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The Tremendous Adventures of Major Gahagan William Makepeace Thackeray

Chapter III: A Peep Into Spain--Account Of The Origin And Services Of The Ahmednuggar Irregulars

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HEADQUARTERS, MORELLA: September 15, 1838

I have been here for some months, along with my young friend Cabrera: and in the hurry and bustle of war--daily on guard and in the batteries for sixteen hours out of the twenty-four, with fourteen severe wounds and seven musket-balls in my body--it may be imagined that I have had little time to think about the publication of my memoirs. Inter arma silent leges--in the midst of fighting be hanged to writing! as the poet says; and I never would have bothered myself with a pen, had not common gratitude incited me to throw off a few pages.

Along with Oraa's troops, who have of late been beleaguering this place, there was a young Milesian gentleman, Mr. Toone O'Connor Emmett Fitzgerald Sheeny by name, a law student, and a member of Gray's Inn, and what he called Bay Ah of Trinity College, Dublin. Mr. Sheeny was with the Queen's people, not in a military capacity, but as representative of an English journal; to which, for a trifling weekly remuneration, he was in the habit of transmitting accounts of the movements of the belligerents, and his own opinion of the politics of Spain. Receiving, for the discharge of his duty, a couple of guineas a week from the proprietors of the journal in question, he was enabled, as I need scarcely say, to make such a show in Oraa's camp as only a Christino general officer, or at the very least a colonel of a regiment, can afford to keep up.

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In the famous sortie which we made upon the twenty-third, I was of course among the foremost in the melee, and found myself, after a good deal of slaughtering (which it would be as disagreeable as useless to describe here), in the court of a small inn or podesta, which had been made the headquarters of several Queenite officers during the siege. The pesatero or landlord of the inn had been despatched by my brave chapel-churies, with his fine family of children--the officers quartered in the podesta had of course bolted; but one man remained, and my fellows were on the point of cutting him into ten thousand pieces with their borachios, when I arrived in the room time enough to prevent the catastrophe. Seeing before me an individual in the costume of a civilian--a white hat, a light blue satin cravat, embroidered with butterflies and other quadrupeds, a green coat and brass buttons, and a pair of blue plaid trousers, I recognised at once a countryman, and interposed to save his life.

In an agonised brogue the unhappy young man was saying all that he could to induce the chapel-churies to give up their intention of slaughtering him; but it is very little likely that his protestations would have had any effect upon them, had not I appeared in the room, and shouted to the ruffians to hold their hand.

Seeing a general officer before them (I have the honour to hold that rank in the service of His Catholic Majesty), and moreover one six feet four in height, and armed with that terrible cabecilla (a sword so called, because it is five feet long) which is so well known among the Spanish armies--seeing, I say, this figure, the fellows retired, exclaiming, "Adios, corpo di bacco nosotros," and so on, clearly proving (by their words) that they would, if they dared, have immolated the victim whom I had thus rescued from their fury. "Villains!" shouted I, hearing them grumble, "away! quit the apartment!" Each man, sulkily sheathing his sombrero, obeyed, and quitted the camarilla.

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The Tremendous Adventures of Major Gahagan
William Makepeace Thackeray

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