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   Chapter 4 THE GENERAL AND HIS WARD.

The Twins By Martin Farquhar Tupper Characters: 8788

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


It is surprising what a change twenty years of a tropical sun can make in the human constitution. The captain went forth a good-looking, good-tempered man, destitute neither of kind feelings nor masculine beauty: the general returned bloated, bilious, irascible, entirely selfish, and decidedly ill-favoured. Such affections as he ever had seemed to have been left behind in India-that new world, around which now all his associations and remembrances revolved; and the reserve (clearly r?produced in Charles), the habit of silence whereof we took due notice in the spring-tide of his life, had now grown, perhaps from some oppressive secret, into a settled, moody, continuous taciturnity, which made his curious wife more vexed at him than ever; for, notwithstanding all the news he must have had to tell her, the company of John George Julian Tracy proved to his long-expectant Jane any thing but cheering or instructive. His past life, and present feelings, to say nothing of his future prospects, might all be but a blank, for any thing the general seemed to care: brandy and tobacco, an easy chair, and an ordnance map of India, with Emily beside him to talk about old times, these were all for which he lived: and even the female curiosity of a wife, duly authorized to ask questions, could extract from him astonishingly little of his Indian experiences. As to his wealth, indeed, Mrs. Tracy boldly made direct inquiry; for Julian set her on to beg for a commission, and Charles also was anxious for a year or two at college; but the general divulged not much: albeit he vouchsafed to both his sons a liberally increased allowance. It was only when his wife, piqued at such reserve, pettishly remarked,

"At any rate, sir, I may be permitted to hope, that Miss Warren's friends are kind enough to pay her expenses;"

That the veteran, in high dudgeon at any imputation on his Indian acquaintances, sternly answered,

"You need not be apprehensive, madam; Emily Warren is amply provided for." Words which sank deep into the prudent mother's mind.

But we must not too long let dock-leaves hide a violet; it is high time, and barely courteous now, to introduce that beautiful exotic, Emily Warren. Her own history, as she will tell it to Charles hereafter, was so obscure, that she knew little of it certainly herself, and could barely gather probabilities from scattered fragments. At present, we have only to survey results in a superficial manner: in their due season, we will dig up all the roots.

No heroine can probably engage our interest or sympathy who possesses the infirmity of ugliness: it is not in human nature to admire her, and human nature is a thing very much to be consulted. Moreover, no one ever yet saw an amiable personage, who was not so far pleasing, or, in other parlance, so far pretty. I cannot help the common course of things; and however hackneyed be the thought, however common-place the phrase, it is true, nevertheless, that beauty, singular beauty, would be the first idea of any rational creature, who caught but a glimpse of Emily Warren; and I should account it little wonder if, upon a calmer gaze, that beauty were found to have its deepest, clearest fountain in those large dark eyes of heir's.

Aware as I may be, that "large dark eyes" are no novelty in tales like this; and famous for rare originality as my pen (not to say genius) would become, if an attempt were herein made to interest the world in a pink-eyed heroine, still I prefer plodding on in the well-worn path of pleasant beauty; and so long as Nature's bounty continues to supply so well the world we live in with large dark eyes, and other feminine perfections, our Emily, at any rate, remains in fashion; and if she has many pretty peers, let us at least not peevishly complain of them. A graceful shape is, luckily, almost the common prerogative of female youthfulness; a dimpled smile, a cheerful, winning manner, regular features, and a mass of luxuriant brown hair-these all heroines have-and so has our's.

But no heroine ever had yet Emily Warren's eyes; not identically only, which few can well deny; but similarly also, which the many must be good enough to grant: and very few heroes, indeed, ever saw their equal; though, if any hereabouts object, I will not be so cruel or unreasonable as to hope they will admit it. At first, full of soft light, gentle

and alluring, they brighten up to blaze upon you lustrously, and fascinate the gazer's dazzled glance: there are depths in them that tell of the unfathomable soul, heights in them that speak of the spirit's aspirations. It is gentleness and purity, no less than sensibility and passion, that look forth in such strange power from those windows of the mind: it is not the mere beautiful machine, fair form, and pleasing colours, but the heaven-born light of tenderness and truth, streaming through the lens, that takes the fond heart captive. Charles, for one, could not help looking long and keenly into Emily Warren's eyes; they magnetized him, so that he might not turn away from them: entranced him, that he would not break their charm, had he been able: and then the long tufted eyelashes droop so softly over those blazing suns-that I do not in the least wonder at Charles's impolite, perhaps, but still natural involuntary stare, and his mute abstracted admiration: the poor youth is caught at once, a most willing captive-the moth has burnt its wings, and flutters still happily around that pleasant warming radiance. How his heart yearned for something to love, some being worthy of his own most pure affections: and lo! these beauteous eyes, true witnesses of this sweet mind, have filled him for ever and a day with love at first sight.

But gentle Charles was not the only conquest: the fiery Julian, too, acknowledged her supremacy, bowed his stubborn neck, and yoked himself at once, another and more rugged captive, to the chariot of her charms. It was Caliban, as well as Ferdinand, courting fair Miranda. In his lower grade, he loved-fiercely, coarsely: and the same passion, which filled his brother's heart with happiest aspirations, and pure unselfish tenderness towards the beauteous stranger, burnt him up as an inward and consuming fire: Charles sunned himself in heaven's genial beams, while Julian was hot with the lava-current of his own bad heart's volcano.

It will save much trouble, and do away with no little useless mystery, to declare, at the outset, which of these opposite twin-brothers our dark-eyed Emily preferred. She was only seventeen in years; but an Indian sky had ripened her to full maturity, both of form and feelings: and having never had any one whom she cared to think upon, and let her heart delight in, till Charles looked first upon her beauty wonderingly, it is no marvel if she unconsciously reciprocated his young heart's thought-before ever he had breathed it to himself. Julian's admiration she entirely overlooked; she never thought him more than civil-barely that, perhaps-however he might flatter himself: but her heart and eyes were full of his fair contrast, the light seen brighter against darkness; Charles all the dearer for a Julian. Intensely did she love him, as only tropic blood can love; intently did she gaze on him, when any while he could not see her face, as only those dark eyes could gaze: and her mind, all too ignorant but greedy of instruction, no less than her heart, rich in sympathies and covetous of love, went forth, and fed deliciously on the intellectual brow, and delicate flushing cheek of her noble-minded Charles. Not all in a day, nor a week, nor a month, did their loves thus ripen together. Emily was a simple child of nature, who had every thing to learn; she scarcely knew her Maker's name, till Charles instructed her in God's great love: the stars were to her only shining studs of gold, and the world one mighty plain, and men and women soulless creatures of a day, and the wisdom of creation unconsidered, and the book of natural knowledge close sealed up, till Charles set out before his eager student the mysteries of earth and heaven. Oh, those blessed hours of sweet teaching! when he led her quick delighted steps up the many avenues of science to the central throne of God! Oh, those happy moments, never to return, when her eyes in gentle thankfulness for some new truth laid open to them, flashed upon her youthful Mentor, love and intelligence, and pleased admiring wonder! Sweet spring-tide of their loves, who scarcely knew they loved, yet thought of nothing but each other; who walked hand in hand, as brother and sister, in the flowery ways of mutual blessing, mutual dependence: alas, alas! how brief a space can love, that guest from heaven, dwell on earth unsullied!

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