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perfect. There was little or no rehearsal. The principal actors, who had to dress for their parts, had their rôles assigned, and discussed them among themselves; but all the others "played up" to them by the light of nature. Thus it was with a very dim notion of what was about to take place, that I repaired to the ante-room in time for mess, at which I was to dine in my own character, as my part was not to be called till late in the evening. In the ante-room I found M'Nish, and, following instructions, engaged him in conversation. I mentioned incidentally that the Colonel had come down from head-quarters, for the double purpose of entertaining one or two magnates of the neighbourhood, and of inspecting him, M'Nish, on his arrival. The latter intelligence rather discomposed him.
"What is he like?" he inquired; "is he a good-natured man, and how is he going to inspect me ?"
Distrusting my own powers, I turned the responsibility of opening the ball over to a more experienced reprobate.
"What sort of a man should you say the chief is, M'Duff, and what will the inspection be ?"
"The Colonel ?" said M'Duff, thoughtfully rubbing his chin; "oh, a splendid old soldier-left his mark on all the European battle-fields -at Barossa a toe, at Ciudad Rodrigo a finger, his left tonsil at Walcheren-coughed it up there-in fact, the Colonel may be said to be on detachment all over Europe; but what remains to us of him is a very fine fellow indeed, though one can hardly see him for his decorations on Sundays, I assure you, he is quite an incrustation-quite; there's-let me see- -the Grand Cross of the Bath, the Golden Fleece, the Garter, Companion of the Bull and Mouth, and oh! a hundred others. As to the inspection, that just depends. I can't commit myself to what it may be. Had he on his yellow waistcoat when he arrived ?"
"He had," I replied.
"Hum-ah! that looks fishy; he's bilious, and is sure to show his teeth. Confound it all, M'Nish! I'm so sorry; but I'm afraid you're in for it. In one mood the chief is all geniality and sprightlinessquite a boy, in fact. Then the inspection is simple-a question, perhaps, on the Carthaginian constitution, a glance at the binomial theorem, a sniff at comparative anatomy; and then, provided he finds your heart in the right place on such matters as Pitt's policy, the Darien business, and the burgher schism-why, hey! presto! you are passed-mere child's play. But in his other-what I may term his
yellow-waistcoat phase-it is different. Tut, tut! what a nuisance! and he really wore that obnoxious garment ?"
"Oh, yes,” I said.
"Well, then. Pray what is the measurement of your biceps, M'Nish ?"
Before M'Nish, whose face had grown exceedingly long, could answer, the door was thrown open, and the "Colonel was announced. The open door disclosed to our view a long stone corridor, up which a figure that of the Colonel-was slowly advancing. Each deliberate step was emphasized by the thump of a stick, with which the Colonel supported that portion of his frame which remained at head-quarters. A low, tinkling sound, as of many minute silver bells, accompanied his march, in which he paused from time to time to take snuff, use his toothpick, blow his nose, and perform similar domestic offices. When he approached the doorway, I recognized, through every disguise, the mischievous features of M'Diarmid. A long white cavalier wig floated over his shoulders; a peaked beard and moustache of the same era ; bushy, white eyebrows, and a pair of owlish, black spectacles, completed, with a ruddled complexion, his facial arrangements. His coat was a blue military frock; at the least fifty medals, suspended by ribbons of every conceivable hue, overspread its surface; medals jingled at his elbows and tinkled at his wrists, so that in all his movements there was harmony. His nether man was encased in leather breeches and top-boots, the left knee being encircled with a blue ribbon, from which dangled a luggage label, inscribed with the legend, "Honi soit qui mal y pense." Cavalier spurs and an Ironside's sword completed his equipment. We all arose as he entered and paused to gaze around him with a look of mingled rage and pain.
"Whom have we here?" he said at last, in a strident voice that justified the idea of an absent tonsil-" whom have we here?" There was an embarrassed silence. "Whom have we here ?" he repeated, raising his voice, and bringing his stick down with a bang on the floor.
'Only ourselves, Colonel," said M'Lean, the adjutant, soothingly ; "only the Strathbungos, sir."
"I see," said the Colonel, carefully bringing M'Nish into the focus of his black goggles, and speaking in the slow, hollow accents of an old Highland seer reading off a vision to a circle of Celtic gabies"I see," said he, "a youth, tall, yellow, lop-sided; he wears the habit of the Strathbungo, but he stoops and slouches-therefore he is not
a Strathbungo. Unriddle me this apparition, Mr. M'Lean-sir, unriddle me this most damnable circumstance."
"Oh! I really beg your pardon, sir," said M'Lean-"I should have presented him sooner; this is Mr. M'Nish, who has joined us to-day."
M'Nish bowed in great confusion; but the Colonel, without returning it, continued to talk of and at him as if he were a lay figure impervious to human emotion, addressing his observations to M'Lean.
If Mr. M'Nish is from Ireland, which I have every reason to suspect-if he is from Ireland, I would say to him as I said to the Duke, when he took the freedom to appoint one Felix O'Corcoran to this corps, Strathbungo,' (I then said, and I now repeat it) is not at present situated in Ireland; the Strathbungo regiment is therefore not an Irish corps-therefore an Irishman cannot be in it. But an Irishman is in it; therefore, to eliminate paradox we must eliminate him.' The Duke, knowing my firmness, took the hint. O'Corcoran was transferred to the Connaught Rangers, where, if he has steered clear of felony-which, with such a name, is unlikely-he may have been able to serve with some comfort."
"But, sir," interrupted M'Nish, eagerly, "I beg to assure you that I am not an Irishman; my family have been settled for two generations in Demerara, where I myself was born and brought up; but we are of pure Scottish extraction, and came from Ross-shire, and
"And if," interrupted the Colonel, affecting deafness, “if Mr. M'Nish imagines that coming from Tipperary is any palliation, and if he imagines that he is going to import into this corps the domineering brutalities of his ferocious district, he is much mistaken, let me assure him."
M'Lean ventured to interfere-"I beg your pardon, Colonel; I think you have made a slight mistake. Mr. M'Nish is of a Scottish family, settled, he tells us, for two generations in the West Indies, and they previously had estates in Ross-shire."
"Then, why the devil did he persist in saying that he came from Tipperary? I would have him to know that his Colonel is no subject for his unmeaning jests."
Poor M'Nish looked dumfoundered at the rapidity with which he felt himself being sucked into a vortex of military crime.
"And granting," continued the Colonel, sceptically—" admitting,
Mr. M'Lean, sir, that his family came from Ross-shire, would he be kind enough, sir, to name the district, for Ross is a wide word." "Drumthrostlereeks," said M'Nish, with all the dignity of a young
"A pleasing name," said the Colonel-" a pleasing, suggestive name, provided"-(relapsing into unbelief) "it is genuine."
"Sir!" said M'Nish, starting forward, "I cannot
'Providing," said the Colonel, warily, "he is not favouring us with another of his jests; an Irishman never knows where to stop."
"Once for all, Colonel M'Alpine," shouted M'Nish, now thoroughly aroused, "I beg to inform you that I am no Irishman."
"And if there is anything else, Mr. M'Lean," continued the chief, in a tone of abstract speculation, "that is really distinctive of an Irishman, it is that he invariably denies his country."
Here the “deus ex machina" fortunately descended.
"The Snorter of Tynabruich!" cried the invisible nomenclator, as the door was again thrown open.
"Haraidatary keeper o' the caustle, and this is Toocal, her hainchman, wi' the keys," shouted another voice, as its proprietor stepped into sight from behind the door. He was a gigantic savage, clothed in the Highland garb, with a shaggy mane and beard that reached his girdle; his arms were bare, and tattooed with horrible devices; his legs to the knee were bound with thongs of untanned leather. In his hand was a common japanned tea-tray, and on it two large rusty keys. He paused a moment to look over his shoulder, then winked serenely on the assembly, and remarking, "She's up," stalked into the room, and deposited his tray on the table. The great man (personated by M'Donnel) himself now walked briskly into the room. His appearance was not commonplace. He seemed to be on fire. He wore a kilt of the reddest of tartans, which recklessly surmounted trousers and gaiters of the same pattern, an equally violent coat, cut Ethiopianserenader fashion, and a waistcoat of the same material completed his costume. A blood-red, conical-shaped wig shot back off his head at an angle of 45°, like the flame of a torch carried against the wind, and a beard of the same colour and extent shot out in front at a similar angle. His face was blood-red, oversprawled by an immense moustache, which curled up to his eyes, one of which was covered with a patch of the prevailing tartan. Altogether, his aspect was ferocious and sinister in the last degree.
"Give you good even, Snorter," said the Colonel, advancing to meet him, and at once assuming an air of bonhommie.
"Sairvant, Caurnel-sairvant, gentlemen," said the Snorter, shaking hands with the Colonel and bobbing to us, and speaking in a voice whose meek and Lowland homeliness contrasted strangely with his terrific appearance.
"Can I hope that you left madam and the children as well as I could wish them ?" inquired the Colonel.
"Well, weel, thankye kindly, middlin' weel; but the tups is in an awfie condeetion-jist awfie; Sandie says he ne'er saw sic tups."
"Ah!" smiled the chief politely, but indifferent to the condition of the tups-" and how do you find your hereditary charge? In good keeping? Do we bloom perennial, hey!-'moored in the rifted rock, proof to the tempest shock ?"
"Aweel, aweel! there's nae great bloom on aither you or the auld biggin'-ye've seen better days, the t'ane and the t'ither. But talkin' o' shocks, it's baith a shock and a shame the way you sojers is abusin' the place. Sir-we maun mulct ye. I hae the staytute for 't-the staytute. Queesques vail laupides dayjacerit vail plooteum'-I'll no heed the rest-mulctaytur.' What say ye till that, eh ?"
"Let us forget business for the present, Snorter," said the Colonel, loftily. "I understand that you proposed to favour us by bringing a friend with you-are we not to have the pleasure of seeing him ?"
"The Lord presairve us—I clean forgot him. He's doon by at the pump, takin' a bit waash, and atween oorsels, he'll be nane the waur o't, for he's a Frainchman, and nae freen o' mine, but a causual—a kin' o' genteel gangrel. I fand him up at Tynabruich, glowerin' aboot him, and spraichlin' his lang neck ower the fank to look at the tups; sae I gaed up til' him, and sais I, 'Thae tups is in an awfie condeetion.' 'Awfie,' sais he, but I ken a speeceefic.' 'Whaat is't?' sais I. ‘Tak time,' sais he. 'Whaat for?' sais I. 'Never heed,' sais he, quite angered-like, 'I hae a speececfic.' 'Come in by,' sais I; and he cam' in, and he bided ae day, and syne anither, and syne anither, gettin' the best o' a' things, but deil a word o' the speeceefic a' the time. On the third day, whan he was at his fourth bottle o' claret (for he's a terrible drouth, the cratur), I ups, and sais I (quite nateral, for we was talkin' o' Looie Pheelip at the time), 'ye was sayin',' sais I, 'that ye ken't a speeceefic for the taps.' 'Parbloo,' sais he, 'that's the trooth, and I forgot it-ye're sae agreeable, Snorter,' sais he (the fleecher), 'that ye