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   Chapter 21 CHARLES AT MADRAS.

The Twins By Martin Farquhar Tupper Characters: 7604

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


Luckily enough for all mankind in general, and our lovers in particular, Charles's last letter was very unlike some that had preceded it; for instead of the usual "Oh, my love"'s, "sweet, sweet eyes," "darling"'s, and all manner of such chicken-hearted nonsense, it was positively sensible, rational, not to say utilitarian: though I must acknowledge that here and there it degenerates into the affectionate, or Stromboli-vein of letter-writing, at opening especially; and really now and then I shall take leave to indicate omitted inflammations by a *.

"Dearest, Dearest Emmy,

********

[and so forth, a very galaxy of stars to the bottom of this page; enough to put the compositor out of his terrestrial senses.]

"You see I have recovered my spirits, dearest, and am not now afraid to tell you how I love you. Oh, that detestable Captain Forbes! let him not cross my path, gossiping blockhead! on pain of carrying about 'til deth,' in the middle of his face, a nose two inches longer. I heartily wish I had never listened for an instant to such vile insinuations; and when I look at this red right hand of mine, that dared to pen the trash in that black postscript, I look at it as Cranmer did, and (but that it is yours, Emmy, not mine), could wish it burnt. But no fears now, my girl, huzza, huzza! I believe every one about me thinks me daft; and so I am for very joyfulness; notwithstanding, let me be didactic, or you will say so too. I really will endeavour to rein in, and go along in the regular hackney trot, that you may partly comprehend me. Well, then, here goes; try your paces, Dobbin.

"On the morning of Sunday, April 11th, 1842, the good ship Elphinston-(that's the way to begin, I suppose, as per ledger, log-book, and midshipman's epistles to mamma)-in fact, dear, we cast anchor just outside a furious wall of surf, which makes Madras a very formidable place for landing; and every one who dares to do so certain of a watering. There lay the city, most invitingly to storm-tost tars, with its white palaces, green groves, and yellow belt of sand, blue hills in the distance, and all else coleur de rose. But-but, Emmy, there was no getting at this paradise, except by struggling through a couple of miles of raging foam, that would have made mince-meat of the Spanish Armada, and have smashed Sir William Elphinston to pieces. How, then, did we manage to survive it? for, thank God always, here I am to tell the tale. Listen, Emmy dear, and I will try not to be tedious.

"We were bundled out of the rolling ship into some huge flat-bottomed boats, like coal-barges, and even so, were grated and ground several times by the churning waves on the ragged reefs beneath us: and, just as I was enjoying the see-saw, and trying to comfort two poor drenched women-kind who were terribly afraid of sharks, a huge, cream-coloured breaker came bustling alongside of us, and roaring out 'Charles Tracy,' gobbled me up bodily. Well, dearest, it wasn't the first time I had floundered in the waters [noble Charles! noble Charles! he had long forgiven Julian]; so I was battling on as well as I could, with a stout heart and a steady arm, when-don't be afraid-a Catamaran caught me! If you haven't fainted (bless those pretty eyes of your's, my Emmy!) read on; and you will find that this alarming sort of animal is neither an albatross nor an alligator, but simply-a life-boat with a Triton in the stern. Yes, God's messenger of life to me and happiness to you, my girl, came in the shape of a kindly, chattering, blue-skinned, human creature, who dragged me out of the surf, landed me safely, and, I need not say, got paid with more than hearty thanks. So, I scuffled to the custom-house to look after my traps and fellow-passengers, like a dripping merman.

"'Who is that m

iserable old woman, bothering every body?' asked I of a very civil searcher, profuse in his salaams.

"'Oh, Sahib, you will know for yourself, presently: she's always hanging about here, to get news of somebody in England, I believe-and to try to find a charitable captain who will take her all the way for nothing: rather too much of a good thing, you know, Sahib.'

[We really cannot undertake to scribble broken English: so we will translate any thing that may mysteriously have been chatted by havildars, and coolies; and all manner of strange names.]

"'Poor old soul-she looks very wretched: what's her name?' asked I, carelessly.

"'Oh, I never troubled to inquire, Sahib: I believe she was an old servant left behind as lumber, and she pesters every one, day by day, about some 'bonnie bonnie bairn.''

"In a moment, Emmy, I had seized on dear nurse Mackie!

"Very old, very deaf, very infirm-she fancied I was driving her away, as many others might have done; and, with a truly piteous face, pleaded-

"'Gude sir, have mercy on a puir auld soul-and let her ask for her sweet young mistress, only once, sir-only once more.'

"'Emily Warren?' said I.

"Her wrinkled face brightened over as with glory-and she answered-

"'Bless the mouth that spake it, and these ears that hear her name! yes-yes-yes-they call her so; where is she? how is she? have you seen her? is she yet alive?'

"Leading away the affectionate old soul from the crowd that was collecting round us, I left orders about luggage as a traveller should, and then told her all I knew: and I know you pretty well, I think, my Emmy.

"Her joy was like a mad woman's: the dear old Hecate pranced, and danced, and sung, and shouted like nothing but a mother when she finds her long-lost child: not that she's your mother, Emmy dear. No-no-matters are better than that: all she vouchsafes, though, to tell me is, that you are a lady born and bred, and-for I cannot find the words to inform your pure mind clearer-that 'you are not what he thinks you.'"

[Here followeth another twinkling universe of stars;

********

and thereafter our cavalier condescendeth again to matters of fact.]

"Nurse Mackie of course comes back with me next packet; this letter goes by the overland mail more quickly than we can; gladly would I go too, but the old woman, whose life is essential to your rights, would die of fatigue by the way; as it is, I am obliged to coddle her, and feed her, and ptisan her, like a sick baby, bless her dear old heart that loves my darling Emmy! She has a pack of papers with her, which she will not open, till the general is by her side: if she unfortunately dies before we can return, I am to have them, and all will be right. But the old soul is so afraid of being left behind (as you throw away the orange-peel after you have squeezed it), that she will not tell me a word about them yet; so, I only gather what I can from her cautious garrulity, hints about a Begum and a captain, and the Stuarts, and a Putty-what-d'ye-call-it. And it is all in document, as well as viva-voce (this means 'gossip,' dear). So now you may be expecting us, as soon as ever we can get to you. Tell the general all this, and give him my best love, next after your's Emmy; for he is my father still, and my very heart yearns after him: O, that he were kinder with me as I see he is with you, dear, and more open with us all! Also, kiss, if she will let you, my mother for me, and I hope you will have hinted to her long ago, that I am only playing truant. How is poor-poor Julian? he will understand me, if you tell him I forgive him, and will never say one word about our little tiff. And now dearest Emmy-"

[The remainder of this letter must, believe me, be as starry as before.]

********

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