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so heigh, for the lists! Mrs. M'Alister, your arm, ma'am. Two of you get in front of me; the Viscount might make a treacherous spring. Strike up, piper! March!"
The piper playing the dead march of the Strathbungo Highlanders, we descended to the hall. Across its centre a low barricade of chairs had been hastily erected. At the further end stood the Viscount with his second, and at least twenty different kinds of weapons were ranged on the floor in front of them-pistols, guns, rifles, and among others a huge saw and a carving knife! M'Duff at once advanced.
"I wish to confer with the second on the other side," he said. "Here I am," said the Colonel.
"I have had a good deal of difficulty with the Viscount,” said M'Duff, "about his choice of weapons. At first he insisted on fighting with the late Sennacherib's Lochaber axe, but I explained to him that we could not match it. He then wished to use a rifle and a knife, but to this I could not consent; so I have agreed, subject to your sanction, to a barrier duel, in which double-barrelled fowling-pieces are to be used—right barrel with a bullet, left with slugs; each man to fire two shots consecutively, and toss for priority."
"All very business-like, and I heartily concur; but (in a loud whisper) if the Viscount gets the first shot, it will be all up with poor Jack. You must hocus the tossing somehow."
“I will if I can, but the Frenchman is uncommonly sharp, and it will be difficult."
The principals and seconds then met to toss. A vast amount of foul play was attempted on both sides, always ending in detection; at last the Viscount undoubtedly won the toss, and therefore first shot. Another gun was procured for Jack, and pompously loaded by the Colonel. The spectators ranged themselves along the walls; the principals took up their positions; while the seconds stood on chairs placed against the wall, in line with their principals.
"Oyez! oyez ! oyez !" cried the Colonel, like a clown at a circus announcing a new act. "A combat between the Viscount of Peaugout and Lieutenant M'Alister will now take place. Cause, outrage to Mrs. M'Alister; motto, "Death or glory!' The shot is with the Viscount; when my handkerchief falls, after a reasonable time for aiming, he fires. Oyez !"
"Goot-a-bye, Monsieur M'Alister," said the Viscount, feeling his locks. "Veech you eat forst? ze slaugs or ze bullette ?"
"Oh, blaze away and be hanged to you," said Jack.
"Choose the bullet, Jack," whispered the Colonel, hurriedly; "it won't injure the clothing so much."
"All right, Frenchman, try your bullet."
"Ah! ma Selinie! in von, two, tree sayconds, you shall be la belle veuve! and zen, oh! zen, you shall be la Vicomtesse ravissante." "Cease, sir," shouted the Colonel, "this untimely levity, or I shall forget myself, and chastise you on the spot."
"Ah! ha! ha! Monsieur le vieux dindon, you are zere! shasteese? immense! pretty vell! you veel forget; I daunot seenk; you veel forget perhap, but your corrk legg he reccomembayre to stay vare hee ees! Gau on, ze seegnol geeve."
The Colonel shook his fist at the Viscount, and dropped the handkerchief. The Viscount brought his gun up leisurely, and covered his adversary for a few seconds, then brought it down, blew his nose, and raised it again.
"I am gaueeng," he said, "to keel heem in ze longs," and bang went the gun.
"Owf!" shouted Jack, doubling himself up.
"Killed, Jack ?" cried the Colonel, in an anxious voice.
"Devil a bit, sir," said Jack; "I borrowed a pair of your fishing India-rubbers, and stuck them in here, and they've saved me. Bless them! bless them!"
"Much water they will keep out now, bless them!" growled the Colonel. "Take them out at once, sir; I won't expose what remains of them to his abominable slugs."
The Viscount ran up to the barrier, and craned across to see the result of his shooting.
"Peste!" said he; "seexteen alligateur, seventy-two lion, and von tousand wile boar; and I deed mees zees petit enfan! mais n'importe -ze slaugs now, ze slaugs!"
"Oh, Mr. M'Nish," said I, with clasped hands and wild eyes, "stop, oh stop, this dreadful work! The slugs! oh, it will be murder! murder! murder!" and I screamed hysterically.
"Colonel M'Alpine," said M'Nish, stepping forward, with a peagreen face, "this is impossible! You can prevent it. I do not know military etiquette, of course, and foreign rules about duelling; but, for the sake of this lady, for humanity's sake, stop this, sir, I beg of you. Another shot and Mr. M'Alister will be dead, and we shall all be murderers!"
"Gentlemen," said the Colonel, taking snuff with the calmness of
the suppressed demon, "I have served exactly eight-and-thirty years in the Strathbungo Highlanders, and I have only once seen a case of equal impertinence-it took place in the lines of Torres Vedras. I had a difficulty with the present commander-in-chief in India, and a duel was arranged. There was quite an excitement in camp about it, and cards of invitation were sent to the élite of the army. The Duke of Wellington did us the favour to be present with his staff. He had been good enough to say, 'I know M'Alpine; he will show sport.' My antagonist fired his first pistol in the air; my first shot took effect heavily in his shoulder. I insisted on a second pistol. Again my antagonist fired in the air. My shot was fortunate enough to carry away the thumb and forefinger of his right hand. Excited by the Duke's presence and evident satisfaction, I clamoured for a third pistol, when the chief of the medical staff, who happened to be present, permitted himself to remark, 'This is murder.' The Duke at once shut up the telescope which he invariably carried, and remarked, with his quiet precision, to the provost-marshal, 'Let this doctor be whipped;' and after my third shot (which perforated my antagonist's left lung and completely disabled him) we all adjourned to see the doctor flogged, and a good jellying he got; and I only wish, Mr. M'Nish, I had the power to order the same for you. As it is, M'Lean, as soon as the duel is over, close arrest for him. Solitary— irons! And now for the slugs. Your eye on me for the signal, Viscount, if you please. Ready!"
At this moment Dugald burst into the room like a wild buffalo, and bounding over the barrier, seized the Viscount by the waistband, swung him aloft, and proceeded vigorously to administer chastise
"That's richt, Dougal, ma man!" cried the Snorter, who had followed him in; "dinna spare him, the murdering villint; that's my speeceefick, ye lanlouper."
'Snorter," said the Colonel, "you shall answer for this before a civil tribunal."
"Ceevel treebunal, said ye? Bide a wee, ye auld worrycow. hae baronial poors, and I constitute this a coort o' the same; and since ye hae been guilty o' battery an' arson, a maist o' murther, forbye chippin' the king's palace, o' whilk I am keeper, wi' bullets, an' staining it wi' bluid; also a haerborin' theeves in the same-for that deevil's Sennacherib's pouches wus as fu' o' siller spunes as a doo's craw is o' peas an' chuckystanes-wherefore I micht hang ye, gif yer
ill-faured thrapple was worth waring the tow on, but being moved to clemency by the sufferins o' yer vile bodies, I shall saintence ye a' to be mulct in fower thousand punds Scots
"Mulk awa, Snorter," cried Dugald, “I'll haud the pail."
"Haud yer gab, ye misleared cuddy," said the Snorter. "And whereas I am crayditably informed that supper is noo sairved, and though yer a' geese, I for ane am nane o' M'Farlane's geese, wha liket their play mair than their vivers; wherefore, in virtue o' my poors, I fairther order ye to repair furth o' this chaamar to the saam, an' to eat an' to mawsticate the saam. God save the King!"
"Ah! ve vill kees and be friends, and ve vill eat and get dronck like shongteelmans," cried the Viscount. "Monsieur le Colonel, I lauf you. M'Aleester, tu es mon ami; and Selinie-I daunot knaw no Monsieur M'Sneesh, I veel dreenk your woine-your blood? faugh! not at aal. Snortair, tu es mon fils; embrassez moi." He concluded by tearing off the Snorter's beard, and then removing his wig, shouted in the "navicular," "Wigs off! three cheers for Strathbungo and M'Nish of Tipperary!"
Wigs and beards at once flew into the air; spectacles and patches, the wreath of Selina, and the turban of Sennacherib (who promptly rose from the dead to supply it) followed suit. Lame legs danced, blind eyes opened and winked vivaciously; the Snorter spoke English and the Viscount Scotch, and all the geese (not being M'Farlane's) repaired, with shouts of laughter, to their vivers. Poor M'Nish's face-to describe its expression is beyond my power, and what his feelings were I daunot knaw!”
An Arab Lobe Song.
I HID my love, when near you,
My heart must speak, or break!
For whether kind or cruel,
You will not see me, sweetest !
Could I have loved another,
That time is now no more:
I cover with my kisses
The threshold of your door! Open the door of pity,
And hear my burning sigh, For absent from you longer
Is sadder than to die!
R. H. STODDARD.