On the morning of the day fixed on for our dining at the mess-room, Lord Worcester received a severe reprimand from Colonel Quintin for neglecting the drill.
We sat down at least thirty at table, and I was the only lady in company. However, as I had my station near Colonel Palmer, and was not presented to any strangers, I enjoyed the same sort of liberty as I might have done at any table-d’hôte.
I was already acquainted with the present Duc de Guiche and several other officers. A very fine young man who had joined only a month previous was present, and, I remember, that nobody said a single word to him; but I have entirely forgotten his name. I inquired his history, and was told that he was a man of good fortune but of no family, as they denominate those who cannot boast recorded ancient blood in their veins. However, instead of complaining to the Prince, or calling out the colonel, he put a good face on the thing, and always came into the mess-room whistling. He was a very fine young man and, while he carefully avoided any appearance of making up to his proud brother-officers, was ever ready to prove, by his politeness in handing them salt, bread, wine or whatever happened to be near him at table, that he was not sufficiently wounded by their cutting to be sulky with them, neither was his appetite at all impaired by it. Of this fact nobody in their senses could entertain the smallest doubt.
The Duke of Clarence’s and poor Mrs. Jordan’s eldest son, Captain FitzClarence, I remember had a forfeit or a fine to pay, for coming to dinner in dirty boots, or something of that kind. He was indeed voted by the whole mess a very dirty fellow in his person, and one who evidently conceived himself so much better than his brother officers, from being the bastard of the Duke of Clarence. Everybody acknowledges him to be brave; but I certainly should take him to be about as heartless as any man need be in order to make his way in the world. He had a trick or two which used to make the officers sick, and he ate so voraciously that he well nigh bred a famine in the mess-room. On one occasion poor Captain Roberts, who happened to come in later than FitzClarence, got nothing but bubble-and-squeak in the dog-days.
Colonel Palmer scolded me very much indeed about Worcester’s missing parade of a morning. I assured him that I had done and would do all I possibly could to make him more attentive. The colonel declared that, if he again missed the drill, he feared Colonel Quintin would act in a way to disgust Lord Worcester with the army altogether, and he should regret much his going out of the regiment.
As soon as we had left the mess-room, I told Worcester that he really must be at parade by eight o’clock to-morrow.
Worcester again promised, and again broke his word, for which he was immediately put under arrest, and desired not to wear his sword.
“By G — , if he vas de king’s son, I vould put him honder arrest,” exclaimed Quintin.
This was reported to Lord Worcester, who said it was the most vulgar and disgusting speech he had ever heard, adding: “What has a king’s son or a duke’s son to do with the usual discipline observed towards lieutenants in the army?”
When Colonel Palmer came to condole with Worcester, his lordship was a good deal agitated and confused. I passed my word to the colonel, that, if he would get Worcester’s sword restored to him, I would accompany him to drill rather than he should miss it. The next morning I actually accomplished being up, dressed, and on my road to the barracks by half-past eight o’clock, accompanied by Worcester.
Will Haught, who was in a terrible bustle on this occasion, asked, “Where is Miss Wilson to wait during parade, my lord?”
“In my barrack-room,” said the marquis.
“Why, my lord, there is nothing at all in it but a large trunk, and, you see, the room has never been put square like, and I should have wished to have got Miss Wilson a neat comfortable breakfast.”
“Well, do your best,” said Worcester, as we drove off.