Page images

ling with batteries about half way hollyhocks, and the fruit-trees in the down, so that the muzzles of the guns neighbourhood were absolutely bendwere flush with the neighbouring ing to the earth under their loads of country beyond the ditch. Still there apples and pears. was wanting, to my imagination, the * Presently my friend came up to strength of the high perpendicularme; my curiosity could no longer be wall, with its gaping embrasures, and restrained. Pray, my good sir, frowning cannon. All this time it what peculiar cause, may I ask, have never occurred to me, that to breach you for shewing me, an entire stransuch a defence as that we looked ger to you, all this unexpected kindupon was impossible. You might ness? I am fully aware that I have no have plumped your shot into it until claim on you.' you had converted it into an iron ". My good boy, you say true; but mine, but no chasm could have been I have spent the greatest part of my forced in it by all the artillery in life in London, although a HamEurope; so battering in breach was burgher born, and I consider you entirely out of the question, and this, therefore in the light of a countryin truth,constituted the great strength man; besides, I will not conceal that of the place. We arrived, after an your gallant bearing before Davoust hour's drive, at the villa belonging riveted my attention, and engaged to my protector’s family, and walked my good wishes.' into a large room, with a comfortable « But how come you to have so stove, and extensive preparations much influence with the mon-gemade for a comfortable breakfast. neral, I mean ??

“ Presently three young ladies ap- “For several reasons,' he replied; peared; they were his sisters; blue 'for those, amongst others, you heard eyed, fair haired, white skinned, the colonel who has taken the small round sterned, plump little par- liberty of turning me out of my own tridges.

house in Hamburgh, mention last « Haben sie gefrühstücht?' said night at supper; but a man like Dathe eldest.

voust cannot be judged of by com. Pas encore,' said he in French, mon rules. He has, in short, taken a with a smile. But, sisters, I have fancy to me, for which you may thank brought a stranger here, a young Eng- your stars-although your life has lish officer, who was recently cap- been actually saved by the Prince tured in the river.'

having burned his fingers. But here « An English officer ! exclaimed comes my father.' the three ladies looking at me, a poor

“ A venerable old man entered the little dirty midshipman, in my soiled room, leaning on his stick. I was linen, unbrushed shoes, dirty trow- introduced in due form. sers and jacket, with my little square « • He had breakfasted in his own of white cloth on the collar; and I room,' he said, “baving been ailing, began to find the eloquent blood but he could not rest quietly after mantling in my cheeks, and tingling he had heard there was an English. in my ears; but their kindly feelinge man in the house until he had himgot the better of a gentle propensity self welcomed him.' to laugh, and the youngest said " I shall never forget the kindness

" Sie sind gerade zu rechter zeit I experienced from this worthy fagekommen.' When, finding that her mily-for three days I was fed and German was Hebrew to me, she tried clothed by them as if I had been a the other tack. Vous arrivez à member of the family. Like a boy propos, le déjcũné est prêt.'

as I was, I had risen early on the “ However, I soon found that the fourth morning at grey dawn, to be moment they were assured that I aiding in dragging the fish-pond, so was in reality an Englishman, they that it might be cleaned out. This all spoke Englisl), and exceedingly was an annual amusement, in which well too. Our meal was finished, the young men and women in the faand I was standing at the window mily, under bappier circumstances, looking out on a small lawn, where had been in the invariable custom of evergreens of the most beautiful joining, and, changed as these were, kinds were chequered with little they still preserved the fashion. The round clumps of most luxuriant seine was cast in at one end, loaded at the bottom with heavy sinks, and was in the distance. On the tallest buoyant at the top with cork floats. spire of the place, which was now We hauled it along the whole length sparkling in the early sunbeams, the of the pond, thereby driving the fish French flag, the pestilent tricolor, into an enclosure about twenty feet that Upas-tree, waved sluggishly in square, with a sluice towards the the faint morning breeze." pond, and another fronting the dull “Upas-tree--bad simile, with regard ditch that flowed past beyond it. to a flag,” grunted Bang; but I let Whenever we had hunted the whole him go on. of the finny tribes (barring those " It attracted my attention, and I slippery youths the eels, who, with pointed it out to my patron. Preall their cleverness, were left to dry sently it was hauled down, and a sein the mud) into the toils, we fill. ries of signals was made at the yarded all the tubs, and pots and pans, arm of a spar, that had been slung and vessels of all kinds and descrip- across it. Who can they be tele. tions, some of them unnameable, graphing to ? thought I, while I could with the fat honest-looking Dutch- notice my host assume a most anmen, the carp and tench, who really xious and startled look, while he submitted to their captivity with all peered down into the hollow; but he the resignation of most ancient and could see nothing, as the fog bank quiet watchmen, scarcely indicating still filled the whole of the space beany sense of the irksomeness of cap- tween the city and the acclivity where tivity, except by a lumbering slug- we stood. gish flap of their broad heavy tails. “ " What is that ?' said I; for I

“ A transaction of this kind could heard, or thought I heard, a low rumnot take place amongst a group of bling rushing noise in the ravine. young folks without shouts of laugh- Mr *** heard it as well as I apter, and it was not until we had parently, for he put his finger to caught the whole of the fish in the his lips-as much as to say, 'Hold pond, and placed them in safety, that your tongue, my good boy-nous verI had leisure to look about me. The rons.' city lay about four miles distant from “ It increased the clattering of us. The whole country about Ham- horses' hoofs, and the clang of scabburgh is level, except the right bank bards was heard, and, in a twinkling, below it, of the noble river on which the hussar caps of a squadron of it stands, the Elbe. The house where light dragoons emerged from out the I was domiciled stood on nearly the fog bank, as, charging up the road, highest point of this bank, which gra- they passed the small gate of green dually sloped down into a swampy basket-work at a hand-gallop. I hollow, nearly level with the river. ought to have mentioned before that It then rose again gently until the my friend's house was situated about swell was crowned with the beauti- half way up the ascent, so that the ful town of Altona, and immediately rising ground behind it in the oppobeyond appeared the ramparts and site direction from the city, shut out tall spires of the noble city itself. all view towards the country. After

" The morning had been thick and the dragoons passed, there was an infoggy, but as the sun rose, the white terval of two minutes, when a troop mist that had floated over the whole of flying artillery, with three sixcountry, gradually concentrated and pound field-pieces, rattled after the settled down into the hollow between leading squadron, the horses all in a us and Hamburgh, covering it with lather, at full speed, with the guns an impervious veil, which even ex- bounding and jumping behind them tended into the city itself, filling the as if they had been playthings, follower part of it with a dense white lowed by their caissons. Presently bank of fog, which rose so high that we could see the leading squadron the spires alone, with one or two of file to the right-clear the low hedge the most lofty buildings, appeared and then disappear over the crest above the rolling sea of white fleece- of the hill. Twenty or thirty pion, like vapour, as if it had been a model eers, who had been carried forward of the stronghold, in place of the rea- behind as many of the cavalry, were lity, packed in white wool, so dis- now seen busily

employed in filling tinct did it appear, diminished as it up the ditch, and cutting down the short scrubby hedge; and presently, “ A loud scream-a fearful conthe artillery coming up also, filed off certo," quoth Bang—"Bad phrase, sharply to the right, and formed on Tom; but let us get along. the very summit

of the hill, distinct- " The breeze at this moment ly visible between us and the grey aside the shroud of battle cast,' cold streaks of morning. By the time and we heard a faint bugle call, like we had noticed this, the clatter in an echo wail in the distance, from our immediate neighbourhood was beyond the hill. It was instantly renewed, and a group of mounted answered by the loud, startling Blare officers dashed past us, up the path of a dozen of the light infantry bugles like a whirlwind, followed, at a dis- above us on the hill-side, and we tance of twenty yards, by a single could see them suddenly start from cavalier, apparently a general officer. their lair, and form ; while between These did not stop, as they rode at us and the clearing morning sky, the speed past the spot where the artil- cavalry, magnified into giants in the lery were in position, but, dipping strong relief on the outline of the over the summit, disappeared down hill, were driven in straggling patrols, the road, from which they did not like chaff, over the summit-their appear to diverge, until they were sabres sparkling in the level sunlost to our view

beyond the crest of beams, and the reports of the red the hill. The hum and buzz, and flashes of their pistols crackling down anon, the measured tread of march- upon us. ing men,' in the valley between us They are driven in on the inand Hamburgh, still continued. The fantry,' said Mr *** He was right leading files of a light infantry regi- --but the light battalion immediatement now appeared, swinging along ly charged over the hill, with a loud at a round trot, with their muskets hurrah, after admitting the beaten poised in their right hands—no horse through their intervals, who, knapsacks on their backs. They ap- however, to give the devils their due, peared to follow the route of the formed again in an instant, under the group of mounted officers, until we shelter of the high ground. The arcould see a puff of white smoke, tillery again opened their fire-the then another and a third from the cavalry once more advanced, and field-pieces, followed by thudding presently we could see nothing but reports, there being no high ground the field-pieces, with their three senor precipitous bank, nor water in parate groups of soldiers standing, the neighbourhood to reflect the quietly by them, sure proof sound, and make it emulate Jove's that the enemy's pickets were now thunder. At this, they struck across out of cannon-shot, and had been the fields, and forming behind the driven back on the main body, and guns, lay down flat on their faces, that the reconnoissance was still adwhere they were soon hid from our vancing. view by the wreaths of white smoke, “ What will not an habitual expoas the sluggish morning breeze roll- sure to danger do, even with tender ed it down the hill side towards women ?

« The French have advanced, so u" What the deuce can all this let us have our breakfast, Julia, my mean-is it a review ?' said I, in my dear,” said Mr ***

as we entered innocence.

the house. “The Allied Forces would “ ' A reconnoissance in force,' have been welcome, however; and groaned my friend. “The Allied surely, if they do come, they will troops must be at hand-now, God respect our sufferings and helplesshelp us !

ness.' « The women, like frightened “ The eldest sister, to whom he hares, paused to look up in their bro. spoke, shook her head mournfully; ther's face, as he kept bis eye stea- but, nevertheless, betook herself to dily turned towards the ridge of the her task of making coffee. hill, and, when he involuntarily “What rumbling and rattling is wrung his hands, they gave a loud that?' said *** to an old servant scream, a fearful concerto, and ran who had just entered the room. off into the house."

“Two waggons with wounded



men, sir, have passed onwards to- may befall; I dread what the ty'wards the town.'

Here he prudently checked himself, "Ah!' said mine host, in great remembering no doubt, 'that a bird bitterness of spirit.

of the air might carry the matter“But allons, we proceeded to make 'I dread what he may do, if they the best use of our timc-Ham, good are really investing the place. At -fish, excellent-eggs, fresh-cof- any rate, here, in the very arena fee, superb—when we again heard where the struggle will doubtless be the field-pieces above us open their fiercest, we cannot abide. So go, fire, and in the intervals we could my dear sisters, and pack up whatdistinguish the distant rattle of mus- ever you may have most valuable, ketry. Presently this rolling fire or most necessary. Nay, no tears ; slackened, and after a few scattering and I will attend to our poor old shots here and there, ceased altoge- father, and get the carriage ready, ther; but the cannon on the hill if, God help me, I dare use it.' still continued to play. We were by “' But where, in the name of all this time all standing in a cluster in that is fearful, shall we go ?' said the porch of the villa, before which bis second sister. ( Not back to stood the tubs with the finny spoil Hamburgh-not to endure another of the fish-pond, on a small paddock season of such deep degradationof velvet grass, about forty yards not to be exposed to the-Oh square, separated from the high-road brother, you saw we all submitted by a low ornamental fence of green to our fate without a murmur, and basket-work, as already mentioned. laboured cheerfully on the fortifiThe firing from the great guns in cations, when compelled to do so creased, and every now and then I by that inhuman monster Davoust, thought I heard a distant sound, as amidst the ribaldry of a licentious if the reports of the guns above us soldiery, merely because poor Jahad been reflected from some pre- nette had helped to embroider a cipitous bank.

standard for the brave Hanseatic « • I did not know that there was Legion-you know how we bore this' any echo here,' said the youngest -here the sweet girl held out her girl.

delicate hands, galled by actual and Alas, Janette !' said her bro- unwonted labour-'and


other ther, ‘I fear that is no echo;' and indignities, until that awful night, he put up his hand to his ear, and when-No, brother, we shall await listened in breathless suspense. The the arrival of the Russians, even sound was repeated.

should we see our once happy home “ The Russian cannon replying to converted into a field of battle; but those on the hill!' said Mr ***, with into the city we shall not go.' startling energy: • God help us ! it “. Be it so then, my dearest sister. can no longer be an affair of posts ; -Wilhelm, put up the stuhl wagen.' the heads of the Allied columns must “He had scarcely returned into the be in sight, for the French skirmish- breakfast-room, when the door openers are unquestionably driven in.' ed, and the very handsome young of

“A French officer at this moment ficer, the aide-de-camp of the Prince, rattled past us down the road at whom I had seen the night I was carspeed, and vanished in the hollow, ried before Davoust, entered, splashtaking the direction of the town. His ed up to the eyes, and much heated hat fell off, as his horse swerved a and excited. I noticed blood on the little at the open gate, as he passed. hilt of his sword. His orderly sat He never stopped to pick it up: on his foaming steed, right opposite Presently a round shot, with a loud where I stood, wiping his bloody ringing and hissing sound, pitched sabre on his horse's mane. The woover the bill, and knocked one of men grew pale; but still they had the fish-tubs close to us to pieces, presence of mind enough to do the scattering the poor fish all about the honours with self-possession. The lawn. With the recklessness of a stranger wished us a good morning ; mere boy I dashed out, and was and on being asked to sit down to busy picking them up, when Mr breakfast, he unbuckled his sword, *** called to me to come back. threw it from him with a clash on

“Let us go ip, and await what the floor, and then, with all the grace

[ocr errors]


in the world, addressed himself to with something more of sternness in discuss the comestibles. He tried a his manner than he had yet used, he slight approach to jesting now and said, “Mr ***, I duly appreciate then; but seeing the heaviness of your situation, and respect your heart which prevailed amongst the feelings; but the Prince of Eckwomen, he, with the good-breeding muhl is my superior officer, and of a man of the world, forbore to under other circumstances'-Here press his attentions.

he slightly touched the hilt of his “ Breakfast being finished, and the sword. ladies having retired, he rose, buck- “ . For myself I don't care,' said led on his sword again, drew on his ***; 'but what is to become of my gloves, and taking his hat in his sisters ?' hand, he advanced to the window, They must proceed to Hamand desired his men'to fall in.' burgh

« • Men-what men ?' said poor «°Very well—let me order the Mr ***

stuhl wagen, and give us, at all Why, the Marshal has had a events, half an hour to move our company of sapeurs for these three valuables.' days back in the adjoining village- Certainly,' said the young they are now here.'

cer; 'and I will myself see you safe “Here!' exclaimed ***; what into the city.' do the sappers here?' Two of the “ Who says that eels cannot be soldiers carried slow matches in made used to skinning ? The poor their hands, while their muskets girls continued their little preparawere slung at their backs. There tions with an alacrity and presence is no mine to be sprung here ?' of mind that truly surprised me.

“ The young officer heard him There was neither screaming nor with great politeness, but declined fainting, and by the time the cargiving any answer. The next mo- riage was at the door, they, with ment he turned towards the ladies, two female domestics, were ready and was making himself as agree- to mount. I cannot better describe able as time and circumstances their vehicle, than by comparing it would admit, when a shot came to a canoe mounted on four wheels, crashing through the roof, broke connected by a long perch, with a down the ceiling, and knocking the coach-box at the bow, and three gig flue of the stove to pieces, rebound- bodies hung athwart ships, or slung ed from the wall, and rolled harm- inside of the canoe, by leather thongs. lessly beneath the table. He was At the moment we were starting, Mr the only person who did not start, *** came close to me and whis. or evince any dread. He merely cast pered, 'Do you think your ship will his eyes upward and smiled. He still be in the river?' then turned to poor ***, who stood “I answered that I made no doubt quite collected, but very pale, near she was. where the stove had stood, and held “But even if she be not,' said he, out his hand to him.

the Holstein bank is open to us. ".On my honour,' said the young Anywhere but Hamburgh now.' soldier, 'it grieves me to the very And the scalding tears ran down his heart; but I must obey my orders. cheeks. It is no longer au affair of posts; the

“At this moment there was a busenemy is pressing on us in force. The tle on the hill top, and presently the Allied columns are in sight; their artillery began once more to play, cannon-shot have but now penetra- while the musketry breezed up again ted your roof; we have but driven in the distance. A mounted bugler in their pickets; very soon they rode half way down the hill, and will be here; and in the event of sounded the recall. The young offitheir advance, my orders are to cer hesitated. The man waved his burn down this house and the neigh- hand, and blew the advance. buring village.

« • It must be for us-answer it.' “A sudden flush rushed into Mr His bugle did so. · Bring the pitch, ***'s face. Indeed! does the men-the flax-so now-break the Prince really'

windows, and let the air in-set the “ The young officer bowed, and house on fire; and, Sergeant Guido,

« PreviousContinue »