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"Yes," said the other, in some astonishment at the question.
"Have you a bag for me?" and then suddenly correcting himself with a little smile at the error of his supposing he must be universally known, added, "I mean for the Hon. Colonel Chamberlayne."
"I have nothing that is not addressed to a legation," said the other, trying to pass on.
Strange! they said I should receive some further instructions by the first messenger. Sorry to have detained you-good evening."
The young man-for he was young-was already too deep in an attempt to inquire in French after a carriage, to hear the last words, and continued to ask various inattentive bystanders certain questions about a calèche that ought to have been left by somebody in somebody's care for the use of somebody else.
"Is it true, can you tell me?" said he, running after M'Caskey. "They say that there is no conveyance here over the mountain except the diligence."
I believe it is quite true," said the "Colonel," gravely.
"And they say too that the diligence never, at this season, arrives in time to catch the early train at I forget the place." "At Susa?" "Yes, that's it.'
"They are perfectly correct in all that; and knowing it so well, and as my despatches are urgent, I sent on my own light carriage here from Geneva."
"And have you despatches too?" asked the other, whom we may as well announce to the reader as Tony Butler. "Have you despatches too?" cried he, in great
delight at meeting something like a colleague.
"Yes; I take out the orders for the Lord High Commissioner to Corfu. I am the head of the Staff there."
Tony bowed in recognition of the announced rank, and said quietly, "My name is Butler. I am rather new to this sort of thing, and never crossed the Alps in my life."
"I'll give you a lift, then, for I have a spare place. My servant has gone round with my heavy baggage by Trieste, and I have a seat to spare."
"This is most kind of you, but I scarcely dare put you to such inconvenience."
"Don't talk of that. We are all in the same boat. It's my luck to have this to offer to-day-it will be yours to-morrow. What's your destination?
"First Turin, then Naples; but I believe I shall have no delay at Turin, and the Naples bags are the most urgent ones.
"Is there anything going on down there, then?" asked M'Caskey, carelessly.
"I suspect there must be, for three of our fellows have been sent there I am the fourth within a fortnight.'
'A country that never interested me. Take a cigar. Are you ready, or do you want to eat something?" No, I am quite ready, and only anxious not to be late for this first train. The fact is, it's all a new sort of life to me, and as I am a wretchedly bad Frenchman, I don't get on too well."
"The great secret is, be peremptory, never listen to excuses, tolerate no explanations. That's my plan. I pay liberally, but I insist on having what I want."
They were now seated, and dashing along at all the speed and with all the noise of four wiry posters, and M'Caskey went on to describe how with that system of united despotism and munificence he had travelled over the whole globe with As for the anecdotes he
told, they embraced every land and and there was scarcely an event of momentous importance of the last quarter of a century of which he had not some curious private details. He was the first man to discover the plans of Russia on the Pruth. It was he found out Louis Philippe's intrigue about the Spanish marriages. "If you feel interest in this sort of thing," said he, carelessly, "just tell the fellows at home to show you the blue-book with Chamberlayne's correspondence. It is private and confidential; but, as friend of mine, you can see it." And what generosity of character he had! he had let Seymour carry off all the credit of that detection of Russia. "To be sure," added he, one can't forget old times, and Seymour was my fag at Eton." It was he, too, counselled Lord Elgin to send off the troops from China to Calcutta to assist in repressing the Mutiny. Elgin hesitated; he couldn't make up his mind; he thought this at one moment and that the next; and he sent for me at last and said, George, I want a bit of advice from you. 'I know what you mean,' said I, stopping him; 'send every man of them-don't hold back a drummer.' I will say," he added, "he had the honesty to own from whom he got that counsel, and he was greatly provoked when he found I could not be included in the vote of thanks of the House. 'Confound their etiquette,' said he; 'it is due to George, and he ought to have it.' You don't know why I'm in such haste to Corfu now?"
"I have not the faintest notion." "I will tell you; first, because a man can always trust a gentleman; secondly, it will be matter of tabletalk by the time you get back. The Tories are in need of the Radicals, and to buy their support intend to offer the throne of Greece, which will be vacant whenever we like, to Richard Cobden.'
"How strange! and would he accept it?"
"Some say no; I say yes; and Louis Napoleon, who knows men thoroughly, agrees with me. 'Mon cher Cham'-he always called me Cham-talk as people will, it is a very pleasant thing to sit on a throne, and it goes far towards one's enjoyment of life to have so many people employed all day long to make it agreeable." If Tony thought at times that his friend was a little vainglorious, he ascribed it to the fact that any man so intimate with the great people of the world, talking of them as his ordinary everyday acquaintances, might reasonably appear such to one as much removed from all such intercourse as he himself was. That the man who could say, "Nesselrode, don't tell me," or, Rechberg, my good fellow, you are in error there!" should be now sitting beside him, sharing his sandwich with him, and giving him to drink from his sherryflask; was not that glory enough to turn a stronger head. than poor Tony's? Ah, my good reader, I know well that you would not have been caught by such blandishments. You have seen men and cities." You have been at courts, dined beside royalties, and been smiled on by serene highnesses: but Tony has not had your training; he has had none of these experiences; he has heard of great names just as he has heard of great victories. The illustrious people of the earth are no more within the reach of his estimation than are the jewels of a Mogul's turban; but it is all the more fascinating to him to sit beside one who "knows it all."
Little wonder, then, if time sped rapidly, and that he never knew weariness. Let him start what theme he might, speak of what land, what event, what person he pleased, the Colonel was ready for him. It was marvellous indeed-so very marvellous, that to a suspicious mind it might have occasioned distrust with how many great men he had been at school, what shoals of distinguished fellows he had served with. With a subtle flattery,
too, he let drop the remark, that he was not usually given to be so frank and communicative. "The fact is," said he, "young men are, for the most part, bad listeners to the experiences of men of my age; they fancy that they know life as well if not better than ourselves, and that our views are those of 'bygones.' You, however, showed none of this spirit; you were willing to hear and to learn from one of whom it would be false modesty were I not to say, Few know more of men and their doings."
Now Tony liked this appreciation of him, and he said to himself, "He is a clever fellow-not a doubt of it: he never saw me till this evening, and yet he knows me thoroughly and well." Seeing how the Colonel had met with everybody, he resolved he would get from him his opinion of some of his own friends, and, to lead the way, asked if he was acquainted with the members of the Engish Legation at Turin.
"I know Bathurst; we were intimate," said he; "but we once were in love with the same woman-the mother of an empress she is nowand as I rather cut him out' a coldness ensued, and somehow we never resumed our old footing. As for Croker, the Secretary, it was I got him that place.'
"And Damer-Skeff Damer-do you know him?”
"I should think I do. I was his godfather."
"He's the greatest friend I have in the world!" cried Tony, in ecstasy at this happy accident.
"I made him drop Chamberlayne. It was his second name, and I was vain enough to be annoyed that it was not his first. Is he here now?" "Yes, he is attached to the Legation, and sometimes here, and sometimes at Naples."
"Then we'll make him give us a dinner to-day, for I shall refuse Bathurst: he is sure to ask me; but you will tell Damer that we are both engaged to him."
Tony only needed to learn the tie that bound his newly-made acquaintance with his dearest friend
to launch freely out about himself and his new fortunes; he told all about the hard usage his father had met with-the services he had rendered his country in India and elsewhere, and the ungenerous requital he had met for them all. "That is why you see me here a messenger, instead of being a soldier, like all my family for seven generations back. I won't say I like it— that wouldn't be true; but I do it because it happens to be one of the few things I can do.”
"That's a mistake, sir," said the Colonel, fiercely; a mistake thousands fall into every day. A man can make of life whatever he likes, if only-mark me well-if only his will be strong enough."
"If wishing would do it"
"Hold! I'm not talking of wishing; schoolboys wish, pale-cheeked freshmen at college, goggle-eyed ensigns in marching regiments, wish. Men, real men, do not wish; they will that's all the difference. Strong men make a promise to themselves early in life, and they feel it a point of honour to keep it. As Rose said one day in the club at Calcutta, speaking of me, 'He has got the Bath, just because he said he would get it.' "The theory is a very pleasant
"You can make the practice just as pleasant, if you like it. Whenever you take your next leavethey give you leave, don't they?"
"Yes, three months; we might have more, I believe, if we asked for it."
"Well, come and spend your next leave with me at Corfu. You shall have some good shooting over in Albania, plenty of mess society, pleasant yachting, and you'll like our old Lord High-he's stiff and cold at first, but, introduced by me, you'll be at once amongst the most favoured nations.'
"I can't thank you enough for so kind a proposal," began Tony; but the other stopped him with, "Don't thank me, but help me to take care of this bag. It contains the whole fate of the Levant in its
inside. Those sacks of yours-I suppose you know what they have for contents?"
"No; I have no idea what's in them."
"Old blue-books and newspapers, nothing else; they're all make-believes- —a farce to keep up the notion that great activity prevails at the Foreign Office, and to fill up that paragraph in the newspapers, 'Despatches were yesterday sent off to the Lord High Commissioner of the Bahamas, or Her Majesty's minister at Otaheite. Here we are at the rail_now—that's Susa. Be alive, for I see the smoke, and the steam must be up.'
They were just in time; the train was actually in motion when they got in, and as the Colonel, who kept up a rapid conversation with the station-master, informed Tony, nothing would have induced them to delay but having seen himself. "They knew me," said he; "they remembered my coming down here last autumn with the Prince de Carignan and Cavour." And once more had Tony to thank his stars for having fallen into such companionship.
As they glided along towards Turin, the Colonel told Tony that if he found the Weazle gunboat at Genoa, as he expected, waiting for him, he would set him, Tony, and his despatches, down safely at Naples, as he passed on to Malta. "If it's the Growler," said he, "I'll not promise you, because Hurton the commander is not in goodhumour with me. I refused to recommend him the other day to the First Lord for promotion-say nothing about this to the fellows at the Legation; indeed, don't mention anything about me, except to Damer-for the dinner, you know." "I suppose I ought to go straight to the Legation at once," said Tony, as they entered Turin; "my orders are to deliver the bags before anything else."
Certainly; let us drive there straight-there's nothing like doing things regularly; I'm a martinet about all duty;" and so they drove
"All right," said Tony; "this fellow says that Damer is at Naples." "I knew that," muttered the Colonel to himself; and then added aloud, Be alive and come down as quick as you can "-he looked at his watch as he spoke; it wanted five minutes to eight. at five minutes past eight the train should start for Genoa."
He seized the small despatchbag in his hand, and, telling the cabman to drive to the Hotel Feder and wait for him there, he made straight for the railroad. He was just in the nick; and while Tony was impatiently pacing an ante-room of the Legation, the other was already some miles on the way to Genoa.
At last, a very sleepy-looking attaché, in a dressing-gown and slippers, made his appearance. Nothing but these," said he, yawning and pointing to the great sacks.
"No; nothing else for Turin." "Then why the did you knock me up-when its only a shower-bath and Greydon's boottrees?"
How the did I know what was in them?" said Tony, as angrily.
"You must be precious green, then. When were you made?" "When was I made?"
"Yes; when were you named a messenger?"
"Some time in spring."
"I thought you must be an infant, or you'd know that it's only the small bags are of any consequence."
"Have you anything more to say? I want to get a bath and my breakfast."
"I've a lot more to say, and I shall have to tell Sir Joseph you're
here; and I shall have to sign your time-bill, and to see if we haven't got something for Naples. You're for Naples, an't you? And I want to send Damer some cigars and a pot of caviare that's been here these two months, and that he must have smelled from Naples."
"Then be hasty, for heaven's sake, for I'm starving." "You're starving! how strange, and it only eight o'clock! Why, we don't breakfast here till one, and I rarely eat anything."
So much the worse for you," said Tony, gruffly. "My appetite is excellent, if I only had a chance to gratify it."
"What's the news in town-is there anything stirring?"
"Not as I know."
"Has Lumley engaged Teresina again?"
"Never heard of her!"
"He ought; tell him I said so. She's fifty times better than La Gradina. Our chef here," added he in a whisper, says she has better legs than Pochini."
"I am charmed to hear it. Would you just tell him that mine are getting very tired here?"
Will Lawson pay that handicap to George Hobart ?"
Tony shook his head, to imply total ignorance of all concerned.
"He needn't, you know; at least Saville Harris refused to book up to Whitemare on exactly the same grounds. It was just this way here was the winning-postno, here; that seal there was the grand stand; when the mare came up, she was second. I don't think you care for racing, eh ?”
"A steeple-chase; yes, particularly when I'm a rider. But what I care most for just now is, a plunge into cold water and a good breakfast."
There was something actually touching in the commiserating look the attaché gave Tony as he turned away and left the room. What was the public service to come to if these were the fellows to be named as messengers!
In a very few minutes he was back again in the room. "Where's Naples?" asked he, curtly.
"Where's Naples? Where it always was, I suppose," said Tony, doggedly" in the Gulf of that name.'
"I mean the bag- the Naples bag; it is under flying seal, and Sir Joseph wants to see the despatches."
"Oh, that is below in the cab. I'll go down and fetch it," and without waiting for more he hastened down-stairs. The cab was gone. "Naturally enough," thought Tony, "he got tired waiting; he's off to order breakfast."
He hurried up-stairs again to report that a friend with whom he travelled had just driven away to the hotel with all the baggage.
"And the bags!" cried the other, in a sort of horror.
"Yes, the bags, of course; but I'll go after him. What's the chief hotel called?"
"He has to go over to Feder's for the bags, Sir Joseph," whispered the attaché, submissively.
"Send the porter-send Jasper -send any one you like. Come along," said he, drawing his arm within Tony's. "You've not been in Italy before, and your first impression ought to be favourable; so I'll introduce you to a Mont Cenis trout."
"And I'll profit by the acquaintance," said Tony. 66 I have the petite of a wolf."