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DIARY OF THE DREAMER OF GLOUCESTER.
Saturday, September 23.
I WAS awoke early this morning by a loud burst of music. The bands of the different French regiments had been sent to the top of a commanding hill to celebrate the victory. The music, stirring and warlike, pealed through the darkness and awoke the echoes of the mountains.
The morning was damp and foggy, but in the increasing light we could see the troops getting into order like dark clouds coming out of the ground, and as the fleet was moving slowly along the coast, it was evident we were soon to march. I went, therefore, to see poor Ramon before starting.
I was glad to hear he had passed a good night and was doing well. I remained with him for two hours, during which his spirits so far improved that he began to have hopes of recovery, and asked back the miniatures. I left his tent about noon, heartily glad to get back to the open air, after having witnessed as much surgery as might fall within the cognisance of a medical student in the course of a year. I, too, am getting blunted; agony has become common-place, and in time I would have nerve enough for a surgeon.
I may never see Ramon again, but I hope he will recover, and that he may yet read these pages in company with his mother and Adèle. If so,
let them also read what I would have said of him if I had still to execute the commission he gave me, that a more gallant soldier, a more tenderhearted gentleman, does not exist in the French army. So, sweet Adèle, look with a proud eye on your betrothed, and in after years recollect that, when death was staring him in the face, thy image was ever before him, and that if he murmured at all, it was at the thought of thy sufferings. The English army are on their march, and we have got orders to start in a couple of hours.
There is a palpable change in the appearance of the English troops as they march past us. They look faded and tawdry, and nearly all of that neatness which it is the glory of a colonel to exhibit in his regiment, and which seems at home to be regarded as the test of discipline, has now vanished. The soldiers have a poaching look, nor are the officers much better. The contrast between their appearance now and when they landed may be appreciated by any one who, after being at the Italian Opera, will go next night to some provincial theatre, where an occasional band of strollers are miserably starring. The French soldiery look better than the English. They are not so draggled, and have a jauntiness about them which contrasts favourably with the serious, business-looking aspect of the English infantry.
Ten P.M. We have reached the Katcha river, a stream somewhat larger than the Alma, with banks fully as strong, but unoccupied by the enemy, and we are quietly going to sleep as unconcernedly as if in France. The country, during our march to-day, has been heathy and barren, but the banks of the river are beautiful, adorned with neat cottages and luxuriant vineyards.
Sunday, 24th September. We e have not marched a mid blot I had W not marched far to-day, and are now encamped by the Balbec river. There is a little town about two miles from us, picturesquely situate in a deep ravine. The scenery all around us is beautiful, the hills are lofty, the plain and ravines richly wooded. Villas are numerous, and vineyards, and gardens. All lawful plunder, but we have not been the first, and everything worth taking seems already away. Still, there is an over-abundance of unplucked fruit, and our men are eating cholera voraciously with grapes, and peaches, and nectarines. Apples and pears, too, are abundant; indeed, the country in general resembles Herefordshire, one immense orchard, only here in the Crimea the fruits of our conservatories flourish in the fields.mi aid beterodorros, vlgo ti baim ad The line of our march to-day was strewed with the débris of the re-s treating Russians, who seem to have been seized with panic, so that I have no doubt if we had had cavalry we would have compelled them to disperse after the battle. There have been many cases of cholera among us to-day; fully two hundred men fell out during the march, but our old friends the sailors would attend to them, and take them on board our floating hospitals. aliash, oldats veu era & beaistros bossesho Four P.M.-I have made a prize. Entering, of course from curiosity, b a handsome villa, and wandering over the devastated rooms, littered with broken furniture, fragments of mirrors and crockery, torn books19 and pictures, all soaked with wine and malt, from casks stove in and bottles broken in the hurry of the plunderers, I noticed in one roomb a press which had not been broken into. I acted as a burglar for once in my life, and was rewarded by the discovery of several suits of clothes, of which I selected the best-namely, a plain dress suit, and a handsome pair of Russian boots. I have this to plead in mitigation of the robbery, I that I left my own entire dress, shirt and all, in exchange. It might be the worse of wear, but it was not my fault that I had not undressed since I left the bum-boat, or consequently that my clothes were rather disp agreeably tenanted. obrym evorg of olds ed bluow But I w wish I had resisted my burglarious inclinations, for, on coming out of the house, I found that Bosquet's division had marched on, and lat only got a glimpse of the rear-guard rounding the shoulder of a hill, sog I commenced running to overtake them; but I had not gone far when I heard the gallop of a horse behind me, and heard the rider shoutingsa "Restez, coquin, ou je tirerai!" Had I really been a Russian, as I was supposed to be, I must have known French to be able to take advantage of the polite warning of my pursuer. As it was, I stopped till he rode d up to me. The parley was unpleasant. I could not persuade him clos s not a a Russian: he was not to be humbugged. He had seen me with is his own eyes coming out of my house, and my clothes undeniably hado not accompanied the army; and as for my story of changing them, Lab might try that with his colonel, to whom I must accompany him. I hadn for it I walked by the side of his horse for of a mile down the river to an encampment of Frencht
nothing quarter to submit, so
Raiwollot babe90019. gigs ownedw tdgie llit boteer bna The colonel was sitting in the midst of a group of officers, who all rose on my arrival, surveying me with great curiosity. My captor told his story, and I had to repeat my explanations to the colonel. But he lo
was still more incredulous. When I told him I was an Englishman, he said I was an insolent rascal, and that undoubtedly I was a spy; and when I further accounted for my Russian costume, his moustache and beard stood on end with disdain and incredulity, and turning his back on me, he gave a curt order to have me searched. I submitted quietly to the operation. I had, fortunately, left my journal and knapsack with a friend in the French commissariat, but the soldier discovered twenty-five sovereigns and my credit on Vienna, all which the colonel quietly put in his pocket. I represented that the result of his search corroborated my story, as the gold was English and the credit granted by a London bank, but the colonel was a great deal too sharp to be taken in so easily. In his mind it only corroborated his impression that I was a spy, the gold and the credit being for the joint purposes of bribery and deception; and when, to my horror, two or three Russian letters and a French one were drawn out of my coat-pocket, I began to think I had got into an awkward dilemma.
The Russian letters were, of course, unintelligible, but the French one was from the wife of the quondam proprietor of my clothes, dated from Odessa, and contained a great many amiable details about sons and daughters, a lucid narrative respecting a servant who had been caught in an intrigue, and had very properly been lashed, and sundry conjugal endearments very gratifying to me in my present position. This decided the question, and to my request that the colonel would postpone his decision until he had confronted me with the officers of the 23rd, the answer was that he had no time to make such useless inquiries, that I must consider myself a prisoner, and march with them to-morrow morning, and that if I attempted to escape I would be immediately shot. I was accordingly dismissed, and delivered over to the custody of two soldiers for the night.
Already it was eight P.M., so, with bum-boat philosophy, I submitted quietly to my fate, consoling myself with the reflection that ultimately I would be able to prove my identity, and, meantime, I might as well march with one regiment as another. The soldiers conducted me to their tent, and, as I was very much fatigued, I took advantage of my supposed character, became apparently sullen in order to be allowed to be silent, and after conjecturing for an hour the probable results of my strange adventure, I fell sound asleep.
Monday, 25th September.
I awoke this morning at nine o'clock. I partook of the soldiers' breakfast, and after in vain attempting to get an interview with the colonel, I entered into conversation with my compulsory comrades, which they encouraged in hopes of getting information. I was half tempted to hoax them by an account of Sebastopol, but I feared it might be dangerous, and therefore carefully kept to the battle of Alma, which was an exhaustless subject.
By four P.M. we struck tents, crossed the Balbec river, and followed the track of my former division. We halted after two hours' march, and rested till eight, when we again proceeded, following the track of the troops before us without much regard to roads. Soon the light failed us, but nevertheless we pressed on over fences and ditches, through clumps of planting, past ruined villages and gentlemen's seats looming June-VOL. CXIX. NO. CCCCLXXIV.
large and dreary, then over barren heaths, up low hills and through steep gorges, stumbling on in the darkness.
I could easily have escaped in the confusion, but the colonel had my money, and no loadstone had a surer attraction for iron than this gold for me.
We halted about one o'clock in the morning, and went to sleep without pitching tents. At six we were again on foot, not much refreshed. As day dawned we found ourselves traversing a highly cultivated country, with occasional villages and houses, all burnt and sacked, either by the retreating Russians or by our own soldiers. We halted for breakfast at eight, and resumed our march by ten, and in an hour after we arrived at the brow of a hill. Here a view burst on us which took every one by surprise. Sheer down below us was a sheet of water, apparently landlocked by precipitous hills, which. I would have declared a lake had I not seen four or five steamers floating on its surface. At the top of this creek, or gully, was a small town, and encamped outside of it were masses of troops, which we could easily make out to be English. They had, during the night, preceded us in a march round Sebastopol to the north, and had, a few hours before we arrived, made themselves masters of the town after a slight resistance.
Balaklava, Wednesday, Sept. 27. I made repeated requests to-day for an interview with the colonel, but although on account of my urgency a soldier communicated my request, the only answer was that he was too busy to attend to me, and that I must, on peril of being shot, keep within the tent till further orders. So all day I remained a prisoner. The time passed very heavily. I only saw the soldiers for half an hour at dinner, when they told me they were employed landing ammunition, and, from the sacrés! morbleus! and têtes bleues! they did not seem to like the employment.
Saturday, Sept. 30.
Still a prisoner, but with this mitigation, that I have been allowed each day a short walk, attended by a soldier with a loaded rifle. I am very discontented, and curse my fate and the Russian trousers.
Sunday, Oct. 1.
By way of relaxation I was allowed to attend service to-day. The sermon was good and appropriate.
Monday, Oct. 2.
I have been interrogated by the colonel. He began by telling me that subterfuge was useless, as it was well known my name was Upton, and that I was a traitorous Englishman in the service of the Russians. That therefore I must give intelligence of the enemy as the only terms on which I could escape the fate of a spy. All this was said in such a severe, measured tone, and I was so struck with astonishment at my rebaptism, that it was some time before I could recover my self-possession. I repeated my former story, insisting that I was myself and not Mr. Upton, and conjuring him to take the simple step of confronting me with the officers of the 23rd. He answered, that I was an insolent scoundrel, and since I refused to avail myself of the only terms on which
I could save my life, I must be left to my fate. Accordingly, he ordered a file of soldiers to be ready. I do not know whether he really meant to carry his threat into effect or only to frighten me, but I thought at the time he was in earnest, and therefore submitted to my destiny, frankly gave up my identity, and professed my readiness to answer all questions.
He proceeded to my examination like an Old Bailey lawyer.
The first question was, "What is your name ?" To which I replied, giving him the nom de guerre I had adopted on leaving the Waly. I thought the worthy gentleman would have had me shot on the spot; indeed, he gave a very significant sign to the aide-de-camp, so I answered, eagerly, "Upton, Upton!"
"I was sure of it," said the colonel, giving a peculiar nod to the aide-de-camp, as if to say, "You see I am not the man to be humbugged. The aide-de-camp bowed his admiration. "Well then, Mr. Upton," continued the colonel, "what is your occupation ?"
I was quite willing to be Mr. Upton's occupation, whatever it might be, rather than be shot, but I was totally ignorant on the subject; so, having all the world to choose for a profession, I dubbed myself a doctor of medicine.
"I thought so," said the colonel.
"I was sure of it," said the aide-de-camp.
"Do you practise in Sebastopol ?" continued the colonel.
"Yes," said I.
"When were you there last ?"
"Three weeks ago."
"Where is your wife ?"
"How many children have you?" And the sagacious colonel took out the French letter to see if I answered correctly.
I forgot the precise number of Mr. Upton's family, though Mrs. Upton had given very minute information regarding each in the unfortunate letter; but I thought five a liberal allowance, so I answered, "Three boys and two girls."
"Liar!" shouted the colonel, "your wife speaks of her five darlings at home, and of Nicholas, Constantine, and Alexander besides."
"Well, sir," I replied, "she must know best; I must have eight children then."
"Take care, sir," continued the colonel, "if I find you out in another lie, I will have you shot. How many troops are there in Sebastopol ?"
I saw that my real ignorance, if confessed, might get me shot, so I made up my mind to go on; but I tried first to take advantage of my position. "I will tell you everything I know," said I; "upon my honour I will, provided you return me my money and my Vienna credit.
"Oh!" said the colonel, "we have a surer way than that; we will have you shot if you do not answer our questions, and as for your honour, we would rather have as security your sovereigns and letter of credit, which I will return to you if you make a clean breast of it, otherwise they are confiscated to the band. So, sir, I repeat the question, how many soldiers are there in Sebastopol ?"