“Here, already!” said L’Isle; “I did not expect him until ten o’clock.” He looked at his watch. “But it is ten already. Here have I been thinking for two hours, and have never once thought of the regiment. I am acquiring a sad habit of day-dreaming, or, rather, my mind has not yet recovered its tone. Ask Lieutenant Meynell to walk in here.”
The regimental business was soon dispatched, and the adjutant, who was a capital newsmonger, began to detail the local news of the day. L’Isle liked to keep himself informed of what was going on around him, on the easy terms of listening to the adjutant. But this morning he seemed to tire soon at the details of small intelligence, much of which was of a sporting character, such as this: “Warren has succeeded in buying the famous dog at Estremoz; they say he will collar a wolf without ceremony, and throttle him single-handed; and he has the knack of so seizing a wild boar, that he can never bring his tusks to bear upon him.”
“I hope,” said L’Isle, “that Warren will show us many trophies of his prowess, or his dog’s rather, in the hunt.”
“He had to pay well for him, though. Fifty moidores was the least his owner would take for him.”
“I sincerely trust that Warren will get fifty moidores’ worth of sport out of him.”
“He went out yesterday to try him,” continued Meynell, “but Hatton, who was with him, got such a fall (he is a villainous rider, without knowing it), that they had great trouble in getting him back here, and it broke up the day’s sport.”
“Is he much hurt?” asked L’Isle.
“No permanent injury. But he fell on his head, and, at first, they thought the time come for firing blank-cartridges over him.”
“I trust, if Hatton is bent on dying in the field, he will choose some occasion when they do not fire blank-cartridges.”
As his colonel seemed little interested in his sporting intelligence, the adjutant turned to a topic that looked a little more like business. “I see that Commissary Shortridge has got back.”
“Ah!” said L’Isle, suppressing a yawn, “where has he been?”
“He has been to Lisbon.”
“What carried him there?” mechanically asked the colonel, evidently not caring to know.
“Business of the commissariat, he says.”
“So I suppose,” said L’Isle, carelessly.
“But I suppose no such thing,” said Meynell. “The first thing these fellows think of is not the supply of the troops, but their own comfort. He only went to Lisbon to bring his wife here.”
“What!” said L’Isle, with sudden interest, “is Mrs. Shortridge in Elvas?”
“Yes. She came with him last night.”
“And is she to remain here any time?”