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Gabriel went down to Hurley-Bottom, on the Henley road, and put himself under the care of the landlord of the little inn there, who had superintended the training of many an obese fighting-man. He rose at five, walked and ran till nine ; ate one underdone beefsteak, with a small glass of porter, for breakfast; walked till two ; dined off another steak, with one glass of port wine ; walked again till eight; set-to with the landlord for an hour in a fannel dress; had another small steak, and one glass of porter, and went to bed between the blankets.
He persevered for a week, and fancied, like Mr. Mathews's Welsh gentleman, that he was “a little thinner.” But the intense thirst caused by the severe exercise and the scanty supply of fluids, was too much for him. He watched his trainer out of sight, and took a whole quart of porter off at a draught, and so delicious was it, that he repeated the dose whenever he had an opportunity. At a month's end he was as fat as ever.
He left Hurley-Bottom and returned to London, where he consulted a physician, who put him on low diet and a course of sudorifics. He got weaker, but no thinner. He next tried Mahomet's baths at Brighton, but he got rather fatter upon them, as he was so hungry and thirsty after their use, that he could not refrain from eating and drinking largely.
What was to be done? He left the appetite-giving air of the sea, and went to town again to consult Abernethy, who told him to "read his book, live upon sixpence a day, and earn it.” Gabriel read the book, but he could not earn sixpence a day, so it was of no use to try to live upon it.
As he sat in his chambers in gloomy despair, convinced that the sum of all bis efforts was to be addition instead of reduction, he was startled by a loud knock. The door opened, and in walked his friend Sir Jacob Crumpton and his sister the Lady Arabella.
Gabriel could not rise from the sota on which he was reclining. He felt that he should stand confessed a fat man if he did—so he pleaded illness, threw his dressing-gown over his middle, and received the thanks of her ladyship for his exertions in her brother's behalf in a recumbent position.
Lady Arabella saw at a glance that he was an altered man, and suspected the reason of his recumbency. She maliciously felt sud. denly faint, and requested a little eau de Cologne. Gabriel sprung up to fetch it from his bedroom-her ladyship received it and sighed as
“ Heavens! what a size !"
“ Yes,” said the jolly baronet, “the air of the Grange has made a man of him. He is one of us."
Gabriel only groaned. The interview was cut short by the lady who, really pitying the feelings of the fat man, displayed in his lugubrious looks, pleaded an engagement, and rose to take her leave. Gabriel took her extended hand, placed it on the six inches of solid flesh that covered his ribs, and whispered, Jan.-VOL. LXX. NO. CCLXXVII.
“Oh! Lady Arabella, if ever I do get thin again, may I call this mine?"
A gentle pressure of the taper fingers was all the reply-but it was enough. Gabriel was determined to reduce himself, or leave England for ever.
On the following morning Gabriel was missing. His housekeeper was alarmed. His bed had not been slept in, and all his clothes, but those he was wearing, were there. Still she said nothing to any one.
He might intend to send for his trunk; but day followed day, night succeeded night, and her master neither appeared nor wrote for his luggage. She went to Sir Jacob and his sister, and told them of her fears for her master's safety. Lady Arabella was nervous about him, but the baronet laughed, and said he had no doubt he was gone into training again.
Still, when the housekeeper had explained that he had disappeared without even a change of linen, and had left all his training Aannel clothing behind him, he began to be fidgety, and finally, at his sister's suggestion, went to a police-officer and communicated the disappearance of his friend to the magistrate, who ordered one of the cleverest policemen to render all the assistance in his power in discovering the whereabouts of Mr. Gabriel Flame.
Z. No. 450, asked a great many questions of the housekeeper. He examined Flame's razor-case, and inquired for his pistols. Drank a bottle of sherry, as he thought deeply, and then said, “Drowned hisself.” The serpentine was dragged, but only one body was hooked up, and that a poor, thin, scraggy pauper, who had drowned himself because he could not get fat.
The watermen at the respective bridges were questioned, but no one but some unfortunate women had overleapt the bounds of propriety, or the balustrades of the bridges, for more than a fortnight. Inquiries at the Docks, the Seven Ponds at Hampstead, the New River Head, and the Grand Junction Canal, were all equally unsatisfactory. No fat suicides had been seen watching for an opportunity to drown themselves and their sorrows.
“ Advertise him as a GENTLEMAN Missing,” said Z. No. 450.
The baronet did in all the London papers; and the description given of his personal appearance would greatly have disgusted Mr. Flame, had he, poor man, seen it-it conveyed such a gross notion of obesity. No reply was received for some days. Lady Arabella was in despair—the baronet quite beaten by circumstances over which he had no control. He had serious thoughts of putting on mourning at once. He was about to order a suit, when the postman brought a dirty document, sealed with a bit of bread-crumb, which ran thus :
“ Brixton, “ Cat and Cauliflour In.
“ Have sin your notus of missin Gent. I nos un, an if so be you'll giv me the mitten at the in abuv and promis not to split on me, will giv you all infurmashun in pour as chepe as possibul.
“Y. ob. sto
The baronet, at Lady Arabella's suggestion, hurried off to Brixton, and found a short, thick-set man at the “ Cat and Cauliflower,” who responded to the name of Gabbins. He gave a very knowing wink, and preceded Sir Jacob into a snug parlour, where, when he had locked the door, he said,
“What’ill you stand ?"
The fifteen sovereigns were paid, and Mr. William Gabbins popping his finger to the side of a very red nose, said,
“ He's on the wheel !”
This needed explanation, but it was so speedily given, that the baronet found himself in the Brixton House of Correction with Mr. Gabbins, who was one of the under-turnkeys, in a very few minutes. He was shown into the merry-go-round, and there, sure enough, on the wheel was his friend Gabriel doing the work of two men, and almost reduced to his natural figure. His hair was close-cropped, but he looked well and happy.
“Hurrah!” he cried, when he saw Sir Jacob,“ this is your only training-ground-look at my waist ! you can almost span it. Give my love to your sister, and say I shall be out in a fortnight. Good-by -I must keep moving, or I shall sprain my ankle.”
The baronet saw through the affair in a moment, and returned home quite happy. Gabriel Flaine came out restored to his former elegant shape, and Lady Arabella kept her promise—her implied promise of becoming Mrs. 'Flame if her“ future” could reduce himself to his natural size.
All you overgrown gentlemen who cannot keep your figures within bounds, put on a disguise, break a shop-window, refuse to give your name, get committed for a month to Brixion, and advertised for as “ A GENTLEMAN MISSING." Probatum est.
THE INVISIBLE FOE :
AN INCIDENT IN THE PENINSULAR WAR.
On a bright August evening of the year 181-, a dozen infantry soldiers were seen marching along a country road in Catalonia. Al though their uniform was French their high features and olive complexions were the attributes of a more southern nation, while the language in which they conversed bespoke them to belong to one of the Italian regiments which Napoleon had taken into his pay. Their countenances were bronzed and weather-beaten, their arms brightly burnished, their step assured and regular; they were evidently men who had seen hard service, but yet they wanted something of the military tournure and frank, fearless carriage, which distinguished the French imperial troops of the time. They had more the look of welldrilled banditti than of soldiers, and such was in some degree the character they had made themselves in Spain, where no troops were more dreaded for their cruelty and exactions than the Italian brigades.
The sergeant commanding the party was a low-browed sullen-looking man, with a peculiarly ferocious expression of countenance. Although an Italian by birth, he had passed the greater part of his life at Paris, and had shared in the horrors and massacres of the revolution. It was reported indeed among his comrades that he had officiated as one of the numerous executioners whose services were in such request during the Reign of Terror, at the expiration of which period of bloodshed he had enlisted in a regiment of the line. Thence he was transferred to an Italian corps, and not being deficient in courage, speedily gained the rank of Sergeant, but his brutal character and questionable antecedents had hitherto stood in the way of his obtaining the epaulette. Although little liked by his officers, Sergeant Pisani was a favourite with the men, who were sure of impunity for any excesses they might commit when under his command, he being usually the first to set the example of cruelty and pillage.
The duty on which this little detachment was proceeding was to search for a Spaniard, who having been taken prisoner and compelled to serve in an lialian regiment, had not unnaturally seized an early opportunity of deserting. He had a brother living in this part of the country, with whom it was suspected he had taken refuge ; Sergeant Pisani and his party had been sent to hunt out the fugitive, and as it led them to some distance from the French garrison, of which they formed part, and would doubtless afford opportunities for plunder, they proceeded on their mission with great good will.
“ It surely cannot be much farther to the house of this Lanz," said Pisani, to a corporal who marched beside him. “ At the last village they told us another league, and we have certainly marched three since then. Corpo di Cristo! how long the leagues are in this cursed country!”
As he spoke, the party turned an angle of the road which had been shut in for some time between high wooded banks, but now led across an open plain, highly cultivated, and rich in the various productions of that fertile soil. Fields of tall maize, and wheat of a golden hue, con
trasted with the dull grayish green of the olivares, and with the brighter tints of the vines, laden with luxuriant clusters of grapes, that were already beginning to acquire a purple tinge. To the right of the road the eye roamed over a large extent of champaign country; to the left the view was more limited, being bounded at the distance of a mile by a ridge of hills, the sides of which were clothed with cork-trees. Towards these hills did Pisani and his men bend their steps, leaving the high-road, and following a path that led through a thickly-planted orchard.
After ten minutes march, the soldiers emerged from the trees upon an open sward, at the farther end of which, and leaning its back against the hill, stood a small farm-house, boasting a degree of neat cleanliness rarely found in the dwellings of even the better sort of Spanish labradores, or yeomen. The walls of the cottage were of dark-coloured flints, the roof of thatch, covered with mosses, and fringed with creeping plants, which hung down their star-like flowers and elegant festoons in front of the latticed casements. A porch of unbarked branches surrounding the door was overgrown with ivy, and flanked by pomegranate and orange-trees that perfumed the air around. On one side of the house was a plot of garden-ground, on the other a small farmyard, whence were heard the lowing of cows, and noises of other domestic animals.
The sudden appearance of the soldiers within a hundred yards of the cottage, evidently caused much confusion among its inmates. A man who had been sitting on a rude bench some short distance from the house started up and hurried in-doors, but came out again almost immediately, and lounged back to his seat with an assumption of great listlessness and indifference ; two women's heads appeared a moment at the windows, and were instantly withdrawn again, while three sunburnt children who were playing near the farm-yard gate, ran for shelter behind the bench on which their father was sitting, and gazed at the new comers with a mixture of terror and curiosity.
The alarm caused by his arrival was not lost upon Sergeant Pisani, who was well used to this kind of service. At a word from him the corporal and two men hurried round to the rear of the house, two more stood sentry over the stable and outhouses, and another took up his post below a window looking into the garden ; the remainder rested on their arms in front of the cottage.
“You are Esteban Lanz,” said Pisani in a surly tone, and scowling savagely at the peasant.
The Spaniard bowed his head slightly, and replied affirmatively to the question.
“ Your brother Pedro has deserted, and we are well assured he is concealed in your house.”
“It is not true, señor," replied Lanz, “many weeks have passed since I saw or heard of him.” “ Mentira!” cried the Italian, fiercely.
“ If he is not here you know where he is. I shall waste no words on you, but search the house; and if in vain, we will find means to make you speak. Here, Paolo and Giovanni, stop with this fellow, and should he try to escape, tickle him with your bayonets."
So saying, he entered the cottage followed by the remaining soldiers.