Page images
PDF
EPUB

89

CALVINISM.

I had been for some time recommended by my physician to pass a few weeks at Cheltenham, for the purpose of drinking the waters, in consequence of which I took my departure, with my portmanteau stored with some select works, and having found a small lodging in a pleasant situation, I considered myself, though a stranger among strangers, as well off for resources as any around me. Among the company I fell in with in my walks, I recognised many a gallant Commander under whom I had marched, and with whom I had fought; and though some of them I thought might have known me, there were none whose memories or whose eyes were sufficiently good for that purpose. This at first caused a slight return of my old distemper ; but when I considered that my illness had made some alteration in my appearance, and that even a few years might have changed the features of our

countenances, independently of the difference which a change from a regimental uniform to plain clothes makes in the person, and that this seeming neglect of a fellow soldier might be wholly unintentional, I ceased to put any harsh construction upon the matter, and quickly recovered from the little irritation thus occasioned. As my object was to seek health and not amusement, I did not fall into those numerous modes of idleness and dissipation in which the general run of visitors at the bathing-places and spas of the kingdom too commonly pass their time, and, excepting a little occasional intercourse with some few old or infirm folks to whom the notion of pleasure was nausea, I found myself almost as much alone, and as free to indulge in my own contemplations as if I had been residing in the most sequestered spot. Sometimes, indeed, the attention was diverted by the noise and bustle around me; but as these interruptions were generally short-lived, I soon relapsed into the train of thoughts into which I had been led by the serious circumstances connected with myself, and not a little by those I had recently witnessed in the death of Mr. Singleton's brother, the latter of which had left a deep and melancholy impression on my mind.

It became my practice, some little time after my solitary dinner, to walk into the country, towards a small retired village, at a little distance from the town; and it was constantly my fortune to meet in some part of my walk, either going or returning, a young lady, under the escort of a maid-servant and a small handsome spaniel. She was more than commonly well-locking, and the marked simplicity of her dress was in perfect keeping with the grace and elegance of her figure and carriage. She usually carried a book, out of which she appeared to be reading to her companion, or conversing on the subject of it. The attention of both was invariably arrested whenever I approached, for, upon the first day of my meeting them, their dog ran towards me, barking and fawning with all the joy and familiarity of an old acquaintance, and it was not until I had spoken in an angry tone of voice that I could make him entirely leave me.

This had occurred so frequently as to become common, and the surprise it had first excited on both sides seemed daily to increase. I made enquiries after the name of the lady, but, as she lived retired, and seemed to have no acquaintances, I did not succeed. Some days had elapsed before it came

my mind that, when I was in the Peninsula, one of the few persons, indeed, the only one whom I could call my friend, died in my arms of the wounds he had received in the battle of Albuera, and that he had possessed a dog of this description, which had shown such extraordinary attachment to his master, that on the night after we buried him, the faithful animal had persevered, in spite of cold and the want of food, in not leaving the spot. In the morning of the following day, a sudden order had been received to move instantly forward, as a picquet of the enemy was advancing; a circumstance, the hurry of which drove all other consideration of the dog from my mind, and I lost sight of him wholly from that time. Upon recollecting my friend to have given this dog the name of Branco from the place in Portugal where he had found him, I determined, on the next occasion of seeing him, to try whether he would answer to it, and thus account for our previous acquaintance. On the following day, therefore, as I perceived the same couple advancing along the frequented path, and the little Fido bound

into

« PreviousContinue »