« AnteriorContinua »
• Who is this beauty,' said general Lee. I have not heard her name mentioned before by you, Balcarras.' Oh,' said colonel Hanger, whose voice was heard for the first time beyond the coterie, at his end of the table, where he had been occupied with a circle of young sportsmen, “Oh, it is only a fine bit of flesh and blood from the country, the daughter of an old Virginia nabob.
Balcarras has been on the scent ever since she arrived, and is delighted with the idea of flushing a new bird. But what will his lady mother say, if she knew of her son's simplicity. Wheugh! Gad I'll blow him by the first packet.''Colonel Hanger,' said Balcarras, “fill your glass, none of your long shots at me.
I see general Robertson is now looking at you for a toast.' Well,' said Hanger, with a gay expression, '1'll give you, general, as a set off to the enthusiasm of my young friend, the health of a lady of uncommon attractions and great merit, Madamoiselle Varolle, rigadoon dancer at the Golden Ball in the fields; Balcarras will drink that without flinching. A loud burst of laughter followed, as colonel Hanger anticipated. •No more of that Hal, said Balcarras, as thou lovest me.' Here the con
versation changed, and colonel Hanger resumed the discussion of sporting intelligence, as if nothing had been said. "General Lee, you 'll be at Ascott Heath at the next races; Bagshaw runs against Forrester! that fellow flies swifter than a rifle ball. I could quicker shoot a flea, than overtake him with my
• Shoot a flea,' said Balcarras, shoot a flea, nay, we must all knock under to that.' Shoot sir,' said colonel Hanger, amidst the laughter which followed the remark of Balcarras; shoot sir,' said Hanger, who was tenacious of his character as a marksman, “I'll bet fifty guineas I 'll hit him with a rifle ball at twenty feet distance.' 'Done,' said Balcarras, as he stretched forth his hand, but, you 'll let the flea hop. Colonel Hanger, although never more serious in his life, was disconcerted by this remark, and as soon as he could recover himself, amid the general and uproarious laughter, rapped his knuckles on the lower side of the table, and cried, 'I knock under to that, Balcarras. At this moment general Lee caught his eye, and pointing to the bottle said, colonel Hanger, since you hang fire with your rifle, let me challenge you to a little grape.' In this manner continued to be discussed, the leading topics of the day, and thus passed the hours with the
revellers until the shades of evening prevailed, and night stole silently over the landscape. But fate was determined that night to alarm the stoutest bosom, for while the guests at the King's Arms were listening to a song well known as the Echoing Horn, at that time quite tlie rago, breathed from the lips of Balcarras, with great taste and effect, a shout was heard in the distance, which, while it gave almost a thrilling effect to the line
To horse! my brave boys, and away!
was followed by the thunders of heavy artillery. The economy of the table was instantly disturbed. Tippleglass was out of the door in an instant, though it was never determined by what miracle he succeeded in so precipitate a movement.
Balcarras jumped over the table and was the next man out, while the elder officers with more coolness, rose from their seats with a look of astonishment, and the old baron, forgetting that he was a prisoner on his parole, instinctively seized his sword. Colonel Hanger in a fit of abstraction cried out, give it to 'em Jagers, give it to 'em my brave boys;' while general Robertson, never forgetting what was his
duty at the festive board, apologized for his unceremonious departure, and hastily took his leave.
If the inmates of the house, with the exception of general Lee, were in a state of preturbation and excitement; if Tippleglass did not feel comfortable until he had again and again received from general Lee the most solemn assurances of safety, if the city was stormed by general Washington, what must have been the feeling out of doors by the royalists of the
At the corners of the streets, in the door ways, and on every piazza, were assembled groupes of disheartened and affrighted men, whose teeth chattered in their heads, and whose words were uttered with a ludicrous precipitation. The distant roar of cannon seemed in their ears to become more distinct, till they fancied it was in the direction of Paulus Hook, and that the rebels who had surprised the post, were turning with unparallelled effrontery their own cannon against the town. Nay, as they saw the troops march past them in quick time, and heard the drums beat a charge, it increased their fears to such a degree, that some of them took to their heels and ran to the east. river, in hopes of getting on board the fleet. But they were not at this time the victims of rebel fury. Before the troops had marched very far, an express from the out posts arrived to quiet the alarm. A herd of cattle, collected by the cow boys in their usual honest way, and intended for the British camp, had made a desperate effort to escape, and not ragarding the ceremony observed in crossing a line of sentinels, had ran over it without missing those who fell victims to the fire. The English hearing the noise of the rush and the bellowings of the half crazed animals, mistook them for the American cavalry and a band of savages. In an instant the whole line of heavy guns was discharged in that direction, raking and cutting down the poor beasts in a shocking manner; and, but for a sally made by a few of the boldest men under cover of the fire who discovered the blunder, there is no knowing how many chain shot and cannister would have been lost forever to the Deputy Assistant Quarter Master General of His Britannic Majesty's forces. As soon as the intelligence reached the city, those who were most vindictive regained their courage, and those who were secretly pleased at the approach of the Americans, grew sad and disheartened. All this was not however without a good effect. A satirical poem, called the Cowchase, attributed to major Andre, which ridiculed the brave general