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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 297 pages of information about The Actress in High Life.

“As long as we stay,” answered Meynell, surprised at the interest his superior now showed at his intelligence.  “That is, if Shortridge can establish her here comfortably.  You know, since the king’s money has been passing through his hands, and some of it has stuck to his palms, he has begun to give himself airs.  He speaks with the most gentlemanly disgust of the narrow and inconvenient lodgings they are obliged to put up with.  He told me they were in the dirtiest part of the town, in the midst of the filthiest of these Portuguese, and sooner than let Mrs. Shortridge stay there, he will take her to Portalegre, or back to Lisbon.”

“There will not be the least need of that,” said L’Isle, quickly; “this house is large and convenient enough”—­and he looked round the apartment into the room beyond—­“and is one of the best situated in Elvas.”

“But you are occupying it yourself, sir.  What good will that do, Shortridge?”

“Oh, I will give it up to Shortridge.  It is quite thrown away on a bachelor like me.  Now I am on duty again, I prefer being near the regiment, and shall take rooms at the barracks.”

“Shortridge will be exceedingly obliged to you.  But,” added Meynell, fishing for information, “I did not think you cared a farthing whether the commissary got into good quarters or no.”

“The commissary!” said L’Isle, looking round on his companion with an air of surprise; then he added, in a tone of contempt, “he may lie in a ditch.  Many a better man has done it.  It is Mrs. Commissary for whom I would find good quarters.”

“Oh, indeed!” said Meynell, elevating his eyebrows a good deal, “I overlooked that.  But I was not aware that you had ever seen her.”

“Oh, many times:  in Lisbon, last year.  Indeed, on one occasion I did her a well-timed service.”

“What was that?—­if I may be allowed to ask.”

“Why, Mrs. Shortridge, though an excellent woman, is a little afflicted with the disease of sight-seeing, and had thrust herself, with a party of other heretics, into the Patriarchal Church, to witness the rending of the veil.  Do you know what that means, Meynell?  I believe you are not well drilled in theology.”

“Not popish theology.”

“Nor any other, I fear.  However, a large detachment of the live and dead saints were there, and, certainly, half the rabble of Lisbon.  In the rush of this devout crowd, Mrs. Shortridge got separated from her party, and, between alarm and exhaustion, fell, fainting, on the pavement.  She would soon have been trampled to death, had I not picked her up and carried her out bodily.  I had to swear awfully at the rabble to make them give way.”

“That was no small service,” said Meynell; then, glancing at the colonel’s thin form, “I am afraid you could not repeat it just now.  Mrs. Shortridge is a plump little body.”

“I suppose not.  Yet there is no knowing what exertions a man might make to save a pretty woman.  However, she has been very grateful ever since, and whenever we meet we are excellent friends.  I am glad Shortridge has brought her here.  She is a different sort of person from himself.  She has some very pleasant traits of character—­in fact, she is a very good woman,” and he sank into a reverie, apparently thinking over Mrs. Commissary’s good qualities.

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