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DISASTERS IN RETIREMENT.
When, after a wandering and busy life, I retired to half pay and a cottage on the confines of Berkshire, I anticipated the realising of those visions of happiness which had cheered my mind amidst the pain and gloom of the past. That calm haven of repose was now within my view, for which I had sighed, after many a long march and rainy bivouac, for full twenty years; and I was never again to submit my spirit either to the caprice of command, or the irksomeness of military detail. I lost not a moment in settling my accounts with the regimental agents; when, having made purchase of my rural retreat,
and, by placing the small residue of my property in the funds, converted it into wherewithal to assist my modicum of half pay and pension, I hurried down to take possession of my box, with all that fond impatience which urges a lover to his mistress on the morn that is to place the seal to his happiness. I may congratulate myself, by the way, that this same seal was never put to my felicity; and that the Fates have not superadded a wife and seven children to rheumatic gout and the loss of an eye. But, waving such digressions, I was not long settled in this new abode, before I began to perceive that my bark, after weathering all the tempests of the ocean, was yet in danger, even on those waters which I had fondly pictured as one eternal calm. I was shortly compelled to acknowledge, that he who flies to retirement only shifts the scene of his troubles.
When the ceremony of receiving and returning the visits of my neighbours was over,
and I began to mingle in their society with all the sociability of country dinners and sixpenny whist, my first cause of vexation arose. It was from a source which a sexagenarian inight well have hoped to avoid. I unfortunately became acquainted with the family of a gentleman of small income in the vicinity, whose “res angusta domi” were not lessened by a long train of daughters. They were now verging towards the age which would entitle them, in the phrase of an old comrade of mine, to the brevet rank of mère-de-famille; in other words, they were on the brink of that period of old maidenhood, when the juvenile title of miss is discarded from very weariness of its sound. But neither the
young ladies, nor their experienced mother for them, had yet forsaken the desire of matrimony: but the feeling, like that of Satan in Milton, was seldom mingled with hope. I shortly found myself the object of assaults, for which I was long unable distinctly to account. I had not only general, but a long series of particular,
invitations to the house: the ladies were charmed with the narrative of my various peregrinations and adventures; and Miss Bridget, the eldest of the sisters, was, above all, the attentive listener to my thrice-told tale of the battle of Vittoria, where I had exchanged an eye for a pension. Her lovely fingers had worked the black silk patch which shrouded my loss; even the flannel protections for my rheumatism were the gift of her talents as a sempstress; and a goodnatured friend hinted to me her declaration, that, “ considering all the service he had gone through, Major Ravelin was really young for his time of life. She doted on a soldier, and knew not a prouder object for woman than to bless the retreat of the veteran."
The old lady, on her part, took frequent occasion to glance at the domestic virtues and talents of Bridget, and noticed the late transition in her spirits from youthful gaiety to the extreme of pensiveness : she wondered what could have induced her to