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Read Charles O’Malley, The Irish Dragoon Volume I Part 73

Charles O’Malley, The Irish Dragoon is a web novel completed by Charles James Lever.
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“Was Conyers ever out with Trevyllian?”

“Not as a, I believe. The report is, however, that he knows more about him than other people, as Tom certainly does of everybody.”

“It is rather a new thing for Trevyllian to refuse a meeting. They say, O’Malley, he has heard of your shooting.”

“No, no,” said another; “he cares very little for any man’s pistol. If the story be true, he fires a second or two before his adversary; at least, it was in that way he killed Carysfort.”

“Here comes the great O’Shaughnessy!” cried some one at the window; and the next moment the heavy gallop of a horse was heard along the causeway. In an instant we all rushed to the door to receive him.

“It’s all right, lads!” cried he, as he came up. “We have him this time!”

“How?” “When?” “Why?” “In what way have you managed?” fell from a dozen voices, as the major elbowed his way through the crowd to the sitting-room.

“In the first place,” said O’Shanghnessy, drawing a long breath, “I have promised secrecy as to the steps of this transaction; secondly, if I hadn’t, it would puzzle me to break it, for I’ll be hanged if I know more than yourselves. Tom Conyers wrote me a few lines for Trevyllian, and Trevyllian pledges himself to meet our friend; and that’s all we need know or care for.”

“Then you have seen Trevyllian this morning?”

“No; Beaufort met me at the village. But even now it seems this affair is never to come off. Trevyllian has been sent with a forage party towards Lesco. However, that can’t be a long absence. But, for Heaven’s sake, let me have some breakfast!”

While O’Shaughnessy proceeded to attack the viands before him, the others chatted about in little groups; but all wore the pleased and happy looks of men who had rescued their friend from a menaced danger. As for myself, my heart swelled with grat.i.tude to the kind fellows around me.

“How has Conyers a.s.sisted us at this juncture?” was my first question to O’Shaughnessy, when we were once more alone.

“I am not at liberty to speak on that subject, Charley. But be satisfied the reasons for which Trevyllian meets you are fair and honorable.”

“I am content.”

“The only thing now to be done is to have the meeting as soon as possible.”

“We are all agreed upon that point,” said I; “and the more so as the matter had better be decided before Sir Arthur’s return.”

“Quite true. And now, O’Malley, you had better join your people as soon as may be, and it will put a stop to all talking about the matter.”

The advice was good, and I lost no time in complying with it; and when I joined the regiment that day at mess, it was with a light heart and a cheerful spirit, for come what might of the affair, of one thing I was certain,–my character was now put above any reach of aspersion, and my reputation beyond attack.



Some days after coming back to headquarters, I was returning from a visit I had been making to a friend at one of the outposts, when an officer whom I knew slightly overtook me and informed me that Major O’Shaughnessy had been to my quarters in search of me, and had sent persons in different directions to find me.

Suspecting the object of the major’s haste, I hurried on at once, and as I rode up to the spot, found him in the midst of a group of officers, engaged, to all appearance, in most eager conversation.

“Oh, here he comes!” cried he, as I cantered up. “Come, my boy, doff the blue frock as soon as you can, and turn out in your best-fitting black.

Everything has been settled for this evening at seven o’clock, and we have no time to lose.”

“I understand you,” said I, “and shall not keep you waiting.” So saying, I sprang from my saddle and hastened to my quarters. As I entered the room I was followed by O’Shaughnessy, who closed the door after him as he came in, and having turned the key in it, sat down beside the table, and folding his arms, seemed buried in reflection. As I proceeded with my toilet he returned no answers to the numerous questions I put to him, either as to the time of Trevyllian’s return, the place of the meeting, or any other part of the transaction. His attention seemed to wander far from all around and about him; and as he muttered indistinctly to himself, the few words I could catch bore not in the remotest degree upon the matter before us.

“I have written a letter or two here, Major,” said I, opening my writing-desk. “In case anything happens, you will look to a few things I have mentioned here. Somehow, I could not write to poor Fred Power; but you must tell him from me that his n.o.ble conduct towards me was the last thing I spoke of.”

“What confounded nonsense you are talking!” said O’Shaughnessy, springing from his seat and crossing the room with tremendous strides, “croaking away there as if the bullet was in your thorax. Hang it, man, bear up!”

“But, Major, my dear friend, what the deuce are you thinking of? The few things I mentioned–“

“The devil! you are not going over it all again, are you?” said he, in a voice of no measured tone.

I now began to feel irritated in turn, and really looked at him for some seconds in considerable amazement. That he should have mistaken, the directions I was giving him and attributed them to any cowardice was too insulting a thought to bear; and yet how otherwise was I to understand the very coa.r.s.e style of his interruption?

At length my temper got the victory, and with a voice of most measured calmness, I said, “Major O’Shaughnessy, I am grateful, most deeply grateful, for the part you have acted towards me in this difficult business; at the same time, as you now appear to disapprove of my conduct and bearing, when I am most firmly determined to alter nothing, I shall beg to relieve you of the unpleasant office of my friend.”

“Heaven grant that you could do so!” said he, interrupting me, while his clasped hands and eager look attested the vehemence of the wish. He paused for a moment, then, springing from his chair, rushed towards me, and threw his arms around me. “No, my boy, I can’t do it,–I can’t do it. I have tried to bully myself into insensibility for this evening’s work,–I have endeavored to be rude to you, that you might insult me, and steel my heart against what might happen; but it won’t do, Charley, it won’t do.”

With these words the big tears rolled down his stern cheeks, and his voice became thick with emotion.

“But for me, all this need not have happened. I know it; I feel it. I hurried on this meeting; your character stood fair and unblemished without that,–at least they tell me so now; and I still have to a.s.sure you–“

“Come, my dear, kind friend, don’t give way in this fashion. You have stood manfully by me through every step of the road; don’t desert me on the threshold of–“

“The grave, O’Malley?”

“I don’t think so, Major; but see, half-past six! Look to these pistols for me. Are they likely to object to hair-triggers?”

A knocking at the door turned off our attention, and the next moment Baker’s voice was heard.

“O’Malley, you’ll be close run for time; the meeting-place is full three miles from this.”

I seized the key and opened the door. At the same instant, O’Shaughnessy rose and turned towards the window, holding one of the pistols in his hand.

“Look at that, Baker,–what a sweet tool it is!” said he, in a voice that actually made me start. Not a trace of his late excitement remained; his usually dry, half-humorous manner had returned, and his droll features were as full of their own easy, devil-may-care fun as ever.

“Here comes the drag,” said Baker. “We can drive nearly all the way, unless you prefer riding.”

“Of course not. Keep your hand steady, Charley, and if you don’t bring him down with that saw-handle, you’re not your uncle’s nephew.”

With these words we mounted into the tax-cart, and set off for the meeting-place.




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