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   Chapter 8 THE MYSTERY.

The Twins By Martin Farquhar Tupper Characters: 5879

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


Our lovers would not have been praiseworthy, perhaps not human, had they not met in secret once and again. True, their regularly concerted studies were forbidden, and they never now might openly walk out unaccompanied: but love (who has not found this out?) is both daring and ingenious; and notwithstanding all that Emily purposed about doing as the general so strangely bade her, they had many happy meetings, rich with many happy words: all the happier no doubt for their stolen sweetness.

There was one great and engrossing subject which often had employed their curiosity; who and what was Emily Warren? for the poor girl did not know herself. All she could guess, she told Charles, as he zealously cross-questioned her from time to time: and the result of his inquiries would appear to be as follows:

Emily's earliest recollections were of great barbaric pomp; huge elephants richly caparisoned, mighty fans of peacock's tails, lines of matchlock men, tribes of jewelled servants, a gilded palace, with its gardens and fountains: plenty of rare gems to play with, and a splendid queenly woman, whom she called by the Hindoo name for mother. The general, too, was there among her first associations, as the gallant Captain Tracy, with his company of native troops.

Then an era happened in her life; a tearful leave-taking with that proud princess, who scarcely would part with her for sorrow; but the captain swore it should be so: and an old Scotch-woman, her nurse, she could remember, who told her as a child, but whether religiously or not she could not tell, "Darling, come to me when you wish to know who made you;" and then Mrs. Mackie went and spoke to the princess, and soothed her, that she let the child depart peacefully. Most of her gorgeous jewellery dated from that earliest time of inexplicable oriental splendour.

After those infantine seven years, the captain took her with him to his station up the country, where she lived she knew not how long, in a strong hill-fort, one Puttymuddyfudgepoor, where there was a great deal of fighting, and besieging, and storming, and cannonading; but it ceased at last, and the captain, who then soon successively became both major and colonel, always kept her in his own quarters, making her his little pet; and, after the fighting was all over, his brother-officers would take her out hunting in their howdahs, and she had plenty of palanquin-bearers, sepoys, and servants at command; and, what was more, good nurse Mackie was her constant friend and attendant.

Time wore on, and many little incidents of Indian life occurred, which varied every day indeed, but still left nothing consequential behind them: there were tiger-hunts, and incursions of Scindian tribes, and Pindarree chieftains taken captive, and wounded soldiers brought into the hospital; and often had she and good nurse Mackie tended at the sick bed-side. And the colonel had the jungle fever, a

nd would not let her go from his sight; so she caught the fever too, and through Heaven's mercy was recovered. And the colonel was fonder of her now than ever, calling her his darling little child, and was proud to display her early budding beauty to his military friends-pleasant sort of gentlemen, who gave her pretty presents.

Then she grew up into womanhood, and saw more than one fine uniform at her feet, but she did not comprehend those kindnesses: and the general (he was general now) got into great passions with them, and stormed, and swore, and drove them all away. Nurse Mackie grew to be old, and sometimes asked her, "Can you keep a secret, child?-no, no, I dare not trust you yet: wait a wee, wait a wee, my bonnie, bonnie bairn."

And now speedily came the end. The general resolved on returning to his own old shores: chiefly, as it seemed, to avoid the troublesome pertinacity of sundry suitors, who sought of him the hand of Emily Warren for, by this name she was beginning to be called: in her earliest recollection she was Amina; then at the hill-fort, Emily-Emily-nothing for years but Emily: and as she grew to womanhood, the general bade her sign her name to notes, and leave her card at houses, as Emily Warren: why, or by what right, she never thought of asking. But nurse Mackie had hinted she might have had "a better name and a truer;" and therefore, she herself had asked the general what this hint might mean; and he was so angry that he discharged nurse Mackie at Madras, directly he arrived there to take ship for England.

Then, just before embarking, poor nurse Mackie came to her secretly, and said, "Child, I will trust you with a word; you are not what he thinks you." And she cried a great deal, and longed to come to England; but the general would not hear of it; so he pensioned her off, and left her at Madras, giving somebody strict orders not to let her follow him.

Nevertheless, just as they were getting into the boat to cross the surf, the affectionate old soul ran out upon the strand, and called to her "Amy Stuart! Amy Stuart!" to the general's great amazement as clearly as her own; and she held up a packet in her hand as they were pushing off, and shouted after her, "Child-child! if you would have your rights, remember Jeanie Mackie!"

After that, succeeded the monotony of a long sea voyage. The general at first seemed vexed about Mrs. Mackie, and often wished that he had asked her what she meant; however, his brow soon cleared, for he reflected that a discarded servant always tells falsehoods, if only to make her master mischief.

"The voyage over, Charles, with all its cards, quadrilles, doubling the cape, crossing the line, and the wearisome routine of sky and sea, the quarter-deck and cabin, we found ourselves at length in Plymouth Sound; left the Indiaman to go up the channel; and I suppose the post-chaise may be consigned to your imagination."

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