Page:Yule Logs.djvu/91

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75
"A FRENCHMAN'S GRATITUDE"

—I had no brother—with becoming modesty; but the congratulations of the ladies were turned into lamentations when Sir John informed us that I was to embark, to join headquarters in Sicily, in a fortnight's time.

"John!" exclaimed my mother, the tears welling up into her eyes, "are we really to lose the dear boy so soon?"

"What a shame!" chorused my three sisters.

"Nonsense! Tom has not entered the army to dangle about drawing-rooms and exhibit himself in a red coat to all the young ladies of his acquaintance," retorted my father. "The 35th lost a good many men at Maida—egad! I wish I had been there—and a draft is going out to fill up the gaps. Tom will sail with the draft, which is under command of our friend Charles Holroyd, who—Halloa! where has Kate gone?" For my eldest sister had hurriedly left the room.

"How thoughtless of you, John!" said my mother reproachfully.

"Yes, father," chimed in Miss Laura; "have you forgotten that Kate and Captain Holroyd are engaged?"

"And she had no idea that he was going abroad again so soon," added Annie; "he only came home early in August!"

"Tut! tut! I am always putting my foot in it," exclaimed Sir John, looking very guilty. "Poor Katie! she will lose her lover and her brother at the same time."

This unfortunate remark called forth a flood of tears from the ladies, and muttering something about being "a blundering old idiot," my father beat a hasty retreat.

Captain Charles Holroyd—the mention of whose name caused our family circle to break up "i' the most admir'd disorder"—had served in the 35th with my father, with whom he was a great favourite. Holroyd now commanded the light company of the 35th, and was home on sick leave, in consequence of a wound received at the