Such toils need long rest. Privations and sufferings like theirs should be repaid by no scanty measure of plenty and enjoyment. The troops went into winter quarters chiefly between the Douro and the Tagus; but, as an army in this country is always in danger of starvation, a brigade was sent over into Alemtejo, at once, to make themselves comfortable, and to facilitate getting up supplies from a province which now had something in it: as, for four years, the French had been kept out of it.
Accordingly, it was absolutely refreshing to see the liberal provision made for the almost insatiable wants of this brigade—for among them our story lies. They proved themselves good soldiers, to a man, in their zeal to refresh and strengthen themselves against the next campaign, by enjoying, to the full, every good thing within their reach. The officers, especially, ransacked the country for every commodity that could promote enjoyment; and what Alemtejo could not furnish, Lisbon and London must provide. Nothing was too costly for their purses, no place too distant for their search. Doubtless, the veterans of the greatest of all great captains were permitted for a time to run a free and joyous career in Capua; and this brigade, besides having a little corner of Portugal to themselves, somewhat out of sight of the commander-in-chief and of Sir Rowland Hill, enjoyed the further advantage of being led by a good soldier in the field, and a free-liver in garrison and camp, who looked upon his men in winter quarters, after a hard campaign, somewhat in the light of school-boys in the holidays, and was willing to see the lads enjoy themselves freely.
Lord Strathern, a veteran somewhat the worse for wear, had entered the army a cadet of a Scotch family, more noble than rich. At length, the obliging death of a cousin brought him a Scotch peerage, and an estate little adequate to support that dignity. High rank, and a narrow estate, form an inconvenient union; so he stuck to the profession which he loved, and, being a widower, entrusted his only child, a daughter, to a sister in Scotland.
Though he had seen little of domestic life, he was an affectionate man. The briskness of the last campaign, and the number of his friends who dropped off in the course of it, strongly warned him that if he would once again see his daughter, now attaining womanhood, it would be well to lose no time about it. So, one morning, during the retreat from Burgos, after issuing the brigade orders for the day, he penned an order to his sister in Scotland, to send out the young lady, with proper attendants, under the care of the wife of any officer of rank who might be sailing for Lisbon. There she would be within reach, and he might find leisure to visit her.
His sister would have protested against this had she had an opportunity; but the order of the father, and the affectionate and adventurous spirit of the daughter, at once decided the matter. On her arrival, however, in Lisbon, her father was too busy establishing his brigade in comfortable quarters, to meet her there; and the military horizon giving promise of a quiet winter, he summoned her to join him at Elvas.