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   Chapter 3 THE ARRIVAL.

The Twins By Martin Farquhar Tupper Characters: 6686

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


The young men were thus situated as regards both the world and one another, and Mrs. Tracy had almost entirely forgotten the fact, that she possessed a piece of goods so supererogatory as her husband (a property too which her children had never quite realized), when all on a sudden, one ordinary morning, the postman's-knock brought to her breakfast-table at Burleigh-Singleton the following epistle:

"British Channel, Thursday, March 11th, 1842.

"The Sir William Elphinston, E.I.M.

"DEAR JANE: You will be surprised to find that you are to see me so soon, I dare say, especially as it is now some years since you will have heard from me. The reason is, I have been long in an out-of-the-way part of India, where there is little communication with Europe, and so you will excuse my not writing. We hope to find ourselves to-night in Plymouth roads, where I shall get into a pilot-boat, and so shall see you to-morrow. You may, therefore, now expect your affectionate husband,

"J.G.J. TRACY, General H.E.I.C.S.

"P.S.1.-Remember me to our boy, or boys-which is it?

"P.S.2.-I bring with me the daughter of a friend in India, who is come over for a year or two's polish at a first-rate school. Of course you will be glad to receive her as our guest.

"J.G.J.T."

This loving letter was the most startling event that had ever attempted to unnerve Mrs. Tracy; and she accordingly managed, for effect and propriety's sake, to grow very faint upon the spot, whether for joy, or sorrow, or fear of lost liberty, or hope of a restored lord, doth not appear; she had so long been satisfied with receiving quarterly pay from the India agents, that she forgot it was an evidence of her husband's existence; and, lo! here he was returning a general, doubtlessly a magnificent moustachioed individual, and she was to be Mrs. General! so that when she came completely to herself, after that feint of a faint, she was thinking of nothing but court-plumes, oriental pearls, and her gallant Tracy's uniform.

The postscripts also had their influence: Charles, naturally affectionate, and willing to love a hitherto unseen father, felt hurt, as well he might, at the "boy, or boys;" while Julian, who ridiculed his brother's sentimentality, was already fancying that the "daughter of a friend" might be a pleasant addition to the dullness of Burleigh-Singleton.

Preparations vast were made at once for the general's reception; from attic to kitchen was sounded the tocsin of his coming. Julian was all bustle and excitement, to his mother's joy and pride; while Charles merited her wrath by too much of his habitual and paternal quietude, particularly when he withdrew his forces altogether from the loud domestic fray, by retreating up-stairs to cogitate and muse, perhaps to make a calming prayer or two about all these matters of importance. As for Mrs. Tracy herself, she was even now, within the first hour of that news, busily engaged in collecting cosmetics, trinkets, blonde lace, and other female finery, resolved to trick herself out like Jezebel, and win her lord once more; whilst the pernicious old aunt, who still lived on, notwithstanding all those twenty years of patience, as vivacious as before, grumbled and scolded so much at this upsetting of her house, that there was really some risk of her altering the will at

last, and cutting out Jane Tracy after all.

And the morrow morning came, as if it were no more than an ordinary Friday, and with it came expectancy; and noon succeeded, and with it spirits alternately elated and depressed; and evening drew in, with heart-sickness and chagrin at hopes or prophecies deferred; and night, and next morning, and still the general came not. So, much weeping at that vexing disappointment, after so many pains to please, Mrs. Tracy put aside her numerous aids and appliances, and lay slatternly a-bed, to nurse a head-ache until noon; and all had well nigh forgotten the probable arrival, when, to every body's dismay, a dusty chaise and four suddenly rattled up the terrace, and stopped at our identical number seven.

Then was there scuffling up, and getting down, and making preparation in hot haste; and a stout gentleman with a gamboge face descended from the chaise, exploding wrath like a bomb-shell, that so important an approach had made such slight appearance of expectancy: it was disrespectful to his rank, and he took care to prove he was somebody, by blowing up the very innocent post-boys. This accomplished, he gallantly handed out after him a pretty-looking miss in her teens. Poor Mrs. Tracy, en papillotes, looked out at the casement like any one but Jezebel attired for bewitching, and could have cried for vexation; in fact, she did, and passed it off for feeling. Aunt Green, whom the general at first lovingly saluted as his wife (for the poor man had entirely forgotten the uxorial appearance), was all in a pucker for deafness, blindness, and evident misapprehension of all things in general, though clearly pleased, and flattered at her gallant nephew's salutation. Julian, with what grace of manner he could muster, was already playing the agreeable to that pretty ward, after having, to the general's great surprise, introduced himself to him as his son; while Charles, who had rushed into the room, warm-heartedly to fling himself into his father's arms, was repelled on the spot for his affection: General Tracy, with a military air, excused himself from the embrace, extending a finger to the unknown gentleman, with somewhat of offended dignity.

At last, down came the wife: our general at once perceived himself mistaken in the matter of Mrs. Green; and, coldly bowing to the bedizened dame, acknowledged her pretensions with a courteous-

"Mrs. General Tracy, allow me to introduce to you Miss Emily Warren, the daughter of a very particular friend of mine:-Miss Warren, Mrs. Tracy."

For other welcomings, mutual astonishment at each other's fat, some little sorrowful talk of the twenty years ago, and some dull paternal jest about this dozen feet of sons, made up the chilly meeting: and the slender thread of sentimentals, which might possibly survive it, was soon snapt by paying post-boys, orders after luggage, and devouring tiffin.

The only persons who felt any thing at all, were Mrs. Tracy, vexed at her dishabille, and mortified at so cool a reception of, what she hoped, her still unsullied beauties; and Charles, poor fellow, who ran up to his studious retreat, and soothed his grief, as best he might, with philosophic fancies: it was so cold, so heartless, so unkind a greeting. Romantic youth! how should the father have known him for a son?

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