At the garrison mess table that evening the occurrences of the day naturally formed a chief topic of conversation; and a variety of conjectures, more or less probable, regarding the American lady, were hazarded by the officers, to some of whom she had become an object of curiosity, as she had to others of interest. This conversation, necessarily ‘parenthesed’ with much extraneous matter, in the nature of rapid demands for solids and liquids, during the interesting period devoted to the process of mastication, finally assumed a more regular character when the cloth had been removed, and the attendants retired.
“If a am at all a joodge of pheesogs, and a flatter meself a am,” said a raw-boned Scotch Captain of Grenadiers, measuring six feet two in his stockings, “yon geerl has a bit of the deevil in her ee, therefor, me lads, tak heed that nane o’ ye lose yer heerts to her.”
“Why not, Cranstoun?” asked a young officer.
“Becoose, Veelliers, she seems to have art enoof, and, to gi’ the witch her due, beauty enoof to make a mon play the rule, an’ she tak it into her heed.
“By George, you are right, Cranstoun,” said a remarkably bow-legged, shoulder-of-mutton-fisted, Ensign, whose sharp face, glowing as a harvest moon, made one feel absolutely hot in his presence—a sensation that was by no means diminished by his nasal tone and confident manner; “I have no fancy for your pale faced people who, even while their eyes are flashing anger upon all around, show you a cheek as cold and as pale as a turnip—they’re alway so cursed deep. Don’t you think so Granville, old fellow?
“Too deep for you I dare say, Mr. Langley,” observed the officer last named, (a Captain of Light Infantry) with a slight degree of sarcasm, for he liked not the vulgar familiarity of the recently-joined Ensign’s address; “however, be that as it may, I will wager a score of flour barrels, or even pork barrels, if you prefer them, that you cannot show me a finer girl. Were I a marrying man,” he continued addressing his companions generally, “I do not know a woman I would sooner choose to share my barrack room with me.”
“Bravo! bravo! propose to her Granville propose! propose!” shouted two or three young and joyous voices, amid the loud clapping of hands; “but what do you mean by offering Langley so singular a bet?”
“Ask himself,” replied Captain Granville drily, “he knows the value of these things, if you do not. Besides we live in a country where most dealings are in produce. But,” he continued, adverting to the first remark, and without seeming to notice the flush upon the red face of Ensign Langley, which momentarily increased until it finally assumed a purple hue—“What the devil should I do with a wife. Nay, even if I felt so inclined, I saw her give Gerald Grantham a look that would carry disappointment to the hopes of any other man—What say you, Henry,” addressing his subaltern. “How would you like her for a sister-in-law?”