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   Chapter 27 CHARLES'S RETURN; AND MRS. MACKIE'S EXPLANATION.

The Twins By Martin Farquhar Tupper Characters: 7788

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


And now the happy day was come at length; that day formerly so hoped-for, latterly so feared, but last of all, hailed with the joy that trembles at its own intensity. The very morning after the sad occurrence it has just been my lot to chronicle-while the general was having his wounds dressed, slight ones, happily, but still he was not safe, as inflammation might ensue-while Mrs. Tracy was indulging in her third tumbler, mixed to whet her appetite for shrimps-and while Emily was deciphering, for the forty thousandth time, Charles's sanguine billet-doux-lo! a dusty chaise and smoking posters, and a sun-burnt young fellow springing out, and just upon the stairs-they were locked in each other's arms!

Oh, the rapture of that instant! it can but happen once within a life. Ye that have loved, remember such a meeting; and ye that never loved, conceive it if you can; for my pen hath little skill to paint so bright a pleasure. It is to be all heart, all pulse, all sympathy, all spirit-but the warm soft kiss, that rarified bloom of the Material.

How the sick old nurse got out, cased in many blankets; how she was bundled up stairs, and deposited safely on a sofa, no poet is alive to sing: to those who would record the payment of postillions, let me leave so sweet a theme.

The first fond greeting over, and those tumults of affection sobered down, Charles rejoiced to find how lovingly the general met him; the kind and good old man fell upon his neck, as the father in the parable. Many things were then to be made known: and many questions answered, as best might be, about a mother and a brother; but well aware of all things ourselves, let us be satisfied that Charles heard in due time all they had to tell him; though neither Emily nor the general could explain what had become of Julian after that terrible encounter. In their belief, he had fled for very life, thinking he had killed his father. Poor wretched man, thought Charles-on that same spot, too, where he would have murdered me! And for his mother-why came she not down eagerly and happily, as mothers ever do, to greet her long-lost son? Do not ask, Charles; do not press the question. Think her ill, dying, dead-any thing but-drunken. He ran to her room-door; but it was locked-luckily.

Now, Charles-now speedily to business; happy business that, if I may trust the lover's flushing cheek, and Emily's radiant eyes; but a mournful one too, and a fearful, if I turn my glance to that poor old man, wounded in body and stricken in mind-who waits to hear, in more despondency than hope, what he knows to be the bitter truth-the truth that must be told, to the misery of those dear children.

Faint and weak though she appeared, Jeanie Mackie's waning life spirited up for the occasion; her dim eye kindled; her feeble frame was straight and strong; energy nerved her as she spoke; this hour is the errand of her being.

Long she spoke, and loudly, in her broad Scotch way; and the general objected many things, but was answered to them all; and there was close cross-questioning, slow-caution, keen examination of documents and letters: catechisms, solecisms, Scottisms; reminiscences rubbed up, mistakes corrected; and the grand result of all, Emily a Stuart, and the general not her father! I am only enabled to give a brief account of that important colloquy.

It appears, that when Captain Tracy's company was quartered to the west of the Gwalior, sent thither to guard the Begum Dowlia against sundry of her disaffected subjects, a certain Lieutenant James Stuart was one among those welcome brave allies. That our gallant Tracy was the beautiful Begum's favourite soon became notorious to all; and not less so, that the Begum herself was precisely in the same interesting situation as Mrs. James Stuart. The two ladies, Pagan and Christian, were, technically speaking, running a race together. W

ell, just as times drew nigh, poor Lieutenant Stuart was unfortunately killed in an insurrection headed by some fanatics, who disapproved of foreign friends, and perhaps of their princess's situation. His death proved fatal also to that kind and faithful wife of his-a dark Italian lady of high family, whose love for James had led her to follow him even into Central Hindoostan: she died in giving birth to a babe; and Jeanie Mackie, the lieutenant's own foster-mother, who waited on his wife through all their travels, assisted the poor orphan into this bleak world, and loved it as her own.

Two days after all this, the Begum herself had need of Mrs. Mackie: for it was prudent to conceal some things, if she could, from certain Brahmins, who were to her what John Knox had erstwhile been to Mary: and Jeanie Mackie, burdened with her little Amy Stuart, aided in the birth of a female Tracy-Begum. So, the nurse tended both babes; and more than once had marvelled at their general resemblance; Amy's mother looked out again from those dark eyes; there was not a shade between the children.

Now, Mrs. Mackie perceived, in a very little while, how fond both Christian and Pagan appeared of their own child; and how little notice was taken by any body of the poor Scotch gentleman's orphan. Accordingly, with a view to give her favourite all worldly advantages, she adroitly changed the children; and, while she was still kind and motherly to the little Tracy-Begum, she had the satisfaction to see her pet supposititiously brought up in all the splendours of an Eastern court.

Years wore away, for Captain Tracy was quite happy, the Begum being a fine showy woman, and the pretty child his playmate and pastime: so he never cared to stir from his rich quarters, till the company's orders forced him: and then Puttymuddyfudgepoor hailed him accumulatively both major and colonel.

When he found that he must go, he insisted on carrying off the child; and the Begum was as resolute against it. Then Mrs. Mackie, eager to expedite little Stuart in her escape, went to the princess, told her how that, in anticipation of this day, she had changed the children, and got great rewards for thus restoring to the mother her own offspring.

The remainder of that old Scotch nurse's very prosy tale may be left to be imagined: for all that was essential has been stated: and the documents in proof of all were these-

First: The marriage certificates of James Stuart and Ami di Romagna, duly attested, both in the Protestant and Romanist forms.

Secondly: Divers letters to Lieutenant Stewart from his friends at Glenmuir; others to Mrs. Stuart, from her father, the old Marquis di Romagna, at Naples: several trinkets, locks of hair, the wedding-ring, &c.

Thirdly: A grant written in the Hindoostanee character, from the Begum Dowlia, promising the pension of thirty rupees a month to Jeanie Mackie, for having so cleverly preserved to her the child: together with a regular judicial acknowledgement, both from several of Tracy's own sepoys, and from the Begum herself, that the girl, whom Captain Tracy was so fond of, was, to the best of their belief, Amy Stuart.

Fourthly: A miniature of Mrs. James Stuart, exactly portraying the features of her daughter-this bright, beautiful, dark-eyed face-our own beloved Emily Warren.

And to all that accumulated evidence, Jeanie Mackie bore her living testimony; clearly, unhesitatingly, and well assured, in the face of God and man.

Doubt was at an end; fear was at an end; hope was come, and joy. Happy were the lovers, happy Jeanie Mackie, but happiest of all appeared the general himself. For now she might be his daughter indeed, sweet Emmy Tracy still, dear Charles's loving wife. And he blessed them as they knelt, and gave them to each other; well-rewarded children of affection, who had prayed in their distress!

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