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THE CHIMNEY CORNER.

* THE MAN AND THE MONKEY. [continued.] Among the officers he soon became popular. I gave due publicity to his gallantry when captured, and that was quite sufficient to place him on a good footing with military men. Besides this, he was good-humored, clever, and always lively, could take a joke and repay it with interest. As a musician, both vocal and instrumental, he was decidedly above par ; when casualties were brought in from the batteries, he was handy in assisting the surgeons, and in fencing, dancing, and cookery, we soon found out that he equalled the highly-educated of his own countrymen. The consequence was that M. De Montmaur was a welcome guest in every mess ; and whenever an adventurous suttee brought us fruit, vegetables, or fish, or fresh meat, he was specially invited to share the feast. If he sometimes talked big, either about his prowess, his military attainments, his extraordinary adventures, his hairbreadth escapes, his varied accomplishments, or his innumerable conquests among the fair, this only added to our amusement; his vanity was so openhearted that we liked him all the better. His more extravagant sallies were generally received with cheers, shouts of laughter, and much thumping on the table, all which he took to his own credit, probably unconscious that the said thumping was a {grim regimental pun, practically and conventionally signifying “ That’s a thumper ! ” When he succeeded in illiciting a vociferous demonstration, he always went home to his quarters in a high state of exhileration. In the garrison, however, we had one individual with whom M. De Montmaur, though it was not his own fault, never established amicable relations. This was a foreign officer in our service ; he was from the north of Europe—a Captain Schnaub, who though he wanted neither courage nor capacity, had certainly failed in making himself generally popular among us. He was a tall, large, powerful man, his stoutness almost verging on corpulency. His manner was rough, so were his jokes. Unfortunately, also he viewed all Frenchmen with hostility, and this feeling he had no opportunity of exhibiting, except toward M. De Montmaur, whom he was in the habit of treating as ignominously as the general feeling of the garrison would permit. To me, our little prisoner had mentioned the subject more than once, pompously remarking that he feared : he should be under the painful necessity of teaching “ce cher Captain Se-che-nanbbe” a lesson in “politeness.” At length, in M. De Montmaur’s opinion, the time for administering this very necessary lesson arrived, and he communicated with me in due form. He commenced the conference by intimating that, “though little in stature, he was as brave as a lion.”

To this I merely responded by a bow. He next went on to state that “ his sense of honor was not inferior to his bravery.” In short, seeing that he had a communication to make, and was taking a very roundabout way of coming to the point, I brought him to it at once. He then gave me to understand that the moment had at length arrived, when, without appearing either captious or precipitate—he would like to see the individual, present company excepted, whose discretion and amiability came anything next to his own—he felt himself free to terminate a long series of insolences. Observing next the seawall, he said, a party of officers in conversation, among them ‘‘ ce cher Captaine Se-che-naubbe,” he had been impelled by that courtesy which so eminently distinguished him, to approach and salute them. His salute was politely and smilingly returned by the whole party, with one exception. “Ce cher Captaine,” gave no token of recognition ; nay, worse, actually held up a key, and looked at him through it, as if it had been an eye-glass, thereby conveying the offensive imputation that he was so diminutive, so insignificant, as not to be discernible by the naked eye. This raised a laugh among the gentlemen present, and more offensive still, the laugh was taken up and audibly re-echoed by certain non-commissioned officers and privates who were standing not far off. For this insult M. De Montmaur felt himself entitled to prompt satisfaction. “ Well,” said I, “ you state the case as a party interested. Before pronouncing on it, I should like to ascertain the impression of one or two of the officers present. Considering that you and I have been so much together, and that it was I, moreover, who had the honor of receiving your surrender, I shall view the insult, if any was intended, as offered to myself. The quarrel in that case will be mine ; I am the person to whom the Captain will owe satisfaction.” (Such in these days of duelling, were our notions of honor.) “Ah,” cried the little Frenchman, ‘‘that is brave ! that is noble ! that is just exactly what I knew you would say ! But I have anticipated your chivalrous sentiments by equal chivalry on my own part. My challenge is already sent ; I despatched it an hour ago; and I have the Captain’s acceptance in my pocket. The only favor, therefore, which I now ask, is your obliging company as my friend.”

The affair came off; the weapons, rapiers; the time, afternoon ; the field of slaughter, a retired spot beyond the barracks, and not far from the southern extremity of the Rock. Nevertheless, the business having got wind, a few officers lounged down to see ; and several other persons, civilians as well as soldiers, stood looking on at a distance. The parties being placed, a few thrusts were exchanged without effect. The Captain looked sulky enough. It was evident he keenly felt his ridiculous position ; he, the biggest man in the garrison, stuck up vis-a-vis in mortal combat with the least. The poor man fenced as if he couldn’t help himself. The little Frenchman, on the contrary, was all activity and enterprise. At length, after a brisk passage of arms, the two stood facing each other for a few seconds in perfect stillness, their swords barely touching at their extremities. Suddenly the little Frenchman swelled to twice his natural size, stamped, shouted “Hah ! ” sprang forward a yard, sprang back again. It was done in the twinkling of an eye. There he stood, just in his former as though he had never moved. At first I was not aware of any result; but three inches of his sword had taken effect, just as surely as when a spider having netted a wasp, jumps at him, nips, and jumps away again. The Captain had got an ugly progue in his sword-arm, between the wrist and elbow. The first token was that he used some shockingly bad language ; next, he turned deadly pale ; then his sword gradually went down, down, down; then the weapon fell from his, g ras p—he could hold it no longer. M. He Montmaur, scorning to profit by his success, bowed politely to his antagonist, thanked him for the honor of “ dis meeting,” and expressed himself “perfectly satisfy.” The Captain -was taken away by his second, growling thunder, and followed by the doctor. The officers present, with whom he was far from popular, were not sorry that he had got a lesson, and surrounded the victor. A few words commendatory of M. He Montmaur’s pluck and skill took such an effect that the little quite beside himself. He

gesticulated, he wept. He called all Olympus to witness that no insult however gross, should ever induce him to draw his sword, in single combat, against the British uniform, and in proof of his sincerity he entreated he implored, that some one present would have the kindness to kick him or puil his nose, and see if he would not take it like a lamb. To prevent his making a more complete ass of himself, I got him off the field, gave him an early supper, with only a short allowance of grog, and sent him to bed. Captain Schnaub, who with all his little peculiarities of character, was a zealous officer, appeared at his post on the third day with a slung arm, and in a fortnight was well.

So ends the first part of my story.

Meanwhile, the siege went on. Compared with their prodigious expenditure of powder and shot, the enemy did us very little damage ; and the whole garrison felt convinced that, unless provisions should fail, which they never did entirely, we could keep out our foes from the fortress for whatever time they chose to remain before it. Meanwhile, vain-glorious, and lively as ever, M. De Montmaur remained with us, simply, I suppose, because the besiegers had no prisoners of ours to exchange for him, or, if they had a prisoner, preferred changing him for some one else.

In process of time, as the siege proceeded, my post and duties were altered. There was reason to suspect that certain residents in Gibraltar, Spaniards, or others who favored the foe, were in the habit of concealing themselves in the rough ground about the summit of the Rock, and from that elevated position making signals to their friends outside, both by day and night. One or two delinquents were caught and hanged. I had it in charge to look after this class of offenders, while taking also the general superintendance of our posts along the summit, and seeing that our men there stationed had their eyes about them. Treachery is easy in a place besieged, simply because everybody takes it for granted that everybody else is on the alert, and therefore gives himself no trouble. It was also my duty to take note of all the enemy’s movements, and to report upon them as occasion required. The arrangement, so far as it concerned myself, was not .quite tc the liking of M. De. Montmaur, who expressed his regret that so much of my time was occupied on the higher parts of the Rock, which to him, as a prisoner, from prudentials considerations, were forbidden ground. One fine day, when I was making my observations at the Rock Guard, a position which vertically dominated the enemy’s lines, I was unexpectedly joined by Captain Schnaub. He was off duty, and had come up to look about him. Learning in the course of conversation that I was on the point of visiting the Signalhouse, another station on very high ground, he intimated an intention of going there too. I merely remarked that I should be glad to have the pleasure of his company. “ You will not have that,” he replied in his rough way. “We shall go by different paths.” “ How so ?” I asked. “ 1 know of but one path that is available from where we are—that along the summit of the ridge. It is not so smooth as a gravel-walk, but it leads from end to end. ” “You know of but one?’’said he; “ but I know of two. Go you by the summit, if you prefer it; I shall go by the back of the Rock.”

He spoke in a tone of bravado. Most people'are aware that the east side, or “ back of the Rock,” is a tremendous precipice. Formerly, on the face of the precipice, there were certain narrow paths, briefly frequented by goats, and forming a communication, such as it was, between the eastern base of the Rock and its summit. But one of these paths having at a previous siege been actually made available by the enemy, they were all destroyed by scarping the Rock ; and though there still remained one or two similar paths—that is, blind paths, as they might be called—paths which led down from the summit at one point, and up again at another—not a single communication between summit and base had escaped obliteration. Those remaining paths I well knew, and had occasionally tried; but it was ticklish work. You looked up on the blank wall of a precipice, and down on the Mediterranean ; a single false step would be destruction. To the gallant Captain, the very bulk and breadth of his corporeal presence rendered the proposed expedition doubly dangerous. There was every reason to fear, even upon mechanical principles, that his centre of gravity would overlay the line at several points ; and in the mildest manner I ventured to hint that he would find the usual path safer and more pleasant. “To you it may be,” he replied scornfully, “ but not to me. Let mo tell you, sir, I have scaled mountains to which this rock is a mole-hill. I have a good head and I shall go. Take your own way, and give me leave to take mine. I don’t ask you to go with me, and I would not advise it.”

A boring, boastful man little imagines how disagreeable he makes himself, even to those who wish him well. In this case there was nothing more to be said. The Captain, disappearing over the ridge, looked very much like a man stepping down into vacancy.

Pursuing my course from the Rock Guard toward the Signal-house, I had covered about half the distance, when I heard a human voice. At the solitary elevation it sounded odd. Whence did it come 1 It seemed to proceed from the left or ridge of the Rock. So !it was the Captain. Nothing visible but his head ; he spoke in his usual gruff key, somewhat tremulous, “ Here ! Lend a hand.”

I helped him up. He was blowzed, and prodigiously sweated; we won’t say frightened, but to use the mildest term, a little “ excited.”

He spoke vindictively. “ You did’nt tell me I should meet anything 1 Couldn’t go forward, couldn’t go back ; and only the breadth of a knife-board I There I was I Much obliged to you 1 ” “ A goat ? ” I asked. It was well known in the garrison, and the Captain must have known it too, that the goats which browse on the Rock, in going from one part of the Rock to the other, do occasionally use those “knifeboard ” paths along the face of the precipice, and when two of them meet, as there is no room to pass, and the outsider would infallibly be precipitated, one lies down, and the other walks over him. Tins led me to fancy that a goat had met the Captain, and that either he had laid himself along to be walked over by the goat, or the goat had done as much for him. “ Nonsense, goat! ” he exclaimed. “What do you mean by goat? No, sir ! not a goat; a baboon. ” Met you at the back of the Rock? Oh, one of the Gibraltar apes, I suppose. They hide up here among the crags and crevices ; but I never met one yet in that path, or in any like it. ” "When anything disagreeable has occurred, it is quite natural that we should feel thoroughly out of temper with everybody, and just in the humour for wreaking our vengeance on somebody, and so quarreling with the first person we meet. Such seemed to be the Captain’s temper now. “ Sir,” said he fiercely, “ I did not say an ape, I said a baboon—and a pretty big one, too—full the size of the Governor’s wolf-dog. Not so big a baboon, though, as some I have seen,” he added, with an insulting glance. (to be continued.

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THE CHIMNEY CORNER. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 128, 20 July 1880

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