excite suspicion."

Lord Godolphin placed his hand in his pocket, drew out a heavy
purse, and, opening it, counted out twenty guineas. O'Neil took
these up, and handed to him twenty louis pieces.

"One more question, gentlemen. What has become of my sedan chair?"

"It is in an alley, hard by," O'Neil said, "and as we are
ourselves going in your direction we will carry it to your door."

"You are obliging, indeed, sir. If it had been found, the
escutcheon on the panels would have shown that it was mine."

"I fear, my lord, that you will have to have it repainted; for,
before starting with you, we took the precaution to put black
paint over the gilding and panels. Still, the lining and fittings
would show that it belonged to some person of wealth and
importance. As you have been so obliging to us, we will gladly
escort you, with it, to your door."

"I shall be glad, indeed, of that, gentlemen, for I certainly
should not care about travelling alone through these lanes and
alleys, which have by no means a good reputation."

"We are ready to start at once, my lord," O'Neil said. "We have a
long journey to perform, and, although there is now no need for
extraordinary speed, we shall be glad to be off."

They were ready at once, having settled with their landlady before
starting out in the evening, telling her that they had heard of a
job and should start early in the morning. Mike and Desmond
fetched the empty chair, and they then started, Godolphin walking
with the other officers in front.

"This is the most surprising adventure that ever happened to me,"
Lord Godolphin said; "and it is a pity that officers who possess
the wit to plan an escape from Newgate, and to ensure a speedy
flight from the country by carrying me off, are not in the service
of Her Majesty."

"We may yet be in the British service some day, my lord,"
O'Sullivan laughed; "but I may tell you that my friend, and
myself, disclaim any credit in contriving the matter of which you
spoke, that being solely the work of our young comrade, who is at
present the youngest ensign in our regiment."

"Then he must be a shrewd fellow, indeed," Godolphin said, "likely
to do service in any position to which he may attain."

They walked sharply. Several times rough men came and peered at
them, but Godolphin was wrapped in a cloak, and the appearance of
those with him showed that hard knocks, rather than booty, would
be the result of interfering with them. On reaching Lord
Godolphin's house they placed the sedan chair on the steps.

"Goodnight to you, gentlemen, and good fortune!" Lord Godolphin
said. "The lesson has not been lost, and I shall take good care,
in future, to have a strong escort."

They then crossed Westminster Bridge, and made rapidly for the
spot where the cart was waiting for them.

"You are an hour after your time," the man said. "I had begun to
think that something had gone wrong with you."

"That is not the case," O'Neil said; "but we have certainly been
detained longer than we anticipated."

"Where are we going to?"

"To Rye."

"That will suit me very well," the man said. "I have friends along
that road, and shall have no trouble about horses."

They started at once, at a rattling pace, the animals, though but
sorry-looking creatures, being speedy and accustomed to long
journeys. It was evident, from the man's manner, that he believed
his passengers were cracksmen who had just successfully carried
out an enterprise of importance. He expressed surprise that they
had brought no luggage with them.

They did not care to undeceive him. Mike had brought with him a
bottle of good brandy, and a drink of this soon removed the
vexation the man had felt at being kept waiting for them.

Twice during the journey they changed horses, each time at small
wayside inns, where some password, given by the driver, at once
roused the landlord into activity. But a few minutes were spent in
the changes, and the fifty miles to Rye were accomplished in seven
hours--a very unusual rate of speed along the badly kept roads of
the period. When the car drew up in the High Street of Rye, the
four occupants were scarce able to stand, so bruised and shaken
were they by their rapid passage over the rough road.

They handed the twelve pounds agreed upon to the driver, adding
another as a token of their satisfaction at the speed at which he
had driven them, and then enquired for the house of William
Dawkins. It was close by, and upon knocking at the door, it was
opened by the man himself.

"I have a message to deliver to you, in private," O'Neil said.

The man nodded, and led the way indoors, where the letter was
handed to him.

"That is all right," he said. "My craft is always ready to set
sail, at an hour's notice, and if the wind holds fair I will land
you on the French coast before nightfall. I see that your business
is urgent, or you would not have put on disguises before leaving
London. I suppose you have brought other clothes to land in?"

"We have not," O'Neil said. "We came away in such a hurry that we
did not think of it until on the road, and then we thought that we
might procure them here."

"There will be no difficulty about that," the sailor said. "I will
go out, and warn my men that we shall sail in half an hour, and
then I can get any garments that you desire; for, doubtless, you
do not wish to attract comment by the purchase of clothes that
would seem unfitted to your present position."

"That is so," O'Sullivan said, "and we shall gladly embrace your
offer. We should like three suits, such as are worn by persons of
fair position in France, and one proper for a serving man."

"I cannot get you quite French fashion, sir, but they do not
differ much from our own; and with a cloak each, I have no doubt
that you would pass without attracting attention--that is, of
course, if you speak French well."

"As well as English," O'Neil said. "Here are seven pounds in gold,
which will, I should think, be sufficient. If not, we are provided
with French gold, for use after landing there."

"I have no doubt it will suffice, sir. If not, I will pay what is
the excess, and you can settle with me afterwards."

In three-quarters of an hour after their arrival at Rye, they were
dressed in their new disguises and on board the little lugger,
which at once started down the river, which was at that time much
more free from shoals and difficulties than it is at present.

"Your boat seems fast," Desmond remarked, as, having cleared the
mouth of the river, she put out to sea.

"She is fast, sir; the fastest thing that sails out of Rye. She
needs be, for the gentlemen who come to me are always in a hurry."

"I suppose you have no fear of English cruisers?"

"Not at all. I have the order you brought with you, and have only
to show it to any English ship of war that overhauls us, for them
to let us go on at once. I am careful when I get near the French
coast, for although their big craft never venture out far, there
are numbers of chasse-maree patrolling the coast. However, even if
caught by them, it would be but a temporary detention, for I am
well known at Etaples, which is always my port, unless specially
directed to land my passengers elsewhere."

The wind was fresh and favourable, and at six o'clock in the
afternoon they entered the little port. Some gendarmes came down
to the wharf.

"We need have no fear of them," William Dawkins said. "Their
lieutenant is paid handsomely for keeping his eyes shut, and
asking no questions."

"So you are back again," the officer said. "Why, it is not a week
since you were here!"

"No, it is but six days since I sailed."

"And you have four passengers?"

"That's the number, sir. The Irish gentlemen are desirous of
entering the service of France."

The officer nodded.

"Well, gentlemen, you will find plenty of your countrymen in
Paris; and, as everyone knows, there are no better or braver
soldiers in His Majesty's service."

The friends had already enquired, from William Dawkins, whether
there was any passage money to pay, saying that they had forgotten
to ask before starting.

"Not at all. I am well paid by Government. My boat is always
retained at a price that suits me well, and I get so much extra
for every voyage I make. No, sir, thank you; I will take nothing
for myself, but if you like to give half a guinea to the crew, to
drink success to you, I will not say no."

The party made no stay at Etaples, but at once ordered a chaise
and post horses. Then, changing at every post house, and suffering
vastly less discomfort than they experienced in the journey to
Rye--the roads being better kept in France than they were on the
English side of the channel--they arrived in Paris at eleven
o'clock next day.



Chapter 11: On the Frontier.


On entering the barrack yard, they found that the regiment had
marched, ten days before, for the frontier, and that Lord Galmoy's
regiment had taken their place. They went at once to his quarters
and told him that, having effected their escape, they had
travelled with all speed to inform the king of the determination
of the English Government to bring the Irish officers to
execution, and to implore him to intervene in their favour.

"I will go with you to Versailles, at once," Lord Galmoy said;
"but, as you have no uniforms, and the king is very strict on
matters of etiquette, three of my officers will lend you their
suits and swords. While they are being fetched, sit down and share
my meal, for doubtless you have not waited to eat on the road."

He then gave the necessary instructions, and half an hour later
the three officers, now in uniform, started with him on horseback
for Versailles. The king had just returned from hunting, and it
was an hour before Lord Galmoy could obtain an audience with him.
He had, on the road, told the others he felt sure that the king,
who was well served by his agents in London, had already heard of
the intention of the English Government, but as to whether he had
sent off a remonstrance he was of course ignorant.

"I shall press the matter strongly upon him, and point out the
deep feeling that will be excited, throughout his Irish and Scotch
troops, if nothing is done to save the prisoners.

"Louis is a politic monarch," he said, "and, knowing our worth and
that of his Scotch soldiers, I think that he will, on my
representations, bestir himself. Wauchop has many times performed
brilliant services, and deserves well of France. However, we shall
see."

When they were admitted to the audience, Lord Galmoy introduced
the three soldiers of O'Brien's regiment as coming that morning to
Paris, having effected their escape from Newgate. As he repeated
their names, the king looked sharply at Desmond.

"Ah, ah!" he said, "so our young ensign is in the thick of
adventures again. These we will hear presently.

"Well, my lord, why have they come here so hurriedly after their
arrival?"

"They came to inform Your Majesty that the English Government have
determined to execute Colonel Francis Wauchop, and the twelve
officers of their regiment who were on board the Salisbury,
captured on the coast of Scotland."

Desmond, who was watching the king's face closely, saw that this
was no news to him, and that he was annoyed by its being now
brought to his notice; for doubtless the fate of a colonel, and a
dozen young officers, was a matter that affected him little; and
that, had the matter not been forced upon him, he would not have
troubled about it, but, when it was too late, would have professed
entire ignorance of the intentions of the English Government.

He only said, however, "It is incredible that there can be an
intention to execute officers in our service, captured upon a
warlike expedition."

"It is but too true, sir. Against Colonel Wauchop they have no
ground for severity. By the convention of Limerick, he and all
other officers were formally permitted to enter Your Majesty's
service; but the young lieutenants have, of course, joined long
since that time, and therefore cannot benefit by the terms of the
convention; and could, with a show of justice, be executed as
English subjects, traitors serving against their country."

"We are afraid that our remonstrance would have but little effect
with the English Government."

Lord Galmoy smiled slightly, for it was notorious that
negotiations had gone on between King James and his councillors,
and several of the members of the English Ministry, Marlborough
himself being more than suspected of having a secret understanding
with the little court at Saint Germain.

He only said, however, "Your Majesty has in your hands the power
of compelling the English Government to alter their determination
in this matter."

"How so, my lord?" the king asked, in much surprise.

"You have, sire, many prisoners, Frenchmen of the reformed
religion, who had entered the service of the Protestant
princes--your enemies--and who were taken in Dutch and Flemish
towns we have captured. These stand in the same relation towards
Your Majesty as the Irish officers towards England. You have,
then, but to inform the government there that, if they in any way
harm the Irish officers and noncommissioned officers in their
hands, you will at once execute a similar number of these French
Protestant officers, whom you have hitherto treated as prisoners
of war. Then, possibly, an exchange might be effected.

"Your Majesty will, I think, pardon me for saying that, unless
steps are taken to save these officers' lives, the matter is
likely to have a very bad effect on the Irish and Scotch
regiments, whose ardour will not be improved by the knowledge that
in case of a reverse they will, if not killed in the field, be
executed as traitors; for nearly half of the men who are now
serving have joined since the formation of the Brigade, and are
not protected by the terms of the Limerick treaty. They are
devoted to Your Majesty's service, and are ready to lay down their
lives freely for the cause of France; but it would not be fair
that they should also run the risk of execution, if they are by
misfortune made prisoners."

"There is much in what you say, Lord Galmoy, and you certainly
point out a way by which these officers can be saved. A messenger
shall start, in an hour's time, with a letter to the English
Government. It shall be delivered at their headquarters in
Flanders by noon tomorrow, with a request that it shall be
forwarded by special messenger to the British minister; and we
will have a proclamation posted in Paris, and in the various camps
of the army, saying that we have warned the English Government
that, unless the officers and men captured off the coast of
Scotland are treated as prisoners of war, we shall retaliate by
treating all French officers taken in foreign service in the same
way; and that we have furthermore offered to exchange an equal
number of such officers and men, in our hands, for those held by
the British Government."

"I thank Your Majesty, most respectfully and heartily, in the name
of all the foreign officers in your service. Even should,
unfortunately, the English Government refuse to pardon or exchange
their prisoners, it will be seen that Your Majesty has done all in
your power to save them, and there will be a general feeling of
reprobation, throughout Europe, at the conduct of the English
Ministry."

"We beg these officers to wait in the anteroom, while we dictate
our despatch and proclamation to our secretary. We would fain
question them as to how they effected their escape from their
prison, and how they have made so speedy a journey here."

Lord Galmoy bowed, and retired with the others.

"We have done well," he said, "better indeed than I had hoped.
Now, having succeeded in saving our countrymen's lives, which I
doubt not would have been otherwise sacrificed, I shall return at
once to Paris, for there is an inspection of my regiment this
afternoon."

"We have been fortunate, indeed," O'Neil said, when Lord Galmoy
had left. "I have no doubt the king had heard that the English
Government had resolved to execute the prisoners, but I question
whether he would have stirred in the matter, had it not been for
Galmoy's representation."

"I am sure, by his manner, that he had received the news before,"
Desmond said, "and, as you say, had not intended to interfere. It
was the suggestion that he might threaten retaliation, and that
the effect of his not moving in the matter would be very bad among
his Irish troops, that decided him to interfere. He may have felt
that any mere protest made by him would have had little effect,
and it is not his nature to expose himself to a rebuff; but,
directly he saw that he had an effective weapon in his hands, he
took the matter up as warmly as we could wish."

In point of fact, the king's threat had the desired effect, and
two months later the imprisoned officers and men were exchanged
for an equal number of Huguenots.

In a quarter of an hour, the three officers were again summoned to
the king's presence. With him was a tall dark officer, of
distinguished mien, whom O'Neil and O'Sullivan both recognized as
the Duke of Berwick, one of the most famous generals of the time.
He had been in command of the French forces in Spain, from which
he had been recalled suddenly, two days before, in order that the
king, who had a great confidence in him, might consult him as to
the general plan of operations, in that country and in the north,
before despatching him to join the army in Flanders. This was
commanded by the Duke of Burgundy and the Duke of Vendome jointly;
and as both were headstrong and obstinate, and by no means agreed
as to the operations to be undertaken, the king had determined to
send Berwick there, in order that he might, by his military genius
and influence, bring matters to a better state between the two
dukes, and arrange with them some definite plan by which the tide
of fortune, which had hitherto gone against the French, might be
arrested.

The king appeared now to be in a good humour.

"And now, young sirs," he said, "I have an hour at leisure, and
would fain hear a true account of your adventures, omitting
nothing.

"I have no doubt, Monsieur Kennedy, that your ready wit had no
small share in the matter."

"With your permission, Sire, I will tell the story," O'Neil said,
"for Mr. Kennedy is not likely to place his own share of the work
in its due prominence."

The king nodded, and O'Neil gave a detailed account of the manner
in which they had made their escape, and succeeded in getting
themselves conveyed across the channel in a vessel in the
Government service, explaining that both affairs were due entirely
to Desmond's initiative and ingenuity. The king listened with
great interest, and even laughed at the story of the capture of
Lord Godolphin.

"You have all three behaved extremely well," he said.

"You, Monsieur Kennedy, have again shown that you possess unusual
shrewdness, as well as daring.

"What think you, Duke, of this young subaltern, who is, we may
tell you, the hero of whom you have doubtless heard, who twice
rescued Mademoiselle de Pointdexter from the hands of her
abductor?"

"I was told the story yesterday, Sire, and was filled with
admiration at the boldness and resource of her rescuer, who was, I
heard, an ensign in O'Brien's regiment; but certainly I did not
expect to find him so young a man. He has, indeed, a fertility of
invention that fills me with surprise. The other officers deserve
praise, for having so willingly followed the leadership of their
junior, and their generosity in assigning to him the whole merit
of their undertaking is highly commendable. It is no easy thing,
Sire, to find in young officers--especially, if I may say so,
among the cadets of good family, who form for the most part the
staff of your generals--men ready to exercise their own discretion
when in difficulties, and to carry out with due diligence the
orders committed to them."

"O'Brien's regiment has marched to the northern frontier. The
vacancies in the ranks of its officers have been filled up from
those of other regiments. I should, with Your Majesty's
permission, be glad to take these three officers on my own staff,
as, leaving Spain privately in accordance with Your Majesty's
orders, I have brought with me only Captain Fromart, my secretary,
and one young aide-de-camp. I should be glad if you would promote
Mr. Kennedy to the rank of lieutenant."

"We quite approve of both requests," the king said graciously;
"and indeed," he added with a smile, "shall not be altogether
sorry to see Lieutenant Kennedy employed outside our kingdom, for,
after making war on his own account with one of our nobles, and
kidnapping the first minister of England, there is no saying what
enterprise he might next undertake. And should he join any of
those who trouble the country with their plots, we should feel
compelled to double our guards, in order to hold ourself secure
from his designs.

"Well, gentlemen, since the Duke of Berwick has appointed you his
aides-de-camp, the least we can do is to see that you are properly
fitted out for the expedition. You have, of course, lost your
uniforms, horses, and money in our service, and it is but just
that we should see to your being refitted. If you will wait in the
anteroom, you shall each receive an order on our treasury for a
hundred louis d'ors."

The three officers bowed deeply in acknowledgment to the king,
and, bowing also to the Duke of Berwick, returned to the anteroom,
where presently one of the royal attendants brought to them the
three orders on the treasury, and also begged them, in the name of
the Duke of Berwick, to wait until his audience with the king
should be over.

They were all highly delighted with the change in their position.
The posts of staff officers were, as the duke had said, considered
to belong almost of right to members of noble families, and it was
seldom that officers of the line could aspire to them.

"Did I not tell you, Kennedy, that your luck would bring good
fortune to us all! And, by the powers, it has done so! Faith, if
anyone had said a month ago that I should by now be on the Duke of
Berwick's staff, I should have laughed in his face, if indeed I
had not quarrelled with him for mocking at me. And now here we
are, with money to buy horses and outfit, and with no more
drilling recruits and attending parades."

"But not an end to work, O'Sullivan," Desmond Kennedy said. "You
won't find much idle time, when you are serving with the duke."

"No. He has the name of being a strict commander, sparing neither
himself nor his soldiers; and I have heard that his staff have a
very hard time of it. However, I am not afraid of hard work, when
it is done on horseback, and there are many more chances of
promotion on the staff than there are in marching regiments. Well,
I don't mind being taken prisoner a dozen times if this is what
comes of it, providing always that you are taken with me, Kennedy,
and are there to help me out of the scrape."

"We should have to have Mike prisoner, too," Desmond laughed, "for
without his help we should be in Newgate at present."

"I don't believe it. I am sure that, even if he hadn't turned up,
you would have managed somehow."

In a short time, the duke came out.

"I am likely to be detained here another week, before I start for
Flanders. That will give you time to procure your outfit of horses
and equipments and arms. You will require two horses each, and
these should be good ones. I doubt whether, if you get proper
outfits, the sum that His Majesty has given you will suffice to
buy two horses. I have, however, in my stables here, plenty of
good animals that have been taken from the enemy, and one will be
given to each of you. Therefore, it will be only necessary for you
to purchase one.

"I am staying here, and should be obliged, when you have taken a
lodging, if you would send me your address. I shall then let you
know where and when you are to join me. Is there anything else
that you would ask me?"

"I would ask, sir, that I might take my servant with me," Desmond
said.

"Certainly; and you can do so without further question. One man,
more or less, will make no difference to O'Brien's regiment, and
it would be a pity that you should not have him with you, for it
is evident that he is at once faithful, and possesses a large
amount of shrewdness."

After thanking the duke for the present of the horses, the three
officers, having drawn their money, left the palace and rode back
to Paris. They went first to the barracks, and returned the horses
and uniforms, with many thanks, to the officers who had lent them;
had an interview with Lord Galmoy, and informed him of their new
appointments.

"You have well won them," he said, "and I wish you every good
fortune. Assuredly, you are more likely to rise under the Duke of
Berwick than as subaltern in the Irish Brigade, though promotion
is not slow there, owing to the vacancies that battle always makes
in their ranks."

They went out and took a lodging together, and then went to a
military tailor, who promised them their undress and full dress
suits in four days. Then they ordered military saddles, bridles,
and equipments.

On the next day, after visiting half the stables in Paris, they
purchased three horses for themselves, and Desmond bought, in
addition, a serviceable animal for Mike, with a cavalry saddle and
accoutrements, and ordered a uniform for him. Each provided
himself with a sword and a brace of pistols.

Mike was greatly pleased when Desmond communicated his promotion
and appointment to him.

"You will look grand, your honour, as a general's aide-de-camp,
with your handsome uniform and your horses and all that, and 'tis
glad I am that we are going to Flanders, for, from all I have
heard from men who have fought in Spain, little pleasure is to be
had in campaigning there. The food is vile, the roads are bad. You
are choked with dust and smothered with heat.

"As to their making you lieutenant, if you had your dues, it would
be a colonel they should have made you, or at any rate a major."

"There is plenty of time, Mike," Desmond laughed. "A nice colonel
I should look, too, leading a thousand men into battle. If I
obtain a majority in another fifteen years, I shall consider
myself lucky."

Desmond did not share Mike's gratification that they were to
campaign with the army of the north, instead of with that in
Spain. However, as he would be fighting against English troops in
either country, he concluded it would not make much difference,
especially as, being an aide-de-camp, he would not himself have to
enter into actual conflict with them.

His friends were heartily glad that their destination was not
Spain, for all had, like Mike, heard much of the hardships
suffered by the troops in that country.

"I know from what you have said, Kennedy, that if you had had your
choice you would have taken Spain, but, putting aside the heat
there, it is but poor work, by all accounts. You are well-nigh
starved, you can't get at your enemy, who knows all the mountains
and the paths over them, is as difficult to catch as one of their
fleas, harasses you while you are on the march, and shirks
fighting as the old one shirks holy water. There has only been one
fight which could be called a battle since the war began; and as
for the sieges, it means that you lose a lot of men, and have
little credit when you take a place, especially as the moment you
go out one way the enemy enter on the other side, and there is all
the work to be done over again."

"I admit that we shall see a great deal more of war in the north,"
Kennedy said, "and Marlborough and Eugene on the other side, and
the Dukes of Berwick and Vendome on ours, are such skilful
commanders that there will be far greater interest in the
operations, than in carrying on what is little more than a
partisan war in Spain."

"Not only that," O'Neil put in, "but there will be a possibility
of getting decent food. While in Spain there are few great towns,
and these a long distance from each other; in Flanders there are
towns every few miles, and you are sure of decent quarters and
good cooking."

"Why, O'Neil, I did not know that you were particular as to your
food," Desmond laughed.

"I can starve as well as another, Kennedy, but when I get good
food and good wine and good lodgings, I own that I prefer it
vastly to the fare that our troops have to put up with, in Spain.
I can see no reason why, because you are going to risk your life
in battle, you should put up with all sorts of miseries and
inconveniences beforehand, if they can be avoided.

"As to fighting against the English, there are English both in
Spain and Flanders, and in both armies they form but a small
proportion of the force, though I grant willingly that they are
the backbone of both armies. If you look at the thing sensibly,
you will see that we have gained no slight advantage by Berwick's
going to Flanders, instead of returning to Spain."

Three days after their preparations were completed, an orderly
brought a note from the Duke of Berwick. It was brief and to the
point.

The rendezvous is at six o'clock tomorrow morning, in front of La
Louvre.

(Signed) Berwick.

All were glad that the summons had come. They had discussed the
future from every point of view, and were already growing
impatient, short as their stay had been in Paris.

Five minutes before the hour, they were at the rendezvous. As the
clock struck, the duke rode up with two officers and an escort of
six troopers. He looked at their accoutrements and horses, and
nodded his head approvingly.

"You will do very well," he said. "I can tell you that the gloss
of your uniforms will not last long, in Flanders."

The other officers were Captain Fromart, who acted as the duke's
secretary, and Lieutenant d'Eyncourt. Mike fell in with the
escort, behind which also rode the body servant of the duke, and
the two cavalry men who were the servants of his officers.

Once beyond the limits of the town, the party broke into a trot.
The duke rode on ahead, evidently in deep thought, and the five
officers followed in a group.

"I see, messieurs," d'Eyncourt said, "that only one of you has
brought a servant with him."

"We only arrived in Paris a week ago," O'Neil said. "Our own
regiment had left, and we did not care to ask for two soldiers
from another regiment, as these might have turned out badly. We
thought it better, therefore, to delay until we joined the army,
and wait till we could obtain a couple of good men from one of the
cavalry regiments there. As it is, Monsieur Kennedy's servant can
look after the three of us, and, I have no doubt, two of the
soldiers of the escort will not object to earn a few livres by
looking after our horses on the way."

"I think you are right," the other said. "If one gets a good man,
a soldier servant is invaluable. If, as is often the case, he is a
bad one, well, one is far better without him. It is curious how
men who have been smart soldiers, when in the ranks, are apt to go
to the bad when they become servants. They have more time on their
hands, are free from most of the parades, have no sentry duty to
perform, and the consequence is that they become slovenly and
careless, and in nine cases out of ten give way to drink at every
opportunity. If Mr. Kennedy's servant is really a good one, you
will be better off, with a third of his services, than you would
be with the whole of that of an ordinary soldier servant.

"You have just returned from England, have you not? The duke told
Captain Fromart that you were among those who were captured in the
Salisbury, but that you had made your escape. He gave no
particulars, for indeed, the duke is not given to much speech. As
a general he is splendid, but it would be more pleasant for his
staff if he were to unbend a little."

"Yes, we managed to give them the slip," O'Neil said, "thanks to
Monsieur Kennedy and his servant. Did you return from Spain with
the general, Captain Fromart?"

"Yes. There was nothing doing at the moment, and he gave us the
option of accompanying him or staying behind. We vastly preferred
the trip, as we considered it, for of course we had no idea that
the duke was about to be sent to Flanders. You hear a good deal of
the climate of Spain. It is said to be lovely. I vow that it is
detestable. The heat, when it is hot, is terrible, and when it is
not hot, there is a bitter wind that chills you to the bone. A
great portion of the country is but half populated, and you can go
a day's march without coming to a village. The roads are
villainous. There is nothing to buy, and it is as much as the
transport can do to get, I will not say enough bread, but a bare
sufficiency to maintain the troops. Moreover, the duke has been
constantly thwarted in his plans by the Spaniards, who are ready
enough to make promises, but never take a single step towards
their fulfilment. The duke's temper is of the shortest, and he has
quarrelled openly with most of the leading Spaniards, and has
threatened, four or five times, to throw up his command and return
to France. He did do so a year ago, but affairs went so badly,
without him, that the cause of France was seriously imperilled by
his absence, and it was at the urgent request of Philip that he
returned; for at that time the English general, Peterborough, was
striking dismay all over the country, and if the duke's advice had
not been taken, all our officers acknowledge that we should
speedily have crossed the Pyrenees."

"And do the population incline towards Philip or the Austrian?"

"As a rule, they incline towards the party which seems likely to
win. They would shout in Madrid as loudly for the Archduke Charles
as for Philip. Catalonia and Valencia are the exceptions. There
the balance of feeling is certainly in favour of the Austrian, but
this is principally because they are afraid of Peterborough, whom
they regard as almost supernatural, and fear he would take
vengeance upon those who deserted his cause. But there is no
accounting for them; cities have held out as stoutly for one
candidate as for the other, without any apparent reason, so far as
we can observe.

"We fight for Philip because he is Louis's grandson, and it is
important in the interest of France to stand closely allied with
his party. But as for the Spaniards with us, I can tell you that
we have but little trust in them."

"But some of them are good, are they not?"

"We do not consider any of them of much account. But then the
Spaniards on the other side are no better. They seem to have lost
all their military virtues, ever since their best troops were
demolished at Rocroi by Conde. That and the destruction of their
fleet by the English, and the drain of their resources both in men
and money, entailed by the long war in Holland, altogether
deprived the people of their martial spirit. The war is to some
extent between the English and us, because, of the allies England,
Holland, and Austria, neither the Austrians nor the Dutch take any
great share in the struggle. The Dutch are wholly engrossed with
the defence of their fens, the Austrians are fully occupied in
Italy and on the Rhine frontier, and it is only the English, who,
fortunately, are not very numerous, who are against us, for the
Portuguese can scarcely be counted in the business, being, if
anything, slower and more stupid than the Spaniards themselves.

"However, at present the prospect is good. Peterborough has gone.
Galway's army has been almost destroyed; though, to do them
justice, the English regiments fought magnificently, and if they
had been seconded by the Portuguese the result might have been
altogether different."

"Then you found Spain much less rich than France?"

"There is no comparison," Captain Fromart said. "It ought to be
fully as rich, but the plains lie almost uncultivated. The people
seem wholly without energy, and the ruling class are always
intriguing, and seem to pay little attention to their estates. You
see but few castles and chateaux, such as are dotted over France.
I do not say that, at the present moment, France can be considered
a prosperous country in material matters. The expenses of the wars
have been enormous, to say nothing of the Court. The people are
ground down by taxation, and the misery in some parts of the
country is extreme; but left to themselves the people will work,
and work hard. Our soil will grow anything, and after twenty years
of peace, France would altogether recover herself."

"And yet the alliance of Spain is considered as of vital
importance to France!"

"Of great importance, certainly. Spain has still soldiers who can
fight well, as they have proved in Italy; and were the levies at
home equally well drilled and disciplined, they would no doubt
turn out good soldiers. But these are, at present, almost
undrilled. They desert in numbers and return to their homes, after
the slightest reverse, and prefer to act as partisans under
leaders of their own choosing. But with Philip once firmly seated
on the throne, with French advisers and officers to assist him,
and a few regiments to serve as a nucleus to his army, Spain could
turn out a force which would be a very valuable addition to the
strength of any European power. With Spain as our ally we can, in
addition to the force that she can put in the field, neglect
altogether our southern frontier, and employ our whole army
elsewhere. With her as an ally of Austria or of England, we should
have to keep an army in the south to guard our borders."

Two days after leaving Paris, the party arrived at Peronne, where
a considerable body of troops were collected, of which, although
an aide-de-camp, Desmond now learned for the first time the duke
was to take the command. No movements of importance had taken
place in the field, and as the force at Peronne still wanted
several regiments, to bring it up to the intended strength, some
weeks passed before it was set in motion.

The four aides-de-camp, however, had a busy time of it. The main
army was stationed in the neighbourhood of Lille, and frequent
communications passed between Berwick and Vendome.

The allies were inactive. Eugene had, early in April, met
Marlborough at the Hague, and had concerted with him the plan for
the campaign. He had then gone to Vienna to bring up reinforcements,
and until these arrived Marlborough hardly felt in a position to take
the offensive, as the French armies were considerably stronger than
his own, and he had not yet been joined by the troops from Hanover.

Except to receive orders, the aides-de-camp saw little of their
commander. He was absorbed in the difficult problems of the war,
and was occasionally absent for two or three days at the camp of
Vendome. He always spoke kindly to them when on duty, but at other
times dispensed altogether with their attendance, and as a rule
took his meals alone.

"You see him at his worst," d'Eyncourt said one day to his new
comrades, "He is a different man when he is in the field. Then he
is full of life and activity, looking into every detail himself,
endeavouring to infuse some of his own energy into others, full of
care for the comfort of his troops, though ready to endure any
hardship himself. Then you see the real man; a noble character,
idolized by the soldiers and loved by us all. You must not judge
him, in the slightest degree, by what he now is. He has a great
deal on his mind, and has, so it is whispered, no small trouble in
keeping the peace between Vendome and Burgundy. The failure, too,
of the expedition to Scotland must have greatly disappointed him,
and I have no doubt he expected to be put at the head of any
French army sent over to place James upon the throne. However, he
may congratulate himself now that he was not with it, for no
honour and no gain has been earned by any concerned in it."

"That certainly is so," Desmond agreed. "It was a mismanaged
affair altogether. To begin with, twenty thousand men should have
been sent instead of six thousand; and in the next place, the
fleet should have assembled at Brest or Bordeaux, for in that
case, although the news of its assembling would assuredly have
reached England, it would not have been known whether it was
intended that the landing should be made in Ireland, Scotland, or
on the English coast, while by gathering at Dunkirk no doubt was
left as to the destination. This was proved by the fact that, when
the English fleet watching the port was driven off by a gale, and
an opportunity was thus given for a start, instead of coming back
again, as we had hoped, only to find that we had left, it sailed
straight for the north, making absolutely certain that we were
bound for Edinburgh."

"Well, we must hope," O'Sullivan said, "that next time the force
will, as you say, be fully twenty thousand men, will include the
Irish Brigade, will be led by Berwick, and will land in Ireland."

At this moment an orderly entered.

"The duke requires your attendance, Lieutenant Kennedy."

Desmond at once went to the duke's apartments.

"You will start at once for Lille, Mr. Kennedy, and will report
yourself to Marshal Vendome. I have arranged with him that one of
my aides-de-camp shall accompany the force that is about to
advance, and shall keep me informed of what is being done. I have
selected you because I know you to be active and shrewd. The
marshal is too much occupied to send me such full reports as I
should wish, and I look to you not only to give me facts, but to
convey to me your impressions of what you see passing around you.
Do not fear to speak plainly. Your communications will be strictly
private, and your views will be thus of far more use to me than
the official expressions of the marshal and his staff.

"You will, of course, take your servant with you, and I have told
off three troopers to accompany you, for the purpose of bringing
your reports to me. There is no probability of a general
engagement at present, and until we obtain some idea of
Marlborough's plans, no extensive operations will be undertaken."

From the manner in which he spoke, Desmond had no doubt that
Berwick himself was in favour of taking the initiative without
delay, but that he had been overruled. It was indeed of importance
to the French that, before advancing, they should secure
possession of the towns of west Flanders, so that the great roads
would all be open to them.

Half an hour after leaving the duke, Desmond was in the saddle,
and, followed by the four soldiers, rode for Vendome's camp.
According to instructions he halted for the night at Arras, and
reached Lille at ten the next morning. He at once presented
himself to the marshal, and handed to him the letter from Berwick,
of which he was the bearer.

The duke glanced through it.

"I have been expecting you, Lieutenant Kennedy, and have arranged
that you shall mess and ride with the junior officers of my staff.
I will order a tent to be erected for you, at once. Should any
portion of my force move without me, I have arranged that you
shall accompany it. You will find many of your compatriots in
camp, for we have five battalions of the Irish Brigade with us,
among them that of O'Brien, to which the Duke of Berwick informed
me you belonged before you were appointed to his staff, having
distinguished yourself markedly on several occasions."

The marechal-de-camp coming in, Vendome placed Desmond in his
charge, requesting him to introduce him to the various officers of
his staff, with whom he would have to mess, and to see that he was
well cared for. He was well received by the young French officers,
all of whom, with scarce an exception, belonged to good families,
and Desmond was not long in discovering that they regarded their
occupation rather as a pleasant and exciting diversion, than as a
matter of duty, and that the greater portion of their time was
devoted to pleasure. They rode, practised with the pistol and
rapier, made excursions into the country, dined, and spent their
evenings as if the army were nonexistent. A few only, and these
were men who had served as officers, took their profession
seriously, and divided among themselves what work had to be done,
the young nobles gladly relinquishing it to them.



Chapter 12: Oudenarde.


Desmond did not remain long at the marshal's camp, but accompanied
expeditions that were sent to Bruges, Ghent, and Ypres. The
inhabitants of these towns had, for some time, been in communication
with the marshal. They were hostile to the English, and had a standing
feud, of many years' duration, with the Dutch.

As soon, therefore, as the French columns approached, they opened
their gates. The weak garrisons that had been placed there,
finding themselves unable to at once control the population and
defend the walls, evacuated the town before the French arrived.

Beyond writing confidential reports to Berwick, Desmond had had
little to do, and spent most of his time with his own regiment, by
whom he was heartily welcomed, and with the other Irish battalions
encamped near them. He and the other officers captured in the
Salisbury had been given up as lost by their comrades; and the
appearance of Desmond, in his staff uniform, was the first
intimation they had received of his escape, of which he had more
than once to give a detailed account.

In doing this, he made no mention of the seizure of Lord
Godolphin. He knew that the minister was anxious that this should
not get abroad, and, as he had behaved fairly to them, Desmond
considered that he ought to remain silent on the subject; and
merely said that, on their arrival at Rye, they had made an
arrangement with a man who was in the habit of conveying persons
secretly, to or from France, to take them across the channel.

"You amaze me more and more, Kennedy," the colonel said. "Six
months ago, when you joined, you seemed to me little more than a
boy, and yet you have been through adventures that demanded the
brain and courage of a veteran. We missed you all much; but I hope
we shall soon get the others back again, for I had news the other
day, from Paris, that arrangements for their exchange were going
on, and no doubt they will rejoin as soon as they land.

"There is little chance of you, O'Neil and O'Sullivan coming back
to the regiment; but, at any rate, as Berwick's force is sure to
join ours, as soon as operations begin in earnest, we shall often
see you."

It was the end of June before the main army advanced. Desmond had
returned to Peronne after the capture of the three Flemish towns,
and was warmly praised by Berwick for the manner in which he had
carried out the work entrusted to him. On the 6th of July, he
received orders to accompany the duke.

"There is bad news," Captain Fromart said, entering the room where
the four aides-de-camp were together. "You know the marshal had
commenced the siege of Oudenarde. We have news now that the enemy
has suddenly advanced towards him, and he has been obliged to
raise the siege, and fall back across the Scheldt. The troops are
to go forward at once. The duke will ride on, with all speed, in
accordance with Vendome's urgent request. All four of you are to
go on with him. I shall accompany the force here.

"There is no time to be lost. The duke's horse is to be at the
door in a quarter of an hour, and it will not please him to be
kept waiting. You had better leave your spare horses, for the
present. I have already warned the escort."

It was a short notice, but by the time named the four
aides-de-camp were in their saddles, as were their soldier
servants, for by this time Desmond's two friends had obtained
servants from a dragoon regiment. They were but just in time, for
they had scarcely mounted when the duke came out, sprang into his
saddle, and went off at a canter.

The distance was some fifty miles. They stopped once for two
hours, to refresh themselves and their horses, and rode into
Vendome's camp soon after nightfall. A large tent had been already
erected for Berwick's use, close to that of the marshal; and
another, close by, for the use of the officers who might come with
him.

A quarter of an hour later, a soldier entered the aides-de-camp's
tent, with a large tray.

"The Duke of Berwick bids me say, gentlemen, that he is supping
with the marshal, who has sent these dishes to you from his own
table."

"Please to give our thanks to the Duke of Vendome, for his
kindness," Desmond said; but when the soldier had left the tent,
he went on, "I have no doubt that this is the result of a
suggestion on the part of Berwick, and greatly obliged to him we
must feel. We had just been saying that we supposed we should get
nothing to eat till tomorrow morning, while here is a supper
worthy of the marshal, and four flasks of wine, which I doubt not
are good."

It was ten o'clock before the duke returned to his tent, when he
at once sent for his aides-de-camp.

"There will be nothing more for you to do, tonight, gentlemen.
Sleep soundly, for we shall have a hard day's work tomorrow. We
are to cross the Scheldt again at daybreak. The enemy are on the
other side of the Dender, and the next day a pitched battle will
probably be fought. You may be surprised that we do not wait until
my forces arrive, but we have heard that Eugene's reinforcements
are within two days' march of Marlborough, and, as they are more
numerous than those I command, it has been decided to accept
battle at once. Good night."

"The general is in a good temper," d'Eyncourt said, as they
reentered their tent. "I expect that his views have been adopted,
and that there was a warm discussion over them."

This was indeed the case. The Duke of Burgundy, an obstinate man
without any knowledge of war, had been in favour of pushing
forward, crossing the Lys as well as the Scheldt, and attacking
the allies as soon as they met them. Vendome, on the other hand,
was of opinion that the army which was now collected near Ghent
had better advance against Oudenarde, which might be carried by a
coup de main before Marlborough could come to its assistance,
which he might be some days in doing, seeing that he was in
command of a mixed force, composed of Dutch, Danes, Hanoverians,
Prussians, and British. Burgundy then maintained that they should
retire, and fight near Ypres, where they would be close to the
frontier, and could retire upon Lille in case matters went against
them. Berwick, however, at last managed to persuade him to agree
to Vendome's plan, as the capture of Oudenarde was a matter of the
utmost importance, and it would be as easy to fall back thence to
Lille as it would be from Ypres.

This Burgundy had sullenly assented to, and the next morning the
army marched to the position fixed upon. This was on steeply
rising ground, with the river Norken running at its foot. Beyond
this were two other eminences, on each of which stood a windmill.
That on the west was called the windmill of Oycke, and that on the
adjoining hill the windmill of Royegham, the latter flanking the
main position. Oudenarde being found to be strongly garrisoned, it
was decided, in spite of the opposition of Burgundy, to cross the
Scheldt at Gavre, and then to give battle to the allies between
that river and the Dender.

Marlborough had, however, been joined by Prince Eugene, who had,
like Berwick, hurried on in advance of his army, and the two great
generals decided, instead of attacking the French by the road from
Brussels, to sweep round across the Scheldt at Oudenarde, and by
other bridges across the river, and so to place themselves between
Vendome and France.

A portion of the French army was already in movement, when the
news came that the allies were fast coming up. Early the next
morning their advance guard, composed of twelve battalions of
infantry and the whole of the cavalry, reached the Scheldt; and,
having thrown bridges over the river, crossed, and soon came in
contact with the French advance guard, under Biron. There was some
severe fighting, in which neither party gained any great
advantage, the French maintaining possession of the village of
Eynes.

While this conflict was going on, Marlborough and Eugene, with the
main body, had reached the river, and were engaged in crossing it;
and Vendome determined to attack them while carrying out the
operation. He was, as usual, opposed by Burgundy, who wished to
continue the march to Ghent. Marshal Vendome pointed out that, in
a country so broken and interspersed with hedges, an army
possessing the greatest strength--for the French numbered
eighty-five thousand, while Marlborough had but eighty thousand
under him--would lose the advantage of that superiority; and, upon
Berwick strongly siding with the marshal, Burgundy was forced to
give way.

The discussion lasted some time, enabling the allies to pass
bodies of troops across the river, where they were formed up at a
village a few hundred yards north of Oudenarde; and immediately
Marlborough felt strong enough to risk an attack, orders were sent
to Cadogan, who commanded the advance guard, to drive the enemy
out of Eynes.

Four English battalions attacked the seven French battalions in
the village, while the cavalry crossed higher up, and came down on
the back of the village. Three of the French battalions were
surrounded and made prisoners, while the other four were
dispersed.

It was now evident, even to Burgundy, that an action could not be
avoided, but again an angry dispute took place. Vendome would have
stood on the defensive, with the river Norken to be crossed before
he could be attacked. He was, however, overruled by Burgundy, who
had nominally chief command. Marlborough took advantage of the
delay, and posted his troops in front of the castle of Bevere, and
sent the twelve battalions at Eynes to reinforce his left, against
which he saw the main attack of the French would be directed. He
then lined all the hedges with infantry, and stationed twenty
British battalions, under Argyle, in reserve.

Crossing the Norken, the French fell upon the Dutch and
Hanoverians, who constituted the left wing, and who, though
fighting obstinately, were driven back. Marlborough moved from the
centre with twenty battalions to reinforce them, and despatched
Eugene to command on the right.

A desperate fight now took place. On both flanks, the ground was
broken by enclosures with deep wet ditches, bridges, woods, and
small villages; and the cavalry were unable to act on such ground.
The infantry on both sides fought with extreme resolution; every
hedge, ditch, bridge, and house being defended to the last.
Seldom, indeed, in modern warfare, has so obstinate and terrible a
fight taken place. Frequently the combatants were mingled
together, and fought with bayonets and the butt ends of their
muskets.

Gradually, however, the Dutch and the Hanoverian battalions won
their way forward, and drove the French back to the village of
Diepenbeck, where the latter successfully maintained themselves.
Marlborough then ordered General Overkirk to move round and seize
the hill at Oycke, which, although it flanked the enemy's
position, was not held by them.

This he did, with twenty Dutch and Danish battalions, who had only
just crossed the river. He then pressed on and seized the mill of
Royegham, thus cutting the communication between the French at
Diepenbeck and the troops that still remained on the plateau
beyond the Norken. Eugene then swung round his right, and,
pressing forward, surrounded the French on that side, so
completely enveloping them that his men and those of Overkirk each
believed the other to be French--for darkness had now fallen--and
fought for some time before the mistake was discovered.

As, in such a country, it was impossible to move troops in regular
formation in the darkness, Marlborough gave orders for the troops
to halt in the positions they held. Had the light lasted two hours
longer, the whole of the French army would have been slain or
captured; but, under cover of darkness, the greater portion made
their way through the intervals of the allied troops. Many fled to
Ghent, while thousands made for the French frontier. Vendome lost
in killed and wounded six thousand men, and nine thousand
prisoners, and his total loss exceeded twenty thousand; while the
allies lost five thousand, of whom the great majority were Dutch,
Danes, and Germans.

The French troops on the plateau withdrew, under the direction of
Vendome, in good order; and before morning a large number of
fugitives had rallied. Marlborough sent forty squadrons of horse
in pursuit of them, but the French showed so firm an attitude that
the cavalry were unable to seriously interfere with their retreat.
Berwick had remained, during the day, near the marshal; and had
placed his aides-de-camp at his disposal, for the difficulty of
the ground, and the distance from the plateau of the various
points at which the troops were engaged, rendered communication
much slower than it otherwise would have been, and Desmond and his
companions were frequently sent off with orders.

It was the first time Desmond had been under fire, and the effect
of the roar of musketry, the whizzing of bullets, and the shouts
of the combatants, gave him a much stronger feeling of discomfort
than he had expected. The roar of cannon was not added to the
other sounds, for the guns of the day were clumsy and difficult to
move; and, owing to the rapid marches and countermarches of both
armies, the greater portion of the artillery had been left behind,
and only a few guns were on the field, and these, in so close and
confined a country, were of little use.

Desmond felt now that he would far rather be fighting in the thick
of it, with O'Brien's regiment, than making his way alone along
the lanes, impeded constantly by columns advancing to the front,
while he was met by a stream of wounded men making their way to
the rear.

At first, all was exultation among the troops, for as the
Hanoverians and Dutch were forced to give way before the assault
of the main body of the French, shouts of victory rose; and it was
confidently believed that they would, this day, avenge the two
great victories Marlborough and Eugene had gained over them.

Having delivered his orders to the officer in command, Desmond
rode back. Vendome and Berwick had both dismounted, and were
standing together, with a few of their staff, at the edge of the
plateau, examining the field with their telescopes.

"I have delivered your message, sir," he said, riding up and
saluting. "The general bade me tell you all was going well. The
enemy were falling back, and will soon be in full flight."

"Very well, Mr. Kennedy. By this time, he will have found out that
he was a little too sanguine."

The fire had, indeed, for the past few minutes broken out with
augmented fury. Marlborough had arrived at the threatened point,
and had placed himself at the head of the Dutch and Hanoverians,
and, animated by his presence, these had not only ceased to fall
back, but were in turn advancing.

"The battle is not won yet, Kennedy," O'Sullivan, who had returned
a few minutes before from the front, said, as he joined him. "On
our left we are being driven back, for a large force has
reinforced the enemy there, and unless our main column defeats the
allied left, and pushes them into Oudenarde, we shall have night
coming on before we have finished; and, as our cavalry cannot act
in these cramped fields, Marlborough will be able to draw off
without any great loss."

For an hour, there was no change. Then Berwick, looking round,
beckoned to Desmond.

"Mr. Kennedy," he said, "a strong force of the enemy moved, half
an hour ago, towards their left. I have lost sight of them, owing
to the high hedges and trees, but it does not seem to me that they
can have joined in the battle. Our troops are strongly posted at
Diepenbeck, and should be able to maintain themselves there
against the whole allied army; but the enemy cannot see our
dispositions, and would surely have pushed forward and made a
desperate assault on the village, had they been joined by the
strong force I saw moving in that direction.

"It may be that this force has been held in reserve, in case our
line should be reinforced, and again advance. Marlborough may be
content to hold his own on his left, while Prince Eugene, who, we
have heard, commands on their right, turns our flank on that side.

"I wish you to ascertain, if possible, what this force is doing,
and where it is posted. If you ride across to the mill, on the
eminence behind Diepenbeck, you may be able to get sight of them;
or, if the smoke renders it impossible to discover matters from
that point, ride on to the farther hill, and, descending there on
the enemy's left, you will be able to make your way close enough
to ascertain what is going on. You are well mounted, and need not
greatly fear capture, for they would hardly care to divert a party
of cavalry in pursuit of a single officer. Still, it is as well
not to push your horse too hard on your way out, for you may
possibly need all his strength."

A minute later, Desmond was cantering his horse down the declivity
to the Norken. Crossing by the bridge near Mullen, he turned to
the right and rode up the hill of Royegham. Here a strong brigade,
composed of cavalry and infantry, under General Grimaldi, was
stationed. Desmond rode up to him.

"The Duke of Berwick has sent me to ascertain, sir, the position
of a strong body of the enemy's troops, whom he observed marching
from the river towards our right. May I ask if you have noticed
them?"

"We saw them move away, after crossing the river, but have not
seen them since. I should fancy they are engaged in front of
Diepenbeck; but the ground is so undulating, and the view so
obscured by smoke, that we have not caught sight of them since
they issued from Oudenarde--indeed, the hill behind Diepenbeck
prevents our seeing down into the low land beyond."

"I will ride on there, sir," Desmond said. "Certainly a better
view can be obtained than from this side."

A canter of a mile took him to the summit of the hill at whose
foot Diepenbeck stood. He could see the masses of French troops,
gathered in and in front of the village; but beyond that a veil of
smoke covered the country, and entirely obscured the contending
parties, whose position could only be guessed by the incessant
rattle of their musketry fire.

Turning again, he rode down the dip that separated the hill from
that of Oycke. He had just gained the crest, when he saw a large
force marching rapidly towards the mill. Seeing at once the
serious nature of the movement, he turned and galloped, at full
speed, to the point where the generals were still watching the
progress of the fight.

"I could learn nothing of the force you spoke of from General
Grimaldi at Royegham, nor on the heights above Diepenbeck; but,
riding towards Oycke, I saw them advancing at full speed towards
the windmill, at which they had already almost arrived."

An exclamation of anger broke from the duke.

"This is what comes," he muttered, "of placing a fool in command
of the army."

Turning away, he at once communicated the news to Vendome, who
stamped his foot furiously on the ground.

"Just when victory was in our grasp," he said, and turned his
glass towards Oycke, which was some four miles distant.

"I can make them out now," he said. "There is a black mass issuing
from the village of Oycke, and ascending the hill in the direction
of Royegham. It is too late to reinforce Grimaldi there. They will
be upon him before we can cross the Norken. But, at any rate, we
must send a brigade down to Henhelm, where, with Grimaldi's men,
they can try to keep open the road from Diepenbeck."

Ten minutes later they could hear, by a sudden outburst of fire,
that Grimaldi was engaged. The sun had already set, but Berwick
was able to make out, with his glass, that the left was giving way
before the attack of Eugene, and that the twenty battalions under
Argyle, which had hitherto remained inactive, were advancing by
the main road leading, through Mullen, to the plateau on which
they stood.

"The day is lost," Berwick said bitterly. "The troops at
Diepenbeck are completely cut off. Darkness alone can save them
from annihilation. And to think that, if it had not been for
Burgundy, we could have maintained ourselves here against double
the force of the allies! So long as the system of giving the
command of armies to royal incapables continues, we cannot hope
for success."

Vendome lost no time in issuing orders. The troops still on the
plateau were brought forward, whence their fire would command its
approaches. Aides-de-camp were sent in all directions, to order
the generals of divisions to draw off at once, and to make their
way up to the plateau; and Berwick's four aides-de-camp were told
to make their way, if possible, by different routes to Diepenbeck,
and to give orders for the troops there to maintain themselves, at
all costs, until darkness had completely fallen; and then to make
their way as best they could to the plateau; if that was
impossible, to march for either Ghent or Lille.

"The service is a desperate one, gentlemen," Berwick said, as he
turned to give the orders to his officers, "but it is necessary,
for if the force remain there until morning, they are all
irretrievably lost. It is getting dark already, and you may,
therefore, hope to pass unnoticed between the intervals of the
enemy. If you get there safely, do not try to return at once, but,
like the rest, endeavour to make off during the night."

Without waiting for orders, Mike followed his master. Going down,
they met the remnants of Biron's division flying in disorder. They
separated at the bridge of Mullen, and, with a word of adieu to
his comrades, Desmond turned to the right, and rode for
Groenvelde.

Suddenly, a volley of musketry was fired from the hill to the
right. Desmond staggered for a moment in the saddle, and the
bridle fell from his left hand. Mike was by his side in a moment.

"Where are you hurt, master?"

"In the left wrist, I fancy. By the way the hand hangs down, it
must have smashed both bones. However, there is no time to wait,
now. It is a matter of life and death to get to Diepenbeck."

"One moment, your honour. Let me put your hand into the breast of
your coatee; then, if you keep your elbow tight against your body,
it will keep it steady."

Although Mike carried out his suggestion as gently as he could,
Desmond almost fainted with pain.

"Take a drop of brandy from your flask, master. It won't take half
a minute, and then we will be off."

They continued their journey. The rattle of musketry, ahead of
them, showed that the combat had already commenced close by;
between either the advancing troops of Argyle, or those who had
crossed the hill of Royegham; and Grimaldi's brigade, which was
probably endeavouring to hold them in check, until the troops at
Diepenbeck came back.

It was already too dark to distinguish the uniforms, except at a
distance of a few yards. Dashing on, he saw a dark mass
ahead--three officers rode out.

"Who are you, sir?" they shouted.

"I am carrying a report from the general," he replied, in English,
and without drawing rein dashed on, passing within twenty yards of
the column, and reached Diepenbeck without further interruption.

In the centre of the village, the French general was sitting on
his horse, surrounded by his staff. The combat beyond raged as
furiously as before. Desmond rode up, and saluted.

"I am the bearer of orders from Marshal Vendome, sir," he said.
"He bid me tell you that a large force of the enemy has crossed
the hills of Oycke and Royegham, and is already in your rear, the
enemy's right overlapping your left; while the whole British
reserve is pressing forward, and will ere long effect a junction
with both these forces. Your retreat, therefore, is entirely cut
off. The orders are that you shall maintain yourself here as long
as possible, as in the darkness and confusion, it is unlikely that
the allies can attack you from the rear before morning.

"The marshal himself holds the plateau, and will continue to do
so. You are to make your way tonight, if possible, in battalions
and in good order, through the intervals between the various
divisions of the enemy; or, if that is not possible, singly. All
are to endeavour to join him on the plateau. Those who cannot do
this are to make for Ghent or Lille."

"Your order scarcely comes as a surprise, sir," the general said
bitterly. "We have heard firing in our rear for some time, and we
were afraid that things had gone badly with us, after all."

He at once gave orders that the troops behind the village were to
take up a position to resist any attack made in that direction.
Desmond dismounted, as did Mike, and the latter took the two
horses, fastened them to a tree, and then, with Desmond's scarf,
bound his arm firmly against his side.

"We have made a mess of it entirely, your honour," he said, "and
have got a terrible bating. Sure we were lucky in getting here.
Faith, I thought we were caught when you were hailed."

"It was a narrow escape, Mike; and if they had waited till I had
got a little nearer, and had seen my uniform, I must have
surrendered."

"It seems to me that we are like rats in a trap, Mr. Kennedy."

"Something like it, Mike; but it is hard if we can't get through
them, in the dark."

"That we will do, sure enough," Mike said confidently; "but which
way should we go?"

"That I can't tell you. You see, they are in strength in front,
Marlborough and Eugene are on the left and partly behind us, and
the troops you saw come across the hills are somewhere in the
rear. If it were daylight, not a man of us would escape; but as it
is, it will be hard if we cannot make our way through.

"What I am thinking about chiefly, at present, is the safety of
O'Sullivan, O'Neil, and d'Eyncourt. They ought to have been here
as soon as we were. They may either have lost their way in the
darkness, or fallen into the hands of the enemy. However, I shall
not give them up for another half hour."

The firing was now abating, and presently died away completely;
except for a few scattered shots, showing that the allies had been
halted where they stood, and were no longer pressing forward.
Another hour passed, and Desmond's comrades were still absent.

In the meantime, the general had called together the colonels of
the several regiments, had explained the situation to them, and
repeated Vendome's orders. The news came like a thunderbolt upon
them, for the din of firing round the village had completely
deadened all distant sound, and they were wholly unaware of what
was passing in other parts of the field.

"I must leave the matter to your individual discretion," the
general said. "Those of you who think your men can be relied on,
can try to escape and join the marshal in a body. Those who have
not that confidence in their regiments--and indeed some of these
have been almost annihilated--had best tell them to scatter. Those
who remain here will assuredly be made prisoners in the morning.

"It is possible that that may be the better plan, for it is better
to surrender than to be cut to pieces. I therefore leave the
matter entirely in your hands. I myself shall remain here. We have
done all that men can do in the way of fighting, and, as I was
told to hold this place till the last, I shall remain at my post."

Desmond was present when this conversation took place.

"We will wait another hour, Mike," he said, as he rejoined his
follower. "We may be sure that the greater part of the enemy's
troops will be asleep by that time. They must have made a
tremendous march, for the news last night was that they were
twenty miles away; and they have been fighting twelve hours. After
such work as that, the men will drop down to sleep as soon as they
have halted."

"Shall we go on horse or on foot, your honour?"

"I think the best plan will be to lead our horses, Mike, across
this country. It would seem natural to do so, and once through
them, we could then gallop round and join the troops on the
plateau."

"I should say, sir, that if I were to steal out to where they have
been fighting for the last six hours, I might get a couple of
uniforms to put over our own. They will be lying thick enough
there, poor chaps. If we had them on, we might pass through any
troops we might meet, as we both speak English."

"That is a good idea, Mike, if you can carry it out."

"Sure I can do that, and without difficulty, your honour. I expect
the enemy have drawn back a little, so as to be in some sort of
order if we were to fall upon them in the night; and I know that
all our men have been recalled. I will fasten the horses to this
tree, and perhaps your honour will keep an eye on them."

"I will stay with them, Mike."

The soldier at once made off. The village was now crowded with
troops. All order was at an end, and the regiments were
considerably mixed up. The officers went among them, saying that
an attempt was going to be made to pass through the enemy, and
join the force on the plateau. They pointed out that there was at
least as much hope in being able to do so as in making off singly.

Many of the soldiers, not having themselves suffered defeat,
responded to the call; and several bodies, four or five hundred
strong, marched out into the darkness. The majority, however,
decided to shift for themselves, and stole away in threes and
fours. Of those that remained, some broke into the village wine
and beer shops and drank to stupefaction; while others, exhausted
by the efforts of the day, threw themselves down and slept.

Mike was away half an hour.

"I have got an officer's cloak for you, and a helmet with
feathers. I think he must have been a staff officer, who was
killed while delivering his orders. I have got a soldier's
overcoat and shako for myself."

"Capital, Mike! Now I think that we can venture, and we will go
the shortest way. We might very well lose ourselves among these
hills, if we were to try to make a circuit."

Having put the Dutch uniforms over their own, they set out, taking
the way to the left until they came to the main road by which the
British reserve had advanced. Then they mounted their horses.

"It is no use trying to make our way through the broken ground,
Mike. There is another road that goes through Huerne. We will
strike that, and must so get round on the right of the enemy. Even
if we come upon them, we are not likely to excite suspicion, as we
shall be on a road leading from Oudenarde.

"I was noticing that road from the height. It runs into this
again, near Mullen, and the enemy are not likely to have posted
themselves so near to the river."

They rode on through Huerne. The village was full of wounded. No
one paid them any attention, and they again went on, until
suddenly they were challenged with the usual "Who comes there?"

"A staff officer, with despatches," Desmond replied.

He heard the butt of the soldier's musket drop upon the ground,
and rode forward.

"Can you tell me, my man," he said as he reached the sentinel,
"where the Duke of Marlborough is to be found?"

"I don't know, sir," the man replied. "Only our regiment is here.
I know there are a number of cavalry away there on the left, and I
heard someone say that the duke himself was there. There is a
crossroad, a hundred yards farther on, which will lead you to
them."

Thanking the man, Desmond rode on. A few bivouac fires had been
lighted, and these were already beginning to burn low, the troops
having dropped asleep almost as soon as they halted.

"I hope we shall meet no more of them, Mike," Desmond said, as
they went on at a brisk trot. "I sha'n't feel quite safe till we
get to Mullen."

They met, however, with no further interruption. As they crossed
the bridge, they halted, took off the borrowed uniforms, threw
away the headgear and put on their own hats, which they carried
under their cloaks, and then rode on up the hill, after having
first satisfied the officer commanding a strong guard placed at
the bridge that they were friends.

Another ten minutes, and they were upon the plateau. Desmond had
no difficulty in finding out where the headquarters were
established at Hayse, and, riding there, he at once went into the
house occupied by Berwick, and reported his return.

"I am glad to see you back again, Kennedy," the duke said,
heartily. "It is something to have recovered one friend from the
wreck. Now, what is your news?"

Desmond related what had happened to him from the time he left,
and said that a large proportion of the troops at Diepenbeck had
already left, and, as he heard no outburst of firing, he hoped
most of them had got safely away.

"I see you are wounded."

"I have had my wrist smashed with a musket ball, fired by a party
on a hill to the right, belonging, I suppose, to the force that
came up from Oycke."

"You had a narrow escape of your life," Berwick said. "If you had
been hit a little farther back, the ball would have gone through
your body. Sit down at once. I will send for my surgeon."

And he instantly gave orders for the surgeon of the staff to come
to his tent, and then made Desmond, who was suffering terribly
from the agony of the wound, drink a tumbler of wine.

"I know you are all busy, doctor," the duke said, as the surgeon
entered, "but you must do something for Mr. Kennedy, who is badly
wounded in the arm."

The surgeon examined the wound, and shook his head.

"Both bones are fractured," he said, "and I am afraid that there
is nothing for it but amputation."

"Then leave it till tomorrow, doctor," Desmond said faintly.
"There must be a number of poor fellows who want your attention
much more than I do."

"That would do, if I could make you a cradle, but we are badly off
for all surgical appliances."

"Could you cut one out of one of my jack boots?"

"A capital idea, Mr. Kennedy. Nothing could be better. And I will
put it in operation, at once, with some of my other patients."

"Mr. Kennedy is full of expedients, doctor, and it seems to me
that this may be really a valuable one. All the cavalry men have
jack boots, and I will give you an order to requisition as many as
may be required. The men can get new ones from the stores at
Ghent."

The surgeon at once cut off the foot of one of Desmond's boots,
and then divided the leg longways. "There," he said, taking up one
of the halves; "you could not wish for a better cradle."

He took out some lint that he had brought with him, together with
some flat splints, bound the hand in its proper position, and then
laid the arm from the elbow to the fingers in the cradle, round
which he tightly put a few bandages to keep it in position.

"Now for your scarf," he said, and with this made a sling to
support the arm.

The whole operation did not take five minutes.

"Now, Mr. Kennedy, you had best lie down and get what sleep you
can. I will take the other half of your boot, and the other boot
also. It will be no use without its fellow. It will make three
wounded men comparatively comfortable, and I will send for some
more from the troopers."

"Yes, lie down at once, Kennedy," Berwick said. "We are going to
march off at daybreak, and the marshal and I have arranged
everything between ourselves. You had better try and eat
something, if it is only a wing of that chicken and a few
mouthfuls of meat. Your faintness must be due as much to hunger as
to your wound, for you have been at work since early morning, and
cannot have had time to eat anything."

This was indeed the case, and Desmond managed to swallow a few
mouthfuls, and then lay down upon the sofa, where, in spite of the
pain of his wound, he presently dozed off, being utterly worn out
with the work and excitement of the day.

Before morning, some five thousand of the troops from Diepenbeck
had marched into the camp, in good order and with their arms, and
as soon as it was daylight the whole force started for Ghent. With
deep regret, Desmond had learned from the marshal, before lying
down, that none of his comrades had returned; and as they had not
reached Diepenbeck, he felt sure that they were either killed or
prisoners.

"D'Eyncourt will, of course, be treated as a prisoner of war; but
if the identity of O'Sullivan or O'Neil is proved with the
officers of that name who escaped from Newgate, it is likely to go
hard with him."

After repulsing the cavalry sent in pursuit, the army marched away
unmolested, being joined as they went by large numbers of
fugitives, who had made their way through the allied lines in
small parties. Marlborough's army remained on the ground they had
won, collecting and caring for the wounded of both armies.

Two days later, Berwick's corps joined Vendome, and that of Eugene
marched into Marlborough's camp. In spite of the loss that he had
suffered at Oudenarde, this reinforcement raised Vendome's army to
over one hundred and ten thousand men, which was about the same
force as Marlborough had under his command.

After Eugene had joined him, standing as he did between Vendome's
army and Paris, Marlborough proposed that the enemy's fortresses
should be neglected, and that the army should march directly on
Paris. The movement might have been attended with success, but was
of so daring a description that even Eugene opposed it, while the
commanders of the Dutch, Danes, and Prussians were unanimously
against it; and he consequently decided to lay siege to Lille--a
tremendous undertaking, for Lille was considered the strongest
fortress in France, and Vendome, with over a hundred thousand men,
was within a couple of days' march of it.

His dispositions were made with extreme care, and a tremendous
convoy of heavy artillery, ammunition, and provisions was brought
up from Ostend, without the French being able to interfere with
its progress. Marlborough, with his British contingent and the
Hanoverians, was to cover the operations of the siege, which was
to be undertaken by Prince Eugene with the rest of the allied
army.

Vendome marched at once with his army, and, making a circuit,
placed himself between Lille and Paris, deserting his recent
conquests in Ypres, Ghent, and Bruges, all of which fell into the
hands of the allies.



Chapter 13: Convalescent.


Desmond was not present with the French army, for many hours after
their arrival at Ghent. He suffered intense pain on the ride
thither, and was then taken to a hospital that had been hastily
formed for the reception of wounded officers. Here the surgeons
had agreed that there was nothing for it, but to amputate the arm
halfway between the wrist and the elbow. The limb was already
greatly swollen.

"Under ordinary circumstances," the surgeon said, "we should wait
until we had reduced the inflammation, but this might be a matter
of a week or ten days, and there is no time to spare, as the army
will probably march away in a few days, and travel would increase
the inflammation to such an extent that your life might be
sacrificed."

"I would rather have it taken off at once, doctor," Desmond said.
"The operation cannot hurt very much more than the arm is hurting
already, and the sooner it is over, the better."

Surgery was in its infancy at that time. Anesthetics were undreamt
of; but the surgeons of the French army had large experience, and
the operation was very skilfully performed, for the time. The
stump was then seared with a hot iron.

"You have stood it well," the surgeon said, for, except when the
iron was applied to the wound, no groan had issued from Desmond's
lips. "Now, your servant must keep these dressings continually
soaked with water, and, in a few days, we may hope that you will
be able to travel in a waggon without danger."

When the army marched away a week later, Desmond was placed in a
waggon, half filled with hay, with several other wounded officers.
At Arras, where there was a large military hospital, he was kept
for a few days, and then sent on to Amiens, only the most severe
cases being retained at Arras, as another engagement might take
place at any moment, and the resources of the town would be taxed
to the utmost. He gained strength very slowly, and it was six
weeks before the surgeons pronounced him to be sufficiently
convalescent to be moved.

"It would," they said, "be probably some months before he would be
fit to return to active service."

He was sitting, looking listlessly out of the window of the
chamber that he and three other officers occupied, when Mike came
in, followed, to Desmond's intense surprise, by Monsieur de la
Vallee.

"My dear Desmond," the latter exclaimed, hurrying forward and
grasping his hand, "you must have thought that we had all
forgotten you."

"Indeed, I never thought anything of the kind, Philip. I did not
suppose that you had ever heard of me, since we parted at
Moulins."

"News travels but slowly, but we did hear that fifteen subalterns
of O'Brien's regiment were captured in the Salisbury. I wrote to a
friend in Paris, and he told me that you were among the number,
but that, on making enquiries, he found you had, in some manner or
other, effected your escape, and that you and two other officers
had had an audience with the king, and had then gone to the
northern frontier on the staff of the Duke of Berwick. I wrote
begging him to get, if possible, a sight of the despatches, and if
your name appeared, to let us know. Ten days ago, I received a
letter from him, to say that you had been wounded at Oudenarde.
The Duke of Berwick had, in his private despatch to the king,
mentioned your name with very high praise, saying that it was due
to you, alone, that so many of the troops hemmed in at some
village or other--I forget its name--managed to make their escape
during the night, for, although he sent off four aides-de-camp
with orders, you alone managed to get through the enemy, though
wounded by a bullet which had caused you the loss of your hand. He
said he had written to the chief surgeon on Berwick's staff, who
was a personal friend of his, to ascertain, if possible, where you
were. Of course, I set out as soon as I received his letter."

"What! Have you ridden all the way from the south of France to
come to me, Philip?"

"Of course I have, and should have ridden all across Europe, if it
had been necessary. I went round by Pointdexter. The baron is laid
up with an attack of gout, or he would have accompanied me. He
sent all sorts of messages, and so did Anne, and the latter
informed me that I need not show my face at the chateau again,
until I came accompanied by you. When I reached Paris my friend
had learned from the surgeon that you were at Amiens, and so, here
I am.

"I met your faithful Mike at the gate of the hospital. I was glad,
indeed, to see that he had come out unharmed from that terrible
fight. When I told him I had come to take you away, he almost
cried with joy."

"It will be the saving of him," he said. "He has been going down
the hill for the last fortnight, and it is change and good nursing
he wants."

"He will get good nursing, I warrant," I said, "and the soft air
of the south will soon set him up."

"It is wonderfully kind of you, Philip; but I am sure I am not
strong enough to ride."

"No one is thinking of your riding, at present, Desmond. I have
brought down a horse litter with me, and four of my men, with the
quietest horses on the estate, and all you have to do is to lie
down in it, and talk with me whenever you are disposed. You have a
whole batch of adventures to tell me."

"I feel better already, Philip. I own that I have been downhearted
of late, for it seemed to me that I should be an invalid for
months, and be living in Paris without a friend except Mike, for
all the regiments of the Brigade are either with Vendome or in
Spain. The sight of your face, and the thought of your kindness,
so cheers me that I feel capable of anything."

"Well, we will start tomorrow morning, Desmond. I shall go at once
and see the director of the hospital, and get an order for your
discharge."

The next morning they set out. Desmond had to be assisted
downstairs. There he was laid on a litter, packed with soft rugs.
This was raised and placed between two horses, ridden by two of de
la Vallee's men. De la Vallee himself took his place by the side
of the litter, Mike rode on ahead leading Desmond's charger, and
the other two servants fell to the rear, in readiness to change
with those bearing the litter, when half the day's journey was
done.

Seeing that the exertion of being moved had exhausted his friend,
de la Vallee rode for some time in silence. Then, when Desmond
opened his eyes and smiled at him, he said:

"I hope you are feeling comfortable?"

"Perfectly. I hardly feel any motion."

Every care had been taken to prevent jolting. The poles of the
litter were unusually long, thus adding to their elasticity. The
ends passed through leathern loops suspended from the saddle; and
were, at this point, covered with a thick wrapping of flannel
bandages, which aided in minimizing the effect of any jar. The
first day's journey was performed at a walking pace, and they
reached Beauvais, twenty-five miles being accomplished.

The fresh air and the slight easy motion were beneficial, and in
the afternoon, Desmond was able to talk cheerfully with his
friend. There was, however, no continued conversation, Philip
saying he would ask no questions about Desmond's doings until he
was stronger. His story had better be told while sitting quietly
in a room, where it would not be necessary, as it was on the road,
for the voice to be raised.

In the evening, however, after partaking of supper, Desmond,
without being asked, related the incidents, so far as he knew
them, of the battle of Oudenarde, and of the manner in which he
received his wound.

"The whole disaster was due entirely to the Duke of Burgundy, or
rather to the king, who placed him in command over two generals of
the highest skill and reputation. If he had wanted to accompany
the army, Burgundy should have done so just as our King James did,
merely as a volunteer.

"I am told that the king showed great courage in the battle. For
my part, I think his presence was altogether a mistake. He claims
that the English are his subjects, and yet he takes part with a
foreign army in battle against them. His being present will
certainly not add to his popularity in England."

"I agree with you," de la Vallee said. "It would have been much
wiser for him to have abstained, altogether, from interference in
the matter. It was, of course, a different thing when he attempted
to land in Scotland. Then he would have been leading the loyal
portion of his subjects, against those whom he considers rebels
against his authority. That was quite a different thing from
acting, without cause or reason, as a volunteer in the French
army, against those whom he regards as his countrymen and
subjects.

"I am afraid, Desmond, that, though it may shock you to think so,
these Stuart princes of yours are not wise men. Legitimate
monarchs of England though they may be, they do not possess the
qualities that endear kings to their people. From what I have
heard, James was a heavy pedant, a rank coward, essentially not a
man to be popular among a spirited people. Charles had a noble
presence and many fine qualities. But, although his ideas of
kingly power would have suited us well enough in France, his
arbitrary measures alienated a large proportion of his people, and
brought ruin upon him.

"Your second Charles, in spite of his numerous indiscretions, was
not unpopular, because the people were wearied of the stern
repression of Puritan rule, and were therefore disposed to look
leniently upon his frailties, while they appreciated his good
temper and wit. His fatal mistake was allying himself so closely
with us--a grievous mistake, indeed, when we remember that for
centuries the two nations had been bitterly opposed to each other.
As for his brother, he forfeited his throne by his leanings
towards the Catholic Church, in whose communion he died.
Decidedly, the Stuart kings were not a success.

"As to James the Third, as you call him, I know nothing beyond the
fact that he is a protege of the king of France, and has now
fought against his own people--a blunder, as it seems to me, of
the worst kind, and one which is certain to alienate many of his
supporters on the other side of the water. Were he to mount the
throne, it would be partly due to the aid of French troops and
French money--men and money, mind you, of a power at war with
England! He would therefore, necessarily, like Charles the Second,
be regarded as a protege of France. He would be bound in gratitude
to Louis, and the position of England would be altogether changed.
She would become the ally of Spain and France, her ancient
enemies; and opponent of her present allies, Holland, Austria,
Protestant Germany, and Denmark."

Desmond was silent. He could not but agree with what his friend
said, and had himself considered that it was a most unwise step
for James to appear in the field, fighting against his countrymen.

"I don't think I am strong enough to argue, Philip," he said with
a smile, after a long pause, "and I don't mean to give you a
victory, when I am fighting under disadvantages. The Stuarts
certainly never did any special benefit to Ireland, and assuredly
brought ruin and misery upon us; and at the present moment, I
don't seem able to explain why we should be so devoted to the
cause of these Scottish Stuarts, rather than to that of Anne, who
is, after all, of the same family and race. However, we will fight
it out when my brain is not so dull as it is at present."

They slept the next night at Pontoise, having made a somewhat
short journey, though Desmond protested that he felt quite equal
to going on to Paris.

"You are a good deal better today, Desmond, but there is no hurry,
and we will take matters quietly. If you continue to make
improvement we shall be able, in another day or two, to travel
faster; and I hope that, before we get to the end of our journey,
you will be strong enough to sit your horse for a few miles each
day."

They made no stay in Paris, but proceeded on their way, the
morning after their arrival. Melun and Montargis were their next
halting places. Desmond was gaining strength rapidly. His good
spirits were returning, and at their evening halt, he had been
able to recite the history of his escape from England. His wound
had a less angry appearance, and on the day of their leaving
Montargis the horses, at his request, occasionally broke into a
trot for a mile or two.

"You are looking paler. I think the motion is too much for you,"
Philip said after one of these occasions, when they again settled
down to a walking pace.

"I feel a bit tired, Philip, but one must make a beginning, and I
shall never get strong unless I begin to use my muscles. At
present, I acknowledge I feel as if I had been beaten all over
with sticks, but I have no doubt that I shall shake this off,
after a bit."

This was indeed the case, and on the last three days of their
journey to Pointdexter, he sat his horse for two or three hours.
Philip had, on the last day, sent on one of his men to inform the
baron that he would arrive that evening with Desmond, and as they
were seen approaching, the baron and his daughter came out from
the chateau, and welcomed them as they alighted.

"Do not upset the young fellow by appearing shocked at his
appearance," the former had said to Anne. "It was certainly a
blow, this morning, to hear that he had lost his left hand, and
that the greater portion of the journey had had to be performed in
a litter, so you must expect to find him greatly pulled down. But
see, they are breaking into a trot, so he has evidently gained
strength on the way."

In spite of the warning, the girl's eyes filled with tears as she
saw Desmond's thin face and wasted figure, and his left arm in a
sling.

"Welcome to Pointdexter, Monsieur Kennedy! Many have entered here,
since the old chateau was built, but none who have rendered such
vital service to our race. Do not try to speak. I see that you are
shaken with your journey. We will soon put that all right."

"It has been a rather longer journey than we have previously
made," Desmond said, after dismounting and shaking hands with the
baron and his daughter, "and we rode somewhat faster than usual,
as we were both of us anxious to be here. It was good, indeed, of
Philip to make such a journey to find and bring me to you."

"If he had not done so, assuredly we should. My foot was so bad,
with this villainous gout, that I could not put it in a stirrup,
but we should have had out the family coach. I had half a mind to
do so as it was, and Anne was most anxious to try her powers of
nursing, but Philip overruled us, and said that he would be with
you a week earlier than we could reach you in the coach, and that,
moreover, he was sure the journey in an open horse litter would be
far better for you than being jolted in a close carriage. So, as
usual, he had his own way; though I must say that, for once, Anne
rebelled strongly against his authority."

"You are all very good, Baron," Desmond said; "but, indeed, I
think that Philip was right. I can assure you that the journey has
done me an immense deal of good, and he will tell you that I am
very different, now, from what I was when he found me at Amiens,
for I had begun to think that I should never get away alive."

"Do not let us stay talking here," the baron said. "Anne has had
some soup prepared for you, under her own eyes; and that, and a
glass or two of good Burgundy, will do wonders for you."

Desmond, indeed, was greatly revived, and was able to join in a
cheerful conversation with his hosts.

"We are both dying to hear your adventures," the baron said, "and
how you managed to escape from that jail in England, as you did,
and also how it was that we met with that dreadful disaster at
Oudenarde. It really seems that those terrible fellows,
Marlborough and Prince Eugene, are invincible."

"They are good generals, Baron. Beyond troubles with the
commanders of the forces of their allies, they are able to carry
out their own plans. The Dukes of Vendome and Berwick are also
able commanders, but they were hampered by the presence of the
Duke of Burgundy, who, on several occasions, overruled their
opinions and ruined their plans. It is to him, alone, that the
defeat at Oudenarde is due. The French soldiers fought as well as
ever, and it was the position in which they were placed, and not
the superior fighting powers of the enemy, that caused their
defeat."

"But how is it," the baron asked, "that with, as I hear, one
hundred and ten thousand men, Vendome does not raise the siege of
Lille? It seems incredible that, with so great a force, he should
remain inactive while the enemy are carrying out their works for
the siege."

"That I cannot tell you, sir. We heard all sorts of rumours at
Amiens, but it seems that Marlborough had taken up a strong
position, and entrenched himself there with seventy thousand men,
while Eugene is conducting the siege operations."

"I don't understand it," the baron said, irritably. "There must be
more ways of marching to Lille than one. If one road is barred,
why not advance by another? The Duke of Burgundy is not with the
army now, so the blame cannot be put on him."

"No, sir; but Berwick's army is still, as I hear, under his
independent command, and the duke, excellent soldier as he is, is
not one to be easily led. If his opinion differs from that of
Vendome, he would assuredly maintain it; and as his manner is not
conciliatory, and his opinions are very strongly expressed, it may
well be that there are, as was rumoured at Amiens, constant
dissensions between him and Vendome."

"Well, it seems to me very strange, Monsieur Kennedy, after having
during the last reign defeated the best infantry of Spain, humbled
Austria, subdued Bavaria, crushed the enemy in Italy, and shown
ourselves to be the best soldiers in Europe; that we should now
suffer defeat after defeat, by an army containing men of half a
score of nationalities, though led by the greatest general that
England has ever produced."

"And, Baron, with English troops under him who have, for hundreds
of years, shown themselves invincible!"

"Yes, yes," the baron said, hastily. "We know all about Crecy,
Poitiers, and Agincourt; and how well they fought in Holland; but
I thought, Kennedy, that you were the enemy of the English, and
were here with your brave countrymen to fight against them."

"Not in my case, assuredly, Baron. I came over here because there
is no opening for Irish gentlemen at home, and because only by the
aid of France could our lawful king be placed on the throne. It is
true that a section of the English people, under Oliver Cromwell,
not only conquered us, but divided a great portion of our land
among themselves; and, although we were again defeated by a
usurping Dutch king, with the Dutch troops under his command, that
is no reason why I should feel any animosity to the people at
large, whose qualities I admire, and the majority of whom are, in
their hearts, attached to the cause of the Stuarts, and hate those
who are keeping the king from his throne. I own that I would
rather that it had fallen to my lot to fight for France against
Spaniards, Germans, and Italians, than against the English."

"Did you lose many friends at Oudenarde, Monsieur Kennedy?" Anne
asked.

"I lost my two greatest friends," Desmond said. "At least, I fear
that both are dead. They were the two who escaped with me from the
English prison. They, with Monsieur d'Eyncourt, another of
Berwick's aides-de-camp, started with me to carry orders to the
troops, who were all but surrounded by the enemy. We went by
different roads, to increase the chances of one of us getting
there.

"I succeeded with but this comparatively trifling wound," and he
pointed to his empty sleeve, "but none of the other three got
through, nor did their names appear when the lists were exchanged
of the prisoners captured. Therefore, I have no doubt that all
fell in the performance of their duty. We had been great friends,
ever since I came out, and their loss has greatly affected me."

"You are young, and will find fresh friends," the baron said,
briskly. "Do not let us dwell on the past. You have now to apply
all your energy to getting strong, and if you show as much vigour
in that, as in other matters, I hope that in a month's time you
will be well on the road towards complete recovery."

"I mean to try hard, Baron," Desmond said, with a smile. "If I
continue to gain strength as quickly as I have done during the
journey, I shall certainly insist, before long, on being
considered convalescent."

Day by day, indeed, his strength increased. At first he wandered
about in the park, accompanied by Philip and Anne, for the baron,
although somewhat recovered from his attack of gout, still walked
with difficulty. In a week, he again took to horse exercise, and
was ere long able to join in hunting and hawking parties.

The house was gay, for the baron, as soon as Desmond was able to take
his share in conversation, invited many of the neighbouring gentry to
the chateau, and introduced him to them as the man who had done so
much for his daughter and himself. Several entertainments were given,
at which the chateau was thrown open to all comers, in honour partly
of Desmond and partly of the approaching marriage of the baron's
daughter to Monsieur de la Vallee.

This had been arranged to take place in September. Before that
time arrived, Desmond had completely recovered his strength, and
being now fit for service, was anxious to join. But his friends
would not hear of his departure until after the marriage; and as
news came that Lille had been captured by the allies, and it was
certain that both armies would soon go into winter quarters, and
would fight no more that year, he allowed himself to be persuaded
to stay.

The siege had been one of the most terrible in history. The place
was nobly defended, and its conquest cost the allies dearly,
twelve thousand being killed and wounded, and over seven thousand
succumbing to diseases; while of the garrison, nearly seventeen
thousand strong, but four thousand five hundred remained alive at
the time it capitulated. Its fall caused general consternation
throughout France, for it opened the road to Paris, and during the
winter Louis made strenuous efforts to obtain peace; but the terms
demanded by the allies were so onerous that the negotiations were
broken off.

In spite of the general distress throughout the country, the
wedding was a gay one.

Desmond had written to the Duke of Berwick, who was now in Paris,
saying that he was fit for duty, and would report himself at the
end of the month; and, on the day before he was about to leave
Pointdexter, he received a reply from him.

It ran as follows:

Dear Monsieur Kennedy:

I am heartily glad to hear of your restoration to health. I
mentioned you to His Majesty today, who was pleased to speak very
highly of you.

The campaign is virtually at an end, for the present year. His
Majesty has informed me that various changes will be made in the
spring. Marshal de Villars is to replace the Duke of Vendome in
the command of the northern army. The latter has been unfortunate,
and misfortune on the part of a soldier is regarded as next door
to a crime. Certainly the defeat at Oudenarde was not his fault,
but had he taken my advice, Lille might have been saved. Doubtless
he was as much dissatisfied with me as I was with him, and perhaps
with reason; for, as you know, I am not accustomed to mince my
phrases. However, as His Majesty was pleased to say, it is evident
that having two generals acting together, each with an independent
command, is a mistake, and one that should not be again committed.
Therefore, next spring I am to take the command of an army in
Dauphiny, and to check the Austrians and Italians.

He said, "If you can spare him, Duke, I should be glad if you
would let me have this young Irishman for a time. I shall promote
him to the rank of captain, for the great service he rendered in
carrying, as you say, at grievous risk and with the loss of his
hand, the order to the troops at Diepenbeck to scatter during the
night, thus saving me at least ten thousand of my soldiers. I
shall also settle upon him a pension of fifty louis a year, for
the loss of his hand. I will send him to Spain, having had several
complaints from the Duke of Orleans" (who, as you know, is now in
command there) "of the incompetence of many of his staff".

I said that, although I had found you a most zealous and useful
officer, and had a warm regard for you, I would of course accede
to His Majesty's wishes in the matter. Enclosed in this letter is
the order for you to join the Duke of Orleans, and a private
letter from myself to the duke, giving a sketch of your services
and exploits, which will doubtless give you, at once, a place in
his favour.

I do not think that this war will last very much longer. France is
well-nigh ruined by the sacrifices she has made, and the drain
upon the allies must be almost as great. Therefore, I trust that
another campaign will bring it to an end. If not, you may be
assured that when the duke no longer requires your services--and
it is probable that, after a year's campaigning, he will be
heartily tired with the difficulties that he, as I did, will meet
with from the procrastination and general stupidity of the
Spanish--you will be free to return to me, and I shall be glad to
number you again among the members of my staff.

Desmond was sorry to leave the service of the duke, but consoled
himself with the hope that it would be only temporary; and the
prospect of a year's campaigning, in a new country, was by no
means displeasing to him. Therefore, after writing a suitable
letter to the duke, he took leave of the Baron Pointdexter, with
many thanks for his kindness, and, attended by Mike, started for
Spain.

"It's glad I am to be on the move again, Captain Kennedy," the
soldier said, as they rode away. "Sure, your honour, idleness is
not good for a man, especially when he has lashings of the best of
food and drink. When I came to buckle on my sword belt, this
morning, I found it would not meet within three inches, and the
coatee is so tight that I feel as if I was suffocated."

"You will soon work it down again, Mike. From what I hear of
Spain, there is no fear of your getting too much food there. Rough
work and small rations are, I hear, the rule."

"I am ready for a good spell then, your honour. I hardly know
myself now, for I am flabby and short of wind. Still, I am sorry
to leave the chateau, for I have had the best time I ever had, in
my life. Everyone was mighty kind, and seemed to think that I had
done great things in helping to rescue Miss Anne, whereas I did
nothing at all, except to follow you."



Chapter 14: A Mission.


On arriving at Madrid in the first week in December, 1708,
Desmond, after putting up at an hotel, and changing the uniform in
which he travelled for his dress suit, proceeded to the
headquarters of the Duke of Orleans, and sent in his name,
together with Berwick's letter of introduction. In a few minutes
he was shown into his room. The duke looked at him in some
surprise.

"Are you Captain Kennedy?"

"I am, Your Royal Highness."

"The Duke of Berwick has very strongly recommended you to me,
saying that you had performed excellent service under him, and
that he parted with you, with regret, at the express wish of His
Majesty. He speaks of you as a young officer, but I was hardly
prepared to see one so youthful. He says that you are devoted to
your work, active and intelligent as well as brave; and as such
your arrival is very welcome to me, for although excellent in
battle, I own that my officers are less devoted to the hard work
and detail that are as necessary as bravery on a general's staff.

"By the way, I seem to have heard your name before. Let me see, it
was in connection, was it not, with that affair of the Marquis de
Tulle and Baron de Pointdexter's daughter?"

"I certainly had the good fortune to take part in that affair,
sir."

"The king himself was pleased to tell me the details of that
adventure, and to speak very highly of your courage and energy in
carrying it out. And so, you are really the hero of that affair?
He said that you were a young ensign in O'Brien's Irish regiment.
You have risen rapidly, sir, for it is but eighteen months since
it took place."

"His Majesty graciously promoted me to the rank of lieutenant when
I was appointed by the Duke of Berwick to his staff. I obtained my
next step after the battle of Oudenarde, for carrying a despatch
to the force cut off in the village of Diepenbeck, in which
service I received a wound which resulted in the loss of my left
hand. I was several weeks in hospital, and then obtained sick
leave and went down for two months to Baron de Pointdexter, which
visit resulted in my complete restoration to health. At the end of
that time the Duke of Berwick, who had also returned from the
army, was good enough to recommend me to His Majesty, and he
thereupon promoted me and appointed me to join your staff."

"If Marshal Berwick spoke approvingly of your conduct, Captain
Kennedy, it is in itself a sufficient recommendation, for the duke
is not easily satisfied. I am sure that I shall find you a
valuable acquisition to my staff."

The duke invited Desmond to dine with him that evening, and
presented him to several of his staff who were among the company.
These were, for the most part, personal friends and associates of
the duke; gallant gentlemen, but wholly ignorant of war, and
adverse to hard work, and it was not long before Desmond found
that his services were called into requisition whenever it was
necessary that a despatch should be carried to a distance. He was
by no means sorry that this should be the case, for he soon tired
of the stiffness and ceremony of the Spanish Court, and of the
conversation (chiefly relating to ladies in Paris, whose very
names were unknown to him) among the French officers, and it was a
relief to him, indeed, when he could get away from attendance at
headquarters, and enjoy an evening's talk with the officers of one
or other of the four Irish regiments there.

Many of these expeditions were attended by considerable danger,
for the wars that had for some years devastated the country had
resulted in general disorder. Armed bands, under the pretence of
acting in the interest of one claimant or other to the throne,
traversed the country, pillaging the villages, driving off flocks
and herds to the mountains, and ruthlessly slaying any who
ventured to offer the smallest opposition. Catalonia and Valencia
had been the scene of the greater portion of the conflicts between
the rival claimants. Throughout the rest of the country the
population looked on apathetically at the struggle for mastery,
caring but little which of the two foreign princes reigned over
them; but, in the out-of-the-way districts, the wilder spirits
left their homes in numbers, enticed by the prospects of plunder,
under the leading of one or other of the partisan chiefs.

Desmond had, from the moment of his arrival, spent the greater
portion of his spare time in the study of Spanish, and, aided much
by his knowledge of French, had made rapid progress, and in three
months was able to converse fairly in it. It was, indeed,
essential for his work, as without it he could not have made his
way about, and safely delivered the orders of which he was the
bearer.

In the beginning of March, the duke sent for him.

"I have been greatly pleased, Captain Kennedy, with the activity
that you have displayed, and am going to make a further call upon
you. This mission is of greater importance than any on which you
have hitherto been engaged, and is one which, ordinarily, would be
entrusted to an officer of higher rank; but I feel that I cannot
do better than place it in your hands. From what we learn, I
believe that it is the intention of the enemy to commence the
campaign by crossing the frontier, near Badajos. By so doing, they
can either follow the valley of the Guadiana to the sources of the
river, and then come down into Valencia; or they could cross the
sierras, come down into the valley of the Tagus, and march on
Madrid.

"In the first place, I wish a report as to the state of the
fortifications of Badajos, and the efficiency of its garrison. I
am, of course, acquainted with the official reports, sent by the
Spanish commander of the town to his Government, but I have come
to place no faith whatever in Spanish reports, which, for the most
part, are a tissue of falsehoods. Your first duty, then, will be
to give me as complete a report as possible of the state of things
there; of your impressions of the capacity of the governor, as
shown by his preparations; also of the morale of the troops. In
the next place, I shall be glad of any information you can gather
of the country beyond the frontier, and the state of the roads in
all that neighbourhood. Here, again, the native reports are
absolutely untrustworthy. The line of the enemy's advance would be
either direct from Lisbon through Vicosa, or up the Tagus, which
offers them great facilities for carriage, and down through
Portalegre and Alvas.

"During the past four years, there has been a good deal of
fighting near the frontier, but the reports of the officers
commanding the Spanish forces there are devoid of any practical
information as to the roads on our side of the boundary. As it has
been resolved to give the enemy battle, as soon as he crosses the
frontier, it is most important that I should know the best lines
by which troops can move, the state of the bridges, and the
positions in which a battle on a large scale can best be fought.

"You see, the mission is an important one, and I selected you for
it as a proof of the confidence I feel in your ability. While
carrying out this duty you shall have the temporary rank of major,
as it will less ruffle the susceptibility of the Spaniards, if an
officer of that rank be employed, than if a captain be sent to
institute such enquiries.

"You will, of course, be provided with a letter to the Governor of
Badajos, couched in such terms that he will not consider your
mission has any reference to himself, its object being to discover
whether the magazines at Badajos are sufficiently well supplied to
admit of their being, if necessary, drawn upon for the subsistence
of the army; also, whether the garrison needs strengthening, in
case the enemy should lay siege to the town before our army is at
hand to give battle. Thus you will ostensibly confine your
enquiries to the amount of provisions and ammunition, and consult
the governor as to whether he considers the force at his disposal
sufficient for the defence of the fortress against a vigorous
attack. Fortunately, the Spanish methods are so slow that, before
you get these particulars, you will have ample time to ascertain
the points as to which I am chiefly concerned.

"You will be furnished with a native guide, well acquainted with
the passes of the sierras between the Tagus and the Guadiana. This
part of your journey will not be unattended with danger, for the
mountains swarm with bands of partisans; that is to say, bandits.
I shall, however, give you an order, to the officer in command of
the garrison at Toledo, to furnish you with an escort of ten
troopers under an officer, to conduct you across the mountains.
Four of these will accompany you to Badajos, and remain with you
until you return to Toledo. Once in the valley of the Guadiana,
you should have little chance of falling in with any bands of
guerrillas, but an escort will add to your weight and importance
in the eyes of the Spaniards."

"I feel greatly honoured, Your Royal Highness, by your selecting
me for the mission, and will carry it out to the best of my
ability."

"In an hour the papers will be ready for you, and you can start at
daybreak tomorrow."

"We are going on a long trip this time, Mike."

"Back to France, your honour?"

"No; we are going to the western frontier, by Badajos."

"It makes no difference to me, sir, where we are going; but, in
truth, I shall be glad to go anywhere, for I am mightily sick of
this town, where the people have no great love for the French, and
the best part of them seem to look down upon us soldiers, as if we
were dirt under their feet. It is unsafe to go through the streets
alone at night. A score of men have, since we came here, been
found lying dead with a knife between their ribs."

"Yes; the population here is very much divided, Mike, and even those
who are favourable to Philip have no love for the foreign soldiers
whose bayonets keep him on the throne. The duke has, many times,
made formal complaints to the king and the city authorities.  Philip
has given strict orders for the arrest of bad characters, but the
city civil authorities protest that they cannot lay hands upon them,
and I believe have never taken the slightest trouble to do so."

"How long shall we be away, your honour?"

"I should say, a month. I am to have temporary rank as major,
while engaged on this business. Anyone under that grade would
receive but little courtesy from the Spaniards."

"They are a mighty haughty lot," Mike grumbled. "I believe they
think that, when the flood came, the Spanish grandees had an ark
all to themselves, as they could not be expected to put up with a
conveyance full of animals."

Desmond laughed.

"They haven't yet taken in the fact that Spain is no longer the
great power she was when she was mistress of half of Europe. They
were fine fighters then, Mike. For my part, I own that I cannot
understand how it is they have fallen off in that respect; for
certainly, without our troops, they would make but a poor stand
against the Portuguese, backed up by the English and Dutch."

"I have not seen them fighting yet, sir, but to my mind people so
fond of using their knives are not likely to be of much account,
when it comes to manly, straightforward fighting.

"Well, your honour, if you are to go as a major, you will need
some slight alterations in your uniform--more gold lace, and such
like. So I had best see about it, at once."

"I did not think of that, Mike; but you are right. I don't know
whether, as I only hold temporary rank, I have a right to wear the
uniform of a field officer; but, as the duke wishes me to be able
to speak with some authority, there can be no harm in making the
change, and the additions can easily be taken off, upon my
return."

"The duke ought to have given you the full rank, instead of the
temporary one, sir. You have done more work, since you came here,
than all the colonels and majors on his staff."

"As far as work goes that may be so, Mike; but as the work
consisted in carrying despatches about on horseback, it certainly
affords no claim for promotion. And, indeed, I have no wish
whatever for it. I am already the youngest captain in the service,
except the young nobles who got their commissions as colonels,
without even serving a day in inferior rank. I feel uncomfortable
now when I go to our regiments, to see men who have been years in
the service, and gone through many a desperate action, still
lieutenants; while I, after two years' service, and still under
nineteen, am a captain."

"Yes, sir; but you know that you saved eight or ten thousand men
to France at Oudenarde, and you lost a hand in the service of the
country. That would count for a great deal."

"It counts for something, no doubt, Mike, but many of these
officers have risked their lives a score of times, and been
wounded frequently, though they may not have lost a limb."

"Ah well, sir!" Mike said, philosophically, "Luck is everything.
And who would go soldiering, if it was not so? When going into
battle, everyone knows that a lot of his comrades will be killed,
but he trusts to his luck to get through safely. One man gets
promoted and another doesn't, and he hopes that luck will come his
way next time. I don't say that your honour's promotion has been
luck, but you have had luck in being on the staff of the Duke of
Berwick, and everyone knows that it is the staff officers who get
the credit and promotion, while the men who do most of the
fighting get passed over. There would be nothing to say against
that if, as in your honour's case, a man was chosen for the staff
because he had done something that showed that he was fit for it.
But it isn't so here. If a man belongs to a good family, and has
interest, he gets a good appointment; and it is mighty seldom that
a man is taken from his regiment, and put on to the staff, because
he has done something which showed he was a good soldier."

"That is so, Mike. There is no denying it. And I believe it is one
reason why so many disasters have befallen the French army. The
generals are, as a rule, good, and the soldiers are excellent, but
the staff are generally altogether incompetent, and seem to
consider that the fact that they are nobles renders it unnecessary
for them to give attention to details, or to be more than
ornamental figures in the general's train. And when we see the
authority of Vendome overruled by a young prince, who is grandson
of the king, and nothing else, one must not be surprised that it
is the same all through the army."

That evening, Desmond received a packet containing his appointment
as major while on special service, details of instructions as to
the points to be attended to, and letters from the duke to the
commandant of the garrison at Toledo, and from Philip to the
Governor at Badajos.

The next morning he started at daybreak, accompanied by Mike, and
arrived that evening at Toledo. Here he presented his letter to
the commandant.

"Very well, sir," the officer said, when he had read it. "At what
hour do you wish the escort and guide to be ready in the morning?"

"I should like to start as early as possible, Colonel. I myself,
being well mounted, might cross the sierra in a day; but the
troopers' horses could not do that."

"You would not gain anything if they could, Major Kennedy, for
even if your horse could carry you over sixty or seventy miles of
mountain roads in a day, you would certainly need a couple of
days' rest before proceeding farther. If you get as far as
Enmedio, which is in the heart of the sierra, you will have done
well. You will then have another long day's ride down to Ciudad
Real, from which place the officer with six of the troopers will
return. The general says nothing about a noncommissioned officer,
but I shall take it upon myself to send one to accompany you, with
the four men. It will take a good deal of trouble off your hands."

"I am much obliged to you, Colonel."

"Now that we have finished business," the officer said, "we can
talk of other things. You will, of course, put up here. I have two
or three spare rooms, and the accommodation at the inns is
wretched. I am always very glad when an officer rides through,
because we hear little enough about what is passing, and as there
is no sort of sociability among the Spaniards, life is very dull
here, and one is very glad of the change."

"Thank you, Colonel. I will gladly accept your invitation."

The colonel rang a bell, and ordered a servitor, who answered, to
show Major Kennedy's servant where to put up his master's horses
and his own, to bring up the officer's valises, and to make the
soldier comfortable below.

"We shall sup in half an hour," he said to Desmond, when the man
had left. "Two of my majors are going to share the meal."

As soon as the valises were brought up, Desmond changed his
uniform, got rid of the dust of the road, and was just ready when
a servant knocked at the door and said that the supper was served.
The meal was a pleasant one. The three French officers were
anxious to hear the last news that had reached Madrid from France.
The conversation did not flag for a moment during the meal.

After this was over, and cigars were lighted--for the officers had
all adopted the custom of the country--the colonel said
courteously, "Would you mind telling us, Major Kennedy, how it is
that you, who by your name are Irish, although you speak excellent
French, have made your way so rapidly as to be already a major?"

"Not at all, Colonel. I am, myself, as much surprised at it as you
may be. But, really, my present rank is only temporary. I am going
down to Badajos, on a special mission for the Duke of Orleans, and
as he thought that I should be received better were I a field
officer, instead of captain, he has given me the temporary rank of
major while so employed.

"I will briefly tell you how I obtained the other steps. The first
was given me, by the king, on my appointment as aide-de-camp to
the Duke of Berwick; His Majesty being good enough to take an
interest in me, owing to a little adventure in which I had become
involved. It concerned, I may say, the almost accidental rescue of
a lady, who had been carried off by a nobleman of the court."

"I remember now," the colonel said. "The lady was Mademoiselle de
Pointdexter, and her abductor Vicomte de Tulle. It happened a
month or so before our regiment left Paris for Spain, and was the
chief topic of talk. I recall your name, now, in connection with
the affair, and how warmly everyone spoke of your gallantry. Well,
Major, how did you gain your next step?"

"I had the good fortune to be the only one who survived, of four
aides-de-camp who were sent off by the Duke of Berwick, at
Oudenarde, to make their way through the allied lines with orders,
to the division cut off from the rest of the army in the village
of Diepenbeck, to disperse and make off across the country, as
best they could. My comrades were all killed, but I was lucky
enough to succeed in reaching the village uninjured, with the
exception of a ball in the wrist, which caused the loss of my
hand, and, I may say, almost of my life. It was because of the
favourable report, which the duke was pleased to make of this
service, that I received my rank as captain."

"It was well earned, too, sir," the colonel said warmly. "I
confess, I thought when you arrived that, although Irish by name,
you must have had some very powerful influence at your back to
have risen so early. Unhappily, promotion often bears no relation
whatever to merit; and one sees young nobles, with no other
recommendation than that of their birth, placed over the heads of
officers of five-and-twenty years service. No one is jealous of a
man who owes his rise to brilliant deeds of courage, or signal
ability; but it is galling to see these young popinjays thrust
forward, simply by family influence."

In passing over the hills the next day, a large party of armed men
made their appearance, suddenly, on a height above; but, seeing
that an attack was likely to meet with a stout resistance, and as
little booty would be obtainable, they did not interfere with
their passage. Desmond congratulated himself on having an escort,
for it would have gone hard with him, had he been accompanied only
by Mike.

On the fifth day after leaving Madrid he arrived at Badajos, with the
sergeant, the four troopers, and Mike. After some formalities--for
the town, being close to the frontier, was liable at any moment to be
suddenly attacked--Desmond was conducted to the governor, a pompous
Spanish officer.

"Are you yourself Major Kennedy?" he asked, looking with some
surprise at his young visitor.

"My name is Kennedy, sir, and I have the honour of being major,
and to serve on the staff of his grace, the Duke of Orleans. I am
the bearer of a letter to you from His Majesty, King Philip."

The Spaniard took the letter and read it, and Desmond could see,
by the expression of his countenance, that he was by no means
pleased.

"I do not understand," he said coldly, "why an officer should have
been specially despatched to obtain information which I have
already duly furnished."

"I understood from the Duke of Orleans, sir, that as news has been
received that the enemy's plans were to cross the frontier near
this town, it became a matter of special importance to see that it
was sufficiently supplied with provisions, and munitions of war to
stand a siege. It has been found more than once that, owing to the
culpable neglect of subordinates, fortresses when besieged were by
no means so well supplied with provisions, powder and shot, as had
been supposed. Naturally, the governor of a fortress like this,
with a considerable garrison, is too much occupied to personally
superintend all these matters, and must leave them in the hands of
his subordinates, who on their part commit them to those of
sergeants and storekeepers; so that, while everything is reported
to be ready, there are really deficiencies. A waste often takes
place in the distribution of stores, and the matter was so
important that the king requested the duke to send one of his
staff to give you every assistance, and to receive your
suggestions, which will be complied with to their full extent. As
your last report was sent in some three months back, necessarily
considerable changes have taken place, in that time."

"Well, sir, I will obey His Majesty's orders, and give you every
facility. My officers shall be instructed to open such magazines
as you may select, and you will be then able personally to judge
as to the quantity and condition of the stores. It will, of
course, be impossible, unless with an immense expenditure of
labour, to go through the whole of the magazines and to reckon up
their contents; but as many as you wish shall be opened, and a
party of soldiers told off to count the bales and cases."

"A very few will suffice, sir. Of course, in the event of a battle
being fought and a reverse occurring, the enemy might sit down
before your town. You would be exposed to a long siege, for it
might be some time before the army was again in a position to
advance and fight another battle, or raise the siege. I have
little doubt that everything will be found in excellent order, but
should there be any deficiencies, the duke assured me that they
would be at once made good."

"If you will call tomorrow morning, sir," the governor said, "I
will have some of the officials, in whose charge these matters
are, placed at your disposal; but I am convinced that you will
find that my reports on the stores and ammunition in hand are
fully borne out."

"The governor is, as I expected, a good deal put out, Mike,"
Desmond said as he rejoined his follower, who was waiting outside
with the horses. "Now, let us find out the best hotel."

"Didn't he ask you to stay with him, your honour?" Mike asked in
surprise.

"No. He is much too grand a man for that, and besides, he may have
his wife and children with him; and however much a Spaniard may
place his house and all within it at your service, it is very
seldom that he invites a stranger to enter it. Moreover, glad as
they may be to have French help in fighting their battles, they
look with suspicion and dislike upon an individual Frenchman.

"Besides, I fancy I shall find that these stores and magazines by
no means tally with the report sent in by the governor. I heard
the Duke of Berwick one day speaking about it, and he said there
was corruption and dishonesty among their officials, from the
highest to the lowest. It is probable that both the king and the
Duke of Orleans have the same opinion, and that it was for this
reason that they sent me here, in order to assure them that the
fortress is as well supplied as has been stated. With the other
papers, I have received a copy of the governor's report, although
I did not think it necessary to tell him so."

The next morning, on going to the governor's, Desmond found a
number of officials assembled there.

"These are the officers in charge of the stores and magazines,"
the governor said. "Colonel Mendez will accompany you, and will
see that everything is done to facilitate your examination."

The governor bowed formally. Desmond returned his salute, and then
went down with the Spanish colonel, the other officials following.
He saw that there was an expression of malicious pleasure in the
colonel's face, and guessed that he was, by no means, sorry at the
investigation that was to take place.

"I think, sir," Desmond said, "that it will not be necessary for
us to have all these officials going round with us. It will be
impossible, in one day, to do more than examine one department. As
ammunition is the most important of all stores, I would suggest
that we take only those in charge of the war material."

"Very good;" and, turning to those behind, he said: "For today,
all those save the officers in charge of the magazines can be
relieved from this duty. Their turn will come tomorrow, or next
day."

With the exception of five or six, all moved away.

"We have three magazines in the town," the colonel went on, "so as
to lessen the chance of our resources being destroyed by a single
blow. There is the Central magazine, another that is known as the
San Juan magazine, and the Western magazine."

"We may as well visit the Central one first, as, no doubt, that is
the most important one."

As they went on, a party of twenty soldiers, who had been drawn up
there, fell in behind, while Mike and two troopers of his escort
also, at his orders, accompanied them. The magazine was formed in
what had formerly been an old castle, but which was now used for
another purpose, that of a store, its thick walls affording
protection against any but very heavy missiles. On entering what
had been the courtyard, Desmond saw that the greater portion of it
was occupied by storehouses, massively built, and covered by some
five or six feet of earth.

"The first of these on the right contains musketry ammunition,"
Colonel Mendez said, "the next two contain cannonballs; powder is
stored in the three houses at the farther end, and the three on
the left side contain hand grenades, fuses for mines, signal
rockets, and other miscellanies, such as brimstone."

"We will examine number one first," Desmond said. "Which is the
officer in charge?"

One of the officials stepped forward, with a key. Desmond saw that
his face was pale, and that he had a sullen look.

"I will ask you, before we enter," he said, "how often do you take
stock of your stores? I suppose when the governor sends in his
half-yearly report?"

"We do not do it that way at all," the man said. "I have a book.
It was given to me by the officer I succeeded. Here it is. You
will see that he handed over so many barrels of cartridges. On one
side of the page I put down the number of barrels issued, and on
the other the number I receive, and thus, at any time, without
disturbing the contents of the store, I can state the number of
barrels it contains."

"Then how long have you held this position, sir?"

"I have been in charge of this store, and of those used for powder
in the cellars underneath the castle, for ten years."

"The man whom you succeeded--how long had he been here?"

"I believe he had been here for twenty years, or more."

"And his system of keeping account was the same as yours?"

"Precisely. He handed his books to me, and I have kept mine in the
same way."

"Then it is a fact, if I understand you rightly, that there has
been no taking of stock for the past thirty years?"

"It was not necessary," the officer said, in a surly tone. "There
can be no mistake possible, considering the way in which we made
our entries."

They now entered the store. It was some sixty feet long and forty
feet wide, with pillars of masonry along the centre to support the
weight of the roof. It was lighted only by small loopholes in the
thick walls. Four of the soldiers carried lanterns, and they were
about to enter, when Desmond said:

"There is no loose powder lying about, I suppose?"

"None," the officer replied. "The barrels were all carefully
examined before being taken into the store. They are, as you can
see, strongly made. A leakage is out of the question, unless by
any accident one should fall off the pile and burst; but such a
thing has never happened, as far as I know."

"I see, by your book, that there should be three thousand four
hundred and eighty-two barrels, each containing five hundred
cartridges. Certainly an ample supply, even for a prolonged
siege."

The barrels were piled in four tiers, one above another, forming a
wall on each side of a central path, seven feet wide.

"Give me your hand, Mike," Desmond said to his follower, and,
standing upon it, he was able to scramble on to the top.

"Twelve barrels deep," he said, as he descended. "Now, let us
count the number in each line."

The wall of barrels extended only some two-thirds of the length of
the stores, and there were thirty barrels in each line. He made a
rapid calculation.

"That is three thousand two hundred, but I see that, in addition,
there is a small pile on each side, beyond the others, which would
about make up the correct total. Your record is strictly
accurate."

The official took up the lantern, as if the matter was now
finished, but Desmond said:

"No, sir. I have but begun; and my instructions were to see how
much musket ammunition there was here, at present. I only know how
many barrels there are.

"And now, Colonel, I will ask you to call your men in, and set
them to work. I wish two passages made through each of these piles
of barrels. Three feet wide will be sufficient."

"It would be very dangerous to move them," the official said
hastily.

"Not if it is carefully done. You tell me the barrels are strong,
and that there is no leakage. Even if this should not be the case,
there is little fear of the powder coming in contact with the
candles in these lanterns; and besides, as the powder is in
cartridges, it would not leak out even if one of the barrels were
to burst."

The soldiers had set to work at four points, chosen at hazard by
Desmond. The barrels, as they were taken down, were ranged along
on each side of the central path. When three lines had been
cleared out, one of the soldiers gave an exclamation.

"This is lighter than the one I carried out last!" he said.

"Carry it out into the courtyard," Desmond said. "I should like to
look at the contents."

It was taken out to the courtyard, and one end carefully taken
out.

"You see, Colonel," Desmond said, as he looked at its contents,
"you would have been reduced to great straits, long before you
expected it."

The colonel, who belonged to the artillery, looked into the
barrel, which was full of earth.

"Empty it out!" Desmond ordered.

They did so. There was not a single cartridge in it.

"This is scandalous!" the colonel exclaimed. "I did not expect
that everything would be found right, but I had no idea of such
villainy as this!"

He turned to the men.

"Arrest the commissary, at once," he said.

But that official was nowhere to be found. He had slipped away, as
soon as the men began to take down the barrels. Some soldiers were
at once sent off in search of him.

"We will continue the work," Desmond said, "and see how
extensively this fraud has been carried on."

The same result was met with in each of the openings. The first
three lines consisted of barrels filled with cartridges; the seven
lines behind contained nothing but earth.

"You see, Colonel, instead of having over three thousand two
hundred barrels of cartridges, you have less than a thousand. It
is almost beyond belief! It is clear that this fellow, and
probably the man who was in charge before him, have been in
collusion with the contractors for these cartridges, and allowed
them to send in seven barrels of earth for every three of
cartridges. No doubt, they calculated that there was little chance
of the fraud being detected--never, indeed, until there was a
prolonged siege--for they would naturally serve out the barrels
from the front row, as they were required, filling their places
with fresh ones as supplies came in."

The other storehouses were now examined. The number of cannonball
alone tallied with the account. There were large deficiencies in
the store of powder, and, indeed, among almost all the other
munitions.

"It is infinitely worse than I thought," the colonel said, "and I
fear that the storekeepers are not the only people concerned in
these frauds."

"Now, Colonel, if you do not mind, I should like to go to one of
the provision stores at once. Possibly, after what we have
discovered, some pretext to stop further examination may be
invented, if we wait till tomorrow."

Great as had been the fraud in the magazines, that in the supplies
of provisions was even greater. There was a deficiency of many
hundreds of sacks of flour and beans. The meat stores were
entirely empty, although they should have contained a large number
of tierces of salted beef. This was a matter of minor importance,
for in case of the approach of an enemy, the people of the country
round would drive their cattle into the town, and, indeed, the
allowance of meat to a Spanish soldier was so small that he could
do well without it, existing entirely upon bread and fried beans.
Of wine there was scarce half the amount indicated. A great number
of the barrels had been filled only with water.

It was late in the afternoon when the work ceased.

"I should require a fortnight," Desmond said, "to get accurate
figures. This, however, is comparatively unimportant. It is quite
sufficient to know that in no case is there half the amount,
either of ammunition or of provisions, given in the governor's
last report, and that fraud on a large scale has been carried on;
and I cannot but think that some men, at least, of higher rank
than these storekeepers must have been privy to the affair."

"There has certainly been something wrong in the supply of
clothes, Major Kennedy. My men have had no new ones served out to
them for the past year and a half, although I have made repeated
applications during the past two months."

"Yes; I noticed when I walked about in the town, yesterday, that
many of the troops were almost in rags, and I have no doubt there
has been fraud in the clothing department, as well as in all the
others."

"Well, sir, as a Spaniard I lament this terrible exposure. Blame,
however, must not be laid entirely upon the military. The supply
of provisions of all kinds, of cloth for clothing, and, indeed, of
everything but guns and ammunition, is in the hands of the junta
of the province, and of the civil authority here. Many of the
members must be concerned in the matter, and I have no doubt that
the officials here are heavily bribed to shut their eyes, and to
arrange matters so that the frauds may escape attention.

"I know that once, when I proposed to the governor to examine some
of the barrels of cartridges as they came in, he answered me very
sharply, and told me that my business was to work the guns, and
not to meddle with the duties of the storekeeper."

"Then do you think, Colonel?--"

"I think nothing," the officer replied. "The governor is the
governor, and it is not for me to discuss his conduct in any way,
nor even to admit the possibility of his knowing of this affair."

Only two or three of the storekeepers had been arrested. The rest
had slunk away, as soon as they saw how matters were going.



Chapter 15: Treachery.


At this moment an officer came down, and said that the governor
wished to see Colonel Mendez and Major Kennedy, at once. As they
entered the room, they saw the governor walking up and down in a
state of great agitation.

"I hear, Colonel Mendez," he said, stopping before that officer,
"that you have, on your own authority, placed several of the
commissariat storekeepers under arrest. What does this mean, sir?"

"It means, sir, that Major Kennedy has discovered enormous
deficiencies in the stores, and there can be little doubt that a
number of persons must have been concerned in the matter, besides
those in charge of the storehouses. Wholesale bribery must have
been practised, by those who supplied the goods to those whose
duty it was to receive them."

"I shall order a commission of enquiry to sit at once, and beg
that you, Colonel Mendez, will send me in a detailed report of the
matter, which is, I need hardly say, one of extreme gravity."

"I was right," Colonel Mendez said, as they left the governor's
house. "I suspected that something was wrong, ever since he
refused to allow me access to the magazines. I have no doubt that
he has been acting in collusion with the contractors, though he
may not have been aware of the extent of their rascality, for his
subordinates may not only have accepted bribes from the
contractors to carry out the frauds to which the governor may have
consented, but may also have taken money from these to allow of
still greater ones to be perpetrated."

"What will he do, do you think, Colonel?"

"He will endeavour, by every means in his power, to prevent any
word of your discovery from leaking out. And, if I may advise you,
I should say it would be well that you should take every
precaution for your own safety. His position is a desperate one,
for one cannot doubt that your report will be followed by his
removal from his post, his dismissal from the army, and the
confiscation of everything of which he is possessed. Therefore, it
is almost a matter of life and death to him to prevent your report
from being sent to headquarters, and to have you removed
altogether. This done, the facts might not leak out. It would be
supposed, at Madrid, that you had been stabbed by some street
ruffian. And, although another officer might be sent down to
report, it is by no means likely that he would go so rigorously
into matters as you did, but would be contented merely to count
barrels and bales, without troubling to investigate their
contents."

"But your evidence would be as strong against him as mine."

"Yes; but that evidence is not yet given. He can, in the first
place, and I have no doubt will, suppress my report to him. In the
second place, he would consider it unlikely that I should venture
to make the matter public, for he has powerful friends at court.
He is connected with many of the leading families in the province,
and might rely upon being able to hush the matter up, so long as
it was known only to the heads of our army, who are not unaware
that, although the pay of a commander of a fortress is not more
than sufficient to maintain his position, they, like most other of
our officials, generally retire with considerable fortunes.
Therefore, any interference on my part would be more disastrous to
my prospects than to his.

"It is humiliating to say so, Major Kennedy, but both our civil
and military systems are rotten to the core. There are, of course,
honest men in both services, but as a rule corruption is almost
universal. Still, although he cannot fear me as he must fear you,
it is possible he may endeavour to make himself safe by removing
me also from his path; and for a time I shall take good care to
remain in my own barracks, as much as possible."

"I will be careful also," Desmond said, "and I thank you much for
the warning, which was needed, for it would never have struck me
that he would even attempt to suppress the information that I have
gained; but I see that it will be necessary to be very careful,
especially in the manner of sending off my reports."

"If I were in your place, I should mount my horse at once, and
with the troopers of the escort ride straight for Madrid."

"I cannot do that, Colonel, for the examination into the state of
the stores here was only a part of my instructions, and I must, if
possible, carry these out to the letter before leaving for Madrid.
I might, however, send off my despatch by two of the troopers with
me."

"I think you may take my word for it, Major, that they would never
reach their destination. Even while we are speaking, a messenger
may be sent off either to one of these bands in the mountains, or
to two or three of the contractors--who are, of course, as deeply
involved as the governor, for there is no doubt of their guilt,
while no proof can be given to his being a party to it--telling
them that it is a matter of life and death to them to prevent you
or your messengers from reaching Madrid."

"The lookout is certainly far from comfortable," Desmond admitted,
"and I must, tonight, think it over in every way, and decide upon
what course I had best pursue."

When he reached the hotel, he told Mike what Colonel Mendez had
said.

"By the powers, your honour, it is a nasty scrape that we seem to
be in, almost as bad as when you were shut up in that prison in
London."

"Worse, Mike; for then we knew that we should be tried, but hoped
that Louis would interfere in our favour, and by threatening
reprisals obtain our liberty; whereas here we have only ourselves
to depend upon, and the blow may come at any moment."

"Well, at any rate, your honour, we will see that none get at you
unbeknown. I will lie down in your room against the door, and if
the sergeant places a man on guard outside, it is hard if anyone
gets at you."

"I hardly think the precaution necessary; but there is no saying
what this man might not do in so desperate a situation, so I will
tell the sergeant to place a sentry at the door, and to relieve
him every two hours. I shall think the matter over, and by
tomorrow morning shall decide whether I had best remain here and
complete my work, or ride at once to Madrid."

At about two o'clock in the morning Desmond, who had but just
dropped off to sleep, was aroused by hearing the sentry outside
his door challenge. There was no answer. All remained quiet. Mike
leapt to his feet and opened the door.

"What is it?" he asked the sentry.

"I saw two or three men at the end of the corridor. It was too
dark to make them out clearly. They were coming this way. I
levelled my carbine and cried, 'Who comes there?' and at once they
stole away. They could have been after no good, for their steps
were noiseless, and they must have come up without boots."

"Keep a sharp lookout, sentry," Desmond said, "and see that they
don't steal up to you, for if they do, you may be stabbed before
you have time to turn round.

"It is lucky that I carried out your suggestion, Mike, and posted
a sentry at the door. Of course, these men the sentry saw may not
have been coming here, but at any rate their conduct was
suspicious."

In a few minutes Desmond was again asleep. He had had a long day's
work, and believing that the affair was over, at least for the
night, he did not even try to keep awake.

As soon as Mike heard, by his breathing, that he was asleep, he
got up noiselessly and seated himself near the open window, with a
loaded pistol. An hour passed, and then he heard a slight stir in
the street. He did not look out, but grasped his pistol tightly.

Their room was on the first floor. Presently, he heard a grating
sound against the window. It was very dark, and he knelt down so
that he would be able to make out any figure that showed above the
windowsill. He thought first of rousing his master, but as he had
another pistol in his belt, and his sword leaned against the wall,
ready to his hand, he thought it better to let matters take their
course.

He had heard no further sound, but presently a round object
appeared in sight. Stretching out his arm, he fired without a
moment's hesitation. There was a sound of a heavy fall below,
followed by some muttered exclamations. In a moment, Desmond was
on his feet, a pistol which he had laid by his pillow in his
grasp.

"What is it, Mike?"

"It is only a gentleman who had a fancy for looking in at the
window, your honour, and I have no doubt would have come in,
without saying by your leave, if I had not cut the matter short by
putting a bullet into his forehead. He had some friends down
below. He came up on a ladder."

He looked out of the window.

"They are taking it down now, your honour. Shall I give them
another shot?"

"No, Mike; let them go. The lesson has been good enough."

The sentry had also run into the room, on hearing the shot.

"It is all over," Desmond said. "Seeing that you prevented them
from getting in at the door, they tried the window. Mike has shot
one of them."

There was a sound of feet and loud talking in the passage, and as
Desmond went out, the landlord, two of the serving men, and
several of those staying at the hotel ran up.

"What is it, senor? We heard a shot."

"Yes; a fellow tried to enter my window, by means of a ladder; but
fortunately my man heard him, and shot him before he came in. No
doubt it was some prowling marauder, who, seeing my window open,
thought that there was a chance of plunder."

"Carrambo!" the landlord exclaimed, "then we shall have enquiries,
and all sorts of trouble."

"I don't think you will," Desmond said quietly. "I fancy he had
some friends down below, and they will probably carry his body and
the ladder away, and, if you hold your tongues, nothing more will
be heard of it.

"Mike, do you and the sentry take a lantern and go down and see."

The landlord looked out of the window.

"As far as I can see, everything is quiet there," he said. "Are
you sure that your servant was not dreaming?"

"That you will soon ascertain, if you go down with him," Desmond
said. "I fancy that you will find some traces of the affair
there."

The landlord, followed by his two servants, went down with the
soldiers, and then, lighting a lantern and handing it to them,
went out, keeping carefully behind them.

"There," Mike said, when he stopped under Desmond's window; "does
that look like a dream?" and he pointed to a patch of blood on the
pavement.

"It is true enough," the landlord said.

"Pedro and Lopez, fetch pails of water and brooms, and get rid of
this blood, otherwise we shall be having enquiries made in the
morning."

Mike returned to his master, at whose door the sergeant and the
other troopers were standing.

"There is no occasion, sergeant," Desmond had just said, "to keep
a sentry at the door any longer. We can be quite sure that we
shall not be disturbed again before morning, and indeed, I am not
likely to sleep after this."

"Very well, sir; but if you don't mind, I will keep a sentry on
watch."

"Just as you like, sergeant, but I feel sure there is no occasion
for it. Still, after what has happened, it may perhaps be wise to
do so."

"Well, Mike," Desmond said, when they were again alone, "the
campaign has opened with spirit. This is something like that
journey with the Baron de Pointdexter, when we expected to be
attacked every minute."

"Well, we got through that all right, your honour, and it is hard
if we don't get through this."

At six o'clock, a volley of musketry was fired.

"They are practising early, sir," Mike said.

"It can't be that, Mike. It is too close. They would go beyond the
outer works to practise, and, by the sound, it is certainly much
nearer than that, though possibly just outside the walls."

"I will go out and enquire, your honour. When one is at war, it is
as well to know exactly what the enemy are doing."

"Take one of the troopers with you, Mike. Pierre speaks Spanish
well."

Mike returned in an hour.

"They have shot all the prisoners we took yesterday," he said. "I
hear they held a sort of court martial in the evening, at the
governor's. It did not sit more than ten minutes. They were all
found guilty of fraud and treachery, and were shot this morning."

"Worse and worse, Mike! Evidently, the governor is determined to
get rid of all whose evidence might throw any light on this
matter. After what has happened here, and these summary
executions, I feel very uncomfortable as to Colonel Mendez. Will
you go to the artillery barracks with a message from me that, as I
have my first report to write out, I shall not continue the
investigations today? Take Pierre with you again."

When Mike returned, Desmond saw that his news was bad.

"The colonel had not been seen when I got there, and his servant
went up to his room and found him lying dead, stabbed to the
heart."

"Another witness gone," Desmond said. "An honourable gentleman,
and a pleasant one. Well, Mike, the matter becomes more and more
serious. After this there is but one thing open to me, and that is
to return to Madrid at once. When I relate the circumstances to
the duke, he will see that, had I endeavoured to carry out the
rest of his instructions, the chance of my report ever coming to
hand would have been slight indeed, and it is all important that
he should get it.

"The question is, shall we mount and ride at once, or shall I go
and take leave of the governor?"

"Of course, your honour, you can do as you like, but I should say
that the sooner we are out of this, the better. The longer we stay
here, the more time he will have to take care we don't get back
alive.

"There was another thing I did not tell you, sir. As we went to
the barracks, we passed some cavalry men talking. They were
arguing that the enemy must be marching this way, for at two
o'clock last night ten troopers were suddenly called up and sent
off, the gates being opened for them by order of the governor."

"Just what I expected, Mike. He has written to warn the various
contractors that the frauds have been discovered, and, no doubt,
telling them that all messengers from here must be stopped and
searched, and all reports and documents taken from them; that if I
come myself, I am to be put out of the way; and that if this can
be done the matter can be hushed up, as he has taken measures to
silence all those who know anything about the affair.

"Well, I think you are right. We need not mind saying goodbye to
this scoundrel, as it would only give him time to perfect his
arrangements. I have no doubt that he would pretend to be ill, or
to be engaged in some business that would detain him, and manage
to keep me waiting some hours before he saw me. Order the sergeant
to saddle up at once. Let the men eat a meal as quickly as
possible, and let each put a bottle of wine and a loaf of bread
into his valise, so that we shall be able to ride without stopping
anywhere. Say that we shall mount in twenty minutes, and they must
not wait to polish up their accoutrements. Tell them to put plenty
of forage before the horses, and not to put the bridles in their
mouths until the last thing. Let each pour four or five feeds of
corn into his forage bag.

"When you have given the orders, have your own breakfast. I will
go downstairs and get something there. I packed my valises while
you were away."

Exactly twenty minutes later the little troop started. The men
had, at Desmond's orders, loaded their pistols and short guns.
Avoiding the principal streets, they rode by narrow lanes until
they emerged close to the eastern gate. Through this he and his
followers rode, without question, at a quiet pace until beyond the
exterior fortifications, across the bridge over the Guadiana, and
then broke into a canter.

The sergeant and men were not a little surprised at the sudden
departure, for they had supposed that they would remain for some
time at Badajos. Desmond called the sergeant up to his side.

"I dare say you are surprised at this sudden move, but you know
that two attempts were made upon my life last night, and I have no
doubt that these would be repeated, and perhaps with greater
success, had I stayed there. You were present yesterday, with two
of your men, when we discovered that large portions of the stores
were mere dummies filled with earth. Whether or not the governor
was a party to the fraud I cannot say, but this morning he had all
the storekeepers who were arrested shot, and Colonel Mendez, who
was present at the investigation, was murdered during the night.
It is evident, therefore, that many people are interested in
preventing the discovery we made from getting known. Of course,
the soldiers who assisted would be aware of it, but they would not
venture to speak, and it is only I and your men and my servant who
have still to be silenced.

"I tell you this, in order that you may impress upon the men the
necessity for the greatest vigilance, such as they would use if
travelling through an enemy's country. Messengers were, I hear,
sent off yesterday evening in various directions, and I have no
doubt that these were to the various contractors concerned in the
plot, urging upon them the necessity of preventing the news from
reaching Madrid; and perhaps to some of the robber bands in the
sierra. Therefore, instead of keeping the main road up the valley,
we will ride by country tracks and avoid all large towns. We will
not put up anywhere, but will bivouac in the open. In this way I
hope that we shall yet avoid any parties of men who may be lying
in wait for us.

"The most dangerous part of the journey will, of course, be the
passage of the mountains. We must there travel by one or other of
the roads through the defiles, and it is possible all these may be
watched. If we are attacked, we must endeavour to ride through
them. If this is impossible, we will sell our lives as dearly as
we can."

"You may trust us for that, Major," the sergeant said. "I have no
love for these Spaniards, and we are all discontented at being
kept down here to fight the King of Spain's battles, instead of
being up in the north, where every man is wanted to prevent the
enemy marching to Paris."

They struck off from the road when nearing Merida, and followed a
country track until they came upon the road between that town and
Torre Mocha. Avoiding the latter place, they took the road to
Truxillo, and, late in the afternoon, approached that town and
halted in a wood two miles distant from it.

Here Desmond consulted his map. There were two roads from
Truxillo. Crossing the sierra, the main and shorter road came down
upon the Tagus at Almarez. The other passed through Deleytoza, and
came down upon the bridge at Condo. Beyond Deleytoza it appeared
to be a mere mule track.

"If there are any parties watching," he said to Mike, "they will
expect that my messenger, or I myself, will travel by the main
road to Almarez, for not only is it better, but it is shorter. But
again, they might think that, if I suspected we might be attacked,
I should take the road through Deleytoza, and would, at any rate,
make matters safe by watching both roads. It is a difficult
question which to choose."

"Well, your honour, if you have got to fight, it would be best to
do so on a good road. Our horses would be of no use to us, if we
were going single file along a bad road; while on a good road we
could charge the spalpeens, and cut our way through."

"You are quite right, Mike, and we will take the main road. They
will not be mounted, and I don't think they would stand before a
charge of seven men; but they may shoot some of us as we come down
upon them.

"See here, Mike, this is my report that I wrote out yesterday
evening;" and he took a packet from the inside of his coat. "When
we start tomorrow morning I shall put it in my left holster. If I
am shot, you will not wait for a moment, but will snatch it out
and ride on to Madrid, and deliver it to the duke there. I have,
this morning, added a few lines relating the murder of Colonel
Mendez, the hurried trial and execution of the storekeepers, and
the attempts upon my life, and said I have not the least doubt
that the governor is at the bottom of it all."

"If your honour is killed, I will carry out your orders, but if it
is only wounded you are, I will try to take you off with me."

"You must do as I order you."

"I obey your honour's orders when they are reasonable," Mike said
doggedly; "but leave you behind, to have your throat cut by those
villains! I would not do such a thing, so there is an end of it."

Desmond smiled at the earnestness of his faithful follower.

"Well, Mike, you must be guided by circumstances; but remember, it
is of extreme importance that this report should reach the Duke of
Orleans. Unless he has it we may lose Badajos, and the cause
suffer irreparable injury."

"To the devil wid the cause," Mike said. "The cause doesn't
trouble me one way or the other. I don't care a brass farthing
whether Philip or Charles reigns over the Spaniards. It is not a
nice job they will be taking on, any way, and not worth a drop of
Irish blood. Well, if your honour should have the bad fortune to
be hit, I shall either carry you off, though there's not a breath
in your body, or else go down with you."

As there was no doubt that Mike meant what he said, Desmond did
not press the matter further.

The next day they set out at daybreak, and, in two hours, were
mounting the slope of the sierra. There were no signs of any men
being about, until they reached a point where the road ran between
steep hills.

"There they are," Desmond exclaimed, reining in his horse. "There
are some thirty or forty of them on the road.

"Now, my men, we will ride forward to those boulders you see, a
hundred yards this side of them, and then we will dismount and
give them a volley. If you keep that up, it will soon be too hot
for them to remain on the road; while we, sheltered behind the
rocks, will be safe from their shot. It is certain that your guns
will carry farther and shoot straighter than theirs, as the
Spanish powder is so much inferior to the French."

Accordingly, they rode forward at a canter to the heap of
boulders, then suddenly left the road, dismounted, and took cover
among the rocks.

"Take steady aim, men," Desmond said, "then you can hardly miss
hitting some of them, standing close together as they do."

The bandits had waited, undecided, at the sudden disappearance of
those whom they had regarded as a certain prey; and before they
could form any plans, five muskets flashed out, and four of their
number fell. A cry of rage burst from them, and there was a
general discharge of their guns, the balls pattering thickly
against the stones.

The soldiers now fired as quickly as they could load, doing
considerable execution. Their foes left the road, and imitated
them by taking shelter behind stones. For ten minutes the combat
continued, and then a party of men were seen, mounting the hill on
either side.

"That is just what I hoped for," Desmond said. "Fire at them, so
as to force them to climb a little higher up the hill. As soon as
they are pretty well out of gunshot, we will mount and charge down
the road. There cannot be many men left there."

His orders were followed. Some of the men on the hillside dropped,
and the others continued to mount the slopes. When, as they
believed, out of fire, they moved forward so as to take the
defenders of the rocks in flank.

"Now, fire a volley among the men in front of us," Desmond said.
"We are not likely to hit any of them, but it is sure to draw
their fire, and there will not be many unemptied guns as we pass
them."

As he expected, the volley was answered by a general fire from
their hidden foes. Then the party leapt into their saddles, and,
pistol in hand, galloped up the road. Several hurried shots were
fired from the front, and then, at a shout from their leader, some
twenty men leapt from their hiding places and ran down into the
road.

Desmond was supported on one side by Mike, and on the other by the
sergeant. He dropped his reins--the horse had learned to obey the
motions of his knees--and, drawing his sword, rode straight at the
bandits. Only a few muskets were discharged, and these so
hurriedly that the balls missed their aim, and, with a shout, the
party fell upon the brigands. The pistols of the troopers and Mike
cracked out, but they had no need to draw their swords, for the
rush of the horses struck such a panic into the Spaniards that
they sprang from the road, leaving the path clear, and the party
thundered past them without a check.

"Is anyone wounded?" Desmond asked, when they had passed beyond
gunshot of their assailants.

"I have a ball in my shoulder, Major," one of the troopers said.
The rest were silent.

"Well, we have been fortunate," Desmond said. "I will see to your
wound, my man, when we get a little farther. If those fellows had
not been so scared with our sudden charge that they fired almost
at random, we might have lost half our number."

They stopped half a mile farther, and Desmond examined the
trooper's arm.

"The ball has gone through the flesh," he said, "without touching
the bone, so you will soon have the use of it again."

He bound the wound tightly up with the soldier's sash; and then
made, with his own, a sling.

"You may as well put the other arm in your jacket," he said, "and
I will tie it round your neck. The air is cold upon the hills."

"We did that well, sir," the sergeant said, as they rode on again.
"If you had not thought of taking shelter, and shaking them up, we
should all have been shot down before we reached them.

"Is there any chance of another attack, sir?"

"None at all. I should think a messenger was sent to them,
yesterday, telling them our strength; and no doubt they thought
that, with sixty men, they would be certain to overpower us. That
is probably the whole of the band, and in any case, as they would
not imagine that we could pass them, they are not likely to have
set another ambush."

They slept that night at Almarez, made a short journey to Oropesa,
and a long one on the following day to Toledo, where Desmond
dismissed his escort, with a handsome reward for their services,
and upon the next afternoon rode with Mike into Madrid. The Duke
of Orleans looked astonished when he entered the room.

"What! Back already, Major Kennedy? Surely you cannot have carried
out all the work that I entrusted to you?"

"By no means, Your Royal Highness; but what I did carry out was so
important that I deemed it my duty to ride back at once, to
acquaint you with what I have discovered. There is the report,
sir."

The duke took it.

"It is a bulky one," he said. "Tell me its purport in as few words
as possible."

"I have discovered, sir, that the report sent by the governor of
the supply of provisions and stores in Badajos is altogether
inaccurate, that frauds to an enormous extent have been
perpetrated, that the supply of powder and cartridges is less by
two-thirds than was represented, and that similar deficiencies
exist in every department."

"This is indeed serious," the duke said. "The possession of
Badajos is essential to us. It blocks the way to an enemy's
advance, and indeed, they can scarce move forward until it is
captured. Now, tell me more about it; or no, I will read your
report, and then question you concerning it."

A heavy frown settled on the duke's brow, as he perused the
document.

"Infamous!" he exclaimed, when he had finished. "And you say that
two attempts were made to murder you that night, and that the
Spanish colonel who gave you so much assistance was assassinated,
and the commissaries shot the next morning? It shows how anxious
the governor was to remove from his path all those who could
inculpate him.

"And how did you manage to get out of the toils? For it was
clearly of no use killing the minor witnesses, and allowing you to
ride here to report the facts."

"I saw that, sir; and as I learned that eight or ten troopers had
been sent off, late the night before, I concluded that the road
would be sure to be beset, for doubtless some of the contractors
would feel it as essential as the governor did, that my mouth
should be silenced and my report suppressed. I therefore started
early. Keeping by byroads, we were not molested until we had
nearly reached the summit of the sierra, when we found a party of
some sixty men barring the road. We had a fight with them, and
succeeded in getting through with no further damage than a ball
through the arm of one of my escort, and that, fortunately, was
only a flesh wound."

"But tell me how it was that so small a party escaped so easily?"

Desmond then recounted the incidents of the fight.

"Admirably contrived, sir!" the duke said warmly. "Excellent
generalship! You first attack their centre and drive them off the
road, then you compel them to weaken themselves by throwing out
flanking parties. You keep these out of musket shot, and then
charge on their weakened centre after drawing their fire. I am not
surprised that, with such generalship, you got off almost
scatheless.

"And now, sir, I must ask you to come with me to the king. The
matter is too serious for a moment's delay. I must lay the whole
case before His Majesty."

Leaving Desmond in the antechamber, he went in to the king, read
the full report to him, and added the details he had heard from
Desmond.

"I have met with many bad cases of Spanish corruption and
peculation," the king said, when he had finished, "but this is by
far the worst. Steps must be taken instantly to secure the
governor, arrest the contractors, and fill up the magazines. What
do you propose?"

"I think, sir, that if we send forward, at once, a regiment of
French soldiers from Toledo, accompanied by Colonel Crofton's
regiment of dragoons, there is no likelihood that any resistance
will be offered--indeed, I should imagine that the governor will
have taken to flight, as soon as he learns that his plans for the
assassination of Major Kennedy have failed."

"So I should think," the king said; "and certainly he will have
warned his accomplices, the contractors; and probably, by this
time, they are all on their way either into Andalusia or to the
north. Any that are found shall certainly be hanged.

"This young officer of yours must be a wonderfully shrewd fellow.
I should like to question him as to how he discovered these
frauds."

Desmond was called in.

"This is Major Kennedy, Your Majesty," the duke said. "That is his
temporary rank, which I bestowed upon him in order to add weight
to his mission."

"I have noticed him before, cousin," Philip said, "when I had gone
to your quarters, and wondered to see so young a man in the
uniform of a captain.

"Now, sir, will you give me an account of how you discovered these
frauds?"

Desmond then related how he had caused the piles of barrels to be
opened out, so that he could examine those next to the wall as
well as those in front; and how he had similarly examined the
other stores.

"Very good, indeed, sir," the king said. "Most officers would have
contented themselves with, at most, counting the number of barrels
and sacks; and that you should have so thoroughly investigated the
matter shows both zeal and shrewdness."

"He has shown that on various occasions," the duke said, "as you
may judge from the promotion that he has received. As you see, by
the loss of his hand, he has suffered as well as fought on behalf
of France. When Your Majesty is at leisure I will, some evening,
relate to you a story which I heard from the king himself, of the
manner in which he, twice, rescued a fair damsel from an
evil-minded noble who carried her off."

"I shall hear it with pleasure, cousin. You say he holds only
temporary rank. I think that, after the signal service he has
rendered, it should be made substantial."

"I certainly intend to make it so," the duke said.

"Pardon, sir," Desmond said, "but, while thanking you for your
kindness, I would beg to be allowed to remain a captain. Already I
have obtained more promotion than others have done, after many
years of good service, and I should regret very much passing over
the heads of so many of my old companions."

"It is the first time that I have had promotion declined," the
duke said, smiling. "However, for the present, at least, I will
let the matter remain so."

With an expression of warm thanks, Desmond retired.

"We must lose no time over this matter," the king said. "For aught
we know, this scoundrel may be in communication with the enemy,
and may be prepared to open the gates of the fortress at the first
summons."

"I will act at once," the duke replied. "I will, this evening,
send orders to Toledo for a regiment to march at nine o'clock
tomorrow morning, and, if you will send a similar order to Colonel
Crofton, he will overtake the infantry before they get to
Almarez."

"I will do so, and will also send with them three field officers,
with full power to arrest, try, and execute all those who have
taken part in this treacherous fraud."

On the duke leaving the king, Desmond joined him in the
antechamber, and as they walked towards the French headquarters,
said:

"I hope, sir, that you will permit me to start tomorrow with any
force you may be sending, as I wish to carry out the rest of the
mission with which you entrusted me."

"By all means, do so if you wish it," the duke said. "Colonel
Crofton's regiment will start at nine o'clock tomorrow morning,
and you may accompany it. On the road it will overtake one of our
regiments from Toledo."



Chapter 16: Captured.


"I have a job for you, Mike."

"What is it, your honour?"

"I want you to take off all the marks of a field officer from my
clothes. I am going to be a captain again."

Mike looked with surprise at his master.

"Well, your honour, it is ungrateful bastes they must be. Sure I
thought that the least they could do was to make you a full major,
though if they had made you a colonel, it would be no more than
you deserve."

"I was offered the majority, Mike, but I declined it. It would be
absurd, at my age, to have such a rank, and I should be ashamed to
look officers of our brigade, who have done nigh twenty years of
good service and are still only captains, in the face. I would
much rather remain as I am."

"Well, it may be you are right, sir, but it is disappointed I am,
entirely."

"You will get over it, Mike," Desmond laughed.

"That may be," Mike said doubtfully, "but I should have felt
mighty proud of being a colonel's servant."

"I don't suppose you will ever be that, Mike. You know that, after
the last war was over, several of the Irish regiments were
disbanded, and no doubt it will be the same when this war is
finished, so you could not count upon seeing me a colonel, at any
rate not for another twenty years."

"Ah, your honour, I hope we shall be back in old Ireland years
before that!"

"I hope so, too, Mike. I have only been out here for two years,
and yet I am beginning to feel that I should like a quieter life.
No doubt the loss of my hand has something to do with that, but I
would give up, willingly, all chance of ever becoming a colonel,
if I could but settle down in the old country, though I fear there
is very little chance of that."

"But sure there may be fighting there, too, your honour," Mike
said; "and if King James goes across the water, there is sure to
be divarsion that way."

"I hope not, Mike. It is not that I do not feel as loyal as ever
to the cause of the Stuarts, but if they cannot come to their own
without Ireland being again deluged with blood, I would rather
they would stay away. Twice Ireland has suffered for the Stuarts:
first, when Cromwell came over, carrying fire and sword through
the land, and divided half the country among his followers; next,
when Dutch William did the same. I am loyal to the Stuarts, as I
said, but I am still more loyal to Ireland, and would rather that
King James remained all his life at Saint Germain, than that those
scenes should ever come again."

"That's true for you, sir; and when I come to think of it, I
should be just as easy and comfortable in a snug little cot in
Killarney, which is my county, whether King James or Queen Anne
was ruling it in England."

"Quite so, Mike; and if I had, as you say, a snug little cot to go
to, and an income to live comfortably in it, and no fear of being
hauled off to prison and hanged for joining the brigade, I should
not be sorry to settle down.

"We start back for Badajos tomorrow morning."

"Faith, your honour, it has been so hard getting away from there,
that I should not have thought you wished to put your foot inside
the place again. You might not be so lucky in getting off, next
time."

"We are going in a different way, Mike. Colonel Crofton's regiment
of Irish dragoons is going with us, and a French infantry regiment
from Toledo."

"Then I am well content to go back, your honour, and I hope we
shall see that murthering governor hung."

"I think you have a good chance of seeing that, Mike, if he has
not taken himself off before we arrive there; which I think he is
pretty sure to do, directly he hears we have got through safely;
for he will know that, as soon as my report is handed in, he is a
lost man."

"Bad cess to him! At any rate, I hope I shall light upon him some
day, sir, and pay him out for sending those fellows to kill you at
night, and to hinder us in the hills. As to his cheating the
Spaniards, that is their business, and they can reckon with him
for it; but I should like to pay our debt myself."

"I don't suppose there is much chance of your having an
opportunity of doing that."

"Then why are we going back, your honour?"

"To carry out my original orders, Mike--survey the roads, and
passes, and bridges. The duke cannot rely upon Spanish testimony
in these matters, and it is most important that we should
ascertain, accurately, how good are the roads by which he would
advance with the army into Portugal, or where best to oppose the
enemy if they cross the Guadiana."

"I am glad to hear you say so, sir, for I was afraid that we were
going to have a long stay here again, and I would rather be on
horseback, riding all over the country, than walking up and down
these streets till my feet fairly ache."

"That is my opinion, too, Mike. We have had a good many rides with
despatches, but between times it is stupid work, hanging about the
general's quarters waiting for orders."

The next morning, Desmond joined Colonel Crofton's regiment as it
was on the point of starting from the barracks. It was in the
service of Spain, and had taken a brilliant part in several
engagements. Desmond was acquainted with the colonel and his
officers.

"Good morning, Kennedy!" Crofton said, as he rode up and saluted
him. "I had a note from the Duke of Orleans, last night, saying
you were going on special service, and would travel with us as far
as Badajos. King Philip sent for me, later on, and himself gave me
instructions, besides handing me the written orders. It seems you
have discovered that the governor is mixed up, with a lot of
contractors, in swindling the state by supplying earth instead of
powder and flour."

"So far as the governor goes, Colonel, there is no absolute proof.
I have not the smallest doubt that he was the prime mover in the
matter, and that the commissaries only received a small portion of
the bribes paid to him. It is hardly possible that every one of
them should have betrayed his trust, unless sure of the governor's
protection. I cannot prove that he had all these men shot in order
to silence them, employed men to assassinate Colonel Mendez, or
set men to murder me in my hotel and afterwards to intercept us in
crossing the sierra. Still, I have no shadow of doubt in my mind
that it was so.

"However, I do not think you will find him at Badajos. No doubt,
as soon as he heard I had got safely down into the valley of the
Tagus, he made off. There is just a possibility that the
contractors, knowing that their lives will be forfeited by the
discovery of the frauds, might at once have sent in supplies of
powder, flour, and other things, to take the place of the casks
and sacks of earth; in which case he would probably deny the truth
of my statement altogether, and declare that I had simply invented
it in order to do credit to myself. But I hardly think that
possible. In the first place, there are the soldiers both of my
escort and of Colonel Mendez, who assisted in the work of
examination; besides which more than half the commissaries escaped
while this was taking place, and, on an offer of pardon, would no
doubt gladly come forward and give evidence, especially as the
execution of their comrades will have shown them that the governor
is determined to throw them over."

"Yes; I don't suppose we shall find the arch-scoundrel there,
unless, indeed, he can rely upon the support of his garrison; in
which case he may have ridden to Portugal, offering to surrender
the place at once to them, and will close his gates against us."

"I don't think there is any chance of that, Colonel. In the short
time during which I was there, I was able to see that the troops
were deeply discontented. They were almost in rags, and the
landlord of the inn told me that they were kept on the scantiest
rations, and those of a very inferior kind. So I do not think, for
a moment, he could trust them to act against a royal force."

Desmond's anticipation proved to be correct. As they descended
into the valley of the Guadiana, they met an officer of the
garrison, who was bearing a despatch from the senior military
officer, saying that the governor and his family had suddenly left
without issuing any orders, and, as he had taken all his portable
property with him, it was supposed that he did not intend to
return. Under these circumstances he wrote to ask for orders.

Colonel Crofton sent him back with instructions, to the colonel
commanding the troops, that he was coming with a regiment of
dragoons and one of infantry, and had full authority from the king
to take all measures that seemed to him desirable. Accordingly,
when they arrived at Badajos they were met, at the gate, by the
colonel commanding the troops, and a party of his officers.

"I have the king's authority," Colonel Crofton said to him, "to
act as temporary governor until another may be appointed. I do not
know whether you are aware of the circumstances that led to the
flight of Don Juan de Munos?"

"No, sir, we have heard nothing. Rumours were current, among the
men, that some strange discoveries were made when the stores were
examined, but beyond that I know nothing. In fact, at the time,
the assassination of Colonel Mendez of the artillery created such
an excitement that nothing else was spoken of."

"Well, Colonel, if you will accompany me to the governor's house,
I will enter into the matter fully with you. You may well believe
that it is serious, as I have been despatched here with my
regiment, and with one of French infantry, for both of whom
quarters must be found at once."

"There is plenty of room, sir. The barracks will contain ten
thousand men, and at present we have but four thousand here."

"Then I beg, Colonel, that instead of coming at once to my
quarters, you will tell off officers to conduct the troops to the
most convenient of the buildings now empty. After that, I shall be
glad to see you and the commanding officers of the other
regiments.

"You will, of course, take up your quarters at the governor's
house, Captain Kennedy," he went on, as he rode forward. "As you
are going to be employed in surveying duties, you will naturally
be a good deal away. But your presence here will be absolutely
necessary, as a witness against any of these rascally contractors
we can lay our hands on."

When the four colonels arrived, after seeing that the troops were
housed, Colonel Crofton obtained from them the names and addresses
of the various contractors; and, half an hour later, parties of
the cavalry regiment in garrison were despatched, under officers,
with orders to arrest and bring them into Badajos. During the
meal, Colonel Crofton explained to the four colonels the discovery
of the frauds, which naturally excited the greatest indignation
among them. He then requested them and Desmond to accompany him to
the stores. This they did, after sending to the barracks for a
party of fifty men for fatigue duty.

The gaps made during Desmond's explorations had been carefully
filled up again, but upon fresh openings being made, his reports
were fully borne out. Some hours were spent at the central
magazine, and orders given that the other magazines should be
opened and examined on the following day.

Desmond did not join in this search, but started early, with Mike,
to carry out his own mission. He had been furnished with reports,
sent in by the provincial and local juntas, as to the state of the
roads, but, as he had expected, he soon found these to be grossly
inaccurate. The roads marked as excellent, and fit for the passage
of artillery and trains, were found to be mere bridle roads.
Others, marked as highroads, were almost impassable lanes. The
bridges across the streams were, for the most part, in such a bad
condition as to be unsafe for a country cart and, until repaired,
impossible for the passage of artillery.

He carefully noted all the points at which work was required to
render them in any degree practicable for the passage of troops,
and reported fully to Colonel Crofton. The latter, who was
provided with full authority, despatched the greater portion of
his troops, with a large number of peasants, with materials to
fill up the deep ruts, repair the bridges, and make the roads, as
far as possible, fit for the passage of an army.

In ten days, Desmond had surveyed all the roads down both the
valley of the Guadiana and that of the Tagus, and had sent off his
report to Madrid, together with his observations as to the points
at which a defensive position could, in his opinion, be best taken
up. Having done this, he prepared to undertake the second part of
his mission, and to investigate the roads on the Portuguese side
of the frontier.

"Now we shall have to keep our eyes open, Mike," he said. "So far
as we have heard, there are no bodies of the enemy's troops
anywhere in this neighbourhood, but there is a bitter enmity
between the Spanish and Portuguese, and we shall be liable to be
attacked by the peasants."

"Are we to ride in our uniforms, your honour?"

"Certainly we are, Mike. If we are captured in uniform, we should
be dealt with as prisoners of war and have a right to fair
treatment. If we are taken in disguise, we shall be shot as
spies."

"Faith, your honour, the alternative is not a pleasant one. If we
go as civilians, we may be shot as spies; if we go in uniform, we
may be murdered by the peasants."

"That is so, Mike. But, you see, we are not likely to fall into
the hands of the peasants. We are both well mounted, and the
peasants will be on foot, and a great proportion of them unarmed;
so that, beyond the chance of being hit by a ball, the risk is not
great."

Accordingly, on the following day they rode out, and for nearly a
week examined the lines of route across the frontier. They
followed the roads between the foot of the mountains and the
frontier, as far as Portalegre, but avoided the towns of Campo
Mayor and Arronches; crossed the hills, and struck upwards by the
bank of the Zarina to Frontiera, and thence west as far as Lavre.
They met with no interference by such peasants as they saw working
in the fields, or by those in the small villages through which
they passed, these supposing the uniforms to be those of English
or Dutch officers.

They found that the roads were fully as bad as those of Spain, and
would present great difficulty to any army with artillery and a
long train of waggons. In one of the places they heard from a
peasant, with whom they conversed, that there was another pass
over the mountains from Elvas. Of course, the man spoke in
Portuguese, but the language sufficiently resembled Spanish for
Desmond to understand its meaning.

"We must investigate that road, Mike, for, if it is practicable,
it would be the most direct for an army coming from Lisbon. Of
course, we shall have to make a wide circle round Elvas, as there
is sure to be a strong garrison there, and any soldiers riding
about the country would be certain to know that our uniform was
French. When we have done that road, we shall have finished our
work."

Accordingly, they passed round the fortress at a distance, and
presently came upon the road. It showed signs of having lately
been repaired, in some parts, but these were so badly done that
they increased rather than diminished the difficulties it
presented to the passage of troops. They had ridden some ten
miles, and were already among the mountains, when they dismounted
to rest their horses and to eat the food they carried with them.

Suddenly, looking down the road behind them, they saw a squadron
of cavalry coming along.

"This is awkward, Mike. There is nothing for it, now, but to ride
on, and when we have reached the foot of the mountains on the
other side, strike across country until we come upon the road
running direct to Badajos. They are a good two miles behind us, so
we need not blow our horses."

Mounting, they proceeded at a trot up the road. As far as they
could see, the cavalry behind them did not quicken their pace,
which showed that they were on some ordinary duty and not, as
Desmond at first supposed, in pursuit of them, some peasant
having, perhaps, taken word that an officer and soldier in strange
uniform had been seen riding round the town. They therefore took
matters quietly, and indeed, sometimes the road was so steep that
it would have been impossible for the horses to go beyond a quick
walk.

Suddenly, on reaching the crest of the rise, they saw, at a
distance of a hundred yards ahead of them, a party of officers,
followed by an escort of dragoons.

"We are caught this time, Mike!" Desmond exclaimed. "Escape is
impossible. I will ride straight up and surrender. Fortunately
they are English uniforms, so we are certain to get fair
treatment, which we could not be sure of, had they been
Portuguese."

So saying, he rode forward at a trot. The party had drawn rein at
his approach, and he rode up to one who was evidently a general
officer.

"Sir, I surrender as a prisoner of war. My name is Kennedy, and I
am a captain on the staff of the Duke of Orleans."

"And what are you doing here, sir?"

"I am surveying the road, General, by which the allied army is
likely to advance. Our information on that score is very
defective, and I believe the duke wishes to ascertain, from my
report, the state of the roads by which the advance would most
probably be made."

The general's question had been in French, and he replied in the
same language.

"You do not bear a French name, sir," the general said.

"No, sir, I am an Irishman," Kennedy replied, in English. "I
belonged, before I received a staff appointment, to one of the
regiments of the Irish Brigade."

"You are a daring fellow, thus to venture so far across the
frontier."

"I simply obeyed my orders, sir; and, had I been ordered to
reconnoitre Lisbon, I should have attempted to do so."

"Well, sir, I shall have an opportunity of talking to you, later
on. I, as you see, am engaged in precisely the same work as you
are; namely, in ascertaining, for myself, the state of the roads
across these mountains."

"Then, General," Desmond said, with a smile, "I should say that
your investigations are hardly satisfactory."

The general also smiled.

"Not so much so as I could wish," he said. "And now, may I ask
why, seeing that you are well mounted, you did not turn and ride
for it, when you first perceived us?"

"The reason is simple, General. A squadron of cavalry were coming
up behind me, and there was evidently no possibility of escape."

"No doubt they were sent out to meet me. Well, sir, if you will
give me your word not to attempt to escape, you can retain your
sword, and ride with us."

"I give my parole, sir, with many thanks for your courtesy."

"And now, Captain Kennedy," the other went on, "it is probable
that you have, about you, the result of your investigations along
these roads, which I must request you to hand to me; as it may be
as useful, to me, as it would have been to the Duke of Orleans,
and may save me a good deal of trouble."

Desmond took out the notebook in which he had, each day, jotted
down the result of his observations, with suggestions as to the
points where repairs were most needed. He had each night, on his
return to Badajos, written up his reports from these, intending,
when he had completed the work, to take it himself to Madrid.

The general glanced through the notebook.

"You have done your work very thoroughly, Captain Kennedy, and
have rendered me considerable service. Now, we will move forward
again. Please follow with my aides-de-camp."

These were two pleasant young men, who were glad of a talk with an
officer from the other side.

"How long have you been riding about here, if it is fair to put
the question?" one said.

As the notebook contained all the particulars of his journeys on
that side of the frontier, Desmond replied at once:

"Eight days, I think. I have been up the road to Portalegre, and
by that to Lavre; and if I had not, unfortunately, accidentally
heard of this road over the mountains, I should now be on my way
to Madrid; but luck has been against me."

"Promotion must be very rapid in your army," the other
aide-de-camp said, "or you would hardly be a captain already."

"I was fortunate enough to attract the notice of the King of
France, and the Duke of Berwick, on various occasions, and when
one has such a piece of good fortune as that, promotion is rapid."

"It is lucky for you that you fell into the hands of the Earl of
Galway, instead of into those of the Portuguese generals, who
would probably, in spite of your uniform, have made short work of
you."

"I did not know that the general was the Earl of Galway," Desmond
said. "Certainly, it was lucky that I fell into his hands. Indeed,
if I had not seen the English uniforms, I should have turned and
charged the squadron behind us; preferring very much to be killed
fighting, than to be hanged or shot like a dog."

In a few minutes they met the squadron of cavalry, who had, as the
general supposed, been sent out by the Governor of Elvas to meet
him. Half of these now took their place in front, and the
remainder, drawing aside to let the party pass, fell in behind.
Mike had, without orders, fallen in with the earl's escort; and
more than once Desmond heard his laugh, as he chatted with the
troopers. On arriving at Elvas, the general directed his
aides-de-camp to obtain a room, for Desmond, in the house in which
they were quartered; and as no one attended to him, Mike undertook
his usual duties as his servant.

The next morning, one of the aides-de-camp came in, and said:

"The general wishes to speak to you, Captain Kennedy."

On entering the general's apartment, the earl asked him to take a
seat.

"I could not see you yesterday evening," he began, "as I was learning
from the Governor the state of the stores here. I should like to have
a talk with you. May I ask you, in the first place, how you have so
early attained the rank of captain? My aide-de-camp tells me that you
said you had attracted the notice of the King of France. It must have
been by some singular action, and as I have an hour to spare, before
I ride out, I shall be glad if you can tell me some particulars about
yourself; unless, indeed, they are of a private nature."

"Not at all, sir. The story is generally known to members of the
court at Versailles, and indeed to all Paris;" and he then related
to the earl the story of his release of Anne de Pointdexter from
her imprisonment, the journey to the south, the attack on the
party by the Vicomte de Tulle, and her second rescue from him.

"Thank you, sir," the general said, when he had concluded. "I am
not surprised that, after so romantic an adventure, the King of
France took notice of an officer who had shown such courage and
intelligence. You see, sir, that you and I are, to a certain
extent, in a similar position. From motives of religion,
principally, you Irish have left your country, and are fighting
for a foreign monarch. I, as you are doubtless aware, belong to a
French Huguenot family, and, being forced to leave France by the
severe edicts, entered the service of Holland, and followed the
fortunes of King William, and am now fighting against the troops
of the country of my birth. In other respects, there is a
similarity. We have both lost a hand in the service of our adopted
countries; I at the siege of Badajos, and you at--?"

"Oudenarde, sir."

"I have been thinking it over," the general went on. "I might, of
course, send you to Lisbon as a prisoner, but one extra prisoner
would not largely benefit my government. You have not been taken
in action. Your papers have saved me an immense deal of trouble,
for we are no more able to rely upon the information given by the
Portuguese than, I should think, the Duke of Orleans can upon that
of the Spaniards.

"Therefore, sir, I think that, in the present case, I can make an
exception to the rule. In an hour I shall mount and ride down the
road to Badajos, and I shall there restore your liberty to you,
and permit you to recross the frontier. It would be a thousand
pities that so young and gallant an officer should waste, perhaps,
some years of his life in an English prison, for the number of
prisoners taken in Flanders is so great that it is impossible for
the French to find officers to exchange for them. You will
understand that, dealing with allies so jealous and susceptible as
the Portuguese, I can hardly take the step of releasing you, as it
would be at once rumoured that I had been in communication with a
French officer, doubtless from some sinister motive.

"I think, Captain Kennedy, that it would be as well," he said with
a smile, "that you should withdraw your parole, and do so before
we start, in the presence of the officers of my staff. Of course,
you must be placed under a very strict guard, and although so near
the frontier, you will find it very difficult to escape. Still,
such things are managed."

"I thank you most deeply, sir," Desmond said, understanding the
tone in which the earl spoke, "and I shall ever retain a deep
feeling of gratitude for your generosity."

When the party assembled, in readiness to mount, Desmond walked up
to the earl, and said in a tone that could be heard by the
officers round:

"Sir, I have changed my mind, and beg to be allowed to withdraw my
parole."

"You are at liberty to do so, Captain Kennedy; but nevertheless I
shall take you with us today. I shall not, of course, ask you to
give any information as to matters on the other side of the
frontier, but there are points on which you could inform me,
without detriment to your friends."

"That I shall be happy to do, sir."

The earl called up four troopers.

"You will place this officer and his servant between you," he
said, "and keep a vigilant lookout upon their movements."

Desmond had not even told Mike of the conversation with the earl,
thinking it better that he should remain in ignorance that this
escape was connived at by an English general, and his follower was
therefore greatly astonished when he heard that his master had
withdrawn his parole, and that they were henceforth to be strictly
guarded. The party rode until they reached a rise from which they
could obtain a view of Badajos, and of the country extending far
up the valley of the Guadiana. The ground in front of them sloped
gradually.

The earl took his place with two or three officers of his staff,
fifty yards in front of the rest, and, dismounting, examined
Badajos with his telescope. Then he asked one of his aides-de-camp
to bring Captain Kennedy to him.

"You may as well bring his servant, too," he added. "No doubt he
knows the country as well as his master does, and may not be so
unwilling to answer questions."

The order was carried out, and Desmond and Mike rode up with the
aide-de-camp, followed closely by the four troopers. The earl at
once began to question Desmond as to the names of the villages
visible up the valley. He had remounted now, but his staff, who
had dismounted when he did, remained on their feet, as it was
evident that he had no intention of moving forward for some time.

While they were speaking, the earl, accompanied by Desmond, rode
forward some twenty yards, as if to obtain a better view. Mike had
followed him, but the four troopers remained behind the group of
officers, having no orders to follow the general so closely.

"This is good ground for galloping, Captain Kennedy," the earl
said quietly. "You are within two miles of Badajos."

"Thank you deeply, sir.

"Now, Mike, ride for it!" and, spurring his horse, he dashed off
at a headlong gallop.

There was a shout of surprise, the officers of the staff ran to
their horses, which were being held by the orderlies, and the four
troopers at once galloped forward, snatching their carbines from
the slings.

"Do not fire," the earl shouted as they passed. "Take them alive."

As the officers came up, the general signalled to them to stop.

"Don't go farther, gentlemen," he said. "The troopers will
doubtless overtake them; but for aught we know, there may be a
Spanish force in the village just on the other side of the
frontier, and, instead of capturing two prisoners, you might be
taken or shot yourself; and I am not disposed to lose any of my
staff, just as we are about to commence operations in earnest."

Desmond looked back. He saw that only the four dragoons were
following.

"They will not overtake us, Mike," he said, "our horses are
certainly better than theirs."

Indeed, they had increased their lead fast. A few minutes later,
they heard a trumpet call in their rear, and their pursuers at
once checked their horses, and rode back in answer to the recall.

"Tare an' ages," Mike exclaimed, "but that was nately managed. Who
would have thought that they would have let us give them the slip
so easily!"

"Well, Mike--but this you must never mention to a soul--the earl
gave us this chance of escape, I believe. He had, you know, a long
talk with me, and said that they had so many French officers
captured in Flanders, that one more or less would make little
difference. He had asked about my adventures, and seemed much
interested in them, and remarked that our positions were somewhat
similar, both being exiles on account of our religion, and so
serving in foreign armies against our own countrymen. At any rate,
it was on his suggestion that I withdrew my parole not to attempt
to escape."

"Then he is a rale gintleman, sir, and mighty obliged I feel to
him, for I have had enough of English prisons, though indeed, it
was only three or four days that I stopped at Harwich."

The party on the hill had watched the pursuit, until the earl
said:

"Well, gentlemen, I fancy he has slipped from our hands. I admit
that I am hardly sorry, for he was a very fine young fellow, and
it would have been a pity for him to be spending, perhaps some
years of the best part of his life, in prison.

"Captain Chetwynde, will you order the trumpeter to sound the
recall? They are leaving our men behind fast. It is no use losing
four troopers as well as two prisoners."

More than one quiet smile was exchanged between the English
officers, for, from the tone in which the earl spoke, they had no
doubt that he was by no means sorry at Desmond's escape, and that
possibly he had even taken him forward with him to afford him a
chance of making it. They had, indeed, been a little surprised
that, when Desmond withdrew his parole, the earl had not ordered
him into strict confinement, instead of taking him with him on his
reconnaissance.

The pursuit over, Desmond rode on at a canter to Badajos, and
reported to Colonel Crofton that he had been taken prisoner, but
had managed to effect his escape, as he was but carelessly
guarded.

"I shall now, sir, return to Madrid. I have completed the work I
was told to carry out, and shall finish writing up my report this
afternoon, and start tomorrow morning."

"I congratulate you on your escape. The Portuguese are not very
particular, and might, as likely as not, have paid small regard to
the fact that you were in uniform."

"Fortunately, sir, it was not by them that I was captured, but by
a small party of English dragoons, who were, I fancy, like myself,
investigating the state of the roads."

Desmond had not been called upon to give evidence before the
commission of enquiry, it being found that all the contractors had
left their homes, a week before the troops arrived at Badajos,
taking all portable property with them. Some had apparently gone
to Andalusia, while others had made for Catalonia. All had
unquestionably made a considerable sum of money by their frauds,
and would take good care not to fall into the hands of the French.

"They will never be able to return here," Desmond remarked to
Colonel Crofton.

The latter smiled.

"You do not know these people yet, Captain Kennedy, or you would
not say so. Some of these fellows are certainly among the richest
men in the province, and we may be quite sure that, in a very
short time, when the affair has blown over, they will, partly by
influence and more by bribery, obtain from the central junta an
order that no proceedings shall be taken against them. Anything
can be done with money in Spain. There are many upright and
honourable Spaniards, but very few of them take any part in public
affairs, and would not associate with such men as those who are in
the ascendant in all the provincial juntas, and even in the
central body in Madrid.

"In France there is distress enough, and no doubt the men who farm
the taxes are no more scrupulous than they are in Spain, but there
is not the same general corruption, and the French nobility,
haughty and despotic to their tenants as they may be, are not
corrupt, and would scorn to take a bribe. Now that there is a
French king on the throne here, there may be, when matters have
settled down, some improvement; but it will be a long time,
indeed, before the nation can be regenerated, and even the king
will soon find that, if he is to reign peaceably, he must not
interfere too violently with methods that are so common that they
have come to be accepted as inevitable, even by the people who
suffer by them.

"I can assure you that I, myself, have been many times approached
by men who supply forage and other things to the regiment, and
when I have indignantly refused to entertain any proposals
whatever, they have not been at all abashed, but have said boldly
that it was the general custom. I do not believe they thought any
the better of me for refusing even to listen to their offers, but
regarded me as a sort of Don Quixote, with ridiculously
exaggerated ideas of honour."

On the morning following his return to Badajos, Desmond started on his
way to Madrid. Although this time he had no apprehension whatever of a
planned attack, he thought it safer and better to travel north from
Badajos, and skirt the foot of the sierras until he reached the banks
of the Tagus, where there was a strong garrison in each of the towns,
and the country was, in consequence, free from the incursions of bands
from the hills. The journey passed without an incident, and on reaching
Madrid and presenting his report, he received high commendation from
the Duke of Orleans, and spent a long day with the general's staff,
explaining his report, and going into details as to the nature of the
roads, the repairs necessary, and the positions which were, in his
opinion, most suitable for battle.

On the following day, the members of the staff were all summoned
to meet him by the Duke of Orleans, who informed them that he had
received a sudden summons to return to Paris, and that Marshal de
Bay would, in his absence, be in command of the French troops. The
announcement came as a great surprise to Desmond, but was not
unexpected by the other officers.

During the winter, the King of France had been engaged in efforts
to bring about a general peace, and had offered terms that showed
he was ready to make any sacrifices to procure it. The allies, on
the contrary, were bent upon continuing the war. The victory of
Oudenarde, the capture of Lille, Namur, and other fortresses,
opened the way to Paris, and knowing the general distress that
prevailed in France, they raised their demands higher and higher,
as they perceived the anxiety of Louis for peace.

One of the obstacles to this was the situation in Spain, and it was
reported that Louis was ready to yield on this point also, and not
only to consent to the cession of the Spanish dominion in Spain,
but to his grandson Philip surrendering the crown to the Archduke
Charles; and that, ere long, the French troops would be withdrawn
altogether. While, during the month that had elapsed since Desmond
first left Madrid, these rumours had increased in strength, it was
known that couriers were constantly passing to and fro, between
Madrid and Versailles, with private communications between Louis and
Philip; and there was great excitement, in Madrid, at the rumour of
this desertion of their king by France.

The rumours were indeed correct. The king had informed Philip
that, great as was the affection he bore for him, the state of
France, which was necessarily his chief care, would compel him,
ere long, to recall his troops from Spain. Philip had entreated
him not to desert him, and declared that, in any case, he would
remain in Spain, confiding in the support of the people who had
selected him as their monarch. At present, however, the
communications were proceeding, and nothing definite had been
arranged.

The whole of the staff were to remain with Marshal de Bay, in the
same position as they had held under the duke, and, except for the
departure of the prince, matters went on as before.



Chapter 17: An Old Friend.


The command had been effected so suddenly that Desmond had not
been able to make up his mind to request the Duke of Orleans, to
whom he had been attached personally, rather than to the French
army in Spain, to allow him to return with him to France, in order
that he might again join the Duke of Berwick. Before, however, he
could decide whether to do so or not, the duke had taken his
departure.

Desmond spoke to the head of the staff, with whom he had been
constantly thrown in contact before he left Madrid, and whilst
explaining to him, on his return, the details of his report, asked
him for his advice.

"I should think you had better remain here, Captain Kennedy. There
is likely to be a great battle fought, in a few weeks; but if the
rumours we hear are correct, we may not be here very much longer.
Certainly I hope there will be no change until then, for if we win
the battle, and so relieve Spain from the risk of invasion for a
time, we can leave the country with a better grace, as Philip
would then only have to battle with his rebellious subjects in
Catalonia."

"I should certainly not wish to leave when a great battle is about
to be fought," Desmond said, "and will, therefore, continue to
serve under the Marshal de Bay until it is certain what is going
to be done."

In a short time a general movement of the troops, both Spanish and
French, began. Desmond and the other aides-de-camp were actively
employed in keeping up communication between the various columns,
which were to assemble near Badajos. Moving forward at the same
rate as the troops, the march was a pleasant one. It was April
now, the country looked bright, and the heat was not too great for
marching.

The marshal had gone on with the greater portion of his staff,
Desmond having been detailed to accompany the division from
Toledo. When within two days' march of Badajos, an orderly brought
a note from the marshal, requesting him to ride forward at once.
This he did without loss of time.

Marshal de Bay had taken up his quarters at Badajos, and on
arriving in the town, Desmond alighted at the governor's house.

"It was a stupid mistake of mine," the head of the staff said, "in
sending you on detached duty. I forgot at the moment, when I
nominated you, that your knowledge of the locality would be
invaluable to us. I only thought of it yesterday when, on the
marshal asking for some information on this matter, I pulled out
your report. He examined it and said, 'This is very complete and
valuable, Colonel. Whom is it made by?'

"'By an officer of your staff, sir, Captain Kennedy.'

"'Where is he?'

"'He is coming down with the Toledo column, sir.'

"'Please send for him at once,' he said. 'One of the others should
have been detached for that service. He is just the man we want
here.'

"Accordingly we sent for you, and here you are."

"This is an excellent report of yours, sir," the duke said, when
the colonel introduced Desmond to him. "As we came down, I noticed
that the roads had, in many cases, been thoroughly repaired at the
points mentioned in your report as being particularly bad, and the
bridges in many places greatly strengthened. Had it not been for
that, I do not know how I should have got my guns along.

"And now, sir, I want to ask you a few questions as to the road on
the other side. By your report, I see that you consider the road
through Campo Mayor to be the only one by which an army could
move, and that a large body of workmen must be employed to make
the other road fit for the passage of cannon."

He then asked a number of questions concerning this road.

"I see," he said, "you have marked several places, in your report,
where an enemy coming down that road could post themselves
strongly, and others which might be defended to advantage by us."

"Yes, sir; but of course, the suitability of those places would
depend largely upon the respective strength of the armies."

The marshal nodded approvingly.

"From all I hear from our agents in Lisbon," he said, "the enemy's
forces will be superior to our own in numbers, but the main
portion are Portuguese, who have shown very little fight,
hitherto. Their cavalry are almost entirely Portuguese. The only
really fighting portion of their forces are the English and Dutch,
who are most formidable foes; but against these we have our French
regiments, on whose bravery we can rely. Were it not that I think
the Portuguese will probably, as at the battle of Almanza, fly as
soon as the engagement begins, I should fall back and take up a
strongly defensive position. As it is, in spite of their superior
numbers, I think we can meet them on an equal field."

The conversation lasted over an hour, and then Desmond retired,
leaving Colonel Villeroy with the marshal. As he left the house,
an officer standing at the door seized his hand.

"My dear Kennedy," he said, "who would have thought that we should
have met again here!"

Desmond staggered back. He could not, for a moment, believe the
evidence of his eyes and ears.

"Why, O'Neil, I thought you were dead."

"I am worth a good many dead men, yet," the other one laughed.
"Let us go into this wine shop and crack a bottle. We can then
talk over matters quietly."

"And O'Sullivan, is he alive too?" Desmond asked.

"No, poor fellow. He has never been heard of since that tremendous
licking we got. There is not a shadow of hope."

Then many questions were asked, on both sides; and when these were
answered, Desmond said:

"Now about yourself, O'Neil. I thought I was the only one that got
through safe."

"So you were, for the other three of us were all on our backs."

"But we did not hear of you as among the prisoners, of whom a list
was furnished by Marlborough."

"No; the name of Patrick O'Neil did not appear. I was shot through
the body, and during the night I lay insensible, but in the
morning I opened my eyes and began to think. It seemed to me that
the name was not one that would be likely to please. In the first
place, because it was evident, by my age, that I was not one of
the Limerick men; in the next place, because of that little matter
of my escape from the jail in London. I had no fear of being shot.
I should be a prisoner of war, but I should not be likely to be
over kindly treated, and when they exchanged prisoners I should
certainly not be one of those sent back. You see, what with
Blenheim and Ramillies and Oudenarde, they had taken ten of our
officers for every one of their officers captured by us, so I
thought it best to pass as a French officer.

"It was easy to do so, as my French was good enough to pass
anywhere, and, you see, I had on a French staff uniform. Luckily
my horse had been shot at the same time as I was. He was lying
dead beside me, and within reach of my arm, so that I was able to
lean over and get my flask from one of the holsters. I had a
terrible thirst on me, and could have drunk a barrel.

"As I heard no firing, I knew that the fighting was over; and in
two or three hours a party came along with a stretcher, having a
doctor with them. When he saw that my eyes were open, and that I
was alive, he examined my wound and shook his head.

"'He is badly hit,' he said, 'but you may as well carry him in.'

"So they took me into Oudenarde, which had been turned into a big
hospital.

"'You are not to speak,' the doctor said to me, before they lifted
me up. 'You must keep yourself perfectly quiet.'

"When they got me into the hospital, they found a hole behind as
well as in front, which I heard one of the doctors say was a good
thing. They dressed the wounds and left me. I could see by their
faces, the next time they came, that they were surprised to see me
alive. One of them said to the other:

"'The bullet must have passed through him without touching any
vital point. He may do yet.'

"He bent down, and asked me in French what my name was, and I said
'Victor Dubosc, lieutenant;' so they stuck a card with my name
over my bed, and asked me no more questions. I lay there for six
weeks, and then I was well enough to get up and walk about.

"Three weeks later, I went down with some other convalescents to
Ostend, and there we were embarked, and taken to Portsmouth. Then
we were put in boats and rowed to Porchester, which is a place at
the end of a sort of lake behind Portsmouth. There was an old
castle there, with a mighty high wall, enclosing a lot of ground,
where there were huts--rows of them--all filled with our
prisoners. Some of the huts were a little better than others, and
these were for the use of officers. A regiment of soldiers was in
tents outside the walls, and a hundred men were always on guard
with loaded muskets.

"I said to myself, often and often, 'If Kennedy were here, he
would soon hit upon some plan for getting away;' but for the life
of me, I could not see how it was to be managed. It was a dull
time, I can tell you. The food was bad, and the cooking was worse.
Only a few officers were there, most of them being sent to some
place a long distance inland; but, as we were all wounded, I
suppose they thought that the loss of blood would keep us quiet.

"One of the officers, having a little money hidden about him,
bought a pack of cards from an English soldier, and we passed most
of our time playing; but it was poor work, for we had nothing to
play for. At last, I said to myself, 'Patrick O'Neil, there must
be an end of this or your brain will go altogether. It is not
worth much at the best of times, or it would have thought of some
plan for getting out of this place before now.'

"At last, I hit on a plan. It was a dangerous one, there was no
doubt of that; but as I was desperate, I did not think much of the
danger. The worst they could do was to shoot me, which I suppose
is what they would have done. My idea was to pounce suddenly on
one of the sentries, who kept guard all night; to gag him, and tie
him up, before he could give the alarm; and then to dress up in
his clothes, and take his matchlock.

"But the difficulty was, what was I to do next. The soldiers came
on duty for twelve hours, coming in at six in the morning and
going out at six in the evening.

"It was clear to me that it could only be done in the dark, and I
had to wait for nearly two months. It was the beginning of October
before it was dark enough, at six in the morning, for me to fall
in with the others and march out without being noticed.

"At last, the time came. I stole out of my hut an hour before the
change would be made, and crept along quietly, till I heard a
sentry marching up and down between our huts and those of the
soldiers. I had torn up a blanket into strips, and twisted them
together to make ropes; and with these in one hand, and a big
piece ready to shove into his mouth in the other, I stole up close
to him; and when he turned his back to me, I jumped upon him.
Luckily, instead of carrying the musket on his shoulder, he had it
under his arm, so that I was able to seize the lock with one hand,
and clutch him by the throat with the other. I gripped pretty
hard, and the man, in half a minute, slipped down to the ground.

"Before he could recover, I had stripped off his coatee and cloak;
then I tied his hands and feet, fastened the gag firmly in his
mouth, and dragged him in between two huts, where he would not be
found till morning. Then I took off my own coat and threw it over
him, for the night was chilly, and put on his cloak and shako, and
took his place.

"In half an hour I heard a tramp of men, and knew the relief had
entered. Then there was a bugle call, and two or three sentries
passed towards the entrance. I ran on, too. When they fell in, I
managed to get in the last section. Some sergeants ran down the
line counting the men, and reported that all were present. The
gates were opened, and we marched out.

"As soon as we got among the tents, we fell out, and I had no
difficulty whatever in getting off without being observed. Leaving
my musket and shako behind me, I went up a long lane which brought
me on to the main road, crossed that, climbed a hill beyond, and
came down into a wooded country.

"At the first cottage I came to, I stopped. A man and woman came
out on my knocking. They looked kindly and good tempered, and I
told them a pitiful story, about how I had been unjustly accused
of striking an officer, and had been sentenced to two hundred
lashes; and that I had managed, in the night, to cut a slit in the
back of the guard tent and escape.

"As I had been walking along, a sudden thought had struck me. At
Oudenarde, I was wearing the same boots I had worn when we were
captured together. When we took the money out, we each left, if
you remember, five pieces of gold in one of our boots, which I had
never thought of till that day; and, as I came along, I opened the
sole and took them out. It was a perfect godsend, as you may
guess.

"The man and his wife expressed such sympathy that I did not
hesitate to say: 'I want to get rid of my coatee, and of this
cloak. The coatee would be of no use to you, and you had best burn
it, but the cloak, if you alter it, might be useful; or, if you cut
it up, will make a cover for your bed. I will give you that and a
gold piece--it is a French one I got in the wars, but you can change
it easily enough, when you go into the town marketing--if you will
give me a suit of your clothes.'

"This the man readily consented to do, and the woman set before me
a large bowl of milk, and some bread, which I ate as soon as I had
put on a pair of breeches, smock, and broad hat. Now I felt
perfectly safe. They might send news all over the country of the
escape of a French officer, but as I had never spoken a word of
English, from the time that I was taken, no one would suspect a
countryman speaking English to be the man whom they were in search
of.

"After leaving the cottage, I travelled quietly to Rye. I thought
it best to go there, for it was likely that it would be difficult,
elsewhere, for an unknown man to get a passage to France, and it
struck me that the man who took us across before, would carry me
over the first time he was going with despatches. I found him
easily enough, and though I was not dressed quite in the same way
as I was when we called on him before, he recognized me at once.

"'Another job for me?' he asked.

"'Not a special one,' I said. 'I am going across again, but there
is no occasion for you to make a special trip, and indeed my
employer forgot to give me an order upon you. I should have gone
back, if I had remembered it, but I thought you would not mind
giving me a passage the next time you sailed across.'

"As the man remembered that we had made ourselves pleasant on
board, he agreed at once to take me, next time the boat should be
going. I laid out a pound in getting a coat more suitable for
travelling in France than the peasant's smock. Then I took a
lodging in a small inn.

"Three days later, a messenger came down with an order for the man
to take him across at once, and as the captain charged me nothing
for my passage, I had enough left to pay for my place in a
diligence, and on arriving in Paris duly reported myself, at the
barracks, as having returned.

"My first enquiry, of course, was about you and O'Sullivan. I
found that he had never been heard of, but that you had lost a
hand, and had been promoted to a captaincy; had been very ill, and
had gone to the south of France on sick leave.

"After I heard that, I remained for two or three months at the
depot, and then learned that the Duke of Berwick had just arrived
from Dauphiny. I at once went to see him. He told me he could not
put me on his staff again, as his numbers were complete, but would
give me a letter to the Duke of Orleans, asking him to employ me
in that capacity. When I got down here, I found that the duke had
left, and that the Marshal de Bay was in command.

"On reading Berwick's letter, he at once appointed me one of his
aides-de-camp. You were away, I found to my great disappointment,
and I was sent off into Catalonia, with orders for four battalions
to be sent at once to Badajos. I arrived here yesterday, in time
for the shindy."

"Fortunately, O'Neil, I do not think there is much fear of another
Oudenarde. There is no royal duke here, to interfere with our
general; and the Portuguese are not to be compared with the
Hanoverians, and Dutch, and the other allies that fought against
us there."

"I hear, from the others, that you have been occupied in
reconnoitring the country."

"Yes, and I was captured, but was fortunately able to give them
the slip."

Desmond did not care to tell even his friend that his escape was
due to the kindness of the British general.

The next morning, Desmond was sent off to hurry up a body of
troops which was still some seven or eight marches away. The news
had come that the allied army was in motion, and would probably
concentrate near Portalegre. This seemed to show that they
intended to invade Spain by Badajos, and the valley of the
Guadiana; for, had their aim been to advance up the valley of the
Tagus, to Madrid, they would have marched towards Montalvao, and
so on by Alcantara to Almarez.

After two days' hard riding he met the column, which, on receiving
the order from the marshal to hasten forward with all speed,
performed double marches until they arrived at Badajos. Desmond
found that the allies had not wasted their time, and that their
advance guard was already at Campo Mayor. The Spanish army were
posted on the Caya river, a stream that flowed down from the
sierra, and fell into the Guadiana at Badajos.

Their position was a defensive one. The army of the allies was
known to be some twenty-two thousand strong, of whom some five
thousand were cavalry. The Spanish had about the same strength of
cavalry, but were inferior in infantry. The number of guns also
was about equal, both sides having about forty cannon.

On the 7th of May, the two armies faced each other on opposite
sides of the river Caya. As neither party made any movement of
advance, Marshal de Bay determined to force on an engagement, and
sent orders to the cavalry to cross the river, and to place
themselves on the road between the enemy and Campo Mayor.

The allies suffered, as the French had done at Oudenarde, by
conflicting counsels. The Earl of Galway was in command of the
British, and of two or three Dutch regiments. The Marquis de
Frontiera was in command of the Portuguese, who formed by far the
greater portion of the force, and, as soon as the movement was
seen on the other side of the river, he determined to cross and
attack the Spaniards.

The Earl of Galway was strongly of opinion that it would not be
wise to take the offensive, but that the army should remain in its
present position, until the intentions of the enemy were clearly
ascertained. Their cavalry, he urged, could do little by
themselves, and it was evident that the infantry could not be
attacked while they remained under the shelter of the guns of the
fortress. The Marquis de Frontiera, however, and the other
Portuguese generals, were unanimous in insisting that battle
should be given at once, and the former gave orders for the
Portuguese cavalry, with a body of foot and five field pieces, to
march immediately.

Seeing that, if unsupported, this force must meet with disaster,
the Earl of Galway reluctantly ordered the troops under his
command to advance. The river was fordable, and they met with no
opposition, until they crossed it and formed up in order of
battle. The Portuguese horse were now divided on each wing, the
British were in the centre; a portion of the Portuguese infantry
were on either flank, the rest were in the rear.

"Captain Kennedy, you will carry my orders at once, to our
cavalry, to charge the Portuguese horse on the right wing."

Desmond saluted, and was about to ride off, when he paused a
moment and asked:

"May I charge with Brigadier Crofton's dragoons, sir?"

The marshal nodded, and Desmond galloped off. Crofton was in
command of the first line of cavalry. His own regiment, which was
composed partly of Irishmen and partly of Spaniards, was in the
centre of the line.

After delivering his orders to the general commanding the cavalry,
Desmond rode on to Crofton.

"The cavalry are going to charge, sir," he said, "and I have
permission to ride with you."

Crofton waited until the order from the general arrived, and then,
drawing his sword, shouted, "The first brigade will charge," and,
riding forward, led the way against the Portuguese horse, whose
cannon had already opened fire. The Portuguese fell into disorder
as soon as they saw the long line of horsemen charging down on
them like a torrent, and when it neared them broke and fled. They
were soon overtaken, great numbers were cut down, and the
remainder galloped off, a panic-stricken mob, and did not draw
rein until they reached Campo Mayor.

The Spaniards at once turned the five cannon the fugitives had
left behind them upon the allied infantry, and then, after a few
rounds had been fired, the cavalry charged the British infantry.
But they had now foes of a different metal to reckon with, and
although, three times, the horsemen reformed their ranks and
hurled themselves against the infantry, they were each time
repulsed with heavy loss.

Then, swerving round, they fell on the Portuguese infantry in the
second line, whom they dispersed as easily as they had defeated
the cavalry.

The Earl of Galway now brought up the brigade of Brigadier General
Pierce, which consisted of the two British regiments of Barrimore
and Stanwix, and a Spanish regiment which had been recently raised
and named after himself. These charged the enemy with great
bravery, drove back their infantry for some distance, recovered
the five guns the cavalry had lost, and, still pressing forward,
fought their way deep into the centre of the Spanish ranks.

Had they been supported by the Portuguese infantry, on their
flank, the battle might still have been won. But the latter, in
spite of the persuasions and orders of their officers, refused to
advance, and, turning their backs, made off in confusion, although
not yet attacked by the enemy. Orders were then sent to the
Portuguese horse on the left to charge to the assistance of
Pierce's brigade. But instead of doing this, they also galloped
off the field, and after defending themselves with desperate
valour for some time, the little brigade, being unsupported, and
being surrounded by the whole strength of the Spaniards, was
forced to surrender.

In the meantime the Earl of Galway, seeing that the battle was
lost, through the cowardice of the Portuguese, was preparing to
withdraw his men, and had only despatched Pierce's brigade to
check the advance of the enemy while he did so. Seeing that these,
by their ardour, were irretrievably cut off, he gave the order to
the Marquis Montandre to draw off the British infantry, who alone
remained firm, and against whom the whole of the French and
Spanish forces now advanced; while he himself with a small body of
cavalry, charged into the midst of the enemy in hopes of reaching
Pierce's brigade and drawing it off.

Although weakened by the loss of that brigade, attacked on both
flanks as well as in front, and frequently charged by the Spanish
horse, among which Crofton's dragoons were conspicuous for their
bravery, the retreating British maintained admirable order.
Occasionally, when severely pressed, they charged the enemy and
beat them back; till they were able to withdraw from the field
with comparatively trifling loss, thus saving the flying
Portuguese from annihilation. As at Almanza, the whole of the
fighting, and almost all the loss, fell upon the English, although
a considerable number of the Portuguese were cut down in their
flight, before the Spanish cavalry returned to join in the attack
on the retiring English. The allies had, altogether, seventeen
hundred men killed or wounded, and two thousand three hundred
taken prisoners, of whom fifteen hundred were Pierce's brigade;
and eight hundred Portuguese, who were cut off by the cavalry.

Among the prisoners were the Earl of Barrimore, all the officers
of Pierce's brigade, Lord Pawlet, one of the earl's aides-de-camp,
two of his pages, and his master of horse.

After the battle was over, and Desmond had rejoined the marshal,
he was sent to ride over the field, and ascertain who had fallen
and what prisoners had been taken. Night was already coming on,
and, after fulfilling his mission as far as was possible in the
confusion, he came upon two Spanish soldiers, with a prisoner.

"Whom have you there?" he asked, in Spanish.

"I don't know, sir. We found him lying under his horse, which, in
its fall, had so pinned down his leg that he could not escape.
Several others had fallen round him, and it was only when we heard
a cry for help that we turned the dead horse over, and found him
under it, and then got him out."

Standing close, there was light enough for Desmond to distinguish
the prisoner's features. He gave a slight start of surprise, then
he said:

"You have done well, my men. Here is a doubloon, to get some drink
with your comrades when you get into the town. I will look after
the prisoner."

The men saluted and went off, well pleased to have got rid of the
trouble of marching their prisoner into the town. Mike, rather
surprised, moved up to take charge of the captive.

"My lord," Desmond said, "I will now endeavour to repay the
kindness you showed me.

"Do you see that little hut, Mike, just at the edge of those
trees? You must hide the earl there. Our cavalry are still all
over the country, hunting down fugitives."

The earl, who was scarcely able to walk, his leg having been
injured by the weight of the horse upon it, murmured his thanks,
but did not speak again until they had entered the shed, when
Desmond said:

"Now, General, I will first cut down your riding boot, to ease
your leg. Then, if you will lie down in that corner, we will pile
this firewood over you. It will not be safe for you to attempt to
go forward for two or three hours yet. I have a report to make to
Marshal de Bay. When I have handed it in, I will return at once.

"Mike, do you stay near the hut, and if any searching party should
come along, which is scarcely likely, for they have all gone
farther afield, you can say there is no need to search the hut, as
you, with an officer, have already examined it."

In a few minutes, the earl was completely hidden. Desmond then
rode into Badajos, and delivered his report to the marshal. He
then went to the stables, took out his spare horse, and, leading
it, rode out to the hut again.

"Has anyone been here?" he asked Mike.

"Not a soul, sir."

"Take the horses into the wood, then, and stay with them for the
present. It will not be safe for the earl to move for a couple of
hours.

"Now, General," he went on, as he removed the firewood, "I fear
that you have been very uncomfortable."

"I can hardly say that I have been comfortable, sir, but that is
of no consequence. The pain in my leg has abated, since you cut
the boot open.

"And now, how can I express my gratitude to you, for thus
sheltering me?"

"It is but a fair return of services, sir. You gave me my liberty,
and I am doing my best to restore yours to you."

"It is all very well to say that, Captain Kennedy. I am the
general in command of the British forces in Portugal, and had I
chosen to openly release you, none could have questioned me. It
was only because some magnified report of the affair might have
reached the ears of the Portuguese Government, and given rise to
rumours hostile to me, that I thought it best to let it appear to
be an accidental escape. You see, I am by no means popular with
the Portuguese. In the first place, I am a Protestant; and in the
next place, I am constantly bringing pressure to bear upon them,
as to the supply of provisions, the making of roads, the proper
feeding and arming of their own troops, and other matters of the
same kind; and they would be only too glad to have some cause of
complaint against me.

"But your case is altogether different, for you are risking even
your life in thus aiding me to escape."

"That may be, General, but it was nevertheless my duty, as a
matter of conscience, to endeavour to return the kindness that you
showed me; and as, at present, your army will hardly be in a state
to take the field against us for a long time, I do not feel that I
am seriously injuring our cause."

"Well, sir, I shall be your debtor for life.

"Do you intend to remain always an exile, Captain Kennedy?" the
Earl of Galway went on. "It seems to me little short of madness
that so many gallant gentlemen should cut themselves altogether
adrift from their native country, and pass their lives fighting as
mercenaries. I do not use the word offensively, but only in its
proper meaning, of foreigners serving in the army of a nation not
their own. Nor do I mean to insult Irish gentlemen, by even
hinting that they serve simply for pay. They fight for France
mainly in the hope that France will some day aid in setting James
Stuart on the British throne; a forlorn hope, for although Louis
may encourage the hopes of the Stuarts and their followers, by
patronizing their cause, which it suits him to do because it gives
him the means of striking at England, by effecting a landing in
Scotland or Ireland; it is yet a matter upon which he must be
indifferent, save in his own interest, and in the advantage it
gives him of keeping in his service some dozen or so splendid
regiments, on whose valour he can always rely."

"That is true, sir," Desmond replied; "and I own I have no great
hope that, by the means of French assistance, the Stuarts will
regain their throne. But what could I do if I were to return to
Ireland? Beyond the fact that my name is Kennedy, I am in absolute
ignorance as to what branch of that family I belong to, and have
practically not a friend in the country. Were I to land in
Ireland, I have no means of earning my living, and should
doubtless be denounced as one who had served in the Irish Brigade.
I own that I should be glad to return there, for a time, in order
to make enquiries as to my family. I was but sixteen when I left,
and was kept, as it seems to me, purposely, in total ignorance on
the subject. It may be that I was the son of a brave officer of
that name, who certainly came over to France soon after I was
born, and fell fighting some years before I came out; but I have
no proof that it was so, and would give a great deal to be able to
ascertain it.

"In Ireland they think a great deal of genealogy, and I am often
questioned, by Irishmen of old descent, as to my family; and find
it extremely awkward to be obliged to own that I know nothing of
it, with any certainty. I have no desire to pass my life in
battles and sieges, and, if I survive the risks and perils, to
settle down as a Frenchman with an Irish name."

"That I can well understand," the earl said. "'Tis a life that no
man could desire, for it would certainly be a wasted one. I can
assure you that I think the chance of James Stuart, or his
descendants, gaining the throne of England is remote in the
extreme. When William of Orange came over, there was no standing
army, and as James the Second had rendered himself extremely
unpopular by his Catholic leanings, he became possessed of England
without opposition, and of Ireland by means of his Dutch troops.
The matter is entirely changed, now. England has a strong army,
against which a gathering, however strong, of undisciplined men
could have but little chance. I conceive it possible that a
Catholic Stuart might regain the throne of Ireland, if backed by a
French army, and if the people were supplied with French arms and
money. But that he would retain the throne, after the French were
withdrawn, I regard as next to impossible."

"I cannot but think the same, sir. However, as I see no chance of
my being able to go to Ireland, even to push my enquiries as to my
family, there is nothing for it but to remain a soldier of
France."

"In that matter, I might assist you, Captain Kennedy. I have no
doubt that my influence, and that of my friends in England, would
without difficulty suffice to gain permission for you to visit
Ireland on private business, on my undertaking that you have no
political object whatever in desiring to do so, and that you
engage yourself to enter into no plots or schemes for a rising.
Furthermore, I think I can promise that, if you succeed in your
researches, and find that you have relations and friends there, I
could, if you desire it, obtain a revocation of any pains and
penalties you may have incurred, and a restoration of all your
rights as an Irishman. That is certainly the least I can do, after
the vital service that you have rendered me--a service that, in
itself, shows you do not share in the bitter enmity so many of
your countrymen, unfortunately, feel against England."

"I have no such enmity, assuredly," Desmond said. "The choice of
coming out here, to enter the service of France, was not of my own
making; but was made, for some reason which I have never been able
to understand, by the gentleman who had borne the expenses of my
bringing up, but who was himself a strong supporter of the English
rule, and therefore would have been expected to place every
obstacle in the way of my entering the Irish Brigade."



Chapter 18: War.


After hearing Desmond's story the earl asked several questions,
and obtained further details of his life when a boy, and of his
interview with John O'Carroll.

"It is certainly strange," he said thoughtfully, "and worth
enquiring into, for it would seem that he must have some interest
in thus getting you out of the way, and in your entering a service
that would render it next to impossible that you should ever
return to your native land."

"I don't see any possible interest that he could have had in that,
sir; but, certainly, I have never been able to account for his
conduct."

"It is clear that there is some mystery about it," the earl said
warmly, "and were I you, I should certainly take leave of absence,
for a time, and go over and get to the bottom of the matter. At
any rate, I will at once write to London and obtain a safe conduct
for you. This you can use, or not, as you may decide, and can
then, if you so please, return and continue your service here.

"Methinks that the war will not last very much longer. France is
impoverished, the disasters which have befallen her arms in
Flanders have rendered the war unpopular, and in England, in spite
of the success gained by their arms, the heavy taxation is making
men ask why a war should be continued which may benefit Holland,
and the German allies, but can result in no good to England.

"And now, Captain Kennedy, I will be making my way to join the
remains of my army. I thank you again, most heartily, for your
generous conduct; and, believe me, you may always command my
services in any direction. I only regret that these unhappy
political difficulties should drive you, and so many of your brave
countrymen, into the service of a power that has always been, and
so far as I can see is likely to remain, an enemy of England."

"I may say, sir, that Lord Godolphin has, for a certain reason,
promised to befriend me; and that, if you write to him on the
subject of a safe conduct, I think I could rely upon his taking a
favourable view of the matter."

"I will do so, certainly," the earl said. "His power is great. If
he is favourably disposed towards you, you may consider the matter
as done."

They chatted for some time longer, and then Desmond said:

"I think now, sir, that it would be safe to move. Everything is
perfectly quiet without, and I have no doubt that, by this time,
the cavalry have all returned to Badajos. However, I will
accompany you for a short distance, for you may be stopped by some
of our advance posts. You had best take the cloak and hat of my
follower, and, as I am well known, no questions will then be
asked."

"By the way," Lord Galway added as, Mike having brought up the
horses, he mounted; "where shall I send a letter to you, with your
safe conduct? We are in communication with many persons at Madrid,
and can pass a letter through the lines at any time."

"When there, I lodge at the house of Don Pedro Sarasta, in the
Calle del Retiro. I will request him to forward any letters to me,
should I be absent."

The earl made a note of the address in his pocketbook, and then,
putting on Mike's cloak and hat, started with Desmond, who passed
him without question through the lines of outposts; which were
indeed but carelessly kept, as it was certain that, after the
signal victory that had been gained, it would be a long time
before any enemy would venture to attack them.

Two days after the fight, the Marquis de Bay moved forward with
his army, with the intention of fighting another battle; but
Galway and Frontiera had, by this time, reorganized their forces,
and occupied so strong a position, near Elvas, that he could not
venture to attack them. However, he occupied the country for a
considerable distance beyond the frontier, subsisting his army
upon the provisions and forage collected by his cavalry in the
villages and small towns. As it was evident that, after the proof
given of the inability of the Portuguese to withstand any attack,
there was no probability of offensive operations being renewed by
the allies; and, the heat becoming intense, the force was
withdrawn across the frontier and went into quarters, the general
returning to Madrid, where he received an enthusiastic welcome
from the inhabitants.

By this time, however, the knowledge that the king of France was
entering into negotiations, which would necessitate his desertion
of Spain, greatly excited the population against the French
stationed in the capital. They were hissed and hooted when they
appeared in the streets, and for a time, the indignation was so
great that the troops were ordered to remain in their barracks.
The king himself, however, gained rather than lost popularity, as
he issued a proclamation to the people, saying that, having
accepted their invitation to be their king, he would remain with
them until driven from his throne by force; and he confided
absolutely in their affection, and aid, to enable him to withstand
any foes who might attempt to dethrone him.

In the autumn another change occurred. Although, in order to
obtain peace, he had granted all the demands, however exorbitant,
of the allies, and had undertaken to withdraw his troops from
Spain, Louis stood firm when to these conditions they added
another, namely, that he should himself undertake, by force, to
dethrone his grandson. This monstrous demand united, at once, both
those who wished to continue the war rather than grant such
humiliating terms as those which had been insisted upon, and the
party who were in favour of peace, even at that cost. The
negotiations were abruptly broken off, and the French troops, who
were already on the march towards the frontier, received orders to
remain in Spain.

Now that he had O'Neil with him, the time in Madrid passed more
pleasantly for Desmond than before. He was frequently away for several
days, carrying despatches to the commanders of the forces in Valencia
and Barcelona. In the capital the French were again regarded as
friends, and as several successes had been gained and places captured,
in Catalonia, the hope that the civil war that had so long been waged
was approaching its end, and the confidence engendered by the victory
on the Caya, made the people doubt whether any attempt at invasion
from the west would be contemplated, and they gave themselves up to
gaiety. Balls and fetes were frequently organized, and at these the
French were among the most honoured guests.

Early in the spring preparations were made for active operations.
Lieutenant General O'Mahony had just returned from Sicily, where
he had rendered distinguished service. In the previous year,
Crofton had been made a major general, and two new regiments of
Irish infantry had been formed, of deserters from the enemy in
Catalonia and Portugal. These were commanded by Colonel Dermond
M'Auliffe and Colonel John Comerford. These two regiments, with
another under Colonel Macdonald, marched from Madrid in April.

As the Marquis de Bay was not yet moving he offered O'Mahony, who
had the command of the force, the services of Desmond and O'Neil
as aides-de-camp. The offer was a welcome one, for, as none of the
men in the newly raised regiments was acquainted with the
language, Desmond, who now spoke Spanish well, would be far more
valuable to him than Spanish officers could be.

For two months the little force moved about in Catalonia, the
rapidity of its marches baffling the attempts of the archduke's
forces to interfere with its operations. These were principally
directed against various small fortresses, held by partisans of
Charles. Several of these were captured, thus clearing the roads
they guarded, and opening the country for the more important
operations that Philip himself was about to undertake.

It was not until July that the royal army approached Lerida, where
O'Mahony's force joined it. General Stanhope marched, with the
troops under his command, and encamped at Balaguer; where he was
joined by Baron de Wetzel, with some troops which had been brought
from Italy. As Stanhope's force was insufficient to give battle
until joined by the main army of Charles, he marched, on the 31st
of July, headed by two English and two Dutch regiments of
dragoons, to secure the passes near Alfaro, and so check the
advance of the Spaniards.

After performing a long and difficult march, they took up a
defensive position. Stanhope found, however, that the river in
front of him was so low that cavalry and artillery could pass
easily, and even infantry could cross without difficulty. Scarcely
had he taken up his position when two brigades of infantry and
nineteen squadrons of cavalry were seen approaching, having been
detached from the Spanish army to occupy the position which had
been secured by the rapidity of Stanhope's march. They therefore
waited for their main army to come up, but before it did so, the
whole of Stanhope's force had arrived, and was prepared for
battle.

Although it was past six o'clock in the evening, Charles, on his
arrival, decided to fall upon the enemy before they could encamp,
which they might do in a position in which it would be difficult
to attack them. Fourteen cannon at once opened fire from an
eminence, whence they commanded the position taken up by the
advance force of the Spaniards. This position was on low ground in
front of the ridge upon which the village of Almenara stood, and
nothing could be seen of the force that lay behind this ridge.

The advanced force of Spaniards ascended this ridge, as soon as
the artillery opened upon them, and General Stanhope obtained
leave from Marshal Staremberg, who commanded the archduke's army,
to charge them. With ten squadrons of horse he rode up the ascent,
and there, when he gained it, saw to his surprise twenty-two
squadrons facing him, flanked with infantry, and supported with
another line of cavalry equally strong. He sent back at once for
fourteen squadrons from his second line, and when six of these
came up he advanced against the Spaniards, who at the same time
moved forward to meet him.

The cavalry on Philip's left at once gave way. The centre and
right, aided by the fire of the infantry, made a stout fight, but
were driven back by the English and Dutch cavalry. The fighting
was severe, for of the six English squadrons who charged, two
hundred men and twenty-one officers were killed or wounded.

Philip's second line of cavalry gave but feeble support, and
Stanhope's horse soon had them all in confusion, and, driving them
from the field, pursued them hotly. The fugitives dashed into
their own infantry, who were just arriving in force, and their
panic communicated itself to them, and a total rout took place.
The pursuit was kept up until it was so dark that the troopers
were unable to see each other's faces, and they then halted,
having defeated the Spanish without the aid of their infantry,
which had not come up in time to take any part in the fight. Much
of the baggage, together with tents, many cannon, and a quantity
of ammunition, fell into the hands of the victors. Owing to the
darkness, the number of prisoners taken was small.

O'Mahony and his troops had taken no part in the engagement, as,
having arrived late on the previous evening after a long march,
they were still at Lerida. It had not been deemed necessary to
hurry them forward, as no battle was expected to take place for
some days--as, indeed, would have been the case had the force sent
forward arrived at the river before Stanhope.

The routed troops arrived under the shelter of the guns of Lerida.
Charles did not attack them there, but, making a detour, seized
several places in Aragon, with the intention of cutting the line
by which Philip would probably retire, and forcing him to fight
again. Philip, however, on his part, marched from Lerida in order
to retire into Castile by way of Saragossa. Charles followed
hotly, and a portion of his cavalry came up to the rear of the
enemy in the defile of Penalva. Here the Spaniards posted a strong
force of grenadiers, and the defile being too narrow for the
cavalry to act, these dismounted, and a hot fight took place, in
which both parties claimed the victory. However, Philip retired
the same day in great haste. Charles, arriving three hours later,
ate the dinner that had been prepared for his rival.

The Spaniards, covered by the defence of the pass, crossed the
Ebro and posted themselves in a strong position within a mile of
Saragossa. On the 21st of August Marshal Staremberg, with his
generals, having reconnoitred their position, gave orders for the
attack to take place the next morning, and at daybreak the cannon
on both sides opened fire. General Stanhope, who commanded on the
left wing, found that the enemy had the greater part of their
cavalry facing him, and therefore strengthened his force by four
battalions of foot and six squadrons of Portuguese horse.

The Spanish line ran obliquely, from the river on their left to a
steep hill on their right, occupied by their cavalry and a battery
of artillery. These, therefore, were much nearer to the attacking
force than were those on the plain.

The battle began at twelve o'clock, Charles's force marching in
two lines, with the exception of Stanhope's cavalry and infantry.
These, from their situation, were the first to come in contact
with the enemy. The four battalions first pushed forward up the
hill, and, driving the Spanish cavalry back, allowed Stanhope's
horse to ascend the hill and form on its crest. The battle
speedily ranged along the whole line. The Spaniards, with superior
numbers, gained ground on their left. Here O'Mahony's corps were
stationed, and they drove a portion of the allies across the Ebro
again; but this success was more than counterbalanced on the other
flank, where Stanhope's cavalry and infantry carried all before
them. The latter, posted in a hollow, opened so heavy a fire upon
the Spanish infantry, as they advanced, that they fell into
disorder; and as their cavalry were driven off, hotly pursued by
Stanhope, they fell back upon the centre, which they threw into
disorder. Seeing that the battle was lost, the Marquis de Bay gave
the order to retire.

Two hours after the first shot was fired, the rout of the Spanish
centre and right was complete, but a considerable portion of the
troops were rallied by de Bay at Alagon, three leagues above
Saragossa. The left wing, under Generals Amezaga and O'Mahony,
were checked in their course of victory by the disaster which
befell the centre and right; but, maintaining their discipline,
they fell back in good order, and rejoined their defeated comrades
at Alagon.

All the cannon and most of the colours of the regiments forming
the centre and right fell into the hands of the victors. The loss
of the allies was about two thousand men, killed or wounded; and
that of the Spaniards and French three thousand killed and
wounded, and between five and six thousand prisoners. Philip rode
at once to Madrid, and on the evening of the battle the archduke
entered Saragossa; while de Bay retired, with the broken remains
of his troops, towards Navarre.

Desmond and O'Neil, who had ridden behind O'Mahony, saw the
Spanish troops of the archduke yield before the impetuous attacks
of the Irish regiments, who, as they pressed their foes backwards,
burst into loud cheering, believing the victory already won.
Presently, O'Mahony stopped the advance.

"We must not push too far forward," he said. "It seems to me that
things are not going so well in other directions. Our centre is
being pressed back. What is going on on the right I cannot say,
but the enemy seems to have gained the top of the hill, for our
cannon there are silent. If the centre is driven back, those we
have now beaten will rally, and we shall be taken in flank by the
fire of their centre. Therefore, let us be content with what we
have done, and wait and see how things turn out elsewhere."

Even before the rout of the Spanish right, their centre was
yielding, for opposed to them were the British and Dutch
regiments, whose attack they were altogether unable to withstand.
It soon became clear that, at all other points on the field, the
battle was going against the Spaniards, and an aide-de-camp
presently rode up, hastily, with orders from Marshal de Bay for
his left to fall back and retire to Alagon.

Deep was the rage and disappointment among the troops of O'Mahony
and Amezaga, as they faced about and set out on their march. They
were unmolested. The troops they had beaten were in no disposition
to follow them, while the allied cavalry and the infantry of their
centre were in full pursuit of the rest of Philip's army, the
remnants of which the little force joined, at Alagon, before
nightfall.

It was some days before the archduke's army moved forward again.
The troops were exhausted by the long marches they had made, and
there was a difference of opinion among the generals as to the
course that had best be followed. The king wished to pursue the
beaten enemy and, if possible, to intercept their march towards
France, but Count Staremberg and Stanhope were of opinion that
they should first occupy Madrid, and then march into Navarre, so
as to bar the advance of fresh French troops into Spain, and at
the same time open communications by sea with England, whence they
could be supplied with reinforcements and stores of provisions.

Finally, Charles gave way, and the allies marched towards Madrid.
The main portion of the army halted at Alcala, a day's march from
the capital, and General Stanhope marched on with his division to
Madrid, which opened its gates without resistance, Philip having
retired with his army. Charles entered the city on the 28th of
September, 1710.

The alarm, in France, at the news of the defeat at Saragossa was
great, and Louis at once despatched the Duke of Vendome to command
there. The latter, travelling fast, and gathering up the garrisons
of the towns through which he passed, crossed the frontier at
nearly the same time as Charles entered Madrid, and effected a
junction with de Bay's army; which had, by this time, been
increased by some fourteen thousand men, drawn from the garrisons
of towns in Navarre, Castile, Galicia, and Valencia.

Vendome had no doubt that the intention of the allies, in marching
upon Madrid, was to open communication with the Portuguese, and
determined to throw himself between the capital and the frontier.
Marching with all speed, he encamped near Salamanca on the 6th of
October, and thence moved to Plasencia, thereby securing the
bridge of Almarez, and preventing the Portuguese from joining
Charles.

Had it not been for the usual indecision and want of energy on the
part of the Portuguese Government, the junction might have been
effected before Vendome arrived at Plasencia, for both Charles and
Stanhope had, after the victory of Saragossa, written urgently,
begging that the Portuguese army should at once advance and join
them at Madrid; and that, at any rate, if the whole army could not
move, at least the troops in the pay of England should push
forward instantly. Stanhope, indeed had marched with his division
to the bridge of Almarez to facilitate the junction, and had
defeated a Spanish force guarding the bridge. However, the
Portuguese did not arrive; and when a messenger brought the
alarming news that a Spanish and French army had occupied
Plasencia, Stanhope fell back towards Madrid.

As large French reinforcements were known to be approaching the
frontier, and Philip's army was already much superior in numbers
to that of the allies, it was decided, in a council of war, to
evacuate Madrid. The forces which had occupied Toledo and other
towns were recalled, and, early in December, the army left the
capital; the archduke riding at once to Barcelona, while the army,
of which Stanhope's division formed the rear guard, followed in
the same direction.

The movement had been delayed too long. Vendome and Philip were
already at hand, and on the 9th fell upon Stanhope's division at
Brihuega. This force, consisting of eight English battalions and the
same number of Portuguese horse, defended themselves desperately, and
although the town was wholly without fortifications, they repulsed
every attack until their ammunition was exhausted, and they were then
forced to surrender. Staremberg, on hearing that Stanhope was attacked
and surrounded, turned back and marched with all speed to relieve him,
but on arriving within three hours' march of the town, heard that he
had surrendered.

The Duke of Vendome, hearing of his coming, drew his troops out
and formed them in line of battle, and the next morning attacked
him vigorously. The allied right held their ground, but the left
fled, and Vendome swept his right round and took the centre and
right of the allies in the rear. Three battalions of the second
line, however, fell in turn upon the French rear and repulsed
them, and the left wing, rallying again, renewed the battle.

The combat was indecisive, both parties claiming the victory.
Staremberg wrote to Charles that he had captured all the enemy's
guns, and had killed six thousand of them; while the French
claimed that they had totally defeated the allies, and captured
all their cannon, killed four thousand, and taken nine thousand
prisoners. The balance of probability lies to some extent with the
French, for the day after the battle, Staremberg retired and
marched to Barcelona; but the fact that he was not at once pursued
shows that the French and Spaniards must have suffered very
heavily.

Desmond had passed unscathed through the battle of Saragossa.
O'Neil had been severely wounded, but had managed to sit his horse
until the division effected its junction with the Marquis de Bay's
shattered forces. Great was the wrath among the two Irish
regiments at the issue of the battle.

"What is the use," an officer said to Desmond, "of our throwing
away our lives, fighting for these Spaniards, when they themselves
are useless, save when they meet the Portuguese, who are still
more contemptible? Here have we, on level ground, fairly beaten
the enemy, while the right and centre, although having a great
advantage in position, allow themselves to be scattered like a
flock of sheep."

"They had stouter foes to meet than we had," Desmond said. "We had
only Spaniards opposed to us, while they had English and Dutch to
fight; and as the best French troops have found, in Flanders, that
these were at least a match for them, we must not blame the
Spanish too severely for giving way before they were attacked."

"There is something in that, I admit, Kennedy. It seems to me
that, in this war, it would be much better if the Spaniards and
Portuguese had both remained at home, and allowed the French and
us fight it out with the English and Dutch. The battles would have
been small, but at least they would have been desperately fought."

"But it would be absurd, Moore, for us to lay down our lives in a
struggle in which those principally concerned took no part
whatever, and which was of no great interest either to us or to
the English. After the way in which Louis was ready to throw over
Spain and Philip at the beginning of the year, the Spanish
alliance can be of no great advantage to him, and I do not think
that even Philip's orders would induce a Spanish army to march
across the frontier to assist France. Therefore, as Louis can gain
nothing by the Spanish alliance, why should he weaken himself by
sending forces here to maintain Philip on the throne?"

"But with the Archduke Charles here, he would have an enemy on his
frontier. Philip might not assist him, but Charles would be
actively hostile. The English and Dutch troops would be pouring
into the peninsula, and we should have another Flanders in the
south of France."

"Well," Desmond said, after a pause; "the best way I can see out
of it is for both Philip and Charles to withdraw, and allow the
Spanish to elect a Spaniard for their king; or, if they could not
agree to that, which I don't suppose they could do, choose some
foreign prince belonging to a petty state which stands altogether
aloof from European affairs, and seat him on the throne. If,
again, they would not accept him, England and France should
mutually agree not to interfere in the affair, and let the
Spaniards indulge in civil war as long as it pleases them."

Moore laughed.

"It might be a good solution, Kennedy, but there is no more chance
of Philip or Charles renouncing their pretensions, or indeed of
the French on one side and the allies on the other permitting them
to do so, than there is of the world becoming an utopia, where war
shall be unknown, and all peoples live together in peace and
amity."

"Well," Desmond said, "for my part, I am sick of fighting in
quarrels that do not concern me, and when this campaign comes to
an end I shall, if possible, rejoin Berwick. The cause of the
Stuarts is not advanced, in the slightest, by what is taking place
in Spain, and if I am to fight, I would rather do so where victory
would benefit us."

"I don't know that you are not right," the other assented. "It
certainly seems a pity that the best blood of Ireland should be
spilled, in Flanders and Spain, in the service of a foreign
country. To my mind, the terms of the surrender of Limerick were
disadvantageous both to Ireland and England. England has gained a
number of inveterate foes who, with good and wise treatment, might
now be fighting in her own ranks. Ireland has lost her best blood,
men who were her natural leaders, and belonged to the old
families, whom all respected."

"I am sure it was a mistake," Desmond said. "If the terms had been
an absolute equality in all matters of religion, and the free
pardon of all, without confiscation of their property or other
disability, it would have gone far to reconcile our people to
defeat; for they would have seen that they could not hope for more
than the right of free exercise of their religion, if the Stuarts
came to the throne again."

"Perhaps you are right, Kennedy. I know that I myself, had it not
been for the persecutions and the priest hunting, and the closing
of our chapels, should never have thought of leaving Ireland and
taking foreign service. But now there is no going back."

"No, I suppose not," Desmond said, gloomily. "Nothing short of an
amnesty, ensuring freedom of worship, and perfect civil equality
to all, would induce the majority of us to return to Ireland; and,
indeed, it is not easy to see what we could do if we got there.
The estates of our fathers are in the hands of strangers. We
should soon be altogether without resources, and we should be
almost driven to conspire again, even though success would in no
way mend the matter.

"However, there is no chance of such an act being passed, for,
even if the English Ministry desired to do so, the Protestant
feeling in England and Scotland would be too strong for them; and
Parliament, which strongly represents that feeling, would reject
the bill by an immense majority."

"Then there is nothing to do but to go on fighting," Moore said.

"I see nothing else for it, Moore, but I own that I do not care
for the life. I have had three years of it now, and don't like the
prospect of another thirty."

"You have been fortunate, too, Kennedy!"

"Yes, I have been fortunate in the way of getting promotion;
fortunate that I was not, long before this, put under the sod; but
it is no great gratification to be a captain, and though in
another thirty years, if I live, I may be a general, I don't think
even that would reconcile me to the life. It is just as hard, and
a good deal more responsible; and if thirty years passed over, and
the Stuarts were not restored, they assuredly never would be, and
I should have wasted my life for nothing."

"Well, I am very glad," Moore laughed, "that all our fellows do
not look at it in the same light as you do, but take things as
they come. I don't bother myself about the future."

"It is a good thing," Desmond said, "and it is the national
character to take things as they come. I dare say I shall get into
the same way, some day, but just at present, I suppose partly
because we have got a thrashing, I feel rather down in the dumps."

Desmond continued his duties as aide-de-camp to O'Mahony, and took
his share in the various operations, that ended with the army
going into winter quarters and Philip making a triumphant entry
into Madrid. Then he went to the general.

"General, I wish to ask leave to return to France, at any rate for
a time. The Duke of Berwick, when he despatched me to join the
staff of the Duke of Orleans, said he would reinstate me on his
staff as soon as the duke no longer required my services. When the
Duke of Orleans left, I was handed over with the rest of the staff
to the Marshal de Bay, under whom I served in the battle of the
Guadiana, and until, as you know, I was detailed to accompany your
brigade. Now that the campaign is over, I should, at any rate,
like to pay a visit to the Duke of Berwick, under whom I served at
Oudenarde. I have, therefore, come to ask you to dispense with my
services, and to permit me to return to France."

"Certainly, Captain Kennedy. Your assistance has been of great
value to me, but there is no chance of anything being done during
the winter; and, as many of my officers are now beginning to speak
Spanish, they will, should they remain here till the spring, be
able to get on very fairly. I shall be pleased, before you start,
to furnish you with a testimonial stating the services you have
rendered me. Indeed, I have, more than once, mentioned them in my
reports."



Chapter 19: In Search of a Family.


On the following day, Desmond left the brigade, and, followed by
Mike, rode for Madrid, where was still lying a letter which had
arrived, some months before, from England. He had not asked for it
to be forwarded, for if he had been killed, and it had been found
on him, it might do his memory a great disservice, as it would
seem that he had been in correspondence with the British. The
letter, which contained an enclosure, was, to his surprise, from
Lord Godolphin. It ran:

Dear Captain Kennedy:

Partly at the request of the Earl of Galway, and still more from
my own remembrance of your conduct, in that affair you know of,
and of the silence that you maintained concerning it, I have
pleasure in sending you a safe conduct to visit Ireland on private
affairs. The earl tells me that you have rendered him the greatest
of services, and this alone should cancel the fact that you have
been serving against us in Flanders and Spain. For this, and your
conduct to myself, I can promise you that should you, at any time
while I am in power, decide to remain in Ireland, I will obtain
for you a full and complete pardon, and a restoration to all your
rights as an Irish subject of the queen. I will also obtain a
reversal of any attainders or acts of confiscation that may have
been passed against your family, on your giving your promise that
you will not take part in any secret plots or conspiracies against
the reigning family, though, in the event of a general rising in
Ireland, with the assistance perhaps of a French army, you would
be at liberty to choose your own course of action, without
incurring more pains and penalties than those which might befall
any native of Ireland waging war against the queen.

As both Godolphin and Marlborough were known to be by no means
unfavourably disposed to the cause of the Stuarts, Desmond was
hardly surprised at the latter part of this intimation. Though he
had but small hopes of being enabled to remain permanently at
home, it was yet very welcome to him. Certainly, if he remained in
Ireland he would consider himself bound to hold himself aloof from
all Jacobite plots, although, if the country rose and a French
army landed, he would, unless he considered the cause a hopeless
one, draw his sword on behalf of him whom he considered as his
lawful sovereign.

"It is not sorry I am, your honour, to be turning my back on this
country," Mike said, as they rode out from the gate. "The wine is
good, which is more than I can say for anything else in it, except
that the people are good Catholics."

"I am starting a longer journey than you think, Mike. I am only
going to the duke, now, to ask for a year's leave; though I do not
think that I shall be absent more than a few months."

"And where are you going, your honour, if I may make so bold as to
ask?"

"I am going to Ireland, Mike."

Mike looked at him with astonishment.

"To Ireland, your honour? Sure they will hang you, before you set
your foot a week in the country."

"I have obtained a safe conduct, Mike, from Lord Godolphin. You
remember him, the nobleman we kidnapped?"

"Sure I remember him, your honour; and he has given you a safe
conduct? It is in luck you are, to be going back to Ireland
again."

"It is not a visit of pleasure, Mike. I am going over to try to
ascertain to which branch of my family I belong."

"And what can it matter, your honour? It's a good name you have
made for yourself out here."

"I have done well enough, Mike, but I am tired of being asked, by
almost every officer I meet, about my family, when in fact I know
nothing myself."

"Well, Captain, it does not seem to me worth troubling about, for
if you don't know who they are, it is little they can have done
for you."

"It would seem so, Mike. There is a mystery about the whole
affair, and I want to get to the bottom of it."

He rode silently for some distance. He knew that Mike would go
through fire and water for him, and that, simple as he seemed, he
had no ordinary amount of shrewdness; and he determined to tell
him all he knew, especially as he intended to take him to Ireland
with him.

"Mike," he said at last, "I suppose you would like to pay a visit
to Ireland, also?"

"I should that," Mike said, emphatically. "I was but eighteen when
I came out here to enlist in the brigade--that is twelve years ago
now, and it is few people would be likely to know me again."

"Well, I am thinking of taking you with me, Mike; and, as possibly
you may be of use in my search, I will tell you my story."

And he related the history of his youth.

"He must be an unfeeling baste, to treat you like that," Mike
exclaimed indignantly. "Sure I know the name, and have heard him
spoken of as a traitor who had gone over to the enemy, and turned
Protestant to save his estate."

"That is how you would hear him spoken of, Mike, for it is true;
but as to his treatment of me, it all depends whether I was forced
upon him by threats, or was taken by him out of friendship to my
father. If it were the first of these reasons, he cannot be blamed
for keeping me at a distance. If the second, he certainly ought to
have behaved differently. But neither explains why he, a supporter
of the usurper, should have sent me out to France to fight against
the English. It is a hard nut to crack."

Mike agreed. "Mighty hard; but your honour will get to the bottom
of it, never fear. And why are we going to the duke, master?"

"To get leave of absence. I cannot disappear suddenly, without
asking for leave. I shall, of course, tell the Duke of Berwick
exactly why I am going, and I feel sure he will grant my request,
without hesitation. There is no fighting to be done, just at
present, and even if there were, one officer more or less would
make no difference.

"Have you any relations in Ireland, Mike?"

"None that I know of, sir, barring a sister, who was twelve years
older than myself; and it is little I saw of her, for she married
when I was a bit of a gossoon. Her husband was killed in the siege
of Limerick, and I heard that after it was over, she went to
settle with some cousins in Cork. Whether she is there now, is
married again, or is dead years ago, is more than I can say,
seeing that I have never heard of her since."

"Was she with her husband in the siege of Limerick?"

"She was that. I heard about her from some men who knew her
husband. They said, after he was killed, she went as a servant in
the family of an officer and his wife for a bit, but the officer
was killed, and the lady died of grief and trouble; and it was
hard work she had to live till the place surrendered. That is all
I know about it, your honour. It might have been true, and it
might not. I was but a boy, and maybe I bothered the man with
questions, and he just told me what came into his head to keep me
quiet."

"Well, at any rate, Mike, as we shall most likely land at Cork,
you might try to find your sister out. If she went through the
siege, she will know the names of many of the officers. She may
have heard of a Kennedy."

"Maybe of half a dozen, your honour. As loyal gentlemen, they
would be sure to be there."

"What was her name, Mike?"

"Sure it was the same as my own before she married, just Norah
Callaghan."

"So I suppose, Mike," Desmond said with a laugh; "but what was the
name of the husband?"

"Rooney. I have not thought of it this many a year, but it is sure
I am that it was Rooney; and now I think of it, a message came to
me from her, just before I left the country, saying that should I
ever be in the neighbourhood, it is glad she would be to see me;
and I was to ask for Mrs. Rooney, who lived with her cousin, Larry
Callaghan, a ship's carpenter, in Middle Lane, which I should find
by the river bank."

"Well, that is something to go by, Mike. Of course, she may have
moved away long since; but if her cousin is a ship's carpenter, it
is not likely that he would have left the neighbourhood."

"I wonder your honour never asked about the Kennedys from some of
the officers who were at the siege?"

"I did not like to do so. The colonel came to the conclusion that
I must be the son of Murroch Kennedy, who came out soon after
Limerick surrendered, and was killed at Breda two or three months
after he joined the brigade. The officers agreed with the colonel
that this gentleman was probably my father, and of course I was
contented that it should be supposed so, and therefore I asked no
questions about other Kennedys. Of late, however, I have been
worried over the matter. In the Irish regiments in Spain, as
elsewhere, were a number of officers belonging to good old Irish
families, and though I have got on well enough with them--in the
first place as Berwick's aide-de-camp, and afterwards as on the
staff of the generals here--I could see that when, in answer to
their question, it was evident I knew little or nothing of my
family, there was a sort of coolness in their manner which I could
quite understand, counting back their ancestors, as they did,
pretty nearly to the flood. At present, it does not make any
difference to me personally, one way or the other, but I am
convinced that if, by chance, when I get older, I should fall in
love with the daughter of an officer of one of these old families,
he would not for a moment listen to me, until I could give him
some proofs that I had a right to the name I bear, or at any rate
came of a good family. Certainly, at present, I could not assure
him on either point. I only know that I have always been called
Kennedy, and that it was under that name that I was committed to
the care of Father O'Leary. That proves nothing more than that it
is the name by which John O'Carroll wished me to be called; and it
is as likely as not--indeed a good deal more likely--that it was
not the true one."

"Well, at any rate, your honour, you have made the name of Desmond
Kennedy well known and liked, both among the Irish and French
officers, for it is no slight thing that an officer in an infantry
regiment should be taken on the staff of the Duke of Berwick."

"All that is very well, Mike; but it will not satisfy me more than
it satisfies others. So I am resolved to try to get to the bottom
of the affair, even if I have to go direct to John O'Carroll,
though I know that the chance of his telling me anything is but
slight. The only way, indeed, that seems likely to lead to
anything is to call upon as many of the Kennedys as I can
discover, and ask whether Murroch Kennedy, who left Ireland after
the siege of Limerick, married and left a child of two years old
behind him. If so, and that child suddenly disappeared when his
father left for France, there would be every reason for assuming
that I was the child in question; though why he should have
committed me to the charge of John O'Carroll, instead of to one of
his own family, is not easily seen; unless the whole of the
Kennedys were in such ill favour, with the English Government,
that he thought it better to trust me to one who was in good odour
with the supporters of Dutch William, and was therefore safe from
disturbance in his estates."

"Sure, your honour, you are arguing it out like a counsellor, and
there is no gainsaying what you have spoken. I have no doubt you
will ferret it out. With such a head as you have on your
shoulders, it is hard if you cannot circumvent that ould rascal at
Kilkargan."

"At any rate we will try, you and I. While I am visiting the
Kennedys, you can be finding out people who were at Limerick
during the siege, and gather all they can remember about the
Kennedys there."

As Desmond had expected, the duke, as soon as he heard his story,
at once granted him leave of absence.

"I hope you may succeed, Kennedy," he said. "It is a poor lookout
to be risking death continually in the service of a foreign king.
I grant that we have the knack of making ourselves at home,
wherever we may be, and there are Irish officers in every army in
Europe; but, however successful Irishmen may be, they cannot but
long to be among their own people in their own land. And if, as
you tell me, Lord Godolphin will befriend you, I for one shall
think no worse of you if you settle down at home when you have
found your family. I know that if the sword should be again drawn,
with a fair prospect of success, you will declare for the rightful
king."

"That I should certainly do, sir; and will assuredly give no
promise, or undertaking, to abstain from joining any royal army
that may be raised in Ireland. But it is not with any intention of
settling at home that I am going there, but simply, as I have told
you, to discover to what family I belong, so that I can have a
right to the name I bear."

"At what port will you embark?"

"I intend to pay a visit, for a few days, to the Baron de
Pointdexter and Monsieur de la Vallee, after which I shall cross
into Italy. I have no doubt that I shall be able to find some
fishermen, at Toulon, who will undertake to land me somewhere near
Genoa, where I shall be able to take a passage in a ship bound for
England."

"And I suppose you take your servant with you?"

"With your permission, Duke. He has been my companion for three
years. He is shrewd as well as brave, and will give me valuable
help in my enquiries."

After remaining a couple of days with Berwick's army, Desmond
started with Mike, and received the warmest welcome from the Baron
de Pointdexter, and afterwards from Philip and his wife. Then they
travelled on to Toulon, where Desmond sold the horses and
equipments. He left his uniform and Mike's there, and procured two
civilian suits. As he anticipated, he experienced no difficulty in
arranging to be landed near Genoa. There he found several ships
bound for England or Ireland, and took a passage in one that would
touch at Cork, on its way to Dublin. The voyage was uneventful,
and the ship, which had no great draught of water, proceeded up
the river to the city.

"The first thing to do, Mike," Desmond said, as they stepped
ashore, "is to get rid of these clothes, whose French cut will at
once attract attention. I shall get a suit such as is worn by an
Irish gentleman. You had better equip yourself as my servant. No
livery is worn here, but any quiet dress will be suitable."

They put up at a small inn, and remained there until a suit such
as Desmond desired was made for him, and Mike found no difficulty
in purchasing ready-made clothes suitable to his new position.
Desmond had taken rooms as Mr. Kennedy, and had asked carelessly
if there were any families of that name living in the neighbourhood.

"There is one who lives a short distance out of the town. It is a
small house, and shame it is that one of the old family should
come down so; but most of their estates were stolen from them
after the war. Still, the old man holds his head as if he was
still lord of broad acres, and he is mightily respected among the
gentry."

The next day, Desmond hired a horse and rode out to the house of
Mr. Kennedy, which was some three miles from the town. He sent in
his name, and was shown into a room, where a tall man, with a
somewhat haughty air, received him not unkindly.

"Your name is the same as my own," he said, "though I do not
recognize the name of Desmond Kennedy among such members of the
family as I am acquainted with."

"I have but just landed from France, and my object in coming here
is to obtain some information as to my father's family. Hearing
that a gentleman of the name lived here, I came first to you. May
I ask if you were acquainted with a Murroch Kennedy?"

"Surely I was. He was my first cousin. We fought side by side at
Limerick. I was not one of those who cared to enter foreign
service. My estates were confiscated, and I have ever since lived
here on the wreck of my fortune, taking no part in politics.

"My cousin was of a different mind. He did not, indeed, go out at
once with the greater part of the army of Limerick, but still,
hoping that the cause was not altogether lost, he lived for some
months among the mountains, and took part in a rising which was
promptly suppressed, and then joined the Irish Brigade; and I
received a notification, from one of his brother officers, that he
had fallen at the battle of Breda. And now may I ask, in turn,
what Murroch Kennedy's relationship was to you?"

"I will tell you, sir. But first, will you kindly inform me
whether your cousin left a child about a year old behind him?"

"Certainly not, sir. My cousin was an unmarried man, at any rate
up to the time when he left Ireland."

"Then, sir, my questions are at an end. I may tell you that, about
the time your cousin left Ireland, I was sent as an infant to the
care of John O'Carroll, the traitor, of Kilkargan, and was brought
up under the name of Desmond Kennedy. He showed me but little
kindness, and, nearly three years ago, I went abroad and obtained
a commission in one of the regiments in the Irish Brigade, and now
hold the rank of captain. For many reasons, I am anxious to find
out what family I belong to. It was assumed, by my colonel and
fellow officers, that I was the son of Murroch Kennedy, and I
wished to ascertain whether this was true, and with that object
obtained leave of absence, and made my way back."

"I am sorry that I can give you no assistance, sir. Assuredly you
are not the son of my cousin, Murroch Kennedy; and had you been,
John O'Carroll, the traitor, would have been the last man to whom
he would have entrusted you. I know well the history of all the
members of my branch of the family, and can answer, with
certainty, that no child was lost, or missing, or unaccounted for
at the time he went out; and as all were loyal gentlemen, none
would have had any dealings with John O'Carroll, who betrayed the
cause for which his brother died fighting at Limerick. I will,
however, jot down, for your information, the other branches of the
family of Kennedy and their places of residence, though I fear
that there is but little probability of your search being
successful, as, during the years that have elapsed since the late
war, many must have died. Others, like my cousin, have taken
service in one or other of the continental armies. Moreover, there
is also a possibility that the name by which you are known is not
your own."

"I feel that myself, sir, and fear that my enquiries will not meet
with success. Still, I shall pursue them until I have at least
proved that I cannot belong to any well-known branch of the
family. I am much obliged to you, for having so courteously
answered my questions, and for your offer to give me a list of the
various branches of the family."

For the next few minutes, Mr. Kennedy was engaged in making out
the list, which he then handed to Desmond.

"And now, sir," the former went on, "that we have finished what we
may consider business, will you tell me a little more about
yourself? Your story naturally interests me, and I own that I am
surprised that a young gentleman who, from what you have told me,
cannot be much more than twenty years old, has risen to the rank
of captain, in a brigade where so many officers have signally
distinguished themselves. Your story, too, is an interesting one,
and seems to me in many respects remarkable; and possibly, when I
hear more of how you came to be brought up by John O'Carroll, it
may throw some light upon the subject."

Desmond gave a detailed account of his life as a boy, and a short
sketch of his subsequent adventures.

"A romantic story, young sir," Mr. Kennedy said, when he had
finished, "and to whatever family you belong, they should be proud
of possessing so gallant a member. You tell me that you have a
safe conduct, but you did not mention how you obtained it."

Desmond had abstained from making any allusion, either to the
affair with Lord Godolphin, or to that with the Earl of Galway,
and he replied:

"Sir, this is a secret that concerns other people, as well as
myself, consequently I am not at liberty to explain it. I may say,
however, that it was given to me on my engagement that my visit to
Ireland was one of a private nature only, and that I would in no
way meddle with politics. When I tell you that the Duke of
Berwick, himself, granted me the necessary leave of absence, it
will prove to you that he, on his part, was well satisfied that
the safe conduct had been issued to me without any unworthy
offers, on my part, to the Princess Anne's ministers."

After chatting for some time longer, Desmond took his leave and
returned to Cork.

Mike was standing at the door of the inn.

"I have had no success, Mike. Have you fared better?"

"I have not found her yet, your honour, but I have great hopes of
doing so. Larry Callaghan died four years ago, and the woman of
the house she occupied said that Mrs. Rooney moved, with his widow
and children, to some other part of the town. She knew little
about them, seeing that she only went into the house after they
had left; but her husband worked in the same yard as Larry did,
and she thought that he would be able to find out, from some of
the old hands, where the widow Callaghan had moved to. She said
she would ask her husband when he came home to his dinner, and
maybe he would be able to give her some news.

"And so, your honour has learned nothing about yourself?"

"Nothing, Mike, except that I am certainly not the son of Murroch
Kennedy, who was a cousin of the gentleman I called on. I was
assured that he was a single man, when he went to France. However,
he gave me a list of the principal branches of the Kennedy family,
but there is no hurry about starting to see them, and I will
certainly wait here till you find your sister, which should not be
many days, for some of Callaghan's fellow workmen are almost sure
to know where his widow lives."

Mike went out, at seven o'clock that evening, and returned half an
hour later.

"I have got the address, your honour. She and the widow Callaghan
have got a little place outside the town, and take in washing
there, and are going on nicely."

"I am pleased to hear it, I am sure, Mike. I have but small hope
that she will be able to give any useful information, but for your
sake, I am glad that you have found a sister whom you have not
seen for so many years. I suppose you will go up there, at once."

"I will that. They will have done their work, and we shall have a
comfortable talk, whereas she would not thank me if I were to drop
in when she was busy at the washtub."

"Well, you might ask her to come down, tomorrow morning, to see
me. Of course, she shall not be a loser by giving up her morning's
work."

"Whisht, your honour! When she knows how much you have done for
me, and how you have treated me, she would willingly lose a week's
work to give you pleasure. Well, I will be off at once."

It was eleven o'clock before Mike returned.

"We have had a great talk, your honour, me and Norah. She would
not believe at first that I was her brother, and in truth, I found
it hard to credit that she was Norah, who was a purty colleen when
I saw her last; but when we had convinced each other that we were
both who we said we were, matters went on pleasantly. I told her
some of my adventures with you, and that, by the same token, I had
a hundred gold pieces that the Baron of Pointdexter had given me,
sewn up in a belt round my waist, where it has been ever since I
got it, except when we went into battle, or on that expedition to
Scotland, when, as your honour knows, I always put it in with the
agent in your name, seeing that I would rather, if I was killed,
know that your honour would have it, instead of its being taken by
some villain searching the dead. I told her that, if she and Mrs.
Callaghan wanted to take a bigger place, I would share it with
her, and that quite settled the matter, in her mind, that I was
her brother. She said, as I knew she would, that she would come
and talk to you for a week, if you wanted it; and she will be here
tomorrow, at nine o'clock."

"That is very satisfactory. I am afraid nothing will come of our
talk; but still, one may get a clue to other Kennedys who were
present at the siege of Limerick."

Punctually at nine o'clock, Mike ushered his sister into Desmond's
sitting room.

"I am glad to see you, Mrs. Rooney. Your brother has been with me
for three years, and has rendered me very many services, and I
regard him as a friend, rather than as a servant. I am glad that
he has found his sister, from whom he had been so long parted."

"Mike has been telling me how good you have been to him, and that
he would go through fire and water for you, and that you have had
some wonderful adventures together. He said you wanted to speak to
me about the siege of Limerick. If there is anything that I can
tell you, your honour, I will do so gladly."

"What I want to know is, what Kennedys were at the siege?"

"There was Murroch Kennedy, and Phelim, who was always called 'Red
Kennedy', on account of his colour; and James and Fergus. I knew
all those, because they were friends of my master's. It may be
that there were many others, but they were unbeknown to me."

"Am I like any of them?"

The woman looked at him searchingly.

"You are not, sir; but you are mighty like my master, barring, of
course, that he was a man ten years older than yourself. But the
more I look at you, the more I see the likeness."

"I did not know that you had a master, Mrs. Rooney. I thought that
you were there with your husband."

"So I was, your honour; but when he was kilt I was left alone,
saving for a child that had been born a fortnight before; and what
with the bad smells of the place, and the sound of the cannon, and
the fact of my grief, he pined away all at once, and died a week
after me husband. It is well-nigh starving we all were. Even the
fighting men had scarce enough food to keep their strength up, and
a lone woman would have died from hunger. So I was mighty glad,
when a friend of mine told me that there was an officer's lady who
had had a baby, and, being but weak and ailing, wanted a foster
mother for it; so I went at once and got the place, and was with
her for a month.

"Her husband was killed three weeks after I went there, and the
blow was too much for her, and she died a week later. A fortnight
after that came the peace, and as everything was in confusion,
what wid our soldiers all going away to France, and the
persecutions and slaughterings, I took the child with me and went
down to my cousin Larry's here. Av course, I could not part with
it, and I could not make my way alone across the country, so I
came down here with the troops. I was not strong myself, and it
was a year later before I was able to take it to its friends."

"What was the name of your master?" Desmond asked eagerly, for her
last words had excited a sudden train of ideas in his mind.

"He was Mr. James O'Carroll, a great gentleman, and the head of
his family."

Desmond sprang to his feet.

"That explains it all!" he exclaimed. "Mrs. Rooney, I have no
doubt that I am your foster child."

"Why, how can that be, your honour, seeing as your name is
Kennedy? Though, except for that, you might well be so, seeing
that you are so like my master."

"At any rate, Mrs. Rooney, I was reared at Kilkargan, at the
expense of John O'Carroll, and was, as I heard, brought there by a
woman when I was a year old. O'Carroll said that my name was
Desmond Kennedy, but I had only his word for it."

"Then how is it that you are not master of Kilkargan, for if you
are Mr. James O'Carroll's son, it is you that ought to be? I have
always thought of you as there. I have not been in the way of
getting news. I left my address with Mr. John, but I never heard
from him, or you. I thought, perhaps, that he might have lost the
address, but I never dreamt that you had been kept out of your
own."

"I don't know that I can say that, altogether," Desmond said;
"for, if it had been known that James O'Carroll had left an heir,
his estates would certainly have been confiscated; whereas, owing
to his brother's turning Protestant, and joining the Williamites,
he was allowed to keep possession of them. I can understand now
what seemed so strange, namely, that he feared I might somehow
learn that I was his nephew, and heir to the estates. Therefore,
he behaved as if I was the son of a stranger, and when I was old
enough, sent me off to join the Irish Brigade, in hopes that he
had seen the last of me; for, even if not killed, I should never
be able to set foot in Ireland again after fighting for France.
'Tis strange that none of my father's brother officers ever made
any enquiries about it."

"They all went with the army to France, sir. They knew, of course,
that the child was born, though they may never have seen you, for
the mistress never left her bed after you were born. Naturally,
after her death they lost sight of me, and might well have
believed that the child had died."

"You must give me the names of all the officers who came to the
house, Mrs. Rooney. Many of them may be alive still, and their
testimony that a child was born would be most important, for at
present there is only your word against John O'Carroll's."

"There is more than that, sir. You were baptized on the day she
died. My mistress gave me the paper the priest had given to her,
saying that it was of the greatest importance to you, and that I
was to give it to Mr. John O'Carroll when, as I promised, I took
the child to him."

"And did you give it him?" Desmond asked eagerly.

"No, your honour. I took it with me to the castle, but from the
reception I got, I thought it best to say nothing about it, but to
give it to yourself when you were old enough. I have got it at
home now. There it is, certifying that Gerald O'Carroll, the son
of James O'Carroll and his wife Elizabeth, was baptized by him on
the 6th of September, 1692."

"That is fortunate, indeed," Desmond exclaimed. "And now, tell me
how this uncle of mine received you."

"Faith, your honour, he was mightily put out, at first. He said
that I was an impostor, and that he would have me given in charge.
I told him that I had proofs that what I said was true, and that
there were many gentlemen, brother officers of Mr. James, who
would speak for me, and say in court that a son was born to his
brother before he died. He wanted to get out of me what proofs I
had, and who were the officers; but I told him that was my
business. Then he cooled down, and after a time he said that, if
he were to let it be known that Mr. James had left a son, the
estate would surely be confiscated, seeing that his father died as
a rebel fighting against the king; but that, as soon as the
persecutions had ceased, and it would be safe to do so, he would
say who the child was, and give him his rightful place. That
seemed reasonable enough, and so I left you with him, and have
always supposed that he kept his word; and that, as soon as it was
safe, he acknowledged you to be master of your father's estate."

"And now, Mrs. Rooney, I must think matters over, and see how I
had best proceed. I feel how much I owe to you, and, if I recover
my estates, you shall see that I am not ungrateful. Will you come
again tomorrow morning, and bring with you the certificate of my
baptism, and all the names that you can recollect of the officers
who were intimate with my father?"



Chapter 20: Gerald O'Carroll.


Mike, who had remained silent during the conversation between his
sister and Desmond, returned to the room after seeing her out.

"Well, Mike, you have rendered me many services, but this is the
greatest of all. Little did I think, when you said you had found
your sister, and that she was coming to me this morning, that she
would be able to clear up the mystery of my birth, and to place me
in a position to prove myself a son of James O'Carroll. I do not
say that I shall regain the estates. My having been in the Brigade
will certainly render it difficult for me to do so, though
possibly, with the patronage of Lord Godolphin, I may succeed. For
that, however, I care comparatively little. My object, in coming
here, was to obtain proof that I belong to a good Irish family,
and that I have no doubt I shall be able to establish."

"And what am I to call you, your honour, now that I know you are
Captain Gerald O'Carroll, and not Desmond Kennedy, at all?"

"At any rate, I must remain Desmond Kennedy at present, Mike. It
is under that name that my safe conduct was made out, and if I
were arrested as Gerald O'Carroll, it would be no protection to
me. However, I shall not want to use it long, for it seems to me
that my first step must be to return to France, and to see some of
the officers who knew my father, and were aware of my birth. Their
testimony would be of great value, and without it there would be
little chance of your sister's evidence being believed."

"But there is the paper, your honour."

"Yes; that will show that a child was born, but the proof that I
am that child rests entirely with your sister. It might have died
when its mother did, and they would say that your sister was
trying to palm off her own child, or someone else's, as his. Of
course, Mrs. Callaghan would be able to prove that your sister
arrived immediately after the surrender of Limerick, bringing a
child with her, and that she said it was the son of James
O'Carroll; and that she went a year later to Kilkargan, and left
it there with John O'Carroll. Moreover, I could get plenty of
evidence, from those on the estate, that I was the child so left."

"The likeness that Norah saw between you and your father might be
taken as a proof, sir."

"I did not think of that, Mike. Yes, if some of these officers
will also testify to the likeness, it will greatly strengthen my
case. The chain of evidence seems pretty strong. First, there is
the certificate of my baptism, your sister's declaration that I
was entrusted to her by my mother on her deathbed, supported by
Mrs. Callaghan's declaration that three weeks later she arrived in
Cork with the child, which she told her was that of James
O'Carroll; your sister's declaration that she took me to Kilkargan
and handed me over to my uncle, which would be supported by the
evidence of the woman he first placed me with; while the servants
of the castle could prove that I was brought by a woman who, an
hour later, left the castle without speaking to anyone but my
uncle.

"John O'Carroll will find it difficult to explain why he took me
in, and who is the Kennedy of whom I was the son, and what service
he had rendered for him, a Protestant and a Williamite, to have
undertaken the charge of the child of a rebel. There is no doubt
that the weight of evidence is all on my side, but whether the
judges would decide in favour of the son of a rebel, as against a
friend of the English party, is doubtful. Possibly Lord
Godolphin's influence might be exerted in my favour. He promised
in his letter to me to do me any service in his power. Still, even
if I lose the estate, which I may well do on the ground of my
father having fought and died for the cause of James the Second, I
should still have the satisfaction of establishing my name, which
I consider of more importance than the estates."

"Sure, your honour, it's a grand thing to belong to a good old
Irish stock; but for myself, I would rather be Mike Callaghan and
have a fine estate, than Mike O'Neil without an acre of land."

Desmond smiled.

"There is common sense in what you say, Mike, but there is nothing
more unpleasant than, when you are with a number of Irish
gentlemen or Spanish grandees, who are equally proud of their
ancestors, to be unable to give any account of your family, or
even to be sure that you have a right to the name that you bear."

"Well, your honour, it is a matter of taste. As for myself, if the
whisky is good, it makes no differ to me whether they call it Cork
or Dublin, or whether it is made up in the mountains and has sorra
a name at all."

The next morning, Mrs. Rooney returned with the certificate of
baptism, and a list containing some twenty names of officers who
had been frequent visitors at James O'Carroll's. Among these
Desmond, to his satisfaction, found Arthur Dillon, Walter Burke,
Nicholas Fitzgerald, and Dominic Sheldon, all of whom now held the
rank of general in the French service, and to all of whom he was
personally known, having met them either when with Berwick or in
Spain.

"Those names are good enough," he said. "And if they can testify
to my likeness to my father, it will go a long way towards
furnishing proof, when required. All of them entered the service
under the provisions of the treaty of Limerick, and therefore
their testimony cannot be treated as that of traitors; and their
names must be as well known in England as in France.

"Now, Mike, our business here is, for the present, concluded. I
shall at once return to France, see all these officers who are
still alive, and obtain, if possible, their recognition. As I have
a year's leave, I can travel about as I choose. Then I shall
decide whether I shall commence an action in the courts, or
whether I shall first go over to England, see Lord Godolphin,
explain the circumstances to him, and ask for his protection and
patronage.

"I suppose the case would be tried at Dublin, where the judges are
all creatures of England, and there can be no doubt that a
notification, from Godolphin, that he considered my claim to be a
good one, and was favourable to it, would have no slight influence
with them; and would counteract, to some extent, the fact of my
uncle's being a Protestant, and what they would consider a loyal
man. Before beginning an action, I should certainly communicate
with my uncle, and call upon him to resign in my favour; for I
would avoid the scandal of proving an O'Carroll to be a scoundrel,
as well as a traitor. As it has turned out, the step which he
thought would disembarrass him of me has had the other effect,
for, if I had not gone out to France, I should never have been
troubled by questions about my family; and should not have met
you, Mike, or known of the existence of your sister, the only
person who could clear up the matter.

"I shall begin to think what O'Neil and O'Sullivan used to say,
that my luck would carry me through anything; and certainly, at
present, it has been marvellous."

"Which way will we go back, your honour?"

"Not the way we came, if we can help it. We were nearly a month
coming from Genoa, and might have been twice as long, if the wind
had not been fairly favourable. I think our best plan will be to
take passage by sea to London. There we shall have no difficulty
in finding a vessel bound for Rotterdam, or the Hague. Then we
will buy horses, and ride along by the Rhine. If we can get
through Luxembourg into France we will do so, but I think it will
perhaps be best to go on through Switzerland, and pass the
frontier somewhere near Lyons, where we shall be but a short
distance from Berwick's headquarters in Dauphiny."

A month later, they rode into the duke's camp. They had, on
leaving Toulon, packed up their uniforms and sent them to the care
of a friend on the general's staff. To his quarters they first
went, and having changed his civilian costume for a military one,
Desmond waited on the duke.

"Why, Captain Kennedy," the duke said, in surprise; "I did not
look to see you again, so soon. Have you been over to Ireland?"

"I have, sir, and though there only a few days, gained information
that necessitated my return here. I have found out that the name I
go by is not mine, and that my proper name is Gerald O'Carroll."

"The son of Major James O'Carroll, who fought by my side at the
Boyne, and was through the first siege of Limerick with me! That
explains it. Your face has often puzzled me. It seemed to me that
I recognized it, and yet I could not recall whose face it was that
it resembled so strongly. Now you tell me, I know at once. Your
father, when I first knew him, was a few years older than you are;
but he had the same figure, face, and expression.

"And so, you are his son! By what miracle have you discovered your
relationship to him?"

Desmond, or as he should now be called, Gerald, related as briefly
as possible the manner in which he had discovered his parentage.

"Your uncle must be a thorough villain," the duke said, hotly.
"That he was a traitor we all knew, but that he should thus rob
his brother's son of his inheritance is monstrous and unnatural."

"I am glad, indeed, sir, that you have thus recognized me. Your
testimony will go for much, even in an English court, and I hope
to receive a similar recognition from the officers who were
intimate with my father in the second siege, and whose names I
have here."

The duke glanced down the list.

"Well-nigh half of them are still alive," he said, "and all of
them are men of rank and repute, whose word would be taken even by
an enemy. How do you mean to proceed? Because I am afraid that,
even if we could spare them, there would be some difficulty about
their making their appearance in a court, in either England or
Ireland."

"I quite see that that is out of the question. All I can hope for
is, that such of them as recognize my likeness to my father will
draw up a paper saying so, and will attest it before a notary,
having as witnesses men of weight and honour equal to their own.
The production of such certificates could not but have a strong
influence in my favour."

"I will most willingly sign such a document," the duke said, "and
four of my best-known generals can sign as witnesses to my
signature."

"I thank you most heartily, sir. Such a document should, in
itself, be considered as ample proof of my strong resemblance to
my father."

"That may or may not be," the duke said, "but do not be content
with that. Get as many of the others as possible to make similar
declarations. One man may see a likeness where another does not,
but if a dozen men agree in recognizing it, their declarations
must have a great weight. Certainly no Irish judge would doubt the
testimony of so many men, whose families and whose deeds are so
well known to them."

From Dauphiny, Gerald travelled first into Spain, and the three
Irish officers there whose names were on his list all recognized
the likeness, even before he told them his name. He put the
question to them in a general way.

"I have learned, sir, that the name I bear is not my own, that I
am the son of an officer who was killed in the siege of Limerick.
May I ask you if you can recognize any likeness between myself and
any officer with whom you were well acquainted there?"

In each case, after a little consideration, they declared that he
must be the son of James O'Carroll. All remembered that their
comrade's wife had borne a son, shortly before the end of the
siege. They remembered her death, but none had heard what became
of the child, for in the excitement of the closing scenes, and of
the preparation for the march immediately afterwards, they had had
little time on their hands, and it was hitherto supposed that it
had, like so many other infants, perished miserably. They
willingly signed documents, similar to that which he had received
from Berwick.

He met with almost equal success on the northern frontier, only
two out of eight officers failing to identify him by his likeness;
until he mentioned his name, when they, too, acknowledged that,
now they recalled James O'Carroll's face, they saw that the
likeness was a striking one.

Having obtained these documents, he resumed civilian attire, and,
riding by crossroads, passed through Flanders to Sluys, without
coming in contact with any body of the allied troops. There he had
no difficulty in obtaining a passage to London, and on his arrival
called upon Lord Godolphin, who received him cordially.

"So you have utilized your safe conduct, Captain Kennedy. I am
glad to see my former captor, and I am as grateful as ever to you
for the silence you maintained as to that affair. If it had been
known to my enemies, I should never have heard the last of it.
They would have made me such a laughingstock that I could scarcely
have retained office.

"Now, what can I do for you?"

"It is a long story, my lord."

"Then I cannot listen to it now; but if you will sup with me here,
at nine o'clock this evening, I shall be glad to hear it. I am so
harassed by the backstair intrigues of my enemies, that it would
be a relief to me to have something else to think of."

Gerald returned at the appointed time. Nothing was said as to his
affairs while supper was served, but after the table had been
cleared, decanters of port placed on the table, and the servants
had retired, Godolphin said:

"Now, Captain Kennedy, let us hear all about it."

Gerald related the history of his younger days, and of the manner
in which he had discovered his real parentage, producing the
certificate of his baptism, a statement which had been drawn up at
Cork and signed by Norah Rooney, and the testimony of the Duke of
Berwick and the other Irish officers.

"There can be no doubt whatever, in the mind of any fair man,"
Lord Godolphin said, after listening attentively to the whole
story, and examining the documents, "that your uncle, John
O'Carroll, is a villain, and that you have been most unjustly
deprived of your rights. I know him by name, and from the reports
of our agents in Ireland, as one of the men who turned his coat
and changed his religion to save his estates. Those men I heartily
despise; while those who gave up all, and went into exile in
order, as they believed, there to serve the cause of their
rightful sovereign, are men to be admired and respected. Be
assured that justice shall be done you. Of course, you will take
action in the courts?"

"I shall first summon him to give up the estate, shall let him
know that I have indisputable evidence to prove that I am the son
of his elder brother, and shall say that, if he will give up
possession peaceably, I will take no further steps in the matter,
for the sake of the family name. If he refuses, as I fear is
probable, I must then employ a lawyer."

"Yes, and a good one. I will furnish you with letters to the lord
lieutenant, and to Lord Chief Justice Cox, strongly recommending
you to them, and requesting the latter to appoint one of the law
officers of the crown to take up your case. I should say that,
when this John O'Carroll sees that you have such powerful friends,
he will perceive that it is hopeless for him to struggle in so bad
a cause, and will very speedily accept your terms, though methinks
it is hard that so great a villain should go unpunished.

"Now, it will be as well that you should have something stronger
than the safe conduct that I sent you. I will therefore draw out a
document for Her Majesty to sign, granting you a full and free
pardon for any offences that you may have committed against her
and the realm, and also settling upon you the estates to which you
are the rightful heir, in and about the barony of Kilkargan; being
influenced in so doing by the great services rendered by you, both
to Her Majesty's well-beloved and faithful minister and
counsellor, myself, and to her trusty general, the Earl of Galway.

"The queen is not very likely to ask the nature of the service.
Unless it be something that concerns herself, she asks but few
questions, and signs readily enough the documents laid before her.
If she asks what are the offences for which she grants her pardon,
I shall say, when but a boy you were maliciously sent abroad to
join the Irish Brigade by your uncle, who wished thus to rid
himself of you altogether, and who had foully wronged you by
withholding your name, from you and all others. I shall also add
that you have distinguished yourself much, and have gained the
friendship of her half brother, the Duke of Berwick; and you know
that the queen, in her heart of hearts, would rather that her
brother, whom you Jacobites call James the Third, should succeed
her than the Elector of Hanover, for whom she has no love."

"I thank you greatly, indeed, my lord. Never was a man so amply
rewarded for merely holding his tongue."

"It was not only that, sir. It was your conduct in general to me.
You might have left me tied up in that house, to be found in the
morning, and to be made the jest of the town; instead of which,
you yourself conducted and guarded me hither, and so contrived it
that no whisper spread abroad that I had been carried off between
Saint James's and my own house. You trusted to my honour, in not
causing a pursuit of you to be set on foot, and behaved in all
ways as a gallant young gentleman, and certainly gained my high
esteem, both for the daring and ingenuity with which you carried
out your plans for obtaining a passage to France, and for your
personal conduct towards myself.

"Where are you lodging?"

"At the Eagle, hard by the Abbey."

"Remain there, until you hear from me. Do not be impatient. I must
choose my time, when either the queen is in a good temper, or is
in such a hurry to get rid of me, in order to plot and gossip with
Mistress Harley, who is now her prime favourite, that she is ready
to sign any document I may lay before her."

Feeling that his cause was as good as won, Gerald returned in high
spirits to his inn, where he delighted Mike by relating how the
great minister had promised to forward his suit.

"Ah, your honour, it will be a grand day when you take possession
of Kilkargan--bonfires and rejoicing of all sorts, and lashings of
drink. Won't all the boys in the barony be glad to be free from
the traitor, and to have the true heir come to be their master.
None the less glad will be my sister."

"You must fetch her from Cork, Mike. It is owing to her that I am
alive, and it will be owing to her if I recover the estate. She
shall have the place of honour on the occasion, though all the
gentry in the neighbourhood are there. When I tell them what she
has done for me, they will say that she well deserves the honour!"

"And you will go no more to the wars, Captain O'Carroll?"

"No, Mike. I have been but three years in the French army, but I
have seen enough of fighting, and, worse still, of fighting
against men of our own nation. Besides, if the queen grants me the
estates of my father, I shall consider myself bound in honour not
to draw my sword against her, or to mix myself up in any plot or
conspiracy, but to remain strictly neutral whatever may be going
on. Indeed, the more I think of it, the more I doubt whether it
would be for the good of Ireland did the Stuarts return to the
throne. It could only be done at a further cost of blood and
misery. The old religious quarrels would break out more fiercely
than ever, there would be risings and civil wars, confiscations
and massacres, whichever side happened to get the upper hand. That
James the Third is the lawful sovereign of the three kingdoms, I
shall always uphold, but there are cases when it is to the benefit
of the country, at large, that there should be a change in the
succession."

"Sure that may be so, your honour; and yet, it is hard that a man
should be kept out of his own."

"No doubt it is hard; but it is far harder that thousands of
people should be killed, and tens of thousands ruined, for the
sake of one man."

"So it is, sir. So it is, sure enough, when one comes to think of
it. Ireland has suffered mightily in the cause of the Stuarts, and
I don't suppose that, if King James succeeded to the throne, his
English ministers would let him turn out all the men who have
taken the places and lands of the old families."

"That they certainly would not, Mike. When Charles the Second
returned from exile, all those who had fought and suffered for him
thought that they would recover their estates, and turn out
Cromwell's men, to whom they had been granted. But they were
disappointed. The king found that he could not make so great a
change, without upsetting the whole country, and that an attempt
to do so would cost him his crown; and you may be sure that James
would find an equal difficulty, were he to come to the throne."

"Well, well, your honour, you know more of such matters than I do;
but I have no doubt that you are right. I am sure we don't want
the bad times to come over again, in Ireland."

Three days later, Gerald received a message from Lord Godolphin,
saying that he wished to see him; and, on going to his house, the
minister handed to him the paper with the full pardon, and the
confirmation of his ownership in his father's estates; together
with a letter to the lord lieutenant, and the Lord Chief Justice
Cox.

The next day, he took ship for Dublin, and on arriving there
presented his letters, and was well received by those to whom they
were directed.

The lord lieutenant said:

"It is enough for me, Mr. O'Carroll, that Lord Godolphin speaks of
you in such high terms, and I question not that he has thoroughly
satisfied himself as to your right to these estates. At the same
time, I should be glad if you will give me a brief outline of how
it is that you never claimed them before, though perhaps it is as
well that you did not do so, for, until the passions excited by
the war had somewhat subsided, a friend of the Government would
hardly have interposed for the benefit of the son of one who had
died fighting for James."

Gerald had drawn up three copies of a statement containing a
precis of the case, and he handed one of these to the lord
lieutenant, saying:

"As the story is a somewhat long one, my lord, I have written it
down, in order that you might read it at your leisure."

"I will certainly do so, Mr. O'Carroll. I should like to be
personally acquainted with the details of the matter. It will
doubtless excite a considerable stir. It is, I believe, the first
time that a supporter of the Government has had to defend his
title against one of the family that fought on the other side."

"It is hardly a case of royalist and rebel, sir, but the
deliberate action of a man suppressing all knowledge of the
existence of his own nephew, in order that he might himself obtain
the property of his dead brother.

"I have no doubt that, had it been known that I was in existence,
I should still have been thrust aside in order to reward his
adhesion to the cause of William, but that would have made his
position intolerable. As one who has changed his religion and his
politics, he is regarded as a traitor by the people of the barony,
and avoided by all the gentry round; but the feeling would have
been infinitely stronger, if it had been known that he was keeping
his own nephew out of his inheritance. My father was, as I
understand, immensely popular, and I doubt whether his brother
would have dared to show his face within fifty miles of Kilkargan,
had it been known that not only was he a traitor, but a usurper."

The lord lieutenant smiled.

"I am not surprised at your warmth, Mr. O'Carroll; but,
unfortunately, your case is not a solitary one. There are
thousands of men in Ireland who have suffered for the deeds of
their fathers. However, I shall understand the case better when I
have read your statement."

It was evident to Gerald that the lord chief justice, who had
taken a leading part in the prosecution and punishment of persons
known to be favourable to the Jacobite cause, was not altogether
pleased with Lord Godolphin's letter.

"A strange affair," he said. "A strange and, as it appears to me,
an unfortunate business.

"However, sir," he went on, with a changed tone; "I shall
certainly do my best to see justice done, in accordance with his
lordship's request. I will read carefully through this statement
of your claim, and, after considering it, place it in the hands of
the crown lawyers.

"But it seems to me that your own position here is a strange one,
and that you yourself are liable to arrest, as a member of a
family whose head was one of the late king's strongest adherents."

"My own position, sir, is regulated by this document, bearing the
signature of the queen and her chief minister;" and he laid the
official paper before Cox.

"That certainly settles that question," the latter said, after
perusing it. "Of course I shall, for my own satisfaction, read
your statement; but I do not wish to see any documents or proofs
you may possess in the matter. These you must, of course, lay
before your counsel. I think I can't do better than give you a
letter to Mr. Counsellor Fergusson, with whom you can go into all
particulars, and who will advise you as to the course that you had
best take."

Mr. Fergusson, although one of the crown lawyers, enjoyed a wide
reputation, even among the Jacobite party, for the moderation and
the fairness with which he conducted the crown cases placed in his
hands. He had less employment than his colleagues, for only cases
in which the evidence of acts of hostility to the crown were
indisputable were committed to him, it having been found that he
was unwilling to be a party to calling doubtful witnesses, or to
using the means that were, in the majority of cases, employed to
obtain convictions.

The lord chief justice's letter to him was as follows:

Dear Mr. Counsellor Fergusson:

I have been requested, by Lord Godolphin, to place the case of the
bearer of this letter in good hands, and cannot better carry out
his request than by asking you to act in the matter. Lord
Godolphin has expressed himself most strongly as to the justness
of his claim. The bearer's father was, he states, James O'Carroll,
a noted rebel who was killed at the siege of Limerick. This alone
would, it might have been thought, have proved a bar to any action
on his part against the present possessor of the property; but he
is the bearer of a document, signed by the queen herself,
reinstating him in all rights he may possess, notwithstanding the
actions of his father or of himself. It is not for me to make any
comment upon the royal document, though I may say that I fear it
may give rise to other suits, and alarm many loyal subjects who
have become possessed of confiscated estates. However, we must
hope that this will not be so, as it is expressly stated that, in
this instance, the pardon and restoration of rights are given in
consideration of services rendered by this young gentleman to Lord
Godolphin himself, and to the Earl of Galway. What the nature of
these services may have been does not concern me.

Gerald carried this letter to the address indicated, and on saying
that he was the bearer of a letter from the lord chief justice, he
was at once shown into the counsellor's room. The latter, a man of
some fifty-five years old, with features that told of his Scottish
extraction, with keen eyes and a kindly face, took the letter
which Gerald presented to him, and begged him to be seated while
he read it. As he glanced through it, a look of surprise came
across his face, and he read the letter carefully, and then looked
at Gerald keenly.

"You are fortunate in having such good friends, Mr. O'Carroll," he
said. "Before I go into the case, will you let me know something
about yourself? You are, I take it, some twenty years of age?"

"I am but a few months past nineteen."

"By your figure, I should have put you as three years older; by
your face, two years. You must have been fortunate, indeed, to
have gained the protection both of Lord Godolphin and the Earl of
Galway. No less than this would have sufficed to gain for you this
rescript of Her Majesty.

"And now, sir, please to give me an outline of your case, as to
the nature of which I am, at present, entirely ignorant."

"I have put it down in writing, sir," Gerald said, handing him the
third copy of his statement.

"It will take me some time to read this, Mr. O'Carroll, and I
would rather do so alone, and ask you any question that may occur
to me afterwards. Will you therefore call upon me again, in an
hour's time?"

Upon Gerald's return, the counsellor said:

"It is a strange story, Mr. O'Carroll, and a very disgraceful one.
You allude, I see, to testimonies of Irish officers in the French
service as to your likeness to the late Mr. James O'Carroll. Will
you please let me see them?"

"Here they are, sir, together with a sworn statement by my nurse."

The lawyer read the documents through carefully.

"The testimony of the Duke of Berwick, and of the other honourable
and well-known Irish gentlemen, as to the striking likeness
between yourself and Mr. James O'Carroll, cannot but carry immense
weight in the minds of all unprejudiced persons. They prove too,
conclusively, that James O'Carroll left an infant boy behind him,
and the statement of the nurse goes a long way to prove you are
that son; and I think that this is substantiated by the conduct of
John O'Carroll; first in receiving you and undertaking your care;
secondly, in the neglect, and I should almost say the dislike, he
manifested towards the child he had sheltered; and thirdly, in the
extraordinary step that he, a professedly loyal subject of Her
Majesty, took in sending you off to enlist in the brigade composed
of the devoted adherents of the son of James the Second.

"No doubt, at any rate, can arise that you are the child brought
by this Mrs. Rooney to Kilkargan. That can be proved beyond all
question; and the fact that your nurse was sent off without having
any conversation save with John O'Carroll himself, would show how
anxious he was that no one but himself should know her errand.

"I must say that you have shown great acumen in mustering
evidence, of all kinds, that would bear upon the question. I say
frankly that, without this royal rescript, and the influence of
these two noblemen, your chance, as James O'Carroll's son, of
wresting your patrimony from the hands of your uncle would be
small indeed. Politics have, much more than facts, to do with
decisions here; but with such powerful credentials, and with the
chief minister of England interfering on your behalf, I think that
there is no great doubt that you will secure a judgment in your
favour. When the facts are known, the feeling of the greater
portion of the population will run strongly with you, and against
this unnatural uncle of yours."

"I should be desirous, if possible, sir, of avoiding a public
trial that would bring discredit upon the name of my family, and
would, in the eyes of the supporters of the present Government,
act prejudicially to myself."

"You are quite right. How do you propose to proceed?"

"I was thinking, sir, of sending a statement to my uncle, similar
to that which I laid before you, going somewhat further into
details, and promising that, if he would surrender the property to
me and publicly acknowledge me as his nephew, giving what reason
he chose for having so long concealed his knowledge of the fact, I
would take no proceedings against him, and would do my best to
prevent any discredit falling upon him."

"That would do very well," the lawyer said, "but I should abstain
from making any allusion to the protectors you have gained. He
will learn that soon enough, and it will be well to see what his
first impulse is. Do not mention the names of the Duke of Berwick
and the others, who have testified to your likeness to your late
father. Simply say that many of his comrades have recognized your
likeness to him. It is of no use showing him all the cards we have
to play. I should not send the letter by post, but by hand. If you
like, I will despatch one of my own messengers down with it, with
instructions to bring back an answer, but not to say anything, if
questioned, as to his being in my employment."

The next morning, the messenger started by coach for Kilkargan. He
returned four days later, bearing John O'Carroll's answer. It read
as follows:

Sir:

I have received your audacious letter, and proclaim you to be an
impostor, worthy of the severest punishment for attempting to
personate a son of my late brother. However, for the sake of my
friendship for Mr. Kennedy, your father, I give you twenty-four
hours to leave the country, before laying any information against
you, both as an impostor and as a rebel who has served against the
armies of Her Majesty. I shall, however, at once apply for a writ
ordering your arrest, which will be served upon you within
twenty-four hours of your receipt of this communication. I shall
also have this woman, your pretended nurse, arrested for perjury
and conspiracy.

Gerald took this letter to the counsellor.

"That is exactly what I expected," he said, after reading it. "It
shows the man in his true colours. We shall see what he says when
he learns who are employed against him, and what protection you
have obtained. My opinion is that, before many hours have passed,
you will receive a letter in a different strain. I consider it by
no means improbable that the lord chief justice will have written
to him privately, warning him that you have received a full
pardon, and are restored to all your rights, and that you are
strongly supported by Lord Godolphin, who has written to him and
the lord lieutenant in your favour; that you have also the
protection of the Earl of Galway, an officer who possesses the
confidence of Her Majesty; and that the Duke of Berwick, and many
of the best-known Irish officers in the service of France, have
all given their testimony, in the most positive manner, of your
likeness to James O'Carroll, whom they knew intimately; and will
say that, at the request of Lord Godolphin that the matter should
be placed in the hands of one of the crown lawyers, it has been
submitted to me; and that in my opinion, which I wrote him after
our interview, a decision in your favour is inevitable; and
strongly advising him to make the best compromise with you in his
power."

The same evening, indeed, a mounted messenger, who had ridden
posthaste from Kilkargan, arrived with another letter from John
O'Carroll. It began:

My Dear Nephew:

I wrote yesterday in haste, on the receipt of your communication.
It seemed to me that you were rushing on destruction, by avowing
yourself to be the son of my brother James; and that you would be
liable to be arrested as a Jacobite agent in the service of
France. Therefore, I wrote the letter that I did in hopes that you
would leave the country, for the time had not yet arrived when you
could safely be recognized by me as the rightful owner of
Kilkargan. I have heard, however, that you have received a full
pardon for past offences, and a restitution of your rights, and I
am only too glad to be able to retire from the false position in
which I was placed, and by which I incurred the hostility and
dislike of my neighbours and tenants. As you know, I have lived an
almost solitary life here, and have spent far less than the income
of the estate. I am well aware that, acting as I have done as your
trustee, you have a right to demand from me an account of the
rents I have received; but I trust that you will not press this
matter, as you'll at once come in for the receipt of the rents;
and I shall be enabled to live in comfort, in Dublin, upon the
savings I have effected, and a small property I received as a
younger brother's portion.

You will, of course, understand why, during your stay here, I
refrained from any outward demonstrations of affection for you. I
felt that suspicions might have arisen, had I not done so, that
you were my brother's son, in which case the estate would surely
have been confiscated. Seeing that the bent of your inclinations
was for an active and stirring life, and as the English army was
barred to you, I thought it best that you should go abroad, and so
be out of the way until the time should come when matters would so
quieten down, in Ireland, that my influence might avail to secure
an indemnity for you for serving in France, and enable me to hand
over your estate to you.

Your affectionate uncle, John O'Carroll.

Gerald laughed aloud as he read the letter.

"Is it good news, your honour?" Mike, who happened to be busy in
the room, asked.

"Nothing could be better. My dear uncle has heard that Lord
Godolphin and the Earl of Galway have become my patrons, that the
queen has restored to me my rights, and Mr. Counsellor Fergusson
has taken up my case. He therefore declares that, as it was always
his intention to restore the estate to me, as soon as I could
safely return, he is now ready to do so, and only hopes that I
will not insist upon his handing over the back rents; which,
indeed, I question whether I could do, as the estate was granted
to him, personally, by the Government.

"However, of course I shall not press that. I shall be only too
glad to obtain possession without the scandal of having to show,
in the public courts, that my father's brother was a villain."

"The ould fox!" Mike exclaimed indignantly. "I felt sure, when you
told me what the counsellor had said, that he would wriggle out of
it somehow. I would give all the gold pieces I have in my belt for
half an hour's talk with him, with a good shillelah!"

"Well, we can afford to let bygones be bygones, Mike. And after
all, he did me a service, unwittingly, in sending me over to
France. In the first place, I had three years of stirring life; in
the next, I have made many good friends, and have gained the
patronage of two powerful noblemen, without which I should have
assuredly never come in for Kilkargan at all."

"That is true for you, your honour. And without it, I might be
still a private in O'Brien's regiment, instead of being your
honour's body servant."

"And friend, Mike."

"Yes, sir, as you are good enough to say so."

Mr. Fergusson put John O'Carroll's letter down, with a gesture of
disgust, after he had read it.

"It is what might have been expected from such a man," he said. "A
traitor to the cause he once adhered to, false to his religion,
and a usurper of his nephew's rights.

"At any rate, Mr. O'Carroll, I congratulate you. It has prevented
a grievous scandal from being made public, and the large
expenditure entailed by such a case. You have now only to go down
and take possession."

"I shall write to my uncle, and give him a week to clear out, and
to make what explanation he chooses of the change."

Gerald wrote at once to his uncle. It was coldly worded, and
showed unmistakably that he was, in no way, deceived by the
professions in his letter. He told him that he considered it fair
that he should retain the savings he had made, as he had
personally been confirmed in the ownership of Kilkargan, the
Government being ignorant that his brother had left a son. He said
that he thought it would be more pleasant, for both of them, that
they should not meet, and wished, therefore, that he would leave,
before his arrival to take possession.

John O'Carroll at once summoned the tenants, and astonished them
by informing them that, he was glad to say, he was free at last to
lay down the position he had held as owner of Kilkargan. That his
brother James had left a son, whom they all knew as Desmond
Kennedy, but whom he had been obliged to treat with coldness, lest
suspicions should be excited as to his identity. Had this been
known, he would assuredly have been proscribed as the son of a
rebel, and debarred by law from any inheritance. He was delighted
to say that the time had come when he could publicly acknowledge
him, and place him in possession of the estate, as Her Majesty had
granted him a special indemnity against the pains and penalties
incurred by his father's act of rebellion and treason, and had
restored to him his full rights.

A burst of cheering, such as had not been heard in Kilkargan since
James O'Carroll rode out, at the head of a troop raised among his
tenantry, to fight for King James, greeted the announcement; and,
for the first time since that event, John O'Carroll was, for the
moment, popular. Subsequent reflection, and their knowledge of his
character, soon dissipated that feeling; but in their joy at the
announced approaching arrival of their new master, John O'Carroll
rode away, with his followers, without the manifestation of
hostility that would otherwise have attended his departure.

Bonfires blazed all over the barony when Gerald rode in,
accompanied by Mike. The tenants, and a number of the gentry who
had known him when a boy, assembled at the castle to meet him; and
even his father could not have met with a more enthusiastic
welcome than that which was given him.

The next day, Gerald wrote to the Duke of Berwick, telling him
what had taken place, and resigning his commission in the Irish
Brigade.

"I intend," he said, "to abstain from all part in politics.
Although no condition was made, in my pardon for serving abroad
and in the restoration of my estate, I feel that, having accepted
these favours, I must hold myself aloof from all plots against
Queen Anne, though my heart will still be with him whom I hold to
be my lawful sovereign. Unless a large army from France was landed
here, I believe that any attempt at his restoration would only
bring down fresh misery upon Ireland. But, should a force land
that would render success almost a certainty, I should then, with
the great bulk of my countrymen, join it."

In due time he received an answer, approving the course he had
taken.

"I myself," the Duke said, "am under no delusions. With the ten
regiments of the Irish Brigade, twenty thousand French troops, and
arms sufficient to distribute to the whole country, I believe that
Ireland and Scotland might again come under the rule of the
Stuarts; but nothing short of such a force would be of any avail.
So convinced was I of this that, in 1691, after the successful
defence of Limerick, I saw that the cause was for the time lost,
and that further resistance would only prove disastrous to
Ireland. I therefore resigned my command, and went over to France
to serve as a volunteer, and took no part in the war at home.
Therefore, I think that you are fully justified in the course you
have taken. When the present war, which I think is approaching its
end, terminates, and you can again visit France, I trust that I
shall see you; and I am sure that you will receive the heartiest
of welcomes from your comrades in the Brigade."

Gerald followed out strictly the line he had laid down for
himself, and kept aloof from the plots and conspiracies that, for
years, agitated the country, entailing disaster upon all concerned
in them. Mike was installed as his body servant, and majordomo of
his household; and Norah Rooney as housekeeper at the castle.

Three years later, in 1713, the treaty of Utrecht brought the war
to an end. Communications being restored between the two
countries, Gerald wrote to the Baron de Pointdexter, and told him
of the changes which had taken place in his position. He received
a warm letter in reply, urging him to go over and pay him and his
son-in-law a visit.

But Gerald had had enough of travelling, and wrote to say that he
could not leave his estate, as there was much to look after.
Letters were, however, frequently exchanged between them, and
when, three years later, Gerald married the daughter of the Mr.
Kennedy he had visited near Cork, a present of a superb set of
jewels, the joint gift of the baron and Monsieur de la Vallee,
arrived for the bride.

After the conclusion of the peace, some of the Irish regiments
were disbanded, and as the British Government, wiser than before,
offered a free pardon to all men and officers who would return,
many availed themselves of it; and among these was O'Neil, who
delighted Gerald by riding up, one day, to the castle.

"You did not expect to see me again, Kennedy; or, as I hear we
ought to call you, O'Carroll. Not knowing where I should find you,
I took the liberty of writing to Baron de Pointdexter, and he
informed me of your good luck, and your change of name."

"And you have left the French service altogether, O'Neill?"

"Yes, and glad enough I am that I shall be able to end my days at
home."

"And what are you thinking of doing?"

"Anything I can get."

"Well, O'Neil, I have some interest with the lord lieutenant. As I
am no longer regarded as one likely to join in plots, I think
that, were I to ride with you to Dublin after you have been here
for a time; and speak to him for you, as one who had seen the
errors of his ways, and was anxious to live peacefully, he would
procure you some appointment."

O'Neil stayed there for three weeks, and they then rode to Dublin.
The lord lieutenant granted Gerald's request, and gave O'Neil an
appointment which would enable him to live in comfort; knowing
that there is nothing, for keeping a man peaceable, like giving
him something to do; and that an idle man is a dangerous man,
while one who has a comfortable position can be trusted to hold
himself aloof from any business that might imperil his place.

O'Neil thoroughly justified Gerald's recommendation of him, and, a
couple of years after his return, married a young and well-endowed
widow; and, to the end of his life, abstained carefully from
mixing himself up, in any way, in politics.

Gerald saw the failure of Prince Charlie's expedition to Scotland;
and the terrible disasters, that befell all who had taken part in
the movement, showed him the wisdom of the course he had
adopted--of standing aloof from all intrigues in favour of the
descendants of James the Second.

THE END.






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