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   Chapter 17 THE GENERAL'S RETURN.

The Twins By Martin Farquhar Tupper Characters: 7617

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


In a most unwonted flow of animal spirits, and an entire affability which restored him at once to the rank of a communicative creature, General Tracy came back on Friday night. He had met with marvellous prosperity; for Hancock's had been paying off the prize-money; and his own lion's share, as general, in the easy process of dethroning half a dozen diamond-hilted rajahs and nabobs, amounted to something like four lacs of rupees, nearly half a crore! Such a flush of wealth, and he was rich already without it, exhilarated the bilious old gentleman so strangely, that positive peonies were blooming in his cheeks; and, as if this was not miracle enough, he had brought his wife as a present Maurice's 'Antiquities of India,' gloriously bound, and had even been so superfluous as to purchase a new pair of double-barrelled pistols for Julian: the lad was a fine young fellow after all, and ought to be encouraged in snuffing out a candle; as for Emily's petit cadeau, it was a fifty guinea set of cameos, the choicest in their way that Howell and James's had to show him. Moreover, he had sent a Bow-street officer to Oxford, to make inquiries after Charles: actually, good fortune had made him at once humanized and happy.

So the chaise rattled up, and the general bounded out, and flew into the arms of his wondering wife, as Paris might have flown to Helen, or Leander to his heroine-the only feminine Hero, whom grammar recognises. It was past eleven at night: therefore he did not think to ask for Julian; no doubt the boy was gone to bed.

Indeed, he had; and was tossing his wealed body, full of pains, and aches, and bruises, as softly as he could upon the feather-bed: he had need of poultices all over, and a quart of Friar's Balsam would have done him little good: after his well-merited thrashing, the flogged hound had slunk to his kennel, and locked himself sullenly in, without even speaking to his mother. Tobacco-fumes exuded from the key-hole, and I doubt not other creature-comforts lent the muddled man their aid.

However, after the first rush of news to Mrs. Tracy, her lord, who had every moment been expecting the door to fly open, and Emily to fall into his arms-for strangely did they love each other-suddenly asked,

"But, where's Emmy all this time! she knows I'm here?-not got to bed, is she?-knew I was coming?-"

"Oh! general, I'll tell you all about it to-morrow morning."

"About what, madam? Great God! has any harm befallen the child? Speak-speak, woman!"

"Dear-dear-Oh! what shall I say?" sobbed the silly mother. "Emily-Emily, poor dear Julian-"

"What the devil, ma'am, of Julian?" The general turned white as a sheet, and rang the bell, in singular calmness; probably for a dram of brandy. Saunders answered it so instantly, that I rather suspect he was waiting just outside.

The moment Mrs. Tracy saw the gray-headed butler, anticipating all that he might say, she brushed past him, and hurriedly ran up-stairs.

"What's all this, Mr. Saunders? where's Miss Warren?" And the poor old guardian seemed ready to faint at his reply: but he heard it out patiently.

"I am very sorry to say, general, that Miss Emily has been forced to take refuge at Sir Abraham Tamworth's: but she's well, sir, and safe, sir; quite well and safe," the good man hastened to say, "only I'm afraid that Mr. Julian had been taking liberties with-"

I dare not write the general's imprecation: then, as he clenched the arms of his easy-chair, as with the grasp of the dying, he asked, in a quick wild way-

"But what was it?-what happened?"

"Nothing to fear, sir-nothing at all, general;-I am thankful to say, that all I saw, and all we all saw, was Miss Emily pulling at the bell-rope with blood upon her face, and Mr. Julian on the floor: but I took the you

ng lady to Sir Abraham's immediately, general, at her own desire."

The father arose sternly; his first feeling was to kill Julian; but the second, a far better one, predominated-he must go and see Emily at once.

So, faintly leaning on the butler's arm, the poor old man (whom a moiety of ten minutes, with its crowding fears, had made to look some ten years older,) proceeded to the square, and knocked up Sir Abraham at midnight, and the admiral came down, half asleep, in dressing-gown and slippers, vexed at having been knocked up from his warm berth so uncomfortably: it put him sorely in remembrance of his hardships as a middy.

"Kind neighbour, thank you, thank you; where's Emmy? take me to my Emmy;" and the iron-hearted veteran wept like a driveller.

Sir Abraham looked at him queerly: and then, in a cheerful, friendly way, replied-

"Dear general, do not be so moved: the girl's quite safe with us; you'll see her to-morrow morning. All's right; she was only frightened, and George has given the fellow a proper good licking: and the girl's a-bed, you know; and, eh? what?"-

For the poor old man, like one bereaved, said, supplicatingly-

"In mercy take me to her-precious child!"

"My dear sir-pray consider-it's impossible; fine girl, you know;-Lady Tamworth, too-can't be, can't be, you know, general."

And the mystified Sir Abraham looked to Saunders for an explanation-

"Was his master drunk?"

"I must speak to her, neighbour; I must, must, and will-dear, dear child: come up with me, sir, come; do not trifle with a breaking heart, neighbour!"

There was a heart still in that hard-baked old East Indian.

It was impossible to resist such an appeal: so the two elders crept up stairs, and knocked softly at her chamber-door. Clearly, the girl was asleep: she had sobbed herself to sleep; the general had been looked for all day long, and she was worn with watching; he could hardly come at midnight; so the dear affectionate child had sobbed herself to sleep.

"Allow me, Sir Abraham." And General Tracy whispered something at the key-hole in a strange tongue.

Not Aladdin's "open Sesame" could have been more magical. In a moment, roused up suddenly from sleep, and forgetting every thing but those tender recollections of gentle care in infancy, and kindness all through life, the child of nature startled out of bed, drew the bolt, and in beauteous disarray, fell into that old man's arms!

It was enough; he had seen her eye to eye-she lived: and the white-haired veteran, suffered himself to be led away directly from the landing, like a child, by his sympathizing neighbour.

"My heart is lighter now, Sir Abraham: but I am a poor weak old man, and owe you an explanation for this outburst; some day-some day, not now. O, if you could guess how I have nursed that pretty babe when alone in distant lands; how I have doated on her little winning ways, and been gladdened by the music of her prattle; how I have exulted to behold her loveliness gradually expanding, as she was ever at my side, in peril as in peace, in camp as in quarters, in sickness as in health, still-still, the blessed angel of a bad man's life-a wicked, hard old man, kind neighbour-if you knew more-more, than for her sake I dare tell you-and if you could conceive the love my Emmy bears for me, you would not think it strange-think it strange-" He could not say a syllable more; and the admiral, with Mr. Saunders, too, who joined them in the study, looked very little able to console that poor old man. For they all had hearts, and trickling eyes to tell them.

Then having arranged a shake-down for his master in Sir Abraham's study-for the guardian would not leave his dear one ever again-Saunders went home, purposing to attend with razors in the morning.

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