News of the affair at Tavora reached Sir Terence O’Moy, the Adjutant-General at Lisbon, about a week later in dispatches from headquarters. These informed him that in the course of the humble apology and explanation of the regrettable occurrence offered by the Colonel of the 8th Dragoons in person to the Mother Abbess, it had transpired that Lieutenant Butler had left the convent alive, but that nevertheless he continued absent from his regiment.

Those dispatches contained other unpleasant matters of a totally different nature, with which Sir Terence must proceed to deal at once; but their gravity was completely outweighed in the adjutant’s mind by this deplorable affair of Lieutenant Butler’s. Without wishing to convey an impression that the blunt and downright O’Moy was gifted with any undue measure of shrewdness, it must nevertheless be said that he was quick to perceive what fresh thorns the occurrence was likely to throw in a path that was already thorny enough in all conscience, what a semblance of justification it must give to the hostility of the intriguers on the Council of Regency, what a formidable weapon it must place in the hands of Principal Souza and his partisans. In itself this was enough to trouble a man in O’Moy’s position. But there was more. Lieutenant Butler happened to be his brother-in-law, own brother to O’Moy’s lovely, frivolous wife. Irresponsibility ran strongly in that branch of the Butler family.

For the sake of the young wife whom he loved with a passionate and fearful jealousy such as is not uncommon in a man of O’Moy’s temperament when at his age—he was approaching his forty-sixth birthday—he marries a girl of half his years, the adjutant had pulled his brother-in-law out of many a difficulty; shielded him on many an occasion from the proper consequences of his incurable rashness.

This affair of the convent, however, transcended anything that had gone before and proved altogether too much for O’Moy. It angered him as much as it afflicted him. Yet when he took his head in his hands and groaned, it was only his sorrow that he was expressing, and it was a sorrow entirely concerned with his wife.

The groan attracted the attention of his military secretary, Captain Tremayne, of Fletcher’s Engineers, who sat at work at a littered writing-table placed in the window recess. He looked up sharply, sudden concern in the strong young face and the steady grey eyes he bent upon his chief. The sight of O’Moy’s hunched attitude brought him instantly to his feet.

“Whatever is the matter, sir?”

“It’s that damned fool Richard,” growled O’Moy. “He’s broken out again.”

The captain looked relieved. “And is that all?”

O’Moy looked at him, white-faced, and in his blue eyes a blaze of that swift passion that had made his name a byword in the army.

“All?” he roared. “You’ll say it’s enough, by God, when you hear what the fool’s been at this time. Violation of a nunnery, no less.” And he brought his massive fist down with a crash upon the document that had conveyed the information. “With a detachment of dragoons he broke into the convent of the Dominican nuns at Tavora one night a week ago. The alarm bell was sounded, and the village turned out to avenge the outrage. Consequences: three troopers killed, five peasants sabred to death and seven other casualties, Dick himself missing and reported to have escaped from the convent, but understood to remain in hiding—so that he adds desertion to the other crime, as if that in itself were not enough to hang him. That’s all, as you say, and I hope you consider it enough even for Dick Butler—bad luck to him.”

“My God!” said Captain Tremayne.

“I’m glad that you agree with me.”

Captain Tremayne stared at his chief, the utmost dismay upon his fine young face. “But surely, sir, surely—I mean, sir, if this report is correct some explanation—” He broke down, utterly at fault.

“To be sure, there’s an explanation. You may always depend upon a most elegant explanation for anything that Dick Butler does. His life is made up of mistakes and explanations.” He spoke bitterly, “He broke into the nunnery under a misapprehension, according to the account of the sergeant who accompanied him,” and Sir Terence read out that part of the report. “But how is that to help him, and at such a time as this, with public feeling as it is, and Wellington in his present temper about it? The provost’s men are beating the country for the blackguard. When they find him it’s a firing party he’ll have to face.”

Tremayne turned slowly to the window and looked down the fair prospect of the hillside over a forest of cork oaks alive with fresh green shoots to the silver sheen of the river a mile away. The storms of the preceding week had spent their fury—the travail that had attended the birth of Spring—and the day was as fair as a day of June in England. Weaned forth by the generous sunshine, the burgeoning of vine and fig, of olive and cork went on apace, and the skeletons of trees which a fortnight since had stood gaunt and bare were already fleshed in tender green.

From the window of this fine conventual house on the heights of Monsanto, above the suburb of Alcantara, where the Adjutant-General had taken up his quarters, Captain Tremayne stood a moment considering the panorama spread to his gaze, from the red-brown roofs of Lisbon on his left—that city which boasted with Rome that it was built upon a cluster of seven hills—to the lines of embarkation that were building about the fort of St. Julian on his left. Then he turned, facing again the spacious, handsome room with its heavy, semi-ecclesiastical furniture, and Sir Terence, who, hunched in his chair at the ponderously carved black writing-table, scowled fiercely at nothing.

“What are you going to do, sir?” he inquired.

Sir Terence shrugged impatiently and heaved himself up in his chair.

“Nothing,” he growled.


The interrogation, which seemed almost to cover a reproach, irritated the adjutant.

“And what the devil can I do?” he rapped.

“You’ve pulled Dick out of scrapes before now.”

“I have. That seems to have been my principal occupation ever since I married his sister. But this time he’s gone too far. What can I do?”

“Lord Wellington is fond of you,” suggested Captain Tremayne. He was your imperturbable young man, and he remained as calm now as O’Moy was excited. Although by some twenty years the adjutant’s junior, there was between O’Moy and himself, as well as between Tremayne and the Butler family, with which he was remotely connected, a strong friendship, which was largely responsible for the captain’s present appointment as Sir Terence’s military secretary.

O’Moy looked at him, and looked away. “Yes,” he agreed. “But he’s still fonder of law and order and military discipline, and I should only be imperilling our friendship by pleading with him for this young blackguard.”

“The young blackguard is your brother-in-law,” Tremayne reminded him.

“Bad luck to you, Tremayne, don’t I know it? Besides, what is there I can do?” he asked again, and ended testily: “Faith, man, I don’t know what you’re thinking of.”

“I’m thinking of Una,” said Captain Tremayne in that composed way of his, and the words fell like cold water upon the hot iron of O’Moy’s anger.

The man who can receive with patience a reproach, implicit or explicit, of being wanting in consideration towards his wife is comparatively rare, and never a man of O’Moy’s temperament and circumstances. Tremayne’s reminder stung him sharply, and the more sharply because of the strong friendship that existed between Tremayne and Lady O’Moy. That friendship had in the past been a thorn in O’Moy’s flesh. In the days of his courtship he had known a fierce jealousy of Tremayne, beholding in him for a time a rival who, with the strong advantage of youth, must in the end prevail. But when O’Moy, putting his fortunes to the test, had declared himself and been accepted by Una Butler, there had been an end to the jealousy, and the old relations of cordial friendship between the men had been resumed.

O’Moy had conceived that jealousy of his to have been slain. But there had been times when from its faint, uneasy stirrings he should have taken warning that it did no more than slumber. Like most warm hearted, generous, big-natured men, O’Moy was of a singular humility where women were concerned, and this humility of his would often breathe a doubt lest in choosing between himself and Tremayne Una might have been guided by her head rather than her heart, by ambition rather than affection, and that in taking himself she had taken the man who could give her by far the more assured and affluent position.

He had crushed down such thoughts as disloyal to his young wife, as ungrateful and unworthy; and at such times he would fall into self-contempt for having entertained them. Then Una herself had revived those doubts three months ago, when she had suggested that Ned Tremayne, who was then at Torres Vedras with Colonel Fletcher, was the very man to fill the vacant place of military secretary to the adjutant, if he would accept it. In the reaction of self-contempt, and in a curious surge of pride almost as perverse as his humility, O’Moy had adopted her suggestion, and thereafter—in the past-three months, that is to say—the unreasonable devil of O’Moy’s jealousy had slept, almost forgotten. Now, by a chance remark whose indiscretion Tremayne could not realise, since he did not so much as suspect the existence of that devil, he had suddenly prodded him into wakefulness. That Tremayne should show himself tender of Lady O’Moy’s feelings in a matter in which O’Moy himself must seem neglectful of them was gall and wormwood to the adjutant. He dissembled it, however, out of a natural disinclination to appear in the ridiculous role of the jealous husband.

“That,” he said, “is a matter that you may safely leave to me,” and his lips closed tightly upon the words when they were uttered.

“Oh, quite so,” said Tremayne, no whit abashed. He persisted nevertheless. “You know Una’s feelings for Dick.”

“When I married Una,” the adjutant cut in sharply, “I did not marry the entire Butler family.” It hardened him unreasonably against Dick to have the family cause pleaded in this way. “It’s sick to death I am of Master Richard and his escapades. He can get himself out of this mess, or he can stay in it.”

“You mean that you’ll not lift a hand to help him.”

“Devil a finger,” said O’Moy.

And Tremayne, looking straight into the adjutant’s faintly smouldering blue eyes, beheld there a fierce and rancorous determination which he was at a loss to understand, but which he attributed to something outside his own knowledge that must lie between O’Moy and his brother-in-law.

“I am sorry,” he said gravely. “Since that is how you feel, it is to be hoped that Dick Butler may not survive to be taken. The alternative would weigh so cruelly upon Una that I do not care to contemplate it.”

“And who the devil asks you to contemplate it?” snapped O’Moy. “I am not aware that it is any concern of yours at all.”

“My dear O’Moy!” It was an exclamation of protest, something between pain and indignation, under the stress of which Tremayne stepped entirely outside of the official relations that prevailed between himself and the adjutant. And the exclamation was accompanied by such a look of dismay and wounded sensibilities that O’Moy, meeting this, and noting the honest manliness of Tremayne’s bearing and countenance; was there and then the victim of reaction. His warm-hearted and impulsive nature made him at once profoundly ashamed of himself. He stood up, a tall, martial figure, and his ruggedly handsome, shaven countenance reddened under its tan. He held out a hand to Tremayne.

“My dear boy, I beg your pardon. It’s so utterly annoyed I am that the savage in me will be breaking out. Sure, it isn’t as if it were only this affair of Dick’s. That is almost the least part of the unpleasantness contained in this dispatch. Here! In God’s name, read it for yourself, and judge for yourself whether it’s in human nature to be patient under so much.”

With a shrug and a smile to show that he was entirely mollified, Captain Tremayne took the papers to his desk and sat down to con them. As he did so his face grew more and more grave. Before he had reached the end there was a tap at the door. An orderly entered with the announcement that Dom Miguel Forjas had just driven up to Monsanto to wait upon the adjutant-general.

“Ha!” said O’Moy shortly, and exchanged a glance with his secretary. “Show the gentleman up.”

As the orderly withdrew, Tremayne came over and placed the dispatch on the adjutant’s desk. “He arrives very opportunely,” he said.

“So opportunely as to be suspicious, bedad!” said O’Moy. He had brightened suddenly, his Irish blood quickening at the immediate prospect of strife which this visit boded. “May the devil admire me, but there’s a warm morning in store for Mr. Forjas, Ned.”

“Shall I leave you?”

“By no means.”

The door opened, and the orderly admitted Miguel Forjas, the Portuguese Secretary of State. He was a slight, dapper gentleman, all in black, from his silk stockings and steel-buckled shoes to his satin stock. His keen aquiline face was swarthy, and the razor had left his chin and cheeks blue-black. His sleek hair was iron-grey. A portentous gravity invested him this morning as he bowed with profound deference first to the adjutant and then to the secretary.

“Your Excellencies,” he said—he spoke an English that was smooth and fluent for all its foreign accent “Your Excellencies, this is a terrible affair.”

“To what affair will your Excellency be alluding?” wondered O’Moy.

“Have you not received news of what has happened at Tavora? Of the violation of a convent by a party of British soldiers? Of the fight that took place between these soldiers and the peasants who went to succour the nuns?”

“Oh, and is that all?” said O’Moy. “For a moment I imagined your Excellency referred to other matters. I have news of more terrible affairs than the convent business with which to entertain you this morning.”

“That, if you will pardon me, Sir Terence, is quite impossible.”

“You may think so. But you shall judge, bedad. A chair, Dom Miguel.”

The Secretary of State sat down, crossed his knees and placed his hat in his lap. The other two resumed their seats, O’Moy leaning forward, his elbows on the writing-table, immediately facing Senhor Forjas.

“First, however,” he said, “to deal with this affair of Tavora. The Council of Regency will, no doubt, have been informed of all the circumstances. You will be aware, therefore, that this very deplorable business was the result of a misapprehension, and that the nuns of Tavora might very well have avoided all this trouble had they behaved in a sensible, reasonable manner. If instead of shutting themselves up in the chapel and ringing the alarm bell the Mother-Abbess or one of the sisters had gone to the wicket and answered the demand of admittance from the officer commanding the detachment, he would instantly have realised his mistake and withdrawn.”

“What does your Excellency suggest was this mistake?” inquired the Secretary.

“You have had your report, sir, and surely it was complete. You must know that he conceived himself to be knocking at the gates of the monastery of the Dominican fathers.”

“Can your Excellency tell me what was this officer’s business at the monastery of the Dominican fathers?” quoth the Secretary, his manner frostily hostile.

“I am without information on that point,” O’Moy admitted; “no doubt because the officer in question is missing, as you will also have been informed. But I have no reason to doubt that, whatever his business may have been, it was concerned with the interests which are common alike to the British and the Portuguese nation.”

“That is a charitable assumption, Sir Terence.”

“Perhaps you will inform me, Dom Miguel, of the uncharitable assumption which the Principal Souza prefers,” snapped O’Moy, whose temper began to simmer.

A faint colour kindled in the cheeks of the Portuguese minister, but his manner remained unruffled.

“I speak, sir, not with the voice of Principal Souza, but with that of the entire Council of Regency; and the Council has formed the opinion, which your own words confirm, that his Excellency Lord Wellington is skilled in finding excuses for the misdemeanours of the troops under his command.”

“That,” said O’Moy, who would never have kept his temper in control but for the pleasant consciousness that he held a hand of trumps with which he would presently overwhelm this representative of the Portuguese Government, “that is an opinion for which the Council may presently like to apologise, admitting its entire falsehood.”

Senhor Forjas started as if he had been stung. He uncrossed his black silk legs and made as if to rise.

“Falsehood, sir?” he cried in a scandalised voice.

“It is as well that we should be plain, so as to be avoiding all misconceptions,” said O’Moy. “You must know, sir, and your Council must know, that wherever armies move there must be reason for complaint. The British army does not claim in this respect to be superior to others—although I don’t say, mark me, that it might not claim it with perfect justice. But we do claim for ourselves that our laws against plunder and outrage are as strict as they well can be, and that where these things take place punishment inevitably follows. Out of your own knowledge, sir, you must admit that what I say is true.”

“True, certainly, where the offenders are men from the ranks. But in this case, where the offender is an officer, it does not transpire that justice has been administered with the same impartial hand.” “That, sir,” answered O’Moy sharply, testily, “is because he is missing.”

The Secretary’s thin lips permitted themselves to curve into the faintest ghost of a smile. “Precisely,” he said.

For answer O’Moy, red in the face, thrust forward the dispatch he had received relating to the affair.

“Read, sir—read for yourself, that you may report exactly to the Council of Regency the terms of the report that has just reached me from headquarters. You will be able to announce that diligent search is being made for the offender.”

Forjas perused the document carefully, and returned it.

“That is very good,” he said, “and the Council will be glad to hear of it. It will enable us to appease the popular resentment in some degree. But it does not say here that when taken this officer will not be excused upon the grounds which yourself you have urged to me.”

“It does not. But considering that he has since been guilty of desertion, there can be no doubt—all else apart—that the finding of a court martial will result in his being shot.”

“Very well,” said Forjas. “I will accept your assurance, and the Council will be relieved to hear of it.” He rose to take his leave. “I am desired by the Council to express to Lord Wellington the hope that he will take measures to preserve better order among his troops and to avoid the recurrence of such extremely painful incidents.”

“A moment,” said O’Moy, and rising waved his guest back into his chair, then resumed his own seat. Under a more or less calm exterior he was a seething cauldron of passion. “The matter is not quite at an end, as your Excellency supposes. From your last observation, and from a variety of other evidence, I infer that the Council is far from satisfied with Lord Wellington’s conduct of the campaign.”

“That is an inference which I cannot venture to contradict. You will understand, General, that I do not speak for myself, but for the Council, when I say that many of his measures seem to us not merely unnecessary, but detrimental. The power having been placed in the hands of Lord Wellington, the Council hardly feels itself able to interfere with his dispositions. But it nevertheless deplores the destruction of the mills and the devastation of the country recommended and insisted upon by his lordship. It feels that this is not warfare as the Council understands warfare, and the people share the feelings of the Council. It is felt that it would be worthier and more commendable if Lord Wellington were to measure himself in battle with the French, making a definite attempt to stem the tide of invasion on the frontiers.”

“Quite so,” said O’Moy, his hand clenching and unclenching, and Tremayne, who watched him, wondered how long it would be before the storm burst. “Quite so. And because the Council disapproves of the very measures which at Lord Wellington’s instigation it has publicly recommended, it does not trouble to see that those measures are carried out. As you say, it does not feel itself able to interfere with his dispositions. But it does not scruple to mark its disapproval by passively hindering him at every turn. Magistrates are left to neglect these enactments, and because,” he added with bitter sarcasm, “Portuguese valour is so red-hot and so devilish set on battle the Militia Acts calling all men to the colours are forgotten as soon as published. There is no one either to compel the recalcitrant to take up arms, or to punish the desertions of those who have been driven into taking them up. Yet you want battles, you want your frontiers defended. A moment, sir! there is no need for heat, no need for any words. The matter may be said to be at an end.” He smiled—a thought viciously, be it confessed—and then played his trump card, hurled his bombshell. “Since the views of your Council are in such utter opposition to the views of the Commander-in-Chief, you will no doubt welcome Lord Wellington’s proposal to withdraw from this country and to advise his Majesty’s Government to withdraw the assistance which it is affording you.”

There followed a long spell of silence, O’Moy sitting back in his chair, his chin in his hand, to observe the result of his words. Nor was he in the least disappointed. Dom Miguel’s mouth fell open; the colour slowly ebbed from his cheeks, leaving them an ivory-yellow; his eyes dilated and protruded. He was consternation incarnate.

“My God!” he contrived to gasp at last, and his shaking hands clutched at the carved arms of his chair.

“Ye don’t seem as pleased as I expected,” ventured O’Moy.

“But, General, surely... surely his Excellency cannot mean to take so... so terrible a step?”

“Terrible to whom, sir?” wondered O’Moy.

“Terrible to us all.” Forjas rose in his agitation. He came to lean upon O’Moy’s writing-table, facing the adjutant. “Surely, sir, our interests—England’s interests and Portugal’s—are one in this.”

“To be sure. But England’s interests can be defended elsewhere than in Portugal, and it is Lord Wellington’s view that they shall be. He has already warned the Council of Regency that, since his Majesty and the Prince Regent have entrusted him with the command of the British and Portuguese armies, he will not suffer the Council or any of its members to interfere with his conduct of the military operations, or suffer any criticism or suggestion of theirs to alter system formed upon mature consideration. But when, finding their criticisms fail, the members of the Council, in their wrongheadedness, in their anxiety to allow private interest to triumph over public duty, go the length of thwarting the measures of which they do not approve, the end of Lord Wellington’s patience has been reached. I am giving your Excellency his own words. He feels that it is futile to remain in a country whose Government is determined to undermine his every endeavour to bring this campaign to a successful issue.

“Yourself, sir, you appear to be distressed. But the Council of Regency will no doubt take a different view. It will rejoice in the departure of a man whose military operations it finds so detestable. You will no doubt discover this when you come to lay Lord Wellington’s decision before the Council, as I now invite you to do.”

Bewildered and undecided, Forjas stood there for a moment, vainly seeking words. Finally:

“Is this really Lord Wellington’s last word?” he asked in tones of profoundest consternation.

“There is one alternative—one only,” said O’Moy slowly.

“And that?” Instantly Forjas was all eagerness.

O’Moy considered him. “Faith, I hesitate to state it.”

“No, no. Please, please.”

“I feel that it is idle.”

“Let the Council judge. I implore you, General, let the Council judge.”

“Very well.” O’Moy shrugged, and took up a sheet of the dispatch which lay before him. “You will admit, sir, I think, that the beginning of these troubles coincided with the advent of the Principal Souza upon the Council of Regency.” He waited in vain for a reply. Forjas, the diplomat, preserved an uncompromising silence, in which presently O’Moy proceeded: “From this, and from other evidence, of which indeed there is no lack, Lord Wellington has come to the conclusion that all the resistance, passive and active, which he has encountered, results from the Principal Souza’s influence upon the Council. You will not, I think, trouble to deny it, sir.”

Forjas spread his hands. “You will remember, General,” he answered, in tones of conciliatory regret, “that the Principal Souza represents a class upon whom Lord Wellington’s measures bear in a manner peculiarly hard.”

“You mean that he represents the Portuguese nobility and landed gentry, who, putting their own interests above those of the State, have determined to oppose and resist the devastation of the country which Lord Wellington recommends.”

“You put it very bluntly,” Forjas admitted.

“You will find Lord Wellington’s own words even more blunt,” said O’Moy, with a grim smile, and turned to the dispatch he held. “Let me read you exactly what he writes:

“‘As for Principal Souza, I beg you to tell him from me that as I have had no satisfaction in transacting the business of this country since he has become a member of the Government, no power on earth shall induce me to remain in the Peninsula if he is either to remain a member of the Government or to continue in Lisbon. Either he must quit the country, or I will do so, and this immediately after I have obtained his Majesty’s permission to resign my charge.’”

The adjutant put down the letter and looked expectantly at the Secretary of State, who returned the look with one of utter dismay. Never in all his career had the diplomat been so completely dumbfounded as he was now by the simple directness of the man of action. In himself Dom Miguel Forjas was both shrewd and honest. He was shrewd enough to apprehend to the full the military genius of the British Commander-in-Chief, fruits of which he had already witnessed. He knew that the withdrawal of Junot’s army from Lisbon two years ago resulted mainly from the operations of Sir Arthur Wellesley—as he was then—before his supersession in the supreme command of that first expedition, and he more than suspected that but for that supersession the defeat of the first French army of invasion might have been even more signal. He had witnessed the masterly campaign of 1809, the battle of the Douro and the relentless operations which had culminated in hurling the shattered fragments of Soult’s magnificent army over the Portuguese frontier, thus liberating that country for the second time from the thrall of the mighty French invader. And he knew that unless this man and the troops under his command remained in Portugal and enjoyed complete liberty of action there could be no hope of stemming the third invasion for which Massena—the ablest of all the Emperor’s marshals was now gathering his divisions in the north. If Wellington were to execute his threat and withdraw with his army, Forjas beheld nothing but ruin for his country. The irresistible French would sweep forward in devastating conquest, and Portuguese independence would be ground to dust under the heel of the terrible Emperor.

All this the clear-sighted Dom Miguel Forjas now perceived. To do him full justice, he had feared for some time that the unreasonable conduct of his Government might ultimately bring about some such desperate situation. But it was not for him to voice those fears. He was the servant of that Government, the “mere instrument and mouthpiece of the Council of Regency.

“This,” he said at length in a voice that was awed, “is an ultimatum.”

“It is that,” O’Moy admitted readily.

Forjas sighed, shook his dark head and drew himself up like a man who has chosen his part. Being shrewd, he saw the immediate necessity of choosing, and, being honest, he chose honestly.

“Perhaps it is as well,” he said.

“That Lord Wellington should go?” cried O’Moy.

“That Lord Wellington should announce intentions of going,” Forjas explained. And having admitted so much, he now stripped off the official mask completely. He spoke with his own voice and not with that of the Council whose mouthpiece he was. “Of course it will never be permitted. Lord Wellington has been entrusted with the defence of the country by the Prince Regent; consequently it is the duty of every Portuguese to ensure that at all costs he shall continue in that office.”

O’Moy was mystified. Only a knowledge of the minister’s inmost thoughts could have explained this oddly sudden change of manner.

“But your Excellency understands the terms—the only terms upon which his lordship will so continue?”

“Perfectly. I shall hasten to convey those terms to the Council. It is also quite clear—is it not?—that I may convey to my Government and indeed publish your complete assurance that the officer responsible for the raid on the convent at Tavora will be shot when taken?”

Looking intently into O’Moy’s face, Dom Miguel saw the clear blue eyes flicker under his gaze, he beheld a grey shadow slowly overspreading the adjutant’s ruddy cheek. Knowing nothing of the relationship between O’Moy and the offender, unable to guess the sources of the hesitation of which he now beheld such unmistakable signs, the minister naturally misunderstood it.

“There must be no flinching in this, General,” he cried. “Let me speak to you for a moment quite frankly and in confidence, not as the Secretary of State of the Council of Regency, but as a Portuguese patriot who places his country and his country’s welfare above every other consideration. You have issued your ultimatum. It may be harsh, it may be arbitrary; with that I have no concern. The interests, the feelings of Principal Souza or of any other individual, however high-placed, are without weight when the interests of the nation hang against them in the balance. Better that an injustice be done to one man than that the whole country should suffer. Therefore I do not argue with you upon the rights and wrongs of Lord Wellington’s ultimatum. That is a matter apart. Lord Wellington demands the removal of Principal Souza from the Government, or, in the alternative, proposes himself to withdraw from Portugal. In the national interest the Government can come to only one decision. I am frank with you, General. Myself I shall stand ranged on the side of the national interest, and what my influence in the Council can do it shall do. But if you know Principal Souza at all, you must know that he will not relinquish his position without a fight. He has friends and influence—the Patriarch of Lisbon and many of the nobility will be on his side. I warn you solemnly against leaving any weapon in his hands.”

He paused impressively. But O’Moy, grey-faced now and haggard, waited in silence for him to continue.

“From the message I brought you,” Forjas resumed, “you will have perceived how Principal Souza has fastened upon this business at Tavora to support his general censure of Lord Wellington’s conduct of the campaign. That is the weapon to which my warning refers. You must—if we who place the national interest supreme are to prevail—you must disarm him by the assurance that I ask for. You will perceive that I am disloyal to a member of my Council so that I may be loyal to my country. But I repeat, I speak to you in confidence. This officer has committed a gross outrage, which must bring the British army into odium with the people, unless we have your assurance that the British army is the first to censure and to punish the offender with the utmost rigour. Give me now, that I may publish everywhere, your official assurance that this man will be shot, and on my side I assure you that Principal Souza, thus deprived of his stoutest weapon, must succumb in the struggle that awaits us.”

“I hope,” said O’Moy slowly, his head bowed, his voice dull and even unsteady, “I hope that I am not behind you in placing public duty above private consideration. You may publish my official assurance that the officer in question will be... shot when taken.”

“General, I thank you. My country thanks you. You may be confident of this issue.” He bowed gravely to O’Moy and then to Tremayne. “Your Excellencies, I have the honour to wish you good-day.” He was shown out by the orderly who had admitted him, and he departed well satisfied in his patriotic heart that the crisis which he had always known to be inevitable should have been reached at last. Yet, as he went, he wondered why the Adjutant-General had looked so downcast, why his voice had broken when he pledged his word that justice should be done upon the offending British officer. That, however, was no concern of Dom Miguel’s, and there was more than enough to engage his thoughts when he came to consider the ultimatum to his Government with which he was charged.

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