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   Chapter 16 HOW CHARLES FARED.

The Twins By Martin Farquhar Tupper Characters: 6550

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


Having thus found protectors for poor Emily, and disposed of her assailant to the entire satisfaction of all mankind, let us turn seawards, and take a look at Charles.

Now, "no earthly power,"-as a certain ex-chancellor protested-shall induce me to do so mean a thing as to open Charles's letters, and spread them forth before the public gaze. Doubtless, they were all things tender, warm, and eloquent; doubtless, they were tinted rosy hue, with love's own blushes, and made glorious with the golden light of unaffected piety. I only read them myself in a reflected way, by looking into Emily's eyes; and I saw, from their ever-changing radiance, how feelingly he told of his affections; how fervently he poured out all his heart upon the page; how evidently tears and kisses had made many words illegible; how wise, sanguine, happy, and religious, was her own devoted Charles.

Of the trivial incidents of voyaging, his letters said not much: though cheerful and agreeable in his floating prison, with the various exported marrying-maidens and transported civil officers, who constitute the average bulk of Indian cargoes outward bound, Charles mixed but little in their society, seldom danced, seldom smoked, seldom took a hand at whist, or engaged in the conflicts of backgammon. Sharks, storms, water-spouts; the meeting divers vessels, and exchanging post-bags; tar-barrelled Neptune of the line, Cape Town with its mountain and the Table-cloth, long-rolling seas; and similar common-places, Charles did not think proper to enlarge upon: no more do I. Life is far too short for all such petty details: and, more pointedly, a wire-drawn book is the just abhorrence of a generous public.

The letters came frequently: for Charles did little else all day but write to Emmy, so as always to be ready with a budget for the next piece of luck-a home-bound ship. He had many things to teach her yet, sweet student; and it was a beautiful sight to see how her mind expanded as an opening flower before the sun of tenderness and wisdom. Each letter, both in writing and in reading, was the child of many prayers: and even the loveliness of Emily grew more soft, more elevated, "as it had been the face of an angel," when feeding in solitary joy on those effusions of her lover's heart.

Of course, he could not hear from her, until the overland mail might haply bring him letters at Madras: so that, as our Irish friends would say, with all her will to tell him of her love, "the reciprocity must needs be all on one side." But Emily did write too; earnestly, happily: and poured her very heart out in those eloquent burning words. I dare say Charles will get the letter now within a day or two: for the roaring surf of Madras is on the horizon, almost within sight.

Nevertheless, before he gets there, and can read those letters-precious, precious manuscripts-it will be my painful duty, as a chronicler of (what might well be) truth, to put the reader in possession of one little hint, which seemed likeliest to wreck the happiness of these two children of affection.

I am Emily's invisible friend: and as the dear girl ran to me one morning, with tears in her eyes, to ask me what I thought of a certain mysterious paragraph, I need not scruple to lay it strai

ght before the reader.

At the end of a voluminous love-letter, which I really did not think of prying into, occurred the following postscript, evidently written at the last moment of haste.

"Oh! my precious Emmy, I have just heard the most fearful rumour of ill that could possibly befall us: the captain of our ship-you will remember Captain Forbes, he knew you and the general well, he said-has just assured me that-that-! I dare not, cannot write the awful words. Oh! my own Emmy-Heaven grant you be my own!-pray, pray, as I will night and day, that rumour be not true: for if it be, my love, both God and man forbid us ever to meet again! How I wish I could explain it all, or that I had never heard so much, or never written it here, and told it you, though thus obscurely: for I can't destroy this letter now, the ships are just parting company, and there is no time to write another. Yet will I hope, love, against hope. Who knows? through God's good mercy, it may all be cleared up still. If not-if not-strive to forget for ever, your unhappy

"Charles.

"Perhaps-O, glorious thought!-Nurse Mackie may know better than the captain, after all; and yet, he seems so positive: if he is right, there is nothing for us both but Wo! Wo! Wo!"

Now, to say plain truth, when Emily showed me this, I looked very blank upon it. That Charles had heard some meddlesome report, which (if true) was to be an insuperable barrier to their future union, struck me at a glimpse. But I had not the heart to hint it to her; and only encouraged hope-hope, in God's help, through the means of Mrs. Mackie and her papers.

As for the poor girl herself, she asked me, in much humility, and with many sobs, if I did not fear that her Hindoo mystery was this:-she was the vilest of the vile, a Pariah, an outcast, whose very presence is contamination!

Beautiful, loving, heavenly-hearted creature! so humble in the midst of her majestic loveliness! how touching was the thought, that she thus readily acquiesced in any the deepest humiliation holy Providence had seen fit to send her; and though the sentence would have crushed her happiness for ever, till the day of death, that she could still look up and say, "Be it to thine handmaid even as thou wilt."

As I had no better method of explaining the matter, and as her infantine reminiscences and prejudices about caste were strong, I even let her think so, if she would: it was a far better alternative than my own sad thoughts about the business: and, however painful was the process, it was something consolatory to observe, that this voluntary humiliation mellowed and chastened her own character, subduing tropical fires, and tempering the virgin gold by meekness.

Oh! Charles, Charles, my poor fellow, "who have cast your all upon a die, and must abide the issue of the throw," I most fervently hope that gossiping Captain Forbes spoke falsely: it is a comfort to reflect that the world is often very liberal in attributing the honours of paternity to some who really do not deserve them. And if a rich old bachelor looks kindly on a foundling, is it not pure malice on that sole account of charity to hail him father? Besides-there's Nurse Mackie.-Speed to Madras, poor youth, and keep your courage up.

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