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with, for Lieutenant Peterkin, being a man of the world, always made a point of adapting his conversation and his conduct to the individual peculiarities of the people into whose society he chanced to be thrown; upon the present occasion, therefore, he made no accusation, but merely stated a fact. “ We were locked up, sir,” said Lieutenant Peterkin, “ in Mr. Drawlincourt's bed-room, and we did our best to get out, but could not.”
“ And who locked you up, sir?" asked Peregrine, with an aspect of genuine astonishment.
Now, here was an opportunity for the lieutenant; he might easily have answered, “ You did,” but he thought it more prudent to do nothing of the sort.
And so there followed divers explanations instead, to all of which Peregrine Pultuney, who like all other fine fellows, had very little suspicion in him, most readily gave credence. The lieutenant was struck with this, and immediately acquitted Peregrine of all share in the very singular proceedings of the morning. Peregrine was astonished beyond measure; he did not know whom to suspect, so he volunteered no surmises on the occasion; nor, upon his part, did Lieutenant Peterkin, who was contented with renewing the challenge previously tendered by his friend, and hoping, as, to do him justice, he did most sincerely, that no accident would occur to interrupt a second time the occurrence of the meeting in prospect.
Peregrine Pultuney had nothing to say in objection to this proposal, so he merely remarked, “The same time and place, sir, to-morrow, and better luck to you next time,” having said which he bowed the lieutenant out of the room, and continued his study of the Zuid Afrikain paper.
But he was soon tired of this, so he called for his boots, put on his hat, and went out to take a survey of the town. In one of the streets, he fell in with Julian Jenks who, with his board-ship cap on his head, had gone in search of a new beaver, and got one. So the two friends walked on together, making divers observations as they went, which, if any body had been near to record them, would have made a volume of travels in South Africa.
They went first to look at the lions—the real, genuine, literal, hairy lions, for in this history we have abjured the figurative; and then they went to the museum and criticized the proportions of the stuffed bush-woman, which, without exception, is one of the most interestingly repulsive specimens of natural history we have ever seen in our lives; and having done this they went to all the shops in the place, for the laudable purpose of benefiting the trade of the colony, by purchasing not only every thing they wanted, but every thing they might possibly want at some indefinitely future period of time. And let me tell you, reader, that after two months on board ship, it is no little pleasure to spend money, even upon things that are of no earthly use to the purchaser, or, as far as he knows, to any body else.
So Peregrine Pultuney, and Julian Jenks, having spent between them nearly thirty pounds upon inutilities, returned towards the hotel to talk over their purchases, and to rail at the extortioners, who had cheated them—which, every body knows, is ample compensation for any losses you have previously sustained.
On their way home it chanced that the eye of Julian Jenks was arrested by a large sign-board, over a store shop, on which was written in huge characters the announcement of “ passengers and families supplied." “ We must go in here,” said Julian Jenks.
Surely we don't want any thing more?" suggested Peregrine; “ we have more things now than we know what to do with.”
“ Never mind,” said Julian, “ I'm going in by way of a lark. I don't want you to buy any thing at all; you have only to look on."
" Very good,” observed Peregrine Pultuney, and the two friends entered the shop. · A decent-looking young Dutchman came forward to serve them, and asked, in very tolerable English, what article they were pleased to require.
“A few passengers and a small family," responded Julian Jenks.
The man stared—“I beg your pardon, sir-I don't exactly understand.”
“ Have you not stated," said Julian Jenks, with an imperturbable countenance, “ on that board over your shop, that passengers and families' are supplied here."
“ Ye-e-s," stammered the man, looking aghast with astonishment, " I believe those are the words."
" Then supply me instantly,” said Julian Jenks, " with a few passengers and a small family, or I shall have you punished for enticing me here under false pretences. A few passengers, and a small family-half-a-dozen of the former, sir-with two boys and a girl.”
Here Peregrine Pultuney burst out into a laugh, and the shopman began, as Julian Jenks would have said, to “ twig;” so he laughed, too, a faint sort of a laugh, and observed, in a mongrel tone of voice, betokening real distress and would-be amusement, that Julian Jenks was " a very funny gentleman."
Now Julian Jenks, having had his joke, thought he might as well pay for it, so he began to look about the store just to see whether there was any thing in it he could purchase. It was a sort of a large ship-chandlery shop, and there were plenty of hams, cheeses, pickles, oils, hermetically-sealed provisions, and other things of that kind in it. After a rapid survey of these articles, Mr. Jenks remembered that he had heard somebody or other speak, in terms of considerable commendation, of the fresh cheeses of the country, so never having tasted one, he resolved, just by way of a small return for his joke on the store-keeper, at once to become a purchaser.
So the question was put about the country cheese, and a sample of the article was produced. Julian tasted it, thought it was very good, paid for it, and ordered it to be sent immediately to his hotel. The cheese was accordingly packed up and sent, in Julian's presence, to George's; and the storekeeper was very well satisfied to think that although he had been sold a bargain, he had made one, in his own favour, in exchange.
When Peregrine Pultuney and Julian Jenks reached home, there was the cheese awaiting their arrival; and it so happened that Ensign Allworthy of the 120th was waiting their arrival too. Astonished at the piles of goods on the table of their sitting-room, the ensign began to interrogate them about their purchases, and after having inspected a fur cloak or two (most useful things for India !) lots of ostrich feathers, and ditto eggs, pots of preserves, Dutch liqueurs, cases of soda water, and divers other useful articles, Mr. Allworthy lighted upon the cheese and exclaimed, “Well, Pultuney, what the devil is this?"
"A fresh Cape cheese, I believe," said Peregrine. . " It belongs to my friend, Jenks.”
“ Cape cheese! Devil a bit of it,” cried Allworthy," and about as fresh as a red-herring. Why, man, it's a Dutch cheese, the smell of it might tell you that."