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   Chapter 18 INTERCALARY.

The Twins By Martin Farquhar Tupper Characters: 5659

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


The Tamworths did not altogether live at Burleigh Singleton-it was far too petty a place for them; dullness all the year round (however pleasant for a month or so, as a holiday from toilsome pleasures) would never have done for Lady Tamworth and her daughters: but they regularly took Prospect House for six weeks in the summer season, when tired of Portland Place, and Huntover, their fine estate in Cheshire: and so, from constant annual immigration, came as much to be regarded Burleighites, as swifts and swallows to be ranked as British birds. I only hint at this piece of information, for fear any should think it unlikely, that grandees of Sir Abraham's condition could exist for ever in a place where the day-before-yesterday's 'Times' is first intelligence.

Moreover, as another interjectional touch, it is only due to my life-likenesses to record, that Mrs. Green's, although a terrace-house, and ranked as humble number seven, was, nevertheless, a tolerably spacious mansion, well suited for the dignity of a butler to repose in: for Mrs. Green had added an entire dwelling on the inland side, as, like most maritime inhabitants, she was thoroughly sick of the sea, and never cared to look at it, though living there still, from mere disinclination to stir: so, then, it was quite a double house, both spacious and convenient. As for the inglorious incident of Julian's latch-key, I should not wonder if many wide street-doors to many marble halls are conscious of similar convenient fastenings, if gentlemen of Julian's nocturnal tastes happen to be therein dwelling. Another little matter is worth one word. The house had been Mrs. Green's, a freehold, and was, therefore, now her heir's; but the general, as an executor, remained there still, until his business was finished; in fact, he took his year's liberty.

He had returned from India rolling in gold; for some great princess or other-I think they called her a Begum or a Glumdrum, or other such like Gulliverian appellative-had been singularly fond of him, and had loaded him in early life with favours-not only kisses, and so forth, but jewellery and gold pagodas. And lately, as we know, Puttymuddyfudgepoor, with its radiating rajahs and nabobs, had proved a mine of wealth: for a crore is ten lacs, and a lac of rupees is any thing but a lack of money-although rupees be money, and the "middle is distributed;" in spite of logic, then, a lack means about twelve thousand pounds: and four of them, according to Cocker, some fifty thousand. It would appear then, that with the produce of the Begum's diamonds, converted into money long ago, and some of them as big as linnet's eggs-and not to take account of Mrs. Green's trifling pinch of the five Exchequer bills, all handed over at once to Emily-the General's present fortune was exactly one hundred

and twenty-three thousand pounds.

Of course, he wasn't going to bury himself at Burleigh Singleton much longer; and yet, for all that stout intention of houses and lands, and carriages and horses, in almost any other county or country, it is as true as any thing in this book, that he was a resident still, a lease-holder of Aunt Green's house, long after the dénouement of this story; in many things an altered man, but still identical in one; the unchangeable resolve (though never to be executed) of leaving Burleigh at farthest by next Michaelmas. Most folks who talk much, do little; and taciturn as the general now is, and has been ever throughout life, it will surprise nobody who has learned from hard experience how silly and harmful a thing is secresy (exceptionables excepted), to find that he grew to be a garrulous old man, gossipping for ever of past, present, future, and, not least, about his deeds at Puttymuddyfudgepoor.

General Tracy is by this time awake again; if ever indeed he slept on that uncomfortable shakedown; and, after Mr. Saunders and the razor-strop, has greeted brightly-beaming Emily with more than usual tenderness. Her account of the transaction made his very blood boil; especially as her pretty pouting lips were lacerated cruelly inside: that rude blow on the mouth had almost driven the teeth through them. How confidingly she told her artless tale; how gently did her fond protector kiss that poor pale cheek; and how sternly did he vow full vengeance on the caitiff! Not even Emily's intercession could avail to turn his wrath aside. He could hardly help flying off at once to do something dreadful; but common courtesy to all the Tamworth family obliged him to defer for an hour all the terrible things he meant to do. So he began to bolt his breakfast fiercely as a cannibal, and saluted Lady Tamworth and her daughters with such savage looks, that the captain considerately suggested:

"Here, general," (handing him a most formidable carving-knife,) "charge that boar's head, grinning defiance at us on the side-board; it will do you good to hew his brawny neck. My mother, I am sure, for one, will thank you to do the honours there instead of me. Isn't it a comfort now, to know that I broke the handle of my hunting-whip across the fellow's back, and wore all the whip-cord into skeins. Come, I say, general, don't eat us all round; and pray have mercy on that poor, flogged, miserable sinner."

This banter did him good, especially as he saw Emily smiling; so he relaxed his knit brow, condescended to look less like Giant Blunderbore, soon became marvellous chatty, and ate up two French rolls, an egg, some anchovies, a round of toast, and a mighty slice of brawn; these, washed down with a couple of cups of tea, soothed him into something like complacency.

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