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Which if it had ended otherwise than it does, this History
would never have been written.
MR. AND MRS. PULTUNEY were sitting in their breakfast room-as pleasant an apartment as you would ever wish to see, with glass doors opening on the lawn, a round table, a piccolo piano, and a striking likeness of their eldest son in a blue petticoat over the chimney-piece.
Mrs. Pultuney was settled by the round table, and Mr. Pultuney in its near vicinity. Before the lady there was a mahogany frame, which might have been taken for a reading-desk, if sundry patches of party-coloured worsted had not betokened the na.
ture of the work, which its mechanist had intended it to abet; Mrs. Pultuney, in fact, was working, not in vulgar, but in feminine parlance, or to speak more distinctly, she was worsted-working. But whether she was engaged upon the fabrication of a slipper, a foot-stool, or an urn-rug it is beyond our ability to state, the work in question being somewhat of a nature similar to that of the ingenious gentleman's cartridge paper, which assumes yearly at Epsom Races every possible description of form, from Queen Elizabeth's ruff to Edward the Confessor's chair, Guy Fawkes's lantern or Buonaparte's cocked hat.
Mrs. Pultuney was a comely-looking woman, not much above six and thirty, with exceedingly white teeth and the prettiest feet in the whole world-a fact of which it is more than probable she was conscious, as she always wore pink silk stockings and the brightest patent leather shoes, which articles were exhibited with the most unassuming ostentation upon a delicate best Saxony and floss-silk wreath-of-flower-and-butterfly foot-cushion, with the toe acting as an index to the purple emperor, or the purple emperor to the toe; for the rest she was tall and graceful, with light hair and pink ribbands in her cap, and altogether the style of woman which young gentlemen of seventeen, with romantic dispositions and sensitive hearts fall in love with before they are aware of it, and think themselves Don
As for Mr. Pultuney, on a moderate computation, he was about fifteen years older than his lady, he had a bald head, with a tolerable skirting of iron grey hair behind, and a small tuft upon either side; he was neither short nor tall, handsome nor ugly, but as the countryman in the witness box said of the stone, " he wur a sizeable sort of a" man, and when I inform the reader that he wore drab knec breeches and ditto continuations, perhaps we have made the most of him.
At the time that our history commences, these two were conversing upon a topic of the highest importance to the said history, for it is more than probable that had the topic never have been started, this history would never have been written.
“We must get him a cadetship," said Mr. Pultuney.
“Get him a what?" asked that gentleman's wife.
“ An appointment to India, my love."
Now, to gentlemen holding appointments in the civil and military services of the United Company of merchants trading to the East Indies, and to all their wives, sons, daughters, et cætera, there is probably nothing either very extraordinary or very appalling in these words ; but to Mrs. Pultuney, who had no more knowledge of India than she had of a certain place, which philosophers say is “ paved with good intentions," and in whose mind the one locality was mixed up, like Plymouth and Stonehouse, with the other, the words thus spoken by her husband vibrated in her maternal ears with a death-like and ominous sound, and the most she could do was to scream faintly, “In mercy's name, do nothing of the kind !”
" And why not, my love?" asked Mr. Pultuney, who was a meek-minded strong-headed man, and was seldom ruffled by any thing.
"And why not? How can you ask?" returned the afflicted mother, as she applied the corner of a white cambric handkerchief to a blue eye, beginning rapidly to assume the Hebrew melody appearance of a violet dropping dew. “And why not! how can you ask? India! only think, Mr. Pultuney, of the climate, the fevers, the liver complaints, the jungles, and the Black Hole of Cal
"I have thought, my love," was the mild conjugal reply.
"And then think, Mr. Pultuney, only think of the long voyage, four months at the least, with a chance of being drowned in a fortnight; think of the storms, the monsoons, and doubling Cape Horn.”
“ They don't go that way, my love," observed Mr. Pultuney with a smile.
“Well, then, the Cape of Good Hope,” resumed his amiable consort, “it comes to the same thing ;
only think of the pirates, the corsairs, the sharks, and the bad living on board ship—hard biscuit, bilge water and the scurvy-only think, Mr. Pultuney!"
“ Champagne three times a week and salmon hermetically sealed,” remarked the gentleman, by way of commentary on the text of his better half.
“ Think what may become of him if he is taken ill," continued the lady, in the excitement of her feelings," with no one to nurse the dear boy, and no Dr. Scammony to send for—think of him dying amongst black barbarians and being put into the Ganges, perhaps before he is dead. You may smile, but I read it in a book, it's the custom with those savages," and Mrs. Pultuney looked three quarto volumes of Pickerton's Travels into the face of her spouse.
“ But, my love," exclaimed the voice marital, “ you have mistaken the whole matter. I do not want Peregrine to turn Hindoo, but to be made a writer or cadet; he need not abandon his religion and his country at the same time.”
“ As well one as the other," replicd the lady, as though it were a corollary that necessarily followed.
“I don't see matters in that light exactly," said Mr. Pultuney.
"You will see nothing, Mr. P.,” continued his affectionate wife, who was gradually working herself up into a mixed state of hysterics and hydrophobia, a composite evil sufficiently denoted by sobs, tears,