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good distance from quarters, I was suddenly taken aback by finding I was the only promenader elad in a single garment and slippers. It was a wonder I had not noticed it before, but the scene was so novel, and now the natives were staring at me by dozens, as if they thought I had just escaped from a lunatic asylum. In the midst of my embarrassment how to get back, and fearing some of them might set fire to the tail of my nightshirt, looking so savage as they were, and calling out “Giaour," who should come mooning down the street behind, but Gum in his regimentals, grazing his great sides against all the tables, and an awful fix it put me in. But necessity's the mother of invention, and down I dropped on my knees, and crossed my arms devoutly on my chest, and leaned my forehead on the pavement, which is the attitude of the Turks at prayer. So old Gum passed by and never knew me, but thought, I dare say, what a good, pious Mussulman I was, praising Allah while the rest were feasting; and then I turned, and tore home, and got my trousers and other traps, and went out again. And it seems they do go abroad in their night costume, the Turks, only it is so elaborate a one that they are as well covered as in the day.
I went once to a place called the “Valley of Sweet Waters,” a pleasure-field at the end of the Golden Horn, where the Sultan has a kioske. It's the fashionable resort of Constantinople. The road to it was crammed like Kennington-gate on a Derby day, and as many boats were on the river as there are on our Thames, when the Lord Mayor goes swanhopping You Londoners brag of the show of ladies on Ascot race-course, but you should have seen these. They were sitting and lying on the grass in numbers, and, my eye! so lovely. Grecians, Circassians, Georgians, Persians ! possessing features of the highest order of chiselled beauty, cheeks of the most delicate rose, and lovely lips, with the long, dark, exquisite eye, soft even in its flashing brilliancy. I tell you, Gus, I never dreamt that there were such lovely girls on earth. English women must hide their faces in future before me, if they come to talk of their beauty. I had thought Fanny Green a love, but (though I don't mean to disparage F. G. -and mind you don't show her this) she won't go down now. Frightful black eunuchs were floundering about on white horses, like he-dragons, guarding these beauteous ladies, and pretty children sported on the grass, decked out in bright velvets, their hair tied with threads of gold. I have not time to tell you all the novelties that showed out in male costume, some of the embassies were splendid, but when his Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge rode on, surrounded by a brilliant staff, all mounted on superb Arabian chargers of the Sultan's stud, caparisoned in purple velvet and gold, that was the sight! Hundreds of us were present, in our uniforms, gladdening the hearts of those charming angels, who could but lament their cruel fate at being tied to the middle-aged, cross-legged (and grained), impassible Turks, who squatted there, taking no notice of anybody. The Duke (and lots more of us too) looked as if his mouth watered to whisper a few seductive phrases into those fair ears, but his Royal Highness found no chance, for the jealous old Mussulmen dogs guard their treasures too well. Lieutenant Jones says he should like to have a picture of these Oriental girls, just as they appeared that day, only that it would put him out of conceit of our own, whenever he looked at it. Altogether, what with these beauties to see, and the good living, and the street fun at night, and plenty
of other sport that we found out for ourselves, we had a rare time at Con. stantinople, and they were no better than barbarians to order us away from it to this scandalous desert of a Varna.
You'd go dead of the mopes if you were out here: there's nothing to do or to eat, worse than nothing to drink, no fighting, and no talk of any. We bask outside our tents, grunting at the sun, and swearing at everybody. When I told Gill about the fun we had found at Scutari (and I pitched it rather strong), he went rampant. We two go out shooting doves : that is, we have shot one : but we are neither of us crack shots yet, and the charge (when we've got any in the gun) is sure to go too high or too low. We had a go at an eagle the other day, and Gill boasted in the camp that he had winged him, but I saw the bird soar away afterwards.
We had a general laugh at Jones : he came into camp one night, crowing that he had shot a jackal, and we all turned out to see; but, upon hauling the beast over, he proved to be a wild dog.
And now I have got some glorious news for you. The Duke of Cambridge holds out for moustachios, and has given his men leave to wear them! This has put life and spirits into us all, for if his Royal Highness sets his opinion resolutely one way, the rest of the commanders won't long pull the other. Long live the Duke! There are but few cases of sewing up here, for there are no spirit-shops nearer than Varna, and we don't get a tithe enough of ale and porter, which is a thundering shame. There's going to be a reform in our dress—have you heard of it? All our clothes are to be made in future without backs: so the officers expect we shall have to be painted down blue behind. I and Gill rather thiûk we shall like the fun, particularly if they'll let us do the painting ; but won't Gum and some of those round ones look a sight!
You just get the Times, Gus, and you look at the accounts of a CourtMartial they have had at Windsor. A fellow named Perry was a lieutenant in the 46th Regiment, and he had no tin and no friends and no interest, so of course he was made a butt of from the first by the officers. And serve him right, for what business has a tinless beggar to come amongst us? He couldn't afford to gamble, and he couldn't afford to drink, and he couldn't do anything else that's customary amongst gentlemen who hold her Majesty's commission, so they nearly worried his life out, and played him a few practical jokes. It must have been prime fun to see him dragged out of bed at night, stripped, and made go through the sword-exercise stark naked, the poor devil shivering, and the officers, a whole lot of them, standing on and jeering him! (I and Gill are going to try and effect an exchange into the 46th.) He made complaints, and was sent to Coventry for his pains: and one night, a fellow, Greer, who was half screwed, struck up a row with him, and Perry, who has got no strength of his own, hit him with the candlesticks, so he was brought to a Court-Martial. But would anybody believe that Perry was such a tame sneak as to let out all this in his defence? Why, if they had made him dance naked hornpipes on his head, or tarted and feathered him, or any other joke, he never ought to have split! Greer had got one of his ladies in his room, and that came out, and she was called as a witness, but the woman was cautious and had “ heard” very little. This has caused more emotion throughout the camp than if a hundred bombshells had burst over us : we have always been regarded as the gentlemen of the British nation, and, with this confounded affair blurted out, it's a matter of
opinion whether we shall retain the character. Our officers would have laid down any money, rather than it should have got wind, and they say the Horse Guards ought to have hushed it up, at any price. We must have our private amusements, and, what's more, we will, in spite of the interfering newspapers and their leading articles; but it's positive degradation for the public to be told what they are, and if some of us could get at Lieutenant Perry, we'd wring his neck. Of course he won't get “justice," as it's called, and the Times must be destitute of brains to think he will, for his judges and the Horse Guards and the rest of them can't go against their own order—you'll see. The character of the whole army is at stake, and that must be upheld, cost any amount of money or false swearing that it will, so we are pretty easy. Weatherveer and Gum and a few more of our sober ones say the Court-Martial ought to have been on Greer; but their old-fashioned ideas go for nothing.
I am going to write a note to F. G., and put it inside yours, so you must convey it privately to her. Mind you don't give her this by mistake : she'd never look at me again, after what I have said about the fair Orientals; but as I can't get one of them (I only wish I could !) I may as well keep on with Fanny. Do send a fellow some news: I tell you everything.
Tom PEPPER. Augustus Sparkinson, Esquire, Junior.
P.S.-I say, Gus, the greatest shame! There has just been a meeting of the commanders, and the thing's decided—MOUSTACHIOS ARE PUT down! And if ever only the bristles of whiskers appear, they are to be singed off! They had better turn us into Freemasons at once. The Duke was present, and we have lost hope.
The Camp of War, Eastern Desert, near Devno, July, 1854. MY DEAREST FANNY,—If you only knew the state of anxiety I am
I in, through never hearing a word of or from you, you would pity my suspense,
thus hazarding these few lines to you. I sent a letter to Sparkinson two months ago, filled with nothing but you,
and my tortures as to whether you were still true to me, and some loving messages ; and he has not chosen to reply, or if he has, the post has boned it.
We are in the midst of gore and glory, and it is uncertain whether I may ever see you again, for you cannot, my dearest girl, picture the difficulties of a soldier's life. Sometimes we are in danger of dying of starvation, sometimes by wild beasts, and of course we are any day liable to fall by the sword. You must have heard of some of the engagements we have already taken part in, Giurgevo, Sulina, Rustchuk, Silistria, and the fate of the brave fellows who fell in them : that fate, dear Fanny, may be mine o-morrow. Just now we are encamped, three or four divisions of us, on an everlasting desert of sand, broader than Europe, and of unknown length, quite a stronghold for beasts of prey. Vultures, storks, kites, &c., dash about overhead, waiting till some of us shall hook it and afford them food; venomous serpents, so long that we can't distinguish their beginning or their end, with green bodies and scarlet tongues, lie hissing forth deadly poison ; jackals and
wild dogs prowl about, dodging after us; and we expect every day to come upon a drove of lions and panthers; for you know that the jackal is the lion's provider, so that where the one is, the other can't be far off. But a soldier braves all danger: his red coat puts into him a lion's heart. I should like to see some of your Londoners, who poke at a dark desk all day, and never meet anything fiercer than a horse, just dropped suddenly down amongst us now-a pluckless calf of a lawyer for example. Wouldn't he cut and run when he found himself in the midst of a menagerie that had neither bars nor cages! We court this danger, and go out to shoot these ferocious beasts. I and my particular friend here, Ensign Gill, accompany each other. We bring down a few doves for pastime, while we are waiting for more deadly prey, shoot all the jackals we can come across, and wing the eagles and vultures. We came upon a fearful serpent the other day, but our havoc of him was so deadly that not a bit of him was left when we reached the spot where he had been. The privations we undergo, in the way of food, we don't look upon as privations, for when once a fellow's a soldier, he thinks of nothing but glory. It chiefly consists of bread and water. The bread's made of lamp-black and verjuice, at least it looks and tastes as if it were; and with the water we have to take down leeches, for it's full of them, about five to a pint, and very large. How would your lawyers relish that?
Whilst we were at Gallipoli, I and the pick of our other bravest officers were fixed upon to go on a secret mission to Constantinople. But as it was a state secret, I cannot, dearest Fanny, divulge its nature even to you. Constantinople's a nice place, and I should have enjoyed myself much, but for always thinking of you. During the time we stayed they had brilliant illuminations every night, and banquets laid out in the streets from sunset to sunrise, all out of compliment to us brave English. The days were blazing hot, and nobody went abroad without being compelled, but they made out for it at night. The Duke of Cambridge, Lord Raglan, and several more of our generals were there, and I accompanied some of them to a fête at the Valley of Sweet Waters. It was lovely when we got there-a green plain, sheltered by green hills, and watered by cooling rivulets. The place was all crowding and bustle. No end of gilt carriages (more like carts though), and native officials, on white horses ; and the foreign ambassadors, with their attendants, in the richest costumes ; and we British officers, on our handsome Arabians, taking the shine out of everybody ; and Turks flaunting in yellow and crimson ; with groups of ladies, attired in all the colours of the kaleidoscope, who sat on the grass, listening to a tinkering and yelling that the Turks call music. Some of our officers went into raptures over the beauty of these Eastern girls, but my heart and thoughts are so filled with your image, dearest Fanny, that all their faces looked to me alike --very plain. The shores of the Bosphorus present scenery that you voul call enchanting, and when we were steaming up it, on our way here, we saw it to perfection. Sloping green banks, covered with flowers, rise on either side ; wood and dale, and luxuriant bills, swell off towards the horizon ; beautiful villas stand all along the shore ; enchanting gardens gratify the eye ; and little fairy palaces, used as summerhouses, gladden the imagination- I should like to inhabit one with you. The waters of the Bosphorus are as blue as your eyes, and dolphins frisk
about in them : in the distance rises Constantinople, with its waving trees, its noble terraces of many colours, and its snow-white minarets, tipped with gold. Take it altogether, it's the prettiest spot I ever saw, and if I have any luck and get posted soon, I'll bring you out here (if you'll have me) to spend our honeymoon. There couldn't exist a more appropriate site for lovers (those who can stand heat), as you'll say if you come. In the evening nightingales sing divinely, and myriads of little dancing fireflies shine out, and we two could sit with your guitar and enjoy the moonlight.
However, I am not in the luck of such scenery now, but in this remote desert, amidst a concert of toads and frogs. We have a thunder-storm every day, such thunder! you'd scream yourself hoarse with fright. Sometimes we get rain, by way of a change but not English rain. It comes down in streams, and at the end of half an hour we are all floating; tents and everything else beaten to the ground and swimming about. We dare not sit, and if we stand we are over our calves in mud and water, and we have not a dry thread on us or off, and look like an army of drowned donkeys. So we set to, when the water's gone a little, and build up huge fires, and each takes his turn at roasting, turning himself slowly round, like meat at the spit. By these means we are dried in time, but you should see the steam come out of us! Ah! we have many things to bear' that civilians have no idea of: not the least of which is the cruelty of our commanders, in the matter of our faces' natural ornaments, for they compel us to shave off our moustachios and whiskers. This, to us who can boast of a handsome, coal-black set, is very galling. There's going to be a wonderful alteration effected in our dress : I won't tell you what it is, but the like of it was never seen before, as you will admit when you inspect us on our return.
The next time your papa gives a dinner-party, you go into the kitchen, when all the soups and stews and puddings are on the fire, and you just open the oven-door, and get in, and shut it again, and stop there half an hour. When you come out, you'll be able to give a guess at what we have to endure, for it's hotter, out here, than in any private oven.
Is that cranky old governess with you still ? if you can elude her vigilance and your mamma's, do, my dear angel, let me have a consoling word from you. You can give the letter to Spark: and he'll forward it on here. Don't forget the promise you made me about that ugly Lincoln's-Inn lot, and let me know whether you have kept it. I waft you ten thousand kisses on this night breeze (which is just now blowing excessively hot and portends a storm), and subscribe myself
Том. Miss Fanny Green, Kensington.
P.S.Oh, my darling Fanny, I have opened my letter to tell you we are going to destruction! News has come in that we are to embark at once, and take Sebastopol, the strongest fortress in the world. Men and officers are running about without their heads, asking if the rumour is authentic, for we don't know yet. I should have said without their hats, but the report has so flustered my hand, that it shakes, and makes the pen write wrong