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exchange her former apartment for one which commanded a view of my cottage. “ With the exception of that little charming villa of yours, major, we have really not one touch of interesting landscape on that side of the house; while the room she lately occupied overlooks the whole of the lovely valley of the Thames.” But the dulness of my apprehension was proof even against this attack; and when afterwards, over a bottle of
my port, the father, who really is a good sort of man, partly warmed by the nectar of my friend Carbonel, and partly at the instigation of his better half, had remarked how much the comfort of my house, and my own happiness, would be enhanced by the nameless witchery of female presence, I cut short the harangue in which he was proceeding, by observing, that it might be so, but that having had a commanding officer for some seven and thirty years, I was now resolved to spend the remainder of my days without one.
I never think of the impene.
trable stubbornness of my faculties on this occasion, without inwardly comparing them to the rock at Fort Christoval, which our engineers battered for a fortnight, before they discovered that it was not a brick wall. I was, however, doomed to a much longer siege than the French suffered us to hold against that work; and upon me some impression was finally made-I mean upon my comprehension ; for my heart was immove. able; it is usually of sufficient toughness at sixty in these matters, unless it be softened into second childishness. I happened one morning to call at my neighbour's, and found mamma and Miss Bridget at their work, with a volume of Shakspeare on the table before them. The mine was charged; and when the opportune affairs of the ménage had summoned the old lady from the room, it was sprung!
“ We have been reading Othello, Major Ravelin,” said the maiden. “How interesting the great poet has rendered his Desdemona!"
“ The lady, however, madam, appears to have had rather an eccentric taste."
“Do you really think so? It is the romantic feeling of our sex to lose the recollection of every thing else in ardent admiration of the courage and sufferings of the warrior, who has bled for our safety, and in defence of his country. Shakspeare has evinced his insight into this trait of our character, when he makes Desdemona insensible to the repulsive exterior of the Moor; how much more difficult it is (a sigh) for us to resist the union of heroic qualities, with the manly form which bears only the ravage of war on its front !"
Here was Desdemona herself with a vengeance; and I must have been “brute beast" indeed, in the elegant phraseology of my old serjeant, Cobbett, to misinterpret the allusion of my charmer. The whole truth flashed upon me like lightning; and I would freely have given my next quarter's half pay
to be transported to the worst billet in Spain, so that I might but escape this tremendous tête
d-tête. My guardian angel, in the person of the damsel's father, appeared just in time to extricate me from the fate which seemed inevitable. I had sat some moments in all the
agony of despair, endeavouring to whistle the Grenadier's March, which died away on my lips into the cadence of the Dead March in Saul, while the lady continued responsive by her sighs; and should assuredly have been betrayed into some ejaculation of uneasiness, that she might have accepted as a proof of diffident passion. I never before shook my neighbour so heartily by the hand, whilst I trembled at my escape from matrimony, of which he had been, for his own peace, so luckless an instrument; and I rushed out of the house with a firm resolution, which I have since most religiously observed, never again to enter its baleful doors.
It was many months after this catastrophe before I could endure the presence of any maiden female of a certain age; and I shall
assuredly never again trust myself to morning visits, where there is a possibility of being exposed to the same hazard. The dangers I had passed gave me a horror of society: for every one is aware how difficult it is to visit in the country without encountering a squad of old maids at every point. In default of other occupation, I was now induced to become farmer. Here a thousand vexations and losses awaited me! My factotum of a servant, who had faithfully followed my fortunes during a great part of my military career, and whose discharge I had procured on my own retirement, was promoted to be the bailiff of the farm, both because he had driven the plough before he was fired with martial ambition, and I could securely rely upon his honesty. No man knew better than Havresack how to load a baggage mule, convert a tough ration into passable soup and bouilli, or give its utmost splendor to his master's uniform on a field day; but with these and similar accomplishments, he proved