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meant I knew there was a great deal to be given up,-that if, in my position, I chose to marry, I must forego luxuries, and do without excitement; of all this I was aware, and fully conscious that the sacrifice might cost me many a sigh; but still, I thought, there are many pleasures enjoyed by those who live for others rather than themselves, of which I am as yet wholly ignorant. Man is not intended to exert all his highest energies for his own gratification,— the reflected happiness of another should be the greatest happiness to ourselves, and we increase our sources of enjoyment as we increase our responsibilities. With all his wit, all his plausible arguments and unsparing ridicule, my better nature told me that St. Heliers was wrong. And yet and yet, I pondered and hesitated, marriage was a serious undertaking; I would put it off a little; the present, as usual, was my first object. I had a delightful six weeks of sport to anticipate, and, as many a wise man has done on a
far more important subject, I shrunk from coming to a final decision till some more convenient
In the meantime, we soon arrived at St. Heliers' picturesque lodge in the far north, now, in these days of steam, brought within a comparatively easy distance of London, but once a good fortnight's toil, and wild and rugged with its frowning mountains, its boundless moors, and deep, dark, silent loch, as if civilization had never penetrated into those fastnesses-the haunts of the heathcock and the mallard, the wary red deer and the tameless eagle. Never a merrier party met together to enjoy the best of dinners and the most undeniable of wine, after tramping and toiling the livelong day over rugged mountain and heathery corrie, than assembled nightly at St. Heliers' hospitable table. Jack Lavish of course was there, and the life and soul of our party. Major Martingale, who could shoot in a form that Norfolk itself cannot surpass, and who was ever prepared to back his own prowess with the grooves,' the smooth bore,' or 'the rod,' for any amount of wager that the incredulous might choose to hazard, was no mean auxiliary on the hill, no life
less companion over the maho gany; and he, too, was one of the select assemblage. My kindes friend and favourite associate, the talented and romantic Hillingdon, who, with all his love for the pict resque and fondness for travel, had never been in Scotland, was expected at the end of the week; and with such companions, highland sport, highland scenery, and, above all, highland air, what more could mortal man desire? My first day's grouse shooting, in company with our host himself, will serve as a specimen of the manner in which we passed our mornings: our evenings, alas! were devoted to excitement neither healthy nor so harmless.
Everything St. Heliers did, whether in the way of sport or in the graver matters of life, w done in the most efficient, and, s the same time, in the most comfort. able manner. He never begat shooting till the 20th of Augst instead of eagerly forestalling h sport on the 12th, consequently his birds were full grown and fit to hil and his annual bag' better than his neighbours'. Others, who could not boast half his bodily vigour, would toil and exhaust themselves before half the day was over, and return languid and weary, leaving the best part of their ground untouched. Not so my lord; he shot, as he said,
for pleasure,' and a pleasant sight it was to see him mounted on the cleverest of shooting-ponies, whose back he never quitted till luncheontime, knocking over his birds right and left from the saddle, with a merry smile and jovial remark, whilst ever and anon he refreshed himself from a huge wicker-covered jar of sherry and water, the element bear ing small proportion to the wine, and carried by his gillie-Ganymede,' s he quaintly called a heather-legged retainer told off for this especial duty, and strictly enjoined upon no account to quit for one moment his master's side. Two couple of highbred pointers, broke to hunt together without a mistake, obeyed the signals of a wary and silent keeper, to the wave of whose arm they instantaneously dropped; two more couple, straining in the leash, held by two active gillies,' were ready to relieve their companions, whilst, walking steadily in the rear, two lynx-eyed
assistants were devoted solely to the duty of marking game, and picking up dead birds. I walked upon St. Heliers' left, the position in which he always placed his friend, for, as he truly remarked, 'I can shoot him, but he cannot shoot me.' And in this order we marshalled our forces, to beat up the quarters of the grouse and the black cock.
Of course we could both shoot ' above a bit,' as in these days of improvement in fire-arms who cannot ? and woe to the unwary bird that crossed within range of Lancaster's deadly tubes. Mark,' I shouted, as a brood, flushed almost at my feet, wheeled down the wind to my companion, leaving the two old birds Hlapping their life out on the heather in front of me. Bang-bang,' is the reply, and two more fall to his deadly aim, whilst the well-drilled pony stands like a form of granite, and the peer reloads with the rapidity of a Cossack. We count our spoils when luncheon-time arrives, and thirty-two brace bear witness to our success. The mountain spring sparkles like a diamond, and the pure rarefied air wafts the scent of a thousand wild flowers that peep from out the purple heather; but there are truffles lurking in the bowels of that cold grouse-pie, which exact all our attentions, and I fear the gushing spring only serves to cool an enormous measure of Badminton,' that grateful compound of mingled claret, sugar, and sodawater; and then comes the fragrant cigar, and, soothed by its wreathing fumes, we gaze with half-shut eye on the glorious landscape spread out before us, a sea of mountains magnificent to contemplate. An hour's repose, and it is time again to be up and doing, but the white mist has come down upon the hill-tops, and as it drives before the rising gale, the birds become wary and difficult of approach; now must we change our tactics, and sending off a party of dogs and men to sweep the opposite hill, we station ourselves, St. Heliers' still glued to the pony, in a certain rocky pass, where, as he observes, we shall have better fun than pheasant-shooting.' Brood after brood come skimming down before the wind, high in air above our heads, and swift as the blast that whistles round us. Brood after
brood pay their tribute to our skill, for right and left, brace after brace keep tumbling headlong to the ground from their pride of place. This is indeed sport, for nothing but quickness of hand, accuracy of eye, and judgment of distance, not to be deceived by pace, can succeed in such shooting as this. The weather moderates, and as we traverse the lone moor on our homeward way, we keep picking up scattered birds and flushing undisturbed coveys, till we arrive at the Lodge, exulting in the slaughter of sixty brace of fine well-grown, dark-plumaged moorfowl. Notwithstanding the labours of the day, these lonely wilds were disturbed by the voice of revelry far into the night,-ay, even till the small hours of the morning, lights were sparkling, and laughter was ringing under the long, low roof of our mountain home.
Knock, knock, knock, from the impatient knuckles of Hillingdon's London valet, awoke me some few mornings after my arrival from that dreamless slumber which follows a hard day's walking and a good deal of claret. Sleepless Mæcenas! for whom the tennis-ball bounded by day, the wine-cup flowed at eventide, and the distant fountain murmured at night, that you might taste repose, and all in vain! I think that even you would have slept at St. Heliers' Lodge, could you have exchanged the toga for the plaid, the black buskins for highland brogues, and, after a day's walking with Major Martingale on the hill, and an evening spent in pledging his lordship with bumpers of '25, have wooed Morpheus in a bed such as that I left so unwillingly, in reply to the summons of the impatient gentleman's gentleman.
'My master desired me to call you, sir,' said this exotic; he is nearly dressed, and there are several deer in the vicinity of the house,' he added, with a degree of imagination that did him credit, as an additional inducement to me to lose no more time. Hillingdon had arrived the previous day: we had heard of deer from a rugged highlander who had taken an especial fancy to me, and it was agreed that my friend and I should be off at daybreak, and endeavour to account, if possible, for the master-hart of the herd.'
Away we went accordingly, in the gloaming of early morning, Hillingdon pleased with everything, and, for him, quite excited. Our only guide was the 'gillie' aforesaid, and a long and weary tramp he led us, as we explored every rocky pass, and deep dark corrie, with that extreme caution so excessively provoking, but so very necessary where red deer are concerned. Strange to say, Hillingdon, who had never in his life been on a hill' before, was the first to perceive deer, much to the admiration of our guide; but he was gifted with extraordinary powers of sight, and had often told me, that when in the desert with the Arabs, he could distinguish objects in that deluding atmosphere more clearly than the hawk-eyed Bedouin himself. The stoical highlander was now all excitement, as, throwing a few heather blossoms into the air to discover how the wind set, he held a rapid consultation in his own mind, as to how he was to 'staaalk' them as he called it, and a grim, bloodthirsty smile illumined his countenance, as he hit upon the most likely method. And now we began a series of manoeuvres wily as those of an Indian, whilst every posture was put in practice that might dislocate the joints of the human frame. First we ran for a good half-mile stretch over the open, to secure a position to start from, before the deers' should move. The ground was deep, the pace terrific, and, as Hillingdon said, the boatrace was nothing to it;' then we walked miles in a contrary direction, to get their wind,' an operation in which we had some difficulty in preserving our own; then we crept, bent to an angle of forty-five, up the bed of a mountain-stream, not yet wholly dry, which introduced us to a friendly corrie, where we could stand upright, and relieve our aching loins in concealment; and lastly, we 'crawled on our bellies,' like the serpent, over an interminable space of bare stubby heather, which led to some large grey stones, and which the highlander called a face. At length we reached the shelter of this favourable covering, and when we dared to look up and feast our eyes upon the wanderers we had taken so much pains to circumvent, it was indeed a sight worth all the labours
of the stalk. Within a hundred yards, point blank distance, a mighty stag was feeding 'broad-side on' to us, and looking almost as large as a cow. He was apparently unconscious of the vicinity of foes or ambush, and as he unconcernedly now whisked an ear, and now moved a leg, annoyed by some troublesome fly, I had time to scan him attentively, and count his points.' Royal! by the shade of Scrope! twelve points, as I'm : sinner, three in a cup at the top of each horn, and the largest brow antlers I ever saw: we must have that head! I had agreed that Hilingdon was to have the first shot, and I now stole a look at him to see whether he was likely to be deadly: not he: the excitement was too much, and his flushed cheek and flashing eye told me the wrist would waver and the finger tremble when the important moment arrived. The highlander, as usual, in his eager. ness for the sport, was in too great a hurry, and he put a rifle into my companion's hand with a glance that spoke volumes.
In vain I whispered almost under my breath, Take lots of time, Hillingdon-no hurry. The lock of his Purdy' clincked with noise enough to startle a whole forest, and the nearest hind lifted her head, and snuffed the breeze as if antici pating danger. The monarch of the waste' naturally enough turned half-round to ascertain what had disturbed one of the ladies of his family; and Hillingdon, afraid of losing him altogether, instantly let drive st him, when in the only position that could have made a deer at that distance a difficult shot. I had seen how it was likely to be, and had remained in readiness for a miss on the part of my friend. I calculated, and with reason, that on being disturbed, the herd would take towards the hill, and I marked a sort of pathway about one hundred and fifty yards from us, that formed the easiest access to the brow over which they would probably disappear. Sure enough they came pitching and lurching along over the very ground I had marked out for them, and apparently in no great hurry; the very last of the parcel came the still scatheless stag. Like everything else on which bets might be laid and won, I had sedulously
I practised every kind of shooting, and aiming well in front of him, with perfect confidence in my rifle, I stretched him lifeless on the heather with a bullet through his heart. Hillingdon, who had not an atom of jealousy in his composition, and to whom sport was nothing compared with scenery, was as well pleased as if he had slain a hundred stags himself; and we returned to the Lodge in all the triumph that attends the ⚫ downfall of the deer,' when, in the lack of a regular forest, you can only get the occasional chance of a shot at this seductive quadruped.
Would that we had been satisfied with the healthy and legitimate excitement of the moor and the loch -would that the demon of play had never been allowed to enter those mountain solitudes, then would our shooting have been confined to the grouse and the red deer, and no disgraceful fracas, no bloodthirsty encounter have destroyed the harmony of our morning's pleasure and our evening's glee. However,
there's a divinity doth shape our ends, rough-hew them how we will;' and grateful must I ever be that a meeting, which, although, as in most cases of the kind, there were faults on both sides, I greatly fear originated in my own intemperate haste, was innocent of that fatal conclusion which might have left me a corpse, or stamped me a murderer on the spot. Thus it fell out, that two friends, in the common acceptation of the term, certainly two daily associates, were placed at ten paces distance, with levelled weapons, thirsting for each other's blood.
I had already spent three delight ful weeks with St. Heliers, and, except that we played high in the evenings, and I had lost largely, had enjoyed them to the uttermost, when on coming down to breakfast one cloudy morning, equipped for fishing, and promising myself from the state of the atmosphere a capital day's sport, two letters were put into my hand, on one of which the superscription of Her Majesty's Service' warned me immediately to read the missive. Alas, the stern requirements of duty exacted my presence in London forthwith, and there was nothing for it but to be off on the morrow. Well,' thought I, this is a bore, but still it's a change;-and now for the other
letter.' As I turned to the direction, I recognised the hand of my old friend and Colonel; and as I sauntered leisurely down to the river I perused the following epistle from Cartouch :
'Crockford's, 'Sept. 12th, 18-. MY DEAR DIGBY, -How surprised you will be to hear that I am in London; where I had not been very long, as you may believe, before I beat up your quarters, and to my disappointment, only found your address in the Highlands instead of yourself. As you are staying with St. Heliers, an old friend of mine, I have no doubt you are in very lively society, but I must write you a stave to tell you the little that is going on in London, and likewise, what I am sure you will be glad to learn, all about myself. To begin with the latter edifying subject, you must know that I am now a 'gentleman at large,' being for the third time in my military career on halfpay. I could not stand the slowness of the Canadas, nor the sort of young ones the War Office put into the 101st, so I left them to come over and have a season's hunting in England, wherewith to recruit my warworn frame. I came home through the States, and paid our old friend Sauley a visit. He had a trotting. match coming off, which was a real good thing, and I won an infinity of dollars from a gentleman of Alabama, who paid up like a trump. You remember Levanter, who was in the regiment. I met him likewise; he has found out a dodge at long bowls, which fixes the Yankees to a certainty, and I left him at Baltimore winning their money, chains, watches, and handkerchiefs. He told me one rowdy' literally played for his shirt, and Levanter winning it, on stripping him, they found he had only a collar.' As he had a long way to walk, they left him his boots to go home in. I un
derstand Levanter was only there for a flying visit, as he is a regular turfite in Englandhe must have made his trip pay. Sauley asked after you, whom he remembered as being everlastin' 'cute for a young one'-a great compliment from him, and a talent which I hope you turn to good account.
I am buying horses, and have
got a few very clever ones together. You know my sort-well-bred, to carry weight. I find I am quite keen about November, and look forward to it almost as much as your friend Lord Maltby, of whom I see a great deal. I was not home in time for Goodwood, but I have a capital book on the St. Leger. I stand to win five thousand by Tipstaff, and have not a losing horse in the race.
'So much for self. Now for our friends. I hear Grandison is to leave the Guards for a regiment-you probably know all about it. This will give Tom Tuft a step. The latter worthy has been celebrating his boating victory ever since, and gave a policeman such a licking the other night, that he was within an ace of getting a month at the mill' -probably the only mill' at which our friend Tom would not find himself at home. However, the magistrate was lenient, and he got off for a fine. De Rivolte is in Russia with a French marquis, so report says, but comes back to London in November; this I do not understand, as she can have no engagement at that season. Talking of Frenchmen, Carambole is at Cowes with a yacht! He came to town the other night and won 20007. here. I saw him coming away to start again for Cowes by an early train in the most elaborate get up' you ever saw, and no great coat! He is a hard fellow, and they tell me is a capital sailor, though a Frenchman, but too reckless. Evergreen has returned from abroad, his affairs having completely come round-one of the advantages, he says, of being ruined early enough in life; but he is beginning to look old. Mrs. Man-trap lingers on in town, and I see her now constantly driving about young Lavish, Jack's brother, who was rusticated the other day at Oxford; he is not good-looking, but she says he has excellent principles. She abuses you shamefully, and I had quite a row with her the other night at the Locksleys, standing up for my old pupil. She says you are a roue, and a gambler, and thoroughly unprincipled, and not to be depended on in any way, and all sorts of things, which I will not repeat. I conclude she is piqued at something you have done. I have no more news,
as London is at its emptiest. In
Ever, my dear Digby,
To describe my feelings as I res the concluding paragraph of letter, penned in all the cheerfulconsciousness of high spirits kindly feelings, would be impossthr It never occurred to me to doc the authenticity of my friend's formation, and I felt stunned stupified, as I tried to realize th loneliness, the utter misery of position. And bitterly did I reg the selfishness which had prevente my coming to an understanding is Flora; how did I curse in my very soul the vain, unstable nature the had wavered and procrastinated t it was too late the despica heart that was incapable of sacr ficing the most frivolous pleasure fr all that it held most dear. And she was lost to me for ever, and I was alone in the world!
Till I felt that she was gone never to return, I knew not that to me Flora was all in all. Those higher principles, the noblest privilege of man, that enable the Christian to meet with unblenching front the worst that this world can show, were to me a sealed book and a mystery, and I had nothing, nothing on earth to look to for support and encourage ment. The day-dream had melted into air, the bubble had burst, and, spoiled child that I was, I felt ca pable of wreaking my spite upon every object, animate or inanimate, that might cross my path. I felt as if it would be a relief to battle with the very wind.
Of all sports, probably that of fishing is the one least congenial to such a frame of mind; nor did un successful efforts and broken tackle